| November, 2016

Bucks prevail; host Atlantic on Friday

Posted on 23 November 2016 by LeslieM

sports112416By Gary Curreri

The Bucks haven’t stopped yet.

Deerfield Beach continued its march to a Class 8A state championship by taking down the defending state champs, Flanagan, 10-7 last Friday night. The victory avenged a 17-0 loss to Flanagan last year in the same round.

The Bucks (9-2) won the Region 3-8A semifinal by jumping out to a 10-0 advantage and then held off the last charge from the Falcons (9-3) to advance to this Friday’s regional final against visiting Delray Beach Atlantic at 7:30 p.m.

Bucks kicker Ledin Rivera connected on a 35-yard field goal late in the first quarter for a 3-0 that held up until senior wide receiver, and Alabama commit, Jerry Jeudy intercepted his second pass in as many playoff games and returned it 41 yards for the Bucks’ lone touchdown early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 10-0.

It is a good feeling making a big time play,” said Jeudy, who started playing defensive back in the playoffs. “We needed it and I got it…It’s a great chance to get to play both sides of the ball.”

Flanagan senior quarterback Stanford Samuels concluded a short drive with a 1-yard plunge that trimmed the lead to 10-7, and Flanagan got another chance with 4:50 to play, but a fourth down and long pass by Samuels was incomplete.

It’s an honor to play in a game like this with the best talent in South Florida,” Deerfield Beach coach Jevon Glenn said after the game. “It was an awesome experience and an awesome night to play a hard-fought game. You have two of the best coaching staffs in South Florida…I want my team to come out here and chase history and that’s what we are doing.”

Deerfield Beach senior defensive back Kobe Green intercepted two passes, the second coming with nine seconds remaining in the contest to seal the win.

I knew I had to make a play for my team and I did,” Green said. “It is the best feeling ever. It feels wonderful.”

The Bucks defense forced four turnovers and held Flanagan to 74 total yards. Deerfield Beach sophomore linebacker Gemon Eaford recorded a pair of sacks. The Bucks’ offense could only muster 80 total yards in a winning effort.

Nagy steps down

Pompano Beach High School football coach Rick Nagy has stepped down.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to coach at this school and to get to know the many people that help promote the sport,” Nagy said in a statement.

Nagy finished 20-20 during his 4-year stint as coach of the Golden Tornadoes. He won conference titles in 2014 and 2015 in the Southeastern Football Conference American Division and was also named the SFC American Division Coach of the Year in 2015.

Pompano Beach moved to the Gold Coast Conference this season and finished 2-8, including 2-7 in conference play.

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FLICKS: Moana, Inner Workings & FLIFF wraps

Posted on 23 November 2016 by LeslieM

flicks112416By “Cinema” Dave


Moana kicks off the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. Based on a Polynesian myth, Moana is an entertaining movie that the whole family can see together without any embarrassing moments for grandparents and grandchildren.

The legend of Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) is revealed early in the movie. Maui was tasked with bringing the heart of Te Fiti gem to Mother Earth. When Maui bumbles the job, the balance of nature is upset for one thousand years.

The ocean summons young Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) to rescue Maui and return the gem. Through a series of adventures and battles with coconut pirates and giant fire monsters, Moana finds Maui and learns important life lessons.

While the musical numbers lack the strength of Frozen and other Disney Classics, Moana features a good story with a satisfying climax. The verdant visuals make Moana a good flick for holiday viewing.

Inner Workings is a delightful six-minute short subject that screens before Moana. The film introduces a protagonist who goes to work in a mundane job. When he listens to his heart, the hero changes himself and changes his world.

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival wrapped Sunday night and The Boy By the Sea remains the best seven minutes of festival celluloid. The India-Australia flick Lion won the best of the fest and features Nicole Kidman and David Wenham as an Australian couple who help a lost Indian boy.

Also in the fest was Stanley Isaac’s It’s about the Story – Conversations with Alan Ladd Jr., a 40-minute documentary about contemporary motion picture history. The son of a movie star, Ladd Jr. worked behind the scenes of Hollywood and green lit movies like Young Frankenstein and Star Wars. Ladd’s box office track record is amazing and, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we will see some motion pictures that will rival Alan Ladd Jr.’s resume.

[These were just a few of the films available for viewing. Did you miss the fest? There is always next year. Plus, their headquarters at Savor Cinema in Ft. Lauderdale has movies scheduled all year long. Find out more information at www.fliff.com.]

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Posted on 23 November 2016 by LeslieM

Deerfield Beach

Nov. 8: A man was reported for stealing a deli sandwich from 711 at 1156 E. Hillsboro Blvd.

Nov. 10: Someone broke into Bright Horizons School at 3901 NE First Ter. and caused $400 in damage to a garden maintained by disabled children. This was the second time it was damaged.

Nov. 10: An individual was seen on video surveillance going through a yard at Van Kirk and Sons Inc. at 3144 SW 13 Dr. The person stole two rolls of fiber mesh, two saws, two scrap pressure cleaners and a blower. Total loss was estimated at $2,375.

Nov. 11: A man wearing a wig, sunglasses and facial covering robbed a Bank United at 2201 W. Hillsboro Blvd. The FBI and robbery detectives were called to investigate.

Nov. 13: It was reported that a golf cart was stolen from 1253 SW First Way.

Nov. 15: A vehicle was stolen from the victim’s driveway at 2970 Deer Creek Country Club Dr.

Nov. 15: A home was broken into and suspect stole a 12 pack of coke and black jacket with red stripes at 454 Lock Rd.

Nov. 15: An unknown person opened an auto loan in a victim’s name at 4500 N. Powerline Rd.

Nov. 14: Mercedes Benz alloy wheels, tires and six trailer truck tires were stolen from South Florida Auto Carriers.

Nov. 14: Motor vehicle parts were stolen at 3599 W. Hillsboro Blvd.

Lighthouse Point

Nov. 1: Political signs valued at $13 were stolen from in front of a home at 4000 NE 24 Ave. The crime was captured on surveillance video.

Nov. 2: Someone stole $120 in political signs from the front yard of a residence at 2000 NE 30 St. The victim said there were three signs missing.

Nov. 3: A victim picked up a fare and dropped the subject off at a Publix at 2450 N. Federal Hwy. The victim went inside because the subject was taking a long time and the subject then ran out of the store, jumped in the cab and drove away. The cab was recovered a short time later.

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Posted on 23 November 2016 by LeslieM

Santa’s Big Arrival Snow Party

Friday, Nov. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pompano Citi Centre

1955 N. Federal Hwy.

Pompano Beach, FL 33062

Children and their families are invited to greet Santa as he makes his grand entrance in style via fire truck with help from the Pompano Beach Fire Department. Enjoy hourly “snowfall,” create holiday-themed arts and crafts, write and place your wish list in Santa’s mailbox, sponsored by Macy’s Make-A-Wish Foundation, and dress up for pictures at the “Elfie Selfie” station. Parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras to snap free pictures with Santa. Carousel will be open for $1 per ride. Admission is free; adult supervision of children is required. For more information and other events, visit www.pompanociticentre.com.

Saltwater license-free fishing day

Saturday, Nov. 26

Fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents). All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply. An annual license for residents can be purchased at 1-888-FISH-Florida or visit www.License.MyFWC.com.

Beach Dance

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7 to 9 p.m.

Main Beach Parking Lot

149 SE 21 Ave.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Johnny Vincent will be playing for your entertainment. Wear dancing shoes and bring beach chair for a fun evening under the stars. Free event. 954-480-4429

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.

NE Focal Point

227 NW 2 St.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Caregiver training and support group for individuals caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairments, dementia and cognitive limitations. Individuals who would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and available resources are also welcomed. Group held every Wednesday. For more information, call 954-480-4463.

Hillsboro Lighthouse Tour

Saturday Dec. 3, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 a.m.

Sands Harbor Dock

125 N. Riverside Dr.

Pompano Beach, FL 33062

Must wear flat, closed shoes. Children must be 4 ft. tall to climb the tower. No pets. Transportation is by boat from Sands Harbor Dock. $25; free to HLPS members. For more information, visit www.hillsborolighthouse.org/tours.

Breakfast with Santa — Saturday, Dec. 3

Deerfield Beach

9:30-11 a.m.

Butler House

380 E. Hillsboro Blvd.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Family of four: $10, $5 ea. additional person. For more information, email elilly707@aol.com or call 954-429-0378.

Lighthouse Point

10 a.m. to noon

Lighthouse Point Fire Station

3740 NE 22 Ave.

Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

Open to all Lighthouse Point children 12 and under. Hosted by the Fire Rescue Department. For info., call 954-943- 6500.

Pompano Beach

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pompano Citi Centre

1955 N. Federal Hwy.

Pompano Beach, FL 33062

Enjoy a delicious continental breakfast with Santa Claus. Spend one-on-one time with St. Nick as he reads a favorite holiday story, and enjoy milk and cookies provided by Subway. Do holiday crafts, take pictures with our special guest the “Snow Princess” and take home a special gift from under the Christmas Tree. Tickets available online, in advance only. $5 per child/$10 per adult, limited quantity. To purchase tickets, visit www.pompanociticentre.com.

Save The Date: Holiday Brunch & Auction

Saturday, Dec. 10, 9:30 a.m. until noon

Oveta McKeithen Recreation Complex

445 SW 22 St.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Sponsored by the Deerfield Beach West Kiwanis Club Tickets $15. RSVP at 954-428-1537.

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CLERGY CORNER: Count your blessings!

Posted on 23 November 2016 by LeslieM

This is the season to be grateful for the things, the people, and the experiences that make life enjoyable. A comfortable home, friends and family, and a well-earned accomplishment are examples of what cause many of us to be thankful. But what of the challenges and stresses that wear away at our patience and resolve? Gratitude is not the first thing that comes to our mind or our will when facing them. Discouragement, distress, helplessness, frustration and anger are probably among the first inclinations we will have in times of difficulty.

Author George Mikes relates the following story in one of his books: In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?”

The rabbi answers, “Take your goat into the room with you.”

The man in incredulous, but the rabbi insists, saying, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”

A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before.

We cannot stand it,” he tells the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.”

The rabbi then tells him, “Go home and let the goat out and come back in a week.”

A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat — only the nine of us.”

The church in Thessalonica was facing persecution but the believers were standing firm in their faith. They were commended by the apostle Paul, in his first letter to them, along with praise for being examples to believers in Macedonia and Achaia. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul writes this: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” He did not mean to suggest that every bad experience was God’s will for the believer, but that believers can find a reason to be grateful in both success and adversity, as well as anything in between.

Life could always be worse, as the illustration of the goat in the room reveals. Let me ask you, hasn’t God been good even in your bad times? Can you not find a reason to be full of appreciation even in the difficult seasons of your life? Is there no one on the planet whose state of existence is worse than yours? You may have a lot to complain about, and may long for something better, but does that mean you can’t be grateful for something right now? Allow me to strongly suggest that you have many reasons to be thankful. An old hymn of the church encourages us to take stock of God’s goodness when times are bad: When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. The last verse instructs, So, amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all; count your many blessings, angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

This Thanksgiving, enjoy your time with family and friends. Spend time with God and thank Him for the many blessings in your life. Participate in some of the numerous opportunities to be a blessing to others during this time of year. Serve a hot meal, donate a turkey, wrap a gift, volunteer your time. Count your blessings and be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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Ranse Jones event: a success

Posted on 17 November 2016 by LeslieM

sports111716By Gary Curreri

Kaitlyn Smith was one of more than 200 players that recently took part in the seventh annual Ranse Jones Classic beach volleyball tournament in Deerfield Beach.

Smith, 20, grew up playing beach volleyball in Deerfield and played a year at nearby Florida Atlantic University last year, but said her engineering studies curtailed her college career.

Still, the 2015 Highlands Christian Academy graduate finds her way out to the sand that is just minutes away from her Deerfield Beach home.

It is great how they celebrate it in a positive way and bring the whole beach (volleyball) family together,” Smith said. “A lot of us are local, but a lot of people come from out of state and that’s awesome. I play here all of the time and I think it is great to see people out here doing the same thing and supporting a great cause … having fun, and the positive energy is great.”

The tournament is staged each year to celebrate the life of the volleyball player and Flagler County firefighter after whom the tournament is named. The tournament generally raises between $20-$30,000 on an annual basis for Ranse Jones Stroke Awareness Fund at the Broward Health North Stroke Center.

In April 2010, Jones suffered a brain aneurysm while playing in the semifinals of the Panama City AVP Young Guns tournament. He died that November. Jones had played in 21 AVP tournaments since 2000. He also spent time on the Extreme Volleyball Professionals tour and competed in the Men’s Open Division of the 2009 U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball.

Fort Lauderdale’s Juanita Mendoza, 29, said the tournament was huge.

There are a lot of people that play in this from a lot of different states,” Mendoza said. “(It is very competitive) as well as people who are here to honor the cause.”

Jensen Beach High School junior Jillienne Cangelosi, 16, made the drive from her home in Stuart to play in the tournament.

It is a really big event,” Cangelosi said. “It is really great because people aren’t only here to compete. They are here to have a good time.”

When we had the bagpipes in the morning, you could just feel everybody thinking about him,” she continued. “And the moment of silence, even though there were other noises obviously, it was amazing to think about him and that his memory was still here.”

Bucks in action Friday

Deerfield Beach High School is hoping for redemption this Friday as it visits Flanagan in the Class 8A regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m.

The Bucks (8-2) did its part as it coasted to a 27-13 regional quarterfinal victory over Western as quarterback Nick Holm passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns and added a scoring run to boot. Deerfield Beach is ranked 5th in the state in the AP Football rankings.

We have been on a collision course for a whole year now,” said Bucks coach Jevon Glenn. “Let the two big dogs go at it and give the people what they want to see. There is a lot of respect for both teams.”

The defending 8A state champion Falcons (9-2) topped down Piper, 21-7, last week to set up a rematch of the same round last year where Flanagan, currently ranked third in the state in the AP Football rankings, won 17-0 en route to Orlando.

Tigers close season on winning note

Stanley Bolden caught two touchdown passes, the second from 27-yards out in overtime, to give Blanche Ely a 13-7 upset victory over Dillard recently in the 47th annual Soul Bowl at Lockhart Stadium.

After Dillard’s George Golden scored on a 39-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers ahead 7-0, the Tigers (3-6) tied the game on a 60-yard pass play from senior quarterback Karinzo Ward to Bolden.

Blanche Ely, which missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012, won the rivalry game for the 7th time in the past eight meetings and led the series 25-20-2. Dillard led (6-4), which won the District 15-6A title in a three-team tiebreaker, went on to lose to Miami Carol City, 47-8, in the regional quarterfinals.

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FLICKS: FLIFF – respecting the past & honoring the future

Posted on 17 November 2016 by LeslieM

flicks111716By “Cinema Dave”


Thus far, the best seven minutes of sustained entertainment from the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) has been viewing The Boy By The Sea, a short subject from Latvia, directed by Vasily Chuprina. The premise is simple: an old, lighthouse keeper watches a boy skimming stones in the water. The sad boy tells his story and forms a new friendship with the old man. With minimal dialog (in Danish with English subtitles), The Boy By The Sea sustains its narrative, introduces interesting characters and provides visual symbolism that promotes heartfelt discussion. What Doctor Strange does with a $165 million production budget in two hours, The Boy By The Sea does in seven minutes. Kudos to Vasily Chuprina!

FLIFF wraps up this weekend, with the grand finale being held at Bailey Hall in Davie Sunday night. After an afternoon screening of Ed Wood, Best Supporting Oscar Winner Martin Landau will attend the screening of The Red Maple Leaf, a Canadian film directed by Frank D’Angelo, who also wrote the screenplay. Co-Sponsored by Steve Savor, Dr. Lucy Marrero, Janet Leavy Schwartz and Irwin Levenstein, Martin Landau will accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. On this night, the festival awards for best picture, best documentary, best short subject and other categories will be announced.

At 31 years, FLIFF has become the champion film festival of our community and has done so by respecting history, but with an eye on new trends and talent. This was never so evident than last Friday afternoon, Veteran’s Day, in which Palm Beach resident Arlene Dahl received her Lifetime Achievement Award and Ft. Lauderdale’s own Bailee Madison screened Anabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket, the 17-year-old actress’ first producer credit.

A veteran of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Arlene Dahl shared how her leading men were too serious (John Payne) and villainous character actors (Ted de Corsia) had a wonderful sense of humor. From her Norwegian mother, Dahl learned the value of hard work and to live a simple life. While being interviewed by Brooklyn college film professor Foster Hirsch, Dahl shared her first meeting with Clark Gable at a prestigious MGM gala. Intimidated at first by meeting this popular box office star, the two shared a wonderful evening discussing fly fishing. To see Dahl’s full interview, visit my YouTube Channel, www.YouTube.com/CinemaDave.

After flying in from Toronto, where she is shooting The Good Witch for the Hallmark Channel, Bailee Madison accepted her Young Filmmaker’s Award at the Savor Cinema. While generously sharing the spotlight with her Annabelle Hooper cast and crew, Bailee acknowledged each individual who wanted to meet her, pose with her or get an autograph. Since her last appearance at FLIFF four years ago, Bailee acknowledged receiving more attention and flash photography, given her body of work on the big screen, cable and broadcast television. She acknowledges how good it is to return home to South Florida.

The box office juggernaut for the Harry Potter prequel kicks off this weekend with J.K.Rowling’s, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is likely to have a trailer for Kong: Skull Island. The next week, the holiday Disney animated movie Moana opens featuring the voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which is likely to have a trailer for Beauty and the Beast, which stars an adult Emma Watson from the Harry Potter movies.

Given the recent election cycle, we have survived some “beastly” days. However let us take the time to enjoy the “beauty” of the upcoming holidays. As I learned from The Boy By The Sea, beauty is where you find it.

If you are looking for a few treasures for the holidays, then check out the FLIFF Silent Auction at www.32auctions.com/FLIFF2016.

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Posted on 17 November 2016 by LeslieM

Deerfield Beach

Nov. 1: A Comcast employee arrived on the scene after receiving an alert regarding a problem. The employee found that three 12 volt, gel cell batteries had been stolen. Each battery was valued at $150. The incident was reported at 300 S. Ocean Dr.

Nov. 1: A vehicle parked at Brandsmart at 1305 S. Military Tr. was entered through the trunk and electronics valued at $7,369.58 were stolen from the vehicle.

Nov. 2: Someone entered the washroom at Caveman Associates and stole a wash sink at 656 SE 19 Ave.

Nov. 2: Someone broke into a house at 1382 SW 25 Ave. and stole $4,000 worth of jewelry and electronics.

Lighthouse Point

Oct. 25: An employee said a dealer’s tag was either lost or stolen from the business at 4800 N. Federal Hwy..

Oct. 25: The victim, who lives at 2820 NE 44 St., received a statement from a bank that a credit card was opened in his name. There was $1,000 in purchases made and the victim said he did not open an account. A credit card company also advised him a card was opened in his name and he said he didn’t open that account either.

Oct. 24: A male subject told the female victim that he needed help in using an ATM at 3600 N. Federal Hwy. The subject then grabbed $100 from the victim after she withdrew funds and fled.

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Posted on 17 November 2016 by LeslieM

Family Bed and Breakfast

Friday, Nov. 18, 3 p.m. to Sunday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m.

Quiet Waters Park

401 S. Powerline Rd.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

Activities include hayride on Friday night, a movie on Saturday night and a continental breakfast followed by a guided nature walk on Sunday morning. Each campsite features a 10-by-10-ft. platform tent fully set up, a fire ring, a barbecue grill, a picnic table, water and electricity, access to showers/restrooms. Campers are on their own for dinner both nights. Fees: $80/campsite (4 campers); $5/each per additional camper (limit 2). Pre-registration/pre-payment are required. One camper age 18 or older must be present at each campsite. For further information, call the park at 954-357-5100.

Family Movie in the Park

Friday, Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m.

Frank McDonough Park

3500 NE 27 Ave.

Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

The Lighthouse Point Cultural Arts Committee will be hosting a family movie in the park. For information, call 954-943-6500.

Movies on the Lawn – Good Dinosaur 3-D

Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

Great Lawn

3501 E. Atlantic Blvd.

Pompano Beach, FL 33062

Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Free, family friendly event. For more information, call 954-786-4111 or visit www.pompanobeachfl.gov.

Car Show

Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monarch High School

5050 Wiles Rd.

Coconut Creek FL 33073

Sponsored by Monarch High Knights Baseball. Trophies, food trucks, raffles, DJ and more. Car Clubs welcome. $10 entrance fee.

5th Annual Orchid Show & Sale

Saturday, Nov. 19 & Sunday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Emma Lou Olson Civic Center

1801 NE 6 St.

Pompano Beach, FL 33060

$5 admission, children under 12 free. For information, call 954-786-4111.

DB Chapter of Hadassah Meets

Monday, Nov. 21, Noon

Century Village

Le Club Activities Center, Rm. C

3501 West Dr.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

Speaker: Ron Raab, on the Jewish National Fund. Refreshments will be served. Guests are welcome, including snowbirds and chapters up north.For information, call 954-427-9902.

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.

NE Focal Point

227 NW 2 St.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Caregiver training and support group for individuals caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairments, dementia and cognitive limitations. Individuals who would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and available resources are also welcomed. Group held every Wednesday. For more information, call 954-480-4463.

African Chic Hair Show

Saturday, Nov. 19, 6 p.m.

Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex

445 SW 2 St.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Presented by Sequoia Beauty Expo. Natural hair education and free giveaways. For information, call 954-297-2687.

Orchard Supply Hardware Opening Events

340 S. Federal Hwy.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Info: 954-421-0266

Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

Meet the Scott Brothers

Straight from Reality TV, the Scott brothers are coming for a book signing and meet & greet. Bring your copy of their book Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide to Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House or purchase in-store to have it signed. Photo ops available with book only.

Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Housewarming Party

Tour the store, experience potting bench and work bench, make own Mason jar succulent, enjoy complimentary ice cream/shaved ice and much more.

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Posted on 17 November 2016 by LeslieM

Thanksgiving is a great time to recall the many blessings that surround us. If I were to write about every blessing that I have received, I am sure that there would not be enough ink and paper in the world. So I chose one in particular.

One of the blessings of my life, as well as the life of my family, is the blessing of being part of Southeastern Guide Dogs, which has its headquarters in Palmetto, FL. When our children were very small and I wanted to spend time with them and be visible in the community, my wife and I decided that this would be a great opportunity to accomplish both. As a pastor, I needed to find a new hobby or a new passion that was completely different than what I was doing in my career. So we started being “puppy raisers.”

Puppy raisers raise puppies and train them until they are old enough to return to Palmetto and complete their training to become Guide Dogs for the sight impaired. While many do not qualify for that very special job, most dogs take on another job such as arson dogs, classroom dogs to assist in reading, dogs that help people who suffer from seizures, etc. And, of course, some of them wind up as pets.

Some people told me that they thought it was cruel to subject children to the trauma of raising a puppy only to let them go. Then we, as a family, went to a graduation when the sight-impaired and their companion were venturing off into the world. My kids, at a very young age, realized that the rewards that came with this sacrifice far outweighed the heart-ache of saying goodbye.

Now, we have the privilege of being “breeder hosts.” We host a dog, Gizmo, who has given birth to three litters and will probably give birth to a total of four. We also hosted Bentley, who sired 82 puppies before he “retired.” Now he is our pet.

I share this because, through the experience my family and I have had with Southeastern Guide Dogs, we have seen God at work in a very profound way. We have a greater appreciation of our Creator because of the lives we have seen blessed by God’s creation.

This experience opened my eyes to the reality that God honors animals and created them to bless God’s people. I became keenly aware of the multiple times animals are mentioned in the Bible and the important roles that they have played throughout both the Hebrew and Greek Testaments.

From the beginning of humanity, God gave dominion to humans over the “fish of the sea, the birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 NRSV) And, when humanity disappointed God, God went out of his way to protect his creation by assigning Noah the task of building an ark for two of every creature (Genesis 6:19-20) and seven pairs of every clean animal (Genesis 7:2).

Animals even get honored and mentioned in the 10th Commandment when God warned us not to covet our neighbor’s oxen or donkey.

I was struck by some of the details in Jonah 3 when even the animals wore sackcloth as a sign of repentance in the city of Nineveh. (Imagine your pet in sackcloth) And, ever the stickler on details, God even knows when a sparrow falls. (Matthew 10:29)

And even if we move from animals to people, what profession was most honored in the Bible? I think we know it is the shepherd.

I am grateful to be a part of Southeastern Guide Dogs. I am grateful for the unique bond we had as a family that learned a skill together, a skill that has blessed numerous people. I am grateful for having four different puppies go through our loving hands and into the loving hands of people who cannot see, children who struggle with reading, people who suffer from seizures, or veterans in therapy.

Happy Thanksgiving and embrace this holiday as a time to count your blessings. Happy counting.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, contact 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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