Everlasting Love

courtesy coral castle museumby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Saturday, February 14 is a day set aside to recognize and celebrate the loved ones in our lives. A time to think of couples with romantic connections. Couples such as:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Tony and Maria
  • Bugs and Elmer
  • Edward Leedskalnin and Agnes Scuffs

Who?

courtesy coral castle museumFrom 1923 to 1951, Ed Leedskalnin single-handedly carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock using nothing but home made tools to complete his masterpiece.

When Ed was 26-years-old, he met and fell in love with 16-year-old Agnes. The day before their wedding, Agnes changed her mind. She told her betrothed she no longer wanted to marry him.

Devastated, Ed left his homeland of Latvia and set sail for America. He eventually ended up near Miami, Florida where there was an abundance of coral which had turned into rock.

Using his stone masonry skills, Ed created a coral castle for the love of his life in coral castlehopes it would convince Agnes of his everlasting love and prompt her to live with him forever.

Although the castle was completed, and still stands as a monument to his devotion, Agnes never did marry Ed.

How sad.

While some called the man crazy, he preferred the title, eccentric.

Everything inside Ed’s castle was made of coral stone or items he picked up from junkyards. Chairs, stairs, gates, self-heating bath, tower, even a heart shaped table with a potted plant so Agnes would always have flowers.

bing images

A sign above a bell at the entrance to his castle informed visitors they were to ring twice if they wanted admittance. Should they fail to follow Ed’s instructions, he either ignored them or told them, “Go away. You can’t follow directions and you might break something.”

When I first learned of Ed and his coral castle years ago while we lived in Florida, I drew a comparison to another man who sacrificed much for his love. A person who wanted to spend eternity with his Bride.

Jesus.

Jesus left his home in heaven and traveled this land we call Earth to prove how much he loves us and to woo us to himself. To show just how great his love for us was, and is, Christ suffered much. Even to the point of death on the cross of Calvary. All to make a way for us to live with him forever.

After his death and resurrection Jesus returned home. That’s where he is now. Preparing courtesy coral castle museuma castle just for us. One that has lots of special rooms and furnishings. One made by the scars of his own hands.

Just like Agnes rejected Ed’s love, many reject Jesus’ perfect love. They don’t want him to be part of their life.

How sad.

They think the whole idea of someone dying for them, paying the price for their sins so they can be forgiven and be a part of the Kingdom of God is crazy. Insane. Far beyond eccentric.

There’s a sign placed above the entrance to heaven, too, you know. It says we have to follow the rules if we expect admittance. Just like Ed’s rule, God’s rule is pretty simple.

Accept his son as Savior and Lord.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:  “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Happy Valentine’s Day Gluten-free Italian Wedding Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

According to Wikipedia, Bishop Demetri of the Orthodox Research Institute states that “St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D, a time when the church was enduring great persecution. His ministry was to help the Christians to escape this persecution, and to provide them the sacraments, such as marriage, which were outlawed by the Roman Empire at that time.”

In order to remind those whose weddings he performed of God’s love, and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians. A possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on Saint Valentine’s Day.

The first Valentine’s card I remember receiving was in first grade, from Terry. My secret admirer. Sigh.

 

Recently, Pilot – my forever Valentine, Pie, Explorer, and I were eating at one of our favorite bar-b-que joints.  Pie had a slice of homemade Italian Wedding Cake. Oh, my. I looked longingly at that luscious, gluten-filled dessert, and expressed my sorrow at not being able to eat it.

Pie suggested I try making Italian Wedding Cake with a box of Betty Crocker Gluten-free cake mix. Hmm…

So, I gave it a go.

I’ve posted the recipe so you can make your own gluten-free Italian Wedding Cake for that special Valentine of yours. Or, make it for yourself, and eat the whole thing! You’re worth it.

Gluten-free Italian Wedding Cake

  • 1 box gluten-free yellow cake mix (I used King Arthur brand, which is larger than Betty Crocker, but either would be fine.)
  • Whatever ingredients your cake mix calls for. King Arthur calls for:
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 Cup buttermilk (to make buttermilk, add I Tablespoon lemon juice OR white vinegar to milk. Let sit 5 minutes.)
  • This is where you add the following ingredients, regardless of your chosen cake mix
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 Cup flake coconut, divided
  • 2 Cups chopped pecans, divided
  • 2 (16 oz) containers cream cheese frosting, or you can make your own cream cheese icing.

Preheat oven to temperature recommended on cake mix box.

Prepare 2 (8 in) cake pans as per directions on box.

In large bowl, combine cake mix according to directions on box.

Add extracts when you add the liquid. Fold in crushed pineapple, coconut, and 1 cup pecans. Divide batter into 2 prepared cake pans. Bake according to directions on box.

 

Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out on to wire racks to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, stir together remaining 1 cup pecans and 1/2 cup coconut with the icing.

With a serrated knife, cut both cakes horizontally to make 4 layers. Frost the top of each layer with 1/2 cup of icing and stack on top of the next layer. Use remaining icing to frost the entire outside of the cake. To make sure you have enough icing to ice the entire cake, draw a knife through your icing and divide it into quarters before you start frosting the cake. Frost sparingly between layers.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of the cake.

I wish you well.

Sandy

 

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