Christ and Crepes? Yes!

A burst of laughter rang out. I spun to witness a crepe in mid-air landing perfectly on Meredith’s crepe pan. Meredith and Steve broke out in a touchdown-like celebration filled with high fives and fist pumps. They laughed uncontrollably and cheered. I chuckled to myself and thought, “even in learning to make crepes, there’s competition!” I returned to my task…sautéing mushrooms, onions, chicken and mastering a mornay sauce to fill those flying crepes.

My favorite weekends are mom and daughter weekends spent with Meredith. On a recent trip to Dallas to see her, we signed up for a cooking class. Sweet and savory crepes were the challenge. I had no doubt we were in store for a treat and more treasured memories, but that day I mastered crepes and learned so much more.

Steve and his wife had also registered for the class. Steve had a little competitive streak, just like my Meredith. As the class progressed, Meredith and Steve teamed up over the range to flip crepe after crepe. Steve was around my age, old enough to be Meredith’s dad, but their conversation never lulled. As Steve’s wife and I prepared fillings for our sweet and savory crepes, I overheard their conversation. They talked jobs and travel, the usual stuff, and then the conversation segued to Christ. In the middle of flipping crepes, Meredith shared her belief in Jesus Christ and tales of her recent mission trip to the “Island of Old Cars.” Steve listened intently, respecting and absorbing every word.

“How does she do that,” I wondered.

If you’re like me, I’m not that comfortable talking about my faith. For years, I’ve felt inadequate in knowledge and feared being tested so I lived my faith under the radar, in my home and in my church. Comfortable and untested. Neatly compartmentalized. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do.

Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16

As I eavesdropped on Meredith and Steve’s conversation, I realized that Jesus Christ fits in every conversation, even while flipping crepes in a cooking class. As Christ-followers, our belief in Jesus Christ should be so comfortable and natural to us that we inject His story in every conversation, discuss His word in every situation. Can you imagine our world if we did that?

Maybe it’s time that Christians make talking about Christ as common as talking about the weather.

But what if you’re like me, uncomfortable?

Faith is like a child, growing from infant to adult, each child masters milestones at different paces until adulthood is achieved. If you’re an infant in your faith, pick one book of the Bible and read it slowly. Study it. Pray about it. Then read another one. As you spend time reading the Bible, knowledge and confidence replace those feelings of inadequacy.

When those feelings of inadequacy are erased, choose a trusted friend and intentionally make conversation about Jesus Christ a central part of your conversation. Just as it takes practice for a toddler to master walking, it takes practice becoming comfortable expressing your faith. Share your faith story with your trusted friend, a bit at a time, and ask her to share her faith story with you. Let your faith journey unfold in the comfort of that trusted friend. Together your faith will multiply.

I’m somewhere in between that toddler and pre-teen stage and Jackie is my chosen, trusted friend. For several years now, we talk about the Bible, talk about our faith, our strengths and where we fail. We read parts of the Bible and then question each other, fleshing out God’s truth and guidance as we tackle the daily issues of life. Whether discussing football or political candidates, most of our conversations naturally center on Christ and that’s comfortable. With each conversation and each passing day, I’m becoming more confident and bold in my faith. I’m growing into an adult–that mature Christ-follower God seeks–naturally sharing my faith in conversations with friends and strangers, just like the weather. Even if they’re flipping crepes.

As we give our time to God, we’ll feel His presence and His comfort. He’ll guide us to include Jesus Christ in our everyday conversations, first with friends, then with strangers. Together we will preach the gospel to all creation.

Just like crepes, conversations about Jesus Christ are sweet and meant to be savored!

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Faith Notes

I started piano lessons in the first grade. According to my mom, I banged rhythms on pots, pans and everything in sight so she signed me up for piano. My first teacher was our church’s organist. After I learned the basics, church hymns quickly became my practice material.

Trust me, I was no child prodigy. But to my Grandma Tegeler, I was…at least she made me feel that way!

Growing up in my little hometown with only one stop light, I’d ride my bike across town to Grandma’s house. In her sitting room sat a small Spinet organ, out of tune but with just enough octaves to practice. No matter what she was doing, we always ended up in that sitting room. I sat at that organ; she sat next to me in her rocking chair. Grandma would pick up her hymnal, call out one of her favorite hymns, and I’d do my best to play the hymn. I missed plenty of notes, but it didn’t matter to Grandma. If I struggled with a hymn, she simply encouraged me and read her Bible as I worked on the rough spots. When I learned a hymn so that the notes at least resembled the tune, we sang it together, over and over. Those hymns represented a repertoire of Grandma’s life in the church. Before we finished one hymn, Grandma had the next one picked. As the time came for me to bike back home, she always requested one last hymn–her favorite, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The first hymn I learned. Despite fumbling through most of the other hymns, I knew every note and every word of that hymn.

As a young girl, my Grandma Tegeler influenced my faith more than anyone else. Those singing sessions on her Spinet were more than piano practices, they were faith lessons. Just as I learned the notes of piano, she taught me the notes of faith found in the Bible. During those sessions, I soaked up her steadfast faith in Jesus Christ. Grandma not only taught me every single word of “What a Friend I Have in Jesus,” she lived her life modeling every single verse.

Have we trials and temptations? Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden? Take it to the Lord in prayer.

As I’ve traveled the road of my adult life, my Grandma has been gone for a number of years, but those precious hymn sessions stuck with me. As I struggle through a situation, I remember those faith notes.

I do have a friend in Jesus Christ. You do too. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Blessings,
Monica

P.S. In homage to my Grandma, I’ve posted her coffee cake recipe on my page titled “Recipes…made with love!” Between her jelly roll and coffee cake, she was always ready for visitors:)

A Simple Touch in the Midst of Chaos

I slid my hand into his large, calloused hand. And wept.

I wept over the chaos in our lives, the turmoil within our congregation. I wept because he didn’t reject my hand. I wept for the hope and promise beget in that small gesture. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” washed over me like a gentle summer rain. My voice quivered. More tears stained my face as the God-breathed prayer assured of forgiveness.

I’ve visited many churches and participated in many Christian activities where holding hands during a prayer is common. My husband has not. Our church does not. I respond to touch; I’m a hugger. My husband, Gary, not so much.

Chaos and overwhelming tasks have prevailed in our lives for quite some time. I desperately want to share with Gary the overwhelming love and peace I find in Jesus Christ. As iron sharpens iron, I long to dive into God’s word together. To challenge, to question, to absorb the scriptures together.

For several weeks now I’ve sat beside him in the church pew and prayed for the courage to reach over and take his hand in mine during the Lord’s Prayer. One small gesture that may lead him to feel God’s love as I do, to thirst God’s word as I thirst. Two weeks ago, I read the order of service in the bulletin, saw the familiar prayer, and began to pray for courage. I felt God’s assurance. I was determined this was the day. Then suddenly, with a tap on his shoulder, Gary stood to assist with the offering. After serving, he took a seat in the usher’s chair rather than returning to our pew—missed chance. My heart sank.

Sunday I repeated the prayer for courage as we sat down in the pew together. “Our Father who art in heaven”…I discreetly slid my hand over…“hallowed be thy name”…a second, more assertive nudge…“thy kingdom come”…and then he opened his hand to mine, our hands clasped together…“thy will be done”…my heart warmed. The tears fell.

At Bible Study this week, our women’s group discussed how the spirit of God hovered over the chaos and darkness before God commanded creation into being. God was present in that chaos. God is present in today’s chaos.

Just as God created the majestic heavens and earth out of chaos and darkness, God is creating something miraculous out of the chaos in our lives.

Rolled in Faith, Sprinkled in Love!

Simpler times. I find myself wishing for them.

As a young girl, I spent a lot of time in my Grandma Tegeler’s kitchen. She always had fresh baked goodies ready just in case someone stopped by to visit. Someone always did. Ladies from the church, the pastor, neighbors, family. Grandma was always ready to pour a cup of coffee and offer a slice of her fresh baked jelly roll. That was the neighborly thing to do.

I miss those days. Today’s rigid schedules of play dates and meetings seem to lack the spontaneity and authenticity of yesteryear’s drop in visits. I have fond memories of unplanned, last minute visits on many Saturday nights growing up. My parents had a circle of close friends–Shorty & Lucy, Georgia & Alvin–with children similar in age to me and my siblings. After a day of chores, with just a quick phone call, we were loaded in the car and headed over to one of their houses for an evening of fun. Dominoes for the adults, catching lightening bugs, playing in the creek, climbing trees, and hide and seek for the kids.

My Grandma and my parents made time for family and friends. They were always ready just in case someone called or dropped by to visit. For those who know me personally, you know I’m not ready.

To do lists overwhelm. Schedules overlap. Obligations siphon precious time out of my day. But even Jesus made time for rest commanding his apostles, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31. Jesus also taught usto love our neighbors as ourselves.” Matthew 19:19.

Those impromptu visits of my childhood were opportunities to rest from the chores of the day while loving our neighbors at the same time. From pre-teens then to adults now, our paths have taken us on many different journeys, but we pick right back up as if time stood still when our hurried paths cross. Exchanging hugs, bonds created more than forty years ago still remain. In those moments, love resurfaces.

I want to get ready, just in case. I yearn to rest in the company of a long-time friend. I long to live my life in a way that I’ll be ready for a spontaneous visit, a cup of coffee, and time together with Jesus. With the hurried pace of this world, undoubtedly I will fail, but when I take time for one friend, one family member, just one person, love wins.

Christ wins.

Craving those simpler times, I’ve been determined to find Grandma’s recipe. I found it, along with several others! Just a few weeks ago, I baked my first jelly roll in more than twenty-five years.  I’ll bake more.  Just like Grandma, I’m getting ready to serve a cup of coffee and a slice of jelly roll…rolled in faith and sprinkled with Christ’s love!

Together in Christ,
Monica

As a bonus, you can find Grandma Tegeler’s jelly roll recipe on my “Recipes…made with love” page. Enjoy!

 

 

Living Forward

Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the “stuff.” We hold onto things with sentimental value thinking it means we love someone.

I’m guilty. My family is guilty.

My husband, Gary, is an only child. Our house is filled with furniture, dishes, and knick-knacks after the loss of his aunt and his mom. We have boxes of things from his uncle stacked in storage. The items mean something to us, evoke wonderful memories, but at this point we don’t even know what’s in the boxes anymore.

Tomorrow marks one year since Gary’s dad left this earth and met our heavenly Father. Meredith’s beloved Grandpa. Our courageous “Grandpa.” Just a stone’s throw down the road sets his wood frame home filled with 1,300 square feet of more stuff. There’s a barn filled with the things that he touched, he tinkered with, he made. Grandpa was the great repurposer. He repurposed before “repurpose” became a popular concept. Surviving the depression, he always said, “I might need that.”

Do we feel overwhelmed? Yes.

We love Grandpa and we miss him. We love Micki & Sammy, Gary’s mom & aunt, and we still miss them after 18 years. But it is time for us to look forward, rather than backward, and we’re taking the first step: realizing that the present is the three of us and God has great plans for us. And, we’re striving to take the second step: acknowledging that we can’t keep all of the stuff that holds sentimental value to us.

As I mowed our yard recently, Grandpa’s yellow house stood brightly against the blue sky. With an acre to mow, I had lots of time to think about all the contents sitting in that house, mentally walking through each room. For the first time in a year, I felt no guilt as I pondered the items to remove from Grandpa’s house and place in the first garage sale. To let stuff go. My thoughts wandered from Grandpa’s stuff to the 24 year old baby bed, stroller, and high chair filling up a dilapidated storage building on our property, faded and covered in dust. “Let it go,” God whispered.

That first garage sale was yesterday.

Living forward won. Guilt lost. Our love isn’t in the stuff. It’s in the time we spend together and memories we make while living life in the present. Living forward means living in the now, living for the three of us, loving each other, encouraging each other, planning new adventures and creating memories while we continue to grow in faith, together and separately.

Living forward…that’s what God wants us to do. Holding onto stuff can be stifling and burdensome; love loses when you’re overwhelmed. Stuff won’t make our love stronger. Living life fully will.

Grandpa grew up in the roaring 20’s, survived the Great Depression, went to battle and sailed the oceans in World War II. He lived fully, and loved God and family for 92 years so I know he’d want us to do the same. Love isn’t in holding onto his stuff. His love remains in our hearts and vibrantly lives in our memories; nothing can take that away.

Today we begin living forward. Gary, Meredith & I choose to love God and each other, letting go of the stuff while wrapped in the memories of the love we shared with Grandpa, Grandma, and Aunt Sammy.

How about you? Are you overwhelmed with stored treasures, holding onto the past? Are you holding onto stuff rather than living forward?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Today, look upward. Living forward.