God and Hot Fudge Sundaes

Hot Fudge SundaeOften times, okay – all the time, my own personal blog posts come straight from the hip and my heart. No exception here.

Last week, I took a day and went to Ann Arbor with a friend. We poked around World Market and REI. (btw, if you have teensy feet, check the kids’ section if you are looking for shoes. I bought a $100 pair of Keens for $50 – I have little feet.)

We stopped at Chipotle for lunch, we both ate fabulously healthy meals, no chips, had water. The sun was shining, the sky was blue. On the way home her car – OH MY GOODNESS –  I don’t know how it happened – it turned into one of our favorite ice cream stores and before we knew it, I was gently eating my hot fudge sundae, as she, with lady-like precision was enjoying her waffle cone FULL of caramel (pronounced CAAR-a-mel) praline. It was the oddest thing.

Okay – that’s the back story – there’s always a back story.

Today, during my devotions, I thought about my hot fudge sundae, with lots of fudge, enough whipped cream to power a pie, nuts and, of course, the cherry on top. Where does God fit into all of this? Well, here you go:

At the beginning of last year, I began to pray, God – show me Your glory. In the lives of my mom, kids, friends, blither blather. Oh, and yea, mine as well. I’d like a hot fudge sundae, fully loaded, okay? Throughout the year, I had many naysayers – well, what if, maybe He won’t, maybe you ask too much,, etc.

The year began with the news that my #4.3 and his bride would be extending their family by 1, and in September, the Most Revered Princess Buttercup appeared. I may have cried. A lot.

The summer came and went, and in the fall, I decided I wanted some ice cream. I went to the supermarket, bought some. I was sure I’d put the toppings in my cart as well. I ate it. It was awful. Truly. Awful. Sat in my gut like a rock. I’d left the toppings AT THE STORE! Silly girl. I tried to go back, but something ALWAYS came up.

Somewhere along the way, I’d written down the kind of ice cream, nuts, extra fudge, how much whipped cream, even how I like the cherry.

Finally, out of complete exasperation, I said. FINE. God. Fine. You don’t want me to have MY sundae MY WAY. Fine. ~ insert Jersey Girl hair flip ~ whatever.

As last year was drawing to a close, the Lord handed me a cup. I thought, well, God, that’s an interesting container, but okay. Seems not like the cup I’d have picked, but okay. Time passed, and He began to put the ice cream in it- mint chocolate chip, my favorite – sometimes it spilled out. I remember telling my daughter in law, sometimes, it spills out of my neat little cup.

He slowly, as in ever so slowly, added the fudge. Then, He added more. I like fudge. Almost more than the ice cream. Then, the nuts. Not only did He add the nuts, but! Sugar coated – a girls’ dream come true. The whipped cream? Girl, you’ve no idea. Not ONE pie, but two. Then, the cherry. Perfectly off-center, just like I like it.

Today, I sit here carefully, and slowly enjoying my God-built Hot Fudge Sundae; every single solitary nibble.

Here’s the real deal – When we pray, we pray expecting God to do BIG things. We also hand him our well-written, well thought out list. Okay, maybe YOU don’t, but I do. Then, when He completely shreds our list, we (okay, I) get angry. We shake our fist, we don’t ‘understand’ why it didn’t go ‘my’ way. You completely give up. Okay, God – I’m 100% thankful you are showing me Your glory in other peoples’ lives. I guess those who doubted my dreams, hopes, desires were right. I can be 100% okay(ish) with that.

And then – He: according to HIS promises – quietly says, your time is come. Remember the things you asked of Me? Remember you wrote, I bring beauty from ashes? That I make ALL things beautiful in their time? That you wrote, read, and believed that I will do BIGGER AND BETTER than you could ever ask or imagine? Remember that you had inscribed, and wear on your wrist, Be anxious for nothing? With thanksgiving – let your prayers be known to Me?

God and Hot Fudge Sundaes. He knows far better than you do what your perfect Sundae will look like; and He heard my plea – He was, after all, at work.

Re-read this: Somewhere along the way, I’d written down the kind of ice cream, nuts, extra fudge, how much whipped cream, even how I like the cherry.

I found that list the other day – to be honest, I’d forgotten I’d written it. The Sundae that the Lord built for me is there. He is faithful, even when we cannot see it. He TRULY is in the waiting. Gosh, it’s h.a.r.d. to wait.

Until next time,

Laura Grayce ~ taking every day, step by step with grace

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The Other Side of Widowhood

widowhoodAs I sat at dinner the other night with a friend, I began to put into words what I will call the other side of widowhood.

We were discussing relationships, yes, the male/female kind, and how often times there could be misconceptions of perfection.

My journey is so different from many of the widows I know, or some with whom I have an acquaintance. However, I would bet that my journey mirrors many, but we don’t talk about it.

Let’s step back a bit. My teen/high school years sucked. No other way to say that. However, I fell head over heels with a guy I met in a parking lot. That is not a joke. On Friday nights, a handful of us ‘smarter than the rest’ would head to a local mall, as it was car night. Car night can give some girls all the right feels – and I’m one of them.

He was older than me, went to a different high school, heck, he even lived in another state. That being said, the parking lot sat just about on the border of my state and his.  Nobody I hung out with knew him, and I was so good with that. Like I said, high school sucked.

I was 16 going on 17; he was 19 going on 20. He was 100% in. 100%. We fell in love, and I don’t say that lightly. We made plans. He had eyes for no one else, I had eyes for no one else. We were young, in love and OH SO immature. Gosh, hindsight can just be a beautiful thing sometimes.

He joined the Army, and after boot camp, went to Germany. Okay – he came home for Christmas, and we looked at rings. Life was beautiful. This was my reality. I was 100% in, he was 100% in. Then, he told me that his brother in law had pulled some strings, and his assignment was going to be different. ~ screech ~ wait, just a second, you just totally changed our reality. Or, so it seemed. Remember, the entire 16 part? I remember crawling into my dad’s lap (the only time I ever remember being able to do that) and just. Crying. Anyhow, he left for the new assignment. I fled. Because, well, running away fixes everything.

None of the next several months are relevant. We talked on the phone, I begged him to change his mind, duh, you cannot do that in the Army. My actions deeply hurt him.

I went home, and wrote him a very long letter. I never heard back. I was broken. I knew I’d made a stupid, dumb, (by then) 17-year-old decision.

A few months later, I met Ted. Here’s where you can read all about the rainbows and unicorns. But. The reality is, our life was far from rainbows and unicorns.

Now, here’s the tricky part. Ted is gone, and there is no way, not one little chance that in a public setting, which this blog is, will I discuss, nor divulge the ‘ugly’ parts of our marriage. I sat at lunch one day with a guy I met at church, and he asked me a legitimate question about Ted, and my answer was – ‘we had some pretty okay middle years’. Or, as my oldest son once said, he was ‘40% a good husband’. I can stand by that.  Now, let me say, that there is NOT ONE DAY that goes by that I ‘regret’ anything. Could I have done things differently, sure. Who can’t say that? Remember the rainbows and unicorns. I choose to do so.

Now, yup – we were married 35+ years. Yup. We had six children. Sounds pretty close to perfect doesn’t it? When you meet me, you think – wow. A successful marriage. Okay, sure. If you choose to see it that way.

But, here’s the meat of this blog post. It wasn’t. It was broken, it was hard, it was painful, it was bone crushing at times. It was separation, it was a stand-off reconciliation, followed by illness and death.

His death was, in many ways, relief. That is a sad state of affairs, when, upon the death of your spouse, you feel a sense of relief.  Was there grief? Oh. Let me tell you. 100%, yes. Grief for the ‘should have been’ Grief for, well. The should have been.

I remember attending a grief support group, and at the end, we’d all hold hands, we’d say our loved ones’ name, and say I miss you. One meeting, I thought, hmm, well, I don’t. That gave me the courage to begin to see my widowhood in a different light.

You see, I don’t have to say his name. Along with that, I don’t have to feel guilty for NOT saying his name. I don’t have to hold someone to his standard, or compare A to B. Do I see him every day? Of course. I have six of his children. Does that mean I still grieve over the ‘should have been’? Actually no.

I am not the 17-year-old girl who ran away from a dream. I am not 53-year-old woman who became a widow. I’ll even go on record and say there are many, many days Ted doesn’t even cross my mind. You may think that is horrid, but from my side of the story, it isn’t.

I’m not even the 55-year old woman who walked into this relationship. The beautiful, hard, mysterious things I learned through, and from that, have shaped me to who I am today.

Perhaps you, too, see life from the other side of widowhood, please, my friend, don’t feel guilty. Don’t be sad that yours ‘looks’ different than theirs. Our journeys shape and mold us. We can choose to learn and grow, or, well. Not.

If someone crashes into your world, and you believe it could be ‘good’, then go in with a pair of 2’s, even if you don’t have an ace kicker, even if you lose.  If you risk nothing, you lose it all anyhow.  We ALL have junk. Anyone that says they don’t, they are 100% wrong. However, life is a beautiful mess, find that person that will give you 100%.  I used to refer to that as chapter 2. I don’t anymore – for me, when that person shows up who can take my 100%, and give me his 100%, it will be an entirely new story, because I’m not who I was, neither are you.

Go write your story, my beautiful friend. As I like to say, no retreat, no surrender.

Oh, and before I forget. I never saw ‘him’ again. My high school sweetheart.  However, he did go to my house one day. I wasn’t home. My mom, she told him I was seeing someone else.

My story isn’t over. I will continue, step by step, with Grace.

Blessings,
Laura Grayce

Food Prep 101

The other day I posted some pictures on My One Fit Life’s private fb accountability group with food prep going down in my kitchen20180107_140811

A friend commented, Oh, I need a lesson in food prep, so here it is, Robin! Your lesson.

First thing you should know: I’m a lazy cook.  What does that mean? A couple of things actually.

1) It means if the recipe starts anything like this: In your food processor ~ I ‘may’ look at it to determine whether or not my blender will do the job. If not, poof. It’s gone. I don’t have a food processor, nor do I want one. Two other kitchen items, one an InstaPot. Just say no. I’m sure most think that’s heretical, but, I can’t fathom the need.  Crockpot. Yes, I have one, no I don’t use it.

2) If the recipe has more than 5 ingredients, it’s typically POOF also.  Sure, some of my personal ones do go above five, but when determining a new recipe, naa, like I said: Lazy Cook.  Also, if by the time I’m done reading the instructions, and my eyes have glazed over, it’s gone.

As a homeschool mom of six, dinner making time was at a premium.  There was a time when I actually did once a month cooking, but it got boring, and old.  I also found that we tossed food, as the choices where limited.
Long before ‘food prep’ became an in thing, I did it. This is how it went down:
Day 1 – meal planning, and list.
Day 2 – shop.
Day 3 – this is the ‘fun’ day.  Cook.  I would cook ALL my ground beef, and then portion it out into zip-loc bags. I’d only season it as far as garlic/onion/salt and pepper, because any of those bags could turn into chili, goulash, lasagna, spaghetti, etc. I’d pre-cook various noodles. Just ‘most’ of the way, and freeze them also. Boil and bone chickens for different meals, too – Chicken Divan, chicken and dumplings, chicken salad, etc. We would lay all the zip-loc bags flat to optimize our freezer space, as we didn’t have a deep freeze, either.

Fast forward to my ‘food prep’ of today. My family dynamic has completely changed, as I no longer have six children at home, and I’m a widow, therefore, I cook for myself. That doesn’t change the importance of pre-planning, or pre-cooking. I still: 20180107_153710
Day 1 – meal planning, and list
Day 2 – shop. Though, now, day two includes cooking.
It took me two hours to prepare:
Roasted beets; roasted brussel sprouts; bbq sauce; orange chicken; roasted sweet potatoes and creamy avocado dressing.

When you are roasting your veggies, add whatever seasoning you like.  My sweets have onion, garlic, fennel, salt and pepper on them. Brussels have onion, salt, pepper and some balsamic vinaigrette.  Season to your taste buds.

Make your recipes as simple as possible. Instead of making four gallons of chili sauce, make four gallons (hyperbole) of tomato sauce flavored with the basics. That way it can turn into anything that requires a red sauce. I mean, what if you have all that chili sauce and you decide to make manicotti? You’d have to make more sauce!

Personally, for me, the trick is, don’t over think it.  Timing is everything. Think about your oven, and the time needed for each food.  For instance, I made the bbq sauce first, as I wanted my chicken in the oven.  When it went in, I prepared my beets, wrapped them up, and in the oven they went along side the chicken. Next, I got the brussel sprouts ready. Tossed them around in my cast-iron frying pan, and placed them in my toaster oven.  I could have easily added the roasting (cookie sheet) pan to the bottom rack of my oven. I then chopped up my sweet potatoes, and 20180107_161817WITHOUT CLEANING OUT THE FRYING PAN, I cooked them a bit.  Don’t freak out about the ‘not cleaning the pan’ part. To me, this is half the battle. Re-use your stuff!  You don’t need to wash you pan, your knife, your bowl, your blender, etc. If necessary, rinse it out.  (For instance, if you goof and make your avocado spread before putting together your protein pancakes in your blender, then, yea, rinse it out. Your pancakes could taste funny).
While the chicken and the beets were finishing, I cleaned up the amazing mess that was now my kitchen.  Chicken and beets came out; sweet potatoes went in.

Everything is now sitting nicely in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten as I see fit.

To re-cap: Plan and shop. Chop your onions and garlic for everything first. Make a plan of attack. i.e., what has to be done first. Cook your meats all at once, and freeze separately.  Don’t wash everything in-between, wipe out and keep going. Make a mess. Drink a glass of wine. Dance to your favorite beat. Do dishes ONCE.  Be a lazy cook.

Blessings,

Growing in Grace,
Laura Grayce
graycewritingservices@gmail.com

 

Three Face Lines ~ A Primer

confused-womanBy now, you’ve heard the news, Beautycounter launched a third set of an incredible, plant-based regimen for your face. You are also probably wondering, ‘which one should I choose’? Today’s post should answer your questions, so, let’s go!

The Nourishing Collection is a fantastic place to start with Beautycounter. NourishingThe creamy formulas of the cleanser and exfoliator work well with normal, and normal/dry skin types. Good for you, your teens, whatever your age.  A terrific choice.  Formulated with organic coconut oil, and helps to remove impurities, softens and moisturizes your face.

 

countermatch

Countermatch – the new kid on the block. This line addresses dullness, skin texture and is formulated to adjust the necessary hydration level that impacts your specific skin. Any skin type responds well; normal, dry, combo, oily and sensitive skin. Countermatch provides hydration, nutrition and oxygen for vibrant, smooth skin. This does not have a specific cleanser, either the Nourishing Cleanser, or the Countertime works well.  That’s up to your personal choice.

countertime

The Countertime Rejuvinating Collection is designed to address the issues of fine lines, wrinkles and aging.  Works well with all skin types. The Jambu extract on which this formulation is build responds to aging stressors and rejuvenates the skin.

 

There you have it. The differences in the three face lines that we have available to you.  If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help!

Growing in Grace, taking every day step by step,

Laura G.
lgbeck59@gmail.com

Beautycounter by Laura-Grayce

 

 

I am NOT an ‘Other’

I received a packet of information the other day from a new physician’s office.  You know the ones, tell us when you stubbed your toe last, (well, for me, seconds before I opened the packet ~ true story), when was your last ~fill in the blank~.

I’m merrily filling it out, and I see this: “single” “married” “other”. YNot An Otheres, I was filling the form out in purple, but, as you can see, I changed to red, crossed out ‘other’ and wrote in widow.

I am NOT an other.

I AM ~ A Widow.

I AM. Part of a group of women that is close to 245 million worldwide, and at least 13.6 million in the U.S.

I AM ~  A warrior.  In a blink of an eye, I went from safe, protected, with provision; to unsafe, unprotected; with no provision. I rose from the ashes, straightened my crown, and learned how to walk with confidence.

I AM ~ Brave. I took back areas that were stolen from me. I took back my health and my life. I challenged myself to do things I’ve never done or thought about. I learned I could do anything. I’ve hiked more steps, kayaked more waters, and pushed so far out of my comfort zone then I ever thought possible. Everything I do today is ‘out of my comfort zone’, but I do it. As a widow, you learn that ‘yes, you can’. Because you have to.

I AM ~ A Young Widow. The average age of a widow is 55.  I was 53 when I became a widow. I am not old, I am not ‘beyond my prime’, I am strong, I am confident, I am enough. I have linked arm in arm with other widows, broken down the stereotypical ‘view’ of what a widow should look like.

I AM ~ NOT AN OTHER. 

~ Blessings
Taking each day, step by step with Grayce,
Laura Grayce

 

The Bracelet Story

Recently I had the privilege of spending time with a lovely group of ladies I’d not met before.  One of them noticed my bracelet, and commented on it, and asked if there was a story behind it.  I said, yes, and told them the story.  This morning, I woke up and decided to tell The Bracelet Story.

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I’m a widow.  If this is the first time reading, then, there you have it.  I am a widow.  I joined the worst club in the world about 3.5 years ago.  I don’t tell you that for you to feel sorry for me, or to ask questions, I tell you that for a bit of a back story, and to help you understand that the bracelet isn’t about that part of my story.

I had met him at church in the spring of 2016, – pause – actually, I first saw him in October of 2015, it was a ‘huh’ moment,,, – hit play; and we talked every Sunday, or mostly every Sunday, sometimes one of us wasn’t there,  about darn near everything.  I mean. everything.  We laughed, we joked, we became ‘church friends’. I prayed.  I prayed some more. I may have prayed again.

In the fall of 2016, we became more than church friends.  I took a chance, and stepped about as far out of my comfort zone as possible, and went out with him. He was right – it seemed.  His jam was my jam.  Music. Movies. Stuff.

It was amazing, it was fun, it was exciting, it was crazy, it was confusing, confounding, intense, dreamy, head spinning, heart pounding, TEARS FLOWING, plain ol’ nuts.  Sweep me off my feet, type of all of the above. bracelet_story

(Here’s my gift to you – don’t let anyone tell you that dating as an adult is an easy walk.  IT. IS. NOT.)

We laughed together, we joked together, we were honest with each other, we – well. I’m sure by now you get the picture.  He met my #6, and they really clicked.  YEA!! ONE DOWN, FIVE TO GO!

And then. It crashed.  Hard.  Subsequently, I crashed. Harder. The month after the crash was, from my vantage point, harder than the death of my husband.

As I pondered the affect the crash of 2017 had on me, I realized that in my life, two songs represented my feelings.  One is Thy Will Be Done.  While I may NEVER understand, how my broken heart is a part of HIS plan, my step is ‘thy will be done’.  What the Lord has for me, WILL NOT pass by me, as HIS promises are all ‘yes and amen’.

I met a young lady at our local farmer’s market, and she crafted my bracelet for me.  Because, you see, according to Phil. 4:6-7, I am to be anxious for nothing, but IN EVERYTHING with fear and supplication, I am to let my request be made known to God, and the PEACE OF GOD will guard my HEART and mind in Christ Jesus.  Why?  Because at the end of the day, as the three little birds pitch by my doorstep, I’m reminded that every little thing is gonna be alright.

There you have it.  My story isn’t over.  I wake up every morning and am reminded that step by step The Lord leads me.  Your story isn’t over either.

Take every day,
Step by Step

Growing in Grace,
Laura G.

Save

Save

Complete.

What do you think when you read that word?  Complete.  You finished something, checked everything off your list, closed the book on the last page of the last chapter.
The dictionary definition reads:
Complete:
adjective
1. having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full:
a complete set of Mark Twain’s writings.

~~~ SCREECH! Wait?  What?!?  That sounds so final.  While, on the one hand, I agree.  When you complete something, it’s done, yet on the other,,,,
When Christ hmissioncompleteung and died on the Cross, it was done.  He even said so – It is Finished.  Or, was it?  No.  On the third day, He arose from the Grave.  Without His resurrection, Christ’s work on the cross was not complete.  There was more to be done.
That brings me to the heart of the matter.  You may or may not be aware, but, in November of 2015, I was gifted Scuba Diving lessons from Live The List Non-Profit.

The folks at Aqua-Hut were amazing.  They understood why I was there, gave fantastic instructions, encouraged me, and knew I could do it.

But.  Mid-spring came and I began to feel like going was not in my wheel house.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the water, I loved what being under the water brought to my soul, my body and my mind. However, I was feeling this isn’t ‘for’ me.  For several months, I felt guilty about not going.  This wasn’t my money.  This was from donations; therefore, I knew I had to ‘complete’ my classes and get certified.

Summer? was a blur.  Busy doesn’t define it for me, I kept saying, I’ll go back ‘tomorrow’.  We all know tomorrow never comes – unless, of course, you are Scarlett O’Hara.

Fall came.  My life was changing, my desires were changing, my ‘list’ was changing. My ‘list’ became hiking, kayaking, backpacking, climbing a mountain.  That, my friends, is not scuba diving!

BUT.  The story isn’t over.  The lessons I did take, the things I did learn, were not so much about scuba, but, about me.  My lessons were complete.  At least, those lessons.  Did I complete my certification? No.  Yet, I’m okay with that.  I did complete that chapter.  My book isn’t done being written yet, but, Scuba completed what I needed.  I grew and stretched in personal, emotional, and spiritual ways I didn’t even know possible. My fire, once smoldering, has been re-kindled.

Maybe you are not sure what sparks you, I’d encourage you to go find out!  I’d also encourage you to not be disappointed in yourself if ‘complete’ looks different than the dictionary definition.

If you ask me, did you ‘complete’ your scuba? My answer will be most assuredly, YES!

Thanks for following along, I’d love your feedback!
Growing in Grace,
Laura G.