Well, here we are...the last Tuesday in April. I've no idea how we got here so quickly but there's no denying the passage of time. Today's guest is new to me and brought to us by Adams Media, so please welcome Annette Hubble and see what she treasures....
The Grace in the Grace
“Dear Jesus, thank you for the food and thank you for building all the people.” That’s how four-year-old Wyatt began his prayer before dinner the other day. How sweet. How profound.
Throughout the world God offers his grace—free and unmerited favor—to anyone who asks. In my own hands, grace—the saying a prayer before a meal—offers to him the acknowledgement that everything I have is a glorious gift from him.
God built me. God sustains me. Saying grace before a meal gives me a moment to stop the world, so to speak, to breathe in his goodness, and to worship him. At times, I also find myself whispering for his mercy as well, remembering that in his grace he gives me the forgiveness I don’t deserve, and in his mercy he thankfully does not give me what I do deserve. Sometimes I have to think about that—which is which—but in the end I know that being conscious of his love for me gives moments meaning, and saying grace is one more opportunity to remember that. It is his grace in the grace that is yet another of his gifts.
The Look of Love
I treasure them, those looks of love. They are everywhere. God looks at me with love through the rainbow after a spring rain. Oh, the colors! I see that precious look in a baby’s eyes when he reaches for his mother. I even see it in my cat’s eyes when he greets me in the morning—he has a trill like a raccoon! Did you know you can create those looks of love? I do it all the time. I say hello to strangers—and for that moment they are no longer a stranger, but a friend and one of God’s children. I say hello to these friends as we pass each other on our way to or from the grocery store, in the aisles, at the checkout lane. The more solemn the person is, the greater the aha! moment when their entire face lights up in the pleasure of the hello. And who knows, I may have been the only person that valued them that day. God asks two things of us: to love him and to love others. I was a little hesitant at first—to greet someone who obviously was not interested, or lost in his or her own thoughts. For a while I even told myself I was respecting their privacy. That wasn’t the real reason of course—even an extrovert can be shy when it comes to strangers. But that’s the whole thing, isn’t it? I make it a point to not give anyone that passer-by nod—the polite hello without a smile. What would be the point? I would be the polite poser, not really interested in their well-being. And where’s the love in that?
Beautiful, Annette and so true! Now please tell us a little more about you and your book, A Spoonful of Grace....
Q: What inspired you to write your new book?
At a casual lunch with some friends, our host led us in a grace prayer before the meal, and the idea struck me like a bolt of lightning. But writing a book was the furthest thing from my mind—and I was not a faith scholar by any means. I think that’s why God gave me just a glimpse of the long journey ahead; otherwise I would have surely given up before I even got started, passing it off as merely a wistful dream.
I had grown up with the Catholic grace, and that was the only formal type of grace I knew. So, when our host began his grace, the Lutheran Grace, I was amazed with this new piece of information. There must be others, I concluded. What if I were to collect them—from all over the world—and create a book out of it? I began to imagine the diversity of prayers said by families from across the globe. I could even pair them with Scripture for added meaning. In effect, I would simply become a compiler—or so I thought. I sent out inquiries, asking everyone to share, eagerly awaiting the replies. What I got back surprised me. It seemed there were, in fact, only a very few standard graces; most of them are made up every evening according to how the day unfolds. Even more surprising were the responses of those who never said grace but wished they did, and would if they had some structure.
I set about to write, but publishers soon informed me that there had to be an application. Back to the drawing board to add what came to be the “Grace Notes,” or side bars—much like what you see in a Study Bible—to add context. Other publishers liked the idea, but only wanted a particular Bible version to be used. I felt that using multiple versions would speak to a wider audience. Overall, I needed a much bigger education to pull this off, so I studied and received a Certificate in Apologetics from Biola University, immersed myself in other Bible studies, and traveled throughout the Holy Lands. After ten years of work, prayer, and relying on God, A Spoonful of Grace is the result.
Q: What should parents know about this book?
A Spoonful of Grace is a collection of 366 evening meal graces taken from all 66 books of the Bible. They are designed to provide meaningful exposure to prayer and the Bible at a most opportune time: the family meal. They are unique, too, because each one is inspired by its companion Bible verse(s), designed to be read in its entirety in about two minutes, and enhanced by a section called “Grace Notes.” Using quotations and ideas to further illustrate the theme of the verse, these “Grace Notes” promote meaningful conversation and to even answer questions generated by the verse. Interestingly enough, I’ve had people—people who attend church often—tell me that saying grace, other than on special occasions, had never occurred to them. Each day’s grace and devotional are meant to be read aloud by all family members, with friendly, approachable illustrations that are short enough to keep the attention of hungry kids.
Q: How do you envision this book being used by families?
A Spoonful of Grace is suitable for every family, wherever its members are in their individual faith journeys. Whether parents are just beginning to integrate prayer and Scripture into their daily routine or already say grace together, this book sets the tone for family mealtimes—light-hearted, yet full of meaning and purpose. The Grace Notes allow children to think about actions and their ability to make choices. I envision the children taking turns reading each day’s grace, and the parents guiding the conversation around it.
This book, however, is not just for families. A seeker or new believer is given doses of theology in small, easily absorbed pieces. A Spoonful of Grace is also great for grandparents and caregivers, busy people who want to add more Bible reading into their lives, or people who would like to say grace with others but are uncertain how to start. Because Scripture is taken from easier-to-understand versions like The Message or the New International Version, adult students who are learning English would also benefit.
Q: Why do you believe it is important to create intentional family time in today's culture?
Mealtime conversation can often take on an intermission-like quality in a busy day, or saying grace can easily fall into an uninspiring routine, or something to get over with quickly. Designed to capture a young person’s interest, especially in response to the social media evolution, these graces are witty and to the point. With minimal effort, mealtime conversation is refocused into conversations about faith and values such as sharing, honesty, friendship, and honorable conduct. When I tested A Spoonful of Grace with some families, one said, “This consumed the entire conversation during dinner.” Another family told me that their 15-year-old appreciated his family more because they spend quality time together.
Q: You are also an actor and perform some unique plays. Tell us about those.
In 2007, my husband and I explored historical sites along the East Coast. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was a vacation that launched an acting career. Our Gettysburg B&B offered something no other Gettysburg B&B did: people gracing us daily with Civil War stories. Confederate scout Jeb Stuart regaled us of his exploits. A soldier taught us to fire a musket. A widow recounted her days caring for casualties. We were mesmerized, and I was hooked! The next day I awoke to an epiphany: tell the story of Gettysburg back home in San Diego. Tell it to students studying the Civil War—add depth to their study; engage their curiosity and intellect. The story needed to be compelling: one that focused on the battle, yet put in a greater context. It needed to be a story in which the character was able to stand invisibly alongside generals and soldiers to give people the sense of being there as the battle unfolds, and to answer the question of what happens after everyone picks up their weapons and moves on. There are many accounts of war and men, but what does a woman see? “Witness to Gettysburg” was born.
Word spread, and adults became interested. It wasn’t long before I, as the character Hattie, was telling her story in an expanded version in the theater and to civic and community organizations. As my confidence in performing grew, my learning of God’s word was on a somewhat parallel track. This gave me the ability to transform the play into a testimonial of sorts; one that allowed Hattie to express God’s place in her life and how he guided her through the tumultuous times that lay ahead.
I have two other productions in my little company: Tea with Mrs. Roosevelt, and Legends and Heroes. “Tea” is an endearing look at Eleanor’s life, what life was like for her, and how the First Lady helped shaped the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Legends” recounts the lives of eight people who were famous, or once very famous. The world, for the most part, does not know the journey of these world changers; that they were able to have such an impact because they followed God’s calling.
Q: What is your background in ministry and acting?
Learning on the job, so to speak, I began writing and acting in 2007 after retiring as General Manager of a water district. What started as a desire to infuse stories of real-life drama into children’s history lessons grew into a production company performing all over San Diego County. My studies and volunteer work in the church constitute my ministry training. To that end, I like what the apostle Mark (5:19) said, “Tell them how much the Lord has done for you.”
About Annette Hubbell:
Annette Hubbell earned her undergraduate degree in Marketing from San Diego State University, her M.B.A. from Cal State University in San Marcos, and a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. She has been featured in over 160 performances, and starred in the DVD, of “Witness to Gettysburg” edited by 33-time Emmy Award winner, Robert Gardner. She was awarded Presenter of the Year twice at the Civil War Round Table of San Diego, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Hubbell lives in San Diego, California with her husband of 33 years, Monte. They have a daughter, Amy, who lives with her husband, Scott, in Los Angeles, California. For more information, visit www.AnnetteHubbell.com or www.SpoonfulOfGrace.com.
Wonderful Annette! So glad you shared your treasures with us...this book sounds like something we would all treasure too.
Hope you enjoyed today's post, Friends and that you'll check back weekly for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.
Until next time...take care, God bless and may GRACE be with you always!