Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Low-fat Caramel Bars for Fall

Would you rather cook, or bake? If you said "Bake," you might enjoy this low-fat recipe for caramel bars, one of our favorites for fall. Each 2”x 3” square contains only 2 grams of fat, and it’s a breeze to put together.

Golden Goodie Bars
2 ¼ cups of Bisquick® or other baking mix
1 ½ cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1.      Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.      Blend baking mix, eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Stir until mixed well. *
3.      Spread dough in greased and floured (or sprayed with non-fat cooking spray) oblong pan, 13 x 9 x 2. I like to sprinkle fall colored cake decorations on top before baking, to give it a festive look.
4.      Bake about 30-35 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.
*You can blend in 1 cup of chopped nuts, coconut, or chocolate chips, but this will add to the fat content. 
This is a fun, fast recipe for little ones to help with, since it only has four ingredients, and it’s nearly impossible to ruin!

Do you have a favorite fall recipe that your family loves?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Another Chance at Love: A Story for 9-11

As I stared out the car window, Kevin’s words jolted me alert: “Today is the tenth anniversary of my crash into Sugar Creek.”

I sucked in air, blinked. “Oh, wow. I’ve been thinking so much about 9/11, I forgot that just a few days before, I almost lost you.” My sigh filled the front seat. “I’m so thankful you lived…”

Ten years rushed back. Kev and I stood on the bridge over Sugar Creek, our arms tight around each other. We watched, numb with shock, as the towing crew worked for hours to drag our overturned car under the bridge and up the bank. A copse of trees along the bank nearest the car blocked the way for them to tow it up that side. It was between those trees and the bridge railing that Kevin had sailed, flipping upside down into the creek.

“I remember thinking, ‘I need to get control of this car,’” he told me. “I must have blown a tire, but I felt like I was driving on ice. The next thing I knew, I was covered in water from my waist up. It took me a few seconds to realize I was hanging upside down by my seatbelt. The water had come in through the open window.”

My husband does not swim. If the crash had knocked him out, he’d have drowned. And because the car settled under the bridge, no one driving along would have seen it. He might have lain there for days before anyone discovered him.

I shivered at the thought. “How did you get out?” I said.

“I wrestled my seatbelt open and crawled through the window. I couldn’t find my glasses—the impact knocked them off. But I managed to crawl up the bank and walk down the road to Bill McConkey’s. He called the sheriff to report my accident.” I looked up at his eyes, clear brown and alive, then down again quick into the murky water.

Not until later that night did I let the tears flow. I sobbed my remorse to the Lord for the creekful of times I’d been impatient with Kev, the harsh words, the stubbornness. I admitted how I’d taken him for granted; not appreciated how he enriched and nourished me. And how quickly a single act can snatch a loved one from your life.

9-11 might have been Kevin’s burial day. For many it was.

I won’t pretend to understand why thousands had to say an early goodbye to loved ones that horrible September day, and I circumvented that grief. I know God didn’t will the horror of 9-11. Evil men planned it, and He never allies Himself with evil.

But just as He caused gardens to grow from the rubble and gave hope to broken hearts in the aftermath of 9-11, He has given me another day, another decade, another chance to love. I don’t need to figure it out to say, “Thank You” for that.

What are you thankful for today? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How to Quit Punishing Yourself

         At the end of my morning prayer times, the Lord will often whisper to my heart, "Ask Me for a favor." One day I asked Him to tell me what favor I could do for Him. His answer shocked me:

"Quit Punishing Yourself." 

Oh. My. I didn't know I was punishing myself. I understand why the Lord would ask me this favor. If I believe the blood of His Son, Jesus is enough to eradicate my guilt--every ounce of it--why would I feel it necessary to receive condemning thoughts, think I'm stupid and fat, or any one of a thousand other ways I punish myself? 

I say I believe it. Now I must love myself enough to prove I believe it.

Do you believe God loves you and values you? 
Or do you catch yourself trying to make up for your sins by punishing yourself? 

You can't, you know. Only Jesus can wash us clean, inside and out, and prepare us to stand guiltless in the presence of Almighty God. 

I hope you believe that, because I like you mighty fine, and I want you to be with me in Heaven. If you'd like to believe but don't know how, please email me at jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com. I'll help you get to know Jesus, so you can quit punishing yourself, too. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What's So Special about Today?

Today is a super duper special day. The second edition of my book The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul, releases!

We've given the book a new cover, added eight comical drawings by my talented son, a former animator, and spruced up the text.

I am celebrating with a Re-Release party on Facebook from 6-8 Central time tonight. I'll have prizes, book giveaways, and recipes for laughter. Please join the fun! I hope you win a prize!

And if you simply can't wait till tonight, please join me on Susan Reinhardt's blog for a chance to win a signed copy of The Heart of Humor and on Cecelia Lester's blog for a fun interview.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Two Different Ways We Know God Loves Us

My four-year-old granddaughter, Jenessa’s hug was no different than usual, her tanned arms and spindly legs wrapped around my neck and waist like summer vines. What made this hug different—and what surprised me—were her words.
            Jenessa had always said “I love you” as sweet as a grape Popsicle when she hugged me, parroting the words my husband, Kevin, and I had told her since she was born. They were the same words we’d spoken to our own two kids thousands of times, words every child deserves to hear. But this time as Jenessa snuggled against my neck she said confidently, “You love me.”
            “Yes, I do!” I laughed, embracing her tighter. I was pleased that she felt secure enough not to ask me if I loved her, but to tell me. Was she reassuring herself, or reminding me?
            I had corrected Jenessa right and left for the last five days while her two-year-old brother,
baby sister, mommy and daddy stayed with us for the week of Vacation Bible School.  “Don’t tell me you want a banana; ask ‘may I please have one?’, “Swallow your food before you tell us something; we don’t want ‘see food’ at this table, “Sit still, Honey. I can’t read to you if you keep wiggling the book.”
            I’d also cuddled and kissed and teased her. I played in the sandbox with her in the blistering heat. I watched endless episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and read countless library books. I even shared my favorite chunky peach frozen yogurt with her! So Jenessa took my correction in stride, knowing that my love was the supreme motive for everything I did.
Similar to a loving parent or grandparent, God corrects us, sometimes more than we like. Perhaps He convicts us when we think poorly of someone, repeat a word of gossip, or speak sharply to our spouse. He’s never harsh or unkind when His still, small voice whispers in our hearts, but we know He wants us to grow more like Jesus, so we’ll be happier.
Both Solomon and the writer of Hebrews encourage us to accept this correction as a loving act: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3: 11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6, NIV).
            We also get to experience God’s fun, loving side. He makes our tomato and zucchini plants grow tons more than we’ll ever need, so we can have the joy of sharing. He sends us people who make us laugh when we’re in a bleak situation. He puts us in a family called a ‘church’ so we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. His Holy Spirit comforts us. His Word renews our hope. He shed His blood, so we could be forgiven. All of this is proof that His supreme love is the motive behind everything He does. Even correcting us.
            What else can we do but climb into His lap and, like Jenessa, say, “You love me!” 
The above story is a chapter from my book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.