Some might call it a tuna melt - but it really began as the tuna burger. This, you must understand, was before Julia Child ushered in the period of gourmet cooking. Open faced, toasted hamburger buns topped with tuna (mixed with just the right amount of mayo), canned tomatoes (I use the petite chopped), and enough cheese to make the tomato look like it’s taking a nap. You might ask what this has to do with a legacy - it’s a fair question.
My grandmother, Ruth Victoria Martin Teeter, first served this concoction to my mother, where the recipe came from, I have no idea. My mother made them for us, I made them for my family, and both my children make them. It isn’t about the recipe. It’s about the meal. I think we would all agree that society as a whole revolves around meals - always has.
One of my favorite parts of the Bible is where Jesus reinstates Peter after Peter has denied being Jesus disciple. Jesus had warned the disciples that the time was near when they would all desert Him. Peter vehemently denies that he would do such a thing, even goes so far as to proclaim he would die for Jesus. Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows that day. This comes to pass and Peter is devastated, sick at heart, and weeps bitterly.
Later, after the resurrection, some of the disciples go fishing, among them, Peter. Nothing unusual in this, they were fishermen before they were disciples. They catch nothing and are heading back to shore when a man on shore suggest they throw their net on the right side of the boat. They are doubtful, but figure it won’t hurt to try. The result? They struggle to haul in the net that now holds 153 fish! Yes, the Bible gives you the exact number - think there could be a tuna in that net? John is the first to realize that the stranger on shore is Jesus. Peter is so excited at the prospect of seeing Jesus that he jumps overboard and swims to shore, leaving the rest to tend the fish.
Can’t you feel Peter’s excitement, his love, his joy?! When he reaches shore, Jesus has prepared a meal - isn’t our Lord awesome! He is always feeding us, literally and spiritually! Jesus asks Peter the same question three times, “Do you love me?” To which Peter replies, “Yes”. You can read the full story here and here. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Each time Peter replies, Jesus tells him what he wants him to do in life. Who of us, at some time, has not denied Christ? Isn’t it wonderful to know that when we ask for forgiveness and repent, He forgives us? He then strengthens us and changes us so that we do not repeat the past.
God’s love is greater than we can imagine. The closest I can come, is the love I have for my children. I would gladly give my life for them, but I can’t say I would give their lives up for anyone. But God gave His son for us. WOW! How does this relate to that tuna burger?
Never underestimate the value of time spent around a meal. The last supper was were Jesus told Peter he would deny Him and it was another meal where He reinstated Peter. A few other examples: Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast and twice fed thousands with only a basket full of bread and fish. And let’s not forget that the original sin was all due to the desire to eat an apple!
Today, a lot of meals are hurried - we rush from one activity to another. My memories of meals with my parents and sibling and those I enjoyed with my children, are priceless. Recently I spoke with a friend of my daughter. It was the first time we had seen each other in many years. When she realized who I was her response was, “The last time I saw you was when you made those tuna melts for us! I make them for my family!” Her words made my heart smile and warmed me from the inside out. Something so simple can make memories not only for your family, but all who dine at your table. Share the love - even if it is the shape of a tuna burger.
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn - Let me start by saying this isn’t a book review. It’s about how this book inspired me. I’ve read it twice. The first time, I had recently returned from a trip to China with my sister. She and my brother-in-law where traveling to adopt their second child and I went along as a helping hand. After reading this story, I was convinced I should take Bibles to China. I didn’t. Recently, that same sister challenged me to encourage reading by posting the cover of some of my favorite books over a period of seven days. Safely Home had made such an impression on me that it has remained one of my favorites - after posting it to social media, I decided to read it again. This time the impression became indelible. Why? Because I’m different. When you meet Jesus, He changes your life in ways you cannot begin to image. You see everything in life in a different light - in His light.
As a child, one of my first desires was to be a missionary. It may have been the allure of travel, something I still enjoy. Followers of Jesus frequently quote the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and low, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matthew 27:19-20. It is also found in Mark 16:15-16, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”
While I still desire to go beyond the boundaries of my hometown and country, sharing the saving truth and love of Jesus Christ, I realize that my inability to go does not make me any less a missionary nor excuse me from the Great Commission. Some go, others may enable those going to be successful, by their gifts and their prayers. This story showed me and reminded me of those who are being persecuted and the difference between the United States and other countries, be it China or any other country, that does not allow the freedom to worship God as we do.
As believers we need to lift our brothers and sisters in Christ up in prayer every day. Especially those who are being persecuted. Our national news seldom reports the truth of the persecution Christians in other countries face daily. We are their voice crying out to God on their behalf, it is more than our responsibility, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to be united as believers, an opportunity to speak with our creator, an opportunity to strengthen our own faith.
As I read Safely Home, it once again reminded me that those who are persecuted are stronger in faith than those who are not. I am blessed to be an American. But I am an American not because of anything other than it was God’s will that I be here - what am I doing to help those who God put in other countries? How would I have fared had I been placed there instead of here - I fear I would not have had the perseverance and faith of my persecuted brothers and sisters. Who's to say that persecution won’t someday come to the shores of America - even now I see it’s tentacles. Would it not behoove me to pray without ceasing so that should I face such a time, my faith will be strong?
There are sources that bring you the news from these countries, here are a couple of the best that I’m aware of, check them out at your leisure, Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs. Join me in being committed to praying, not only for the missionaries and citizens in oppressed countries, but also believers in America. Pray that America will be awakened, dare I say revived, to the great need and the part we each have in fulfilling the call of the Great Commission.
No, not that kind of high, although I’ve been there too, once about a time. I’m speaking of a Christian high. Some might call it being filled with the Holy Spirit - but it isn’t. In reality it is an emotional high.
You’ve been to church, the music was awesome, inspiring to the point you are visibly moved. The preaching was off the chart and the fellowship was all you desired. You walk out the door “feeling” pretty doggone good! Your relationship with God is firmly in place, you’ve got a song in your heart, if not on your lips; all in all you’re pretty happy with yourself, got your halo all shined up.
But, by the time you’re in your car, ready to leave, your halo has done more than slip. Yep, it’s fallen all the way off as you act the fool in the parking lot because someone didn’t let you out or cut you off or you “felt” slighted in some way. WHAT?!!!!! You know I’m speaking the truth. It is easy to get wrapped up in emotions. Emotions are quick to change.
Years ago I heard singer/songwriter, comedian Mark Lowry talk about not “feeling” saved - that stuck with me. Your relationship with God is more than a feeling. As a follower of Christ you are filled with the Holy Spirit but that doesn’t mean you always feel like you can climb the highest mountain. Like any relationship, it is a two way street and takes some amount of commitment to deepen and grow. There was a time when talking to God required a sacrifice. Why? I wondered the same thing. Simple answer - SIN. Sin prevents communication with God. Why? Because God is holy. God did not like that sin prevented us from talking to him and that constant blood sacrifices, using a blemish free animal, were required. So, He sent the perfect sacrifice, His son Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If we acknowledge our sin, accept the sacrifice and turn from our sin, “ . . . He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.” 1 John 1:9.
While we won’t reach perfection on earth, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, do better each day. I’m thankful that God is faithful and just, even when I fail miserably.
If this post helped or blessed you in any way, let me know - I love hearing how God works with the simple words He gives me to use. Please share it so others may be likewise blessed.
New beginnings come in differently tied packages: marriage, birth of a child, new job, move across country. Joyous occasions. But some times they are life rising from the ashes: divorce, loss of a loved one, natural disasters. New beginnings that come as a result of tragedy cause us to re-examine our lives with a brand new pair of glasses. Glasses that remind us of all the love we’ve had in the past, giving us hope for the future. Glasses that help us recognize the lessons we’ve learned, giving us wisdom to help others. Glasses that show us the future is bright because of the love and lessons that brought us to a new day.
I do not mean to make it sound easy, it’s anything but . . . I know, I’m in one of those new beginnings and some days my life feels like it’s coming apart, as if the edges of my soul are held together with a basting stitch - a stitch used to hold pieces of material together until the final tight, small stitches are in place. My life is new, unexplored territory, but inch by painstaking inch, tiny new stitches are being sewn. Somedays the tears, sorrow, and regret, threaten to seep through the tight band of control I usually convince myself I possess.
As God would have it, not long after I lost my son, I found myself in the book of Job. It wasn’t like I planned it, I had finished the book of Esther and Job was next. I’ve read Job before and, to be honest, it was not the easiest book to read. And it’s far from my favorite, no my favorite in the Old Testament is Ruth. After all, Ruth is a romance - what can I say, God created me as a romantic.
This time, reading Job was different. Verses spoke to me on a deeper level. Job 3:13 “Then they (Job’s friends) sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” God has rewarded me with so many good friends and to have them reach out to me in love, encouragement, with heartfelt sorrow, has been the greatest comfort. Sometimes they know exactly what to say, other times they say nothing because there is a sorrow that words cannot touch. I’ve thought about Job and this verse many times, it kept coming back to my mind. The silence of seven days. Seven days. We live in a culture that has trouble being silent for five minutes. Never underestimate the importance of being there for a friend in need, even if you don’t know what to say. Believe me, you are making a difference simply by your presence.
Despite all that Job suffered, his faith in God remained strong. Job 19:25 “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” Hope - it is powerful and wonderful, and when you know God, it is real.
As I enter 2019, a new beginning for me - my hope is to know God better and to share His love with all I know. His love is real, His salvation is real and it is here for you - whoever you are and wherever you are, makes no difference to Him. He created you and loves you and desires to have a relationship with You.
June 18, 2018 - the date of my re-birth. In the writing world it is called the "Ah Ha Moment." That point in time when the protagonist realizes the untruth in what she has always believed; she learns the truth. From that point on, she is a new creature. She will never be the same again. She will act differently and think differently for the rest of her life.
What did I gain in my "Ah Ha Moment"? Freedom, peace, and the most meaningful relationship of my life! I share it because I want everyone to know the same freedom, peace, and intimacy I have gained. The most wonderful news is that it is available to everyone who chooses! Of course, not everyone is interested or cares - it is a personal decision.
It seems even more amazing to be because it is a relationship I thought I had already nailed down. I'd followed all the steps to achieve it, participated in all the activities to improve its' meaningfulness and depth. Yet I had missed the whole point. After all, a relationship does involve active participation from both sides - I should have realized the relationship I thought I had was pretty one sided. There was no true communication going on. There were telltale signs along the way but I conveniently ignored some and misread others. But, there was a niggling of doubt that was always there, just beneath the surface, telling me that what I thought I had was not all that it should or could be.
By now you probably want me to get to the point. The relationship I'm speaking of is the one I have with God through His son Jesus. It took me 53 1/2 years to get my "ah ha moment" so forgive me while I revel in its' beauty. I cannot get over how much He did so that I could have this moment. How patiently He has been waiting on me to finally realize that this relationship matters to Him because He loves me! How could it have taken me so long? I who was raised in the church, attended, volunteered, etc. How could I have missed the most important fact, that God desires intimacy of relationship. He desires to sit with me. Now, more than anything, I want to sit with Him.
There is a story in the bible about two sisters, Martha and Mary - just so you know, I am a Martha - always needing to be busy, usually about unimportant matters. Mary knew what was important, she sat at Jesus feet and listened to all He said (Luke 10:38-42).
A sermon from the pastor in my home church, followed by a blog post from someone I have never met, but will forever consider as a dear friend, changed my life for eternity. Now I understand that God did it all because He loves me. My love and relationship with Him brings Him glory and shows others His love. It is more beautiful than words can describe. I always knew that God forgave my sins when I asked, but because I didn't understand the scope of His love, I never accepted His forgiveness. Consequently, my sins constantly weighed me down and the quilt is a heavy burden. Not only that, but I could not escape my flesh and the sins I seemed to have no power to escape. Once understanding arrived, I experienced a shift in my thinking and acting that I can only attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit in me.
This is not to say I do not experience problems, or that I don't sin. However, the power to overcome and say no rises up in me and gives me the strength I never before experienced. Now I have experienced the yoke of my Lord and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). The freedom from past sin is incomprehensible and as scripture says, when the Son has set you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36).
Traditions, in most cases they are begun with no intention of becoming anything other than what someone just happened to do. A tradition begun by my grandmother, Ruth Teeter, centered on Santa Claus. Seems whenever he visited he had a hole in his toy sack that resulted in a trail of candy wherever he walked. My mother continued the tradition as did I and my daughter.
As a child, I was delighted to wake Christmas morning and see the trail of candy and doing the same for my children was every bit as fun and delightful as it had been when I was the recipient. Even when I was no longer susceptible to the legend of Santa Claus the candy trail was exciting. It carried a hint of the Christmas Spirit.
We are almost a month past Christmas. Decorations are put safely in the attic, Christmas music no longer blares as we frantically shop for presents and the last ingredient in that special meal we have planned. Children's excitement for the presents they will receive is now focused on the coming summer break - which can't arrive quick enough - and although we are no longer crazy from the Christmas season, we are no less busy as we continue with our hectic lives. But the Christmas Spirit should never be put away. It should be sprinkled all along the path we tread each day, much like the candy from Santa's sack - to delight, encourage, and love all who cross our way.
What are some of your family's traditions? Share in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.
It is a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon, there's a slight breeze and if you close your eyes and listen to the sounds, it takes you to another time and memory. I hear the birds high in the "tree of life" in our back yard, the distant hum of a hedge trimmer, airplanes overhead, the wind in the leaves, and the dryer exhaust.
The normal every day sounds of life. But today I'm feeling nostalgic and the sounds take me back to my childhood. I'm in my front yard staring up at a Carolina blue sky and loving the brilliant colors of autumn against the deep blue. The hum of a motor comforts me because it means my Dad is busy in the yard and the churning of the dryer and clank of pots and pans is a sign my Mom is busy and a delicious meal will soon be on the table. I have no worries, life is simple.
Nostalgic because today would have been my Dad's 88th birthday. I've missed him for 36 years. I miss him more today than ever , because now I know how blessed I was. I especially miss the adult conversations we never experienced.
Yesterday while going through some old papers I found a list he had comprised of goals he wanted to accomplish. His first and last are my favorites:
He accomplished the first - he set a wonderful example for me and my three siblings of how a Christian treats others and follows God. Sadly, he died when we were all young - the oldest 17 and the youngest 11.
Despite the difficult years that followed the loss of my Dad, I know that Gods hand was upon us and with us all our lives and the values my parents instilled in us are with us to this day.
Thank you Daddy for a life, however short, well lived. Praise God for giving us loving, caring parents and for guiding us through those turbulent years. You never left us and sustained us by showing us Your great love.
As we leave October and head into November I'm reminded of all I'm thankful for, and my Dad is one of those persons who made a tremendous difference in my life. Who is someone, living or not, that you are thankful for because of the difference they've made in your life? I'd love to hear from you.
There was a story I once read that mentioned a bottle tree. But it wasn't until my husband told me that a box of bottles he'd been toting around for years was for the purpose of a bottle tree, that I became personally aware and interested in bottle trees or as my husband called them, Charleston Christmas Trees.
Turns out, years and years ago he had visited a friend in Charleston and she had a bottle tree that she told him was called a Charleston Christmas tree. This appealed to my husband's artistic nature to the point that many years later . . . years of stopping at every antique mall and junk, I mean consignment shop, on the way to the beach, resulted in a box full of cobalt blue bottles, the color he decided would be perfect for his own Charleston Christmas tree, along with a few clear and green bottles.
We recently found the perfect spot in our yard for the bottle tree and an abandoned post from Lowes parking lot obligingly served well as our tree. Between my husband and son the bottle tree took shape and I must say I'm delighted with the results. The more I enjoy our tree, the more I wondered how this tradition got started. Being the research nerd that I am, I went in search of answers.
Imagine my surprise when my Google search only gave a list of Christmas tree farms in SC! I hate to break it to you, Charleston, but you didn't invent bottle trees, in fact far from it. According to my research, bottle trees have been around in one form or another for thousands of years and seem to have begun in Egypt and Mesopotamia, spreading to other cultures throughout Europe and Africa and, not so surprising, made their way to North America by the slave trade. Today bottle trees can be found across the United States.
If you read the history you'll find many believed evil spirts were captured in the bottles at night and the light of sun destroyed them. I simply enjoy the added dimension it gives my yard as the sunlight bounces off the blue and green glass. As it happens, blue is the color frequently chosen but styles and colors vary widely.
The full box my husband had collected appeared a gracious plenty for our tree but once completed it was obvious the tree could use more, plus I would like to have red bottles - don't you think they would look great with the cobalt blue? I have now joined my husband in his hunt through junk, I mean consignment shops, in my own search for bottles to add to our tree.
Since bottle trees have been around for such a long time, there is every possibility one will show up in The Weaver's Dream, of course in that time period (1300 BC), it's sure to have a different meaning than the simple yard art it is in mine. I'd love to hear back from you about any special yard art you have. Do any of you have a bottle tree?
Until next time, may your days be full of love and laughter!
A Valentine Legacy
As a romance writer and someone who wishes everyone a Happy Every After plus a happy heart, I couldn't think of a better time to debut my blog, Second Chances Unlimited, than on Valentine's Day!
The date can elicit any number of memories and feelings from despondency if one is single to excitement at what one's better half will do to prove his or her love. Today I'm thinking of my great-grandparents whom I was blessed to know well as they both lived to a ripe old age. My great-grandmother, Nannie Victoria Elliott, at a rather young age spied an advertisement in a magazine for correspondence with a young man in Fredericks, Maryland and decided to respond. Thus began a relationship that would last 65 years.
Winter turns to spring in North Carolina and Nannie presses an early violet and includes it in her next letter to Tobias Martin, telling him that spring has arrived in North Carolina. Tobias opens the letter to a wisp of spring, a warm embrace in comparison to the stark winter fields outside his window. At that moment Tobias decides it is time to make the acquaintance of this friendly young lady and promptly tells his parents he is leaving for North Carolina and will marry Nannie Elliott - not exactly what his family wants to hear, he will be the first to marry someone who is not German..
Nannie and Tobias where married April, 1911. Together they survived the depression and raised a family of three girls, the eldest of which became my grandmother. Their years obviously had many ups and downs but the romance writer in me loves the idea of a 65 year marriage that began with the simple act of writing a letter.
May your Valentine's Day be full of special moments whether with family or friends and until we meet again I wish you love and laughter.