Inspiration Faith Recipes & Family Time BONUS: How can you be a blessing?
Faith is taking the first step even when you donâ€™t see the whole staircase. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
It’s official – Sweet Grace is more than just a saying around here. Over the weekend, I was able to share about what God is doing in the lives of two women – myself and a friend. After spending a year in prayer, we have launched a new ministry. What we didn’t expect was friendships formed around the country, a book deal for me, and a new website all at one time. Let me tell you that when God gives you the desires of your heart – you better bring out the blessing buckets to collect them all. Brenda and I had the opportunity to travel to St. Francis, Minnesota where I spoke at a Ladies Luncheon while Brenda did what she does best – love people. The title of my talk was “Sweet Grace”. After it became clear that God was calling us into ministry, we thought about what to name it. We knew that everything about our lives – from trials to triumphs and from ordinary to miraculous hinged on God’s grace. So the grace part was easy. We had another name in mind, but after looking at our lives and signature parts of our personalities, we realized that every drop of God’s goodness was sweet. Eventually, with some help from our web/marketing guys, we settled upon the name of Sweet Grace – Real Women~ Real Lives~ Sweet Grace. Next to marriages and raising kids, this is one of the biggest things we have ever done in our lives. So what will you find within a ministry of two small town girls who love God, home, and family. The truth is a whole lot of real— ranging from the stories we share to the hugs we offer. Brenda brings a passion for loving others with a zest for great ideas on how to love women right where they are. I bring a penchant for having a story about everything and for finding God in the middle of it all. We understand to know real joy, you have to also know suffering. That’s where the real part comes into place! We want women to know that God’s love reaches everyone everywhere, because we have both have experienced God’s love down in the pits of darkness. If sharing that part of our life stories is what God calls us to do, then we are ready with His strength to do just that. Both of us have a heart for serving which is what we want to do when we visit churches and organizations – serve women and their communities as well. This isn’t just some veneer pastime; this is truly what God has called us to do. We hope you enjoy this newsletter, and we would love to hear from you! Hugs & Blessings - Kandy
Can God use your anger?
Brenda & her son at his wedding
Growing up I went to church and Sunhen Kandy asked me to write an arti-
cle for the newsletter, I pretty much panicked. I have never written an article for anything except ones that were required for school. I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination. What could I write about that would inspire or touch someone else? I have done nothing spectacular. I am just an ordinary working wife and mom of two grown kids. I finally settled on the idea of sharing my journey of faith and becoming a woman of God.
day school. I honestly can’t tell you much of what I learned. I never thought of my faith or what it meant to be a child of God. It just wasn’t a priority then. I was confirmed at a Methodist church and really didn’t go back much after that. I know this is pretty typical of most teenagers after they are confirmed. They think they are done with the whole church thing unless it’s a special occasion or something.
Then a horrible series of events in my
life happened to make me really do an assessment of my faith and if God was as big a part of my life as I had previously thought he was. When I was 19 years old my beloved great-grandma passed away. We had gone to the nursing home to see her often. She always gave my sister and I money to go get a pop. She was just a wonderfully sweet lady, and I knew I would miss her terribly. I had never really had anyone close to me pass away. It was a very scary and strange experience. Little did I know this was preparing me for something that I never would have thought would ever happen in my life.
In 1984, while I was going to tech school in Alexandria, I met an amazing young man who absolutely stole my heart. We were married August 3, 1985 in a beautiful wedding ceremony. We had our whole lives ahead of us, and it was so wonderful!! We were living in Oklahoma City at the time since Mark was working there as a computer programmer. On August 16, riding his motorcycle on his way home for lunch, someone cut across 4 lanes of traffic, didn’t see him and hit him. Mark was injured so bad there was nothing the doctors could do. He died that evening – just 13 short days after we were married. That beautiful, strong heart that had loved me so completely had stopped beating.
There is nothing to prepare someone for a loss like this. I was 19 and a widow, after only 13 days of marriage? What in the world had I done so wrong that God would do this to me? Was I that bad a person that God
would take this vibrant, wonderful young man from me? I was so angry at God, and I didn’t know if I would ever get over being angry with him.
I looked for answers anywhere I could. I asked one particular pastor who said “It’s just God’s will.” Really God really wanted to see me suffer so he took Mark away from me? I asked my pastor and he gave me a more understandable answer “I am just as angry at God as you are. I don’t understand why this happened.” It was just a struggle every day to believe in a God who would cause this much pain. I prayed that God would help me.
The turning point came around Christmas
of that year. I had a HUGE fight with my mom and dad over what I can’t even remember now. I just hurt so badly and I guess I just wanted everyone else to hurt as bad as I did. When I saw the look on my parent’s faces, I knew that they were actually hurting as bad as I was. Partly because of losing their son-in-law but mostly because they hurt FOR me. They were trying so hard to take the hurt away and couldn’t. I saw the love in their faces and I knew that God had been there all along in the form of my parents and my sister.
God hadn’t abandoned me, he was just waiting for me to let him love me and help me through the pain. He has put so many wonderful people there to help me, I just had to let them and God into my life to help. From that point on, I knew he was walking beside me and holding me in his arms when the pain was just too much to bear. (continued page 6)
There are so many things that happen in our lives to test that faith. I have had other instances that have really put my faith to the test. In November of 2011, my hero, my beloved father, passed away after a long illness. Just 2 short weeks later, my son was married. There was just a huge hole in our hearts because Dad wasn’t there. A week after that I was informed that my position of 12 years was being eliminated and I would be out of a job. With all of these things coming at me just one thing after another, there was only one glaring thing to do – get on my knees and pray for strength.
Well it’s now a year and a half later and I
have a job that I love, family and friends who have seen me through the tough times and a faith that I never could have imagined. I believe there are different levels of faith and there are people out there with stronger faiths than I have but that’s ok. My faith is mine and it nobody can take that from me. God speaks to me if I just take the time to listen. He has led me to a ministry that makes my heart sing. I never would
have imagined me, the woman who was so angry at God, is now ministering to people.
God is good and he never gives up on anyone! He just waits patiently for us to pray to him and listen with our hearts when he speaks to us. So can God use your anger to transform your life? He absolutely can! Praise the Lord! ~ Brenda
“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This beauty will never disappear, and it is worth very much to God.” 1 Peter 3:3–4 Flowing from the Land of Milk & Honey Scrub/Mask 1 tsp milk * 1 tsp honey 1 tsp ground almonds Mix together, apply to face, wait 10 minutes, gently scrub, & rinse with tepid water
Wanna meet the girls of sweet grace?
Pics from our recent visit to Living Hope Evangelical Free Church for the Ladies Luncheon!
Need speakers for a ladies event? Want to recharge your womenâ€™s ministry? Contact Kandy or Brenda to see how * Use variety of milk for skin types (skim for oily, 2 % for normal/ combination, or cream for dry.
sweet grace could bless you! firstname.lastname@example.org
She’s a Grand Ol’ Flag I
am an ARMY – National Guard wife. My husband is a veteran, having served overseas during war time. This time of year I am reminded how lucky I am. Despite having witnessed some terrible things, my husband came home safe and sound. I know that not every family can say the same. I am humbled by the price they paid. The fabric and stitching is more than just a symbol to the men and women who have fought for its right to boldly sway in the wind. It embodies ideals that brought a vast and diverse group of people together to form our nation. Having never served in the armed forces that same flag reminds of the sacrifices big and small that were made by my husband and countless others. A few years back on our 14th wedding anniversary, we went out to visit an impromptu memorial to the lives lost during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a sea of flags. As the sun was slowly dipping down, I watched silent as two men – strangers but not really – embraced on that field. They had never met before that moment, but something in their eyes told the other one that they had served. Turned out they had served during the same war. They talked about gratefulness – of returning home, for the lives willing to die to protect theirs, and for the families who the flags represented. I just stepped back and listened—this wasn’t my
sacred moment – as they eventually thanked these flags for making a choice. The choice was volunteering to hold precious the identity of a nation. Before that moment in the dusk-dappled horizon, I had never thought about how each flag represented a volunteer. There wasn’t a draft instituted for those wars, and each of the stars-n-stripes flapping in the prairie wind marked someone who had made a choice. It was a lesson I never forgot.
A few years later God used that same red, white, and blue to teach me a lesson in making choices, much like the souls lost and remembered on that football field. At that point I was a little past my prime in more ways than one for the Army, but God uses all kinds of souls in His. Everyday sitting at the bus stop waiting for my children, I watched a colossal tug-o-war that ensued between a
neighbors flag and the tree standing next to it. I have an excellent imagination and what I saw was a not the product of a slightly tattered flag caught by growing branches. The turmoil was both the tree and the flag had a plan for the flag’s life, and the battle waged on every day the wind swept through that tiny town. At some point, my imagination took over, and I began to think about how I was the flag; God - the tree. I had my way of doing things and my plans for MY life. God, on the other hand – or should I say branch – kept trying to tell me that in order fly proudly, I needed to submit to His plan. Sometimes that real turmoil means letting go of dreams and being able to fly in the breeze of God’s choosing. Even though I had long known God, I didn’t really understand what it meant to dream with God nor did I understand what it meant to make sacrifices on His behalf. Not that long ago in my life, I couldn’t imagine doing either, but after choosing to follow God’s plans (and not mine), I am beginning to understand the real meaning of beauty and grandeur. The moment the shared by two soldiers was based upon the love of others, and the moment I had based upon the love of another. Both sacrificed immeasurably to give us the life we have today.
Freedom was never, is not, nor will it ever be FREE!
Great Recipes A SPECIAL THANK YOU: To the ladies of Living Hope Evangelical Free Church for sharing their recipes with us. These ladies made the most delicious food at the Ladies Luncheon where Kandy spoke. The food was DELISH! We are still dreaming of the ice cream! We hope you enjoy both the recipes and the pictures of the their presentations.
Ingredients: 3 long cucumbers 1/4 cup sour cream 1/4 cup cream cheese 3/4 cup crab meat, excess water removed 1 tsp hot pepper sauce 1 tsp brown mustard Salt/pepper to taste 1 Tbsp minced green onion Garnish with chili powder or paprika Instructions: 1. Remove the peel from the cucumbers using a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber into 2 inch slices. Using a small melon baller, scoop out most of the inside. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.
2. In a bowl, combine the sour cream and cream cheese with a fork until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Fille each of the cucumber cups with the crab dip. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve within two hours of making. Recipe posted www.domesticfits.com
Veggies & Dip—We love this recipe! It fits our motto of party planning: Add water and stir! Slice veggies of your choice into strips. Place dip or dressing of your choice in the bottom of a cup. Place veggies in cup! Voila! Instant party pizzazz!
For the most amazing “fried” ice-cream without much work, the ladies made Cinnamon-Honey “Fried” Ice Cream from the www.bettycrocker.com site. Trust us, we were completely in awe when we heard how “easy” this recipe was. Check out the recipe at the Betty Crocker website. You won’t be disappointed.
Family Activityâ€”Garden in a Glove
Spring is here â€“ time to do the planting! This activity is a fun one that kids of all ages can do and enjoy. Supplies needed: Latex free glove, seeds (can be the same or 5 different ones), cotton balls, pencil & permanent marker, water, tape or magnet 1. Set out seeds. 2. Label fingers of the glove with seed names (important if you are using different seeds). 3. Soak cotton balls and squeeze out excess water. 4. Place one cotton ball and one seed in each finger/thumb of the glove. You can use the pencil to slide them down to the end if needed. 5. Hang using tape on a wall or using a magnet on a door or fridge. Germination should take place in a few days. Once large enough, seeds can be transplanted to a pot or outdoors.
Nothing beats snuggling up with a good book with kids. We highly recommend checking out your local library this summer.
We suggest these books to go along with this activity. Oh Say Can You Seed by Bonnie Worth, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, A Seed in Need by Sam Godwin
How does your garden grow?
how to reach to girls of sweet grace Follow us on Twitter @RealSweetGrace
More heartwarming stories and inspiration: www.kandynolesstevens.com Watch for details for our new Facebook page & website!
Always Be a Blessing! Challenge We have been a little Vitamin D deficient this spring in the upper Midwest, so this first Blessings Challenge of the Summer is “Fun in the Sun”! Do something with someone else (your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, your clergy, your friend) out and about in nature. The only condition on this challenge is to have fun. Remember to make this a blessing time for you and for your someone else. Be purposeful about spending time differently than ordinarily do. The beautiful blue sky is the limit! Brenda & Kandy’s favorites – going for ice cream, long walks at sunset, blowing bubbles, watching cloud shapes form, picnics, outdoor dining on the porch/deck, fishing, camping, and many, many more. Tell us what you do in the next month. We will share our blessings too! One lucky reader will receive a Sweet Grace gift jar for simply letting us know how you blessed someone else! We cannot wait to hear your good news!
Faith-filled newsletter packed with inspirational stories, recipes, and family time activities. Photos of Kandy provided by the amazing Lil'...
Published on May 23, 2013
Faith-filled newsletter packed with inspirational stories, recipes, and family time activities. Photos of Kandy provided by the amazing Lil'...