Hope Believes in Service

Continuing with this mini-series within the Hope series. As part of my legacy and just because I want to, I am blogging about each of my Saturday Sisters.

For over twenty years, we have met together – usually monthly – to eat lunch, talk about our families and prayer requests, to do life together. Today I focus on the Servant Sister, Susan.serving - Jesus love

Her demeanor is that of the humble Servant as she believes strongly yet expresses herself softly. She is a constant reminder to me of the way we should love others by being Love.

Susan is an amazing cook, a faithful wife, mother and grandmother.  Each time we meet, she brings a bowl of guacamole – to honor Deb. And she is the sister who provides the main dish, a quiche filled with goodness sans the gluten. Two of us are gluten free.

In the various experiences of my life, Susan has been there to serve. She is a talented garage sale shopper and finds the best bargains that are beautiful and functional.

During the dark beginnings of my post-divorce days, Susan brought me gifts that accessorized my new décor. She helped me imagine how life would again someday be worthwhile.

Sometimes, I would hear the doorbell ring and hurry to open it. But no one stood there, only a bag of groceries, a pile of coupons or an envelope of cash. I have no proof, but I imagined these gifts were probably from Susan.

When I moved to Olathe, it was Susan and her husband, Steve, who stayed the longest to help me arrange everything. When they left, I almost called Susan and said, “Come back. I need another hug.” She gives great hugs that infuse me with the best of grace-filled love.

She is a faith heroine, a supporter of the Navigators and a woman who cares deeply about the lost and hurting. She prays with a fervency that teaches me how to focus on the heart of God rather than on my own needs.

Always, always Susan serves with little thought for herself.

Yet, she is strong enough to defend herself and those she loves. In spite of cultural changes, she stands for truth and continues to learn more about serving God. She uses her spare time to help others, to give of herself and to share whatever she has.

Nowhere have I found a more gracious Servant than Susan.

We share a birthday month, just two days apart, so we often send cards and sometimes a little gift. I always feel closer to her in October.

Susan adds to our Sister meetings with a soft voice, sharing her latest news with a positive spin. She knows how to stay in Hope and how to praise God for the blessings of life. She reminds me to do the same, especially when I veer off into negativity.

Although she never boasts about her gifts or pushes herself into first place, I know she has a tender heart.

I saw her grief-stricken face at Deb’s funeral, and I wanted to help her feel better. But I couldn’t. She has always been the one to help others.

When we get to heaven, Susan will have a special place – probably near the heart of God. Her life and her Servant ways have earned her a “Well done,” and I love who she is with a passion I cannot express.

This Sister shows us what it means to love every day, in ways we cannot fathom. Somehow, she finds a way to do her Serving with grace and for that – I honor her.

©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

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Hope Makes a Change

Dear Sugar,

I am breaking up with you.

For years, I have tried moderation which sometimes worked. But with the aging factor, my body no longer tolerates any type of processed sugar.cake pops

This means, Sugar – no more ice cream, brownies or sweetened chocolate. I can tolerate the 85% cacao, but no milk chocolate and definitely no corn syrup.

I am already gluten free, soy free and working on dairy free. I might as well be free indeed. Free of you, Sugar.

My decision stems from the fact that I have been sick throughout November and December. The latest diagnosis is acute bronchitis with muscle sprain from excessive coughing. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Some of my sugar escapades this year evolved from grief comfort eating. For some reason, I – the person who never eats candy – craved M&M’s. When I found a bag of the dark chocolate variety, I was a goner.

But my body was not deceived. It accepted that sugar and formulated a pathway to screw up my immune system.

Besides a breakdown of immunities, processed sugar feeds cancer cells. Just in case my body is thinking about revisiting the big C – I do not want to make it an easy choice.

It is also a growing fact of research that sugar consumption can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. No ice cream can ever be as good as a healthy brain. And I never want to expose my son to the world of Alzheimer’s care-giving.

Several years ago, Dr. Tim LaHaye taught a prophecy seminar in our town. Yes, that Tim LaHaye – author of the Left Behind series. Because I was church pianist, I was invited to attend the thank-you dinner.

I sat directly across from Tim. When the dessert was served – an amazing chocolate velvet cake – Tim declined. He said, “I cannot tolerate sugar, so I never let myself eat it.”

The hostess gasped, afraid she might have offended him. But he smiled and complimented her on the rest of the meal.

I was impressed with his humility – to be able to admit he had a weakness – and with his self-discipline. Never eat sugar? At that point in my limited knowledge of nutrition, I could not imagine such a scenario.

But now I understand and am more determined than ever to detoxify my body from any of the side effects of too much sugar. I have important work to do – incredible clients to coach and my own words to polish and publish. I cannot spend any more time in the doctor’s office or any more money on meds.

So I am making a 2018 commitment – not a resolution – but a lifestyle change. Hope for a healthier me begins with a determined effort to do my part and cooperate with my body for long-term health.

Sure, I will miss you, Sugar. But I will NOT miss the medicines and the hacking cough that keeps me awake at night.

Change begins with a defined goal and hope thrives with healthy choices.

Goodbye, Sugar. I am breaking up with you.

©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

For more essays about hope and how we can thrive through a hope-filled year, check out my newest book, “Hope Shines.”

Hope Returns with a Bossy Mom

Several weeks ago, I drove to Oklahoma and spent an afternoon with Mom. For the first time in months, she was fairly lucid, bossing me, like her old self.heart - sunset

We took a walk around the perimeter of the assisted living facility, discussed the geese who sometimes fly onto the pond for a drink or goose fellowship – whatever geese do.

Mom remarked how nice the facility is and how glad she is to live there – a reversal of the attitude she sometimes displays when she demands, “Why am I here? Why did you kids do this to me?”

Heartache piled upon guilt.

But on this day, she seemed grateful, and I saw in her the personality I grew up with – the bossy Mom who made sure her kids read at least seven books each week, practiced their musical instruments and worked hard to complete their chores and finish their homework.

Suddenly, we were transported decades back as Mom became herself:

“You need to hem up those pants you’re wearing. They’re dragging on the ground.”

“I did hem them, Mom.”

“Well, you need to do it again – another inch at least.”

“Okay, Mom. When I get home.”

Then we walked to the dining room. Mom instructed me where to sit. “Grab that chair over there. Someone else will sit beside me.”

As the meal was served, Mom worried that I wasn’t eating. “How come you don’t have a plate? Do you want me to order one for you?”

“No. I stopped at Braum’s two hours ago. I’m not hungry.”

“Well, you’ll be hungry by morning. Do you want a cookie? I’ll get you a cookie.”

“No, thanks. I eat gluten free.”


“Because I’m allergic to wheat.”

“Well, that can’t be right. You grew up on a wheat farm and we had bread for every meal.”

“Exactly. That’s why I have an allergy to wheat.”

“Are you sure you don’t want a cookie?”

The nurturing of children continues into old age, even when the brain is infected with Alzheimer’s plaque. A mother longs to feed her children, to make sure they are never hungry, even if they’re just visiting, even if they’ve just eaten.

After the meal, we walked back to Mom’s room. “Do you want to watch the idiot box?” (Mom’s description for the TV).

“No. I’ll just sit here with you or read a book.”

“Yeah. There’s nothing on but junk anyway.” We sat in silence for a while, then suddenly – Mom looked at me, her glasses slightly askew. “Are you dating?”

“No. I’m pretty busy.”

“Well, you should be dating someone. I don’t understand why some wonderful man hasn’t snatched you up.”

It was the nicest compliment she has paid me in years. My throat began to fill with the tears of missing my mom, of not being able to call her and discuss my latest book, of no longer sharing a shopping trip or the latest crochet pattern or the encouragement of a Psalm.

“Thanks, Mom. That’s nice.”

“Well, I’m just askin’.”

For a few hours on a hot July afternoon, Mom and I connected on a level long past. She was again the bossy Mom, demanding answers and commanding me in directions she wanted me to take.

Once again, I was the daughter and our roles were clear, not reversed or confused in the dynamics of what Alzheimer’s does to families.

And for a few hours, we sat together in peace, two women – still joined by an emotional umbilical cord.

It was sweet. I know that may never happen again.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Tops

After my journey into the country to visit The Berry Patch, (www.theberrypatchonline.com), I came home and quickly turned my harvest into muffin tops.Blueberry muffin tops

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine raved about the importance of eating only the tops of muffins? I agree. Muffin tops are the crunchy, delicious parts of the muffins, and I always eat them first.

Since I also eat gluten free, it’s important that I substitute my recipe with gluten free flours and the end result is a wonderful muffin. You’ll notice that I’m also into almonds, but you can substitute walnuts, pecans or go nut-free.

So here is my version of gluten free blueberry muffin tops. Dee-licious!

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (I use almond, quinoa or amaranth)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds (these are wonderful for fiber and Omega 3’s)

Add all these dry ingredients together in a separate bowl from the liquid ingredients. In another bowl, blend together:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg (beaten, but not abused)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. Then carefully fold in 1 cup of freshly-washed blueberries.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

With an ice cream scoop, place heaping mounds of the mixture onto a cookie sheet and carefully shape into circles.

Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool slightly, then spread almond butter on the top before eating with a cup of green tea.

 To honor Reverend G, share some blueberry muffin tops with a single mom.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” http://amzn.to/11QATC1