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Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Spoonful of Grace

Press Release
New book offers families a fresh resource to recapture an old tradition

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For Immediate Release (San Diego, CA) – According to a Pew Research Study, 59% of parents of children under 18 pray on a daily basis, and 19% seldom or never pray. Though recent statistics show that a majority of families eat together most nights of the week, there continues to be a disconnect between family time and spiritual growth. With her new book, “A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-Sized Pieces,” author Annette Hubbell seeks to bridge that gap.

“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. Each one is inspired by a companion Bible verse, and enhanced by a section called “Grace Notes” which are quotations and ideas to further illustrate the theme of the verse and promote more conversation. Furthermore, each day’s reading is designed to be read in its entirety in less than two minutes. Hubbell says the idea for the book came about during lunch with friends.

“During lunch our host led us in a grace prayer before the meal,” says Hubbell, “and that was it! I had never heard that prayer before. There must be others, I thought. What if I were to collect them—from all over the world—and create a book out of it? 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 few standardized graces; most of them are made up 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.”

The graces and devotionals on Sundays in “A Spoonful of Grace” are celebrated with Scripture readings that are a bit longer to allow for favorite stories such as David and Goliath, Daniel in the lions’ den, or Jonah and the big fish. There is also a “Special Graces” section for celebrations such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays. Hubbell says early responses to the book have been positive.


A SPOONFUL OF GRACE
PAGE TWO

“In today’s culture of Twitter-sized attention spans and social media interactions that have nothing to do with social interactions or conversation, family time becomes more important than ever,” says Hubbell. “When I tested ‘A Spoonful of Grace’ with some families, one said, “These prayers consume the entire conversation during dinner.” Another family told me that their 15-year-old appreciated his family more through simply spending more quality time together. My aim was to keep these graces and devotionals witty and to the point in order to capture—and hold—a young person’s interest. I hope that the book will help turn mealtime into fun and faith-filled conversations about things that really count—like sharing, honesty, friendship, respect—and of course God.”

For more information, visit www.AnnetteHubbell.com or www.SpoonfulOfGrace.com.

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 performed “Witness to Gettysburg” almost 200 times as well as starred in the docudrama (edited by 33-time Emmy Award winner Robert Gardner) by the same name. 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.

 Q&A with Annette Hubbell 
Author of “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. That was it! Saying grace has always been part of my life, but this time something was different. It was an astonishing thought, too, because writing a book was the furthest thing from my mind, and I surely was not a faith scholar.

The grace I said growing up was different from the one my friend said. Well, I thought, there must be others I’d never heard before. What if I were to collect them—from all over the world—and create a book? I could even enhance each prayer with a Bible verse. In effect, I would simply become a compiler. I sent out inquiries, asking everyone to share, eagerly awaiting the replies. What a diversity of prayers there would be—from the world over! What I got back surprised me. It seems there are, in fact, only a few standard graces; most are made up according to how the day unfolds. Even more surprising were the responses of those who didn’t say grace but wished they did, and would if they had some structure.

I set about to write, but publishers informed me that there had to be an application. Back to the drawing board to add what came to be Grace Notes—short commentaries on each Scripture, making it applicable to today’s family. (I also felt readers would like to see different versions of the Bible, rather than just one, which is the usual standard among devotionals.) I needed a much bigger education to pull all that off so I studied hard, earned a Certificate in Apologetics from Biola University, immersed myself in Bible studies, and traveled throughout the Holy Lands. Ten years of work and prayer—relying on God—and A Spoonful of Grace is the result. If I had known then what a huge project it was going to be, I’m sure I never would’ve begun, passing if off as merely a wistful dream. But God has a way of giving you just what you can handle. I’m glad he did just that!

Q: What should parents know about this book?
A Spoonful of Grace is a collection of 366 mealtime graces inspired by 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), enhanced by the Grace Notes, and all of it is designed to be read in under two minutes. Quotations and ideas in the Grace Notes further illustrate the theme of the verse, and/or answer questions generated by the Scripture reading, all for the purpose of promoting lively faith conversations. Each day’s kid-friendly grace is meant to be read aloud by all family members and is short enough to keep the attention of hungry kids. Don’t worry, the food will never get cold!

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 faith journeys. Whether the 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, full of meaning and purpose, and can be understood at several levels. The Grace Notes allow children to think about actions and choices they make. I envision the children taking turns reading each day’s grace and the parents guiding the ensuing conversation.

This book, however, is not just for families. Seekers or new believers can more easily absorb the small doses of theology. 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 don’t know how. Because Scripture is taken from easier-to-understand versions like The Message or the New International Version, people learning to speak English also find it more meaningful.

Q: Why do you believe it is important to create intentional family time in today's culture?
We are fast becoming a society that communicates more through electronic devices than through the spoken word. Twitter-sized or texting-sized attention spans and social media interactions do not lend themselves well to developing minds or bonding opportunities, and family time (absent electronic devices) becomes more important than ever. I also believe that there is (at least) one thing that kids should see their parents do every day: pray! What better way to develop a deeper relationship with God and to strengthen family ties then to eat and pray together? With A Spoonful of Grace, families have an opportunity to pray together, to say meaningful things to each other—to get to know each other. When I tested A Spoonful of Grace with some families, one said, “These prayers consume the entire conversation during dinner.” Another family told me that their 15-year-old appreciates his family more by spending this quality time together. My aim was to keep these graces and devotionals witty and to the point in order to capture—and then hold—a young person’s interest. I hope that this book will help turn mealtime into fun and faith-filled conversations about things that count—like sharing, honesty, friendship, respect—and of course God.

Q: You also write plays and do a little bit of acting. Tell us more.
In 2007, my husband and I explored historical sites along the East Coast. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was a vacation that changed the direction of my life. Our Gettysburg B&B offered something unique: actors 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, intellect, and interest. I spoke with Chaplain Judith, the actor who portrayed a great, great relative, the widow Hattie Elizabeth Unangst. She eagerly gave me permission to use her story as I saw fit, and Hattie Elizabeth Turner was born. The story needed to be compelling: one that focused on the battle, yet put in the context of cultural and world affairs. A story in which the character stood invisibly alongside generals and soldiers to give people the sense of being there as the battle unfolds and then to tell the story of what happens to a community when the smoke clears and the soldiers march on.

As my confidence in performing Hattie grew, my biblical studies took me into a deeper relationship with God. This gave me the ability to transform Witness to Gettysburg 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 of that fateful summer.

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 a General Manager of a water district. What started as a desire to infuse stories of real-life drama into history grew into a production company performing all over San Diego County. I also volunteer at my church and believe that what I am doing is what Jesus asked us to do: “Tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19) 

ENDORSEMENTS for “A Spoonful of Grace”

“The dining room table is a key place to connect with your children. It's time to put down the phones and pick up this book instead.”Arlene Pellicane, speaker and author of “31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom”

“The family that prays together really does stay together! The very best decision our family made was to enjoy family meals, covered with prayers of grace, and sprinkled with caring conversations. Now Annette Hubbell has made this powerful family life rhythm and tradition SO MUCH EASIER!  Give your family the gift that will last for generations to come—‘A Spoonful of Grace!’” Pam Farrel, author of 45 books including best-selling “Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti,” “10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make”, and “A Couple’s Journey with God.”

“If you've struggled to have a consistent, meaningful mealtime grace with your children, this book is for you. The daily Scripture readings, prayers, and insights cover a great variety of topics, keeping the interest of the whole family. The prayers and notes are worded so that children can easily understand, but they contain truths that will challenge parents as well! The whole family will benefit from these brief, encouraging moments shared together with God.”Andrew Wheeler, author of  “Together in Prayer: Coming to God in Community”

“’A Spoonful of Grace’ will give you what you always hoped for – a variety of meaningful prayers so you aren’t praying the same mealtime prayer over and over. All you need is a bookmark to stay on track and inspire those gathered around your table. As I say often, ‘Mealtime is not just about the food, it’s about the mood.’ Annette’s book will set that positive mood and equip your busy family.” Marcia Ramsland, bestselling author of “Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way!book series and “The Leading Online Organizing Coach” www.OrganizingPro.com

“‘A Spoonful of Grace’ is the perfect complement to your family meals. The verses and short prayers offer a deeper connection to each other and your heavenly Father. The Grace Notes provide meaningful conversation starters for living out your faith. Annette Hubbell’s conversational tone will enable even your youngest members to understand and join in the prayer time. Every family should keep a copy on their kitchen table!” Amelia Rhodes, author of “Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community”

“In this beautiful, winsome and creative volume, Annette Hubbell shares 366 short family graces—accessible to young and old alike—that can be prayed, meditated upon, and discussed around the family table. The accompanying “grace notes” are engaging and interesting (a meal themselves!), and will spark meaningful discussion and thoughtful reflection. This book will nourish both heart and mind.”Dr. Mark L. Strauss, Vice-Chair, The NIV Committee on Bible Translation and University Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary San Diego, California, and author of 12 books.

“What a treasure trove of insightful, interesting and inspiring prayers and discussion starters for the family dinner table!  Wonderfully composed and chock-full of wit and wisdom. I wish I’d had this book when my husband and I were raising our four children.” Susan Meissner, Award-winning author of “Secrets of a Charmed Life”