Princess of Pies

Nov

09

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Food and Drink, Home, Hospitality, Inspiring, Personal, Recipes, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Princess of Pies

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. Elsa Schiaparelli   My mother-in-love is one of the best cooks on the planet. I learned that the first time I met her. Then, a college student sustained mostly by starchy, mysterious, dining hall fare, I devoured everything she put on the table; even squash casserole, a subversive compliment to her. I remember her telling me she was glad I was the kind of girl who would eat instead of picking around her plate. I suppose in its own way, that was a compliment, too, but I blushed, worried I must’ve eaten like a hog. Those glorious calories shoved in my mouth were worth the red cheeks. Sarah was known far and wide for her cooking, and if she knew your favorite thing, she’d be sure to include it if you were coming for dinner. I’m not sure I could choose one favorite dish of hers, but her Cowboy Cookies were magical, and try as I might, I couldn’t come close to her fried chicken. Plenty of her recipes found their way into my kitchen, though, and she delighted in my phone calls when I needed to clarify a process–like making sure if one cup flour, sifted is the same thing as one cup of sifted flour (it’s not). She also insisted that it made a different to “start with flour and end with flour” when adding ingredients for her famed pound cake–I have never put it to the test, though. I think it’s best to trust the cook. Sarah’s desserts were legendary, and everyone had their favorite (mine was her Italian Cream Cake. sigh…). A diplomat and pleaser at heart, she made sure to rotate whose favorites showed up for holiday meals when our family gathered together. But then… * * *   Oooooh, please DO keep reading over at Grace Table table today! Queen of the Kitchen, Princess of the Pie, and YOU is delicious reading ?.  Share...

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Have You Ever Wondered What Your Faith Would Look Like If You Didn’t Have a Bible?

Oct

31

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in Faith, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Have You Ever Wondered What Your Faith Would Look Like If You Didn’t Have a Bible?

  Recently, our pastor led a sermon series that caught me by surprise, six messages celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (which happens to be today, October 31, 2017). It would have been almost expected in the former denomination we attended (Presbyterian (PCA)), but not what I’d predict from a Southern Baptist church. I like surprises. I owe Pastor McCoy a debt of gratitude for inspiring my thoughts at {in}courage today, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and comment. His sermons also pointed me in the direction of some helpful resources (and a few quotes that found their way into my post). Learning about Church history strengthens my own faith, understanding the price so many paid that I might have the luxury of reading my own Bible, and worship without fear. On this day in 1517, history – or maybe, more so, tradition – tells us Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, thereby ushering in a faith movement that led to the formation of the Protestant Church. Originally titled “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” but more commonly known as the 95 Theses, Luther raised questions related to authority and salvation. One of his major points of contention centered on the practice of indulgences where people could basically buy their way out of sin. Please read “Jesus Loves Me This I Know…” over at {in}courage to learn why Luther’s work matters to all of us, and I’d challenge you to ponder what your faith might look like if you didn’t have access to a Bible you could read on your own. Really–linger in the ramifications of that question; I’d genuinely love to hear your thoughtful responses (either in comments, if you’d like to share publicly, or via email). Last, if you love learning, below are links to Dr. McCoy’s sermons and to the resources he used in his research (thank you, Dr. McCoy!): The Unfinished Reformation by Greg Allison and Chris Castaldo Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George The Smalcald Articles by Martin Luther The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, Christian History, Issue 34 by Henry Zecher The Babylonian Captivity of the Church by Martin Luther Find audio files and pdf guides here for Pastor McCoy’s sermon series The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation beginning September 24, 2017 and ending on October 29th. Sermon 1, How Well Do You Know Your Story? Sermon 2, What Does the Bible Say? Sola Scriptura and Following Christ Today Sermon 3, All of Grace: Sola Gratia and the Way of Salvation Sermon 4, Sola Fide: Abraham, Luther, and Justification by Faith Sermon 5, Jesus Paid It All: Solus Christus and the Way of Salvation Sermon 6, Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone Related content: http://www.history.com/topics/martin-luther-and-the-95-theses Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha   Note: my affiliate links are included for books listed above.   Share...

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I’m Mad And I Want You To Know Why

Oct

30

Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in Advice, Cancer is NOT okay!, Family, Health, Mothers and daughters, Personal, Uncategorized | 8 comments

I’m Mad And I Want You To Know Why

Long ago and far away, or so it seems now, we lived in South Carolina. A few years after we landed there, a young couple moved to town, life-friends of my younger brother-in-law. We welcomed them with open arms; friends of family are friends of ours. They were barely out of newlyweddom when baby Dylan arrived. Stephanie and Trey loved him fiercely and completely, the way we all marvel at those firstborn, or let’s face it, every child we call our own. Breastfeeding was a priority to Stephanie, and like any new mom, she expected to have questions along the way. When she complained to her doctor about a knotty sore place, she readily accepted his plausible explanation: a blocked milk duct (I massaged my way through a few of those painful devils). It was good news that satisfied her questions and concern, but this is what I would categorize as hearing what you want to hear (which is rarely a good thing). Six months later Stephanie was dead, leaving behind a grieving husband and a son who would have no memory of her. She was 23. Cruelly, cancer cut her life short–six months from diagnosis to death. My mother was 34 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; she died at 38. Her mother died when she was 22, cancer again robbing a baby of knowing her mama. My sister is a survivor, creeping up on almost 20 years (thank you, Jesus). I’ve lived under the Dark Cloud of Cancer Possibility my entire life (or at least as long as I remember). But as aware as I am for myself, taking all the preventive and proactive action I can for early detection and best health, I am even more aware for my daughter. She is 25 and has lived three years longer than her great-grandmother. Medical opinions vary about when women with family histories of breast cancer should have their first mammogram; one popular suggestion is ten years prior to the diagnosis of first-degree relatives. While my daughter has no first-degree connection to breast cancer, her grandmother and great-grandmother died young, and her aunt endured aggressive treatment for DCIS and a malignant lump. There are several methods to predict or evaluate your risk (for example, here or here). But I’m of the strong opinion it can serve you well to get a baseline early for future reference.  Here’s the thing: no one wants to have a mammogram. They aren’t exactly painful, but they’re incredibly awkward and contort and smash your body into positions you didn’t know were possible. Know what I say to that? So what? Get over your fear or dread or excuses. Early detection could save your life.   Continuing a streak of awesome adulting, my daughter recently decided to schedule her first mammogram (she’s a plane-ride away from me so if it’s going to happen, she has to make the effort without me dragging her kicking and screaming). She questioned me about anything she might need to know before she called a local provider, and I explained to her since it’s preventive (and given our family history), it’s covered under her insurance. Well. The office she called told her she did not need to have a mammogram yet, that she was too young and it wasn’t necessary. Of course, Rachel was thrilled and felt like she was off the hook for now. It was...

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Cowboy Cookies (a recipe that comes with a warning….)

Oct

10

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Favorite things, Personal, Recipes, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Cowboy Cookies (a recipe that comes with a warning….)

  If every politician had a home-baked batch of Cowboy Cookies – my favorite cookie in the world – we might just be able to achieve world peace.   It’s hard to remain at odds when you’re devouring these jokers. Bonus? They use oatmeal, which means they’re probably healthy. Who am I to argue the merits of whole grain? It’s been so long since I made a batch I had forgotten how delicious they are. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN? They’re magical. Anyway, my sweet mother-in-love shared the recipe ages ago, and it’s no-fail if you can follow instructions. I’ve added notes below the recipe, so be sure to read them before whipping up a batch. Then, email me a thank you note with pictures, please. It’s ancient wisdom that when you take pictures, the cookies last longer.   Cowboy Cookies ~ Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Preheat oven to 350°F Ingredients 1 cup sugar 1 cup light brown sugar ½ cup Crisco Shortening (NOT oil) ½ cup softened butter (1 whole stick) 2 eggs 2 cups sifted all purpose flour 1 teaspoon soda ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups oats* 1 cup pecans* (optional, which is nuts to this Southern gal) 1 small package semi-sweet chocolate chips Sift flour, soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. With a mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, Crisco, butter, two eggs and vanilla. Once incorporated, add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and pecans until well blended (I do this part by hand, not with a mixer). Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until desired doneness.   IMPORTANT Baking Notes:   My original recipe called for one cup of Crisco, but I like butter, so I amended the recipe to ½ cup of shortening, ½ cup of butter. The results are spectacular. Never use margarine. Because WHY WOULD  YOU when butter is an option? This recipe can be halved or doubled. Let the butter sit at room temperature to soften. Do NOT melt it! Soft = good. Melted = bad. (Cookies will be flat.) If you’re a house divided like ours, you have permission to make half a batch with pecans, half without. I totally judge people who don’t include nuts (including my otherwise amazing husband and children). Pecans are pronounced puh-kahn, not pee in a can. \ pi-?kän<– right way    wrong way –> ?p?-?kan \ We’re also a house divided about how to pronounce pecan. I use Old Fashioned Quaker Oats; I’ve tried the quick-cooking version before and did not like that cardboard-esque result. You won’t like it, either. The first time you try this recipe, check them at 10, then 11 minutes in. I don’t know how hot your oven bakes, and you do not want to overcook these babies.  Undercooked > Overcooked These are Whole30 compliant. The previous statement was a lie wishful thinking. Enjoy!      BAKER BEWARE: if you decide to make these cookies – and I hope you do – you (and whomever you share them with) might just turn into a monster like this guy…   I’d say it’s worth the risk.   Share...

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Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

Oct

03

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in (in)courage, Books, Encouragement, Faith, Favorite things, Inspiring, Personal | 2 comments

Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, how about today?   Our world is reeling these days, isn’t it? Collectively, we feel the tragic news out of Las Vegas, horrified that one man could rob so many of so much; for too many, their lives.  I can only imagine that those who are directly affected wonder how anyone can go on in a world gone mad? There’s no reconciling the absurd. There are times when faith comes easy. This isn’t one of them for a lot of folks. I know all the Christian platitudes, the things we say at times like this. But I can’t bring myself to say any of those things out loud – even if they are true – because sometimes the loudest lament is silence.   God hears the cry of the broken ones, and he alone offers hope during obsidian days.   So, we mourn with those who mourn. We ask a lot of questions. Yes, we want answers, but the truth is we’ll never be able to make sense of it. This world we find ourselves in is still spinning, sun and moon nudging us into the next day and the one after that.   And, here’s the important thing to remember: even in the darkness there are beacons.   We need light to guide us to where we are going, yes? We need light to show us the way. Months ago (a year ago?) the date was set for A Moment to Breathe to release. No one could have anticipated the timing, that this collection of “365 devotions to meet you in your everyday mess” would launch right after the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.  Eighty authors, inspired by scripture and for the glory of God, poured their hearts and lives into its pages, hoping it would bring light into the lives of those hopeful or desperate to find a beacon.     I’m proud of this book, thrilled and honored to have seven devotions included. There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being happy when so many of our neighbors have suffered unimaginable loss – before Las Vegas, the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those awful west coast wildfires. Unresolved racial tensions and political discord add to our collective grief. And beyond these national tragedies and disasters are countless more personal tragedies and disasters. Every day our neighbors are facing financial ruin, infidelity, addiction, illness, difficulty with children, debilitating accident, death…. Maybe you are the neighbor. Here’s the beautiful, liberating thing: humans are a complex and multi-dimensional creation, capable of simultaneous, opposing emotions. (Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.) In other words, the “guilt” I’m feeling is a false guilt, the kind the enemy of my heart loves because it has the potential to defeat, paralyze, or confuse me (sometimes all three). False guilt materializes in a thousand different ways, and often it’s rooted in comparison; for me, at least.     With all tenderness for those who are suffering, I can still celebrate the happy and good things happening in my world (if you need permission, I’m extending it to you, too, because sometimes we just need someone else to tell us so). It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s essential to have compassion for those in pain, to pray for, help and...

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The Next Best Thing to Live and In-Person

Sep

29

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in (in)courage, Conferences, Friends, friendship | 3 comments

The Next Best Thing to Live and In-Person

  In case you missed the Facebook Live about friendship complexities and the (in) Real Life: FRIENDED event I mentioned yesterday (because I am AWESOME at giving advance notice!), the magical wizards at Facebook make it possible to watch on replay. You probably need to watch just TO LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE that lumberjacks in your back yard (thanks to Irma) are distracting, and you can’t help but be who you are. I remember saying I hoped (in)courage/DaySpring/Lifeway wouldn’t fire me, but for the life of me now I can’t remember why…. I’m a little horrified to think about how many bunny trails I streaked. Anyways…. Thanks to texts from Saynor, Paige, and Frank during the event (I saw ’em and tried to ignore ’em), and for prayer minions who made a difference. It is not your fault I SQUIRREL! at All The Things. Last, remember two copies of A Moment to Breathe are up for grabs (for commenters from the FB comment thread & my original post about the broadcast). (Also? What’s up my expression on the freeze-frame? I AM NOT FORLORN!)   Share...

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Sometimes I’m Shy (Like When I Do Things Like This) + A Giveaway!

Sep

28

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in (in)courage, Friends, friendship, Giveaways | 16 comments

Sometimes I’m Shy (Like When I Do Things Like This) + A Giveaway!

First, set your calendar for tomorrow at 10am EST. I’ll be giving away two copies of A Moment To Breathe BEFORE IT’S AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!! (Details at end of post)   Most people who know me would consider me an extrovert. I can work a room like nobody’s business when I need to and it looks like it comes easy for me. Natural. Well, pass me an Oscar. I’ve earned it, if that’s what you think. While I do love people and I’m naturally friendly, introducing myself to strangers or beginning a conversation with those I don’t know well (or even folks I’ve “known” on the internets FOREVER) makes me shake in my shoes. I’ve just learned ways to be the boss of those silly fears.  The secret is twofold: I’ve learned how to channel nervous energy into a positive force; and, I’m convinced it’s important to be the one to BE the one. My (in)courage sisters would say that second thing is “going first,” being willing to share your story, initiating a conversation or gathering, or plain and simple, getting the old ball rolling on friendship. As mentioned in my previous post, (in)courage and Lifeway have partnered together for a special event in Nashville next month: (in) Real Life: FRIENDED To tell you more about it, I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live tomorrow morning at 10am EST (Friday, September 29th). Why? BECAUSE I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT – thrilled to participate as a panelist, sure, but more so because of the inspiring, motivating, and encouraging content from all the amazing featured guests. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a Girls Weekend Away, or, if traveling to Nashville isn’t a possibility for you, Lifeway has made a way for anyone to join us via the comfort of home or church via a very affordable simulcast. I’m a little mortified to host a Facebook Live; WHAT IF NO ONE WATCHES IT? And I really, really want you all to tune in to learn more about inRL: FRIENDED because it’s going to be such a special gathering. Even if you can’t make it at 10am EST, you can watch the video anytime. (After it’s over, I’ll be sure to pop a link directly into this post). As promised, I’m giving away two copies of A Moment to Breathe, the new, 365-day devotional from the (in)courage community, and here’s how you can win one:   Comment to this post (questions about the event, topics you’d like me to address during the Facebook Live, whether or not you’ll be attending, or why you’d like to win a copy. ANY COMMENT WILL BE AN ENTRY!). Comment during the Facebook Live OR on the replay if you’re viewing later. Easy breezy. I sincerely hope you can watch tomorrow’s Facebook Live thingie; would you mind sharing this post on your timeline and invite others to join us, too? Tag me so I’ll see it, and THANK YOU in advance.   Congratulations to Susan G! The copy of AMTB is headed your way as soon as you get me your address. Thanks to all for commenting! Share...

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Please Join Me October 14th in Nashville for (in)real life: FRIENDED #inrl

Sep

13

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 in (in)courage, Conferences, Encouragement, Favorite things, Friends, friendship, Inspiring, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Please Join Me October 14th in Nashville for (in)real life: FRIENDED #inrl

I suppose you could say it’s been years in the making: a gathering of friends old and new within hugging distance.   (in)courage and Lifeway have teamed up to bring (in) real life: FRIENDED, “an event for women that unpacks what makes healthy friendships tick.” OF COURSE, our greatest hope is that you can come in person, but because we care so deeply about community, relationship, and the ways women need one another, event planners are offering a simulcast option. The upside? You can bring #inRL to your church, or, if you’re game for the coziest option of them all, from the comfort of your home! The downside? I won’t get to meet you face to face. Boo. Hiss. Featured speakers include Lisa-Jo Baker, Chrystal Hurst, and Annie Downs; Meredith Andrews will lead worship; and Jamie Ivey, host of The Happy Hour podcast, will emcee. I’m thrilled to join a panel of real-life friends and fellow incourage writers (Holley Gerth, Jennifer Lee, Aliza Latta, Jen Schmidt, Kristen Strong, and Alia Joy Haganbach); we’ll all be sharing a message of hope and encouragement as it relates to friendship, practical calls to action, and personal testimonies about the beauty and brokenness we’ve all experienced with friends. This is an event like no other, one that will have you looking inside and out, and most important of all, looking up to the One who designed us to be in community with one another.   It’s going to be special, y’all, and it’s very affordable as far as conferences go (in Nashville AND the simulcast). Please decide right now that you want to take part, whether in Nashville, at your church, or even from home with a few friends. Click the (in) real life: FRIENDED website to find out everything you need to know for each option (plus a bonus add-on for Friday night if you’re able to get to Nashville!). Share...

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Hope in the Hurricane

Sep

10

Posted by on Sep 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Hope in the Hurricane

In the eye of a hurricane There is quiet For just a moment…. ~ From “Hurricane” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton — I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 317,256 times, give or take. I love it. For its story and history, of course, but more so for the madness and brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Smart (although at times explicit) lyrics companioned with incredible music – hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway – bring me to tears in places, which is saying something. I’m not an easy crier. My friend Monica has listened a million times, too. For their anniversary, her husband scurried her off to New York, and between that and a surprise pair of tickets to Hamilton he won the Husband of the Year Award (congratulations, Derek). During a conversation about her visit we discovered we both do the same thing: instantly think about Hamilton when we hear a word or phrase in everyday conversation that includes a snippet of lyrics. I wish I could remember what the reference was when we were with a group of friends and someone unknowingly said a line from one of the songs. We looked at each other, both repeated it, and grinned. “Wait for it…”? “Rise up”? “I’m not throwing away my shot”? Who knows? I just sure we had a moment. Anyways… There’s a song called “Hurricane” in Act II of the musical, referring to both a hurricane Hamilton literally survived, and also  figuratively to a life storm he faces. When Harvey punched Texas in the face a few weeks ago, and now with Irma crashing through the Caribbean and bullying her way straight up Florida toward me – three hours from any coast for heaven’s sake – this song keeps ringing in my ears. This morning in church our pastor talked about storms and what they reveal about God and/or man. Tim knew Irma was on everyone’s mind and we likely had evacuee visitors (we did). Our church has already been reaching out to those affected by Harvey, but with this one hitting closer to home – we have five evacuation centers in our area (and an extra one for pets) – it’s personally relevant. He threaded together stories of people in the bible who faced storms…Noah, Jonah, wise and foolish men, even Jesus and his disciples…but it was a beautiful passage from Psalms that gave me the most encouragement today, Psalm 57:1. If you find yourself squaring off against Irma (or Harvey), or facing any kind of life storm (both can level you, can’t they?) I hope you’ll find life and encouragement in these words, too: Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,     for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,     till the storms of destruction pass by. My thoughts and prayers are with you, the millions of neighbors affected by these storms. My greatest hope is that you will see the goodness and glory of God in the days to come. xo   Share...

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The Kindness of Strangers

Sep

06

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 in friendship, Grace Table, Hospitality, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal, Uncategorized | 4 comments

The Kindness of Strangers

It was a day of inconveniences, the kind where you wonder if you’ll be able to get it all done.     Since I was driving out of town the next day, taking my car to the shop for its past due oil change was top priority. The wait was hours long without an appointment (what? they take appointments?!), and I could’ve kicked myself for not bringing work along, or better yet, a book from my never shrinking stack. I called my son to see if he could leave his job to come and get me. He said yes, but even his time was limited, and he didn’t have the extra minutes to run by the grocery store on the way home so I could grab something to cook for dinner. Influenced by both our year living in Germany (where we biked or walked everywhere) and my husband’s wellness plan at work (that pays us to track health and fitness), I made the decision to have him drop me at Publix and I’d walk home. While I had mentally calculated the distance between home and Publix – a little more than a mile – I hadn’t factored in July’s stifling heat and humidity. Mylanta, summertime in middle Georgia is a big, fat, steamy sauna. I crossed the street into my neighborhood, sweat-drenched and questioning my sanity. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, especially if I wanted to have dinner ready before midnight. Now, I would’ve been happy to troll the pantry and make a meal out of Cream of Mushroom Soup and Ritz Crackers–aren’t they the base of every good casserole, anyway? About that time I sensed a car approaching from behind, slowing down beside me. I kept a confident and determined stride, staring straight ahead and painting a fiercely intimidating expression on my face (a surefire method for disarming potential kidnappers and murderers). I tried to act like I didn’t notice them… Which is next to impossible when the window rolls down and you hear…   Please click over to Grace Table today to discover what happens next! (It’s a story I love.) Share...

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