Hi Everyone, Just wanted to post a video recapping The Deeper Still weekend I was so honored to be a small part of. If you were there you know how amazing it was to hear from teachers like Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore. If you weren’t able to come, there’s one more in Louisville, KY in the summer.
I flew in from California last Sunday night just in time to attend a memorial service for a newborn baby. He was the son of two of my friends, whole and perfect. For reasons unknown, except to Elohim (The God who creates), this little baby went to be with Jesus on his third day here on earth.
My friends attend a new church that currently meets in a bar, which works well for Sunday morning worship services but not as great for other functions. Since my friends were without a church building to celebrate their son, they chose one of their favorite and frequented spots – Ugly Mugs coffee shop. Up until this past Sunday I had sipped many cups of loose leaf tea and french pressed coffee at many coffee houses in countless cities. But I had never worshiped. I had never sung songs to Jesus or prayed corporately or listened to a pastor say things like, “All things will be made right in the end, and if this is not okay with you, it’s because it’s not the end yet.”
Because my friends who lost their child are exceedingly young – 22 – the crowd skewed youthful, and it blessed me. It moved me to see a young generation saddened, confused and grieving, but lifting their hearts and minds to Jesus, the Author of life in a somewhat unconventional spot, yet so perfectly fitting. Why not celebrate life and ask questions and cry with one another – and invite Jesus to reign – in a place that regularly teems with community? It reminded me that Christ is not confined to the brick and mortar buildings we call “church” (though a phenomenal blessing to have a set apart place), but reigns in every crevice of our world. And He is delighted when we bring Him to those nooks and crannies.
Above all else, I was proud of my friends who said at such young ages, “We do not grieve as the world grieves” (I Thes 4:13). They had hope that was palpable and impossible to feign. They didn’t merely speak of the fact that God works all things together for good for those who know and love Him, but they hooked that truth with a lasso and tugged it into their breaking hearts. And the church stood around them and agreed with them and God. And drank Americanos.
God bless you Ben, Amy and Aiden.
Okay gang. It’s fall and if your region of the country is cooperating there should be burnt colored leaves sailing to the ground on the wings of a chilly breeze. You should have had your first pumpkin spice latte. A bite of something orange. Hopefully you’ve pulled out recipes with award-winning appearances from some of autumn’s all-stars like nutmeg and cinnamon. And if you’re anything like me, despite the unseasonably warm weather, you’ve started making soup. In my opinion, at the pinnacle of pumpkin patches, hayrides, and brisk morning walks perches soup in all its glory.
Now there are a zillion soup recipes out there: Butternut squash, bean and kale, tortilla, chicken noodle, vegetable, split pea, tomato basil, and so on. But if you really want to do any of these soups right, you’ve got to start with a good stock. If soup were an outfit, the stock would not be the belt, boots or dazzling hat – it would be the jeans. The very foundation for the whole shebang. Without great stock, you can’t have great soup. It’s that simple. And the great part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. In fact, when you make your own chicken stock you should save money in the long run while getting a much healthier and flavorful product. Not to mention, your house will smell storybook charming.
Here’s how I’ve been making mine: First, if you’ve got a farmer’s market or local meat seller anywhere near you, ask your farmer for the parts of a chicken that are good for making stock. I know there are more appetizing things than asking for chicken parts, but this is where you save your money while still getting everything you need: necks, backs, legs, feet (I’ve never used feet myself, but I hear there’s a lot of gelatin in the feet). You can also use a whole chicken if you want, just make sure you take the meat off the chicken right after it’s cooked so you don’t dry your meat out. Then you can throw your carcass back in the stock pot. (I prefer to use local, free-range chickens that have fed off the land, rather than processed ones because I think you get much healthier meat.)
Directions: Pour 4-5 quarts of water into a good-sized stock pot. I use filtered water since so much of your soup is made up of water. Throw your chicken parts into the water. The last few times I’ve thrown in two backs that my farmer sold me at the farmer’s market for about a dollar a piece. Then toss in carrots, celery, and a large yellow onion (mirepoix). You can coarsely chop these vegetables – no need to spend much time here as you’re only using the vegetables for flavor. I also love to use fresh cloves of garlic and parsley. Once everything is thrown into your stockpot, bring everything to a boil and let vigorously boil until the meat is falling off the bone. (If you’re using a whole chicken and want to save your meat, make sure you take the chicken out when the meat is cooked, carve your meat off, and then return what’s left to the stockpot). If you’re using chicken parts you probably won’t want to use the meat so don’t worry about taking the chicken out and saving the meat – the whole thing can stay in the whole time.
I then add approx two tablespoons of fresh sea salt, but regular salt will work great; one teaspoon cumin; one teaspoon coriander; at least a teaspoon of pepper; a sprinkle of garlic powder. The first few minutes of the rapid boil is when you’ll see a lot of “scum” rise to the top. I keep a spoon and small bowl on hand so I can scrape the scum off and put it in the bowl to later be tossed outside. After the meat starts falling off the bone (1-2 hours), I reduce my stock to a simmer and let it continue anywhere from 2-6 hours. I don’t put a lid on my stock so it can thicken and reduce to a greater intensity. If you’re looking for a lighter colored, less intense stock, keep the lid on. I do occasionally add water if I think I’ve got lots of time to let the stock simmer, stretching all my ingredients a bit more.
When you’re ready to remove your stock from the stove, turn your oven off and let the stock cool. There are other more sophisticated ways to do this, but I get a large colander and simply pour everything from my stock pot through the colander and into a bowl so I’m left with nothing but liquid stock (vegetables, meat and bones should be left in strainer). I then transfer my stock to the refrigerator and let sit for several hours until the stock has congealed (It should be very jelly-like). You’ll see a white layer on top which is the fat. Simply scrape that off and discard. Everything else is pure stock and can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for much longer.
You will love the way homemade stock makes your soups taste, you’ll love having it on hand in your fridge/freezer, and you’ll love the health benefits, as the gelatin from chicken bones is high in protein and full of nutrients you won’t get in a box or can. If you’ve got other ways of making homemade stock, or some good tips, leave a comment. I’m sure everyone will benefit!
Just a quick note to let you know that I did a guest blog for @edstetzer ‘s Thursday is for Thinkers. Today I wrote about The Gospel versus Religious Mission. If you get a chance, check out what’s going on over there and leave a thought… or two. www.edstetzer.com
It has been a whirlwind summer as I’ve been finishing up a book on the virtues entitled The Fitting Room: Putting On The Character Of Christ. It will be out in April of 2011. I say all this to let you know why I have been terribly absent from the blog. What my excuse will be for the rest of the year, I have no idea. Social media is not my strong suit.
A HUGE thank you to Beth Moore and Living Proof Ministries for their enormous blessing of facilitating the Ruth study during the Summer Siesta Bible Study. I love Beth’s teaching and am grateful for real women who live with integrity and love Jesus passionately. You get all of this with Beth and her studies and live events. And, many, many thanks to all of you who participated, as well as for your kind comments. They have been a blessing.
Off to water the flowers. They are dying in this Nashville heat!!!!
I’m sorry that I have been quite out of touch since being out of the country in Brazil, specifically on a boat cruising down the Amazon. And when I say ‘cruising’, please don’t think anything even close to a cruise ship, because the only thing the two have in common is their ability to float. Much more on what God did on our trip in posts to come…
Many of you are wondering if you can get your Ruth Study(s) from this website and how quickly they will arrive, especially in regard to Beth Moore’s summer study. Yes, you can order them here, (or get them at your local LifeWay Store). Please know that we are expediting our shipments to you so you can get your Ruth study(s) as soon as possible. If you have any questions or issues, please contact us at Minterstore@comcast.net, and we’ll get back to you right away. If you need more info on Beth’s Summer Study you can visit her blog by clicking here.
Can’t wait to share with you about my trip to the Amazon. God is so desirous to use His people to take the Gospel (and everything the Gospel means and does) to the ends of the earth. To be entrusted with the treasure of the Gospel is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. This I know.
As many of you know, Nashville (and other areas) experienced widespread flooding over the weekend. Currently the sun is out, the wind is calm and the birds have returned to their morning songs. However, the wake of devastation is enormous. I am thankful to be in an area where the worst we had was running up and down our rickety basement stairs to empty buckets and trash cans of water, along with several trees down. You can see my ahead-of-its-time water catcher above, something my friend put together when suddenly water started pouring in through a loose brick. This was absolutely nothing compared to all the lost homes, and even lives, that have been lost over the past two days.
I was reading in Nehemiah this morning where Nehemiah declared that the people would “arise and build”. It is my prayer that the people of the church will be the first in line over the next several weeks to help so many families who are in need. We will need a long commitment to restoration here. Thank you for your prayers for this wonderful and amazing town I call home.
Alright, I missed the recipe of the month in March because I got a little overwhelmed writing this book on the Christian virtues. It’s due soon, actually tomorrow, though I don’t think I’m going to quite make it – especially if I keep doing things like blog about French toast. Will let you know how it goes… Again, thank you all so much for your very helpful comments on the blog regarding the book a few months ago. They were very helpful. Alright, onto the French toast!
This is what all the people gathered around my table are eating on Easter morning. My dear friend, April, whipped it up the night before, and I’m telling you, this dish will make you a hero in your family, neighborhood, social network – wherever you need hero status. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
Egg Bread (or Italian Sweet Bread)
Put 1/2 stick butter and 1 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons in bottom of 13×9 inch pan and put in oven until butter is melted. Take out of oven and mix all three ingredients together until you have a nice glaze covering the bottom of the pan. Place thick slices (1.5 inch ea.) of Egg Bread (or bread of your choice) over the glaze covering the entire dish (just one layer). Then whisk 7 eggs and 1-1/2 cups of milk together in bowl. Once whisked, pour over the bread slices in the pan. Cover and put in fridge overnight. Wake up the next morning, preheat your oven to 350 while get your coffee on… Then bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Super easy. Delicious. Not healthy, but great for the psyche!
Hope you all are enjoying spring. Thanks for the prayers regarding this book. More to come soon…
Okay, so a few months ago I posted a blog regarding the Christian virtues, or graces, that we are to “clothe” ourselves in, and your responses were very helpful – and honest, which I love. (Here’s the link if you missed it, or want to add a thought). Since then I have been writing furiously on the virtues listed in Colossians 3:12, along with a bunch of other aspects that go with how to practically put these virtues “on”. All of which will help get me to my goal of 50,000 words. Yes, writing is that romantic.
And since this book has managed to coil its tendrils around every waking moment of my consciousness I have all but ignored my blog, something my friends remind me of every day (probably because they’re the only ones who read it, or sincerely believe others do…)
So, I’m posting an excerpt on forgiveness from the book that will be out in May of 2011, if I don’t first die from staring at my computer screen.
I was making a homemade pasta sauce out of vine ripened cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic and zucchini on Valentines Day (or Galentines Day as my friend, Paige, likes to refer to it. Horrifically cheesy I know, but strangely comforting to be able to reclaim the day for the singles of my gender). The recipe called for fresh or canned artichoke hearts, but there was some silent alarm of compromise that signaled me at the thought of buying something canned for my otherwise from scratch meal. I knew that none of my dinner guests would know if I cut a canned artichoke corner here or there, but I figured if I was going to go to the trouble of rolling out my homemade semolina pasta dough, I would learn how to cut a fresh artichoke in a way that laid bare its prized heart.
This was possibly one of the greatest errors of my young-adult life. After widdling away the pointy leaves of four artichokes I think I came away with enough “quartered” hearts for one guest to have one sliver in one bite. Before sautéing these little remnants I treasured them in a bowl of lemon juice, like they were on the endangered species list, because – who knew – artichoke hearts oxidize immediately. I don’t think I’ve ever coddled a food more, perhaps besides pinenuts, which can cost you a day’s wage if you over broil them. I “supplemented” with the silly cans.
But for all my defeat, I found scraping the furry little choke out of the center of the heart soothingly therapeutic. This may reveal I need other forms of therapy, but at the very least I liked the image of ridding a valuable delicacy of its thistly center. Forgiveness can be much the same way: there is often a lot of peeling away of layers. We find ourselves rejoicing with one discarded leaf of bitterness here and another of anger there, while still recognizing we’ve a few more of revenge and gossip to go. If we’re intent on seeking the Bible for its healing truths, we’ll find it as smart as a paring knife, sharp enough to discern the motives and desires of our heart. Which is essential when walking through forgiveness.
If you will indulge me with the artichoke analogy for one more paragraph (really just trying to get my wasted-artichoke money’s worth) it has been my experience, that even after shedding my enemy of all his/her wrongs I’ve been hanging onto, the whole thing eventually comes down to one prickly center – the core of the wound. It might be rejection, abandonment, betrayal, slander, loss of innocence, but whatever it is you will always know it. It will be the ugliest and most difficult piece to reconcile, and it will be the last thing to stand between you and the glory of a cleansed heart. It will take the grace of God to scrape the thing out, but it will be worth every supernatural release if we will allow Him to do it – and you can take that straight to the lemon juice bowl. (I just went too far, didn’t I?)
During all the bible study and book writing there are moments when I forget that I originally came to Nashville for music – not so much for speaking and writing. That said, I love what I get to do these days, which seems to be a lot more teaching, and book and bible study writing, but I still love every opportunity I get to song-write and sing. Like, I can’t wait to lead worship for Easter this weekend at my home church in Nashville.
For whatever reason I haven’t shared much about this with the blog world (probably because I’ve been blogging too much about things like food), but I am with a worship label out of England called Kingsway. You may know of them through songs like “In Christ Alone”, “Blessed Be Your Name” and “Here I Am To Worship”. A couple years ago I released a worship record with them called “Finer Day”. But just this past week they released a six-song EP here in the States that is a compilation of some live and studio recordings I’ve done with them. Here’s a little early review of the EP if you’re interested.
I hope everyone is waiting with anticipation this week for Good Friday and the following celebration of Easter. There has been a different sort of expectancy brewing in my waiting this season that I am thankful for. I hope this is the case for you as we all look forward to the celebration of the resurrection.
Okay, so this isn’t the savoriest looking grouping of food items, but I’m telling you, homemade chicken stock is pretty amazing once you strain everything out, leaving only the rich flavors distinct to herbs and spices like thyme, coriander, cumin, and parsley, along with vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery. And of course when you’ve got in your possession a whole chicken from Weldon of Emerald Farms (a regular at the Nashville Farmer’s Market), you have everything you need for a flavorful soup just pleading for mexican rice, fresh avocados and pico de gallo. Chips and salsa if you’re remotely human.
So this meal that begun with a spark of inspiration to warm myself on a damp and chilly Nashville Sunday turned into the center of a large gathering around my table that night after church. I had no intentions of having anyone over, especially as piles of clothes were creeping out of my luggage I had yet to unpack from the weekend, while stacks of mail and boxes of books towered in a couple corners (I tend to like clean – especially when people are coming over). But the soup! I had to have people over for the soup. And so several of my friends – some of whom I haven’t seen in such a long while – spontaneously swung by after the service. And when I say ‘swung’ I mean stayed for four hours talking about everything from Asian art to what authentic Christianity looks like, sans the religious trappings. We had compelling conversations about the poor, addiction, our own places of sin and selfishness. And we ate cookies… We had some of the most honest and refreshing conversations I’ve had in a long while, and though I am certain the soup will not be remembered, it was what got everyone there.
So I’m advocating having a meal at your house. And if you’ve got the time make it yourself, because there’s something about making selections at the grocery store or farmer’s market, washing, slicing, cutting, savoring the smells that is part of preparation. Preparation for who God will bring together around your creation and what He will do in the conversations. Fellowship, or sharing of faith, is the richest of blessings, “so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:6). So make a meal and invite some people over. Maybe even invite someone on the ‘fringe’ who might not often get an invitation, or someone you haven’t seen in a while. It’s as simple as throwing a whole chicken in a pot and asking some people over – and don’t let the piles or exposed laundry stop you. If you’ve got a big enough plate of cookies no one will remember you’re not perfectly imaculate anyway.