Category Archives: Christian Hospitality

Final Thoughts on Mission Statements

 

In coming up with a mission statement, it’s good and easy to have one; yet, much more difficult to stick with it.  In Part 1, “what makes you unique?,” we address & answer that first, most vital question.  It’s the map that sets us on our journey.  In Part 2, “what’s your rally cry, your top priority?,” we address & answer how to eliminate stress by focusing on one area (rally cry) in our lives we can work on (& achieve in 2-6 months), which will help us stick to our journey.  Now, in Part 3, the final question remains.

Question #3: How do you talk about and use the answers to your questions?

It’s one thing to know what makes you unique.  It’s also another to know one area to focus on to eliminate stress & lack of vision/focus.  Yet, it’s another thing to know how you are going to accomplish it.  We could write a grandiose mission statements filled with our core values & strategic values.  We could have our rally cry that sings in unison with our soul & mind, creating a Zen-like space, free of clutter & distraction.  Better yet, picture yourself 50 lbs overweight.  You tell yourself, “I’m better than this.  I deserve more for my life!”  So, you go out and buy some exercise clothing, rid your house of the junk food and fill your fridge with clean, nutritious food.  You tell yourself, “By the end of the year, I’m going to be one hot mama/dude!”  You make the appointment with the gym and start your regime to better health.  After your first workout you think, “this is hard, I don’t know if I can do this.”  You look in your fridge and wonder, “salad with chicken doesn’t sound appetizing.” Your body says, “OH.MY.GOSH.  I didn’t know there were muscles here,” you’re in pain.  You go the next day to stick with the plan, because you remember your long-term goal.  Yet, by the second week, you sleep in…missing the gym.  You begin to buy a couple more food items away from what you intended.  You find yourself paying for a gym membership that isn’t being used.  Question 3 helps us continue going to the gym, eating healthily without letting the food rot and the exercise clothes sit clean in the drawer.  Here’s how…

1. Find a time every week to evaluate.

Spend 10 minutes every week (preferably on the same day) going over your ‘rally cry’ and the defining objectives & standard objectives.  Are you finding that your defining objectives might have been too vague (notice I redefined one of mine)?  Or did you try to over achieve?  Were the objectives too narrow that no one could fit through them?  If so, you might need to tweak it a bit.  If you find it hard doing this on your own, then maybe there is a trusted friend or spouse you could share your rally cry with and they can help you with accountability.

2. Keep it Visible

It’s one thing to have your mission statement, rally cry, & objectives written out.  It’s another thing to have them in clear view to see everyday.  Keep them posted for you to see and be reminded of who you are and where you are headed. Put them in a place you walk past every single day.

Kamille’s Scoreboard

1. What is my top priority right now?

My Rallying Cry: “Creating a gentle spirit that listens.”

Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).
  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit’s empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.
  3. Journal 3xs a week.
  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).
  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, mess…play with the girls, embracing this daily.
  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.

Standard Objectives:

  1. Exercise & maintain health
  2. Marriage
  3. Home administration
  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)
  5. My Spiritual Life

2. What makes me unique?

I’ve been blessed with a sensitive spirit, which is moved into action by standing up for righteousness, especially for people. I value my relationship with Jesus and how he has imparted me with a storyteller’s heart and redeemed my story. Through this, I am called to encourage & empower my family & others to find their story and how to connect to others with it. I also value good, quality food and love creating nutritious & delicious food through cooking & baking. All of these have ignited a strong call to genuine hospitality within me.

3. How will I talk about and use the answers to this information?

I will spend time on Sunday afternoon evaluating how effective I have been in following the defining objectives.  I will include Ben on this conversation for accountability.  I will look over journal entries & track my sleep time as well for encouragement.

 

Where are you finding yourself among these questions?  Where in your life is asking to be your rally cry?  Which question seems the most discouraging or daunting?  Add to the conversation to impart your unique perspective.

 

Part 1, 2, & 3 have been influenced & inspired by Patrick Lencioni’s book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family.
A Year Ago: Mascarpone Chocolate Cheesecake

A Mission Statement…Now What?


Part 1: What Makes You Unique?: Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Can I just say that I feel very “legit” and “organizational” writing up posts like this one and How to Write a Personal Mission Statement?  I’m a bit scared, not because it’s totally out of the ordinary, but how much I love this sort of thing and my nerdy side is coming out.  You might also be thinking, “how does writing a personal mission statement have anything to do with Evangitality?”  I would wage to say it has everything to do with it.  Whether, you are a free-spirit individual embracing spontaneity & labeled with a “P” on Myers-Briggs; or, you like a bit more structure, and direction of where you are headed with a “J” on Myers-Briggs…all of us need to have some element of intentionality in life.  We need to know what it is we value and who we are if we are going to show genuine love & hospitality to the many people we encounter.

So, maybe you finished your personal mission statement and are wondering what you do with it?  Or you haven’t started and you don’t know if you ever will, because let’s face it, there is still that box of old stories on tape that you promised your husband you would go through to declutter and bring order to your life (oops, maybe that’s just me?).  Either way, I believe having a mission statement is good for destination & keeping one on track.  However, a mission statement alone doesn’t help us navigate through the journey to get to the final destination, which is what question 2 of the Big 3 Questions addresses…

1. What is your rally cry?  What is your Top Priority?

It doesn’t take much to figure out your rally cry–really, it doesn’t.  Make a list of a couple things that you see right here and now as a hindrance to get to your destination.  It’s not a science.  Overthinkers need not apply.  Choose something that you can achieve within 2-6 months–that’s it.  It your rally cry can be fixed in a week, don’t choose it.  If it’s something that takes longer than 6 months…leave it alone.  Pick one thing to rally around.  Here was my list:

  1. Being gentle in my responses.
  2. Having an activity everyday for my girls.
  3. Do gross motor exercises with V everyday.
  4. Provide nutritious meals for my family.
  5. Provide spiritual growth opportunities for the girls.
  6. Develop storytelling curriculum.

As you can see, all of these happen to align with my personal mission statement.  And any of them would be good to pick.  I can stress (probably like others) about picking the best one, or wondering if I don’t pick the gross motor exercises for V then I’ll be throwing her further behind in her development.  Or if I don’t pick spiritual growth, then my girls might become spiritually destitute (a little dramatic flare thrown in for good measure).  But, when I boiled it down, I knew I wanted & needed a gentle spirit that listens above all else.  My rally cry is:

“Creating a gentle spirit that listens.”

2. Create Defining Objectives

Once you have picked your rally cry that can be accomplished in 2-6 months, write up five defining objectives on how you will get there.  These should be clear & concrete (and tangible).  Granted, my rally cry of creating a gentle spirit that listens isn’t as tangible (or even as measurable) as #2: Providing activities for my girls everyday; however, I think my rally cry is more essential to the person I desire to become.  Here are my Five Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).
  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit’s empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.
  3. Journal 3xs a week.
  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).
  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, mess…play with the girls, embracing this daily.
  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.

Not easy, but doable.  Notice that I didn’t say I would journal everyday, or spend an hour (or even 1/2 hour) with each family member, it’s about scaling it to what I can do and building upon it.

3. Create Standard Objectives

Standard Objectives are those areas in your life that always need to get done while you focus on your rally cry.  Again, yours will look different from mine.

  1. Exercise & maintain health
  2. Marriage
  3. Home administration
  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)
  5. My Spiritual Life

Maybe after reading all of this you are feeling a bit overwhelmed?  I hope you give yourself grace as you walk through these steps.  Allow yourself the freedom to become intentional without legalism.  Look at your present, forgive yourself from your past failures and walk in freedom with your future.  When in doubt, watch What About Bob and begin chanting, “babysteps!”

A Year Ago: New Beginnings & Chockful Blondies and Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwiches

Into the Unknown

This has been a year of working through this notion of forgiveness.  It’s so easy for me to hold onto the past events, conversations, mull over words of pay back to vindicate myself, my family or a messy situation.  As my dear mentor has told me, “pour coals of blessings over your enemy.”  This sounds like vindication, but it’s so different.  It’s being able to wholeheartedly not repay evil for evil, but pray blessings on the person’s life who has done wrong.

It’s interesting how we are all in need of a little grace.  How in Christian and non-Christian circles, we liken to Jesus’ teachings and his life.  Undeniable of his great love & grace.  To the Israelites, his birth meant one of nobility and justice for once–for the usurping hand of the Romans & King Herod.  They likened the coming king to that of the warrior King David, who defended & destroyed.  They wanted to see (what many modernists think) God’s justice & anger to scorn all those who harmed them (we might think of it as the God of the Old Testament).  However, God has always been the same in the Old and New Testament.  He didn’t bring them the warrior king.  He didn’t bring them a priestly, noble baby king born in a palace, wrapped in fine linens.  He turned their worlds upside down.

I read this today from the Apostle Paul,

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us…See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”

There are people in my life who have betrayed me, and/or people I dearly love.  It’s far too easy to go down that road of devising a plan to repay evil for evil.  It feels good in the beginning to be the giver of justice.  It’s so much more difficult to choose the road of humility, praying blessings upon the evil doer.  Jesus came as a baby King born in a smelly stable, a feedbox bed, wrapped in less than fine linen, living the life of a vagrant.  And when he was falsely accused, he didn’t defend himself, justify his status–he knew who he was & is.  I’m in awe of this ability to love.

“not to pour out his anger on us.  Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever…Hold onto what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil.”

In Jesus’ last hours in the garden, the soldiers came with force to arrest this man who called himself the Christ.  Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, thinking he was doing good by protecting his master, pulled out a sword and cut off one of the soldier’s ears.  When we face blatant evil, wrong doing, our first instinct is to react like Peter.  It’s human.

Jesus stopped Peter, picked up the hacked off ear and healed the soldier to prior form.  This king was like none other and even his followers didn’t fully comprehend his greatness.

And here we are approaching 2011, still with the options before us to repay evil with Jesus’ style love, or with Peter’s vindication.  The Apostle Paul concludes,

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you to belong to Christ Jesus…Hold onto what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil.

Happy New Year and may this year be more about true life-giving love, transforming your soul and all you encounter.


Finding Your Voice

There are those moments when I want to chase after my dream of performing vocally, buy a mandolin & join a band.  They are fleeting, meaning they only last a couple days.  But, I miss singing with other musicians.  I miss finding my voice.  My voice singing that perfect song lifting the melody up like a free flying bird in the blue sky.  Or my voice slowly melting like butter against the tongue as it accentuates the melody with it’s dear old friend called harmony.  It’s no wonder we chose the name Cadence for our youngest as she kicked twice as hard when I sang with the bass.  It’s seeped in our veins.  Every person, whether musician, vocalist, longs to find their voice.

Do you ever feel like your looking for your voice in all the wrong places?  It’s easy to do in our day of instant messaging & communication.  We forget how to find our original voice as it gets lost & muffled among so many others.  I have found myself searching for my voice; whether it be in the musical sense or life sense.  I wrote about something similar about comparison & living life looking through rose colored glasses.  And although I’ve written about it before, I’m reminded time & again how vital it is as a person to find the voice I was given and embrace it.

But like the beauty of life, seasons change the elements.  In this season of Advent & Christmas, I have purposed to not put any expectations of busyness on me or my family; while, I have purposed to say yes to rest & togetherness.  Today I was encouraged & reminded of just this…resting in the mercies I’ve been given.  Resting in the peaceful baby King born in a lonely stable.  Resting in knowing I do not need to fill my week with buying more presents, baking new cookies, writing a Christmas letter, or staying stagnant in hopelessness.  I’m filled with awe & wonder that this baby King has given me a voice of hope to sing.

And that’s why I haven’t been here lately.  I’ve been resting from any expectation to blog, to do what I feel someone else expects of me, but to listen.  This is critical in being hospitable, which the false hospitality world would make you think is anything but that.  In order to love, make room for the stranger/guest, we need to listen to find our voice amidst all the other voices.  We might need to take a backseat and say no.  We need to be more like Mary who took the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen.  We might need to neglect the duties, the expectations of tending or organizing all of life.  I would love to hear where you are finding your voice these days?  Where are you finding your voice being muted?  Where are you finding it come to life?

Have a restful week and embrace the hope!

Coming Up This WeekApricot Rosemary Bars…gluten-free, refined sugar-free and you wouldn’t even know it!  Get ready by having the ingredients:

  • blanched almond flour
  • raw honey
  • coconut oil
  • butter
  • pecans
  • California dried apricots
  • lemon
  • fresh rosemary

A Year Ago: Grandma’s No Bakes, Orange Cardamom Cookies, & French Lentil Soup


Thankful with Sweet Potato Goodness (& so much more)

The words that penetrated my soul the most, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.” This was part of a guest speaker’s story. She was a small Honduran woman, measuring a mere 4 feet and 9 inches, but she made up for it with tremendous heart & conviction. Her name, Danubia Orellana Lopez, and she is apart of the Agros village of Brisas del Volcan.

Danubia was the speaker at the Agros International fundraiser dinner Ben and I attended at the end of October.  It seemed fitting that we attended just days before we plunged into doing this 30 day challenge.  Agros is an amazing organization, who seeks to empower people in Central America & Mexico through micro loans to purchase land.  Many of these people, like Danubia, lived in the slums and had to wake up at 2:30 am to walk 2 hours to get to the farm (to which she & her husband worked for someone else), work an 18 hour day and only get paid $.40 a day.  She recalls the times when payday arrived and the owner of the land wasn’t there to pay her & her husband.  Those were the days when all she could offer her children was water to fill their bellies.  She also recalled a time at the age of 14, when her mother only had 3 eggs to feed the 14 kids….I am truly blessed.

I can’t imagine that world.  To feel absolutely defenseless and unable to give your children a basic necessity.  Agros seeks to extend both physical means to these people who are willing to work REALLY hard to till their land; but, also give them emotional/spiritual means.  They come in to teach the people how to cultivate the land, how to educate themselves, how to make financial deals, etc.  What Agros does, is tell these people like Danubia, that if they are willing to want something more, then they can have it.  More importantly, what Agros does & says to them, “You are worth it!  You have value!”

Danubia spoke of telling her mother that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.  Her mother said, “Danubia, people like us don’t dream, because our hearts just get broken.”  After Agros came in to empower Danubia, her family & community, she and other women worked together to make the men realize that they are just as important & valuable as them.  And you know what, after the women worked just as hard, the men realized that these women, their women, had dignity & value.

When I think about what Evangitality means–this is it.  This is the global representation of it.  It’s finding value, dignity & worth in each individual, because they are created in God’s image.  It’s empowering them by giving them a hand up, and not a hand out.  It’s not entitlement, because there are many people who choose to stay in slums so they can keep their TV or refrigerator.  Instead, it’s for the people who want something more, who want to dream.  Life without dreams isn’t a life worth living, and Danubia knew this.

Walking back to the hotel that night, I told Ben, “You know, the poor in America aren’t that poor.  They still get assistance.  They’re not putting their children to bed without food.”  It has made me more thankful than ever.  And that’s why I give thanks before my meals.  I thank God that I have more than enough to fill my family’s bellies.  So when I’ve been cranky during this 3o day challenge, or hear people whining about, “Oh, I ONLY get meat, vegetables, limited fruit & nuts, and eggs,” I’m reminded of Danubia’s words, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.”  Oh how I have nothing to complain about, and everything to give thanks about.

I’m thankful for simple meals too.  So simple it seems almost too good to be true.

A Year Ago: Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting &   Oatmeal Carmelitas

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Goodness (printable recipe)

This is for one sweet potato, but you could easily increase the amount and play with the ingredients.  If you’re not a cinnamon fan, sub some nutmeg (but go easy on it) or add some smoked paprika.

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

1 tsp coconut oil

dash sea salt

2 Tb pecans

sprinkle cinnamon

Directions: Bake a sweet potato on 350 for 30 minutes or so (check a source, I’m that person who pops it in and doesn’t worry about it).  Do this the day before if you’re having it for breakfast.  Remove the skin and cut up the sweet potato into chunks.

Heat up coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the sweet potato & salt.  Stir around letting it get a bit golden, about 3 minutes.  Add some chopped pecans & a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Cook for an additional 1 minute or so.  Serve and enjoy!


Telling Your Story

What’s that saying, “to those who have been given much, much is expected?”  Or something along those lines.  Story is the same way.  If I can substitute it, “to those who have been given a story…then share it.”  When I was pregnant with my oldest, I began to bleed while she was 7 weeks in the womb.  Ben was out of town and I was a mess.  My most wonderful boss & friend, Carol, and her husband John were persistent on having me stay the night at their house to ease my mind & heart.  It was just before that time, I began asking God what we should name our child.  My worries were eased as I heard “joy amidst the trial” (to which we did receive joy 8 months later) and knew this child would bring joy.

We ended up having a list of 10 boy names & 10 girl names, which we decided we would narrow down for a first & middle.  Each name having a good, solid meaning.  At the time of my pregnancy (and prior), I was known by many of the children at Hillcrest Kids Early Learning as the storyteller.  I had the privilege of telling them God’s story everyday in the summer–what a treat.  So, while Ben and I were looking at our top 10 girl’s list, we had decided upon ‘Veronica,’ meaning true image of Christ.  We began looking at the list for middle names; but, I went against the “rule” and chose a name not on the list.  I suggested ‘Storey.’  Ben wasn’t sold at first.

Storey means “strong & powerful.”  Such a vivid & beautiful depiction of the word.  I told him that if this was a girl inside, then she’s apart of God’s story, which is strong & powerful.  Yet, she would have her own story to tell and encourage others in; as well as, help others find their story.  It was about two weeks later that Ben & I were walking home from an evening church service where he said, “You know, I’ve decided I like the name Storey for a middle name; because, this child will be apart of God’s story and it’s like we’re saying in giving her this name–‘here’s your story and be sure to help others find theirs too–to find their story intermingled with God’s story.'”  I turned and smiled.  He must have forgotten that I said about the same thing.

What about your Story:

Some of us have wretched stories, fantastic stories, dark stories and redeemed stories.  But whatever story you have, it’s yours and it was given to you for a purpose.  Part of my story includes family dysfunction, brokenness and a bit more hardship than others.  But the exciting notion is that it’s mine, and I get to choose what I do with it.  Some choose to continue living a wretched, dark story, while others choose to embrace a redemption lost story.  Mine, well, I’m constantly choosing to see the bad for what it’s worth and allow Jesus to come into the dark parts.  Because who wants to listen to a story without hope? I’m thankful for how hard life has been in my formative years, because it wouldn’t have made me who I am now.

Tonight I get to share a little snippet of my story with people in my church family, which I hope to share a bit later with you.  What I do know is your past is history, your future is mysterious and your present is worth living & telling about now.  I want to leave you with a comment I received in the summer from Ashley, who tells a bit of her story.  How her story formed in her a heart of hospitality & a life of evangitality:

1. I think my heart for hospitality began to grow at a very young age. Hospitality is a strong characteristic of my mother. And I always remember having people over or bringing food/hospitality to people. I LOVED to help my mom with cooking, baking, making cards and other trinkets, whatever it may be. When I was in middle school however, my dad left our family and not only that, but left us in a great deal of poverty. Suddenly, the roles were reversed. Where we were once the ones who were able to bless, we were in great need of support to make it through the day. I don’t know that there is any one specific example that I can point out from this time, but I do remember day after day feeling overwhelmingly blessed and grateful for the hospitality of others. Meals, bags of groceries, gift certificates to still do things as a family, people who fixed our car, helped mow the lawn, etc. And it wasn’t just for a while, it went on throughout the years, beyond what we ever could have fathomed – the Lord was gracious and looking out for us through the expression of hospitality from others. Although this time was a painful road for all of us, I still am able to look back on the last of my growing up years with joy in God’s faithfulness brought to us by hospitality. These years of hospitality have only enriched my heart and desire to serve and bring God’s joy and faithfulness to others as well.


The Old Order

 

Image from StacyLeeArt.com

 

We’ve been faced with a lot of tragedy in our little town these past two weeks.  Life has vanished and I sit wondering how any heart can bear so much angst in the world.  In a life where we are inundated with catastrophe upon catastrophe happening next door to across the seas, it’s no wonder that we sometimes need to shut down the life source (i.e. TV, internet, the paper, etc), in order to simply breathe.  If you’re anything like me, having a sensitive and easily moved/compassionate soul, you just might need to shut out the cries of the world.  It’s far too easy to be moved by a persuasive speech telling me to stomp upon the feet of injustice as hundreds of thousands of children die each day due to starvation, the AIDS epidemic, not to mention the thousands more being orphaned and forced into the sex trade.  Where does the hope lie?  And how do I stand a chance against it all?

There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from it.  In our little community, which sits more north than the majority of the Canadian population, a little girl (age two) died instantly in a car accident, a young man starting his college years went missing and found dead, and a little boy born with a heart defect only lived two weeks, while all the parents are aching of a broken heart.  When I hear a preacher tell me about how the world is hurting and how we need to be the ones to stand for injustice, you will most likely see me nodding my head in agreement.  However…Yes, I write, however, it’s far too easy to become claustrophobic by the pangs of all of life, which needs saving and far to easy to forget about what’s right in front of us.  It’s too easy to become ridden with fear, anxiety & restlessness, because we are not the Savior.  We cannot redeem it, and it hurts.

I’ve been reminded how what is happening in my life at home, my neighborhood, and my community might be all that I need to focus on most of the time.  What did people do when there was no internet or TV to broadcast what was happening in the far East, or even the East Coast?  Maybe, just maybe, people were a little more sane and able to extend hands of grace & love to the people they were constantly rubbing shoulders alongside.  I’m not told to bear the weight of the world, and I’m relieved.

While dealing with anxiety like a vice grip, I continued to fear death.  I was bombarded and overwhelmed by the constant reality that I would die and everyone I loved would too.  But, one day driving in the car, I was listening to my good friend Rob Bell (at least I like to think we would be) and he was talking about heaven.  There were many things that struck me, but what struck me the most was if we took sin out of the Bible we would be left with a rather small pamphlet.  It would include Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21 & 22.  In the first garden, God created life and dwelt with his creation.  In the last city, which is many gardens, God redeemed life and dwelt with his redeemed creation.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

God will dwell with us.  I look forward to that reality.  I look forward to those words, “Now the dwelling of God is with people, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I am making everything new!” That is what gives me hope and enables me to love.  I hope this too will bring you restored hope wherever you are walking in your journey.

 

A Year Ago: Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tina’s PSL *Revisited* Pumpkin Spice Latte

This is the old PSL & the revamped is even better.

There are times in our lives when what we think is near perfection is actually not quite.  Last year I adapted a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) thinking it was great.  However, after making a couple since that time I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. The recipe I had given you is more strenuous & labor intensive if you made one even two mornings a week (for those of you on the 3+ PSL’s a week–it’s our little secret).
  2. I couldn’t get past the muck of spices in those last couple sips.
  3. There must be an easier way to eliminate time constraints & spice granules swimming in my mouth.

Here’s what I’ve come up with and I think you’ll be pleased.

  1. Make a simple syrup.
  2. Use whole spices to infuse the syrup.
  3. Keep simple syrup in your fridge for your PSL needs.
  4. Combine 1 part simple syrup to 2 parts pumpkin puree.
  5. Add steamed milk & shots of espresso.
  6. Put whipped cream on top & sprinkle with nutmeg.

And it must be said that whenever I drink a mocha (I’m typically an americano girl) I don’t have whipped cream.  If it’s made right, then I really don’t think it’s necessary.  However, I would say that a PSL & whipped cream have a symbiotic relationship.  If you’re going to make one, please do us all a favor and just add the whipped cream (you know you want to).  Your friend who stopped by will thank you for it (and it’s a sure way to add a bit of flare to that hospitality).

Tina’s PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) Revamped (printable recipe)

Most simple syrup recipes use regular white sugar.  However, I like rapadura for it’s molasses undertones.  Plus, it’s unrefined.  So when the sugar dissolves you are going to get a dark simple syrup.  Don’t worry–it’s totally fine.  In my first PSL recipe it calls for vanilla (along with some other ingredients).  However, by using rapadura you don’t need any vanilla since it’s so flavorful.  You can find in bulk at most health or co-op stores.

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 cup rapadura sugar

4-5 cinnamon sticks

1-1 1/2 tsp whole cloves

3-4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Directions: Add water & sugar to a small pot & turn on heat to low.  Combine until the sugar is dissolved & syrup is hot (not boiling or simmering though).  Add the spices and allow them to infuse for 5 minutes.  Strain the infused syrup using either a fine sieve or cheesecloth.  Discard spices & keep the spice simple syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 cup of steamed milk (160 degrees)

1-2 shots of espresso, freshly pulled

1 Tb spice simple syrup

2 Tb pureed pumpkin

whipped cream

Putting it together:  Steam your milk to 160.  If using an espresso machine, you want to barely put the tip in the milk to create a couple bubbles until it hits 80 degrees.  As you see the very small bubbles, you want to submerge your wand deep into the milk and constantly swirl the wand around in the pitcher.  This will create that wonderful silky foam you get at a good coffee shop.

You can either combine your pumpkin puree & spice syrup in the cup, or you could add it to your steaming milk.  Caution: if you’re trying to achieve that wonderful silky foam, then don’t add the syrup or pumpkin, because it will disrupt the milk from stretching.

Pull your shots & add them to the syrup & pumpkin puree. Stir with a spoon. Pour in your milk.  Top with whipped cream & a little nutmeg.  **Remember that you can add a little more pumpkin or less, all depends on what your tastebuds tell you.


Bulgur, Arugula & Baby Artichoke Salad

I heard my oldest saying, “Mama, I need to go pee!”  I helped her undress from the said leotard that she “needed” to wear as she quickly went about her business to promptly stand up to announce, “Okay mama, let’s go see Miss Jill!”  Miss Jill is her physical therapist (PT) she’s been seeing a couple of times as we are on the waiting list.  How do I put it?  She absolutely loves her “exercises” she does with Miss Jill (a.k.a. gym time).  Isn’t it amazing how exercise is “play & fun” to a child, while it’s “work” to the majority of the population over 18.

As I mentioned in my previous post about joining Jogo (which actually means play), I’ve been amazed at all the body parts being worked, thoughts circulating: “I can’t do that,” when I can and how what I’m doing strengthens core muscles that V is in need of strengthening, as well.  I read this snippet by a Crossfit trainer (who is certified to teach Kids Crossfit) and it made me smile.  When I hear from Jill that V is accepting various movements and shows great signs of improvement; as well as, read articles about individuals who use what seems like “work” to me–is extremely beneficial for people who deal with a myriad of special needs–I’m beyond grateful.  It’s amazing how exercise is so much more than looking good in swimsuits, or fitting in smaller clothing, or feeling affirmed by Hollywood’s standards.  When I look at my little girl, it’s allowing her a chance to function with others, manipulate common objects we, with full functioning central nervous systems, take for granted (using a fork, zipping, drawing, etc).

Then, I think about heaven.  I see people with physical disabilities.  There is this young man who has some mental disability in town, but loves dancing.  You’ll see him at the local events with music dancing to his rhythm.  I smile and I see him in heaven dancing with full range of motion, no inability–just complete freedom.  I know our daughter’s disabilities really are minute compared to others, but I delight in seeing her blossom through PT & I delight in knowing that someday, God’s redemptive love will transcend it all (not just her, but all of us).  So in this here & now, we try to bring acts of God’s redemptive love to others.  I see Jill doing that for our daughter.  I see our good friends the Pells (whom I’ll talk more about in a later post) who, like many, adopted their son from Ethiopia.  If my eyes are open a bit bigger, then I see it in so many places.

And as you either experience through giving or receiving this redemptive love, maybe you can do it around a shared meal of this wonderful salad.  It’s great even the next day.  Ben after eating it said, “by looking at it you think, this is healthy.  And, when you taste it you know it’s healthy, but not in a bad way,” which in a simple way is—it’s healthy without lacking flavor.

Bulgur, Arugula, & Baby Artichoke Salad (printable recipe)

You could easily put some toasted walnuts with this salad.  If you don’t have walnut oil, then just use olive oil.  I really like the addition of preserved lemons, but you can easily substitute lemon zest.  Canned artichoke hearts would work fine, but I would plead with you to make use of baby artichokes if they’re available in your area.  And this would easily work as a main dish salad & perfect for gatherings.

Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups medium grind bulgur
6 baby artichokes
2 medium carrots
1 small onion, thinly sliced in crescent-like shape
1-2 lemons
2 Tb chopped preserved lemons or 3-4 Tb of fresh lemon zest
olive oil
walnut oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Artichokes: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.  Baby artichokes don’t have all that choke part like the big ones, so cut off the stems, along with a 1/4 inch of the bottom.  Cut off 1/4-1/2 inch off tops.  Quarter the artichokes and remove the outer leaves, until you see the leaves that don’t have any green on them (don’t worry too much if the tops are a bit green).  Put them in a bowl and squeeze with lemon to prevent browning as you prepare the rest.  Put all the prepared artichokes on the lined baking sheet with the insides facing up, drizzle with olive oil so they’re coated and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Roast for 20 minutes or so, check for doneness.  Once finished, transfer to a dish leaving the parchment lined sheet available for further roasting.  Increase heat to 415 degrees.

Bulgur:While the artichokes are roasting, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Once the water hits a boil, add your bulgur; stir & cover.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat & drain excess water.  Using a fine-mesh sieve, cool with cold water and gently squeeze out excess water.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

Onions: Slice onions in half with the root attached to both ends of your halves.  Then, with a chef knife, thinly slice with the grain into crescent shapes (don’t cut on the part as if you were making half onion rings).  Place on used parchment sheet and roast for 7-10 minutes.  Do not use any oil.  Once done, transfer to a bowl.

Carrots: Peel carrots, then shave them into long, thin slices.  Put on parchment lined sheet and toast for about 2 minutes.

Arugula: Remove stem part, wash & spin out excess water.  Cut into large chunks.

Putting it altogether: If you want to slice the roasted artichokes in half you can.  Remove the outer leaf if it’s too tough.  Add the chokes to the cooked bulgur.  Add the arugula & carrots.  Mix together with tongs.  Add minced preserved lemon or lemon zest.  Drizzle with walnut oil (about 2-3 Tb) & squeeze juice from lemon.  Combine with tongs.  Add a bit more oil to taste, along with salt & pepper.  Top with onions & serve.


Know Who You Are

Have you ever noticed how you look through those rose-colored glasses at other people’s lives and think, “I can’t possibly do everything that person does? They must be ‘Superhuman!'” The thing is, when you boil it down, those glasses you’re looking through are a facade. Whether you are looking through rose-colored glasses at someone else or yourself, it’s dangerous.

When it comes to hospitality, genuine, life-breathing hospitality. I think it’s absolutely necessary to know who YOU are. Take off the glasses and look at your strengths & your weaknesses. Don’t try to be Cinderella’s step sisters shoving & stuffing your feet into shoes 5x’s too big or small. Wear the ones that fit comfortably, regardless if the pair you really want are a bit tight–it’s not worth it.

I have been suffering from anxiety, which reared its ugly head last week. I’m not exactly sure why it came up and it’s not gone completely. It has given me a greater insight into mental & emotional discrepancies, along with a greater capacity to extend grace. Not only grace for others, but for myself. I’ve begun to see more of who I am, what I’m capable of and what I need to lay aside. We’re only given one life and to try to be someone other than who God designed us to be is criminal.

There are those of us who have the natural ability to engage in conversation, know what questions to ask and how to put people at ease. If you’re not this person, the notion of being hospitable seems scary & daunting. Some people have a big home, which lends itself for natural hosting possibilities. I think when we allow all the shortcomings limit our ability to extend evangitality, then we get sidetracked from our wonderful, glorious gifts, talents & strengths.

During the giveaway I asked what you would like to see here on Evangitality. There were some great ideas & thoughts, but as I began thinking about them what kept coming back is what I believe to be the most fundamental…KNOW WHO YOU ARE before all else. We can go through life wearing shoes that aren’t our own, fulfilling our identity with various roles (student, teacher, a professional, parent, child, spouse). All the while we neglect to embrace who God designed us to be.

During one of my weakest moments last week I was listening to the Message translation of Psalm 2. I could barely hear anything as I was running on the treadmill, but these were the words I heard:

Let me tell you what God said next.
He said, “You’re my son (daughter),
And today is your birthday.
What do you want? Name it:

I began weeping big tears. In the midst of utter brokenness and feeling of abandonment, in the pit is when I heard God the loudest. He again was reminding me that my worth in life is nothing based on my talents & merit. He made me and delights in me. It’s like the first time we laid eyes upon our daughters–they were a glimpse of heaven.

So I encourage you to take off the rose-colored glasses and look around at your life’s scenery. Rather than look at what you don’t have or how you’ve failed in life. Know who you are and embrace it. Wear the shoes that fit. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. When I think of my girls growing up, I want to ensure they don’t feel like we are comparing them to one another. Our prayer is that we would love them the way God designed them to be and they would blossom into their own person. When you begin to love who you are and know who you are, you will be more free to accept grace & extend grace. And that, is fundamental in extending hospitality (or evangitality as I call it).