Tag Archives: Hospitality

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

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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!


One Year & a Giveaway

Tomorrow marks the beginning of this journey I know as Evangitality.  I remember sitting on my deck on a beautiful summer day with laptop in hand and fingers typing away.  I had an idea of where I wanted to head, but I’ve made a point to try out new paths along the way.  My first post began with destroying the Supermom image, while others followed with recipes, meanderings, trials & joys and stories to share.

Life has been busy in our household these past couple weeks.  Our oldest daughter V has been going to various doctor appointments to figure out what is limiting her ability to blossom.  I not only want to share fun stories, yummy food and ways to extend hospitality, but take you with me on my life’s journey.  And I hope that my story, my journey might shed light onto who I am, but more importantly, help you realize that whatever it is we build up as our idea of perfect is usually not the case.  I know when we share our story it redeems our past and gives hope for our future–it makes us human.

My little girl entered this world with different “things” that I always wondered if they were just me being paranoid mama or real “issues.”  I wanted that first month of her life to hurry and finish itself out.  There are moms who have loved being a mom from the get go, but I wasn’t one of them.  I loved my daughter dearly, but a lifetime of fear & anxiety shows its ugly head with greatness in postpartum.  Boy, did I feel it.  Nursing was difficult.  She wasn’t gaining weight adequately from 2 months to 4 months to 6 months she gained about three pounds.  At the beginning, her inadequacies were absorbed by me–making me think it was a direct result of me as her mom.

Fast forward to late walking, little comments by the doctor, feelings of inadequacy, reading into someone’s comments about her (or lack thereof) and at times comparing her to other kids wondering why she weren’t more like so and so.  I would become defensive when acquaintances would heap praises on a friend’s child while my little girl seemed to go left unnoticed.  But what was worse, I realized that I wasn’t looking at her for who she was created to be.  I was looking at all the weaknesses; rather, than the strengths.

God has been working on my own insecurities and heart these past three and half years more than any other time in my life.  I have cried and asked forgiveness for not loving her like God does.  When I think about the true heart of hospitality (as I’ve said before), its loving the person unconditionally, because God created them in his perfect image.  My little girl, well, she’s amazing.  My intuition of something not being quite right was right.  We’ve had her evaluated for speech therapy, physical therapy & to get orthotics.  The speech therapist said she was fine, just a little oral motor discrepancy.  The physical therapist said she needed some orthotics for her ankles to correct her posture & strengthen her ankles.  She also said she has low muscle tone & possibly a sensory processing disorder with hyposensitivity with proprioception.  What does all that mean?

It means I have a healthy girl, who has a little catching up to do with gross & fine motor.  She has to wear braces 8+ hours a day anywhere from 6 months to a year or longer.  That she needs daily exercises to strengthen her core & give input to her senses.  For me, there are days when I jump ahead and wonder if it will ever get better?  Will she wear braces for the rest of her life?  Will she be able to fit in with others, etc?  Yet, it’s also like finding the missing pieces to a puzzle you’ve been trying to figure out for a couple years.  It brings hope & clarity.  With her oral motor, it’s hard for her to do sucking & blowing, which helped me realize that as a baby she wasn’t gaining in those months, because she couldn’t suck adequately as a nursing baby.  When she was still having difficulty walking up & downstairs at three years of age, it made sense once we realized her weak ankles & low muscle tone in her core.

I’ve sat down to write a couple of times to put up a new post, but haven’t had the energy to finish my thoughts.  Yesterday, I was listening to a story about a little girl, Naomi, who attended a camp for children who are neglected & abused.  She had gone from 2005-2009.  Her first year she didn’t want to participate in any activity or with anyone.  She was broken and didn’t know her full worth or capability.  The story ended with her in her final summer of camp seeing another little girl on the fringe.  Naomi went to her and said, “Would you like to play the game?”  The girl shook her head “no.”  Naomi went on to say, “It’s okay, you don’t have to play.  I’ll just sit here with you.  You know, I was just like you.  I didn’t want to participate or talk with anyone either.  But, then I found out I was worth something and I’m here this summer to help you know that you’re worth something too.”

After V’s second physical therapy appointment, I saw a new little girl.  She had a confidence & energy about her.  It was as if I saw for the first time my daughter blossom into who she truly was & has been designed to be.

We all have stories and the only way to give them life is by speaking them.  As I think about what this blog has become and what I want it to be, I’ve realized a couple of things.  I don’t really care about getting high traffic.  I do love comments, because it gives me input and direction; plus, affirmation is a way to my heart.  I also want to invoke the heart of genuine hospitality in others.

So, I want to celebrate a first year by doing a giveaway.  The thing about it is, if you want to enter, you need to share a story.  I’ll be giving away a copy of one of my all time favorite cookbooks, The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Bernabaum.  It’s basically the go to book on baking & decorating all types of cakes.  She covers butter, genoise, sponge, & cheesecakes; as well as, ganache, buttercreams, homemade fondant, & fillings.  It’s hands down a must for your baking library.

How to Win

Everyone has four chances to win.

1. Comment by sharing a story of how you’ve extended hospitality (evangitality) or someone has extended it to you.

2. Comment by answering the following: If you’re an introvert, how is being hospitable difficult or easy?  If you’re an extrovert, how is being hospitable difficult or easy?

3. Comment by referring someone to evangitality that you think would enjoy or benefit, then post their name here.

4. Comment by answering the following: What type of posts would you like me to explore in the realm of hospitality?  Other thoughts or comments.

This giveaway will end July 10 at 7:00pm Pacific Time. Free Give Away is Closed.

Winner will be announced July 11th.


Giving Recognition

Can you recall a time when you were the outsider looking in?  Or when you were the insider able to look out?  As I was chopping heap loads of rhubarb on Saturday, while my girls were sleeping I began thinking about these questions.  It’s amazing how much one can reflect & ponder while handling a chef’s knife without interruption.  I have had this quote from Christine Pohl on the back burner for sometime:

People view hospitality as quaint and tame partly because they do not understand the power of recognition. When people are socially invisible, their needs and concerns are not acknowledged and no one even notices the injustices they suffer. Hospitality can begin a journey toward visibility and respect.

Ever since I was a young child, my heart has been able to see the outsider looking in.  There have been times when I have been that outsider, but by life & circumstance, I have tended to be on the inside looking out.  However, when I was a freshman in high school we moved from AZ to California.  I had been with the same peers since kindergarten, attended the same church since three and never experienced much transition in regards to making new friends.  I was naturally gifted at making new friends, or bringing people into my circle; but, being on the fringe was a whole other story.

You can imagine that moving to a new town is scary.  Then, you add in Southern California to the mix, along with being a freshman in high school.  Sounds too much like a teen drama on the CW.  Well, life moved on & people did welcome me in.  I know I’ve been on the fringe, in order to understand grace & give it more freely.  That’s what resonates about the above quote.  It’s being able to walk in the shoes of the person that we might be too quick to judge.  I know I’ve been there to throw the first stone with complete obliviousness.  I think I know it all, have the answers, or become so staunch in my convictions/passions/values that I’m blinded.

Yet, through my mishaps & failures, I’ve been given second chances.  My vision becomes more clear and my heart warms up.  I’m not good at giving people concrete steps to follow, in order to be better at extending ‘evangitality.’  More of what I say or write is an overall picture or story to inspire.  But, I’m going to try and give you some easy ways to include hospitality through recognition in your day to day life.

1. College Students

If you live in a college town this is especially applicable.  My freshman year of college was probably one of the toughest years I’ve ever experienced.  I left my hometown, my family life was a bottomless pit of wreckage, I lived with my older brother & essentially depended upon myself to earn my keep.  I remember thinking how I would love to live in a household where I would be cared for & tended to.  I was lonely & depressed and if a family came under my wings to extend Christ’s love of hospitality–it would have made a world of difference.

Our small group has adopted a female bible study/small group this year.  Our babysitter is co-leading a small group, so I asked her if she would be interested in us coming alongside and having her group join our small group throughout the year.  This is so easy to do and makes it less intimidating when it’s your group of friends loving on a younger group of college aged adults.  You can invite some of them over for meals, have a movie night, a park outing, etc.

2. International Students or non-students

Our family has partnered with the university by being a community friend to two Japanese students.  It’s an easy way to welcome the foreigner into God’s grace through teaching them traditional American family life.  It’s also amazing how they soon realize what they’ve seen on TV about Americans is not always true.

Our church does a summer program of hospitality to migrant workers & their families.  I have not been, but would like to.  There are moms with young children with obvious needs.  It’s putting on God’s beliefs:

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.–Deuteronomy 10:18

As co-heirs to the throne, we are called to a higher standard of loving with this relentless love.

3. The Lonely, Downtrodden

We’ve all crossed paths with these people.  Some are a bit socially awkward, others really needy, and others smelly.  The Good news is you’re not called to be Savior–that job is taken.  I want to personally tell you that you are released from feeling like you need to make sure everyone is cared for and tended to.  With the influx of multimedia, those of us who are full of compassion & empathy can get overwhelmed by the hurt & desperate needs of those in our community, nation & world.

So, instead of trying to do it all, start with one person in your sphere of influence (community) who you can show God’s love to.  This is a person you are purposeful in getting to know, praying for & doing random acts of love on their behalf.  It could be a fellow mom who just can’t get her head a float, a lonely neighbor who needs a physical body to be present, or that person you’ve noticed sitting alone without a soul to share life with.  I can’t tell you who that person is; but, most likely you already know.

By extending evangitality to this person or persons, you are using your status for their empowerment.  You’re being a notary to their voice.  As Pohl writes:

Recognition involves respecting the dignity and equal worth of every person and valuing their contributions, or at least their potential contributions.

This is why Christian hospitality is so powerful and why Jesus wrote the book on the subject.  He saw (and sees) each individual worth dying for, because they were each stamped with his Father’s image.  It’s not about political ideology, racial differences, physical capabilities, intellectual prowess (you name it)–it’s something so much more.  I pray that you would find a person to give a voice to in this week.


Crafting Hospitality

Last night as I was pulling the pork apart, I was reminded of my soon to be brother-in-law’s art show back in August. You see, if you’ve ever met Bob without a long sleeve shirt on or a jacket, you are sure to notice the tatoo of a pig on his forearm. It’s quite catching and then a conversation into the land of pork and all things so wonderful around this magnificent of animals comes protruding forth. Bob is marrying my sister-in-law Amber(Ben’s sister) and I can wholeheartedly say how much we all love him and are very thankful he is joining the family. Not only can we talk food shop, but he knows a thing or two about pottery & ceramics.

It was in August that he had his senior project (via art show)/presentation, where he spoke briefly about his ceramic creations, we toured his exhibit, we ate his pulled pork (that he smoked), drank bourbon & whiskey, and had a wonderful time in doing it. What struck me most (that I have yet to encapsulate until now) on that idyllic Seattle summer evening was what Bob spoke about in regards to his work. He said (paraphrasing) that he viewed his pottery as a form of hospitality. He chooses to create cups, bowls, decanters–some of the more practical items with clay, in order to serve the food he loves (pulled pork, bourbon, waffles for post-Christmas breakfast) for people he loves.

It is through his passion of creating, molding, glazing & firing clay with his hands that he is creating unique forms of hospitality. We as the recipients get a taste of appreciation eating and drinking off these tangible pottery pieces. Bob delivers a bit of his passion & hard work (all forms of hospitable acts) to us. So if you’re one of those people wondering “how in the world can I deliver a bit of hospitality?” I would suggest making a special meal that took a bit more time for your family or guests, pulling out the nicer dinnerware just because, or even lighting candles to communicate that we can intertwine ordinary & sacred time together. Seeing that we take the time to give attention to details occasionally throughout our week.

So, if you’re up for it…you could make this indoor pulled pork. I’m telling you right now that it takes time, but the end result is full reward. When I was pregnant with my youngest I got addicted to pulled pork sandwiches. And ya know that craving has yet to leave my system and I have yet to find a place in Bellingham that satisfies what I’m looking for. However, after eating this last night, I feel like I’ve found it. I was in line at the grocery store and I saw the Cooks Illustrated magazine with the words ‘Indoor Pulled Pork’ and knew I had to buy it, because I don’t have a smoker and C.I. rarely fails me. Well, after a total of 6 1/2 to 7 hours I finally got rewarded for my hard work (more like my patience). This would fall under the category of a comfort yet special dinner with a touch of Southern goodness.

Indoor Pulled Pork (printable recipe)

I think pulled pork topped with slaw is not only quintessential, but essential. These two have a symbiotic relationship, so don’t forget to top it with slaw. I used pork shoulder rather than pork butt and chose the Lexington Vinegar Sauce mainly because I had all the ingredients for it versus the other two options. I would wager to say that you wouldn’t be able to tell that this was cooked without the use of a smoker.

Pork:

1 cup plus 2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 Tb sugar
3 Tb plus 2 tsp liquid smoke
1 boneless pork butt (5 lbs), cut in half horizontally or pork shoulder strips
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 Tb ground black pepper
2 Tb smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Lexington Vinegar Barbecue Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 Tb sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. FOR THE PORK: Dissolve 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons liquid smoke in 4 quarts cold water in large container.  Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. While the pork brines, combine mustard and remaining 2 teaspoons liquid smoke in small bowl; set aside.  Combine black pepper, paprika, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and cayenne in second small bowl; set aside.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Rub mustard mixture over entire surface of each piece of pork.  Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with spice mixture.  Place pork on wire rack set inside foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Place piece of parchment paper over pork, then cover with sheet of aluminum foil, sealing edges to prevent moisture from escaping.  Roast pork for 3 hours.
  4. Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment.  Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into a fat separator (or a big enough bowl and use a baster to get the liquid below the fat) and reserve for sauce.  Return pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. FOR THE SAUCE: While pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid from fat separator (or from baster) into medium bowl; whisk into sauce ingredients.
  6. Shred pork either with your hands or with two forks into bite-sized pieces.  Toss with sauce and serve on warm rolls topped with coleslaw.

Making the Lexington Vinegar Barbecue Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid and whisk to combine.

Easy Coleslaw:

1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced with chef knife

1 peeled carrot, grated

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/8 cup (2 Tb) buttermilk

2-3 Tb honey

1 Tb dijon mustard

splash of apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar, or lemon (basically you need an acid)

salt to taste

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and taste.  If it tastes too much like mayo, then add a bit more honey, vinegar & salt.  Dump on the sliced cabbage and grated carrot and toss.


Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

This morning I woke up at 6:00 after going to bed rather late, because I wanted to bring some scones to the worship team I’m blessed to be apart of and where I would be joining at 7:30 this morning (as well as leave some warm, freshly baked scones for my little family).  I love scones for their multifaceted ability and what I might deem as “kitchen sink baking.”  And let me tell you that the scones I made were fantastic with chopped up apples, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, buttermilk, & making use of whole wheat flour.  However, the sun wasn’t out by the time these came out of the oven and honestly, I needed to get going, so no time for a photo and no recipe for them.

Lucky for you is that I made a different scone last weekend, which were the essence of freshly baked banana bread, except in scone form (does it get any better on a lazy Saturday morning?).  I didn’t get to linger in the aroma of these too long after pulling them out of the oven, because they quickly got devoured by my carbohydrate frenzied daughters. 

A bit of a transition from scones to some of what I’ve been reflecting on this week.  There’s really no easy transition, but an abrupt bump in the road and steering toward another course sometimes.  This would be one of those times.  I have to share that a week ago I went to bed thinking I would delete this blog, cut my losses and call it a good run.  I’ve been discouraged in writing posts, looking at other people’s blogs, and then coming back to evangitality asking myself, “What in the world am I doing with this blog?”  And further asking, “does anyone even read this?…why am I writing?…and who am I writing for?”

And being a thin-skinned, sensitive type, I tend to read into things that aren’t there and over analyze and stop being who I’m designed to be and try to be something I’m not (leading to further insecurities).  So as I was about to hastily pull the plug, a dear friend sent a message to me on Facebook about this blog.  And ya know what, it wasn’t anything profound or big, but a simple reminder for me to take a step back and reflect.  I needed to reflect upon what inspired me in the first place to start this evangitality blog thing (the name which some people cannot pronounce) and get back to that.

So I’ve spent a week not feeling any need to put up a new post, but simply be.  After a conversation with Ben (and many with God after that), he mentioned how I have to ask myself what I want to convey.  He said, “do you want it to become a food blog?  What’s your mission with it?”  Well, I haven’t completely narrowed it down; however, I do know that I’ve felt like I’ve jumped around and haven’t always stayed on track.  What I have figured out is that I am not and never was intending this to solely be a food blog.  There about a zillion food blogs out there and although I absolutely love baking & cooking–I’m not wanting to sign up for being one in a zillion at this point (stubborn maybe).  However, I will still be posting recipes, because it’s a means of hospitality, but I don’t want to limit this to simply food posts.

But I do want this blog to be centered around hospitality, exploring the theoretical aspects of it and practical, sharing stories from my experience and stories of other people who serve as inspirations to further walk this road of evangitality.  I hope you will join me and give me feedback along the way.  I hope you will share your stories of walking out evangitality or people who have walked before or alongside you in these footsteps.  And here’s what evangitality is about

Evangitality is about living out Christ in practical ways, through the monotonous, humdrum of life. It is taking evangelism, which is sharing the ‘good news,’ and mixing it with a welcoming, caring, loving, and safe environment, which we might call ‘hospitality.’

So maybe the next time you are wanting to extend evangitality to someone you know needs to hear this, may I suggest you bring these scones with you, because I’m pretty sure that helps build an instant bridge.

Banana Macadamia Praline Scones (printable version)

These scones were adapted from my Simply Scones book.  Instead of using 100% all-purpose flour, I split it in half using whole wheat pastry flour as well.  If you love banana bread, then these scones will hit that “curl up on the couch-with a cup of coffee-sitting in your pajamas” spot.


Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tb brandy or water
  • ¾ cup lightly salted macadamia nuts
  • 1 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (2 large bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly oil a 10-inch diameter circle on a baking sheet or put down a silipat.  In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar and brandy (or water).  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Cook without stirring for 4 minutes, or until the mixture turns amber and caramelizes.  Immediately stir in the macadamia nuts and stir to coat the nuts with the syrup.  Immediately scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet or silipat. Cool for 20 minutes or until hardened.  Transfer the mixture to a cutting board and chop the praline.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the bananas, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  The dough will be sticky.  Stir in praline.

Take the dough and drop it on the parchment lined baking sheet (about baseball size).  Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Once you start smelling the wonder that comes from banana bread take it out and set it on a cooling rack.  Serve warm and be careful to not eat all of them too quickly.

Makes about 8 scones


Palace Temple & Hospitality

When I think about hospitality and what that really looks like…I typically find myself watching other people to see what they’ve come up with.  And on Friday night as Ben and I were sitting in a living room listening to the story of a lady we both know, it was at that moment that I took a mental picture.  I take these pictures of moments that I don’t want to forget.  Unless it’s really standout, I most often forget if I don’t write it down.  Well, here I am, writing it down…it being the story of Trudy & John and The Whatcom Dream.

I’ve heard Trudy’s story a couple times now, but it’s still phenomenal to me.  She grew up knowing & using the welfare system.  Not thinking much about what future she could have, she bought into the system and became a product of all she knew.  There wasn’t a way out until she encountered T.W.D.  However, T.W.D. was more than an organization, but it was people who met Trudy & John where they were.  T.W.D. teaches financial classes to empower those who are financially destitute to give them a hope, yet not a handout.  Trudy would call herself a sassy young woman with the mouth of a sailor (both verbally & what went in).

But, as the members of T.W.D. met her where she was at, she also soon realized that Jesus wanted to meet her where she was at.  She and John got married, started serving the Lord, and moved out of Bellingham’s renown poorest/highest crime rate neighborhood into safe suburbia.  But (yes there’s always a ‘but’), God told her that she needed to move back to the neighborhood where she came from and be evangitality to meet the people where they were at.

So they packed up their stuff, sold their place, and bought the little pink house which was once a well-known meth house on the Texas block.  They were redeeming the evil for the good.  Fast forward ahead and Trudy & John still live in that old meth house, except they have been living out true hospitality to their neighbors & neighborhood.  They have started a community garden, host bonfires, and simply go out through their neighborhood to know the people who live there.  People flock to John & Trudy.  And I think it’s because they emanate a pure goodness.

What struck me on Friday night was something new as Trudy spoke.  She & John are shining lights in their neighborhood and I know they genuinely love their neighbors.  Their authenticity is what makes them so attractive.  But what got me was this…I shouldn’t feel guilty that I’m not living in the “ghetto” doing hard core hospitality.  However, I began to ask God, “what would you have us do and where?”  You see, when you hear stories like Trudy’s you cannot help, but want to pack up all your stuff and give it away for the less fortunate.  Yet, I don’t think that’s necessarily the answer all the time (sometimes yes, most the time…no).  Do I have the answer for myself and my family?  No.

But, what I do know, at this very moment is this.  I truly believe that wherever I find myself, in whatever circumstance, I need to seek out contentment.  When I think about Ben and my dream to own a house suitable for hospitality I can get discouraged.  However, when I think about what we are blessed with…the size really doesn’t matter.  Isn’t it more about making due with what you have?  And when I recall my formative years, it’s not about the size, style, or aesthetic quality of the house which gave me hospitality.  No, it was the about the size of the heart, the style in grace and the attention to detail that the person gave me (as a person worthy of dignity), which brought me hospitality.  It didn’t even matter how immaculate their house was, but how they preserved me as a person.

And that’s what spoke to me the most on Friday night.  Trudy is speaking worth into these people’s lives.  She is doing opposite of what the money changers were doing in the temple 2000+ years ago when Jesus turned over their tables.  She is viewing each person as God’s Palace Temple and that’s not anything to be taken lightly.

But where do I find my place to extend hospitality these days?  Honestly, (and I hope this isn’t a cop out) I think a vast majority comes in the form of mothering.  How do I treat my children as God’s Palace Temple on an hourly basis?  Although most of my time is dedicated to this life-long journey of mothering at the moment, I am constantly seeking where else I can meet people where they are at to reassure them that they too are God’s Palace Temple, which I think is the very core of genuine hospitality.


Quicky Sticky Biscuits

I recall a moment in time when our dear friend Hilary asked Ben, “Benny, what would be your top 10 books of all time?”  Now, as my husband is a an avid reader as aforementioned, it would seem difficult to find a top 10.  In fact, he just told me yesterday that he checked out the most books from the library than anyone else in his whole elementary school (back when he was in elementary school).  But, he quickly named one off the top of his head (which is another hard thing for my introverted husband to do…he’s more methodical about his ideas & words), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

If I could summarize what it is that he likes about it (as do I), I would say it’s a book of self-discovery put into action.  It helps you find out who you are, what you are capable of and putting it into practice.  This is huge for Ben.  And as I’ve been married to him for 7 1/2 years now and a mother of two, I have SO appreciated this philosophy on life.  It helps with focusing on the areas of life which are important, but not urgent.  An example of this would be setting a date night with Ben, because although the dishes, laundry & bills are the urgent items in life…having uninterrupted time with my spouse is important for the long haul.  It’s learning to not live life putting out the fires (searching at 5:00 what to make for dinner, searching for a snack 20 minutes too late as your child (or you) screams their head off).

As we approach the New Year, our family is writing up a Mission Statement, in order to live in the Important, but not Urgent.  We are seeking to know what is best for our family and what aligns with our values, dreams & beliefs and not some other family.  Our mission statement will give us direction for our long term goals and help us navigate in our short term goals.  It is also mailable, because visions change course and we need to adaptability.  I not only want to create a haven for Ben & the girls (and other children we might be blessed with), but also for people outside of it.  For our extended family, friends, and the stranger & neighbor who we barely know.  My life has been richly blessed by people who extended kindness, grace & overwhelming care when I needed it most.  And sometimes it was surrounding a dinner table with food, while other times it was around a dinner table with a listening ear & loving embrace.

I hope you would be encouraged by the people who have done the same for you, or how you have been that person in times of need.  May 2010 bring you clarity of perspective, dreams to dream & a dinner table open for an invitation.  Maybe these Quicky Sticky Biscuits will cut through the awkwardness and create a yummy slice of hospitality.

Quicky Sticky Biscuits (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from the book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.  These biscuits are not for the faint at heart.  They are rich & buttery and they’re not ashamed to show it.  If you’re looking for something light or watching your figure, be warned, as these biscuits will blow your 2010 resolution diet out the window.  BUT, they are definitely amazing and worth bringing to a family brunch (so you won’t be tempted to eat too many).

For the Sticky Pecan Sauce:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Biscuits:

4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 2 cups)

For the Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted (depending on how rich you want them, use 1/4 cup for less rich)

POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN AND PREHEAT TO 425F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan with softened butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter.  Melt over low heat.  When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.

TO MAKE THE BISCUITS: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender (if you don’t have a pastry blender than use two butter knives to cut the butter).  Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.

MAKE A SHALLOW WELL IN THE CENTER OF THE FLOUR MIXTURE AND POUR IN 1 1/2 CUPS OF THE COLD BUTTERMILK (I used the whole 2 cups at this point).  Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough.  If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together.  Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle.  Use a sharp chef’s knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar.  Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan.  Brush the tops (once the bottom) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.

BAKE THE BISCUITS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND PUFFY, and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 15-17 minutes (it took more like 23-25 minutes for me).  Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it.  Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits.  Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits.  Serve immediately (but they taste pretty darn good hours later).


Host as Guests and “Fried” Potatoes with Kale & Onion

I came across the following quote months ago and saved it in a file.  As I came across it today it got me thinking…

Good hosts discover the divine mystery in hospitality—
that as they welcome strangers, they are themselves beloved
guests of God’s grace.

Is it really true that hospitality is more for the host than for the guest?  While in Ellensburg for Thanksgiving we get free movie passes, which is about the only time we go to the movies ($9.00 for a movie!).  We saw “The Blind Side,” which is based upon a true story.  Aside from being an exceptionally great film (seriously, it was a mixture of wonderful & horrible–the kind of horrible that makes you realize life isn’t pretty), there were many moments I got choked up & cried.  The Blind Side” depicts the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential (synopsis taken from here).

Leigh Anne Touhy, the mom, took Michael in as her own.  What she was doing was saving him from the plane crash of a life he would have if he stayed in the projects.  However, she realized was Michael was in essence saving her.  He as the guest caused her to rethink a family history of racism, status in the elite, and safety living on the right side of the tracks.  She needed him maybe more than he needed her.  Grace.

It’s too easy to view a stranger or guest as a project.  To think that my “love” and “generosity” will change the person & I’ll feel better about myself.  Except, what I find in the end is that even in the midst of what seemingly is a “good deed,” ends up becoming a grace revealed.  This morning’s breakfast reminds me of a grace revealed as a modest, yet appetizing goodness.  It is fit for a king in more of backdoor sort of way.

“Fried” Potatoes with Kale & Onion (printable recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in thin half moons
  • 3-4 rather big Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters, then thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil/canola oil mixture
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sea salt
  • 5 leaves black Kale, rib cut off & cut leaves into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-4 Tablespoons water

Put 1 Tb of oil into pan over medium heat.  Heat oil for about one minute, then add onion slices.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt to onions.  Cook until the a bit of browning occurs on the onions.  Add thinly sliced potatoes, along with 1 more Tb of oil.

Stir occasionally to avoid sticking or burning (if you need to add more oil, do so).  Add 2 teaspoons of salt. You’ll cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes.

Add the kale, along with 3 Tablespoons water.  Stir around and cook without a lid for 30 seconds.  Then, put a lid on top of potatoes & kale and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so.  The lid is creating steam, which will in return steam the kale.  My lid goes directly on top of the potatoes as it is smaller than the rim of the pan.

Remove from heat, add salt to taste & pepper.  Serve by itself, or it you’re like my daughter…with ketchup.


Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I lived in a house in college where I lived with 9 of my best friends.  Well, no, they weren’t my best friends, but I did live in a house full of girls (10 of us total) for two years.  The second year I lived there, one of my housemates had a gluten & lactose sensitivity.  I remember thinking, “well that’s not fair that she can’t enjoy baked goods!” (at that time gluten-free products were not nearly as common as they are now).  Part of my make up is creating food that people like, enjoy & can eat without irritability.

I have since become acquainted with words, xanthan gum, teff, quinoa, buckwheat, millet & so many more sources for gluten-free living.  I find that this is a way I can contribute a portion of my hospitality to my non-gluten loving friends.  They need some baked yummies–dontcha think!  Well, tonight I made these cookies from my new cookbook The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.  I wanted a something sweet like chocolate chip cookies, but I didn’t have any eggs and I didn’t want to have cookies leftover in my house.  So, I had the ingredients to make them, I could eat a couple and give the rest to my friends Laura (gluten, egg & lactose intolerant) & Tina (gluten intolerant).

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Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (printable recipe)

These are gluten-free, egg-free and if you use coconut oil than they’re also lactose free.  And as for a non-allergic individual, I find them to be pretty darn good. Note: I wouldn’t call these chewy, but still good.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup medjool dates, pitted

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil or organic butter

1/4 cup whole cane sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xantham gum (I used 1 teaspoon agar agar)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup (or more–I used 1 cup) organic chocolate chips

I also added 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place pitted medjool dates into a small bowl, cover with boiling water.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.  Then place soaked dates and water into a blender and puree.

3. Scoop out date puree with a rubber spatula and place into a bowl.  Add melted coconut oil, whole cane sugar, and vanilla; whisk together.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and sea salt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with a fork or wooden spoon.  Fold in chocolate chips.

5. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.  Gently flatten each cookie with the back of a spoon.  You don’t want to flatten them too much, only slightly.

6. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes.  Baking time will depend on what size the cookies are.  Larger cookies need a little extra time and smaller cookies a little less.  Let cool slightly then enjoy!  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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