Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Before You Boycott - Family Matters Post

For my Family Matters post this month I wade into the waters of Christian boycotts.  
It seems to be an ongoing trend for some Christian organizations to promote the idea that all good Christians will boycott certain business establishments because of their business policies regarding political and social issues in society.
This is a great idea.  But, I really think we need to go all the way with this. Choosing just one chain of stores isn’t good enough.  There are other sinful people out there that also need boycotting. 
I am proposing a solution that I think all good, clean Christians will really love.
We need to start a Christian grocery store chain.   We can call it “Jesus Saves”. It will only play music that starts with Hill and ends with Song, or maybe it should just play hymns written before 1937.  We’ll have to have a membership meeting to decide on that, but we’ll make sure to get a quorum by offering free-hotdogs and a bouncy castle after the meeting.  Mental note – make sure they’re kosher.
Of course, these stores won’t be open on Saturdays, because after all, that’s when the real Sabbath is. Come to think of it, we should probably close it on Sundays as well, just to be safe.  You know how God loves to smote those who disobey the law. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

When God Says Yes

This is the third night in a row that I am so amped up about all the amazing things going on in my life that I can't sleep.

It's the down side of being an excitable extrovert.

Here's the cause of all my insomnia:

God gave me an amazing gift this weekend. He answered a question I asked Him 20 years ago about myself and the talents and passions He gave me with a resounding "Yes".

Twenty years is a long time to have a dream without an answer. But perhaps slower is better.

I can't believe I just typed that sentence. It must be insomnia induced. I don't think I have ever believed that slower is better about anything in my life. Except for this.

Sometimes it isn't until your question gets answered and your dream is fulfilled that you can fully understand why it has taken so long for you when so many others seemed to get their questions answered sooner.

I think in many ways, I am a slow learner. At least when it comes to learning how to do something. I often know what needs doing. It's a perk of being of that personality type that believes they are always right. However, I sometimes mess up the how by bulldozing my way through to the final destination.

When I was 15 (or so) I started singing on worship teams at church and school. Soon after that a question began to burn in my heart. Was I capable of leading worship? It's not a complicated or difficult question,but it wasn't one that could be answered unless I actually led a worship set. And for whatever reason, that chance just never came up. I had lots of time in a supporting role, but never a leading role.

So when I say I led worship this weekend for the first time, and it was amazing, I don't mean it in the - it was perfect and without blemish, kind of really amazing. It wasn't for a large crowd, no-one offered me a recording contract, and Darlene Zschech didn't hear about it and ask me to fill in for her next Sunday.

I mean to say that it was amazing because of all that I have learned in that time of not having my question answered for the past 20 years. In that time I have stood on the shoulders of giants, and learned so much about leading by being a supporting vocalists for a lot of other great worship leaders.

Had I been given the opportunity to lead 15 or 20 years earlier, it would have been, I'm quite sure, a long -term nightmare.

It might have sounded good, but the heart of worship would have been lacking. I couldn't have comprehended that having a good singing voice and liking to be in charge isn't enough to lead people to worship God.

I would have confused a perfect performance with a whole-hearted offering of excellence.

I wouldn't have fully understood the importance of a team. No one who does anything well, does it alone, especially when it comes to leading a group of people in worship. I had an exceptional team playing and singing with me on Saturday night. But what excited me most about playing with them wasn't their talent, it was their hearts. We were all so excited to be worshippers together, it blessed me so much to be able to lead with them.

If I had led a team earlier, it would have been me being glorified for a gift of music and not God being glorified for being the giver of all good gifts.

And I wouldn't have been satisfied to not know what was going to happen next. I am still going to be a supporting vocalist on a regular basis at church, and this is a really good thing. I love our church and want to see God's name made great through our worship services. It really doesn't matter who is leading, and I really don't know if I'll ever lead again. My heart is at rest with that thought. I didn't come to peace with that until the night before I led though (told you I was a slow learner).

I was fretting about wanting to know more details, "I want God to tell me what is going to happen next" I confessed to my friend. And without hesitation she said "Don't worry about what's next, that's not your job. You just take what God's given you in your hand right now and do your best with it. You don't need to know the ending."

Thank God for friends who will speak the truth into our fears. Keep those friends close and take good care of them, they are like precious diamonds!

The timing for this was so right. That fact didn't stop me from being afraid of screwing up, or question whether or not my question was just stupid and vain to begin with. Nor did it mean that I didn't have to do a whole lot of preparation, practice and asking of advice from a few of those "giants" I have worked with before. But because I was ready, I was able to let go and give God that night of worship from the deepest place in my heart.

And when it was all over, my heart heard the King of Glory say well done.

Those are life changing words to have the Creator of the Universe speak to your heart.

It's no wonder I can't sleep.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Food Revolution on TILT

It's Thursday, so I feel compelled to share something I love with you for this third installment of Things I Love Thursday, because I'm just giving like that.

So here's my TILT installment for the week.  

The Jamie Oliver Food Revolution cookbook.

My photography skills do a disservice to this great book!

Buy it. Use it.  Love it.

There are many reasons this is my go-to cookbook when I want a new idea for dinner.   

I love the layout, and the lovely photography.

I love it that he suggest measuring things in lugs, handfuls and bunches.  It gives me confidence that it doesn't have to perfect, just perfect-ish. By giving leeway in certain measurements it makes me believe that cooking really is mastering the art of close enough,  and if you have 3/4 of a cup of lentils today, but only 1/2 a cup left next week, chances are, you can still make it work.  It just occurred to me now that perhaps all those terms might be actual measurements in Britain, but so far cooking ishly is working out very well for our family, so I'm gonna stick with my original story!

I love this book because I have yet to make something in it that my family hasn't loved, and keeping seven people sufficiently sufficed is no small feat!

I love the variety in the book as well:  seafood, pasta, curries, comfort food, desserts - the whole gamut is there There's an incredible variety of absolutely doable recipes.   

It's also quite a bit of fun to cook with because it works best when you read a recipe using an English accent. It might make your dinner taste 18% better, even.  It makes me want to call my boys blokes and say to my daughter "this is a brilliant casserole you've just made, smashing job!"  "Tell Jamie to bring Jules and the kids over and we'll all tuck in together!"

This brings up a totally different question - do you think that people over the world ever marvel at the beauty of our Canadian accents?  And I know - really, there's not just one Canadian accent just like there's not just one English accent, but I wonder if English chaps ever tire of being told the best thing about them is their tone and  

And lastly, I love the whole purpose behind the food revolution itself. "Friends teaching friends how to cook good, honest, affordable food and just generally be a bit more streetwise about cooking."  This is something I wholeheartedly support.  Getting your kids to eat and love a variety of foods starts with parents cooking and loving a variety of  foods.    Exposure is a good thing, and this cookbook is chock-a-block with great meal ideas. It's really worth taking the time to eat real food; the rest of life works so much better when our bodies aren't running on empty! And don't let foody sites scare you off  of cooking, like it can't be done by everyone- you don't have to make it fancy, just make it fresh and real and your life will thank you!

I feel it would be remiss if I didn't follow-through and share one of our family's favourite recipes from the book.  I've modified it using chicken instead of lamb, as that's not easy to come by here. If you get a chance,do try lamb sometime - it's divine when cooked right!  Just don't buy rubbish mutton! I don't even know if you could get mutton this side of the Atlantic... I just wanted to say rubbish in a sentence and take it for a spin.  Bottom line - I'm sure it works with either.  We have chicken in spades here in BC, so that's what I use.

This recipe freezes like a dream, so I usually make a huge batch of it, freeze the leftovers and then I pop it from the freezer into the crock pot for another dinner when the schedule gets packed and/or I don't feel like cooking that night!

I am sharing my modified version, the original is available in the Food Revolution Book!

Chicken Rogan Josh 
Rogan Josh is, according to all-knowing Wikipedia, an aromatic lamb dish hailing from the Kashmir region.  It has nothing to do with my husband, Josh, who happens to love any type of curry :)

1 1/2 - 2 ish pounds Boneless, skinless chicken breast (3-4 halves), cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium onions
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled.
small bunch of fresh cilantro
blob of oil (JO never writes blob, but it's how much I use)
a pat of butter (so like, 2 smears and one dollop, I think)
4 bay leaves
sea salt and pepper - from the enormous Costco containers if you have them
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
1 - 14 oz.  can of diced tomatoes
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (this is my favourite brand)
1/2 cup Pataks mild curry paste
2 large handfuls of red lentils
pinch of red chilli flakes (if you have a fresh red chile, by all means use that instead!)
1 cup plain/natural yogurt.

To prepare:
(this is worth doing - getting everything together before you start cooking this type of dish, if you're feeling fancy, call it mise en place, and people will think you are super smart or at least a bit French)

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes * Peel, Halve, and Finely Chop Onions * Peel and grate ginger * Chop the dickens out of the cilantro. (if you want to fuss, pull some whole leaves off the stalks for garnish, and then chop the whole thing to bits)

To make:
In a large heavy bottom pan (because of the amount I usually make, I often have a few pans going at once for the frying at the beginning and then I combine it into my enormous stock pot - you just want whatever it is to handle the volume and the high heat!) on med-high heat add a couple blobs of oil, and the butter.*  Add the onions, ginger, cilantro, chile and bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden * Add chicken and cook until lightly browned ( try not to overdo it, it will have plenty of time to cook through afterwards!)*  Add the balsamic vinegar, cook for a couple of minutes more * Add the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the curry paste *Stir in lentils* Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and leave it with the lid on for about an hour. * Check regularly to make sure it's not drying out, add more chicken stock or hot water as needed. * When the meat is cooked through test it out and season with salt and pepper if needed.

*a note about curry pastes - do check the ingredient lists of whatever brand you are buying.  I like Pataks because it's ingredient list is short and not chock full of chemicals and dyes.

To Serve:
Serve with rice, or quinoa.  Add some warmed up Naan bread to the side, throw on a dollop or two of yogurt and you're set!    Toss a little cilantro over the top to make it look like you really know what you're up to.  Add a salad and your meal is complete!

Teach your kids how to do the dishes and then whole meal can be made without regrets!

Happy Thursday!


Is there a cookbook you love?  Tell me about it on your blog then link to it in the comments section!  Good things were meant to be shared!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I am told that when one doesn't know what to write, one should just write anyway.  The one that I speak of today, this week, these past few weeks, would be me. So let's see where this goes.

It's not that I don't have things to say.  Goodness knows that is never a problem for me .  Although I did prove a point once on a youth trip that I didn't have to talk, and I was silent for half the bus trip home from Saskatchewan to BC.  I am capable, I just process life better when I live out loud.  For the record, when I am home alone I haven't taken to talking to myself. At least not yet.

At the beginning of the year, I asked God what the theme for the coming year was going to be.  I know some people do New Year's Resolutions, but I have to admit I am  totally Resoultion-Averse.  There are lots of reasons, chief among them the fact that I don't like doing things that anyone says I should do for no other reason than that they should just be done. 

So being the stinker that I am, on January 2nd, I thought I would ask a safe question of God, which was admittedly my first mistake.  I asked Him what the overarching theme for the year would be, in part because I love getting a big picture and I hate to get bogged down by details.  I figured if God gave me a word, I could probably find an easy way to say that I had been successful come the end of the year.  I was hoping it would be a nice feel-good word like "love" or maybe if I was really lucky he'd say "eat".  Instead, clear as anything He said "grow".


At first, I thought that would be easy.

There were lots of things that I could grow that wouldn't be hard.  Like my waistline.  Or my messes.  .  Maybe I could even grow my bank account - all thoughts I had before taking a holiday and paying taxes.

Instead, this year has been looking a lot like Grow Up.  Grow Stronger.  Grow Braver.  Grow Deeper.  Grow in Love.  Grow in Faith.  Grow Relationships. Grow things that matter.

And sometimes I feel like I am being thrown in the deep end with all this attempted growing.  Growing is causing me to face a lot fears I didn't know I had.  Or maybe I knew they were there, but I thought they were all under control. Or that ignoring them was a reasonable life plan.  I don't know.  It turns out there's a part of me that only wants to grow if I can be guaranteed that I won't fail.  And that is a lie.  I will fail, especially if I start feeding those passions that have been growing inside my heart for what feels like a lifetime.  And I have to wrap my head around that failing is just another opportunity to learn a lot of other good things.  Like humility, asking for help, asking for forgiveness.  It's not bad to learn how to do any of those things well, right?  

So I am back at the beginning, staring at the new four letter word in my life, wondering how I am going to make it all work.


If I write things that matter, somebody out there is going to disagree with me.  If I speak things that make a difference, somebody is going to wish I had kept my mouth shut.  If I lead worship and sing, someone is going to wish I had chosen different songs, sang a different key, or likely shut up altogether.  

I can't be safe AND grow at the same time.

I know I should probably just say Rats, or Shoot.  But what I really want to say is Damn.

Damn my stupid fears. 

But don't worry,  that's just what I want to say.  It's not like I'm really going to say it or anything. 
And I know that a little bit of fear is a good thing.  It will give me pause to make sure that when I sing, or write or speak, it is done in the spirit of truth and love. My intent in growing is not to start going off half-cocked.  Or at least, not any more than I usually do.

I've also realized that my fear of doing what is always safe and makes everyone else happy, or at least silent will probably lead me to doing a whole lot of nothing.  I don't want that.

God is with me.  I have nothing to fear.

That gives me hope. It's time to get growing.

"A ship in a harbour is safe, but that's not what ships were built for."
John A. Shedd

Monday, May 7, 2012

Eating Crow

Today I finished an article I've been mulling over in my head for the last few weeks.  I do my best pre-writing during mid-night insomnia sessions.  At least that's what I tell myself so I don't cry too much over lost sleep.  This article is probably the most pointed and "taking a definite position" article I've ever written and it scares me to bits.  I am probably going to submit it soon, but first I felt the need to be forthright.

And I know admitting I screw up is kind of like admitting I'm not a Unicorn, but still it's worth saying. Sometimes I get tired of hopping around on one foot because the other one seems so firmly planted in my mouth.  So in case you ever wondered, I screw up - a lot. Sometimes I write about the way things should be, or the way they often are - but I get it wrong - a lot.  Have I said that yet?

I have a weird relationship with writing.  When I write something that I think matters, (whether it's for me or Family Matters - the other place I occasionally write for)  it's just about a guarantee that I will really struggle with whatever it is I claim needs conquering in the days that follow.

After writing Set Free - I felt caged

After Being Enough - I wasn't enough

After Lego and the Bible - I struggled with our decision to homeschool

After Everlasting Arms -I doubted God's presence.

So today, the article I finally pounded out was about not being self-righteous and boy did I knock screwing that one up out of the park.  It doesn't matter that I was tired, and was originally trying to be funny.  I ended up being an arrogant jerk to a dear friend, and 12 seconds after I hit send, the un-funnyness and pig-headedness of what I said  hit me - but as you know, apparently better than me, there is no "un-send" button.

So I had to apologize, and I'm quite sure I am forgiven, but still, I can't quite believe how closely what I conquer in my head or on paper turns into something I struggle with in my life.

So remember, when I am writing - it's not coming from a place of I've got this all figured out, it's more like here's the good I know I should be doing, and yet I still don't always do it.

Thank God for his grace and for forgiving friends.