Tuesday, July 29, 2014


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the STANDard // july

as you might could imagine, in moving from southern California to northwestern Montana, there are many lessons to be learned.  like, as in, countless lessons.  (one, perhaps, being cutting ties with the word 'like'. or not. i mean, you can take the girl out of California.... but you can't take the California outta the girl).  there are certain things about country life that don't necessarily translate, until you become immersed in country life.  there are things you say you'd never do...things that, at one time, made you say, "ew!!!".  until necessity proves you wrong.  and slowly, lessons are learned.

one such lesson we have learned... continue to get schooled in... is found in the principle of reaping and sowing.  this is a concept, a truth, that we all know; and yet until you actually plant something and watch it grow.... or not... you can't quite fully integrate into everyday life.  and it IS that... something you integrate into everyday life. no matter where you live. or what you do.

when you plant a seed, there are necessary steps that must be taken in order for that seed to grow into what it's meant to become.  now, i'm a complete newbie at growing things, and quite honestly, i'm not very good at it.  but i still get the idea that no water and no sunshine and no pruning is gonna mean no flower or no fruit or no vegetable. this is common sense 101.  hashtag gardening for dummies.  if you take care of and maintain a garden, you'll get food or flowers. if you don't, you won't. you'll get weeds, which not only aren't good for anything, they destroy things.

we are currently cutting our first ever hay field! and when i say we i mean the farmer next door, because he has the equipment. and the experience.  and while, after weeks of essential (and typical in June) rain and days of perfect summer sunshine, the alfalfa and grass look rich and vibrant, it's true that there are things we will do differently next time.  as first-timers, we're learning that irrigation and fertilization are key to multiple cuttings.  we will probably only get one cutting this year because we didn't do either of those things.  two cuttings is double the hay... double the money.  you reap what you sow.

in life, this idea of what you put in is what you get out, translates across the board. in ANY job, career, or creative endeavor this holds true.  if you want to drop some weight and/or get healthy you have to be consistent and make good choices in order to see results. if you choose to continue making poor/unhealthy choices, well, you'll stay stuck where you are.  if you want to climb the proverbial ladder of success, get a promotion or become a better anything you have to do the extra work, go the extra mile and make the extra sacrifices to get there.  if you continue saying things like, 'who cares', 'i don't feel like it' , 'i'll do it later', or 'whatever'... most likely that's going to mean no growth for you.  but... if you make the effort, take the chance, put in the time then you'll not only get better at whatever you're doing, but you'll grow in confidence and stamina! all good things.

in Galatians 6 Paul applies this to our hearts:
"do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. a man reaps what he sows. the one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

since i believe in the things of the Spirit, i believe that all of life is colored and covered by this.  that whatever i do, whether singing songs about Jesus, writing words in worship, fixing dinner for my family, having a disagreement with my husband, giving my daughter advice, talking about life with my son... i get to choose in each and everyone of those instances to sow to either my flesh or the Spirit.  the decisions i make reveal my motives.  am i sowing seeds of self? or sacrifice?  am i hung up on old ways? or allowing the Father to prune my heart? am i given over to constant comparison? or letting go of my need for man's approval?

it's not easy to maintain a garden or a field. it takes consistent effort and hard labor.  but don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.  you'll get stronger and the harvest is WORTH IT!

my STANDard for the month of july is:
Galatians 6:7
"...a man reaps what he sows..."

Monday, June 16, 2014

music monday // story behind the song

a very long time ago, when i was just a child, my mom accompanied me often. these days it's rare… a gift i'll never take for granted.  here, for the story behind the song, we talk a little about the song Precious Lord.  i'm terribly grateful for my precious mom. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

cooking class // Paris edition

on our recent trip to Paris, Brian and i attended a small cooking class in the kitchen of acclaimed author and chef, Susan Herrmann Loomis. An American living in Paris for 30 years, Susan was an absolute delight!! we had an extraordinary time, chopping, whisking, baking and tasting an array of classic french dishes prepared by.... US!  in addition to the actual preparation, cooking and instruction, we enjoyed a salt tasting and a chocolate tasting! so interesting and delicious. i highly recommend this experience as it gives you a taste... literally... of authentic french food and hospitality, even though Susan is American by blood, she is oh so french at heart.  visit her website for details and information on classes and her blog for recipes:  On Rue Tatin

Brian prepared the rhubarb tarts

Brian's other task was to prepare the duck

i pitted the cherries and made the sauce that would accompany the duck

the beautiful duck and deliciously juicy cherries

that stove...

finished  duck, resting, rare

classic french appetizers... raw veggies, bread and butter, olive oil cookies, crisps made from the tart dough and sautéed mushrooms (which were my favorite... i ate them like potato chips!)

finished rhubarb tarts

finished duck with cherries

Susan and me

Monday, June 2, 2014

the STANDard // june

I've become aware in recent weeks of my tendency toward the negative.  I can easily have selective focus when it comes to my circumstances; seeing them as dark, ominous clouds...heavy with 'no, never, not you'.  I think that's part of the broken world we live in; one of the enemy's favorite, and most effective, weapons is distortion. that's why those negative clouds seem so weighty. but they're really just pushy, the darkness of doubt and discouragement.  they literally throw their weight around and shove their way into our subconscious like big bullies, blocking out the sun, taking up unnecessary space in our minds.  and all the while, grace waits. just a simple adjustment in perspective, a turning of the lens, brings the light into focus. peace holds it's ground, a strong and steady presence ready to pull us up and out of the negative pit.  

listen, I'm not at all suggesting that suffering isn't real and debilitating, it absolutely is. I'm suggesting that perhaps we easily fall into the trap of believing the enemy's lies over God's truth. 

 i admit that I've often focused on the pit...and i realize THAT'S what inhibits my ability to praise. and it's praise that paves a clear way out. praising God gives us hope, it clears the clouds long enough for us to see that there is a wide, gaping opening above us. a huge and obvious exit! but when my eyes are only focused on the darkness of the pit I'm in, it's that much harder for my eyes to adjust to the light.... if i keep my eyes up, however, the light becomes my view, my focus.  the darkness diminishes as i trust the light.

what does that pit have to offer anyway? when you find yourself in a place of discouragement or despair is that where you want to stay? in the movie 'the princess bride', the 'pit of despair' is a place of torturous punishment.  i, for one, don't want to stay there. it's not somewhere that breathes life and joy into our hearts and minds. it's the enemy's attempt to slow us down and trip us up.  but when we are able to look up, look past our current circumstances, living our lives in gratitude, praising the Father for all he's already done, and all He's sure to do, we can gain ground, make strides upward.  where that pit has nothing but darkness to offer, The Lord offers endless benefits! we see them more clearly as we choose to praise Him. not to say we'll never ever encounter another pit, but once you know the way out of one, you'll have a leg up on the rest. 

the passage I've chosen to memorize and meditate on for this months STANDard is:
Psalm 103:1-5

'praise The Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 praise The Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits:
 who FORGIVES all your sins
 and HEALS all your diseases
 who REDEEMS your life from the PIT
 and CROWNS you with love and compassion
 who SATISFIES your desires with good things
 so that your youth is RENEWED like the eagles'

Thursday, May 22, 2014

actual Parisian crepes

my family and I are currently residing in Paris.... ok, we are pretending to reside in Paris.  while here, we decided to eat like real Parisians. and in our minds that looks like this....

izzi did, eventually, share with me...
oh, and yes that is Nutella

au revoir!

Monday, May 19, 2014

music monday

(L to R //back row//Tommy Larson,Ari Tidwell, Jared Rich, Caleb Clements, Russell Crain; front row// me, Andy Toy)

it's been (and continues to be) my absolute privilege to travel the world and get to join with the body of Christ in worship and song.  i imagine it's a bit like what the old time itinerate preachers used to experience... only they got to go on horse back. which, to me, seems like a plus.  but i digress. i've made lasting friendships from many of these trips, both at home and abroad.  one such friendship began in CA at the church we attended when we lived there, Rock Harbor.  Caleb Clements was one of the worship pastors at that time and we became friends.  now, Caleb is the worship leader/pastor at Mariners Church, where i have the opportunity to sing and lead in worship a few times a year.  i've learned a whole lot from Caleb as a leader and as a worshiper. i love his heart for people and i so respect and admire his heart for Jesus. it's a bit rare for someone that lives their life on a stage to be so willing to take a back seat (or spot in the back row as noted in the photo above:) ).   i asked him to answer the music monday questions so we could all benefit from his experience...

1// what part do you play within the music industry? 
     I lead worship in Orange County at Mariners Church
2// briefly describe how you got where you are; tell us your story. 
     I started leading worship in college to fill a need, which led to more and more opportunities.  I studied business and after 6 months in sales I was given an opportunity to lead worship full time.  It's now been 10 years that I've been a worship leader, 2 years at Newport Mesa Church, 7 years at Rockharbor, and now just over a year at Mariners.  Not sure how long I'll do this, but being faithful with what's in front of me.
3// what advice would you give someone that wants to do what you do? 
     Never say no to an opportunity to lead, especially as you're developing as a leader.  Every experience shapes you, and no amount of reading or training will equip you like actual experience.  Look at worship leading as a pastoral role; know theology, learn how to care for people, study leadership, know who you are musically.
4// whats your take on the future of the industry? where do you see it going? will digital music take over the world? 
     Tough to answer this briefly.  I wonder if worship music will have a rude awakening in the next decade.  It seems like the wave of "cool" worship, albums, lights, songs may be growing tired.  I see hymns and liturgy making a comeback with a lower emphasis on the show.
5// in light of the current climate of the music business, would you advise an artist to seek support from a label or take the more independent, do-it-yourself route of social media outlets ie; kickstarter? or what would you say are the pros and cons of each? 
       I can only speak to the worship industry.  I would stay independent and write for your church.  If God wants to highlight you or your songs beyond that He will.  Worship leaders need to focus more on the congregation they have and not chase the CCLI charts.
6// what advice would you give an aspiring song writer as far as how to go about pitching a song to an artist? 
      My only advice would be to do this through relationship.  Get to know people you look up to and the opportunity will present itself.
7// what is the best way for an aspiring artist to get their foot-in-the-door? 
      See the answer to #5 :)  I feel pretty strongly about leaving that bit up to God.
8// what is the Christian industry looking for as far as future talent? 
      No idea.
9// itunes or physical product you can hold in your hand?
10// what artist(s)/music are you listening to and/or inspired by right now? 
    Here are my most recent Spotify playlists: Emmylou Harris, Everest, Beach House, One Direction (for my daughter), Haim, Ellie Goulding (guilty pleasure), Kye Kye, Shawn Colvin