Tag: books (page 1 of 3)

Summer Soul Food

Hey Friends,

I know I’ve been MIA on the blog recently, but I’m guessing you’re out seizing summer joy and don’t mind a little less in your “in box”! As a result, this is a looooong post!

I’ve been prioritizing speaking, prepping a new set of devo cards, and another writing project I only recently have had the courage to call a “manuscript”. Yikes it’s scary to say that, and yet I also feel total peace regarding what happens with it. If God can use it “out there” I trust it will get published. If He has other plans I’m fine with that. I’m thankful for friends and mentors who have been coaching me along in this process!


Speaking of needing each other… John and I always do a lot of hosting in the summertime because our back yard provides a great space for gathering folks. We have had a big tent I told you about before, but it’s so old it started to leak when there was rain, and since rain was predicted last week when we were hosting 32, we bought another tent. Here was the problem. It was a LOT more complicated to set up than our previous one (I am so thankful for a husband with infinite patience!).


It was super hot with one million percent humidity as we struggled to get it set up. At one point I asked John what time it was, and he said, “No worries, they’re not coming tip 6:30.” Imagine the look on our faces when we had just finished the job and were sweating like pigs and our guests walked around the corner of our house at 6:00!

Anyway, one of the benefits of hosting a lot of potlucks is GOOD RECIPES! My friend Michelle brought this amazing salad and was gracious enough to give me the recipe, so I thought I’d pass it along. It is delightfully different!

Wheat Berry and Fruit Salad

1 Cup wheat berries


3 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs water

1 ½ Tbs cider vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp each salt & pepper

¼ Cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1 large apple cut bite size

1 Cup seedless grapes halved

½ Cup diced cheddar

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add wheat berries; reduce heat, cover and cook for

45-55 minutes until tender. Drain well.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk oil, water, vinegar, mustard, salt

& pepper. Add dried cranberries and warm wheat berries.

Toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally,

for flavors to absorb and wheat berries to cool. (If you want

to make ahead and serve cold, cover and refrigerate up to

1 day).

3. Add remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to mix and coat.

Serves 4   (Can be served on a bed of lettuce.)

I preached at CPC on Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000 a couple weeks ago, and I wish I had thought to use this video! With Jesus everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything can happen!


I’ve been reading a lot this summer, but I really hate to review books because I think personal taste, values, your current season of life, and circumstances can skew how you feel about a book.

However, my talented friend Steve Wiens has a new book coming out August 22nd called “Whole”.  

The description of this new book is: “For Christians who lament the brokenness in themselves, their neighbors, and the world around them, Whole offers a rallying cry to pursue wholeness together.”

I think Steve’s strength is in the questions he asks – the 5 questions of restoration he addresses in the first half of the book, and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this a read that would be good for group discussion.  Steve models a commitment to self-reflection and vulnerable sharing throughout which will encourage others in your small group.

If you like considering the different meanings behind the original Hebrew text, looking for new connections, you will like this book.  If you like contemporary retelling of ancient stories that highlight the movement from brokenness to wholeness, you will like this book.

If you are into spy novels, I recommend this complicated, intriguing book, ” I am Pilgrim: A Thriller”. It’s excellent, but be forewarned…there is some graphic violence and the pieces don’t start to come together til about page 245. I can’t imagine the time that went into researching this book!

One last thing…I’ve been doing more on Instagram, and recently posted this quote. I have several friends who are in very, very hard places where it seems their thoughts and prayers kept spinning in a circle of despair. Can anyone else relate?

I’ll close with part of a blessing from Suzie Larson:

May you be honest with God about the hurts in your heart. May you discern the difference between grief and self-pity. May you be okay with not always being okay. God will one day wipe away every tear from your eyes, but until then, He wants to help you walk this journey with peace in your heart and assurance in your soul. He is with you.





Soul Food to Spring it Up!

Monday I wrote about an experimental mutiny against the month of March and invited you into our Spring it Up challenge.

I really hope you’ll join in for part or all of the days. You can still print up an attachment of all the prompts and put it on your fridge. Send me pictures and/or post on Instagram or FB with the hashtag #springitup!

Here are my adorable friends Ally and Kit dressing pink on Day 1.

We had our small group on Tuesday night and did 2 of the challenges at once. I encouraged everyone to wear pink, and we brought things that made us think of spring.

I made the recipe that has been our little family’s go-to for spring.

D.C. Spring Ham and Asparagus Sandwiches

Brace yourselves because the directions are a bit complicated.

  1. 6 slices of deli ham (a little thick – 1/8″?? I don’t do math)
  2. 6 slices of swiss cheese
  3. a bunch of asparagus
  4. a package of dry Knorr Hollendaise sauce mix
  5. 2  tubes of Pillsbury crescent rolls

Cook the asparagus to tender crisp.

Open the crescent rolls and pinch together every two triangles to make rectangles.

Layer a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, and 3 stalks of asparagus on each rectangle. Roll up and pinch dough to seal. Put seal side down on cookie sheet.

Bake according to crescent roll instructions.

Mix up hollandaise sauce and drizzle on top of finished sandwiches. Bam! Done!

Heather brought sparkling pink lemonade, Cara brought tulips, Cathy brought a late Valentine gift wrapped springy, and Molly made a wonderful easy salad – berries, goat cheese, spring greens, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing!

This past weekend John preached on stewardship of our bodies, and included an interview with our friend, Lee Blum, who has a powerful story of overcoming an eating disorder and continually wrestling with the question of “How do we live out of our true self, not how the world says we should be or look or act?” 

(If you can’t see the embedded video on your email, click on the title of the post and open in your browser)

Lee Blum Interview (short version) from Christ Presbyterian Church on Vimeo.

Lee has also written two gripping books, A Table in the Darkness,* her memoir, and Brave is the New Beautiful *, in which each chapter is focused on a different characteristic of courage. Lee “weaves reflections from her own journey with inspirational stories from everyday women who chose to take off their masks and live authentically.”  It also has great discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I highly recommend both books and suggest you consider “Brave” for a small group if you’re looking for some honest discussion.

If you’re reading this on email or on your phone and want to comment, just click on the title and then scroll down!

*Some posts on this blog contain Amazon affiliate links – I receive a tiny commission on any purchases you make from links, but I’m not paid to recommend any particular item. I’d never include a link to anything I didn’t own or feel great about endorsing.

Soul Food Favorites For a Birthday Girl

Today is our daughter, Katy’s birthday. She is a thoughtful follower of Jesus. She is kind, loyal, soft-hearted, intelligent, driven, responsible…The short version of her job description as liaison between USAID and the Hill is “to make congress care about global poverty.”

In short, she’s amazing. And no, I’m not prejudiced at all. In honor of her, I thought I’d devote this post to some of her favorite things.

First, like all Crosbys, she is a West Wing groupie. Our family speaks in West Wing dialog, and watch the episode “Shiboleth” every Thanksgiving.


Second, like her father, is a VORACIOUS reader. Here are two books I’ve read recently that I know she’d love. I recommend them to her and to you.

Small Great Things is an amazing fictional account of a black labor and delivery nurse, a white supremacist who accuses her of killing his baby, and a public defender. Picoult writes chapters alternately in the voice of these three characters – an incredible challenge! I thought the book helped me better understand racism, white privilege, and stereotypes. Great read!

Third, she is a foodie. She is beloved by her co-workers and interns because she is always bringing them treats. She shared this recipe that she tried recently and loved from Half Baked Harvest.

Cream of Mushroom Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

  • prep time: 15 MINUTES
  • cook time: 45 MINUTES
  • total time: 1 HOUR

yields: SERVES 4


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 ounces wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/2-1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


Melt the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often until the onion is soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cremini mushrooms and the wild mushrooms, cook another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are caramelized. Stir in the thyme and cook another minute longer. Remove the pot from the heat and ladle out half of the wild mushrooms. Transfer the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add 2 cups broth and pulse until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Return the mixture to the soup pot and add the remaining 4 cups broth plus 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to boil and stir in the rice and chicken. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the chicken has cooked through. Shred the chicken in the pot. Stir in the milk and parmesan. Season the soup with salt + pepper. Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.

Lastly, her love language is cute dogs. She knows the names of every one on her walk to work and befriends them everywhere.

So Happy Happy Birthday Sweetie, and the rest of you, have a delightful weekend with glimpses of God’s grace!

Soul Food for Memorial Day Weekend

We started Memorial Day weekend off a little early last night with a spur of the moment dinner out, soaking up the beauty of our town. So full of gratitude!


Whenever you start it, I hope you all have a delightful weekend, perhaps sharing the sentiment of one of my favorite Instagram posts:


And if it’s been a bad week, just shake it off!


I want to spend every minute I can outdoors, but our forecast has a bunch of rain in it so I may get into some of the books I want to read…


Unfortunately, my friend Michelle won’t be getting outside. I went to see her in the hospital today where she’s on bed rest waiting for her 3rd baby to arrive.  She’s longing to be outside this weekend, but is doing the important work of growing a baby!

As hard as it is to be patient, she shared encouragement she got from the Lord on a hard day (she’s already been in for 3 weeks!). They did an ultrasound and not only did it show this clear, tiny foot…


but God brought to mind Proverbs 16:9 which she wrote on the back of the picture.

In their heart, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

What a great reminder for anyone waiting for anything this weekend!

Summer’s almost here and that means salads, so here’s a new recipe I like…  I found the original on Pinterest.
  • 1 bag spring salad mix
  • 1 bag romaine
  • I made my own bacon bits but burned them so ended up using a 3 oz bag of Hormel real applewood smoked bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1 large granny smith apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans or almonds
  • 5 oz  Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbled

Clean lettuce, place in large bowl and top with ingredients – toss.


  • You can add more or less of each ingredient – do what you prefer.
  • Chop the apple right before serving to prevent it from browning.
  • This salad is great with grilled chicken tossed on top for a meal.
  • I’m thinking I might try a variation and replace the fruit with blueberries and add red onion

    Mary’s Sweet Balsamic Dressing


    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
    • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard (or a little squeeze of Grey Poupon mustard)
    • Few twists of fresh cracked pepper Or use 1/8 tsp of reg ground pepper

That’s a little bit of what has delighted me this this week. What about you?

Soul Food Friday

Sharing some “soul food” that brought me joy this week…

First, a little Instagram delight for all you mamas limping to the finish line of the school year.


Oh my gosh, we all need some good news and uplifting stories these days, right? This first video was sent to me by daughter Maggie and brought tears to my eyes. Such a beautiful picture of community and caring.

And this one…Wow, what a Jesus-like picture.

I read Secrets of a Charmed Life this week and loved it! It takes place during World War 2 in London and is totally engrossing. I couldn’t put it down as the author weaves the stories of two half sisters and their unmarried mother through the Blitz and beyond. Such a great story that keeps you guessing to the end.


I took dinner to a new mama this week and had small group dinner too, so it was a great excuse to try out this new recipe. Holy buckets! Definitely a winner! (I’m not very good at cutting or food styling, but trust me…yum!)

IMG_4516 IMG_4519

SNICKERDOODLE CHEESECAKE BARS (original recipe here I always change them)



  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full size grahams)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 packages (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Spray Pam on a 13×9 baking dishPreheat oven for 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers with sugar until fine crumbs. Add in melted butter and pulse until combined.
  3. Press crumbs into bottom of prepared baking dish. Using palm of your hand (or bottom of a cup) press crumbs firmly until they are pressed into the bottom of the pan.
  4. For the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese with sugar, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes). Pour over graham crust.
  5. For the cookie dough, beat butter with sugar for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Add in baking powder, salt, flour and cinnamon and beat until fully combined.  Scoop dough by large spoonfuls onto the top of the cheesecake layer. Try to use your fingertips to spread gently until cheesecake layer is fully covered.
  6. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon topping. Sprinkle generously over the cookie dough layer.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, middle may still “jiggle.” That’s okay. You want the cookie layer to be completely cooked and browned. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight. Cut into squares and enjoy. Keep leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  8. yield: 24 LARGE BARS
 Happy, happy weekend friends!

Soul Food Brimming with Blessing

Every Friday I try to post some of the things that have delighted or inspired me – the “soul food” from my week.

The Message translation from Psalm 23 says, “My cup brims with blessing”. That’s the way I feel! So much goodness to share today – enjoy!

If this doesn’t warm your heart nothing will…

I know this is old, but I just saw it for the first time this week and thought it was absolutely hysterical!  This is particularly for my friends in Texas!

Favorite Instagram post this week! 


The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun has been a favorite of mine since it was published in 2009. Recently she came out with a new edition which I am savoring! Although many might view this as a resource book, I see it as much more.


Adele has catalogued a list of 75 different spiritual practices (13 new ones in this expanded edition) under 7 different headings. For each discipline there are reflection questions and spiritual exercises, so this would be a great book to use as a devotional, or with a small group.

Some of the new practices Adele has added include Unplugging, Visio Divina, Solidarity in Jesus’ sufferings, Waiting, and my favorite – Mindfulness/Attentiveness. I highly recommend this book!


An inspiring video. Take a minute to watch this with awe at God’s creativity and power. 

A delightful book I read this week:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman I hope this book is made into a movie. I almost put it down because the main character is so unlikeable for the first third, but gradually we learn more of his story in flashbacks and his community doesn’t give up on him. It is an amazing story of grace and understanding, and the ending? Oh, just wait for it!

One reviewer wrote, “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down”.


What has delighted or inspired YOU this week?

Soul Food When You’re Stuck Indoors

This is the time of year when the weather just starts getting…well, old. Gray seems grayer and soot seems sootier.

January 29th is about the date when it’s crucial to recount all the things we’re thankful for:  Downton Abbey, a warm fire, the beauty of a fresh coat of snow, and the fact that it can’t last forever.

We “do” winter here in Minnesota, but this month I’ve been stuck inside healing from some minor knee surgery instead of cross-country skiing, so this weekend I’m focusing on resources that have delighted or inspired me that can be done indoors. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Continue reading

Soul Food


I know, I know…I’ve been really off and unpredictable with posting lately. Sorry about that, but well, August. We all need a break, right? But I’m pulling it together and will do better. I’m excited to dive back in, so you’ll hear from me, but  I’d love to hear from you too!

One of my deepest desires for this space is that it would delight and refresh your soul. I want there to be laughter and fun and creativity mixed in with some of the more intense stuff of life. I’ve been trying to think of a name for posts where I share resources, and so far I’ve landed on “Soul food”.  If you have other ideas, let me know!

How about starting with a great song to remind you of your identity? Continue reading

Summer Reading and Resources in a Hard Season


IMG_0431As most of you know, this summer has been an emotional roller coaster for our family as my little brother battles cancer. Honestly, I’ve had all the crazy irrational thoughts like…

“If I don’t think about David in pain, it’s not really happening.”

“If I don’t go see him he’ll continue to live.”

I’ve had some precious time with David, and am so grateful for faith-filled family and friends who have leaned in with us. I’ve prayed and prayed til I think if God was lesser He’d tell me to get lost and stop bugging Him. But He doesn’t.

Tuesday David was moved to home hospice.

Bottom line is that I’ve craved a mixture of meaningful and soul-strengthening stuff to read, but most are escapist, with themes of redemption and happy endings.  As I mentioned before, I get a lot of book suggestions from my friend Joanne’s reading blog.

The first isn’t a book, but a great new app I found called Abide. It has guided prayer for many different situations. You’ll quickly find some voices you like better than others (somehow, the men bug me, but I love the women). It’s been a lovely, quiet guide.

Also, most nights John and I watch an episode of the West Wing. This is nothing new, but if someone in our family hasn’t gotten you hooked on this inspiring show, you haven’t talked to us in the past 8 years. Watch the episode, Shibboleth from Season 2 anytime you’ve had a rough day. Here’s a clip.

Then there are some lovely (and fun) books I’ve been reading also…

Joy in the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death


Last year we walked alongside our friends, Steve and Sharol Hayner from a distance as Steve battled pancreatic cancer. In February he went from life to Life. Perhaps it was God preparing us for this season with my brother. We “walked” this with Steve and Sharol through their Caring Bridge posts. Because those posts ministered to so many, IVP has created a book from that content. I re-read it yesterday and it was a gift all over again.


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – Such a guilty pleasure! American twin, Rebecca Porter goes to study for a semester at Oxford and ends up falling in love with the future king. Although it depicts a debauched lifestyle, there aren’t lurid details and it’s a really engaging read.


Water From My Heart – Classic Charles Martin, one of my favorite authors. This is the story of Charlie Finn, a former drug dealer whose devastating life choices lead him to Nicaragua where he finds redemption through a relationship with an old man, a young woman, and her daughter.


The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain “He was about to commit a forbidden act. A transgression. For a man should never go through a woman’s handbag.”  This is the story of a bookseller in Paris who finds a woman’s abandoned purse. When he empties it, there is no phone or contact information, but there is a red notebook with some clues as to who the owner is, which he begins to follow. Meanwhile, the owner, who has been robbed of her bag, lies in a coma. This is a quick, clever, delightful read.


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger. I loved this book! A beautifully written, compelling coming-of-age story of mystery, tragedy, love and redemption set in a rural Minnesota town in 1961. You can read Joanne’s full review here.


Your turn! What are you reading that you’d recommend?



What I’ve Been Reading

A couple weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I had been reading too many serious non-fiction books and I needed some lighter fiction to read on vacation.  People weighed in with some great suggestions and although I am a slooow reader I took them up on several and thought I’d report back.  So here’s some fiction and a couple of terrific non-fiction books you might want to check out. Continue reading

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