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Archive for May, 2008

Summer Recipes

As summer approaches I thought I’d share three of my favorite summer recipes. These three make a nice meal altogether. Enjoy!

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sweet & Sour Vinaigrette

Dressing:

½ cup sugar (I use Splenda when trying to stay away from sugar)

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 green onion, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salad:

½ pint strawberries, sliced

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

½ small red onion, sliced

1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach leaves

Mix the salad together. Put the dressing on right before you serve the salad. (I tend to make a smaller version of this salad with 6 ounces of salad. I keep the vinaigrette the same size).

Salmon with Mango Salsa

4 Salmon filets

½ Cup of Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

1 Mango

½ lb. of Strawberries

½ bushel of cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9×13 glass or metal dish. Place salmon filets in dish and salt and pepper both sides of the filets. Place filets in oven for 30 minutes.

Salsa: Cut up mango, slice strawberries, and chop up cilantro leaves. Mix together and serve on top of baked salmon filets.

Mediterranean Baked Yams (sweet potatoes)

2-3 medium sized yams

½ cup of Olive oil (may use a little more if you want)

Parsley

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9×13 glass or metal pan. Peel yams and slice into thin rounds. Place yams in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Cover with olive oil. Sprinkle Parsley leaves on top of the yams. Bake the yams in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

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Mercy Rain

Alright, so one thing about having a blog is that often times you are more vulnerable than perhaps you are really comfortable with. This is one of those posts. You see, I wrote a song. This is not something that I do on a regular basis. In fact, the last time I wrote a song was like 8 years ago. I do not claim to be a songwriter, although I guess anything is possible. I would rather sing and play other people’s songs. However, God laid a song on my heart.

In light of the devastation in Burma (Myanmar), the earthquake in China, and the continued poverty and AIDS epidemic around the world, I felt compelled to write about it. In my Evangelical worship experience, these things are not often not found in the lyrics. So, I decided to write this song and share it with others. Here are the written lyrics and then if you want to hear my VERY AMATEUR recording of the song, just click on the highlighted title “Mercy Rain” at the end of the lyrics. Let me know what you think.

Mercy Rain

A man is dying, he’s all alone. Your child is hungry and she is cold. There’s a widow crying, with no one to hold. Lord we need your mercy. Lord we need your mercy.

Chorus: Mercy Rain. Mercy rain down. Mercy rain. Mercy Rain down

Injustice is spreading, it’s all around. The poor are hurting; they need You now. Oppression continues, without a sound. Lord we need your mercy. Lord we need your mercy. (chorus)

Bridge: Let the righteous rise and speak. Let the holy ones stand and shout. Let those with a voice cry out. “Let Your mercy rain down.”

Mercy Rain


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When I was a teenager I would spend hours in my room, standing in front of the mirror, singing my heart out to an imaginary audience of thousands. My dream was to be a Christian artist and Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith were my inspirations. I studied music in college and continued performing in musicals, operas, and recitals. However, I never really fit into the classical genre or the Broadway genre. While in college, I started playing the guitar and my focus shifted. I decided that I wanted to lead people into the presence of God instead of just entertaining them. I began to lead worship.

Over the years I have led worship for a variety of experiences. Some have been really big, and some have been very small. I have led with other musicians and alone, and I love it all. Worshiping the Lord is my heart’s desire and to be able to help lead others in worship, is an honor.

When Aaron and I started a church in Boston six years ago, I realized my musical style did not really fit our congregation. My style is kind of folk-hippie-acoustic, and our church in Boston preferred gospel- hip hop. While I enjoy gospel and hip hop, I am just not so good at leading with this style. So, the past five years have been tough for me because I haven’t had a consistent outlet for leading worship. I would lead often at our church in Boston, but it was always a little awkward for me and for our congregation (Cross-cultural ministry is not easy when it comes to music).

Moving to D.C. has been kind of tough for me because I’ve had a difficult time trying to find my place here. I’ve had a hard time figuring out my role here. February and early March were particularly dark. The adoption process was wearing on me and I was struggling to figure out if I should be doing ministry or social work (the latter is still true). Now, some Christians believe that God does not use “secular” means to speak to His children. I, however, believe that God can pretty much do whatever He wants, and if he wants speak through movies, T.V., politics, etc., He can.

American Idol; even the title suggests something that is completely contrary to who God is. However, the show has become a tradition for me and my family. I usually watch and keep up so that I can have conversations with family, friends, and acquaintances, but this year was different. I watched it half-heartedly in the beginning and then on March 4, 2008 everything changed. Jason Castro, the contestant with the dreadlocks, striking blue eyes, and pure crooning voice, sang the song “Hallelujah.” Jeff Buckley made this song popular in the 1980’s and Jason’s performance of it was awesome! I was on the edge of my seat. Just as I did with Carrie Underwood, I deemed Jason Castro my favorite contestant and I began to follow him (and yes, I even voted for him). I also did a little history check on him to see what I could find out. Come to find out, he is a follower of Jesus and he is a member of Lake Point Church in Rockwall, TX. After learning this, I found that many of his song choices seemed to be influenced by his faith. It was kind of cool.

Now, I won’t go into all the details about Jason and American Idol, but somehow the Lord spoke to me and my passion and excitement for music was reignited. Jason’s style is similar to mine, which might have something to do with it, but regardless, I just believe that God spoke to me through the music and it has been really refreshing. I even wrote a worship song this past week (which I’ll talk about more in a different post). I’m not sure where this revival in my soul will take me, but I am excited to feel alive again. I really believe that God used this season’s show to encourage me and to help give me the musical boost that I needed.

Well, last night on American Idol, Jason Castro was voted off. He made it to the final four and I believe he was really excited with the opportunity to make it that far. Now he can go and do what he feels most passionate about and not just what American Idol tells him to do. Nonetheless, as my title indicates, I bid my farewell to Jason from American Idol (I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear from him) and I thank him for the inspiration that he was to me.

(If you haven’t heard him sing look for “Hallelujah” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on Youtube by Jason Castro).

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