Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Life is full of the unexpected, no? For example, having spent a day in bed with a migraine, the last thing I expected was a text message asking if I could keep the pastors’ cats for the weekend. My roommate was against it – but I contrived to keep them in my room and out of her way. For the first few days they were sweet and lovely, but then I think they got bored with the small space and lack of children…




… And they got bold.


Their antics kept me up all night. In the morning, I broke down in exhaustion and frustration at myself (for having so little patience at 3 a.m. with gnawing and knocking things over). It was traumatic watching myself react so angrily to my favorite animals. I was thankful to see them go – but mostly because that meant I could sleep!

Sweet kitties, though. Not their fault they were bored – and they certainly helped keep my life interesting!


Recipe lifted from Heavenly Recipes: the 90th Anniversary Celebration Cookbook, First Baptist Church, Kingsport, 1985


2 cups milk (480ml)
1/2 cup shortening (113g suet)
1/2 cup sugar (85g)
1 package dry yeast (I’ve found this to be comparable between the US and the UK)
About 5 cups flour (625g)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

In a saucepan heat together milk, shortening, and sugar until shortening melts. Pour into a large bowl and cool until lukewarm. Add yeast and 3 cups (375g) flour and beat with a mixer until just combined. Set aside to rise until double, 45-60 minutes. Stir down.

Add salt, soda, and baking powder, stirring well. Add more flour, about 2 cups (250g) a little at a time (the less the better). Turn out onto floured board or floured waxed paper and knead only slightly, until dough is a smooth ball. Put into a greased bowl and turn dough over to be greased on all sides. Cover with wet dish towel and store in refrigerator. (Best if used in 3-4 days.)

Roll dough as desired and bake at 425*F / 220*C / gas mark 7, until lightly browned, 7-10 minutes. Top tip: do not attempt to bake rolls “Sister Schubert style” as rolls will not properly bake. Instead, space rolls on baking sheet as you would cookies.

Rolls may be formed, cut, and frozen for up to a week.

Makes about 30 individual rolls.

Recipe adapted from Heavenly Recipes: the 90th Anniversary Celebration Cookbook, First Baptist Church, Kingsport, 1985


4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 5 medium-sized)
Scant cup granulated sugar (about 150g)
2 beaten eggs**
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk (120ml)
1/2 cup butter (115g)


1/3 cup rice flour (80ml)
1/3 cup melted butter (75g)
1 cup brown sugar (170g)
1 cup chopped nuts (100g)
About 1/2 cup flaked coconut (50g)
About 2 tablespoons cinnamon (6 teaspoons or 30g)

Blend or mash potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and butter together, depending on preferred consistency. Put into casserole / baking dish (1.5 quart / 1.4 litre). Mix topping ingredients and crumble over casserole. Bake at 350* F / 180* C / gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.

Optional: slice oranges in half, use fruit in cranberry salad, then clean out pith and fill shells with potato mixture. Top with marshmallows or topping.

**Eggs can be omitted.

Six Americans couldn’t do without a Thanksgiving meal. One of us will be in London for the actual day, so we celebrated early. We normally have all the interns together for a meal on Wednesday nights. This seemed like a logical time for it. We then whittled down the guest list to about 30 people, planned our menu and divided the work. I took the lion’s share as most of the recipes came from my family cookbook.



A few folks had allergies, so we had a whole section of foods dedicated to them. This presented a little bit of a challenge, but as we were making things from scratch anyway, it didn’t add much to our time.



It was all hands on deck when everything was finally ready. It was sleeting as the turkey breasts and casseroles were carried from our flats to the HOP. Thankfully dessert was ready ahead of time, and we weren’t too late getting started.





The sweetest thing about sharing Thanksgiving with our Sunderland family was realizing how few British understood the roots of our American holiday. Most seemed to believe it was a celebration of independence. They were surprised to learn about how the Native Americans succored the pitiful Pilgrims through the winter. Many of us natives of America here can trace our ancestry to various American Indian tribes. In a way, we enacted the reverse of the original holiday – now Americans finding home and refuge in a foreign land.

Recently the HOP has met a few challenges, and celebrating Thanksgiving when we did served as a precious reminder of loving one another through rough times. We need each other as no individual has the full picture. We are two cultures coming together to celebrate the goodness of God and thank Him for His bountiful blessings in bringing us together in this time and season.



They raised their glasses to me as the head chef – and I dedicated it all back to my grandmother. Happy Thanksgiving to all my precious family. I love you, miss you, and look forward to when I’ll see you again.

Oh – and keep watching this blog as by popular request I’ll be posting a few recipes!

Folks from Catch The Fire London came up this past week for an International Leaders School of Ministry. I took the opportunity during worship to paint. I also had some of my original watercolor paintings for sale, as well as sets of notecards I had printed of a few of my favorite paintings. For legal reasons, I donated these to the HOP. That way, all proceeds can go straight into the interns’ funds and distributed amongst the dozen of us.








The conference itself was intense for a lot of reasons. As an intern, I found myself serving lots of coffee and tea and keeping the toilets stocked with paper products. But I also has some profound experiences with God, identifying and unlearning things I’ve believed about Him and working through misperceptions based in a hurting heart. I love forgiveness. It’s totally worth letting go of the need to be right or denial of mistakes. And the freedom of owning and admitting those mistakes is amazing – like letting go of a tractor tire’s weight of shame. The power of sin is in shame and hiding. Admitting to the shameful behavior completely obliterates that power. Freedom like that is addictive! It’s the difference between state park air and stuffy office air, or sunlight and halogen. So good!




Of course, having world revival leaders pray for you personally is always a blast. John Arnott of the so-called “Toronto Blessing” is one of the gentlest, kindest people I’ve encountered. He reminds me of a hickory fire in the fireplace – warm with that something extra in the smoke that fills the house with richness and heat. He and his wife Carol are close friends of the Gotts, under whom I’m honored to serve in the HOP, and also mentored the pastors and leaders of the ministry school I completed last year. What a difference a few months has made! The Arnotts taught at my school the week before my initial trip to Sunderland. To see them again reflects the magnitude of the changes in my life, as well as the rapid succession in them, in just 8 months’ time. I hope to have time to reflect more on the course of my life. I get the feeling that rapid change is the new norm – from glory to glory to glory!

After an intense week at the HOP, some friends and I decided to have a “fusion dinner” and visit Durham to see the Lumiere light display. I found okra at an African shop in Sunderland and fried it up with rice flour – which received high praise from Southern Americans and Northern English alike. Sweet potato casserole and biscuits were also a hit, and English pork with pavlova for “pudding” made the perfect compliments. Thankfully, a 30-minute drive to the Durham park-and-ride, followed by a few minutes on the top floor of a double-decker bus, gave us time for our stuffed bellies to settle before navigating the crowds to the light exhibits. We queued, we watched, we laughed, took secret passageways and ran into friends. Then we dubbed it “Silly Saturday” and hoped the pictures would turn out!











Following are photos collected from various rambles around assorted nooks and crannies in Sunderland. Enjoy!










Mein Gott, this city is beautiful! Recently I spent a girly afternoon with two of my favorite ladies. We savored the delights of a hipster-posh coffee shop, market shopped, and played paparazzi for one another along the River Wear. Autumn colo(u)rs peppering the landscape and a bright moon over the castle left little space for conversation, so enchanted were we with our surroundings. My heart expands in this city.














My birthday monkeys went on a tour of the House of Prayer, paying special attention to the prayer boxes in the balcony. These boxes were inspired by little prayer grottoes on Prayer Mountain in South Korea. Inside is space for one to kneel, sit, or awkwardly recline (depending on stature) and pray, journal, read, or generally spend time with God. The feeling one gets inside is unique. For me, it is reminiscent of the sweet, still gentleness found floating down my favorite Tennessee river in summer. With a little trial and error, I seem to have found the warmest box, shown here. That warmth is extra important given one must remove shoes before entering a box. Fifteen boxes line the 3 sides of the balcony. One can imagine the atmosphere of prayer and worship this creates, and it’s always fun to recognize a pair of shoes indicating the identity of the occupant. I love filling the pages of my journal while in the boxes. Going in them feels a bit like baking Christmas cookies – the warmth and love of the tradition builds with each iteration, and while the “recipe” is the same, each time is a different. Come to think of it, maybe around Christmas I’ll go around and drop sweets into folks’ shoes!






Hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of the HOP!

God does not create the storms of life, but He is with us through them. Though He may seem asleep in our boats, still His presence calms our hearts, and we are safe whether we know it or not.

Original paintings from the HOP.