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Archive for August, 2012

Besties

They say that the more you write, the more you want to write. It’s true. I woke up this morning feeling like I hadn’t chatted with y’all in forever. I checked my last post date and realized that it was just a mere four days ago that we had our last convo. Really?! It can only mean one thing: we’re becoming besties.

Besties are a good thing to have on your team. I’ve been really blessed to have several besties over the last twenty-ahem-sorry-something’s-caught-in-my-throat-and-you-can’t-hear-my-real-age years. But the standard for besties, the one by which I measure all other potential besties, is Meghan. Meghan and I met in children’s church about a hundred years ago at (I think) age 7. We were sitting next to each other in story circle and, being the chatty girls that we were/are, found each other much more interesting than whatever our teacher was rambling about. Ten minutes later, after countless warnings to stop talking, we were separated. But not for long. From that moment on Meghan and I were two really weird peas in a pod. Same classes, same schedules (whenever we could manage it), same thoughts. People didn’t say one of our names without the other.  Every wall came down and our freak flags flew higher than they probably should have. We were so strange, y’all. And I’m not saying that to be self-deprecating. It’s just a fact. Our teachers would totes confirm. In each other we found all the acceptance and support that we could have ever needed. And we found laughter. SO much laughter. It was the laughter that kept us afloat. It reassured us that, no matter what came our way or what bad fortune befell us, there was always hope. It was our silver lining.

Meghan and I don’t live in the same city anymore. Haven’t for years. But for the rest of our lives we will be connected by a shared history. By a friendship that saw it all and knew how to bend so it wouldn’t break. My life changes like leaves on a tree. The seasons keep coming and the colors never stay the same for long, but she will always be my roots. Do you have a friend like that? I hope so. I hope that everyone, at some point in their lives, gets to experience the beauty of true friendship. It’s life-altering to really see and be seen. When someone that’s not related to you, who has no real obligation to be there for you, sees your whole heart – good, bad, and otherwise – and chooses to be there for you, well it gives you the confidence to face the rest of the world boldly. Because who cares what other people think when you have a Meghan?

We used to love to cook together. Anything and everything from breakfast to dessert, we didn’t discriminate. Being in the kitchen with each other was one of our favorite pastimes. I’m still not sure how we managed to not burn down one or both of our houses. The Lord was clearly with us. If Meghan lived in Austin, or if I was ever able to take a trip to el valle, this is the cake I would make for her. Or better yet, that we would make together. For old time’s sake. Go find your Meghan. Have a reunion and gossip about the whole world and make this cake. Throw in some really good dessert wine, just to promote the laughter.

 

Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake
adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”

Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate-Pecan Glaze

1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted, then measured)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and flour a 9″ tube or 10-12 cup bundt pan (srsly, Baker’s Joy Spray will make your life much easier.)

For the cake: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add water and whisk until smooth, being careful to not boil the mixture. Remove pan from heat and add in sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to warm cocoa mixture all at once. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt all at once. Whisk until dry ingredients are completely incorporated (a few small lumps are fine, don’t worry getting it totally smooth.) Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when it has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan and feels firm to the touch. Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes.

For the glaze: Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt, and toasted/chopped pecans.

Loosen sides of cake with a knife or off-set spatula and invert onto serving plate. Spoon the glaze over cooled cake, covering it thoroughly, letting it drip and ooze down the sides and pool at the bottom. Cake will keep up to three days, covered, at room temp. Not that it’ll be around that long.

 

the chocolate cake equivalent to a best friend

 

Besties encourage one another and since we’ve been hanging out y’all have encouraged me more than I ever could have hoped to expect. Thanks for that. Your support has meant the world to me. Cheers to chocolate and friendship and the past that has made us who we are today. Cheers to Meghan.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Dreaming Big

I dream big. Always have.  And I’ve talked a lot recently about following those dreams. Today I’d like to share with you a very real example of someone who’s doing just that.

I have this friend named Oliver who, over the last year, has been busy building a new company. It’s called Esperos and what they do is unbelievably cool. They sell backpacks but here’s the kick: each backpack purchased sends one Haitian child to school for a whole year. I’m in serious awe of his vision and his drive and, most of all, his willingness to follow God’s direction in his life and so I’m plugging it shamelessly here. Not that he needs any advertisement from me, seeing as how his bags were featured on the Today Show and in Austin Monthly just last week. But there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? So go buy a bag. Or a t-shirt. And tell everyone you know to do the same, por favor. The products themselves are great but the cause is even better. I’ll vouch for both. And Oliver. I’ll vouch for him, too. Because anyone who considers a unicorn to be his/her spirit animal has my full support. Srsly. (Please click on that link, read the whole interview, and have as many lol’s as I did.)

Check out Esperos on their website: www.esperosbags.com

or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/esperosbags

And because the name for Esperos was derived from the Spanish verb esperar meaning ‘to hope’ (their slogan is “carry hope” which might be the best thing since sliced bread) and this is, after all, a baking blog, here’s my very favorite postre Mexicano. That’s Mexican dessert for those of you who don’t want to google translate that. I know I had to.

creamy dreamy

Arroz con Leche
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cinnamon sticks (or if you’re out like me two teaspoons of ground cinnamon works fine)
2 strips of orange zest (use a peeler to get a larger piece)
3 whole cloves or a tiny pinch of ground cloves
4 cups water
1 egg
3 cups whole milk (I used low fat and it worked beautifully)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Soak the rice, cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon, orange zest, and whole or ground cloves in the water in a heavy saucepan for 1 hour.

After soaking, bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

While rice is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the milk and stir well to mix. Add the egg mixture, condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and raisins (if using) to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, until it thickens slightly or until desired consistency about 25 to 35 minutes (see notes that follow).

(About “desired consistency”: I cooked mine until all but 10 percent of the liquid had been absorbed, which yielded a creamy, not-too-thick pudding. If you like your arroz con leche thinner, pull it off the stove when more liquid is left. This pudding does most of its thickening as it cools, but the end result should still be thinner than traditional rice pudding.)

Remove orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Let cool uncovered, then chill the rest of the way in the fridge.

it’s soul in a bowl

There are few things in life that make me feel better than a bowl of this stuff. It’s heart-warming and soul-soothing and good for what ails you. Helping to send a child (who would otherwise not be afforded the opportunity) to school for a year by buying a sweet new backpack will also produce the same effect. A lazy Sunday afternoon is the perfect time for both of these things. Thanks for the inspiration, Oliver. You r0xb0x.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Write What You Know

Have you ever seen the movie “Never Been Kissed”? You know the one. Drew Barrymore plays this ugly-duckling-turned-swan character who goes back to high school undercover for the newspaper she writes for to find out about teenagers today and in the process falls for her super smoldering lit teacher played by super smoldering Michael Vartan. He falls for her, too, in a slightly disturbing but oh-so-sweet plot twist. Yada yada yada, the end of the movie finds them standing on the pitcher’s mound at their school’s big baseball game, making out for the first time in front of a cheering crowd whilst the classic Beach Boys song “Don’t Worry Baby” plays in the background. It’s heart warming. I can quote the whole thing. I was obsessed.

ANYWHO. There’s this line towards the end of the movie when she’s writing her big article for the paper. “Someone once told me that to write well, you have to write what you know.” And it just stuck. That one line has been stuck in my head for a solid 13 years now. THIRTEEN YEARS. Just to drive that point home, I was 13 when it came out. So in other words, I’ve been mulling over one line from one (average-non-oscar-winning-or-even-nominated-for-that-matter) movie for half of my life. I suppose it’s because writing is something I’ve always been fascinated with. I was devouring books meant for people twice my age by the time I was in fourth grade. Something about the way the written word can wiggle its way into your soul and transport you to another place just slayed me. The way words flowed together, the way they played off one another and  conjured emotion out of thin air, it was like this beautiful dance that I had to learn. The art of it, the art in it, the art behind it, overwhelmed every ounce of me.  I would throw pillows and blankets into a tiny corner of my room, crawl in, and read for hours. Fiction was my crack. My drug of choice. Still is. But when it comes to my writing, that quote has been the foundation. To write well, you have to write what you know. That clicked when I started this blog two and a half years ago.

You can tell the same story over and over and over again, but putting it through the filter of the individual makes it brand new. It’s the beauty of the world we live in. We’re all so unique and different, but at the core of it we’re  all dealing with the exact same emotions and situations. We’re all fighting the same battles. It’s the reason we go back to the theater every few months to see the latest rom-com. Same idea, new perspective. Your story is yours and that alone makes it unlike anyone else’s. It’s like that Dr. Seuss quote, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” Who knew you could rhyme and be so utterly profound at the same time?

As I was reading that to a precious two year old today it struck me that we live in a culture that is chronically insecure. We’ve been trained to think that comparison is normal and we try so hard to be who we’re not that we’ve forgotten who we were to begin with. And who could fault us? Living in a world where other people’s engagement announcements and job promotions and happy family photos are just a click away makes contentment an elusive concept. I have this friend who is beautiful and smart and funny. Triple threat like nobody’s business. She’s charismatic and relatable and always a good time and I could go on forever about how wonderful she is. She’s dating this boy who is, by the world’s standards, quite the looker. And she worries about that, or at least she does after she’s had a glass of wine or two. She wonders if she’s in his league. She can’t see the beauty, inside AND out, that the rest of us can. In the same vein, I have another friend who wonders if he could ever really make a difference in the world when anyone who’s spent any amount of time with him would tell you that he has changed them for the better. We base our worth on how many people ‘like’ our facebook posts or how successful we are compared to our peers. It consumes us to the point that we cease to really cherish what we do have. We forget that those quirks we try so hard to get rid of are the exact things we should be embracing. They are what make us us. And they are beautiful in their uniqueness.

We need to get out of our own heads. We need to make a conscious effort to stop thinking and to start being. We need to recognize the importance of our insignificance, if that makes any sense whatsoever. Why do we place so much value on what the rest of the world thinks about us? No, the majority of us will never achieve greatness according to society or look like the people on t.v. but who really cares? That’s not what matters in this life. What matters is that we make the best of what’s been given to us. What matters is that we live every day with purpose. What matters is that we stay true to who we were created to be. I was sitting across a table last night from the aforementioned friend. I was telling him that I didn’t think my writing mattered because I didn’t have anything worth saying and that quote from “Never Been Kissed” echoed in the recesses of my mind. Write what you know. What I know is that  if we could all sit across a table from ourselves, if we could for just one moment see ourselves the way the people in our lives see us, we might finally be able to appreciate those things we don’t like so much. Each of us has a story that is heart-wrenching and inspiring and so familiar that it begs to be told and to be heard and to resonate in the lives of every other person on the planet who has dealt with all of the same things. Let’s stop looking for fulfillment in the shallow stuff. Our worth is not found in the results, just as the true value of any journey is never found in the destination. Enjoy who you are. Take ownership of it and love it for and regardless of all the imperfections. What I know is this: You and I were fearfully and wonderfully made. That alone is worth writing.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Black Magic

And today, a haiku:

 

Don’t want to wake up

Showering should be my goal

Dry shampoo instead

 

Dry shampoo is my new bff. It’s mind boggling. It’s like black magic for your hair. Part of me doesn’t trust it, but that part of me is very small and very out-shadowed by the part that is hooked. And on days like today, when showering and looking publicly acceptable are not, I repeat not, priorities, this stuff is an answer to prayer. PTL.

On lazy Saturdays like this one there are only two things that can drag me out of bed before eleven o’clock (fine, twelve o’clock): a pre-planned brunch with my favorite girl in the world (check out her blog here, it’s funny and practical and I adore her so you will, too) or cinnamon. Cinnamon anything. Today it’s cinnamon bread. But really you could serve me candle wax covered in cinnamon and I’d eat it and ask for more.

This is the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon bread. I have a mild obsession with the Pioneer Woman. Anything she makes is guaranteed to be amazing. I know because I’ve made about 3/4 of her recipes over the last three years. And, like dry shampoo, she might also be associated with black magic. Things like these are too good to be true. There must be some type of witchcraft involved.

This is the bread of my dreams. Literally. I dreamt about it last night. Sweet, sweet, cinnamon dreams. I woke up happy. You could, too.

i sprinkled more cinnamon-sugar on top of my loaf. what can i say, i’m a sucker for gilded lilies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • Egg And Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
  • Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

Melt butter with milk. Heat until very warm, but don’t boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir gently, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Combine flour and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the other half and beat until combined.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat/knead dough on medium speed for ten minutes. If dough is overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and beat again for 5 minutes.

Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so it’s warm. Drizzle in a little canola oil, then toss the dough in the oil to coat. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and set it in a warm, hospitable place for at least 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto the work surface. Roll into a neat rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you’re going to use, and about 18 to 24 inches long. Smear with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough. Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.

Smear loaf pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix a little egg with milk, and smear over the top. Bake for 40 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven.

Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool before slicing.

***FYI, this makes the most amazing french toast you’ll ever eat. I dare you to try it and think otherwise.

In other news, this is the first time in months that I’ve had over a thousand dollars in my bank account. Jobs really do come in handy, as it turns out. So if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a fabulous-all-be-it-small-and-reasonable-shopping-spree. Happy Saturday, y’all. Do something fun with people you love. Like make cinnamon bread together. Or just eat cinnamon bread together. Your call.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Be Happy and Eat Peaches

It’s been one of those days, y’all. The kind where you come home with two metaphorical black eyes. Ya know, because you’ve been beating yourself up again. That’s right, things just got real. You do it, too, don’t you? I can’t be alone in this. You can tell me the truth. I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me. This is a judgement-free zone. Scout’s honor.

It’s scary to realize that you’re 26, going on 27, and you’re still not quite sure what life will look like for you. It’s scary when you look around and see other people the same age (or worse, younger) who have it all figured out. Here’s a question for you: do you ever want something that’s all yours? Something that nobody else has? It probably sounds a little petty and a lot selfish, but I’ve always wanted to do something that nobody else could. I wanted something that I could call my own. I wanted to be original. I still want that.

What I really wanted was to be the best at something. I wanted to be the best pastry chef, but there are about a million pastry chefs out there who outshine me by about a million percent. I wanted to be the best writer, but my words fail me more often than not and so I settle for a blog instead of a book deal. I guess in a world where original doesn’t really exist, all you can hope for is besting the others in the same field. But when you don’t best them, when your best falls short of theirs, well that’s when the gloves come off. That’s when the worst part of me begins to throw punches and the only real winner is the lucky recipient of the baked goods that come courtesy of an impromptu baking-therapy session.

Baking therapy, guys. It works. You should try it. It’s one of the (most-used) tools in my bag of get-happy-quick tricks. Its friends include a warm glass of chai tea with milk and sugar, a $4 bunch of daisies from HEB, a diet coke from Sonic (preferably during happy hour), and a drive through the hill country with BBMak. You heard me. BBMak. Circa 1999. I’m unashamed. This might be a good time to remind you of the “no judgement” rule.

this gem of an album has been in my c.d. player for a solid three years now.

Today we’re baking with peaches. Because if we can’t BE the best, we can at least bake with the best. And peaches are definitely the best thing summer has to offer. The best smells and the best tastes and the best colors. We’re taking all of those things and putting them into the best muffins. And what does one do to a muffin to make the best even better? Top it with a brown-sugar-walnut streusel, of course. I want us to do two things today. Will you do these two things with me? I want us to eat these muffins and I want us to be happy with who we are. Because who we are, who you are and who I am, well that’s exactly who we’re supposed to be. Let’s be happy with that. Be happy and eat peaches. That’s my advice to you and to me. And I’d like it engraved on my tombstone.

Ingredients

Muffin Batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, pitted, chopped peaches

Brown-Sugar-Walnut Streusel

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 large or 18 regular sized muffin cups with paper liners, and spray the top of the pan lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, from flour to salt, and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, sour cream, and vanilla.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture. Mix until just incorporated, being careful to not overmix.
  5. Fold in the peaches.
  6. In a separate bowl combine first four streusel ingredients and mix. Rub in the softened butter with pastry cutter or fingers until it feels like coarse meal or pea-sized chunks form.
  7. Fill muffin liners almost to the top with batter (this way you’ll get big, beautiful muffin tops) using an ice-cream scoop. Liberally sprinkle with the brown-sugar-walnut streusel and press lightly so that it sticks to the batter.
  8. Bake 35 – 40 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes clean. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan, and serve immediately.

check out that streusel action.

These taste like a really lovely summer morning. A beautifully light moment on a sun-dappled porch before the triple digits hit. An old wooden swing where you can remember that life is not about achievements or money or a five year plan, but about people and belly laughs and really good muffins. It’s my happy place. Join me there.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Eating Crow

My last post got a little heated. If you couldn’t tell. Everything I said was backed with intense emotion and a passion to see the Jesus that I know be better represented in the world we live in. It was a post about knowing what to say and what not to say. But in the process I ended up doing the very thing I was railing against. Now I need to apologize.

As I’ve moved from kitchen job to kitchen job I’ve picked up a little bit of a bad habit. We’ll call it “potty mouth.” It’s a hard thing to shake, especially when emotions are running as high as they were the evening I typed my last post. But a dear friend whom I respect very much reminded me that we need to censor what comes out of our mouths. Sometimes your own words can come back to bite you. It stung a little but he was very right and I am very sorry. My words can be just as damaging as anyone’s, and in an effort to defend an alienated crowd I ended up alienating another. Funny how that can happen.

The post has been edited, but only so far as to remove/replace the potty words. Everything else I said, I meant. It’s not a lack of sin that gets us to heaven with our creator, but a relationship with him. One that acknowledges the sacrifice he made and that leads us to a deep and ever-growing understanding of his love for us. My prayer is that we would rise up and truly begin to live the lives we are called to live. That we would love unconditionally because we have been loved unconditionally. That we would stop fighting, not because we are weak and not because of a lack of conviction, but because sometimes it’s the only way to disarm people. If we put down our weapons, the rest of the world might just follow suit. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord and before the people that he loves and give them a true glimpse of who Jesus really is.

Thanks, friend, for keeping me humble and keeping me in check. Sometimes we all need a wake-up call.
Next time I’ll post a recipe. Promise.

xoxo,

Mindy

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…but I don’t think I can keep all these words inside anymore. They need to get out. See the world. Maybe change it a little.

I had a real “what the fudge?” moment today and I’d like to talk about it. The past few weeks have made my heart sick. I don’t like watching wars. The fighting between liberals and conservatives makes me sad. It’s all so polarized. But fine. I can handle political storms. What I can’t handle is watching people who claim the name of Christ act so completely un-Christ-like.

I’m probably playing with fire, and I can only imagine the backlash that’s about to come my way, but so be it. This post is aimed not at people who align themselves with conservatives, but at people who align themselves with the son of God. As an American, yes, you have every right to your opinion. You have every right to voice that opinion. But as a Christian, it is your duty to use discretion in that arena. It’s your responsibility as a representative of Jesus to examine everything that makes it’s way out of your mouth before hand. Is what I’m saying leading people towards God? Am I being a good example of love? Because newsflash, y’all, that’s what Jesus was.

I’d like to talk for a few minutes about the Jesus I know. Me and Jesus are tight. He is my everything. He loves me, ugly sin and all. And here’s the really crazy part. You know what makes me want to be a better person? You know what it is that drops me to my knees and leaves me in a puddle on the floor, crying out for forgiveness? It’s knowing that he loves me regardless of that ugly sin. Romans 2 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

One of the things I keep hearing from “Christians” is that we’re supposed to call people out on their sin. I call bull on that one. Paul tells us that we are to practice righteous judgement on false teachers. To hold those who say they know the Lord accountable. He’s not talking about non-believers. He’s not talking about people who have never been exposed to the love of the Lord. We are supposed to BE that love because it’s that love that will show people who our Lord really is. I haven’t seen much of that love as of late. I’ve heard lots of excuses though. People saying that they are “showing gay people the light.” Really? Are you? It seems to me that all you’re doing is alienating people. I can guarantee you that every gay person in this country knows what the bible says about homosexuality. I promise you, they know what you believe. Repeating it over and over, rubbing it in people’s faces and doing it under the guise of Christianity, is just hurting your cause. You’re turning people (gay, straight, or otherwise) away from the thing they need. You’re telling them that they are somehow less than you. Even if that’s not your intention, that’s the message being received. And it’s a message of hate, whether you want to admit it or not. People don’t understand hate and they certainly don’t respond well to it. What people do respond to is love.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus. He was friends, FRIENDS, with the lowest of the low. He chose to spend his days not with the rich or the clean but with the scum of the earth and he treated them like royalty. He washed the feet of prostitutes and tax collectors  and then he told his followers to do the same. A friend, by definition, is a person you are attached to by feelings of affection or personal regard. Someone you live your life with. Someone you live along side. You love your friends and they love you because you know each other on a deeply personal level. You know the parts of each other that you don’t put on display for the rest of the world. The parts that you’re ashamed of. Jesus told us to treat EVERYONE with kindness and respect and, above all, love. We are all sinners and there is no one sin that is greater than another. Everyday we do things that we shouldn’t. We lie to the people we love. We hurl hurtful words at people. We cheat on our spouses. We judge people that we don’t know because WE DON’T KNOW THEM. It’s easy to throw out words of condemnation to a sea of faces. But God knows all of us inside and out. He formed every last one of us. He knows our hearts and our secrets, our hopes and fears, and he loves us. We all fall short of the glory of the Lord. That’s the point of the cross. When you take away the label (whether that label is Christian or gay or weird or dumb or fat or ugly or whatever) you find a real person hiding underneath. A person who is scared and hurt and in desperate need of a savior.

The whole book of James talks about how dangerous an unbridled tongue is. We are to be quick to listen and slow to speak but in lieu of a soft spirit Christians have chosen to pick up their hypocritical megaphones and show the world that they can be just as loud as anyone else and get a few extra jewels in their potential crowns for doing it in the name of Jesus. You brood of freaking vipers. I’m sorry, but THIS is what Paul was talking about when he spoke of righteous judgment. Stop telling people you’re a Christian and start acting like it. Faith without works is dead, and your cruel words “spoken in love” are empty drums. They make a loud noise but there’s no substance to them. Crawl out of your safe little Christian bubble. Love the people that Jesus loves. Actions are what will draw people to God, not words. It’s ironic that I’m about to quote a grandmother who would’ve certainly disagreed with me but according to my mom she always used to say, “Talk’s cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey.” She was right about that. Not only do we need to be slow to speak, but at times I believe we should be reluctant. James tells us to “speak as those who will be judged.” Because we will be judged. By the only one who can rightfully judge us. A blameless and sinless creator. God’s the only one who should be doing the judging because he’s the only one who’s qualified. He’s the only one who knows the inner-workings of our hearts and minds.

So you ate a chicken sandwich to show your support for conservative values. Cool. Good for you. You’re a good ‘murican. But don’t forget that we all live in glass houses. Don’t forget that you serve a God who is bigger than your political party. Who honestly, if I may be so bold, doesn’t give a rat’s behind about your political party and doesn’t like being a pawn in it. He is the beginning and the end. OF EVERYTHING. What he cares about is that his children live a life of love, one that follows the example that he sent and sacrificed for us so long ago. My mom is the one who taught me to love like Jesus. I could write a book about the way her words, the words of Jesus, have hooked their claws into my heart. There are two things that come to mind tonight. One is that a soft answer turns away wrath. Be silent. Be kind. Stop condemning people. The other is this: The only thing that can change the heart of man is his creator. God is the only one who can turn the switch on in people’s hearts. No amount of telling someone that they’re wrong is going to change them. It’s just going to make them resent you and the God you represent. Please stop doing that. And if you’re going to continue, switch religions.

Please don’t hate me.

xoxo,

Mindy

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