Shared Dish, Shared Life

Thanksgiving will be here before too much long . I know this not because of the falling leaves or cooling temperatures, but because the November issue of In Touch Magazine hit homes this week!

The second feature is a fun, five-part read called Memorable Meals. The goal for the piece was to feature—you guessed it—food. But not just lavish holiday feasts. We wanted our writers to tell us the stories in which food played a part, and we got a wide variety. Seriously, everything from roasted goat served in the Sahara to a nuked hamburger shared in a prison visiting center.

And if this special feature wasn’t special enough, we decided to kick it up a notch and add an audio component. Each piece was recorded in the In Touch audio suites, some by the authors themselves and others by members of the In Touch Ministries’ staff. The feature as a whole can be seen (and heard) here. And if you want to suffer through me reading the text below, feel free to click here.

Two things I learned through creating this short piece. Writing about food is always fun, and listening to a recording of yourself is pure torture. 🙂

However, I’d love to hear your stories. What’s your favorite memory involving food?

Also, after you take a listen to the stories on our website, I’d love to hear your feedback. Is this something we should do more of? Let me know!

Is It Crazy for Nuts to Be So Literal?

The day after Thanksgiving, I sat my uncomfortably overstuffed fanny in one of my parents’ equally overstuffed armchairs fully intending to zone out to whatever football game I could find. That’s when I noticed a can my grandmother had left on a nearby table. The label got me to thinking–a dangerous pastime, especially when one has a stomach full of dressing and yams.

Maybe it’s because I don’t often eat cashews or because the starkness of the generic label made it more apparent, but I never noticed the clever use of the verbiage “and pieces” before. However, a quick consultation of The Google confirmed that most brands do in fact use this phraseology.


Is it just me, or does this seem like a cop out? After all, there is no such caveat on a jar of peanuts, a bag of walnuts, or even a single-serving snack pack of pistachios. (Believe me, I looked. Don’t judge, I was facing a six-hour car ride home and had a fully charged iPhone for research purposes. I can think of less constructive uses of one’s time, only some of which involve a Kardashian.)

Why do the canners of cashews cover their bases so thoroughly? Was there once an irate consumer who felt he had been sold a faulty product and sued hardworking, honest horticulturalists because there were more pieces than halves? Whatever the reason, one thing is blatantly obvious…

Halves + Ampersand + Pieces = Manufacturer is legally absolved of quality control and painstaking shipping practices. After all, the packaging makes no bones about the fact that some of your nuts will arrive in less than pristine condition. If other manufacturers were this truthful about their products, bags of chips would have “& air” at the end. Shampoo manufacturers would finally have to admit what’s in their overpriced bottles is as much “& water” as it is soap.

So maybe it isn’t a cop out. There is something noble about the proclamation “& pieces.” No one is perfect after all, so why should we expect that of nuts? Cashews somehow seem more humble and unassuming for their willingness to admit their weaknesses, their penchant for falling short at times. I can’t imagine Brazil nuts or almonds being so high-minded. Hazelnuts are all too busy trying to be magically transformed into Nutella to worry about ethics, and pecans can’t even decide how they want their name to be pronounced. (Seriously, is it Pee-cans or Pe-cahns?) Macadamia nuts, nature’s ultimate guilty pleasure, are so fatty and delicious they don’t feel a need to justify themselves to anyone. They’re like the Lady Gaga of Nutworld.

Like I said, a full belly coupled with an overactive imagination can be a dangerous thing. But I’ve come to the conclusion that, despite the fact they fall to pieces, there’s no reason to eschew the cashew.

What do you think? Is it nuts….or am I for asking!? Have you noticed any weird or random labels on products lately that made you wonder about the world’s sanity? Link up and discuss below in the comments!

Return on Investment

My piece in the November issue of In Touch Magazine is a profile piece I’ve been eagerly anticipating sharing with our readers. Ralph Doudera’s story was fascinating to me the first time I heard it, and I knew I had to write it down. To me, it is a great example of true thankfulness, and I’m humbled it was included in this month’s issue.

Remember, a subscription to our magazine is free and can be gotten if you visit our online store and give us some basic information. Also, you can read the article when it’s posted on line here on November 1. God never stops amazing me with His goodness and willingness to protect us from everything that means to do us harm….including ourselves.

This is what the spread looks like. Please pardon my poor image stitching. 🙂





Reacting to the Writing on the Wall

Having recently moved into Atlanta, the first truly metropolitan area I’ve ever lived in, I can say that there are some adjustments I’ve had to make. Some of the changes that come from moving from a rather idyllic suburban area to an urban zone have been positive. Others, well, not so much.

Photo by the Associated Press

On the negative side, with my poor sense of direction, learning my way around has proven to be a challenge. For those who have never visited the ATL, half the streets have “Peacthree” in their names, and none of them meet up. It’s like the street were titled by the same five-year-old who calls all her pets and stuffed animals “Kitty.”

I’ve ended up going the wrong way down more than a few one way streets, calling my husband to help me get somewhere after I’ve gotten lost, and generally crying hysterically for a few minutes once I get home. On the plus side, my prayer life is much richer for it. Also, once I do reach my destination, I have to determine where I can park because “parallelin’ it” is often out of the question, and only so many of the parking garages take debit cards. (I’ve also learned the value of the word “validation,” which has NOTHING to do with my self esteem.)

And the TRAFFIC. I’ll save my discussion of that for another blog post. It truly

Photo by Jack Kurtz

deserves its own. I’d like to find the person or persons who thought it would be a good idea to merge I-75 and I-85 together through a major city and to do so in such a way that it is impossible to ever widen it. I would have a reasonable discussion with them about civic planning, like Sampson, smite them with the jawbone of an ass.

However, for all the drawbacks (i.e.–not as many people say “Hello” when they pass you, personal safety is of greater concern, and it gets hecka cold here in the winter for a thin-blooded Florida girl like me), there are a great many positives. For example, I live five minutes from an amazing arts center where I can visit the museum, take in a show, or listen to a concert just about year round. There’s a botanical garden close to it as well. There are unique bookstores, restaurants, and music shops straight out of High Fidelity I can peruse at my leisure. Broadway’s best shows come here, as do the biggest bands while on tour. All major sporting leagues (except hockey…sorry Thrashers) have teams here I can follow, and there are beautiful historical sites and festivals going on all the time. There’s never a shortage of new things to experience; I just don’t always have the funds to indulge in all of them!

I’ve tried to balance out these two diametrically different forces in my life. Sure, I’m farther away from my family than I’d like. However, moving to Atlanta gave me the opportunity to leave education and jump feet first into the print industry. I’m writing and editing for a living, which is something I NEVER could have done back home. The many long and painful things Wayne and I had to endure on the path that led us here were worth it, both spiritually and financially.

People have been doing the “Thirty Days of Thankfulness” thing this month on blogs and on Facebook, posting one thing a day for which they are truly grateful be it family, a flush toilet, or flavored dental floss. I think it is an excellent exercise, one we should practice the other eleven months of the year. After all, we’re blessed year-round, not just during the one month the holiday happens to fall on the last Thursday.

I can tell one thing I’m grateful for.

His name is Onk.

Me and My Buddy

You’ll notice that I didn’t name him; the “artist” who created him did. Granted, he’s just graffiti, a spray paint squiggle defacing a wall separating a train station from the street. I see him each morning when I leave for work as the road I take out of our neighborhood runs into the one where he’s stationed. There’s something about him that makes me smile. Perhaps it’s the “whomperjawed” eyeballs that sit, off kilter from one other, or the bucktoothed grin. Maybe its just the mystery of why someone would take the time to create such a thing (and name it) on a random Atlanta wall. I’ve come to think of Onk as “home.” I know I’m in my place when I see his familiar teeth, and I can use him as a guidepost for others who need directions to find me. Sure, time and the elements will eventually erase him, but, to a Southern girl like me, that’s no different than knowing how to get somewhere based on where “such and such building used to be.” There’s a comfort in distinctly human things like this, a quirky thing that decorates an otherwise soulless wall. I’m willing to bet hundreds if not thousands of people drive by him every week and never notice he’s there, but I do.

Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when, on the way to church, my husband and I saw this!

Onk Has New Friends!

Yep, Onk has a roommate! (Or two—I can’t tell if the squiggles in brown are a word or a design.) There’s now a vivid blue mouse wearing a turban (or a ninja hood) a foot or two away from my old friend.

Unlike the sanguine Onk who sits tranquilly on the wall, his eyes glazed in half sleep, the blue mouse (who I have to name on my own some day) seems flabbergasted to be where he is. His wide eyes and acute eyebrows betray his panic to oncoming traffic, as if he’s afraid we’re going to choose neither left nor right and plow straight into the wall where he’s stuck. I was actually delighted when I saw it for some reason, and I stopped to take a picture this morning.

Perhaps I clapped my hands in delight because yet-to-be-named-blue-ninja-turbaned-mouse reminds me that I live in a world of constant change. Nothing stays the same, but I can choose how I react to it and be thankful that I’m around to experience it.

I can either get angry because A.) Someone is defacing a wall or B.) I liked Onk just the way he was -or- I can see it as a positive. It’s just another guidepost, a thumbtack on the topographical map of my life. I think I’ll choose the latter.