Interview with the Author: How to Pray Like a Gourmet

pray-like-a-gourmet-book

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting some missionaries during a singlemoon trip I took to Paris a few months before getting married. Meeting them was life-changing for me because I unexpectedly got to experience firsthand how God was working in unique ways in the arts community in Paris. Every now and then I catch these reminders that God isn’t just working behind a pulpit. He’s working in hardened hearts in coffee shops…. he’s empowering workers of  landfills… and he’s mending loneliness in the stay-at-home Mom. When I recently found out that one the missionaries had written a book on unique prayer and worship techniques using French culinary metaphors, I knew it would be a profound book in my faith journey. I took my time reading the book, and it was truly one of those I didn’t want to finish. I wanted to savor each page and impress it in my heart and mind. If growing in your relationship with the Lord is important to you, this book will help you discover new ways to connect with God as well as pray blessings for other people. This book will help you realize just how whimsical God is and how He is moving in our lives at all times. Today, I’m sharing with you an interview with the wonderfully talented author of the book, David Brazzeal. Since this is one of those books that I wish I could buy for every person I know, I’m going to use random.com to select a winner for a free copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below as to how you think this book will influence your prayer life. Happy Reading! I can’t wait for you to hear about the book!david-brazzeal-author

Tell us a little about your background and missions experience. I grew up as a normal kid in Atlanta, GA. Later I studied music in Alabama and Texas where I obtained a master’s degree in Music Theory and Composition. My wife, Sanan and I have 4 wonderful daughters. We have done some sort of missions related to the arts since 1983 in Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Guadeloupe, Montréal and Paris. During this time, we helped four churches get started and will soon get involved in another new church start in the southwest of France.

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What prompted you to write a book?

Several things: One is that as I get older, I feel the need to share with others what I’ve learned from my journey. The area of personal prayer is where I’ve learned the most yet have rarely shared it. Another motivation comes from a long-time frustration that most churches do not help people with how to pray. We are told we should do it more frequently and with more faith and more fervency, but we hear very little about what to do when we pray.

french-food-table

How did you get the idea to talk about prayer using French dinner metaphors?

The basic idea for this book has been swirling around on the back burner of my mind for about 10 years. I’ve considered several cliché metaphors and weak titles, but nothing really seemed to click until I moved to France and experienced French dining on a regular basis. I don’t know when or how, but it dawned on me one day that this was the best metaphor for communicating how I had begun to re-imagine prayer for myself.

What is it about the concept of prayer that is so intriguing to you?

The thing that I find the most fascinating and mysterious about prayer is how we can move ourselves from an “I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this” kind of attitude immersed in the crud of everyday life to that special spiritual space where we actually experience and know once again “The God Who Is There”. The sad part is that the large majority of Christians I know don’t know how to do this.

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You discuss several ways to worship and pray in Pray Like a Gourmet. What are two of your favorite prayer techniques you discuss in the book?

As I mention on page 47 under the title LITANIES, the oldest and most effective prayer practice for me has been the simple idea of improvising simple sentences using God’s names and his attributes, like “Lord, you are wonderful; God, you are glorious; Jesus, you are the Light of the world; Lord, you are the Sunrise on High, the Bright and Morning Star; God you are the Ancient of Days, etc.” I do this exercise slowly, quietly and as poetically and expressively as I can until I feel a shift or openness in my spirit. I guess my second favorite for the past few years has been blessing people either with carefully crafted written blessings (page 81) or with some kind of thoughtfully drawn visual blessing (page 82).

What can people expect to gain from reading your book?

First of all, I think readers of Pray Like a Gourmet will also find ideas that could take years or even a lifetime to develop but which are well worth the challenge. Secondly, I think people will recognize these new prayer concepts as parts of a very friendly, beautiful and continually developing menu. No one will be able to try them all on the first or even second visit. The book (along with God, I might add) patiently waits for us to come back again and again, each time our spiritual palette is ready and perhaps even hungry for a new taste.

What kind of feedback have you been getting on how it is changing prayers and individuals’ relationship with God?

The feedback has been amazing. I think the book surprises a lot of people, either by the beauty of the illustrations or by the practicality of the content. It’s not a normal book that you read once and put away or pass on to someone else. Many tell me that they plan to keep it close at hand so they can consult it often when they pray. However, the feedback that touches me the most are those who tell me that certain pages are tear-stained. The book seems to be very liberating to those who, for years, have felt boxed into traditionally prescribed prayer formulas. It is a very special privilege for me to help cater the banquet in that spiritually intimate space of others, the place where our spirit dines with the Spirit of the Living God.

For more information on David Brazzeal and to purchase Pray Like a Gourmet, visit Amazon. When you read it, consider leaving a review. Check out the book’s website so you can keep up with events and get some additional fantastic prayer resources. Also, be sure to “like” his Facebook page.

5 Secrets to Finding Your Community

secretstogreatcommunity
Have you ever thought about why you do what you do? I pondered this the other day as I filled out a speaking application. As some of you know, I like to cook and create adventure in the kitchen. Some of you  may remember this post about how I see food. Food is great in and of itself, but I see it as a means by which bonds are formed between the bellies that are filled and the laughter that is shared during the cooking process and meal. I had to think hard about how I would bring people into my world and my understanding of food if I were to cook on a platform. Today, I’m sharing with you 5 secrets to finding your community.

  1. See the bigger picture– Think about why you do what you do. There is a bigger purpose and picture behind the scenes if you really think about it. If you are having trouble figuring that out, think about the results you gain from your hobby. It may be financial, but think deeper than that. It cannot simply be money, because there a tons of ways to make decent money. Dig deeper than that. For me, it’s the bond that is formed when you cook in the kitchen and you get to eat a delishious (hopefully!) meal together. If nothing else, you make memories which also created a bond.When people share such experiences, they grow to support one another through the good and the bad times in life. They know they are cared for in other matters that reach far beyond any hobby.
  2. Be intentional– More than likely, you are going to have to think about people you want in your community, or whose community you would like to join. I would like to encourage you to set goals in place to help you establish relationships with those people. I know it may sound silly, but if you are going to be intentional, you have to be prepared and be honest. Part of preparing is setting goals and staying accountable. Write these goals down to keep them at the forefront of your mind. For me, a goal might be, invite 3 new friends over to cook and eat together in the next month. You don’t necessarily have to meet in those four weeks, but get some dates on the calendar. Be honest. If you are going through a hard time, contact some of the names on your list and say, “I’m going through a rough time and could really use some community. Would you like to get together to do cook a dinner together sometime?” When you are honest, people understand your desires more clearly.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone-It’s ok to be particular, but I also encourage you to find others different from you that you wouldn’t normally choose.  You may learn a thing or two from them and grow. You don’t have to share the same exact goals or interests in life, just a desire to grow and support one another. getoutofyourcomfortzone
  4. Maintain a positive attitude-There will be some who do not have time or a desire be in community for one reason or another. Don’t take it personal and don’t let that stop you in your tracks. Don’t overanalyze if you are making the right decision either. Try to accept it for what it is without inquiry (no one owes you an explaination) and keep pushing forward. Add several people to your list that might be up for community. You never know if you never attempt. bepositiveinattitude
  5. Offer friendship and support– When you find those people who want to do life with you, offer your full self. Serve one another. Eat together. Offer friendship and support through the good and bad times, because that will be the glue that holds the community together. Do things to help one another in times of need. Call one another to check in and pray together and for one another. Discover and delight in one anothers passions and dreams. 

In the early church in Jerusalem, the  meal was one of the most intimate forms of fellowship. In the ancient eastern world, when a guest was invited to a meal, it was expected the host provide a safe place and sense of protection for the guest. This partly explains the actions of Lot when the men of Sodom want to harm his guests (Genesis 19:1-8).

I believe communities change lives and changed lives change the world. I would love to someday be able to take families to different places around the world to foster a deeper sense of oneness the world. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that just yet, but it would involve missions and food, my two favorite things on the planet.

Are you searching for community or do you need to find community? I would love to hear!

 

How to Handle Life Bombs and Strawberry Nutella Cake Bombs

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I’ve been dreading this week for a while and it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. It has to do with some things that I expected to happen this week that didn’t. In fact, each day this week, I’ve heard these negative voices ringing in my head (I admit, it might be hormones talking to me). They told me I have no value… I’m not skilled… I don’t have enough knowledge… I’m not liked… I’m not pregnant… I’m not this or that. Of course this is not the first time I’ve had these thoughts. Do you remember this post on identity? These voices are so annoying, and yet a majority of the time I do the horrible thing of suppressing them. To quiet these voices this week, I didn’t air them to a trustworthy friend or go to God (like I know I should), I went and baked. (Something I thought I was good at, oh but just you wait. These strawberry Nutellla cake bombs are called bombs for a reason!)

Baking in itself is not bad, but when I’m numbing my pain by any means other than approaching God or Godly people for His wisdom, I am doing myself and others a disservice.

I’m hurting myself by not releasing the pain like a balloon in the wind. I’m hurting myself by not going back to the truth of what God says about me. I’m also hurting others indirectly, because when I bottle up my feelings I explode on the people I love the most. I can’t be the best Wife if I’m full of garbage… I certainly can’t love anyone well when I’m an internal mess. But alas, without even realizing I had been doing so, today I came to the realization I had all of these pent-up, negative emotions about the things going on around me.

Like everything else exploding around me this week to my own demise, it is fitting that my attempt to bake these Strawberry Nutella Cake Balls turned out tasting yummy but looking disastrous. To make matters worse, I promised some of my favorite people on the interwebs I would send them some treats in the mail this week. Oh boy! Maybe this was God’s subtle and funny way of reminding me that I can’t do it all. In my attempt to live transparently, I’m posting photos of these Nutella Cake Bombs. I’m sorry to disappoint, but there will be no recipe until I get some classes on how to dip them properly. (Who wants to try a recipe on a post about failure anyway?!) I surrender and admit, these need sooo much help when it comes to presentation.  They taste oh so incredible and very Valentineish, but looking at them I know they aren’t living up to their full potential.So why am I posting? Because I want to release this pain of perfection that everything, including my cake balls, didn’t turn out at all like I expected.

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I want you to know that there are bombs that go off in all of our lives, whether you notice them or not.

I’m normal. I mess up. I have feelings of inadequacy that you don’t get in the perfect dinner post. The important thing to remember about feelings is that they are like balloons whether they are good or bad, little or huge, they are meant to be released. If you don’t have people you can trust, I encourage you to try to make some new “friends”. Telling people you trust and love helps you feel heard, which in turn helps you feel valued. Ahhhh Telling God about your feelings reinforces your belief and submission to the One who knows and controls it all. The combination of talking to God and trustworthy friends gives you knowledge and wisdom and peace. I don’t know of anything better than those two gifts.

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Not enough strawberry inside. Now I know to add more.

Trying to make them look pretty. UGH!

Trying to make them look pretty. UGH!

 

Small Business His & Hers Valentines Gifts

His & Hers Valentines GiftsIf you’ve been searching for the perfect Valentines gift(s), take a look at these small business His & Hers Valentines gifts. Click on the pictures below to be taken directly to the website where you can buy or browse the other items offered. Whether or not you are a fan of the day, you can show gratitude for those that mean the most to you, friend or otherwise. Who knows, you just may be on someone’s Valentine gift list! Shop on!

nonprofitstringjewelry

Heartstrings bracelet

 

homemade Valentines pillow cover

Love Chevron Valentine’s Day pillow cover

Wood You Be My Lumberjack card

Wood You Be MY Lumberjack Valentine Card

striped watercolor heart

Black and White Watercolor Heart Print or Canvas

Greatest Adventure Print or Canvas

You Are My Greatest Adventure Print or Canvas

 

custom valentine card

Custom Valentine’s Day Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Produce vs. Produce

nutritious produce

Although ANY fruit or vegetable is going to be better for you than picking up a package of chips, I’m going to weigh (no pun intended) your produce options. Then explain which fruit or vegetable is the better choice so you can add more nutrients in your diet.

 APPLESapples delicious red

The deeper red the apple, the more antioxidants. Antioxidants are the compounds in fruits and vegetables that help us fight cancers and cardiovascular diseases. They work hard to fight with the cancer agents in our body. The apple with the lowest level of antioxidants was the Empire. Apples are also high in boron, an element which helps to fight again osteoporosis. If you’re thinking this is an excuse to eat more apple pie, I have some bad news. Like potatoes, most of the nutrients are found in the skin.

Add it to your diet: Apples are great by themselves, or you can drizzle with honey, brie, or peanut butter, for some fresh takes on a great snack.

RED PEPPERS

red bell pepper

The red pepper wins hands down, over orange, yellow, and green peppers. (Go red pepper! It’s your birthday!) Red peppers are high carotenoid phytonutrients and contain almost eleven times more beta-carotene than green bell peppers as well as one and a half times more vitamin C. Red Bell Peppers have a sweet, almost fruity taste.

Add it to your diet: I enjoy roasted red peppers atop a sweet potato covered in goat cheese. It may sound like an odd combination, but it tastes like a regular baked potato.

 TOMATOES

grape tomatoes

When it comes to tomatoes, red cherry, grape and currant tomatoes have the most intense flavor and are highest in lycopene. Many studies suggest that having high lycopene levels in the body may be linked to reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related eye disorders. In general, the darker the color and the smaller the size, the more nutritious the tomato. Yellow and green tomatoes are good to grill or fry (or name a movie), but if you’re looking for nutrients, select the small red variety.

Add it to your diet: Try alternating grape tomoatoes and mozzarella balls on a skewer over the grill for a refreshing treat.

ONIONS

CHOPPED RED ONION

The smaller the onion, the better it is for you. Smaller onions contain less water and have a higher amount of phytonutrients.  Opt for smaller red and yellow onions instead of big, white ones.

Add it to your diet: Roast up some pearl onions with asparagus and squash with a little bit of olive oil and a dash of salt & pepper

 LETTUCERed-lETTUCE

Unlike with people, when it comes to lettuce, BIG HEADS ARE A GOOD THING TO HAVE. The most nutritious in the lettuce department is deeply colored, open head lettuce. Purple, red and reddish brown lettuces have anthocyanins present, which are powerful antioxidants that also lower blood pressure. Pale-colored varieties like iceberg are the least nutritious.

Add it to your diet: Use it in place of other lettuce. Toss in some chicken, apples, and nuts to make a fiber filled lunch.

What are your favorite ways to use these fruits and veggies? Many of these pair nicely together which makes for some nutrient-packed meals.