Today is the long awaited (at least at my house) release day for The Outdoor Table! This book has been almost two years in the making, and I am humbled and so very excited that today has come. Get one for yourself, and perhaps one for dad for Father’s Day too, it’s filled with lots of great grilling recipes! So, I’ve talked about the book so much on here, and I really hope you’ll buy it, because it truly is a wonderful book. But today I want to share a little bit of the story behind the book…
I’m telling you, if you would have told me 5 years ago that I would author a cookbook, like a real cookbook sold in stores nationwide – I would’ve thought you were totally crazy. This whole cooking journey I have been on has been the craziest ride of my life. There have been some amazing highs, but there have also been some pretty low lows. I’ve spent many days doubting myself and my ability, wondering if I was being completely unrealistic, feeling like I should just get a “real job,” and asking God if all of this will ever to amount to anything?
Contrary to what people might think, I haven’t had this whole cooking journey planned out, it’s been a roller coaster. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God has led me through each door to get to this point. Everytime I considered just giving up, the Lord gave me a little reassurance to keep going. Even if it was a small thing, He would open a door right when I needed it, and I would walk through it.
I have had lots of ideas that didn’t work out, I’ve gotten my hopes up about the possibility of things that didn’t happen, and I’ve tried to force things that just weren’t working. And I will do all of that again I’m sure, but sometimes pieces of the dream actually do happen, and this cookbook is one of those pieces. People always ask me, “so what is your end goal with all of this?” And I have had a hard time answering that question. There are many things I would love to do, but the bottom line is, I’m not driving this boat. I had no idea a cookbook would’ve been part of the plan, but that just goes to show, it’s really not my plan at all. The Lord led me here and, to be honest, I don’t know where I’ll end up next, and I’m [finally] okay with that. His plans have always been better than mine anyway.
I suppose I say all of this to encourage anyone out there who has a dream. If you feel like God is calling you to something, even if you don’t know what the end result looks like, just follow in the direction of that dream. I do believe God places dreams and ideas in our hearts, and if He has a plan for you and you say yes to Him, that’s an unstoppable force. Ultimately, I want this book to be used for His glory. Even if it is a cookbook, the story behind it, is one of redemption and new life. He took food, the thing that could’ve destroyed me through years of disordered eating, and He gave me total freedom. What the enemy meant for evil, the Lord has used for good in my life.
That’s the real story here, and I am grateful and humbled beyond words. He is good, and He deserves my praise every hour of every day.
“It’s a shame when we box up hospitality in entertaining. We lose sight of the true spiritual significance behind it, and in doing so we rob ourselves and others of the blessings God intends to come through it.” -Logan Wolfram, From the She Reads Truth Hospitality study
I just love a good chicken leg, it comes with a handle after all! Even back in the day when we would get a bucket of KFC fried chicken after church, I always preferred the legs. So, in honor of my love for legs, I’m sharing my Sticky Sesame Chicken Leg recipe! You may have seen some similar recipes to this on Pinterest, but this is my version of the mouth waveringly delicious, Asian flared main dish.
You have probably noticed that lately I have had some type of story to go with my recipes. Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking on what to write for this post, and I got nothin! Ever since I have been getting more personal on here, I’ve waited to write a post until I felt like God was really speaking to me and guiding my writing. I kept coming back to this one, and I finally decided I was just going to publish it today without anything extra. And then, this morning, I read my She Reads Truth devotional and boom, God gave me something! I love when He does that, sometimes I go for days where I just can’t hear Him, but He always shows up at just the right time.
If you haven’t checked out the She Reads Truth app, you should, it’s an awesome women’s devotional app with all kinds of different studies to choose from. I am currently doing a study on hospitality, and as I read the one for today, I realized that I use the word “entertaining” quite a bit, when what I really mean is hospitality. As you might have guessed, we haven’t been doing much entertaining since Maverick was born. We haven’t thrown any Pinterest worthy dinner parties, and I haven’t hosted a fancy ladies’ brunch. It just feels like I can’t really entertain right now, because we are in such a busy season of our lives. My husband, Zach, is finishing up building his first house, I’m listing it this month, my cookbook is coming out soon, and of course Maverick complicates things a little too.
In reality, maybe it’s not the time for me to entertain, but there is still time for me to be hospitable. I can still have people over to my house, and I can show hospitality to others even when I’m out and about by just having a welcoming spirit. I don’t have to have a big spread of food or send out formal invitations to create community. It might mean I make this chicken recipe and some good ol baked potatoes, or maybe we just pick up BBQ and hang out with friends after Mav goes to bed. It’s easy to make excuses and find reasons why “we can’t,” but the bottom line is we all need each other. Heck, sometimes I just need to talk to someone other than Maverick and Zach. Haha! And I’m thinking I’m not alone. People want to feel safe and comfortable, and I believe that happens most at the home of someone (like me) where a laundry basket of clothes is waiting to be folded in the corner and a Boppy gets used as a couch throw pillow.
To entertain, I may have to get everything pretty and perfect, but to be hospitable all I have to do is say, come on in!
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
Now that that’s settled, back to my chicken legs, which are super easy and baked in the oven, making them perfect for when you’re being hospitable. No running in and out to check the grill and plenty of time to socialize while they bake! They also get slathered with an ooey,gooey sauce that is sticky and sweet and just plain yummy.
Also, shameless plug, the recipes in my cookbook are also perfect for showing hospitality this summer! Seriously, they are easy and uncomplicated, so no need to stress over food when you want to invite others to hang out and enjoy a meal on your patio. Bonus! Outdoor eating, means not so much cleaning!
It’s official, I have on the most comfortable and ugliest combination of clothing that is possible. #Icepocalypse #fuzzysocks
It’s a funny thing being trapped in your own house for 6 days. You see, right before this ice storm we’ve had in Nashville, I had a bad cold. When you’re sick with a baby you pretty much don’t leave the house if possible, so it has been 6 straight days of being home. Don’t judge me. Obviously, if you have older kids, you can get out and sled and play in the ice/snow combo, but with a baby you really can’t do that. My days have been spent trying to catch up on sleep, laundry, and getting a few work related things done all in between taking care of Maverick, in the comfort of my own home, in my pjs, of course. It really doesn’t sound too bad, but once day 3 hits, you just need something, a change, some make up, a trip to Target, a break from the monotony. However, that hasn’t really been possible in this predicament we are in.
Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time staring at the TV and my phone. But on day 3 things just began to feel empty. Filling my time with little tasks, looking at everyone’s snow pictures, and catching up on my shows just started to get a little old. I was feeding Maverick that night, and I ran across the picture f the Christian men who were beheaded by ISIS. I looked at their faces. And I thought, what am I doing? Here I am just trying to distract myself from life with TV and social media. And men are being murdered for their faith. It’s not a movie or a show, it’s like real life. I just started to feel this emptiness creep in. That’s what happens when I don’t feel myself with Him. It’s so easy to distract and entertain myself even while stuck at home for so long. When social media and TV get old I can turn to online shopping, vacationing planning, or even recipe creating. Not that any of those things are bad, but I was leaving Him out.
I’m finishing up Annie Downs book “Let’s all be Brave,” and I just read about the rhythm of discipline. I usually read my “SheReadsTruth” study in the mornings, but lately I’ve let the other apps on my phone take precedence, I had gotten out of my rhythm. It’s a small thing, but just filling my mind with a little truth everyday, taking the time to pray and just be with God fills me up.
All of the things, the houses, the money, the cars, the status, the looks, the clothes. They are empty. They are never enough. The more I get the more I want. When we moved to our home now, I thought we really had something. You know, a really nice house to be proud of. Sure, I’m still proud of it, but it’s sort of lost it’s luster, you know? Like I find myself looking at the bathroom thinking it’s really outdated. The floors we put in the living room are already so scratched up. We need a bigger rug. And so on. Just 2 years ago, I was so proud of it. Now it just doesn’t quite cut it? Things. They lose their sparkle quickly. They never satisfy. I’m not saying they are bad or that I won’t redo our bathroom, but it won’t fulfill me. In a year or two the styles will change and it won’t seem so fresh and new anymore. He makes things new. He satisfies, oh how easily I forget.
Day 2 of the photo shoot, can you tell I was getting a little tired at this point?!
If you have seen my Facebook or Twitter pages lately, you probably know that I have been busy the past 5 or 6 days prepping/cooking/hosting some photo shoots at my house for my upcoming cookbook! It has been pretty exhausting juggling our little guy and all of the work that went into this, but so totally worth it! I am just thrilled with the photos for this book, I had a truly amazing team over here. Stephanie Bell was the amazing photographer, Teresa Blackburn worked her magic with beautiful food styling, and my editor, Healther Skelton with Thomas Nelson, was a huge help me to me with the grocery shopping and prep for 30 recipes!
Check out the video below for an update on when you can get your hands on this book! Beware, this is a totally low budget film, I was only in hair and makeup for about 2 minutes…
Here are a few of the pictures I snapped during the shoots, oh and just remember I am not the photographer. Thank goodness!
Just a few of the recipes and styling from the shoots…
Stephanie and Teresa doing their thing…
Of course, dad had to pop in for some of the yummy food.
My mom was a wonderful babysitter, Mav is like how much longer are you people gonna be here?!
Doing some final edits to my cookbook one morning last week, working looks a little different now!
I have mixed emotions every year during the first few days of January. It’s not that I want Christmas to last forever, but I love the excitement, the anticipation, and the joy that December brings. I have always gotten a little sad when something I look forward to is over. On the way home from vacations, for example, I always get this sense of disappointment, it’s just over, that was it, back to the real world now. That’s probably why my husband says I am always trying to plan our next trip as soon as we get back from one. I just want something else to look forward to.
So when the holidays are over and January begins, I guess I just want something new to look forward to. So I turn to the new year, as most of us do, and I decide what I want it to look like. I can usually find some things to get pretty excited about, and the anticipation of all that I am going to do that year brings an eagerness to move forward again.
But this year it’s different. You see, it’s always just been me. I was in control (for the most part) of accomplishing my goals or not. As long as I could get myself motivated, then that was all there was to it. But it’s January 2nd, and I didn’t get a full night of sleep last night. In fact I haven’t had a full night of sleep since September 20. I have a 3 month old, and as I have been telling Zach, it’s his (Maverick’s) world, we are just living in it.
So I sit here, with the anticipation of a new year with my baby boy, but with the heaviness of knowing that it’s going to be hard. We will have many firsts this year, some good and some not so good, I’m sure. As exciting as it will be to watch my son during his year first full year of life, I can’t help but wonder how I will do it all. How do I accomplish my own goals without a good night’s rest? How can I get all of the things done that I so badly want to do when his needs always come first? How do I do it all if I am just really tired? Heck, how do I accomplish much of anything other than just taking care of this baby? That is never something I have had to think about before when planning for a new year. I don’t have the answers to these questions. I do know that when I look back at the past 3 months I feel like I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could. So many times in the middle of the night, I have found myself singing the song “I need you, oh I need you, every hour I need you.” Oh how true it is.
The Lord has been my strength when I wasn’t sure how I could do it. You see, no one really teaches you how to be a mom. You can have good examples, but it’s really just something you have to experience to learn. I certainly didn’t think it would be easy or come naturally. I was never really the babysitting type, babies in general have never really been my thing. But God does something to your heart when you have a child. There is no way to explain it. All the hard things, all the lack of sleep, all of the after effects of childbirth, you just bare them. If I would have known six months ago all that I would go through as a mom just in the first 3 months, I would have wondered how in the world I would do it. I would have probably thought that there was no way that I could get through it. But I did.
So I guess that is my answer for now for this new year. I don’t have to do it all or do it perfectly, but with the Lord as my strength I can do the things He is calling me to. I can keep going even though it will be hard. I may not “do it all,” but I will take baby steps (no pun intended) in the direction of the things that God is nudging me towards, because I am a mom now. And moms can do really hard things. We can actually do lots of hard things at once, with very little sleep. I am learning this about moms. I admire them more than ever, I actually feel pretty honored to be part of this mom club.
And so it begins, 2015. And it’s not just me this time, and I think in some way I’ll be better because of that this year. And when I think I can’t do it, I will look back on what I have done so far, and I will be reminded how I need Him and that, oh yes, I certainly can do it.
I am thrilled to announce that my first cookbook, "The Outdoor Table," published by Thomas Nelson Published is available to purchase wherever books are sold! This beautiful book includes 175 EXCLUSIVE recipes, not found on this site, perfect for all of your outdoor entertaining! Find out more and order your copy here...
Hey Y'all! Well I'm a southern gal, raised in Tennessee, where I still live with my husband and baby boy! Creating fresh and simple recipes with a southern flare, while sharing bits of my life with y'all on camera is what this site is all about. Also, my very first cookbook with Thomas Nelson Publishers will be out Spring of 2015, and I just can't wait to share it with you all! Read more about April...