Wow, I have not posted on here since October. It has seriously been the craziest and most unexpected 5 months or so in my world. Last year, I was “wheelin and dealin,” you might say; cookbook author, national and local TV spots, selling a few houses in Franklin, oh and being a new momma on top of that. My how quickly things can change. One thing is for sure – we really aren’t in control. Ha. I’ve had to learn that the hard way this winter. Countless times I have considered writing a new post on here, but I really didn’t have the words. I didn’t want to make any promises or declare anything about what was going on, because I really didn’t know what was going on. Since so many people have supported my cookbook and even just my recipe posts over the years, I figured an update on WHERE THE HECK I HAVE BEEN might be appreciated.
In Charleston soaking up the sun right before all of the craziness began.
So, here’s a run down of events, I finished most of my book marketing events and signings in October. We went on a trip to Charleston for a wedding, and I was feeling totally normal. I was a little tired from the busyness of the summer, but over all, I was fine. The weekend after we got back, towards the end of October, I woke up feeling very strange; light headed, nauseas, chills, and just overall unwell. It hit me ALL OF THE SUDDEN. I went to the doctor immediately, and they said it was probably a virus and gave me something for the nausea. After a week, I still wasn’t better. I could hardly get off the couch and just feeding Maverick or changing his diaper seemed to take all of my strength. At this point, I was pretty worried. I knew my body, and I had ever experienced anything like this. I had a speaking event coming up at a church a few weeks later, which was really the last thing I had on my calendar work wise for the year. I thought surely I would be fine by then, but to my surprise, the weeks went by, and I still wasn’t well.
My sweet friends who came to support me at my speaking event at Calvary Baptist Church. God gave me the energy I needed for this, but I had barely eaten for 3 weeks prior…pictures are deceiving.
Doctors seemed to be baffled, I had lots of tests and scans, and everything came back normal. I kept hearing from God that I needed to just “WAIT,” but that seemed pretty counter intuitive. As time went on I would feel better for a day or two, and then I would have a relapse of symptoms. This was forcing me to put my life on hold. I had so much anxiety about what was wrong with me, and I have no doubt that made my symptoms even worse. Typically, I would not call myself an extremely anxious person, but during this ordeal my lack of control was enough to send me into a panic at times. I couldn’t stand not knowing what was wrong with me and continuing to wake up just feeling ill and not myself. I researched all kinds of strange diseases and illness, none of which I actually had, but I couldn’t help myself. Throughout this season, I had definite moments of clarity and times when I heard God speak loudly, but I had many dark days of confusion and uncertainty as well.
Finally at the end of January, I started to see some real improvement. I also saw one last doctor, an internist at St Thomas, who confirmed what other doctors had suspected all along, I had a virus that my body was just having a really hard time fighting off. I realize people have much more difficult health battles to fight than this, but for someone with no medical history, 3 months of a mystery illness was super hard for me on so many levels. In the past, I have definitely prided myself on my health and ability to control my circumstances. I’m pretty sure “I can do it all” has been my motto since having Maverick, but God pretty much said “Hey, you aren’t defined by all that “stuff” you pride yourself on, am I really enough for you?.” Whoa. Talk about a REALITY CHECK.
Even though, I have felt well since February, my immune system has still been weak, I’ve caught several colds and even Hand, Foot, and Mouth from Mav last week! Obviously, I’m not totally out of the woods, but I’m taking lots of immune building supplements as well as keeping my diet pretty clean. Except for the occasional Saturday morning doughnut!
Doughnuts with my boy!
So, what’s next for my cooking career? Well, for right now I am cooking as much as ever, but without an agenda! It’s been all about using real ingredients, and taking healthy cooking to a new level for me and my family. I am experimenting with new recipes and just enjoying cooking for my people. This was the whole reason I fell in love with cooking in the first place, and I’m just getting back to my cooking roots, if you will. During my illness, I had totally taken a break from “creative cooking” and definitely from recipe creating, it was survival mode. Once I got my feet under me, I found myself unsure of where to pick back up with this whole cooking gig. The book is out and the marketing of that is pretty well over, I don’t really have an obvious next step in my cooking career.
The truth is I have continued to hear God saying “WAIT.” Even now, I believe I am supposed to cook for my family, and serve my son, husband, and those around me in a way I haven’t had the time to do in the past year or so. I’m going to be supporting Zach with real estate and the houses he is working on this spring and summer, because to be honest, it’s his time. He has been so supportive of me and my dreams and put up with a lot during this crazy winter. He deserves me to be “all in” as a wife, business partner and manager of all things McKinney house and home for now. I know that God has a plan, and my cooking career is not over, but for now it’s on hold, until God says GO.
Before my illness, I would have never dreamed this is how I would be starting 2016. It’s very hard for me not to be on the hunt for a new project now that I am feeling better. I feel the pressure that I’ve put on myself that says being a mom and wife is not enough. I feel the tension of wanting to do more, but I must be obedient in what I hear God saying to me now. I don’t know if that means a month, a year, or longer of taking a break, but I’m trying to be WILLING (my word for 2016) to do as He asks. His plans are always greater and ultimately, I want to serve Him and others with my whole heart.
So, I may post a recipe for fun here or there, but for now, no big plans. I guess you could say I’m just high on LIVING the simple life. Spring is here, sun is shining, Easter is coming, and Jesus is making ALL THINGS NEW.
Thank you for the prayers of healing and support, I’ll be back!
I wanted to share with you a few events I have coming up. If you are interested in getting a signed copy ofThe Outdoor Table and/or attending a fun event this Fall, here are some opportunities to do so! Visit my Speaking/Book Signings page for events and updates.
Sunday October 4th -3:30 pm, Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden
Join us to listen as celebrated local authors share their stories, describe their processes, and offer ‘behind-the-text’ accounts of their work in our intimate garden setting. Cash bar available.
Offered in partnership with Parnassus Books. Space is limited; first-come, first-seated.
There will be more information about this to come, but I’ll be doing a recipe demonstration as well as speaking at the banquet about my personal testimony and story with food. Tickets will be available online. Stay tuned for a link to that!
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.
I’m so excited to share this recipe, not only because it’s delicious, but also because this is the type of simple, summery recipe you will find in the dessert section of my upcoming cookbook The Outdoor Table! By the way, have you preordered your copy yet?! We are almost a month out from the release, so I’m going to be sharing recipes for the next month that are similar to what you will find in the book, and I think you’re gonna love it! But before I get to this recipe, I’ve got to share something I was reminded of this past Sunday.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I’ve never thought of myself as much of a worrier. As a teenager and college student I was always pretty care free. In fact, I probably didn’t worry enough! However, once I became a mom all of that changed. Is he eating enough? Why was he born so small? Is he too fat? Is he hitting every milestone early enough? Is he talking enough? How does he measure up to other babies? …and the list of worries/concerns/questions plays on repeat.
Am I alone here?? If not, and you struggle with this too, then hopefully what I am going to share will be encouraging to you as well.
This past Sunday, our pastor talked about our thoughts and how our minds works. He talked about solitary confinement and “time out” being punishments, because when we are alone with our thoughts the natural tendency is for the them to head in a negative direction. Something clicked when I heard this. If you are a stay at home mom or work from home like me, you probably spend quite a bit of time alone. At least without any other adults for much of your time. So in this situation, if we don’t actively control our thoughts, then they turn negative and begin controlling us. Aha! moment for me!
We put all of our time and energy into this little person and end up spending much of that time worrying about every little detail of their lives. This was especially true for me for the first 3 or 4 months of Maverick’s life, and I still battle it now to some extent. I hate to admit that, because it’s really kind of sad, but I think this is the case with lots of new moms. The good news about this, which I was reminded of during the sermon, is that we can do something about this negativity. We don’t have to let our thoughts control our lives and our emotions. We can actually take those negative thoughts captive as soon as they wonder into our minds. We can pray for our thought life and ask God to help us test our thoughts to know what is true and good and of Him and what is not. This is so empowering to me.
We can also spend time with people who lift us up and encourage us, for me, that is fellow moms and friends who love Jesus. Community is so important, even if it seems hard in this season, which I wrote about here. God did not intend for us to spend our time in worry. He says it over and over again in the bible. I am praying this over myself this morning, because I totally need this as much as anyone. We can have a mindset that produces joy and peace regardless of our circumstances, and I think that is pretty awesome. I want that for me and for my son, because we only get to do this life once. So, this week I’m practicing casting my cares on Him and taking those negative thoughts captive. We have His power within us to choose our thoughts.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Man, I love those verses, I feel like I can just take a deep breath of relief every time I read them. So, while we are thinking all of these positive, life giving thoughts together, let’s bake something yummy! I have had a jar of lemon curd in my pantry for a while now, and I finally decided to make good use out of it last week. If you like tart and tangy desserts, then this is a MUST TRY! These are rich and lemony and just delightful.
Lemon Curd Crumble Bars
makes 12 squares
1 stick of butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup prepared lemon curd (find this in the jelly/jam section or baking section of most grocery stores)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until they are creamed together. Add in the salt and flour, then mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly.
Remove about 3/4 cup of the mixture (unpacked) and add the pecans to this reserved amount for the topping.
Press the remaining mixture into a square (8×8) baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Allow this to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
Spread the lemon curd in an even layer onto the crust. Top the curd evenly with the pecan crumble mixture and bake for another 20 minutes. Allow this to cool completely before cutting into squares.
“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!
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...