Friday, February 25, 2011

iPad App of the Week

Anyone who has been to my momma's house knows that she burns in the kitchen. She does her thang. She puts her foot in the pots...and she can do it all from Apricot Glazed Salmon with Orzo to Oh, So Tender they Melt in Your Mouth Collards and the Absolute Best Fried Chicken on this side of Heaven. My sister will tell you that she fries chicken better than my mother. However, I am not one for telling lies. I know my limits. I know my gifts. I can burn in the classroom. I do my thing with words. I put my foot in scholarly writing...and I can do it all from Renaissance and Harlem Renaissance Art to Homiletics and Hermeneutics. I'm no slouch in the kitchen. My food is good, but it ain't my momma's. The dishes I make, I make well, but before getting married, my repertoire was limited. But all that has changed...

All that said, I have selected All Recipes as the iPad App of the Week.

With this app, I have expanded my repertoire of dishes, cooked things I'd never tried before (ehem, can you say Cornish Hens), discovered flavors that I love (instead of roasting my Brussels sprouts, now I cook them with crushed garlic, olive oil, and bacon...which makes EVERYTHING taste better) and even found something to do with the three million kiwis I purchased from Costo that I never got around to eating (smoothie, anyone?). Need to make an appetizer? Use this app. Want to make a dish, but you have someone coming over who is allergic to a certain food? Use this app. Want to make a mean Virgin Pina Colada that will keep hubby happy? Oh wait, that one is just for me...

All Recipes is a free app, but if you upgrade (for a small, one time fee) you'll be able to use the cooking timer (bonus round), save recipes in a recipe box (for dishes you love and want to cook again), and with one touch, you can make an instant shopping list from a recipe you plan to make. I love the fact that the recipes are rated and have reviews. The reviews help to work out some of the kinks in the recipes (like the chicken noodle soup that called for way too much Rosemary).

All Recipes is my personal favorite of all of the cooking apps I have tried: Weight Watchers is limited and the fullness of the app is only available to WW members; Epicurious is great for date night in or my audition for Top Chef New Jersey, but not for daily meals; Big Oven is good, but I prefer the interface of All Recipes. The one drawback to All Recipes is that you cannot share recipes via Facebook or Twitter. Honestly, those Brussels Sprouts were so good I wanted to tell the whole wide world!

My new favorite thing to do it have the All Recipes and iTunes going at the same time. I may not put my foot in the pots, but with the help of All Recipes and some good soul music, you can taste the love and care in my food...

Don't have an iPad? You must get one...but until you do, you can enjoy the recipes on All Recipes by logging onto www.all from your laptop or desktop computer.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Celebrating Love and Life...

Last week, from Thursday to Saturday, I was in Nawlins to celebrate love and life with my dear friend Kem, her husband Steve, and their yet to be born bundle of joy, Kingston. Kem and I met back in 1999 when we were both students at Howard. Over the years we have laughed together, cried together, allowed each other to fall apart, held each other up, prayed together, partied together, and much, much more from...

I must admit, I was weepy the entire weekend: from the moment we picked up Kem's bouquet on Friday; to the surprise text message received early Saturday morning from another friend about the birth of she and her husband's beautiful baby girl (who melted my heart as I held her in my arms after church on Sunday); to the exchange of vows during the ceremony when Steve recounted the wisdom of his late grandfather, an unmarried man will never amount to much of anything; to the abundance of love and support manifest at their baby shower. I even cried when I was getting into the taxi headed back to the airport on Saturday night.

This weekend, I was reminded that love is stronger than pride; that true friendship grows as life changes; that laughter is necessary; that God is real; and that He has a way of speaking in the most unusual circumstances. I was also reminded that since God affirmed my call to minister in His name, that those who hear his voice will also affirm my call. Shout out to Rev. McKee who asked me to stand with him as he officiated the ceremony!

Below is the prayer I offered during their wedding celebration. It was an honor and privilege to stand with them and pray for them as they committed their lives to God and and each other:

O, Thou in whose presence we experience true love, abundant love, and unfailing love...

O, Thou in whose presence we experience peace that defies human understanding...

O, Thou in whose presence we experience the fullness of joy...

We invoke Your presence now upon this wedding celebration. May it be a time full of love, laughter, peace, and joy beyond measure.

Gracious God, we are most grateful for this day, a day that you ordained and blessed even before the foundations of the world were laid. We are most grateful for the love that you have for us, and the way in which we are able to share in that love with each other.

We are grateful for these two, Stephen and Takema, who--in the midst of a world where individualism, materialism, despair, and lust abound--are choosing to live their lives steeped in community, commitment, family, hope, and love.

We are grateful that on this day they are choosing to publicly bear witness and proclaim to the world that love never fails. We are grateful to be witnesses, and participants, in their love for one another.

As Stevie sang, and we know to be true, "We can't lose with God on our side..."

May You always be on their side, in their midst, and ordering their steps. May you be glorified in their union, both today and for always. May their life together continue to bear witness to Your love, Your goodness, Your mercy and all that is right in the world...

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

(Belated) iPad App of the Week

As you know from my previous (and next) post, I traveled to New Orleans for the wedding and baby shower of a dear friend of mine. You also know that I was scheduled to preach two services on Sunday. What you don't know is that I did not bring my laptop with me on my trip.

That said, the iPad App of the week is Pages.

For those of you who are Apple illiterate, Pages is Apple's word processing program, which rivals Microsoft Word. Personally, I prefer Pages to Word and have been using it for almost four years now. To flip the words of the show tunes writer, "Anything Word can do, Pages can do better..."

I used the Pages app to write my ENTIRE sermon. I also used it to edit, complete, and email the first edition of the Praying Away the Pounds Journal for distribution on Sunday morning. It was a blessing to be able to work while on the road without having to lug my laptop. It is a standard word processing program, so you can change fonts, font size, color, indentations, make a bulleted list, add photos, etc., etc. Plus, Pages gives you the option of opening .Doc and .Docx documents and converting documents to .Docx and .PDF, making it possible to work across platforms.

For these reasons, and so many more, Pages is the iPad app for last week!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Making the Sermon: Wrong Question, Right Answer

This sermon has been gestating in my spirit for some time, years even. I became aware of the text when I was reading through 1 Chronicles and realized that the lyrics to the song that we sing in between offering and our prayer over the offering were actually the words of King David. In that moment I also realized that I had been jacking up the words for some time. That's a whole 'nother story...

When asked to be ready to preach for the third Sunday in February, I began working with a text from Jeremiah. My work was not in vain, but it was clear that that particular message was not for that particular day. I moved from Jeremiah into Ephesians, worked through a text, but still that wasn't the on-time word, either. So, as of last Sunday, in the early part of the afternoon, I was without a text and without a word. I wasn't fretting. After all, I was still on schedule and I knew that God would give me a word for His people. Timing is everything.

During our installation of officers service last Sunday afternoon, the text made itself known and began speaking to me. The beginning of the week was busy, and the end proved to be even more so. I was scheduled to fly to New Orleans for the wedding and baby shower of a dear friend and wouldn't be flying back until Saturday evening. I read and reread the text on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I did not have much of anything written down. When I got on Delta flight #1078 bound for New Orleans the floodgates opened up. By the time we landed, I had an outline and much of the meat filled in. God be praised! During my days and evenings, I was present for the bride and not much written sermonating was happening. When night came, I was too pooped to pop, so not much sermonating was happening then either. When I boarded Delta flight #2656 to Laguardia I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the weekend, exhausted, and halfway delirious. I couldn't decide whether to sleep on the plane and get to the sermon when I got home, or to work on the sermon so I could get a good night's rest. I was leaning towards the former option, mostly because I didn't think I was capable of producing anything that was comprehensible. But, God is able (especially in our weakness) and when I got on the plane, the floodgates opened again. When I landed at Laguardia airport, the written part of the sermon was complete. All that was left was for me to preach, for the people to hear, and for all of us to live it...

Like to hear it, hear it goes...

Text: 1 Chronicles 29:10-20 (emphasis on verse 14)
Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said:
“ Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.

“Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.

But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.

For we are aliens and pilgrims before You,
As were all our fathers;
Our days on earth are as a shadow,
And without hope.
“O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You. And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.” Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the LORD your God.” So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king.

Title: Wrong Question, Right Answer

Sermon Snippet:

Our text for today is a familiar one. It is an integral part of our liturgical practice. It is printed in our order of worship. Sunday after Sunday, we lift up our voices to sing it. It is neatly, and intentionally, inserted in the time between our time of giving and the prayer over the offering. We hear Jerry play the chord (play chord) and immediately we know what to say. I know it by heart. I don't even need the bulletin. I may not have the Apostles Creed memorized yet, I may not have the Church Covenant memorized yet, but when I hear that chord (play chord), I know...

All thing come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee...

But I believe that sometimes we can be so close to something, that we don't really see it for what it is. Sometimes we become so familiar with something, we fail to recognize the depths. Sometimes we can recite a text from rote memory, out of habit, as part of our ritualistic traditions, and in the process, we completely miss it...

As we move from tradition to intimacy, from knowing about God to knowing God, from following the order of worship to actually worshiping, from reading and singing the text to living and breathing the text, let us examine that passage of Scripture found in 1 Chronicles 29:10-14, paying particular attention to verse 14...


There is a sign posted on the wall at my gym. I took notice to it last week as I was trudging away on the treadmill. It reads, "Sweat plus sacrifice equals success." I thought about that to help me get through my workout, but then the Spirit switched it up a bit. He whispered in my spirit, in God's house, "Praise plus sacrifice equals success..."

Let's go back to the text...verse 10...And David began to praise God...

Praise is contagious. Sometimes we come to church and expect the worship leader, or the choir, or the preacher to praise so we can praise. In this text, it was the other way around. The people were rejoicing, the people were praising, the people were shouting down the aisles so much so that David, the king...who should have been dignified...started to praise with them.

In the midst of his praise. In the midst of his worship. In the midst of lifting up the excellency, victory, majesty, and glory of God, David asks a question... But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? God, you are blessed...but who am I? God, you are great...but who am I? God, you are powerful...but who am I? God, you are majestic...but who am I? God, you are victorious...but who am I? And he didn't just ask who am I? He asked, and who are we? How were we able to give so much? Did you see the piles of silver and gold and bronze and iron. The treasury could hardly hold all of precious stones... there were so many. And how were we able to give so freely? Mr. Tuck, ooops I meant Jehiel the Gershonite, didn't even have to make an appeal. Folks came willingly. Folks gave willingly. David was saying, God, something miraculous just happened in this house, it appears we had something to do with it. Who am I? Who are we?

The question was seemingly self-centered. The question was seemingly human-centered. On the surface, the question was about us. In the context of His praise...the question is just, plain WRONG, However, immediately after raising the question, David answers his own question. David could have said...I am the King. I am wealthy beyond measure. I have the title deed to so and so. I got it going on. My treasury is full of silver and gold and other precious metals. My people are landowners, property owners, and independently wealthy. But his answer, unlike the question, was not located in human accomplishment, human success, and human ability. Don't miss this. David could have bigged himself up and his people up, but he had a proper perspective. To His question: who am I and who are we, David responds, "All things come of thee, and of thine own, have we given thee." Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! David would have made it to final jeopardy off the strength of that answer. Biblical scholars note that, "Humans cannot gloat in the act of contributing to the Lord's temple, since all human success and wealth come from Him." The answer to David's question didn't lie in human ability, but rather in God's ability. He's able! He's able! He's able!

By saying, "All things come of thee..." David was acknowledging the authorship and ownership of God, which, when acknowledged ushers us into authentic worship of God...

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

iPad App of the Week

The app of the week, one that I've had for a few weeks now, has made a huge difference in my life. It is The Gratitude Journal by the Happy Tapper. The Psalmist declared, "So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves" (Psalm 107:8).

This app give me a place to record all that I am grateful to God for. My entries range from my awesome worship and my wonderful hubby to some slamming Brussels sprouts I made and an on-time phone call from a friend. Taking the time to write out what I am grateful for allows me to put my life in perspective, to see just how good God has been to me, and to be mindful of all of the amazing people in my life. In fact, it was my gratitude journal that got me through the day with the crazy tow truck driver!

Each day is a separate entry, so you can scroll through a week or a month and see all of the things you have to be grateful for. It allows you to post a picture at the top, something related to what you are grateful for. It also allows you to rate your day. As a child of God, even when all hell seems to be breaking loose, every day is a four or five star day after I've recorded all of the many people and things I am grateful for. The main reason I love this journal is because there is no place for negativity, despair, or defeat...only positive thoughts, hope, and victory!

Truly, you do not need an iPad to keep a gratitude journal. Whether or the iPad, or in a spiral notebook, write down those things you are grateful for. It is sure to remind you just how blessed you are.

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What the Scale Does Not Say...

Like many women, I have a love/hate relationship with my scale...
I love it when it shows me numbers I want to see, specifically those that are smaller than the ones I saw on it the last time I made the scales acquaintance. Descending numbers only, please.

I hate it when it does any and everything else: stagnant numbers, ascending numbers, calling my name and calling me names every time I walk into the bathroom. This is the case six out of seven days of the week.

True story: While in my last year at Drew, I had to politely ask my roommates to remove the scales from public spaces in our apartment. Like many women, I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to getting on a scale. I would get on the bathroom scale, daily. I would get on my Wii scale daily. I would get on the scale by the hall closet, daily. In other words, I was torturing myself, daily. If and when the scale said something other than what I thought it should, my entire day was ruined. It seemed crazy, I'm sure, however both of my roommates gracefully granted my request. I am still grateful to them for it.

Dr. Ian Smith, in his book, "The 4 Day Diet" writes, "There are several measures when it comes to weight loss, but we often get too stuck on a number. Please don't get me wrong. Yes, the pounds reflected on the scale make a difference, but there are other ways to measure your progress."

What you say? Other ways to what?

"The size of the clothing that you fit into can sometimes be the first sign that you are losing weight...Basing success strictly on the number on the scale is not taking into account the true complexity of body transformation."

Amen, Dr. Ian. Amen!

Like today, when I put on my black pencil skirt that I had banished to the back of the closet and it fell just right on my body. The last time I tried to wear this skirt it was way too tight. Today, however, the skirt told a story that this morning's conversation with the scale did not. Even now, I am wearing a pair of black pumps (that had been just slightly uncomfortable around my instep because I had picked up a few pounds) that feel like a dream. These shoes have not felt this good in a long time. Indications of success that did not come from a scale...

All that is to say, if you are on this journey to Praying Away the Pounds, and the scale does not tell you what you want to hear, seek a second opinion! Try on a skirt or pair of pants that were a little snug before. Check in with your body: Can you walk farther and faster than you used to? Can you do more reps of your strength training exercises? Do you have increased energy throughout the day? Or better yet, keep on keeping on simply because this journey to weight loss is not about the numbers on the scale, but is all about glorying God in our bodies. The scale may not encourage you today, but eventually it will!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Let's scream, let's shout...shake your body down to the ground!!!

I have been thinking about what it means to have womanist sensibilities in the midst of my life as wife, minister, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. According to the third definition written in Alice Walker's "In Search of My Mother's Garden," a womanist: Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.

It may seem like a stretch to some, but my ZUMBA class appeals to my womanist one room, at one time, there is music, dance, spirit, love, roundness, struggle, folk, and me...

That said, look what came in the mail today...

NOW, with my fiercely purple (womanist) Nike Huraches, I am really ready. I cannot wait for ZUMBA on Tuesday. It is probably the most fun and most intense workout I have ever done...emphasis on the word FUN! The joy of dancing keeps me moving when my hips are burning, my legs don't want to be lifted any more, and sweat is dripping into my eyes (it is a beautiful struggle)Admittedly, I am not the go hard type in the gym. I sweat some, but not to the point where it is gross. I work just hard enough for results, but not any harder than I need to. But in this class, sweating hard and working hard come naturally to me. Perhaps it is because dancing comes naturally to me (though hubby thinks I have two left feet). Whether I am a dancing machine, or I have two left feet, I now have the shoes to take my ZUMBA workout to the next level!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Although we are four days into February, it is still a new year. Last week I got new glasses. Yesterday I got a new haircut. Daily, I am adopting new habits to strengthen my inner and outer woman. I echo the words of the songwriter, "Well, I looked at my hands, my hands looked new. I looked at my feet and they did too." Newness is all around. Check me out...

The words and sentiment in Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude" ring true for me today. Do you have a new attitude?

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

iPad App of the Week (new feature!!!)

I am an Apple's not hard to tell. I blame/thank Fred Bartels at the Rye Country Day School. In his computer class I made a music video for De La Souls, "Me, myself, & I" during the summer before my 8th grade year on a Macintosh II computer and I've been hooked ever since.

As such, and because I keep discovering new things on my iPad daily,I am introducing a new feature on the blog. In addition to "Thing on These Things" and "Making the Sermon" I will feature an iPad App of the Week.

So here goes...

The app for this week was recommended by my girlfriend, and fellow iPad lover, Kimberly. She mentioned that she had started a running program using the Couch25K app. As a runner who has lost her wind, I thought this app would be perfect, so I downloaded it today and gave it a test run...pun intended (I'm corny).

I love everything about the Couch25K app! It is a ten week program to move you from sitting in front of the television to running a 5k race. It let's you make a playlist for your run from the music on your iPad so you don't have to toggle between apps. I was so amped when Rock Steady came on! It has a large display with the time remaining on the interval you are working on. Another way to say that is, I could take off my glasses and still se that I had 15 seconds left in my run. Michael, my audio trainer, politely interrupted my music to tell me when to run, when to walk, and when to cool down. Like Nike+ it allows you to log your mood, running terrain and other notes about your run. I am the queen of free apps, but the $2.99 I paid for this app was well worth it!

If you want to get off the couch and start running, then this app is for you!!!

By the way, for those of you who miss "Making the Sermon," a new installment will be coming in the next few weeks...

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My New Favorite Snack...

I am in love.

Dramatic, I know. Let me try this again...

Today, after ZUMBA, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for the impending storm (number eight, so they say). I loaded my cart with fruits, veggies, and meat. I have heard it said, and I know it to be true, that the best food options and the least processed foods can be found around the perimeter of the store. So I stayed in my lane by shopping on the outside lane. As I made my way around the dairy aisle, heading toward the registers, I saw an end cap of Emeralds nuts on sale. I grabbed a container of cashews and there they were...Dark Chocolate flavored Cocoa Roasted almonds.

I didn't know if I was going to like them. I like almonds, but I am not really a fan of dark chocolate. But these almonds--these almonds--are like a gift from heaven! They are delicious. They are satisfying. They are high in protein, a good source of fiber, and most importantly, they are the perfect cure for a chocolate craving! Bonus round!

If you need a chocolate fix without grabbing a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup, grab a handful of these almonds. Yummy yummy!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!