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MOUNTAINS

"Sweat of Thy Brow: Ft. Doctor Rich Brazil" Vol. 1 Naknek Design

"Sweat of Thy Brow: Ft. Doctor Rich Brazil" Vol. 1 Naknek Design

This is my dad. He (and my mom) are large animal/ranch veterinarians. Naknek Design created a short film about his life and work as the first part of Read More...

FAITH

Shame Keeps Us From Community

Shame Keeps Us From Community

The church is an unlikely group, but we have Jesus Christ in common. We are called to accept one another when it comes toRead More...

INSPIRATION

Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

If you love the voice of Ryan Bingham, then you love it out of the blue. At first it sounds raspy, discordant--then you hear that note of truth. IRead More...

FOOD

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze

The perfect summer dinner – If you can’t cook and you’re looking for a way to impress your guests (or if you can and yoRead More...

Home Sounds: Ryan Bingham

Posted on: Saturday, September 17, 2016

If you love the voice of Ryan Bingham, then you love it out of the blue. At first it sounds raspy, discordant–then you hear that note of truth. It’s an old banged-up ring you find in a store off Route 66; tarnished and dinged, but then you bite and taste silver. Dylanesque, full of red dirt and experience. Husky, dusky, whiskey rough, distilled Americana, blues and soul, more than a little rock and roll.

You can hear Bingham’s history as a bullrider, rodeo cowboy, and ranchhand growing up in New Mexico in his voice–you can tell he has earned the right to sing folk. As he told Rolling Stone Magazine:

I can’t stand studios. When I started playing, I kind of lived out of my truck. I had a camper set on the back, and I’d just disappear out in the desert, or find these real desolate places and set up camp for a while and hang out. I still miss parts of that, when I was just rambling around out there.

It seems that part of that change in scenery came about in 2009, when Bingham’s song Weary Kind won him and co-writer T Bone Burnett a shelf’s worth of awards (Oscar, Grammy, Critic’s Choice, and Golden Globe) after being featured in the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart.

This sudden genre-crossing success changed nothing in Bingham’s musical path. In fact, he left his record label shortly afterward to self-release Tomorrowland in 2012, bucking the music industry to maintain control. As for his newest album, Fear and Saturday Night, all the songs were written in an Airstream isolated in the mountains of California. Bingham’s career is one of creative control and non-conformism.

I saw Ryan in December 2015, the first time he headlined the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. His live show reflected a newfound jubilance. In the tradition of folk, Bingham is bold enough to wear his heart on his sleeve: While Tomorrowland is an angry, bleak reflection after the deaths of his parents; Fear and Saturday Night is happier and lighter, reflecting his marriage and the birth of his daughter. Considering his choices so far, at 35 there is every reason to believe Ryan is an artist who will keep growing and being true to himself and his sound.

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze

Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2016

The perfect summer dinner –

If you can’t cook and you’re looking for a way to impress your guests (or if you can and you love caprese like every other normal person) try out this suuuuuuper easy recipe with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic glaze.

And because you’re dying to know about heirloom tomatoes and why you should spend extra money on them when “they’re all just tomatoes,” here’s a brief recap on what these crazy looking things are:

An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been passed down through generations for valued characteristics. The variety of heirloom tomatoes historically available has been gradually reduced/ replaced by a few varieties of hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics. In the process of specialization, much of tomato diversity and variation of taste has been lost. An example of quality lost in the standardization of the tomato is a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes the classic uniform red color. This mutation sacrifices the fruit’s ability to develop a sweet taste. Because of this, many heirloom tomatoes have a better and more unique taste.

So try something new and pick up some heirloom tomatoes while they’re in season this summer!

Summer Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes & Balsamic Glaze
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Ingredients
  1. 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
  2. Mozzarella cheese
  3. 2 bunches of basil
  4. ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. Salt and pepper
For the reduced balsamic glaze
  1. Pour the vinegar into a sauce pan; heat on medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer on medium for 4-5 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.
  3. Let cool; vinegar will thicken as it comes to room temperature.
  4. If you want a variation, try throwing 4-6 blueberries in the simmering vinegar and let the fruit boil down with the reduction. The addition of fruit increases the sweetness of the balsamic glaze and adds some interest to the dish, also it makes you look like a legit chef. ;)
For the tomatoes & cheese
  1. Slice tomatoes and cheese into rounds.
  2. Stack the tomato, cheese, and 2-3 basil leaves.
  3. Drizzle cooled balsamic and olive oil over the top.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serving ideas
  1. Pair with naan bread, heated over the stove top in a buttered saucepan. Drizzle the naan with honey and sprinkled with salt and pepper for the ultimate summer dinner.
Notes about glaze
  1. Reducing the glaze increases the sweetness of the vinegar and changes the texture so that you can pour it over the top of your caprese without it running off. It should taste sweet-tart. I’d really recommend springing for high quality balsamic vinegar as it will really make a difference! Here’s an interesting article on choosing the right vinegar: http://rouxbe.com/tips-techniques/332-how-to-choose-balsamic-vinegar
Sky Blue http://www.skybluewords.com/

Enjoy!

“Sweat of Thy Brow: Ft. Doctor Rich Brazil” Vol. 1 Naknek Design

Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This is my dad. He (and my mom) are large animal/ranch veterinarians. Naknek Design created a short film about his life and work as the first part of their series “Sweat Of Thy Brow.”

The team behind Naknek are good friends of mine who have a vision for creating exceptional content. This is what they have to say about the series:

The Sweat of Thy Brow series is about honoring the people who live by conviction, integrity, and endurance in all areas of their life. These are the people that have truly paved the road we are to walk on.

This series is our attempt to honor the people that have set the example of perseverance while fighting the uphill battle that comes with pursuing entrepreneurship.

We acknowledge there is a dying breed of men and woman in the world that simply have grit and integrity. We hope that this series captures that grit and integrity in a way that will encourage others to respect it, pursue it, and live by it.

My dad is the best guy I know. In a world of talkers, he is the real deal. He serves people from our church to the baseball and soccer teams he coaches to the many kids in our area who he has taken under his wing (in addition to 8 of his own!) and who consider him a father figure. He loves his family and cares about his clients. He is a true outdoorsman who has traveled the world and he is the most intelligent and well-read person I’ve ever met. I am thankful for my dad and this video is something I’ll always cherish. I’m thankful to the team at Naknek for doing such a beautiful job telling his story. Check it out here:

Follow Naknek Design on Instagram, like them on Facebook, and visit their website for information about upcoming projects!

Shame Keeps Us From Community

Posted on: Sunday, June 5, 2016

The church is an unlikely group, but we have Jesus Christ in common. We are called to accept one another when it comes to things that don’t matter. Instead, we often condemn others for trivial things and isolate ourselves, either by forsaking community or by living in false conformity. We avoid vulnerability in order to protect ourselves, but as a result we are deprived.

In a TED talk on Vulnerability, researcher Brené Brown said:

“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, I won’t be worthy of connection?”

The gospel is unique. We are called to live in community, but also in private communion. Not “on display”–with special uniforms, dietary restrictions, and other marks of religiosity–but in quiet holiness. Not in performance–with loud public prayers and declarations of fasting–but in truth; praying and giving in private, loving truly, acting in the interest of others instead of in the interest of self-promotion.

There are two extremes: Separatism, and total immersion. We’re not supposed to escape the world in safe communities, hiding our light under a bushel. At the same time, it’s foolish to pretend that being salt and light in a dark world is easy. Out here, we need the church more than ever.

It would be easy for believers–both those who are strong in conscience and Christian liberty and those who are not–to block out dissenting voices. With the unprecedented accessibility of the Internet comes unprecedented imperialism over our social groups. With the click of a button, we can excommunicate people from our own little kingdoms. 

But if everyone decided to protect their lives from intrusion by cutting out dissenters, we would create pockets of sectional, isolated living, and we would all be stagnant and prickly in our own little comfort zones, surrounded by yes men. Flannery O’Connor said, “Conviction without experience makes for harshness.” If I only socialize with people who think just like me, I’ll never be challenged and I’ll never be changed. And neither will the people I’m avoiding.

Brené Brown points out that the word “courage” comes from the Latin word for heart. The original definition of courage is: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” This reminds me of James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

It is easy to play a role, to give an appearance of following rules, to say what you’re supposed to say and do. It’s much more difficult to be honest about your failings and to let people love you when you’re weak, lonely, or struggling. 

It is easy to subscribe to a set of strict, manmade rules–rules that sound like those mocked in Colossians 2:21: “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.” (That passage goes on to say that these human, “religious” regulations have the appearance of wisdom, but are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.) It is much more difficult to live a prayerful life of faith and obedience, trusting God’s guidance through the gray areas of life, looking to Him every day for the wisdom and strength we need to make our way in a dark world. 

There are no shortcuts to holiness. Our private prayer lives inform our public walks. When we live in openness and transparency before God, we are able to live in openness and transparency before others. When we understand that we are forgiven and free in Him, resting in His righteousness, our shame disappears, and we can experience true community.

I think if every Christian took Romans 14 to heart, many of our problems would disappear. 

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4

Shame keeps us from community, but Christ came to abolish shame. In Him there is no pretense–we are all sinners who need a Savior–and in Him there is no condemnation. It takes courage to be honest about our failures, and it also takes courage to allow others to stand and fall before their Master without our permission. It feels good to judge; it lets us give ourselves a pass. Legalism and separatism are the easy way out. Rules are easy. Private obedience and trust, public honesty and vulnerability, a love that believes the best of others (1 Corinthians 13:7)–this is the radical life of a transformed person.

Where the Bible is clear, we must be clear. For everything else, there is grace–the kind of grace that kills shame, brings joy, and can only exist in God’s house.

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