Legacy: leaving one, having one

Legacy: leaving one, having one

Over the last 3 months I (Erick) have been working on a conference for Cru called “Legacy.” Legacy has been a conference brought to life 3 years ago by Adam Go (EFM National Director with Cru). The goal was to be able to have a place in the Upper Midwest Region of Cru to gather what was then the beginnings of EFM (Ethnic Field Ministries) movements and have a place for them to gather and learn and grow in their faith with the unique lens of their ethnic identity.

 

After taking over director responsibilities from Adam over the summer I started off on a journey that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do. For the conference to have the impact that Adam and I (and many others) had been praying for God was going to need to show up in big ways.

I began by praying. Asking God what I should be asking for. Number of students to attend. Staff to come alongside me in the planning process. Content. Speakers. Everything.

One of the biggest things that keep coming to my mind as I prayed was a desire to have a healthy mix of ethnic minorities represented at the conference. Then a dream began to come into view: What if we had students that represented all of the EFM movements? Epic, Impact, Destino, Nations, Design. Even though I knew that we didn’t have all of those movements happening in the Upper Midwest I knew there had to be students that would identify with those movements and that maybe we could get them to Legacy.

Another thing that God kept challenging me to was to see a diverse group of people “up-front”. I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish this, but began praying that God would “make it happen.”

As the planning went on and the conference dates grew closer and closer something became abundantly clear. God was on the move. A week before the conference I had a Hmong pastor from St. Paul, a black pastor from Milwaukee, a latino Destino staff all coming to be the speakers. I had an Indian woman emceeing. A white man leading worship. A bi-racial woman facilitating a panel. God put all of the pieces together so beautifully.

We also had students from every facet of EFM and I was so in awe of God for how mightily He moved in students lives to get them to come to the conference.

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As the conference began it was clear that God was just going to continue to make His name known to all of us. Speaker after speaker a constant theme was being tied about God’s creation and what that means for us today. But nothing repeated. Nothing seemed out of place.

A few takeaways from the conference that I had were from the first talk of the conference where Pastor Will Branch talked through Genesis 3:11 and had us all write down things that we have heard and/or believed were true about ourselves relating to our race/ethnicity/culture. He then rolled through God saying, “Who told you you were ________.” And then proceeded to walk us all through the healing process of “God created you and said you are very good. So stop believing the ‘blank.'”

We also had a panel of all of the speakers, emcee and myself and got the chance to answer some harder questions about our own ethnic identity  and to lend our perspectives toward our own experiences. We also opened it up to the audience (always dangerous territory) and got to answer some of the tougher questions that were on students’ minds.

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There was also a beautiful moment where our worship leader Joe Hanson led us through a time right before we worshiped to “Revelation Song” that we were glimpsing a moment of heaven in the room as a diverse multitude gathered to worship God singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.” It was probably the most moving worship moment I’ve had in awhile.

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The conference was full of moments like this. I’m so thankful for everyone who made it possible. So thankful that God gave me the opportunity to experience it and to have been used by God to lead it from beginning to end. God expanded my heart for seeing my life through a culturally sensitive lens and I’m excited for the dividends that is going to pay down the road.

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July Prayer Letter

Hey all! We’re so behind in keeping our blog updated. No excuse really. Just not making time. I’ve made time today, so here you are — our July prayer letter. Thank you for praying for our ministry and joining us as we reach the lost with the truth of the Gospel.

Continue to pray for us as we work this next month on our personal financial support. We have some urgent needs before us before the fall semester begins. Pray for the Lord to lead us those He desires to join us in reaching students in Central Wisconsin — praise Him for the new support He has already raised up for our ministry. Pray for us to seek rest and contentment from the Lord alone. Prayer Letter_July JPEG

S’more Bars

roasting-marshmallows

I’ve always loved the idea of summer … and sun … and all things hot …. gosh, I miss summer. I’m totally channeling my inner Olaf right now.

Oh summer … what makes me think of summer is s’mores. Seriously, I love them. The melty feel of freshly browned marshmallows over a crackling fire, the crunch of graham crackers crumbling everywhere (no matter how careful I bite into the thing), and the chunky goodness of a bite of chocolate. So yum.

In the winter months, I’ve been known to make s’mores in the microwave. It’s so not the same experience, but it’s really fun to watch the marshmallows blow up. It’s like I instantly become a 5-year-old again who must look directly into the microwave and observe every moment of what is happening to my mallow; I don’t care about the radiation. And by the way, is that even a real thing? If it is, whatevs. Live on the edge with me. Channel your inner child. Go crazy.

I recently discovered another way to enjoy my love of s’mores. Did you know we can enjoy all of the flavors of our favorite campfire treat in bar form? No fire needed for this one.

I made some minor tweaks to the recipe I found online and seriously, one tweak I must strongly encourage you to do is put some of the marshmallows on top of the batter after you’ve mixed everything together. Don’t forget that step. You get to watch the mallows blow up in the oven now and then you get this pretty toasted look on top. It’s worth it.

Summer is coming soon. This will be a good warm up. Enjoy.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Half a package of graham crackers, broken into pieces
  • 1 – 10oz bag of marshmallows
  • 6 chocolate bars, broken into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9×13 pan. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer (or handheld), cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix over low-medium speed just until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix over low-medium speed for another minute. Add flour mixture slowly and mix just until incorporated. By hand, fold in graham crackers, all except 12 marshmallows (I actually tore the marshmallows in half so it was a little easier to mix in with the batter) and chocolate. This is thick batter so put get your arm workout in. Press into greased 9×13 baker. Top the batter with the 12 marshmallows you set aside. Bake in a 350º oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (see notes).When the bars come out of the oven, you are totally going to want to slice them up immediately because the smell is going to kill you. Really, my whole house filled up with the scent of chocolate and sugar. But, you will have to wait a bit because they will be very gooey. Just like a real s’more. So, it’s best to wait and let them set for about two hours in the fridge. 🙂

Notes

When you are inserting your toothpick to check for doneness, try to aim for the batter areas. Avoid the chocolate or marshmallows as of course the toothpick will be sticky.

March Prayer Letter

Thanks for praying for us! It’s been an exciting month of ministry, and we’re so excited for the rest of the semester.

A special prayer request: This summer will be serving in North Myrtle Beach, SC on summer project! 90 students and staff will be a part of the NMB community for 10 weeks reaching community members and vacationers with the Gospel. Pray for us as we prepare to shepherd students, and work to raise financial support for this trip, as well as Spring Break. We are also in need of monthly support for our ministry. We’re trusting the Lord for $500/ monthly support and $6,000 in one-time needs.

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February Prayer Letter

So this is later than it was supposed to be — my bad!! Totally forgot to post it on the blog! We had such an awesome Janurary — we went to California!!! Thanks for praying for us, our students and the ministry in central wisconsin.

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The Best Blueberry Muffins

Muffins

I don’t claim many things to be the best. I really don’t. “Best” is so relative. Maybe they’re just the best for the moment. Or for the season you’re in. It’s just your opinion. Everyone’s got their preferences.

But I’m confident in these little bundles of buttery, blueberry goodness. They’re the best. I’ve tried a dozen or so blueberry muffin recipes over the years and none of them come out quite like this. Favorite. Ever.

They’re moist and buttery, they’ve got just a hint of citrus to bring out the flavor of the blueberry, and have the crumbly topping. I LOVE the crumbly topping.

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In my classic Courtney form, I’ve combined the genius ideas of a few recipes and made my own. It’s just the way to go, you know? You can do the same. Go ahead, merge my thoughts with your own. Or with your mom. Or Ina Garten. I don’t care. That’s the beauty of baking and cooking at home — it’s your own form of art. Live on the edge.

Enjoy!

The Best Blueberry Muffins

adapted from Williams Sonoma, Smitten Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated
For the topping:

2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup flour

For the muffins:

7 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 standard muffin cup tin with butter or a 24 mini-muffin cup tin.

To make topping, in a small bowl, stir together the sugars and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Add flour. The order of the ingredients is important here — by adding the flour last, you’ll guarantee to have bigger “crumbles.” I like big crumbs. If you don’t care, throw it all together. 🙂

To make the muffins, in a bowl, using an electric or standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a third bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Using a spatula, gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful not to over mix — it just takes a few strokes to get those blueberries in there.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the topping.

Bake the muffins until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes (standard), 16-20 minutes (mini). A toothpick entered into the center of one of the muffins should come out clean. Transfer to wire wrack and let cool at least 5 minutes.

Enjoy!