Two Months To Go For #BrashBash17

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It would be so nice if we just lived together already (this is the daily conversation Brendon I have in our soon-to-be kitchen.)  If we lived together now, things would be easier: no more late night Ubers across town, no sad goodbyes... we could call the same place home. Wouldn't that be nice? 

We're 59 days away until we say "I Do." We're learning that as anxious as we are to get to it, that in so many ways the Lord is already walking us towards a beautiful holy covenant between us. 

Engagement season is one long-stretched out aisle of leaning into what will make our marriage substantial. It comes with a bunch of messiness, bruises, and so much grace. Learning each day how our commitment to each other leads us to holiness. It gives us new desires and brings old desires into line with on another and that being happy is being holy. 

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It's hard not to rush, to not want to be married, be our own family or live together in the apartment we're creating to be our future home. It's hard not to want everything right now and not let human desires and temptations creep in, because they do and to be completely frank, it's flipping hard. But having people behind you, that love you enough to keep you accountable is wonderful and sacred. 

We're working hard daily to lean into being present and embrace this time we have. There's been such beauty and peace about being present. We're learning to fight smarter, to love deeper and to point one another back to Jesus as much as we can because we're broken and messy and couldn't have the grace we have for one another if it weren't for Him. 

Weekend: August 24-27th

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We hope that you had a wonderful weekend! Ours was filled with running a few errands, going to the farmers market and taking it easy. It began with a fun Thursday evening dinner with one of our good friend Jayme. The entire night was filled with laugher, sass and a few in depth conversations about life, it was a great evening to fill the soul. We always feel so fortunate when we have a chance to catch up and hear how the Lord is moving in Jayme's life and how we can be supportive and encouraging her. 

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After a throwing a few ideas around. Brendon and I decided we wanted to bless Jayme by inviting her over for dinner and dessert. Beginning the evening with our first attempt of baked brie. We learned that it was quiet simple to make. With just three simple ingredients: brie, crescent rolls and your choice of Jam; we used blackberry. We baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and presto amazing deliciousness ready to indulge in. 

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For dinner we decide on starting with a balsamic arugula salad. Again using the most simplest ingredients: arugula, olive oil, vinegar, cherry tomatoes and a few mozzarella balls. It paired nicely with our homemade margarita pizza with cauliflower crust. We are trying our hardest to stay away from as much bread as possible...until the wedding..minus that baked brie we couldn't resist.

So to stay true to our promise we tried cauliflower crust for the first time and I can't say enough good things about it. Of course it wasn't pizza dough but I'm for sure looking forward to eating at again. 

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Our evening ended with a few scoops of ice cream from our favorite: Salt & Straw. Sadly we scarfed it down so fast we didn't have a chance to take any pictures...next time we promise.

Hurricane Harvey Relief

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When news started to break about the intensity of destruction that the Houston area was battling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I initially thought "Wow, that's really sad." And then I moved onto the next headline.

I realized today that my indifference was me not embodying the words of Jesus. That, in essence, I was sinning by not listening to the voice of God to give of my time, talent and treasure during a very real and horrific event. My paralysis against wanting to act was put on by not knowing how to act, or what organization to give to, or simply tuning out and thinking "Someone else will do it." 

But the beauty of the global Church is that we get to partner with God's redemptive Kingdom-building work in the here and now, whether the need is across the street or across the globe. The resources that we've been given are not to build ourselves up but to give back out as we usher in the Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

With all of this being said, here's a list of organizations that my friend Christine posted about on Facebook (which she got from a friend of hers) or local Houston-area organizations that you can donate to:

CHURCHES

Bayou City Fellowship (where I personally gave)

Champion Forest Baptist Church

United Methodist Committee on Relief

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR)

FOOD BANKS

Galveston County Food Bank

Corpus Christi Food Bank

Houston Food Bank

OTHER

Texas Diaper Bank

Austin Pets Alive (a no-kill shelter taking in Harvey pets)

Portlight (a local grassroots organization that provides disaster aid to the disabled specifically)

The Coalition for the Homeless (an umbrella organization coordinating shelters and orgs across the city)

5 Recommended YouTube Channels for September

There's a lot of great short-form content on YouTube that Ashley and I enjoy watching when we have a quick free moment. We don't have to sit to be invested in a story but short-form content can be as equally as satisfying, depending on our mood.

So here's a list of YouTube channels that we've been watching or have subscribed to that you should check out. Since this is the first of this kind of post, this list is a combination of both channels that we've been following for awhile to those we've just come across recently.

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Wong Fu Productions

Wong Fu Productions has been a staple of mine for many years. I don't pretend to be an original follower of this 3-person film team since their humble beginnings, but I do respect their work and time and time again I find myself impressed with each new video release. From one-off skits on the absurdities of young adult life to heartfelt serial stories of love and heartbreak, they excel in storytelling and creating relatable characters. Check out "How Old Is She?!" for a good laugh and "After Us" if you want a good tear-jerker on relationships.

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DSNY Newscast

I've really been enjoying DSNY Newscast, a tri-weekly show for information on news and rumors surrounding Disney Parks and other Disney-related topics. Three times a week, the host, Jack, spends just a few quick minutes sharing about updates as they relate to Disney's theme parks throughout the globe. Even though he lives in the UK without easy access to a Disney Park, Jack's passion for the famed theme parks runs parallel to an Annual Passholder's. Check out his video on the upcoming re-skin of Disney California Adventure's Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier and this video on the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster opening up in Disney's Hollywood Studios' new Toy Story Land.

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Kai Wong

For many years, Kai Wong was the video personality for DigitalRevTV, an online camera store, community and review site based out of Hong Kong. I watched those videos for the latest reviews on camera bodies, lenses and comparisons between brands and models. Much of the camera gear I own comes from getting recommendations in those videos Last year, Kai left that company to start his own YouTube channel, although I didn't realize this until recently. But he continues to do camera gear reviews, taking his signature outlandish and somewhat inappropriate personality with him. One of his recent videos helped me to pull the trigger on buying my first drone for video. Check out his review of the DJI Spark and his rundown of the best 4K vlogging cameras.

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Philip DeFranco

Philip DeFranco has been producing news videos for a long time but I first started watching his channel when the old internet video company that I used to work for began a strategic partnership with him. I loved his blunt and honest takes on current events, celebrity news and everyday human oddities and peculiarities. Lately he's been releasing his daily episodes into short segments on social medial for quicker consumption. A few months ago he announced that he had ended his partnership with my former employer/company and was once again an independent creator.

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Byron Talbott

This list wouldn't be complete without a YouTube chef/baker and Byron Talbott occupies that spot for me. Byron produces excellent how-to videos on making original recipes, from Passion Fruit Cheesecake to Pumpkin Spice Lava Cake. I didn't start watching his content until recently, but the videos that I've seen of him making his creations make my mouth water every time. 

10 Things for August

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Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Ours was filled with friends, more birthday celebrations (for me, I wasn't kidding when I said I celebrate all month...hehe) and some family time. We are excited to be back in routine this week and have a few slow-weeks/weekends ahead of us. Last night we had our first session of marriage counseling and Brendon and I still love each other, so thats a win! Excited to share more about that with you guys soon.

The end of August is one of our favorite times. It's where the city always finds itself in the midst of San Francisco summer, also known as its cold front. It's nice to pull out our favorite beanies and sweaters and embrace the foggy mornings. It doesn't last for very long but for the time being I'm holding onto it as tight as I can before our summer days get here in September. 

Below are a few things we've learned this month. Enjoy! 

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Her 

  1. Love more. Love more like Jesus. Love conquers. Love overcomes. Love marches on;
  2. Fighting with your partner is healthy. Fighting fair is important. Finding a solution and having grace for one another is an absolute must;
  3. Learning to not hide behind the phrase "I'm okay" when I'm not really okay;
  4. 30- the beginning of a new decade that I'm already smitten with; 
  5. Planning a wedding takes a lot of people. Thankful for my people. 

Him

  1. Your significant other can help to identify your blind spots: for me, it's my tendency to constantly work (or doing something, in general) instead of sitting still and being present;
  2. Practicing speaking your partner's love languages pushes you to do things you might not otherwise think about but will fill your partner's tank to the brim;
  3. Sometimes being a friend is simply being physically present to be a listening ear;
  4. Tubing on a river is my new favorite summer activity;
  5. I'm incredibly blessed to have someone so patient and full of grace as Ashley.

Makers And Monsters: Interview with Josh White

We're pleased to have sat down with author, musician and pastor Josh White on his upcoming book Makers And Monsters, which releases everywhere on September 1, 2017. We spoke with Josh about his creative journey, the origin for his new book, and how we can find our inner artist and fight our inner critic.

And to find out how to get a free copy of Makers And Monsters, read through the interview and learn more at the bottom!

You can also pre-order the book now on Amazon here.


Bethsaida Productions: Tell us a little bit about you: who are you, where do you come from, what do you do?

Josh White: My name is Josh White, born and raised in Noblesville, Indiana… I grew up in the middle of nowhere. When I was 18, I moved to Northern California, specifically San Francisco, just to get away from it all. I wanted to experience life outside of a farm. For my entire life I just knew what it was like to dig a ditch or take care of cattle, so I decided to move out here and experience something different. I went to a music university in San Jose and I definitely fell in love with San Francisco. I did a two year stint out here and then I remember being on a plane going home and thinking “It could be awesome to pursue Jesus and music inside of a city like this,” never thinking that would be something that I could do.

Over a period of vesting my passions into church culture, into music, slowly but surely God positioned me back in San Francisco. I work at a place called Canvas SF in San Francisco and I get to serve as one of the pastors there. I love it and I get to work with a bunch of different storytellers, creative, you name it.

BP: How did your desire for music begin to blossom?

JW: From the very beginning when I was a 5, I was put into piano lessons. I remember my mom telling people that I learned to read music and read books at the same time. From a very early age, music was always a staple in my life. I grew up on everything from alt-country to classical music and then I had this very secret dark love for heavy metal in between all of that.  But growing up where I grew up, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to invest myself outside of the mundane band camp or the stereotypical bar scene where you just listen to some guy who’s half-drunk and playing random tune that he knew. That was about it. So I knew that at least getting outside of the confines of the Midwest, at least coming to the West Coast, that would let me experience something a little bit different. 

So I spent so much time understanding the music scene in san Francisco when I came out here almost 7 years ago for the first time. And that was my first real exposure. And so now, understanding who I am as an artist, as a musician, I’m now able to bend back to Jesus. For so long that meant that I would lead worship in churches and just until recently, the last year or so, that musicianship level has matured into primarily developing other musicians and other worship leaders. But even more than that of me, it’s been developing the culture behind the scenes that happens for a musician, which is the songwriting, namely the lyrics, or coming up with that hook in a song that makes the entire tune just pop out of nowhere.

BP: Did you ever have a desire to be a solo musician or start a band? Did that ever materialize?

JW: Early on, my first thought when it came to being a musician was I just wanna go to college, get a secondary education degree, and go teach music at a high school somewhere in the middle of New York City. That would be my life during the day and my life at night would be that bar scene, going out and finding somewhere to go play in some random place. I never really thought I would pursue anything when it came to an actual musical platform. 

However I think God definitely had different plans for me in that capacity. I worked for a few different ministries: we’re talking about ministries in the thousands, where I was given opportunity after opportunity to develop an interest into getting into that. And while I knew there were better musicians around me that were better performers or vocalists than me, I soon realized my innate calling inside of musicianship was the writing aspect. I never wanted to develop that on-stage platform in the context of being a musician, but the off-stage platform of writing and helping to develop musicians, I think that’s been there even since I was little.

BP: Who were your musical influences growing up and who are your musical influences today?

JW: My two biggest musical influences growing up were John Prine, an old country western artist. I heard the song “Sam Stone” when I was little. It was the first time I understood a metaphor in a song. This song talks about someone coming back from the Vietnam War who deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, he takes pills to compensate for it. And so there’s a line in that song that says “there’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes.” And I heard that and was like, “You can write a song by telling a story. That’s amazing.” And that was the first lyrical influence I can remember.

The first non-lyrical influence, the first musical influence, was the song “Clair De Lune,” the Claude Debussy song. I remember I used to listen to that on repeat for hours on end. I was totally fixated on the melody pitch, the piano line inside of that song. I think those two songs were probably the two biggest influences for me. 

I loved the deep, almost dark writing of old country western songs. They may sound happy, but a lot of them have very dark undertones to them.

Now you go forward to today: I would say not a lot has changed inside of that. I actually right now have the opportunity to write with my biggest lyrical influence that I know of which is a tremendous blessing that I never thought would ever happen. So my biggest influences today are Andy Baxter from Penny And Sparrow: in my opinion the best lyrical writer I’ve ever seen; John Paul White who used to be with The Civil Wars, huge influence of mine.

BP: And guilty pleasure metal song or metal band?

JW: Oh man, Pantera all day. The Great Emo Aftermath, that’s a new band that I just came across. It’s actually an emo-punk band that went metal. They’re awful but they’re fun to listen to.

BP: Your primary calling has been in music and raising up leaders within the context of music and music writing, but you also have this gift of writing in general: writing books, writing blog posts, etc. How did you start writing and writing a book?

JW: That whole story is kinda insane in itself. Back in Indiana, a mentor of mine told me “You really should stop working for churches, or for specifically one church, and start consulting multiple churches in leadership, musical development, creative development.” And while I didn’t believe him, he eventually told me “I need you to quit your job and just go do this because this is what you’re called to do.” And I trusted him enough that I decided I’m going to walk into this and see what happens. Within four and half months, it became a full-time income which I just thought was insane.

But one of the first ways I knew I that I needed to gain exposure was opening a website. It was called joshwhitemusic.com. It was the first website I ever opened up. I registered it on like WordPress and had no clue what I was doing. I decided that for potential clients to trust me, I’m not going to talk to them on the phone, I’m not going to pitch to them. If they’re interested, I’m going to send them this blog site and just tell them to pick a topic that I’ve written on to see this is my heart. If you wanna hire me, cool, if not, no big deal.

Within that first six months, I had over 2,000 subscribers to the website. I was writing almost every other day or even sometimes daily blog posts on topics that I was passionate about, whether that was creativity inside of churches of when churches get stuck, what do you need to do? It was a lot of built-up thoughts and ideas that I just felt like I need to share this and get it out.

BP: And this process and sudden influx of attention was completely new to you.

JW: It was completely foreign to me and to be honest, I thought I was ready for it and I just wasn’t. With sales like that comes attention. I ended up, in the first 3 or 4 months, doing interview after interview after interview. They wanted to know what does Josh do? What is Josh like? It was all about the author. But my heart behind it was that I just wanted people to get to know the content in this book. And while I matured through those emotions at the time, that very much burned me out with my writing. I had to contact my publisher and ask them to take a break from this: I can’t do anymore interviews because I’m getting all this stress and anxiety by doing all these interviews because they solely want to focus just on me. 

That influx of attention at the beginning was actually a big mountain I had to climb and learn from that and understand sometimes when you sit down and talk about something, you don’t get to do that and you don’t really get to call those shots anymore.

Now at this point, I was scared and nervous for Makers And Monsters to come out just because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. But I’ve definitely gone through my fair share of waiting and it’s been about two years now. Now I’m ready to dig back into these waters and refocus myself on the content and be okay with them asking questions about myself.

BP: What would you say you’ve personally learned from launching your first published book three years later?

JW: First thing’s first, if you have something to share or if you have a story to tell, share it and tell it. It doesn’t mean everyone’s gonna listen. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be applicable to everyone. All that matters is that there might be one person who opens up that book and says “You know, I feel the same things that you talk about in this book. I feel these same sentiments that you’re feeling. And I wanna know what did you do to handle that? Or what did you do to conquer that?”

I definitely can be varsity level in insecurity. I know that anything I write is extremely cathartic. I think for other people that my hope is that it can also be cathartic to you. So when you read this, it has those same undertones of “I feel the same way. You’ve gone through it though: how do I go through it?”

I view my writings as a helping hand for other people. Hopefully this book will help you walk through whatever you’re walking through.

BP: Where does the name “Makers And Monsters” come from?

JW: In the very early stages of figuring out what this third book was going to be about, the first book which was an actual e-book called The Mind of an Artist, was helping people understand who they were as a musician, as a worship leader, as a painter, primarily dictated towards someone who calls themselves a “creative.” The second book was primarily dictated to people who call themselves a “creative” inside the church. And Make Something was extremely tangible. There wasn’t a lot of emotion involved in the book: it was more “Do this to achieve this.” We actually called it a handbook for worship leaders, creative thinkers, and people trying to make a difference. And my thought was a lot of times we can open up so many books and just see “Oh this is how I feel” and that’s really cool. But that’s all the book has, is “Oh, I feel the same way” but there’s nothing to do with that. And what I saw that was missing in the field of a worship leader was a book that showed I shared and understand the same sentiments as you, but here’s what you can do about it. 

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The book primarily dictated either a problem, for example, the culture of your church: if you’re trying to freshen or liven up the culture of your church. If you’re stuck in a culture that’s stuck in the 1950s and you want to bring them to the early-2000s: I feel that for you and I understand because I’ve been there. But so many times those conversations end right there. So Make Something was about here’s where you’re stuck and here’s some tangible steps to make to fix that. The book was full of steps, guides, advice, tips, and resources.

For the third book, I didn’t want to gravitate necessarily just towards the church field. I had so many people read or let me know that they were interested in Make Something and say, “That’s cool, but this does nothing for me. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve got 3 kids. And while I kinda understand what you’re talking about in Make Something, these tangible steps don’t necessarily apply.”

That was one half. The other half was that there were 3 specific companies that actually bought boxes of the book Make Something and gave it to all of their employees. I ended up talking to one company in Indianapolis that bought the book and he said “Basically I handed this to all of my employees. I told them to cross out the words ‘worship leader’ and put in the word ‘employee’ and read the book and we’re gonna go through this book together.” 

And so that told me that people are wanting or either understanding or sharing the same sentiments that I feel when it comes to the emotional qualities of what I write. However, I’m not writing in a way that’s actually applicable to everyone. So with the book Makers And Monsters, I actually take what I went through after the launch of my first book, which was those inner conflicts of knowing like, 1) I wrote a book but I burned out immediately after I wrote it; 2) I’ve never felt adequate enough to do something like this. I never tried to push myself into this platform: other people have given me the position to step on it and in some cases they pushed me onto it. But inside of me I’ve never felt okay with that. 

I think a lot of people deal with that. I think a ton of people deal with either getting pushed into a position or wanting to go into a position but in the back of their head they’re always thinking “However, am I gonna be good enough to do this?” And you’re going to have some people that walk into it and the feel like they actually have to be the best at it. They’ve got to be the best pastor. Or they’ve got to be the best musician. Or they’ve got to be the best coder for their business. And if they’re not, what they do isn’t good enough. 

The book very much dictates that conflict that we feel of feeling inadequate to actually pursue what Jesus calls us to do. God has called all of us to create something worth value in our lives, whether that’s to be the next CEO of a giant company, to write a song, or simply just to raise a family the way that God intended you to raise it. However, with that comes those inner struggles of wondering “Am I good enough to be this type of mother?” or “Am I a good enough musician to write a song that people can actually listen to?” 

If you do what God’s called you to do, you’ve got to work through those problems inside of yourself. And in the book, we call those “monsters,” those inner conflicts that you deal with. In the book, I tell these stories of the monsters that we face in storytelling mode. I think people listen to stories more than they do tangible actions. I think people can relate to some of the stories in the book and also apply what they can do to fight off those conflicts as well.

BP: How would you define a “creative”?

JW: Ever since I can remember, when people have told me “I’m not creative,” I’ve always followed that with “Well, has God called you to be a distinct type of individual? Has He called you to create a life that’s worth creating other things for other people? Or even just living your life?” 

And they say “Yeah…”

And I’d say “So you’re creating your own life. You can’t tell me you’re not a creative when you’re actually creating something that’s so individual as your individuality.”

It just so happens that I work for a church that that’s literally the end-all, be-all for us, that God has called us to create something with our lives. And that was, for me, knowing that that’s always been in the back of my head, and finally finding a ministry that says the exact same verbiage was a little too goose bump-y for me!

BP: You name 10 inner conflicts in the book that a creative or an artist can deal with. What would you say are a handful of them that you’ve personally struggled with?

JW: Inadequacy is huge one. Coupled alongside that is perfectionism and the feeling of inadequacy comes because I’m a perfectionist. I’m not going to sit here and say that I haven’t overcome those problems or situations simply because like symptoms like depression and other symptoms that people have to understand, it’s not something you always conquer. It’s something you’re going to have to deal with and you have to, in some way, stay away from it for a long time but you learn how to handle it. Anyone who has a medical form of depression would tell you the same thing. They don’t learn how to conquer it, but they learn how to live with it and they learn how to live a happy life when they have depression. 

It’s the same thing with all of the inner conflicts that we talk about in the book. The feelings of perfectionism, something that I feel almost every single day, walking out of a meeting and knowing it wasn’t 100% perfect: sometimes that tells me it wasn’t worthy enough to have that meeting. 

We even go deeper than that. We talk about not feeling like you’re not worthy enough to even make anything inside of your life. We talk about very heavy things like loss of family members and how that can put you into modes of depression. We talk about suicide. We actually go pretty deep in some of these inner conflicts and I think in some capacity everyone has either been affected or deal with all the inner conflicts that we talk about.

BP: How were you able to bring this list down to 10 conflicts?

JW: That was pretty easy for me. When I sat down and decided that this was the route I was going to go with this book, I had the first few chapters as blog posts before the book actually came into fruition. I wrote down within an hour 10 different monsters of my life that I deal with. I sent out the list to friends of mine and asked “Do you deal with all ofthese?” And they said “You’re literally speaking my language right now: these are 10 very specific issues that I deal with on a daily basis.” 

And through that I found people I never would have thought would deal with depression. I found people who I thought were total freedom-livers, that didn’t have a care in the world, but realized they’re some of the most stressed out people because they’re disorganized. In my head, I thought “Oh you actually live because of your disorganization.” So inside of that, they’re dealing with this perfectionist mindset of “I have to be organized.”

I think the book in every capacity showcases that it’s okay that you might have some of these conflicts that you don’t deal with, but this book pushes you to deal with them. The beautiful thing is at the very end of the book, we teach you how to actually create through the darkness you live and how that actually be one of the biggest tools in your tool belt when it comes to making your life.

BP: What are you hoping your reader walks away with after reading Makers And Monsters?

JW: It just goes back full circle to the very beginning. 1) You’re not alone: you’re not alone in your story that you’re dealing with, and 2) We open the book with the line “You’ll never be good enough.” And while that might have an almost like a rewind effect in the book to where it shows you, yes, you do have a value, and it’s okay to not be good enough. 

At the end of the book we actually show you that none of us are actually good enough because there’s Someone above us and Someone who has a higher calling than us named Jesus that is already good enough, so we actually don’t have to be good enough. 

It’s a little bit interesting how all this came to take place like that. I didn’t write this book for Christians. I didn’t write this book for pastors. I wrote this book for humans and for any human. But at the end of the day, the only thing that can defeat all of these monsters, which you learn at the very end you learn that out of all of these monsters, the biggest monster you have to face is actually yourself. You’re not only a Maker, but you’re also the Monster of your life. All of these inner conflicts are inner because you chose to let them in and hurt you like this. However, you might try to battle them and sometimes you’ll win but at the end of the day there’s only one Person who can actually defeat them, and that’s Jesus. 

And so even in the context of a book like this, we share the Gospel at the very end of what it means to actually devote your life to Someone who will always be good enough because we realize we aren’t good enough as we are.

BP: What do you believe is a creative art that you want to strengthen yourself or grow in?

JW: The biggest area as far as my individual artistry in songwriting: I’ve always done ample songwriting for other people. Now I’m surrounded with a team of songwriters where I’m at at Canvas and I decided now is the season where I need to fully develop my songwriting, fully develop my artistry inside of that, and take the talents I’ve been writing in a novel and put it in only three paragraphs and make it rhyme and see what happens.


GIVEAWAY: Get a free copy of Makers And Monsters!

Want a copy of Makers And Monsters before its release on September 1, 2017? We have a little giveaway in promotion of Josh White's soon-to-be-released book! For your chance to win, do these quick and easy three steps:

  1. Follow Bethsaida Productions on Instagram (@bethsaidaprod);
  2. On Instagram, Like this post of Josh White;
  3. On that post, tag a friend who might need to hear some encouragement on being a Maker dealing with Monsters;

The winner will be notified/tagged on Instagram! We'll contact you via Instagram Direct Message to get your mailing address! 

Limit 1 entry per person per Instagram username. An entry is considered complete and submitted if all three of the above steps are completed and verified by username. Winner will be selected randomly by Instagram username through a web-based random generator of all usernames associated with contest entries. Winner will be notified via Direct Message on Instagram. If the winning username does not respond to the Direct Message on Instagram within 24 hours of contest end, then another randomly-selected username will be selected. Contest ends on Sunday, August 20 at 9:59PM PST.

Tubing Down the Russian River

Ashley turned 30 years old this past Sunday! I'm so thankful for her and the ways we've been able to come alongside each other through our one-year of relationship. I'm excited to continue to grow with her, pursuing the heart of God more together, serving others together, and building a home and family together!

As a part of Ashley's month-long celebration of life, I put together an event with our friends to float down a segment of the Russian River in inner tubes. This is an activity that her and I have been wanting to do as individuals for a quite some time so doing it for her birthday was a dream come true for both of us.

I've never been tubing down a river before so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to do some research on logistics and to organize our friends. I came across this blog post to get a high-level idea of what to expect and how to plan. At the start of planning, I was going to ask each guest to rent inner tubes down at Johnson's Beach and that we'd float in Forestville from the Hacienda Bridge down to Russian River Pub, as the blog suggested.

But our friends Abby and Thomas, who've been before and say that tubing down the Russian River is one of their favorite activities ever, suggested that we start at Steelhead Beach and end at Mother's Beach, just short of a 2-mile journey that would take nearly 3 hours to complete (the current is super slow-moving).

Abby and Thomas also suggested that we buy our own inner tubes instead of renting them. If we decided to do even one additional trip to the river sometime in the future, that would pay for our inner tube purchases. They suggested a few items on Amazon, but I ended up getting a pair of the Intex River Run I Sport Lounge for Ashley and me (which, unbeknownst to me, was actually a very popular item on the river). I also picked up the Intex Mega Chill inflatable floating cooler to store drinks and food. A co-worker of mine also highly recommended getting a portable air pump that you could power with a car's AC adapter, so I got the LotFancy Portable Air Pump off of Amazon, too. Having one of these would save a lot of time (and a lot of breath) to blow up our inner tubes.

Ashley tends to go with wine so we picked up a few cans of Underwood wine at Trader Joe's and I snagged a couple of cans of Avery Brewing's Liliko'i Kepolo white ale, a perfect refreshing summer compliment with its hints of passionfruit. And on the morning of the trip, Ashley and I stopped over at a local grocery store to grab some sandwiches to eat on the river, along with watermelon slices and seaweed snacks. I also brought along a couple of trash bags to dispose of our empty cans, food wrappers, etc.

We had 11 people that came along, spread out over 3 cars. Originally, we were looking at chartering a Chariot to bring us to and from Russian River, but we couldn't justify the bottom-line cost (although I'd still consider this option for another local trip on another occasion). Our plan was to have all 3 cars meet at the start at Steelhead Beach, then have 2 cars drive down to the end at Mother's Beach to leave 1 of the cars there before driving back up to Steelhead Beach. This way we'd have a way to shuttle people back when we finished. 

Steelhead Beach has a parking fee (at the time of this writing, $7) so have cash handy. When we parked in the parking lot, it was a little after 10:30AM. There was plenty of parking, but it was starting to fill up. All throughout, groups of friends and families were getting their inner tubes inflated, some by mouth and others by electric pump. It was sunny out and already starting to get warm, contrasted with the foggy and breezy city that we had just come from.

Once we were assembled with gear ready, we walked a short couple of minutes through the parking lot, through the park and down to the river bank. On the river were small groups of floats and canoeing groups passing us by from some point further up river. I dipped my foot into the water: it was cool but not freezing. It felt just right.

We tied up our inner tubes together to make a small flotilla and waded into the water and began our 3-hour tour.

The river wasn't too crowded. There were groups of canoes and other inner tube groups scattered throughout. Some groups were blasting music from water-resistant Bluetooth speakers, something I wish we had come prepared with. Families in canoes paddled past us throughout the trip, and some kids had water cannons to spray us with, which was fun and funny for the first blast, but then got annoying...

The river is generally shallow. Standing up the water would reach your hips in most spots. Other areas it was deep enough to have to tread water. The current is slow-moving, although some bends are a little faster than others. At one point, I had my drink can on a separate, small individual float and it got caught up in the flow. I got out to chase after it but it was getting carried away so fast by the current. I found myself getting dragged a little bit and getting carried further from the main group!

We snacked and drank along the way, tossing bags of snacks between our inner tubes but we stopped on a sandbar a couple of hours into the trip to have our lunches. Having the floating coolers really made all the difference to keep our drinks cool and sandwiches fresh. Bags of ice can help too, but the cool river water might be enough too.

I think our group found our new favorite local summer activity. We definitely had a blast and can't wait to go again!

Outerlands

Most of my friends have already visited this brunch spot in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco (in fact, I'm sure many of them try to frequent this spot as much as they can). But I finally got my chance on my birthday on July 28 to go to Outerlands, thanks to Ashley!

I don't often find myself in this neighborhood along Judah Street: although the N Judah MUNI light-rail line travels right through it, it's still a little bit of a trek for me from the more central areas I'm in during the week. But this area is home to a few other spots that I've visited more than  once, like General Store for artisan home goods and clothes, Trouble Coffee for coffee and toast, and Judahlicious for acai bowls. It's usually super foggy and overcast in this area, so I'm never in the mood to wait in line in the cold for Outerlands.

When Ashley surprised me with a plan for brunch at Outerlands, I couldn't help but smile: soon, I would be a part of the "in crowd" by bragging about my visit to this restaurant (only kinda sorta kidding haha).

Thankfully, we went early on a Friday morning so there wasn't a line and the restaurant had plenty of tables. It almost felt like Outerlands was open just for us that morning! The interior of the restaurant felt almost reminiscent of something out of Portland, probably emphasized by the walls decked out in reclaimed wood, which I wasn't opposed to seeing around me.

I ordered the breakfast tostada, which had scrambled eggs, goat cheese crema, salsa roja and jalapeño, with an added avocado. Ashley had the cast iron grilled cheese sandwich, and she added avocado and a fried egg to it. Hers was so tasty!

I kinda wish that we ordered the day's doughnut: I don't remember what it was that day specifically, but I do know that I love doughnuts.

Oh, and we definitely recommend getting a warm cup of ginger lemon cider (it tastes like Christmas!) with whatever brunch items you decide to go with!

Birthday Celebrations for Brendon

To celebrate Brendon's birthday a couple of weeks back, I surprised him with an entire day of new experiences! One thing you should know about me early on is that I love and live for birthday celebrations. I absolutely, full-heartily love to celebrate others on their special day and I jump for joy every time mine rolls around. I was really excited this year to celebrate Brendon's birthday and to plan a full day of things he's never experienced before in San Francisco. 

The morning began with an early stop at the grand opening of a new Sightglass Coffee in NOPA (we wrote a separate post about it here). It was the perfect start to the day with free pour-over. 

Then we indulged in a comforting brunch filled with tostada's and grilled cheese stuffed with avocado and a fried egg on top paired with hot ginger apple cider at one of Sunset's finest: Outerlands. It's a must when visiting the Sunset, so I was super excited to be present for Brendon's first dinning experience. 

Before leaving the Sunset we popped into Hollow where we sat and sipped matcha and French pressed coffee and took silly photos together. 

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The afternoon led us to SFMOMA where we walked 7 floors of beautiful and exquisite modern art. The Edvard Munch exhibit did not disappoint: it evoked so many emotions that were lovely and heart-wrenching at the same time. His art is amazing depiction of what he was feeling through each painting he created. 

As we approached the final floor of the SFMOMA, we were ready for some dessert and new just the place to go. A familiar and nostalgic neighborhood for Brendon is Dogpatch where we indulged in iced hot chocolate cones with sprinkles and a cup of cookies and milk soft serve at Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous and a quick stop at the Dogpatch Saloon for a nice early evening beer. 

The evening approached and we were joined by close friends and ate noodles and curry at Basil Thai, a new Thai gem that we really enjoyed. 

We ended the evening with a pint and cheers to a great day at Cellar Maker.

The following day was a full afternoon of sipping beers at Fogbelt Brewing Company and two hours of friendly/competitive  laser tag at Laser Tag of Santa Rosa with a group of amazing friends. We didn't realize at the time how strenuous laser tag is once you hit a certain age. And after just two games, we almost called it quits but then came to our senses and thought when will we ever get to do this again? So we kept going and it was well worth it. We definitely had some sore muscles the following day, but would do it again to see how happy Brendon was! 

āina

We're very excited to have our friend Andrew Litwiller write for the Bethsaida Productions blog today! In this post, Andrew shares an overview of aina, a Hawaiian fusion restaurant in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. More information about Andrew at the end of the post!

 

In San Francisco, every neighborhood has something to offer. One of the gems of the Dogpatch is a Hawaiian restaurant called Aina. A group of five of us went to Aina last Sunday night and were very pleased with the experience. Aina is nestled on the corner of 22 nd street and Minnesota. Surrounded by residences, small businesses, and right across the street from a park, Aina could appropriately be dubbed a “cozy neighborhood restaurant.”

When you walk into Aina, you are drawn to the sleek, modern design with a small bar and in an intimate dining area all-in-one. The colors are neutral, and there are subtle decorations on the wall. The table and chairs are made of well-polished wood. This creates a welcoming and relaxed dining experience.

Our group started the night with a round of drinks. We ordered three Hawaiian Sodas (anise infused lillet, papaya juice, matcha, lemon, coconut cream, kaffir lime leaf, vanilla bean), one Moulin de la Gardette (Gigondas, Southern Rhone ’14 - Grenache/Syrah), and one Big Swell IPA (Maui Brewing Co, Maui, HI). The Hawaiian Sodas were light and refreshing, the Moulin was full-bodied and well flavored, and the IPA was hoppy and crisp. See below for a photo of the Hawaiian Sodas.

For dinner, I ordered the Saimin (nori saimin noodles, char siu coppa, yerba mate tea egg, kauai shrimp, smoked scallop cream, shaved cured egg yolk). Another member of our party also ordered the Saimin, and the others ordered the Lomi Salmon (paprika cured salmon, chive soubise, confit baby tomato, rouille, crispy shallots, foie gras black rice crispy). One couple at our table started the meal with the Spam Bao (steamed bao, stone valley farm pork spam, preserved lemon gribiche, tsar nicoulai smoked trout roe) and the Poke’ (limu, inamona, ahi tuna, fresh hawaiian heart of palm, smoked sesame oil, shiso, sea grass). The waiter recommended both of these appetizers as favorites on the menu.

I was very impressed with the food, but even more impressed with the presentation. It’s one thing to present food well, but it’s another thing to make it an art form. At Aina, each dish is a creation to be admired. They’re colorful, dynamic, and creative. I found myself waiting a few moments to begin eating, as I admired the attention to detail that the chef had put into each plate. 

With that said, the food was also outstanding. The dish I ate was one exciting flavor after another. The bold flavors of the char siu coppa and the Kauai shrimp were offset nicely by the light nori saimin noodles and a side of greens. The egg yolk added another great flavor to the meal. The others at the table were also impressed with both the saimin and the salmon. 

Aina is a special place. There’s a reason it made Thrillist’s list of “Best New Restaurants in America in 2016.” The restaurant delivers an exceptional experience, but in a subtle way. A trip to Aina will include flavors you haven’t experienced before, with presentation that is equally as impressive. The service is outstanding, and it all comes in the most “typical-neighborhood- café” environment you can imagine. Aina has found its niche, and the Dogpatch is a better neighborhood because of it.

 
 
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Our friend Andrew Litwiller has been living in San Francisco for nearly 3 years. He loves to explore the tastes and flavors that restaurants have to offer all over the globe. Check out his food blog Food For Thought and his basketball podcast The 1-3-1

Happy Birthday Brendon!

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The man I get to marry, future husband had a birthday last Friday! When I think about describing how incredible this guy is, how blessed I am to have him a part of my life, I can't help but get a little teary eyed thinking, soon I'll be his wife. 

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I couldn't pick just one photo of him so I am sharing a few with you today and a few reasons I just love this amazing human: 

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His heart for serving people. He is so intentional about making time with others to check up, connect and grow with.

If a friend needs him, he's there, to listen, to be attentive, to laugh, or even to just sit in silence and be present. 

 

His love for the Lord is contagious and watching someone put Jesus before anything else, well gosh, it's beautiful. 

The way he pulls us closer to the Lord through prayer, devotion and community.  

He's the guy that will take you to ice cream before dinner and eat sushi on a random Tuesday because YOU have to have it. Yet he's the same guy that will drink kale smoothies and eat tofu stir fry and love it just the same. 

He can make you laugh uncontrollably until your insides hurt. 

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When he's seen you at your worst, frustrated and tears running down your face...he'll sit with you, pray with you and wait until theres nothing left to do but smile and keep going.

He passionately loves San Francisco, its in's and out's  and values being rooted.

He loves everything Disney, enough said. 

His creativity and passion to share stories through a lense is inspiring.  

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I could keep going but I'll stop there, so blessed to partner with this one! 

Can't wait for all the future birthdays we get to celebrate! 

Sightglass on Divisadero

Ashley and I love our coffee. We're very spoiled to live in a city like San Francisco where good coffee is pretty easy to come by. The other month, I took Ashley to a coffee cupping event at one of our favorite coffee roasters and coffee shops, Sightglass Coffee. We were thrilled to learn that Sightglass was opening up a brand new shop at 301 Divisadero Street and we made sure to stop by on its opening day on Friday, July 28 (a very fitting day, which happens to also be my birthday).

We ordered two cups of Ethiopia pour-over coffees and we were pleasantly surprised that all coffee drinks were on-the-house for their opening day. We took a seat at a nearby booth, sipping on our warm, delicious cups of glory and enjoyed the scene of customers making their way inside, some curiously-wandering in to see the new addition to their neighborhood and others fully-aware of their favorite coffee roaster's most-recent opening.

We loved all of the seating that this new Sightglass has, from corner view windows tables to cushioned booths for prolonged stays. It definitely looked and felt like a Sightglass, but it also has a distinct NOPA (North of Panhandle) neighborhood feel. You might be able to attribute a part of that to the people who came in, which Ashley commented on in generalities: you had a good mix of techies stopping in before their commute to work along with young- to mid-20-somethings who look as if they balance multiple odd-jobs.

Something that this shop has going for it is their takeout window that opens right up to the sidewalk to take advantage of if you have to jet in a hurry.

Beyond all of that, the vibe was very open, very friendly, and very communal. We think that this is a great addition to this neighborhood alongside our long-time favorite coffee shop in the area, The Mill. We like that we have another great coffee option along Divisadero and that we can choose between having Sightglass coffee and Four Barrel coffee at The Mill! 

Weekend Recap: July 21-23rd

A weekend in the 'burbs visiting Brendon's parents, soon to be my in-laws (I love the sound of that). We were welcomed with a couple of warm, I mean, HOT few days in Martinez and Walnut Creek filled with lots of family, which we just love. Friday began with a slow morning sipping coffee at States, and afternoon of Mint Cold Brew, pomegranate tea and iced Matcha at a new find, Coffee Shop, recommended by an old co-worker of Brendon's. 

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An early lunch of veggie paninis paired with Berry Italian soda and Arnold Palmers with mama Patubo. That Berry Italian soda, I am still dreaming about it. 

A Friday evening of ice cream, pineapple prosecco and a njght spent in a cozy living room. Who could ask for anything more?

Saturday was spent at the 3rd annual summer birthday Luau with mai tai's, a roasted pig and hula dancers with friends and more family all hosted by Brendon's older sister Nicki, my future sister-in-law! She worked so hard to make it festive and fun. Hosting is something that brings the Patubo family such life and I love how much time, effort and love they put into each and every event they have. 

This Luau is a pretty special event for Brendon and I. Not only is it such a fun time with friends and family and a time we get to celebrate summer birthdays but last year at this Luau was when Brendon and I were both confronted by our friend James (Brendon's best man) about our feeling for one another. He challenged us to take a deeper look at our friendship and see if it was something more and if not...bluntly told me to back off in so many words hah. But if I wasn't for that conversation we would of never had the conversation about what "we" could possibly be.

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The weekend ended with Sunday at church, lunch at bun mee, afternoon boba, gelly pen finds, late afternoon movie with friends seeing Dunkirk (go see it, so good) and a a second movie night with my dad where he presented Hitchcock's: Strangers On A Train and boy was it suspenseful. 

Media Noche

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A few of you have asked us to share more about some of our favorite restaurants in the city or new ones that we're trying. Brendon and I love food and we love trying new places any chance we get. I love that about this city, that there're always new gems popping up to try, if that's a new trendy spot or a hidden hole-in-the-wall tucked away in SF's finest alleyways. 

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Lately Brendon and I have been obsessed with plantain chips: we could eat them all day if given the opportunity!  A few weekends ago we tried a new Cuban place in the Mission called Media Noche to get us excited for our honeymoon and they make their own homemade PLANTAIN CHIPS! I couldn't wait for us to have a free night so that I could suggest going! And that night happened just a few weeks ago and those plantain chips were everything! We loved them so much that we ordered two orders in one sitting! 

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As soon as you enter you're embraced with Cubán culture, from the mesmerizing floor tiles to the intricate details and whimsical designs everywhere. The menu had a great variety of sandwiches, salads and bowls to choose from. Brendon tried the El Cubano: roasted pork shoulder, smoked ham, Swiss cheese and house pickles all between two pieces of sweet brioche bread. I went for one of their signature bowls, the Lechón Asado: rice, black beans, pork and vegetables. We were told that both were pretty popular items on the menu so we were so excited to try. The portions were great sizes and we paired our meals with homemade pineapple sangria and a cerveza: Evil Twin Hipster Ale. We couldn't leave without partaking in one of their Midnight Mimosas that they're known for and didn't see until after we ordered, and since Thursday's are the new Friday apparently, why not! 

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They also have some amazing vegetarian options since we're weening ourselves off of meat and limiting ourselves to just once a week for now. (Read our post here, for why the lifestyle change). We're excited to go back and partake in those options!

What I love about the city is the amount of quaint snippets of culture that overflow into it from around the world. If we weren't already excited about Cuba for our honeymoon this little place sure built up the momentum.  If you find yourself in the Mission, do yourself a favor and take a stroll into SF's little Cubá experience: Media Noché. 

Recommendations: 

  • El Cubanó 
  • Lechón Asado 
  • Mariquitas plantain chips} 
  • Pobrecito ( veggie bowl) 
  • Midnight Mimosa 
  • Pinapple Sangria 

Little Dates: Coffee Cupping

A few Fridays ago Brendon surprised me with an afternoon date of coffee cupping. Brendon is always super intentional (more than me at times!) to be sure to plan date days/nights for us to have time for just the two of us.  

One of the many things I love about him is that when he plans dates for us, they're always so intentional and thought out, whether that's surprising me for dinner at a place I mentioned months prior, a city hike exploring a favorite neighborhood of ours, an evening sipping cocktails at a hidden gem, or a day of coffee shop hopping and reading in the park. He takes notes of the small things and continues to show me the value of dating and pursuit. He never seizes to amaze me how wonderfully thought out his dates are for us. So smitten with this guy. 

When he told me we were going to a coffee cupping class I was so excited! We love our coffee and I'm slowly getting better at making pour-over, so I was really interested in how the experts appreciate coffee. I couldn't wait to be educated on brewing pour-over and to learn how to smell, taste and understand the notes of coffee. 

The coffee cupping was at one of our favorite coffee shops in the city, Sightglass Coffee, located in South of Market. Before dating we'd often meet here, filling our afternoons with hours of conversation paired with their signature vanilla iced coffee (try it, you won't be sorry!).

With it's modern decor, natural light flowing in, yummy pastries and delightful pour-over coffee, it's a place you'll want to visit when in the neighborhood.  It's the perfect place to read, meet up for one-on-ones and indulge in an afternoon affogato, especially when the city gives us a warm day. 

It was such a fun afternoon of discovering where coffee beans come from, how they're picked and brewed and the appropriate way of tasting coffee to truly taste all of their flavors. Brendon was pretty pleased when the expert informed us that "sipping/slurping" coffee wasn't a rude gesture but rather the right gesture to truly taste the distinct flavors of a nicely brewed pour-over. I couldn't resist rolling my eyes... (friends, Brendon slurps everything...and now that we know it's necessary...great. I love him regardless...hehe)  

Ending the date sipping an almond milk vanilla iced coffee, so bomb! Go get one now!

Ending the date sipping an almond milk vanilla iced coffee, so bomb! Go get one now!

Weekend Recap: July 14-16

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This weekend was good to us: a Thursday night happy hour with friends in South of Market; vegan sushi and ramen at one of our favorite restaurants, Shizen in the Mission District; and an early, slow Saturday morning of coffee, reading and scooping up veggies for the week at the neighborhood Farmers Market. 

To top it all off, we had no set plans Saturday afternoon and were able to join my family for an impromptu barbecue on Saturday in Bernal Heights, soaking up sun, eating loads of guacamole and sipping on iced cold beverages all afternoon. 

Easy Breakfast Idea: Overnight Oats

I love sleep. Getting up is one of the hardest things for me to do in the morning. I've tried setting an early morning alarm, but I'll hit that snooze button on my phone's alarm clock app repeatedly and before I know it, it's 8:30AM and I've got to make a trek across town to be at the office by 9AM.

So imagine my surprise that I found myself not being able to afford time for breakfast in the morning before leaving for work. Recently, I've been stopping over for a green smoothie at a juice shop on my commute, but at $10 a pop, it's been killing my paycheck. Still, I need something somewhat nutritious to start my day and coffee alone isn't going to cut it.

Enter overnight oats.

Ashley had a great idea to start preparing overnight oats for a quick-and-easy breakfast option during my rushed mornings. I thought that overnight oats were way too trendy of a thing for me so I never really considered it as an option for me. But after making it for one breakfast, I've been hooked ever since. And it really is so easy to make.

We got a 4-pack of Ball 1-Pint (16 oz) Glass Canning Jars from Target which we discovered were a perfect size and shape for our overnight oats. These wider-mouth mason jars make it easy to dig your spoon into and they're compact enough to stick into a bag or backpack for those extra-rushed mornings.

Over at Trader Joe's, we grabbed a bunch of items for our meal. Here's what we chose to put in our overnight oats:

Fill a jar about 1/4-1/3 of the way full with the rolled oats and pour either soy milk or almond milk until the jar is a little over half full. Add a small spoonful of almond butter and add a small handful of coconut chips and almonds. Cover the jars with the lids and set in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, add a dash of ground cinnamon, a small bunch raspberries, and a small dollop of raw honey, to taste. And there we are! A hearty and filling breakfast on-the-go to start your morning off right!

10 things we've learned this June:

Her 

  1. Being more aware and cautious of what I put in my body daily; 
  2. Thankful for community to be so present, when life throws you a lemon. For example: when you have 30 days to find a new apt because you unexpectedly get kicked out of yours and your amazing community rallies together to make sure you have a place to stay;
  3. Themed movie parties bring me such JOY;
  4. Double dating is soul giving and stomach filling;
  5. If only I could do a bread crawl every month!  #carbscarbscarbs.

Him 

  1. Walking to and from the office each day takes time and energy, but fights against long days sitting at a desk;
  2. Removing excess from our lives is surprisingly satisfying;
  3. The calendar is my friend: scheduling and prioritizing meet ups, 1:1's and double dates couldn't happen well without it;
  4. Treasuring time with our families more and more;
  5. A life partner who shares relational ministry goals is so affirming!

#21DaysofEnough: Eating Animals

During the Minimalism series at our church Canvas, Brendon and I remembered that we're super thankful that years ago on our own, we decided we no longer wanted to shop cheaply: we wanted to shop for quality and be more ethically-conscious when purchasing items. As a couple it's been wonderful being able to find quality pieces to purchase to build our home together as well as purge items in our closets of things we no longer need or use (Brendon explains more in our post here about the Minimalism series, sharing about companies we love to support that are either small businesses or where proceeds of every purchase go to a cause we believe in). Not only did this series open our eyes to what we wear but it shed light on how we're utilizing our time in our work and what we're putting in our bodies. 

During the teaching series I began reading a book called "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book has made me uncomfortable, challenging and changing my perspective on the things that Brendon and I are putting into our bodies daily. Just two-thirds in and my eyes have been opened to the realization that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others will disagree with me that animals are more than just food, but the highly-documented torture of animals is just unacceptable and the human cost Foer describes in his book, which I was unaware of, is universally-compelling.  In a nutshell this book begins with Foer, a content meat-eater, who is about to have his first child and decides to investigate eating animals. "What stories do we tell ourselves about eating animals? What do we tell ourselves that makes this OK? Finally, and of most interest to newer vegetarians; what do we tell ourselves about the absence of meat on our family table?" 

It pains my heart to think about the mass production that takes place to produce meat, eggs and poultry at farms. Did you know that only 1% of meat will actually come from family owned farms? 1%! If that doesn't make you uncomfortable...well it should. The typical cage for egg-laying hens is an 8"x 8" cage. Nearly all cage-free birds have the same amount of space as well. "To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have "access to the outdoors,” which, if you take those words literally, means nothing. (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by five dirt patch–and the door is closed all but occasionally.) I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range."  

Before this #21daysofenough fast I solely thought I would be ethically-conscious on what I am buying to wear or place in my future apartment, but never confronted my food ethically or where it came from really.. For the most part we eat fairly healthy when Brendon and I are together or separate, shopping for foods that are "organic" and "cage-free" for the most part (which apparently are just words). We also eat meat in moderation and due to Brendon being lactose intolerant and me not drinking milk on a consistent basis for the last two years, it's become more of a treat that sneaks in more frequently as of late (hehe, we love our ice cream).

But if I could be real with you, we love our food! We're big foodies! We love meat, we love fish, we love chicken and I don't know what life would be like without eggs! As I read page after page of Foer's book I'm challenged with the question: Why? Am I turning away from where my food comes from so I don't have to confront the reality? Or I do I love it so much that I don't care the cost?

So what's the solution?  I don't know quiet yet. I don't have all the answers. Whether Brendon and I change our lives completely or do nothing, we have responded. "To do nothing is to do something." 

Ways you can be more ethically cautious of the foods you eat if turning vegetarian isn't an option for you: 

  • Shop at local farmers markets or family farms
  • Check out this awesome website here to check products 
  • Be more aware of terms like "organic", "fresh", "pastured" "cage free", "free range." 
  • Educate yourself on what you are putting in your body
  • Find what works for you

 

 

 

 

A Jar of Pickles

I've had this thing for greeting cards over the last several years. There's something about taking a moment to write a hand-written note to a friend or a family member that is so much more special than a text or e-mail. I had a pen pal in Nebraska six years ago and we'd exchange letters and greeting cards back and forth.

I love browsing places like Paper Source or boutiques here in San Francisco like Lavish or Gather (those could be bar names or millennial church names, too) for well-designed and clever greeting cards.

One brand that I absolutely live by is A Jar of Pickles. These greeting cards are simple, fun, cute and very punny.

What I didn't realize was that the creator of this company is a girl named Kirstie, and she's actually good friends with my friend from SLO, Grace! When I made that connection, it made me appreciate A Jar of Pickles even more because I knew that my purchasing of these greeting cards were going to support a small business owner who I knew by a degree of separation. And seeing A Jar of Pickles products in various boutiques around the Bay Area made me really happy: her products are widely-distributed and attract a following.

The other month, Ashley and I had an opportunity to see Kirstie at an event at the HoneyBook office, hosted by HoneyBook, Weebly, and Brit + Co about building your personal brand online. Kirstie was actually a part of a speaking panel on the topic, which was great to see her be able to speak from her profession and expertise.

Check out the product offerings on A Jar of Pickles and send someone you know a clever greeting card today!