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Cry out to Jesus

Psalm 130 1-2 says this:

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

Like you, I can’t stop thinking about Haiti. And with all of our news sources, the internet, etc, we’ve all seen the devastation. We’re all heartsick! Words of comfort seem cheap, and feelings of helplessness seem great. However, regardless of how hopeless or helpless we feel, we serve a God who is neither.

We must absolutely NOT stop praying. Pray without ceasing! Pray for God’s mercy and comfort for our brothers & sisters in Haiti. Pray also for the “first responders” for strength, wisdom, and resources. God hears their cries, and He hears our heart’s cry for them….
Praying with you,
Carmen

PS….We must help tangibly, too. Here’s a simple way that you can help RIGHT NOW:

Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross relief efforts. It will be charged on your cell phone bill.

A few others:
www.worldvision.org

Also, in the coming weeks, I’ll let you know how we, The JOY FM community, will be responding….

Pants on the ground …..

Love me some Larry!

Black Bean Soup

I suppose 1 good soup recipe deserves another. Especially this past weekend!! Here’s the black bean soup that I was talking about this morning on the air. I found this recipe on the foodnetwork.com. It’s definitely a keeper!!! Oh my word, it IS good!

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

• 10 slices bacon, finely chopped
• 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
• 6 garlic cloves, pressed
• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 6 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
• 1 bunch cilantro
• juice of 1/2 lime
• Sour cream , for garnish
• Grated cheddar, for garnish

Directions:

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

As always, :) Here are my variations:

-I don’t eat bacon, so instead of cooking the bacon and using it’s grease, I cooked the onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
-I added 2 more cans of black beans. (We like leftovers!) Plus, after I added the 4 cans that the recipe called for, it looked like it needed more beans to me.
-Added extra teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
-Unless you really, really like cilantro (I do! My family doesn’t), use about 1/2 of the bunch of cilantro.
-I used only 1 large onion.
-I used a whole lime.
-After mixing in pot, I moved to crock pot, and cooked for a couple of hours.

YUMMY! Sour cream and/or cheese is a must!

White Chicken Chili

Here it is, girls! :)

My white chicken chili recipe I talk about often! Well, it’s really not mine, it’s Bush’s. And lots of times you can find it on the back of a can of Bush’s Great Northern Beans. My girls LOVE this chili and ask me to make it all the time. The recipe that I’m posting below is doubled from the original. We’re a family of 4 and we eat every bite over 2 days.
Ingredients:

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chiles
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (16 ounce) cans Great Northern Beans
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Directions:

In large skillet, cook onion in oil for 4 minutes or until transparent. Add chilies, flour and cumin; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add beans and chicken broth; cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken; cook until hot.

Here are my variations:

-I add a little bit more cumin. A couple of teaspoons, maybe
-I do 2 cans of Great Northern Beans and 2 cans of White Navy Beans
-I don’t drain the 1st can of beans, but do the other 3. We like it a little heartier.
-I buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it. I just add the white meat and legs. MUCH easier & gives it a nice flavor!
-I make the onion/chilies/flour/cumin mixture in a pot. While that’s cooking I put the beans and broth in a crock pot. I then add the onion mixture to the crock pot & then add the shredded chicken last.

Enjoy!

Hormones or Holy Spirit?

I shared on air the last couple of days Beth Moore’s talk at Passion 2010 about spiritual discernment, especially for women. She tied it to a story about Hannah. If you missed the story, you can hear it here. Since I first told the story, you guys have been burning up my email, voicemail and the request lines for the list! It has definitely struck a chord, which makes me very happy!! So, as promised, here it is!! :)

Beth gave us 4 questions to ask ourselves when struggling with – what I like to call – “a prick in our spirit”. Which basically means, something doesn’t feel right! Is it hormones or the Holy Spirit?

The questions:

1. Am I a critical or suspicious person by nature?

2. Am I jealous or do I feel threatened?

3. Do I have anything selfish to gain by somebody else being wrong?

4. Are my emotions clouding my discernment? Am I too close to the situation?

If you answer “no” to all, then you most likely have a “yes” that something isn’t right. Which of course reminds me of my favorite of Beth’s lines during her teaching….

“Girls, don’t let your good manners over-rule your spiritual discernment!”

Amen.

Do Something NOW!

Wanna join me in making a loan today for a woman in Haiti? I was actually headed down to make the loan just moments ago, and then it occurred to me that I have a lot of girlfriends that might want to play banker too!

Are there 10 of you that want to match my loan at $20 each? Respond in the comment section of my blog (or on Facebook) and I’ll make the loan on our behalf. I’ll make the loan on the “honor system” and we’ll settle up later! I know, I know….some of you will think I’ve lost my mind doing the honor system. Maybe I have. But…I’m so NOT worried. :) I am, however, setting a deadline of midnight tonight. 1.4.10.

Louie challenged us to make 200 loans during the conference. And…he wanted the women to be the ones to do it. Women helping women. I like it. I’m in. Are you?

Happy New Year from TMC….


Dear Friends,

Whether you know it or not, as our friend you are part of the best community any morning radio show could have. Seriously, just take a minute to glance through these memories with us and you’ll realize what a unique set of friends we all are!

For instance, Carmen just got back from taking thousands of pairs of shoes to dozens of orphans in Peru. These are kids who would not have a new, clean pair of tennis shoes ever, except that our JOY FM listening community made it their mission to provide for these children. Carmen took a small group of listeners and the band MIKESCHAIR with her this year. Perhaps Mike Grayson, lead singer, said it best when reflecting on the trip: “for that few minutes, I was that child’s family giving him a new pair of shoes and watching him open his Christmas gift”. The children received shoes & gifts. But the biggest gift was ours, to be able to touch part of the world with the love of Christ in the form of 7409 pairs of shoes.

While Carmen was in Peru, Dave was making quite an impact with the Broadway-style musical outreach he wrote and starred in called Humbug! Hundreds filled the seats for each of the eight performances and were treated to Dave’s acting, singing and dancing talents as well as a meaningful message of God’s love, skillfully portrayed. Meanwhile, Bill was burning the midnight oil preparing teaching outlines to train pastors next month in India, in the area where the JOY FM community has built hundreds of homes for devastated families.

In February, 150 listeners, along with Mark Schultz, once again pedaled over 130 miles in the a 2nd Bike Ride for the Homeless. The ride was a blast, but it got real personal when Carmen tried to run Mark off the road! Of course it became a “He said. She said.” The Ride raised more than $50,000 to help clothe, feed and support some of Florida’s poorest families (yes, “families” – many homeless are children). The Ride’s inspiration, Denver Moore, along with co-author Ron Hall, of their autobiographical Same Kind of Different As Me, released their sequel this year, What Difference Do it Make? A chapter was devoted to Carmen called “Bossy White Lady”. Denver said it. Who are we to disagree?

Our listeners’ compassion didn’t end with the Bike Ride for the Homeless. Even though unemployment rose by several percentage points in 2009, The Morning Cruise community gave more, fed more and loved better than EVER before.
T-Shirts for Turkeys produced 9,742 frozen turkeys for area food pantries, providing tens of thousands of holiday meals. Producer Kris P. Kreme took the spotlight in that event, dethroning Carmen as “The Turkey Queen” by collecting more turkeys in a single stop (Lakeland) than she had in her home turf, New Tampa. Everybody wins.

In 2009, we had the pleasure of spotlighting some of the best artists in the most unique ways, in up-close and personal settings. That’s what community does. It all started in April when our BWL, (short for Bossy White Lady) called Summer Cruise Alum, Brandon Heath, and invited us over to his house to broadcast LIVE from his kitchen table the morning of the Doves. It didn’t take much arm-twisting.

The same month saw the first visit in 23 years of Jars of Clay to The JOY FM. Jayar took a small group of listeners bowling with the four, and we invited ourselves to that, as well. Before we left for the bowling alley, the band made themselves at home in Bill’s office, which you can see on an episode of The Station (our video parody of The Office online at www.themorningcruise.com).

New artist Josh Wilson auditioned for Bill’s job in May. He didn’t get it, even with a poem in his pocket!

Two events happened in June that really emphasized how this community has erased the distance between “celebrity” and “fan.” First, The Summer Cruise brought thousands of listeners into intimate diner-settings to meet Dove Award and (as of December) Grammy nominee Francesca Battistelli. The best part of that event was seeing dozens of young girls flock to a positive role model. Meeting “Franny” was a memory for life for them.

Second, and a memory we will cherish for many years, was the participation of freshly crowned Male Vocalist of the Year Brandon Heath in the reunion of a daughter with her estranged father. For over 30 years, Scottie Camacho had not seen or talked to her dad. Married with children, a police officer and listener to The Morning Cruise, Scottie had written Carmen to share how she finally got the courage to contact her dad after listening to “I’m Not Who I Was” on The JOY FM. Scottie wrote, “all I had was a photograph and he was standing right above me”. That was it! The scheming began. Brandon flew in and hid out with Keith, Scottie’s dad, until it was time for their eyes to meet – daddy and little girl – for the first time since she was a toddler. The reunion happened the Friday before Father’s Day. Oh the tears of happiness….

And speaking of “Oh Happiness”, we accepted an invitation for an inside-the-barn broadcast from David Crowder’s Dr. Pepper Studios for the release of Church Music. We boarded the plane to Waco, along with Jayar and a couple of listeners and attended the release party at David’s home church. We’re still deciding what we were most impressed with…Church Music, Steve3PO (David’s robotic drummer) or the larger than life mural of Queen Elizabeth that stares back at you in the loo. ‘Nuf said.

There’s so much more to celebrate! The fun, on-air moments, like juicing with Brandon, Franny and Leeland at “The Follow You Tour,” inviting listeners to coffee with Casting Crowns and watching the pounds fall off Heidi Schultz, The JOY FM’s “Biggest Loser,” are all great memories of the year gone by.

But maybe, in God’s goodness and grace, it was fitting to wrap up the year with songs like “Let the Waters Rise” by MIKESCHAIR and lyrics like “What hope we hold this starlit night / A King is born in Bethlehem…” from Chris Tomlin running through our heads. The reality of the self-giving Savior was celebrated in lyrics like these, which Carmen had sung at the Glory in the Highest recording sessions in Nashville, and the three of us got to enjoy at the TV special taping at the Gospel Music Channel in August. Maybe it was good to turn the spotlight on songs like these for such a time as this.

The last half of 2009 was tough for Carmen. In July, her mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At first, no one knew what do to. Her symptoms were intense. She wasn’t responding to any therapies. There were other pressures too, financial and practical. Carmen’s priorities quickly shifted, and she was solely-focused on the woman who raised her as a single mom. This was a time of spiritual testing as well, and Carmen shared her journey openly on the air. No emotion or thought was off limits: Doubts, questions, confessions, but ultimately the acknowledgement of God’s presence being physically felt. Carmen too had heath issues, tests and treatments in September, October and November. Regardless, she’ll be the first to tell you that joy surely does come in the morning.

Lots of well-meaning members of the community stopped by and offered their solutions and prayers – we acknowledged that the latter is more important than the former at such a time. It wasn’t easy for Carmen to keep her normally positive attitude and upbeat disposition. But we got through it as a family. Things are better for Carmen’s mom under an experimental treatment regimen, and Carmen was feeling better just in time for Chris Tomlin to bring his Glory in the Highest Tour to Clearwater to a sold-out show that transformed thousands of concert-g
oers into God-worshippers, celebrating the reality of God’s moving “into the neighborhood” in Christ, as told to us that night by our friend, Louie Giglio.

That night was special. There was nobody in that building who had more reason to offer the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips giving thanks to God for his sustaining grace and exalting humility, than yours truly. Carmen and her mom were there too. A fitting ending for all that He has done this year. We sang with voices and hands raised and hearts overflowing with gratitude for all He is, and all that YOU, his followers and our friends, have meant to us this year.

So, with full hearts, we wish you the Happiest New Year ever. Our hope is that we see you a bunch in 2010!

Your friends, Dave, Bill & Carmen

What'd you get for Christmas?

I’d love to hear what everyone got for Christmas! I love gift-giving. It’s one of my love languages, in fact. To me, a beautifully wrapped gift (or gift bag WITH tissue, or just a bow … presentation is everything!) says: “I thought about you today & I love you”. It actually bugs me that giving gifts has been lumped in with “commercialism” of Christmas. Bunk! There’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with gift giving! It’s when the gift or the “thing” becomes more important than the Giver of All. Gift giving actually started with God. When He gave His only Son….. for us. There is no better gift.

Here’s what my mom got for Christmas. Isn’t she adorable? There’s actually a debate on the name of this new addition to our family. Mother teased me with the name “Lucy”. Naturally, I loved that she’d be named after her big sister’s nickname! And then she switched to “Prissy”, short for “Princess”. Oh, the nerve! Hahaha. Totally kidding, of course. I did fire back with, “Mom, when I hear the name “Prissy”, all I hear in my head is: “Ms. Scarlett, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”‘ For those of you who are too young to remember Gone With the Wind, you have NO idea what I’m talking about. But the ones who aren’t…. are you with me or what? :) In all seriousness, the name matters not to me. I’m just happy that my mom has a new little puppy to love. Now that she can’t work, and is home most of the time, she needed “someone” to keep her company. On the way home from picking her up, she stopped by the store and bought her a large clothes basket, a doggie bed, a baby blanket, toys, etc. etc. etc. Do you think Lucy/Prissy will be spoiled or what?

So….tell me! What did you get for Christmas? I’m eager to hear! Or maybe it was as simple as a special moment that happened. And if it was a tough Christmas and gift weren’t involved, well…. I can relate to that as well. My most memorable Christmas was when I was 12 or 13, and we were living in subsidized apartments. Mother was working 2 jobs, and we had no money. I had been collecting wicker pieces as my bedroom suit, mainly because we couldn’t afford furniture, but I definitely thought wicker was cool too! I had the fan chair and table, but was really wanting the headboard. I woke up on Christmas morning, ran to the living room only to find a card with my name on it in my stocking. It was a hand-written note from my mother apologizing for not being able to get me the headboard. On the last line of the card, she wrote: “Consider this an I-O-U for the headboard.” She did get me the headboard sometime later that year. But it’s not the headboard that I remember. It’s the pain of a mom having to write an IOU to their child. I still have that card. I will keep it forever. And I will continue praising Jesus EVERYDAY that I have memories such as these. Because it’s these moments that have made me who I am today. It IS a blessing to know what it’s like to have little. I’m thankful for it, because I can truly enter into the suffering of others. It is a gift.

Jesus knows a little something about suffering ….. that’s what Christmas is all about after all, the day He left Heaven to enter our world as both the Giver & the Gift.

Peru Pic Montage!

Kelly & Vivian

Kelly and Vivian are another couple on this trip. Interestingly, Vivian lived in Peru for 3 months as an exchange student. I still remember the last day of the shoe drive in Ocala when Vivian walked up to me with so much excitement about this trip. She still stays in touch with her host family and she and Kelly were able to have dinner with them on Friday evening before the team convened this past Saturday morning. I’m so happy to have them here, and have enjoyed getting to know them better! And they’re both so, so good with the kids! Yet another pair of servants in The JOY FM community. Kelly and Vivian live in Ocala with their two children. Grandma has the kids this week! :)

I asked Vivian to share with you, and I was really glad when I saw she chose to tell you about Julie!

I can confidently speak on behalf of the whole team when I tell you that Julie’s story of the Christmas tree has been one of the hi-lites for us this week! Julie is a member of the in-
country Buckner staff and has WOW’d us all with her dramatic storytelling. She’s a drama teacher by trade, and joined Buckner a short while ago. Now she uses this gift with the children. When Julie begins the story of the Christmas Tree, the children remain captivated the entire time. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. As a matter of fact, we’ve watched her sketch eleven times now, and it doesn’t get old! What a gift she is to these kids. And they absolutely positively love her too. She visits all the orphanages roughly bi-weekly and their faces light up when they see her walk in. They all know her name and immediately start chanting, “Julie, Julie, Julie….”
As you can tell we are all fans. Including Vivian……

Looking for the “Perfect” Christmas Tree

My husband and I heard about this mission trip in the summer via Joy-FM and immediately decided to sign on. We didn’t really think about how close to Christmas it would occur. Thus, I spent the weeks prior to leaving making last minute holiday preparations. One of these tasks was to choose a Christmas tree. We drove to the Christmas tree lot one evening with our two children and set about selecting the “perfect” tree. It had to be the best tree on the lot — the right height, the right shape with lots of full, straight branches. No “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for our family. After looking over many different trees we finally made our best selection and took it home.

On this trip, a group leader tells the story of a Queen’s search for the perfect Christmas tree. In all of the forest there are many magnificent trees which are tall and straight. There is a smaller tree which is also perfect. All want to be the Queen’s choice. They spend their days admiring themselves and telling all of the forest how beautiful and perfect they are. When danger, storms and hunger besiege different forest animals, they seek refuge among the beautiful trees. All of the trees except the smallest one turn the animals away. The perfect trees do not want their branches damaged or destroyed. The smallest says, “it is unimportant” and offers protection, warmth and comfort.

This offering does not occur without sacrifice. The smallest tree’s limbs become bent and damaged. Surely, the small tree’s chance to win the Queen’s approval is over. Nevertheless, the small tree says, “it is unimportant.” The other trees think the small tree shouldn’t have made such a sacrifice. However, the Queen disagrees and selects the small tree because of its big heart.

All of our mission stops at the various children’s homes we have met many children with special needs. Some are mentally or physically challenged. Others have been sexually abused. Still others have made wrong choices and have become teenage moms. The primary purpose of this story is to convey to these children that although they are not perfect in the world’s eyes, God loves them just as they are and wants them to have a place of honor in heaven.

The story also reminds us that we too are imperfect. Yet God loves us just the way we are. Like the small tree we should take our bent, damaged, less-than-perfect lives and use them to love, comfort and help others less fortunate.

I will never look for a Christmas tree the same way again. My definition of “perfect” has been forever changed.


Vivian
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