Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Hear

I took a mini-day trip yesterday to Eze village. Just me, my devotional, my camera, and the sunset (okay, and a little Christmas shopping, too).

Although in general I prefer to “go places” with other people, on occasion I also really enjoy getting away by myself. Which is good, because I’ve definitely had a lot of “me time” since coming to France.

But you know what? It’s been such a rich and good thing. I didn’t say easy—sometimes it’s not. But good? Definitely.

I think we all experience things differently when we’re alone. Personally, I find that I appreciate things more deeply, take more time to observe, walk a little slower. I give life my fully focused attention.

But the best thing about being tout-seul, I’ve found, is that it has enabled me to hear the still, small voice of the Lord that had been escaping me before I came here.

Scratch that—His whispers weren’t escaping me. I just wasn’t tuning in. Not with my fully focused attention, anyway. I gave the Lord bits and pieces, carved out a little space for one-on-one time with Him when I could fit it into my jam-packed college schedule. But you know what? It wasn’t the Lord who was getting gypped out of a great relationship with me during this time. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

I was gypping myself out of walking the pathway to peace. I was taking away the assurance that comes from keeping an open line of communication with God. I was scheduling my spirituality instead of basking in the comfort of being fully known by my Creator.

Being alone isn’t the easiest thing, and it’s certainly not the most comfortable. And don’t get me wrong—I think that by nature, we’re all made for companionship. But think about it. When you need to have a heart-to-heart with a close friend, where do you go? To a Taylor Swift concert jam-packed with screaming 15-year-olds? To the top of a roller coaster at six flags where you can’t hear anything but the wind rushing past?

I’m thinking no. You go somewhere quiet and peaceful, where the two of you can be—you guessed it—alone (and preferably where you can get some really great coffee, too). You sit with your friend. You talk some, but you listen more. You focus. You forget about everything else on your agenda.

In my life, I’ve found that God kind of works the same way. Whenever He has some serious work to do, or some important directions to give, He’s probably going to try to get you alone. And take my advice—go where He’s leading you. Don’t resist His calling out of fear of isolation, or breaking away from everything you’ve ever known, every plan you’ve ever made for yourself.

Hear this: He’s never going to leave you there, and you will never be abandoned or forgotten by God. In all likelihood, He’s just trying to get you to a place where you stop looking for answers within yourself and other people, and turn first and only to Him.

Acts 17: 26-27 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

The barriers we construct are the only things that distance us from Christ. Finding Christ’s will for your life is not impossible. Discerning His voice and His leading is not a special privilege reserved for pastors, Saints, and spiritual gurus. Before the beginning of time, God determined the exact place you should live so that you would reach out your arms and embrace Him as your only answer, your only hope.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

We don’t know the place in the heavens where we were first conceptualized in the mind of God. But we can rest in assurance knowing that we are here now, exactly at this moment, by His design. Turn to God. Seek Him first. And I promise, you will hear.

These are a few things I saw (and heard) yesterday in the beautiful village of Eze.

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

“In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths are irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident. Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself…you have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.” Jesus Calling

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Go ahead. Try to tell me that’s not the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen in your life.

I just finished eating the last slice of the best pecan pie in the entire world.

How good was this pecan pie? It was no words goodthe kind of good where everyone looked up from their empty plates with wide eyes and open mouths, speechless as they tried to figure out what had just hit their taste buds.

It’s called pecan pie, y’all! And this particular recipe went over so well with the French that it happened to have gotten me a new job selling pies at Princesse Pirate, a new cafe and boutique in Monaco.

And no, I’m not kidding. My pecan pie will seriously be in the cafe window as the “tart du jour” on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it will be replaced by my apple and pear crostata.

In case you didn’t get that, I somehow just officially became a French pastry chef!

I think it’s clear that I need to get my new apron embroidered.

Mmmm. Love those French caramels! I think they made all the difference.

Okay, so I just gave the pecan pie a lot of facetime. But the pear and cranberry crostata absolutely deserves a little spotlight of it’s own.

Please don’t ask me if I ate a slice of the crostata for breakfast and had a slice of the pecan pie for dessert. Because I’d be forced to lie to you in the interest of my pride, and I hate lying.


Post-bake. Toasted to crunchy, golden perfection.

I know it probably looks like I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon just photographing food, mais c’est pas vrai. Actually, I spent 9 hours in the kitchen cooking up every single dish on our Texa-French-ican menu. And I loved every single one of them!

Then, of course, I spent about 2 hours eating. (French dinners are long. It wasn’t just because I went back for seconds).

These pictures were snapped somewhere in the middle of all of that craziness. And I’m so excited to share them with you! Consider this your belated invitation to our French Thanksgiving party. Bon apetit!

Homemade whole-wheat yeast rolls

I think this means that I’m either Martha Stewart or a housewife.

Either way, I’m over 40.

Winter vegetable puree

Since sweet potatoes and marshmallows weren’t readily available at Carrefour, I went with the next best thing—a puree of yams and carrots with nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice added in for sweetness. And as soon as this baby was finished baking, I added a whole-wheat, walnut, and brown sugar steudel to the top, too.

Needless to say, my French friends were initially confused. They thought I was asking them to eat pie for dinner. (which, okay, I kind of was).

This is my wanna-be turkey. AKA, it’s a rotisserie chicken that I basted in butter and tarragon. But still. I had to cut his neck off and his little feet and…

…sorry, I know it’s getting graphic. But the butchers here really want to make sure you know that what you’re eating was once a real live chicken! What I’m trying to say is, it ain’t no turkey but it was some work. Maybe I’ll go for the real deal next year. This was definitely a good practice run!

Deviled Eggs

They may be devils, but they sure were heavenly. Too corny? I don’t care.

Apple Sausage Stuffing

Place settings

The blank leaves? We wrote our “I-am-thankful-for” statements on those.

How stunning is that table? Valerie is an incredible hostess.

So incredibly grateful for new friends.

And for new experiences.

And for having new experiences with new friends alongside me.

Let’s give thanks every day.

bisous, mes amis. xo

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Big Reveal

Here it is!

The moment you’ve all been waiting for.

I know you’ve been dying of anticipation, right?

Well, revive yourselves. Because right now, at this very moment, I am lifting the veil from my super top secret Texa-French-ican Thanksgiving menu!

It should be noted that it took me awhile to narrow the menu down to the selection you’re about to view. The thing is, I went a little crazy on the recipe hunt. I’m just too darn thankful for food, you know?

I dog-eared pages of Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, begged my mom to scan and e-mail my grandmother’s recipes, bookmarked yummy things on, and googled “how to make the perfect pie crust” and “is it possible to make yeast rolls without a bread maker?” (answer is still unknown, but by golly I’m going to give it the old Texas Try tomorrow).


Prep time started today, but the real work begins tomorrow. And I. Can’t. Wait! Introducing my French family to Thanksgiving is going to be such a fun twist on a very traditional American holiday. Love that!

If you were to hop on a flight to Southern France tomorrow morning, this is what you’d find on the menu at our little get-together. And if you are planning on globe-trotting on Turkey Day, just let me know. I’ll have a place setting ready, just for you.

Thanksgiving Menu


Deviled eggs

Winter vegetable medley—beet, apple, and carrot salad

Main Course

Tarragon chicken

Apple sausage stuffing

Creamy green bean casserole

Winter vegetable puree

Homemade butter yeast rolls


Caramel pecan pie with dark chocolate glaze

Pear and cranberry crostata

Is it weird that it almost feels like Christmas Eve to me? I had so much fun starting the prep work today…making a 100% from-scratch green bean casserole, fluting the edges of “the perfect pie crust,” dicing up all the veggies for the apple sausage stuffing and the winter vegetable salad…I can’t wait to see it all come together!

The big day is tomorrow.

Games will be played. Thanks will be given. Pictures will be taken. More coming soon.

Bon appetit, y’all! xo

Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.