Psalms & A Special Guest

Last week, I (Helen) had the great pleasure of teaching our SBS students about Psalms. I really enjoyed this lecture because it was all about equipping the students to study the Psalms for themselves. The focus of my lecture was to help the students understand the Psalms as literature, and to get them excited about what God wants to do in their lives through this portion of Scripture. I also really enjoyed the lecture because it was an opportunity to be creative, and engage the students in learning.

Probably my favourite part of the lecture, was the first hour, in which I invited Karla Adolphe, of Enter the Worship Circle, to share with us her heart for the Psalms. Enter the Worship Circle has written many of their songs from the Psalms, so it seemed like a natural fit that Karla should be part of my lecture. I interviewed her about what the Psalms have taught her about God’s character and about prayer, and I asked her how the Psalms have influenced her personal life as will as her ministry as a singer/song-writer/worshiper, and then she played for us! It was pretty special to have Karla in class with us, and her thoughtful reflections on the Psalms, both in spoken form and in song, were both encouraging and challenging for me, and hopefully, the students! (Thanks for being with us, Karla!)

While video was taken of Karla’s interview and performance during my Psalms lecture, it hasn’t been edited yet, so in the meantime, I leave you with one of the exercises Karla had us do as a class: read Psalm 84, then listen to Karla’s song, “Safe Place,” from Chair and the Microphone Vol. 3. See if you can identify the themes Karla picks up on in the song.

Enter the Worship Circle: Down Here and Up Above

Yesterday Enter the Worship Circle‘s newest album, Down Here and Up Above, became available for purchase on iTunes!

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Michael and I have been listening to this album for the last couple of weeks (thanks Karla!), and we’ve really been enjoying it. It’s a different sound for Enter the Worship Circle, but the quality of the lyrics and the music are as excellent as ever, and the “pop” feel make the hope-filled themes stand out . As Ben and Karla put it, “this is music for your unfinished story, music that reaches out from where we are now to the eternal places we long for…”

Here’s a taste of the album, the first single released, “Tear the Veil.”

If you are in Canada, download here!

If you are in the USA, download here!

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Spatchcock your turkey.

Last year when I was getting ready to cook a Thanksgiving meal for thirty to forty people, I was doing some turkey-related research, and came across a method called “spatchcocking.” It sounds, well, unbiblical, but two years in a row I have spatchcocked three turkeys, and now it is my #1 tip for Thanksgiving/Christmas/any turkey-involved holiday meal preparation. Why? Well, yesterday, I put three turkeys in the oven at 1:15pm, and two of the three were out of the oven by 3:30pm. (The last bird took about another half hour).  These turkeys were all over fifteen pounds – if you have a smaller spatchcocked turkey, it can be fully roasted in as little as an hour.

So by now you are undoubtedly wondering, “What in the world is, um, spatchcocking?” Simply put, to spatchcock a turkey (or any bird), use sharp scissors or a knife to cut out its backbone, flip it over so it is breast-up, and then press firmly down on the bird’s breastbone until you hear a cracking noise. Now your turkey is, well, splayed out. It might not look like a picture perfect bird by this point, but now that the surface area of the turkey has increased, it will cook much more quickly, and evenly. If you don’t like turkey because it’s usually dry by the time it reaches the appropriate internal temperature throughout the entire bird, this is the method for you. Here’s a little video demonstrating the process:

This fellow did a few things differently than I did. I didn’t have the courage to cook my turkeys at 450 degrees. I preheated the ovens to that temperature, but upon putting the turkeys in, I turned the ovens down to 400 degrees. Also, I roasted the birds in roasting pans, not on a wire rack and baking sheet.

I also have to say, every spatchcocking video I’ve watched makes the process look pretty easy, and maybe it’s because I don’t have very good kitchen shears, but removing the backbone from a turkey is a task that takes me about twenty minutes to half an hour, which means I’m probably doing something wrong (though in my defense, I’m pretty sure one of this year’s turkeys had scoliosis). In any case, spatchcocking the day before you cook is a good idea, as who wants to wrestle with a raw turkey on Thanksgiving? So if you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I hope your turkey is defrosted, and your kitchen shears are sharp! Go forth and spatchcock, and Happy Thanksgiving!