Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love Under Your Conditions

I wrote this lyric a few years ago when thinking about how conditional our love tends to be. At times if someone doesn’t talk, act, think, dress, ect. the way we think they should we choose not to be loving towards them. We often want them to conform to our idea of who and what they should be before we decide to love and care for them. Whoever doesn’t meet our very long list of specifications we tend to dismiss. But nobody should have to conform and be someone they aren’t just to be loved and accepted. You should never have to settle for anything but unconditional love. I really want to strive to love the people in my life unconditionally; just for who they are. Thankfully there is someone who loves us right even when we get it wrong; a God in heaven who’s love knows no condition.

Love Under Your Conditions

Good enough? Good enough? When is it ever good enough? I thought love was supposed to be unconditional. That's how I've always loved you. But your love's kept me in a vice, now I'm trapped. But these chains will not suffice. I need your love but I need you to love me right.

I shouldn't have to fight for your attention. I shouldn't have to win your affection. I shouldn't have to fit your specifications, or pass your inspections. And I shouldn't be loved only under your conditions.

Enough! Enough! When is enough enough? I can't live off your good intentions. The control you call love is choking out my soul. I can't keep fighting a losing game. Can't keep wondering if I fail to meet your expectations will your love still remain.

{Repeat Chorus}

Needing someone who will love me for me; no guidelines just unconditionally. We see love so differently. You see it as a power struggle to be won, I see it as sweet surrender. Not interested in fighting a battle, don't care to win a war. Even if one of us won in the end we both really lose; do we even know what we're fighting for?

{Repeat Chorus 2x}

© Krystal Celeste

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hot Chocolate & Winter Music Playlist!

It’s no big secret that I am a self professed Chocoholic. It’s an addiction that started early in life and it seems like there’s just no turning back. I’m ashamed to say I know my favorite brownie and chocolate fudge frosting recipe by heart…yeah that just goes to show how much I’ve made them.

As a chocoholic I guess it would come as no surprise that my favorite drink has always been a nice cup of Hot Chocolate. When I was a kid I would just drink it at Christmastime, my grandma would usually make a whole pot of it. But as an adult, I’ve come to enjoy it all year round. I’ve never been a fan of the instant kind and all its imposter flavor…just not my cup of tea…err chocolate. My family and I have always used the recipe on the back of Hershey’s Cocoa, which is really simple and delish. But a few years ago I found a new recipe for Hot Chocolate that sounded even more divine…enter Campton Place Hot Chocolate.

Let me tell you this is the most delicious and divine Hot Chocolate I’ve ever tasted. You truly have not tasted Hot Chocolate until you’ve had a cup of this. I honestly have no idea why it took me this long to make it. It is a little more involved than most recipes but if you really care about your chocolate (like I do), than it’s more than worth it. Because it starts with a chocolate ganache base it’s really thick and rich. The cream and milk make give it a really creamy and velvety consistency.

After tasting Campton Place Hot Chocolate I feel a little spoiled I must admit… it may have even made me into somewhat of a hot chocolate snob ;). I never want to go back to the old recipes. My mom and sister also declared it was the best they had ever tasted. I know I’m kinda raving about it (it’s part of the chocoholic syndrome)so I’ll stop. Make sure you try this recipe, put a little whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top and you have the most luscious cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted. :)

Campton Place Hot Chocolate

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 recipe Master Ganache, recipe follows, using 2 cups cream instead of 1
1/2 teaspoon Tia Maria or vanilla extract
Whipped cream, for serving
Chocolate shavings, for serving


Master Ganache:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces. Don't be lazy here. Big chunks will not melt.

Traditional method: Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling means the cream will actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.

Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl, and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep going to be sure it's emulsified.  

Hot Chocolate: 
Bring the milk, cream, and cocoa powder to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it reaches a boil, remove from the heat, and add the ganache. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir well until combined, about 4 minutes. Stir in the Tia Maria or vanilla.

Serve the hot chocolate right away as is or store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It can be reheated easily on the stovetop or in the microwave. If you wish, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Yield: 2 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 2 to 4 hours

Ease of preparation: Easy

(Photo & recipe found @


Here’s a little list of songs to go along with your hot chocolate! These are songs that remind me of Wintertime. They have kept me company through all these blistery cold days we’ve recently had (sooo ready for spring, how ‘bout you?) and made them feel a little warmer. Hope you enjoy!:)

Winter Music Playlist ~

1. Winter Song ~ Ingrid Michelson & Sarah Bareilles

2. White As Snow ~ Jon Foreman

3. Caramel ~ Suzanne Vega

4. Snow Song ~ Judd & Maggie

5. Coffee and Cigarettes ~ Augustana

6. Memories ~ Eisley

7. Chasing Cars ~ Snow Patrol

8. Mayfield ~ Augustana

9. Human Behavior ~ Bjork

10. Peace ~ Norah Jones

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Thoughts on “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan


"It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe - the creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss."

I received this book as a Christmas gift this year and was so excited to read it; I had heard so many great things about Chan's book since its release in 2008. But I'm the type of person that has a really bad habit of reading at least three books at one time and not finishing a one. It's a sad but true confession. So I planned to attempt to finish the ones I was currently reading and then start on this one. Well let's just say, I've yet to finish the other books....

"Crazy Love" by author, Francis Chan, sparked something in me and I just couldn't put it down. I found myself stopping after every other paragraph just to share a great passage with my sister. The things that he was talking about in the book were things we had been feeling and discussing for quite some time. The statement, "We all know something's wrong", is the first sentence he wrote in the book. And it's true, we do know something's wrong but most of time we'd rather not address it. We serve a wonderful, loving God, a God who loved us so much he gave his only son to die for our sins. He loves us with a radical, crazy love and yet we live unchanged and unaffected lives. We don't know why and we don't know how to fix it. This is the spiritual condition Francis is talking about.

The first chapter, "Stop Praying", really sets such a strong foundation for the book by reminding us that God is holy, and that we should stand in awe of him. Talking about aspects of creation that are so amazing that only God could've created them, and how it should cause us to stop and worship him. Francis goes on to say that there is an "epidemic of spiritual amnesia". We know that we should love and serve God, but we don't know how to live it out. When we love and serve Him out of obligation, like we often do, we've forgotten who He really is.

"Profile of The Lukewarm", gives a description of what a lukewarm Christian can look like and asks us to take an honest look at ourselves as we read. Each description has correlating scripture verses to back them up; I found them to be quite convicting. "Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe" good Christians" do, so they go."  There are definitely descriptions in this chapter that I think we all can relate to and see in ourselves.  If we're willing to honestly examine our hearts, it can serve as a great tool to gage where we are spiritually.

In the next chapter Chan makes a statement that could be seen as somewhat controversial. When I read it I couldn't help but wonder what other people thought of it. He states, "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron, there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven."  To me that was such a strong and blunt statement that I didn't quite know what to think of it at first. However, Francis goes on to discuss the scripture about being lukewarm to help explain why he believes this. And after reading, I must say, I think it's often a truth we over look and miss completely.

One thing he is really good at is pointing out simple truths that just really hit you over the head. Francis is not only an author but a pastor as well. I thought it was interesting when he talked about how people always seem to ask him the same questions. Questions about how much they can get away with, what sins they can commit and still get to heaven.  He says that these types of questions are tragic to him because they reveal that we are way more concerned about getting to heaven than we are about truly loving Jesus. He gives the scripture in John 14:15 in which Jesus says, "If you love me you will obey what I command". He then says, "And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus? I don't see anywhere in scripture how the answer to that question could be yes."  This was such an amazing and eye opening truth to me! How often do we disobey God with our lives and yet still claim to love him with our mouth? But if we love him, we will obey him. And how can we be followers of Christ if we don't love him?

Now, I think it's important to mention that Francis makes a point to say that he doesn't want to make people doubt their salvation. That's definitely not the intent of this book.  He makes sure to say how we all have lukewarm elements in our lives, and that's what God's grace and mercy is for. He isn't saying just because we mess up we're not really genuine Christians. But that the distinction is a person who "perpetually moves toward Christ".

But the question after reading all of this is, what do we do about our lukewarm state? Francis believes the answer lies in love. Noting that the answer isn't in "trying harder", but in truly loving our Savior. He mentions early in the book that when he was younger he would try to read his bible, pray, and stay away from sin...but he'd fail time and time again. And in turn, end up feeling guilty and distant from God. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Francis believes instead of repeating that cycle and "trying harder", we need to draw close to God by actively pursuing him everyday, letting him change us. He also said we should confess our lack of love to God and ask him to help us love him; which will result in a new cycle. A cycle of more love that results in more prayer, which will result in more love. I loved that concept! As long as we are actively pursuing him we won't fall into sin.

A couple other cool things to note about "Crazy Love" are: The book begins with an incredible forward by recording artist, Chris Tomlin. It was really cool to read his thoughts on the book and Francis Chan. Also, a chapter towards the end, "Who Really Lives That Way", shares true stories of people who have and are living out a crazy love for God. Rich Mullins and Shane Claiborne are among those included.

I really feel like I've learned so much from this book and I desperately desire to put it into practice. In "Crazy Love" Francis Chan offers a new idea of Christianity that focuses more on truly loving God rather than "trying harder", doing just enough to get by, or getting to heaven. A Christianity that is not content to be lukewarm; but rather one that seeks to pursue him daily, praying for more love. In doing so we will find a more fulfilling relationship with Him than we ever thought possible, a relationship that changes us and how we live. By actively loving and pursuing Him daily we will be living in the middle of the miraculous, crazy love of God.


To purchase "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan Click Here

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review for "Friendly" EP by Queens Club


I first discovered newcomers, Queens Club when I saw the music video for their song "Less Talk" on TVU (the go to place to discover great new bands). I loved their dance/pop sound and the song would always stick in my head. They recently released their debut cd "Young Giant " on Tooth & Nail records; which I've yet to purchase. However, the guys have just released a new EP entitled, "Friendly", that you can get for free just for liking their Facebook page! I was kinda surprised that they would put out an EP so soon after their debut release, but since I was only familiar with one of their songs, I thought this might be a good way to hear a little more.  What I found was a 5 song EP that was surprisingly better than I expected.

The EP opens with the song "Legendary", which was instantly my favorite! It's an infectious dance/pop tune that has a great drum beat and a killer electric guitar. The second this song starts it just makes you want to get up and dance! It grabs your attention right away and makes for a great opener. Next song, "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants", is still in the same dance vein but with a little more rock mixed in. To be honest, some of the lyrics are a little hard to make out but these lines from the verse and chorus were intriguing to me, "I want to be the man I used to be. Don't want to think of what's gotten into me./Running from, still no place to go. This beautiful place they lived there all our  lives. Now we're standing on the shoulders of giants". 

"Darkkstar" (what's with the two k's? I don't know... but it looks cool ;) ) is a short but sweet dance/rock song. I love the way the electric guitar & drums sound in this one! Definitely a stand-out track. They slow things a down a bit with a mid-tempo acoustic song called, "Upstart". As much as I love their dance songs, it's actually a nice change to be able to clearly hear their voices as well as the lyrics. They close out the EP with an acoustic version of "Less Talk". I must admit, I think it definitely rivals the original. I didn't really know the lyrics that well before, so it was nice to be able to understand them better. While the original is dancy and fun, the acoustic version gives it a great contrast. It creates a whole new feel for the song. Almost giving it a folk/rock vibe. And it totally works for them!

What really stands out about this EP, and about Queens Club, is their incredible dance sensibility. They kind of remind me of Jonezetta with their great hooks that make you feel like you've just been transported to a dance club. If the "Friendly" EP is any indication, I think we will be dancing to a lot more songs by these guys!

To download "Friendly" EP, Click Here

To purchase their cd "Young Giant ", Click Here