Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Note from Tracy Hipps: Holidays Are Special and Dreams Do Come True

Today, 48 hours before one of our biggest events of the year, I am reflecting back on how our Thanksgiving event has grown and changed over the 30 years that I have been involved. The first year I participated in delivering Thanksgiving food into homes I was a young man in Chicago. On that day I made lifelong friends and was inspired to serve people with greater dignity and kindness. That day also sparked inspiration on how to reach as many people as possible through the church. This year I am watching a dream that formed many years ago become a reality. More than 3,000 families will be reached in their homes by 40 different churches and ministries and this will be done out of 27 locations. Churches are partnering with other churches, working together to serve and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. We (CSM) are honored to be able to organize this event and work with so many wonderful partners and people to reach as many as possible and I am overjoyed to see this dream come true.

I am also dreaming big dreams for CSM and its future. At our last board meeting, our board of directors challenged me to look to the future and develop long-term goals that will impact CSM and the communities we serve for years to come. So, we are seeking the Lord for direction and this September I believe the Lord lead me in a 40 day fast in order to hear His voice the loudest. This is my third time to do a complete fast for 40 days. It was amazing and He has done so much and showed me so much on each of those special days.

Throughout the first 10 days, I felt Him preparing me for this new season. The word gentleness kept appearing in my time with Him. This is one of the fruits of the Spirit but also the hardest one for me to live out. The next 10 days prepared me to serve a dear friend and his ministry. One of my mentors of over 30 years and I were able to bring a team of people together and watch God do some healing and reconciliation in relationships. Days 31-40 held the hardest three days I have experienced in ministry as I worked with a partner church. I did not totally understand what the Lord wanted me to do until I arrived. I was there to continue to pray and fast for the spiritual health of a long time friend and his wife. During the last 10 days the Lord began directing my steps for how we will set a new direction for CSM.

Over the next few years our Ministry Center will become a place of learning and personal growth working with many who have partnered with us for years. A few of our plans include: cooking clubs and workshops, handy-man classes for homeowners, and a shop to teach skills in woodworking. We also have gardens and aquaculture and they will include educational components as well. We want people to come and learn how to live healthy lives, how to serve, how to build, and to see how learning can lift them and help change their life for the better. We are excited about the future of CSM and the communities we serve.

Last week we sent out our annual fundraising letter. In 2016 we raised enough money to make 2,500 connections and we saw so many wonderful things happen in people’s lives because of your commitment to us. This year we are challenged to do even more and are working to raise $90,000 to make 3,000 connections in 2017. This holiday brings new excitement as we plan for the future and prepare for a season celebrating our Lord and Savior. I would like to ask you to pray about the opportunity to join us as we proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to change communities through local churches and see lives changed. Happy Thanksgiving.

"Basket of Kindness" Turkey Tips and Recipes

Our community partner,, is collaborating with us to bring practical nutrition information to food insecure families. This Thanksgiving, we will give this printed information from eMeals to every family that receives a frozen turkey and "Basket of Kindness" with all the ingredients they will need for a full holiday dinner. The eMeals team developed instructions for safely thawing, handling and preparing the turkey, and included a classic corn recipe that makes delicious use of some of the ingredients in the "Basket" (now a tote bag) along with a treasured and time-tested eMeals family recipe for leftover turkey (try it!) We were so intrigued by the content of the eMeals hand-out, we thought you might enjoy learning these tips and recipes as well. Happy Turkey Day!

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey (the Easy Way!) 

To thaw: Place a 12- to 14-pound frozen turkey (still wrapped) on a tray, and thaw it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

#1 Unwrap turkey, and remove bag of giblets and neck. Drain juices, and pat turkey dry with paper towels. Tip: If you like, place the giblets in a saucepan half full with water. Boil 30 to 45 minutes. Chop meat; add to your gravy while it heats.
#2 Place turkey on a rack in a greased pan. For extra flavor, stuff a cut-up onion or a few pieces of celery inside the turkey. Rub turkey all over with 1/4 cup softened butter (half of a stick). Generously sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Tip: Be sure to wash your hands after working with the raw turkey.
#3 Preheat oven to 325°F. Roast turkey 2 hours, loosely covered with foil, basting once or twice with melted butter. Uncover and roast 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours longer or until turkey is done, basting often. Turkey is done when you can wiggle the legs, the juices run clear, and a meat thermometer inserted into the breast registers at least 165°F. Tip: Generally, you can count on cooking a turkey 20 to 22 minutes per pound.
#4 Let turkey rest, covered with foil, up to 45 minutes before slicing.

Tip: A 12-pound turkey typically feeds about 12 people. Eat or freeze any leftover turkey within 3 days.

Turkey Crunch 
Serves 6 to 8

This dish makes great use of leftover turkey meat. 

3 cups chopped cooked turkey

1 cup chopped celery

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 (10.75-oz) cans cream of chicken soup

1 (6.5-oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 (2-oz) pkg slivered almonds (optional)

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cup mayonnaise

1⁄2 cup milk

1 1⁄2 cups rice

1 (5-oz) can chow mein noodles

1. Preheat oven to 350°F; lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Mix turkey, celery, onion, soups, mushrooms, almonds (if using), 1 tsp salt, 1⁄2 tsp pepper, curry, mayonnaise and milk in a large bowl. Pour into dish.
3. Bake 30 minutes.
4. Cook rice according to package directions. Serve Turkey Crunch over rice; top with chow mein noodles.

Corn Casserole 
Serves 6

1 (8.5-oz) box corn muffin mix
1 (15-oz) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (15-oz) can creamed corn

2 large eggs, beaten

1 stick butter, melted

1 (8-oz) carton sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together muffin mix, corn, creamed corn, eggs and butter
2. Stir in sour cream. Pour into a greased baking dish.
3. Bake 45 minutes or until set.

Thankful For Ms. Fannie!

CSM Volunteers from Samford were excited to be a part of
the beautiful transformation and bless Ms. Fannie
Some people transcend every barrier by their deep faith and love for others. Though few and far between, we have one of those saints in our midst. Ms. Fannie volunteers as our front desk manager every Monday with a big smile and warm hug for everyone on staff and anyone who visits. She never wavers when her gifts of hospitality are in heavy demand and is faithful to be here every week. She also never complains when she faces difficulty in her own life, so we were thrilled to discover that she needed help with the exterior of her house... because God has uniquely equipped us to help in that area! After accessing the needs, our housing team determined that new siding, painting and carpentry were required to properly rehabilitate the structure. The materials for the job were secured through our partnership with the city, and volunteers sprang into action to help. Thanks to everyone for making this special lady feel loved and special... a beautiful reflection of how Ms. Fannie blesses everyone around her. We love you, Ms. Fannie!

Ms. Fannie's house prior to CSM's arrival

Original siding condition

Dave Hinkle leads the S.W.A.T. Team and work begins

Ms. Fannie watching from her porch and exclaiming, "Such a blessing!"

Samford students give up a Saturday to help

Up on the roof and happy to help

Measure twice, cut once!

The house is shaping up! (Stay tuned for a final update.)


Sewing Into Each Other and Cooking Up A Storm

An invaluable time together at eMeals
We are so excited to see a dream begin to come to fruition. CSM is developing a healthy eating and lifestyle education program in partnership with food authority and key partner,, to be implemented within the context of our many strong community relationships. We are planning to launch the new community outreach health education initiative with key CSM ministry partners in West End, East Lake and Woodlawn in 2017.

This past Thursday night, Christian Service Mission and eMeals hosted a teaching model workshop and think-tank dinner for women from Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.  Dr. Michael Wesley's wife Venita brought a few friends who she identifies as potential leadership for the program to explore together how to bring this is essential benefit to their community.

Following the teaching model we plan to implement, we learned helpful cooking techniques while we prepared a meal together in the eMeals test kitchen. eMeals founders, Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran planned the dinner recipes directly from an eMeals menu and taught the cooking session. As we waited for the food to cook, eMeals clinical dietitian, Andrea Kirkland, shared a wealth of nutritional and food knowledge with everyone.

During dinner, we heard how Mrs. Wesley shaped the minds of the many fortunate students she taught in her Family and Consumer Science (Home Ec) classes for the past thirty-five years. Her experience as an educator and her vast knowledge-base is adding an amazing level of practicality, insight and vision for the depth of our developing program.

Newly formed friendships and invaluable conversation around the table
Jenny enthusiastically shared how she and Jane felt after the dinner, “Gathering last week with Venita Wesley and the group of incredible ladies from Greater Shiloh in the eMeals kitchen and around the table to talk about nutrition and the health of our families, neighbors and communities was such a great collaboration of perspectives, wisdom, and knowledge. We were so inspired by their thoughtful input about practical steps we can take in partnership with one another to elevate the health of communities we serve." Jane added, "We are looking forward to working together with CSM and their amazing ministry partners to empower families with nutrition knowledge and home-cooking encouragement.”
Venita Wesley graciously sharing her wisdom

Jenny (l) and Jane (r) bringing the yummy factor to the class

Everyone learning something new in the eMeals test kitchen

A fascinating mix of nutrition and cooking knowledge in this room!

A Jane DeLaney food and family teaching moment 

Everyone is digging into the information, and ready to dig into dinner!

Jamie and Rhonda - CSM Staff

CSM and eMeals have common hearts -

Busy Worker Bees

Brave volunteers introduced to our bees by Dave Hinkle

The CSM Gardens are busy, even though the last produce of the outdoor growing season has been pulled from the beds. Junior and Senior High students from Stone Creek Montessori School helped our resident gardener, “Farmer” Michael Bowen, harvest the last of the pumpkins and clean the beds. The also brought a large collection of peanut butter to help families facing food insecurity over the holidays.

Even when the beds are prepared for winter, the garden is still buzzing with the three bee hives we have in the garden. Dave and Dawn Hinkle have poured an immense amount of their time and creativity into learning and creating a bee colony for our urban garden. The bees have been happy and productive, and we are anxious to see how they fare through the winter months. We love to show them off, so feel free to ask “Farmer” Michael for a tour!

The last pumpkins from the patch

"Farmer" Michael giving garden directions

Clearing out the beds for winter

Stone Creek students enjoying the work and wonder of gardening at CSM

Stone Creek Montessori

One of our bees was also busy at work in the garden

Busy bees working together at CSM


Thanksgiving "Baskets of Kindness" Coming Again!

If you have been wondering what goes on at CSM during the annual Thanksgiving compassion food delivery, you will be interested to watch this short video that pulls back the curtain to show the inside of the warehouse operations, Tracy Hipp’s thinking, and the perspective of key ministry partner, Dr. Michael Wesley, Pastor of Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in West End.

Everyone at CSM has been busy getting pallet loads ready for over 40 ministry partners who will also stage food distribution from their own locations this year. So many volunteers have been here to help with all kinds of preparations for the sorting, bagging and delivery of over 3,000 frozen turkeys with the ingredients necessary for complete dinner with all the trimmings to help hurting families in our communities celebrate Thanksgiving together. 

A big thanks goes to our contributing partners, Buffalo Rock, Bimbo Bakery, Royal Cup Coffee, Wood Fruitticher, Marino's Grocers, Flowers Bakery, Ventura Foods and Twin Construction. Their generous donations helps to make all this possible. To all our partners, have a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones... we are so thankful for you.

Thanksgiving cards hand-made by volunteers for each "Basket of Kindness"