Wednesday, August 29, 2007


my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man

my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood

it's to a king & a kingdom

-Derek Webb

I know that some may disagree with me and that is fine. I know we all have our little issues, but when I see a t-shirt like the pic above my blood pressure rises a few points. I want to ask the person what REALLY is the message you are trying to get across? IS your first concern the Gospel? Do you want the person who reads this to ask you about Jesus or about America?

Don't get me wrong I love my country. I love the freedoms that I have enjoyed for my 30 years here on this earth. I respect the men and women who fight to defend those freedoms. I admire the men who sat down over 200 years ago and drafted the Constitution. What an amazing document that is! As if saying to future generations, HERE is the kind of country that we want to see built.

It is amazing to me how much of the early fathers based our Constitution on Biblical Values. And yet I have to remind myself that America is NOT in the Bible! As great as this land is, It was not spoken of in the Holy Scriptures. This is not the new Land of Canaan! George W. Bush did not usher in the Second Coming as I think many hoped he would.

I just know that there are many people in our churches that can get real misty eyed at the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, but when we sing of Christ redemptive work on the cross they sing as if out of duty and not passion.

I guess over the years I have come to realize that I am not in the "America: Love It or Leave It" crowd. As much as I love my country, I know that the Gospel is for all nations. And as some need to remember, this world is not our home. One day we will all become very patriotic, not for America, but for a New Jerusalem!

I know these thoughts are very scattered and I probably should have taken more time to develop them. I know that there is another statement in that pic: One Nation Under God. There is so much I could say about that., but I'll save that for another day. Until then ask yourself this question: Do you see a Muslim as an enemy of America or as a sinner in need of grace?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pesto: A Little Bit of Love From the Italain Garden

I owe my love for fresh pesto to a Mr. Sean Dennis. As long as I have known the Dennises, they have found some way to fit a basil plant into their life.

Well this past winter I grew increasingly more interested in gardening. It was only a natural progression anyway. The years of landscaping, the grandson of a sharecropper, all of the hours outdoors, the wisdom of simplicity and self reliance, the love a cooking, and of course the absolute bliss that can come from eating have all lead to the somewhat chubby, jolly fellow ya'll see before you today.

Well unfortunately we have no house to plant our own garden, and our apartment's balcony is too shaded by trees to grow anything. This has lead to a few frustrations. Therefore any desire to get my hands in some soil, to put down some roots, and collect a harvest must be accomplished at friend's and family's garden's.

A few weeks ago Mom, Dad, Missy, and I went to check out the Memphis Farmer's Market. There was a guy there that had some great looking herb seedlings. The basil looked especially good, so I asked Dad if I could have a corner of his tomato garden to plant a basil plant. He agreed.

Recently I was on the phone with Dad and he said, " Kyle, you may want to get that pesto recipe from Sean cause your basil plant is growing like a weed!" I was shocked to see how the plant had grown.

So while Missy and I were down for the Fish Fry on the 4th, we gathered enough basil leaves to make a couple of batches. We added the basil to garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. The process was remarkably easy, although aided considerably by the modern wonder that is the food processor!

I have been enjoying one of the jars and we froze the other batch. That is the great thing about the pesto is that you can make a ton of it during the growing season and freeze most of it for the winter when a taste of summer is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Here in the Hopper household we have a new member. Missy and I have been talking for sometime about getting a dog. Well we really have enjoyed some of the beagles that we have known. Plus last November Missy held a Beagle pup that had her hooked. At that time we had neither the means nor the stability to offer a new puppy a home. Now we are a little more stable and were anxious to increase our numbers. Well we began by looking online for pups. We found many a good breeder. Soon though, we found a beagle rescue not far from where we lived.

Now Missy has always had girl dogs so that is what she wanted. The idea of a boy dog really worried her. So when we called the lady from the rescue to set up a meeting she said that she would bring her girl rescue beagles. Well we met her on a Saturday and she brought five beagles. Four females and one male. She said that she brought the male because she thought that if any boy could change Missy's mind then this was the dog to do it. Well wouldn't you know, The boy won out in the end. His name was David.

Well we were not to keen on the name David. For one I have a few friends named David. So we set out to find a name for the dog. We scoured the name lists. I kept wanting to do something literary and all of Missy's names were too "cute." We finally agreed on the name "Colonel."

So that was that. Now came outfitting our home for a new dog. We bought a crate, leash, toys, and of course.......cabinet locks!!!

The next Saturday we picked up Colonel and actually started obedience training that morning. He seems to be a smart dog and picks things up fairly quickly.

The rest of the day was spent showing him to family in the area and introducing him to other dogs in the family. After a few shaky introductions, all dogs seem to get along well now.

We really love having the dog and are growing very attached to it. He really has a pleasant spirit and makes us laugh often. We both feel very blessed with him in our life.

So Welcome, Colonel!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007


This Friday I think I am gonna write about one of my favorite family summer traditions.....the fish fry! Every year growing up my grandfather, father, and I would spend all spring catching crappie, bream, and the occasional bass or catfish. All of the fish would go into the freezer. I remember when I was younger they were frozen in cardboard half gallon milk containers. Now they are frozen in Ziplock Freezerbags.

Well soon the 4th of July would roll around. That is when most of the fish from the spring would be unthawed and cooked. Now I am not talking a few pounds of fish here. I mean these fish fries would have sometimes as many as two dozen people there. There was families, extended families, and friends. I can remember being at many as a kid thinking, "I don't know who half of these people are!" But they were there for the fellowship and the fish.

It was a neat feeling to think that the fish that we were eating were the fish that the three of us had caught in the weeks before. I can remember dad and grandpa always teasing as they pulled out the fillets. "Wow, That's a big one! Yeah I remember catching this fish. Oh wait, here this little one! Must have been your's Kyle." Ain't it great to be the kid!

But seriously in all the years we had those fish fries I never remember having to go to the store and buy fish. There were some years when the fishing would be tough in the early season that I would worry that we would not have enough. But somehow the LORD always seemed to provide enough for everyone to eat.

Now about this fish fryer of my grandpa's. It was nothing like these new fryers of today that you see people using to fry turkeys and fish in. No this thing was about the oldest looking piece of scrap metal you can imagine. It was held together by rust. I am pretty sure the thing used rocket fuel because it sounded like a jet engine. People would stand outside around it and talk. Well talk is an understatement. They would really have to yell to be heard over the fryer. You would think people would go inside until the fish was all done, but the veterans new a secret. You stayed near the fryer because as the batches of fish would get done, grandpa would give those standing by a bite of fresh HOT fish. There is nothing like fried fish straight out of the oil!!!

As the fish would get done grandpa would put the fish into paper grocery bags, you know the brown type, that had been lined with paper towels to catch the excess grease. He would roll the top down to keep the heat in. Man the outside of those bags would get so much grease bleeding through! Enough to give any health nut a heartattack!

After all of the fish were done, grandpa would come out with the hushpuppy batter. He would spoon the batter in a scoop at a time. Soon the batter had puffed up to form this beautiful golden brown hushpuppy. Those went into a paper bag as well.

The meal was topped off with slaw, many assorted vegetables, and all the favorite sidedishes that the various people had brought. Of course there was always a few gallons of sweet tea in the fridge. The meal ended with a huge spread of desserts.

I don't know if this is really just a Southern thing or not, but I wish that everyone could experience a meal like that. It's just one of those things that taste like family to me!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Think Globally/Eat Locally

So I know it has been a long time since my last post but I will make no excuses only to say that Missy and I have had quite an interesting time over the last few months. The LORD seems to have some trials lined up for us. Maybe to make us more Christlike, Maybe to strengthen our marriage, maybe both. Who knows the will of the LORD? His ways are beyond me and I can only ask for the strength to be faithful.

Anyway enough on that......

This is Friday so it is time for a post about food. You know these are certainly some of my favorite posts and I have missed writing about this subject.

Yesterday I was cruising around on the web looking for a local farmers market that Missy and I might be able to pick up some fresh groceries. While my search was going on, I came across this website.

It is a website about this guy and girl that for one year ate only food that came from 100 miles or less from their home. Now you may be asking why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of restriction. Well we have all heard about the benefits of eating organic foods. Our culture has become dependent on large factory farms, tons of chemicals being poured on crops, and even Genetically Modified Plants. Organic foods return our food to the way that God intended our food to grow. Therefore our fruits and vegetables taste better and are packed with more of the micronutrients that much of the factory farm food is so starved for.

But a new idea is coming out of modern food conversations. The idea of not only eating organically but eating locally. According to many studies much of the food that we eat on a daily basis in America has traveled hundreds maybe thousands of miles before ending up on our dinner plate.

Well you might ask why this matters? Well food that must travel great distances must be prepared for the journey. Apples and tomatoes have been produced with thick skins to handle the journey often at the expense of taste. My dad told me of a farming friend of his that talks about the fattening process that his cattle must go through to handle the strenuous journey of travelling in close quarters to the slaughter house sometimes hundreds of miles away. The cattle must be given many antibiotics to handle the diseases and infections that they may contract in this journey. By eating food that is local we can have food that is fresher, taste better, and doesn't need any technological intervention for growing and transporting.

Another thought is that in a world trying to think of ways to combat global warming or at least our imprint on the world, do I really need food that has been grown in Chile? Think of all of the gas that is burned in trying to get that food to me.

The last idea is that part of America's history has been written by the small family farmers trying to hack out a living from the earth. A big part of who we are as a nation is being pushed out. The large farms with thier equipment, illegal labor crews, and chemicals can always out produce the family farms. But what are we giving up for this increase in production? There must be ways to support our farmers that are still trying to grow things in a way that is in tune with nature and the rhythms that God has put forth on this earth.

This couple is wrestling with these issues. Through farmers markets we can actually meet the men and women who grow the food we eat. They may even let us come visit the farm to see where the food on our plate comes from. Another avenue for those in the cities is a program called a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. In these arrangements a group of people pay into a membership in a farm. You pay a lump sum price at the beginning of the year and throughout the growing season you get baskets of fresh produce and sometimes even meat. The final way to get local food is to grow your own garden. Even if it is only a 10x10 spot in the backyard or a couple of window boxes of your apartment balcony, the thought of food straight from the vine can be very attractive.

Now I know that this is a huge step for some people. My advice is take it slowly. The main point is to be more intentional with what we eat and where our food comes from. I think in the end you will see that a little bit of work will reap HUGE rewards!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Hello all you poor schmucks grinding it out everyday in those jobs you hate,

So anyway, I have been having a conversation lately with a few people that has been fun. The question is: What would You do with a lot of money?
We used to do this as an exercise at the adolescent mental hospital I used to work at. We would have all of the kids right down on a piece of paper what they would do if they had a million dollars. It was always vast fun to see the answers. It really shows what is important to a person. The best answers were the younger inner city kids who would invariably say, " Man if I had a million dollars I would buy Nike. Then I would have them make me all the Jordans I could ever want!" The staff would always have a good laugh later thinking to ourselves, " Yeah sure you are going to buy a Multi-billion dollar company with a million dollars! HA!" But the exercise showed a lot. You see these kids that I worked with would come from the WORST home situations imaginable. But these kids would come to us with wardrobes that were RIDICULOUS! They would all have Ecko, South Pole, and the TENNIS SHOES! Man one article of these kids clothing wold cost more than I make in a week! But in their world clothes were a real status symbol. They might be poorer than dirt but hey at least I LOOK good.
Well this past weekend Bobby Petrino left University of Louisville to go couch the Atlanta Falcons. Now some would say maybe he was going to make this move because he wanted to go coach in the Big Leagues. Maybe that is true. But something tells me it had something to do with the $24 million contract that was being offered that didn't hurt to "seal the deal." This got some friends to talking about being loyal to a school or loyal to your family.
I also work in a job where daily I turn down the opportunity to be making $75000 a year in the next three years. Instead Missy and I continue to scrape by because we are pursuing something we feel is worth the sacrifice, an education and a career that is honoring the Lord.

So maybe a long introduction, but I want to know what would you do with money. Okay before I take a theological lashing about greed and the such, this is just an exercise. This is just talk. It is just about dreaming BIG! What would you do if "money were no object?" Now most people I know could blow through a million pretty quickly so let's make the number a little bigger. This weeks powerball billboards say that the current jackpot is $131 Million, so lets go with that. What would you do with $131 Million?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing.
- Henry David Thoreau

Recently I wrote about my truck's newest accessory, my canoe. Now people who have known me for sometime had begun to grow tired of me speaking about getting a new canoe. I think that Missy did not give in to letting me get one but instead we bought it so that she could stop hearing about getting one.
I have long been attracted to the romance of a canoe. I love boats. There is just something to being on the water. The fishing is better, more parts of the world are opened up, and the feeling of becoming an aqautic creature can be fantastic! Boats are great, but they come in many shapes and sizes. I grew up fishing in an old jonboat that I am sure was bought at Sears the first year Sears was in business. This thing was old, but it taught me about being on the water. It ws great for throwing in the back of a pickup and getting into really great backwaters. Later in life I was able to go on friends Bass boats. Now these things are a monument to comfort. You can basically jump up and down on these things and they will not tip over. The only problem is that they are suited only to big water. Which is fine because these babies can FLY across the water. I have never understood why someone needed to go 100 MPH in a boat, but then you look at the size of some of these lakes and well it begins to make sense. The largest boat I have ever been on was on my honeymoon. Missy and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon. Now it is hard to think of these ships as boats. They feel more like floating cities. But let a choppy sea come up and you are quickly reminded that you are on a boat. Stablizers can only do so much!
Well anyway, why the fascination with canoes? Well I guess the main reason that jumps out is my almost religious devotion to all things simple. I just love how stripped down a canoe can be. There are no electronics , no motors, nothing fancy! Just a hull, two seats, and a couple of paddles are all that is needed. I also love the fact that a canoe can go ANYWHERE! I strap that baby to the top of my truck and I can throw off the side of a road into a creek if need be. The canoe floats in mere inches of water therefore being able to get to places that would leave other heavier crafts beached. The other thing about a canoe is the reminder that we all have a center of gravity. Forget that and you will have a very wet, sometimes cold reminder!
This year many fish have been caught from my canoe. Good times are already being had. Stories are already taking shape.
This coming year I hope to take a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. This is an area that has been designated a wilderness area and is only accessable by canoe. It is a land filled with hundreds of glacier made lakes. Only a few groups are allowed in at any one time, so one can really experience something of a wilderness. This is a land that has changed very little since the first French furtraders came. The great thing is that on one of these trips you can experience the area in much the same way that they did.....from a canoe!
So I know that a canoe is not the most glorious of all watercrafts but I do love them. I love the silence that can be heard from a canoe. This past year my friend Kevin and I were able to drift very close to a relaxing bobcat. The thing never really seemed to even mind that we were there. It was at that moment when my canoe purchase seemed all worth it!
Thank You my beautiful wife for understanding your husband's weird fanatical obsessions. I apologize for not getting you out on the canoe this year. Next year you and I will take a float trip!