Album Review: Everything and Nothing Less

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If, like me, Chris McClarney was a newer name to you, you may remember his work on the worship album “Your Love Never Fails”. I may not have known Chris as the songwriter, but I sure knew the words to almost every song. He has now partnered with Jesus Culture Music to offer his debut live album, “Everything and Nothing Less.”

Released on June 9th, 2015, the album features nine new songs recorded at the Jesus Culture Sacramento Conference 2015.

The album is powerful, with corporate praise and worship songs like “Holy Moment” and “All Consuming Fire” seamlessly transitioning into songs like the deeply intimate “Running After You”, that feels as if they came right out of the prayer closet.

With smooth vocals, a balanced mix of tempos and a nice sprinkling of free worship, this album is a win for me. I already have plans to incorporate various tracks into JHOP prayer sets and personal quiet time!

Check out the album promo below, and happy listening.

 

 

Tirana, Albania

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Albania is one of the few places I’ve been where I had to handle my own accommodations in any real sense (missionary perks y’all). While Hostel Propaganda is the only hostel I’ve ever stayed at, from what I hear finding this place is like winning the lottery.

Located in Tirana, the capital city, for an incredible 10 euros a night you get a clean place to stay with sheets changed as often as you like (room with private bathroom costs a bit more), a simple breakfast, quiet hours at 11PM with access to any desired non-quietness right outside, wifi, and a public desktop for the non-techie travelers.

They even have a Wii in the sitting area for all those Wii Sports and Just Dance fans. (Anyone who knows me understands that this alone would have had me hooked on this place…)

Friendly staff with just enough English skills seals the deal on this one for me.

Do note though that with a name like Hostel Propaganda and considering Albania’s past dabblings in communism, decors must follow suit. This is not the place for you if seeing pictures of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and other folks of similar ilk will distress you.

Tirana’s lovely artificial lake is a 10-15 minute walk away, and since it’s basically walking in a straight line, I’m pretty sure you can’t get lost on your way there. Go during the day to enjoy the scenery, or in the evening to enjoy one of the many lakeside bars and nearby clubs.

I didn’t make it to Tirana’s national museum but I heard it’s lovely. It’s also across the street from a green space and other nice center city walking areas.

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For food, check out world famous Creperie, which is within walking distance of the hostel. Also within walking distance, though a bit further, is the pizzeria where you will find some of the best pizza you’ll ever have outside of Italy. All throughout Tirana you can find any number of shops that serve Kofta, a type of meatball often served with lettuce, tomatoes, yogurt, and bread. 100 lek ($10) or less at any of these places will get you a satisfying meal and a couple beers to boot.

If you’re really on a budget, you can find burek, a savory dish of stuffed baked pastry dough, almost anywhere for under a lek.

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If you’ve got the time and space in your suitcase, check out the markets and outdoor stalls for fun fashion finds. Bartering is welcome.

Tips:

  • Albania gets very hot in the summer. And I mean very hot. Try cooler times like June-mid July and September, or make sure to stay hydrated and protected.
  • Be aware of yourself. Unfortunately there are many Roma children whose parents send them out begging on the streets all day, whatever the weather. They are persistent, and you need to pay attention. In order to encourage Roma families to stop this practice, Tirana officials caution against giving these children money. Since this policy has been in place, there have been reductions in the amount of children sent out.
  • Albanian currency has just changed. 10 lek is now 1 dollar. Previously 100 lek was a dollar, so double check your purchases if the numbers seems off. I almost got into an argument with a fruit and vegetable vendor because of the misunderstanding.

Milan, Italy

1015139_10151691382280569_977761929_oItaly, the land of sunshine, great food, serious eye candy, and beautiful towns, villages, and cities.

Well, sort of.

Most people would agree with me that Milan is one of the uglier cities Italy has to offer, complete with pollution, traffic, and a grey pallor that not even the scorching hot summers seem to be able to burn away. The eye candy is still pretty serious though. And the food…

The Duomo is the main church of Milan, and I have to say they outdid themselves with this one. It’s huge, amazing, and being terribly disserviced by my lackluster adjectives. You can enter for free, but pictures cost a few euros. If you’ve got a few extra bucks for a ticket I recommend going to to the roof, which can be accessed by stairs or by elevator for a small price increase.

Nearby is San Maurizio, a smaller, but no less impressive, gem. Constructed in 1503, this little church is literally covered in frescoes and has free entry every day. It is right next to the Architectural Museum.

It’s difficult to go wrong with gelaterias in Milan, but some places are exceptionally exceptional. By far, Ciocolatitaliani has the most amazing ice cream ever. They fill your cone with melted chocolate of your choice (white, milk or dark), and then you pick your choice of 2-3 flavors. Add whipped cream for the full sugar overload effect.

If you’re really craving chocolate, you can get your choice of white, milk or dark right in a cup, no superfluous cone and ice-cream involved.

This place is so legit that you have to take a number, place and pay for your order, and then wait for your number to be served. Near the Duomo, Ciocolatialiani is easy to add into your day’s activities.

Luini’s is conveniently located across the street from Ciocolatialiani, which makes this one corner of Milan a one-stop-shop to gastrological decadence. Stop here for a savory panzerotto (fried or baked stuffed bread), or even a pastry if the ice-cream across the street isn’t your thing. I recommend the ricotta and spinach, the tomato mozzarella, or spicy salami and mozzarella. You can get two for about 5 euros.

If you can walk anymore, it’s worth it to visit the Castello Sforzesco and the attached gardens in the back, where you can find lovely landscaping, sculptures, and L’Arco della Pace, or The Arch of Peace. The only cost is if you want to enter the museum.

If you can navigate the city reasonably well, I recommend La Reginella and Pizza Man for some of the most amazing pizza you will ever taste in your life. Ever.

Finish your day with an aperitivo along the softly lit navigli, or canals. Generally, for no more than 8-10 euros you can have a drink of your choice and unlimited finger foods that put U.S. happy hour to shame. At one happy hour I chose from clams, pasta dishes, pizzas, cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruit, and desserts. Now that’s how you do it.

Tips:

  • In early Spring, Milan might as well be flooded. In the summer you might as well be in the desert. Stick to late April, June, and September for visits, or make sure you’re hydrated and protected.
  • Most museums are either free or discounted for visitors 25 and under
  • The Architectural Museum and Museo del Novecento (both in the historical district) have free entry on Fridays after 1:00PM for all ages.
  • In center city, avoid the people who try to give you bracelets. Be firm. They can handle it. Unless of course you want to pay a euro for the bracelets.
  • If you’re not completely grossed out by having dozens of city pigeons land on or near you, pay no more than a euro to the guy who gives you a handful of rice. He might ask for five.

Traveling missionaries can check out Pearl House for accommodations. Contact me for more info.