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Yes, this is a personal testimony. LOL

I baked up a storm on Wednesday. I made two pumpkin pies first, and there’s always a small corningware dish of filling leftover that we bake and get to enjoy.

I pulled the pies and extra filling out of the oven. Kiddo grabbed a fork and dug into the extra. I was expecting a “YUM” from him, but instead I heard “YUCK”. He said it was AWFUL!

I took a bite myself and couldn’t believe it – it WAS awful!!!!!

I FORGOT TO PUT THE SUGAR IN THE PIES!!!!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛

In all my years of baking, that’s one mistake I’ve never made before.

Disgusted with myself, I decided to set the pies on the front porch for tossing later. (We live in the country, and nobody cares what we do with our leftovers. LOL)

As I was setting the second pie outside, I had a strong urge to throw that pie into the yard! I can’t explain it other than that – all that kept coming to mind was an urgent “THROW THE PIE IN THE YARD!!”

So I did. LOL

Kiddo thought I’d lost my mind. He even called Hubby at work and told him, and he also seriously questioned my mental state. I told Hubby I’d clean it up later, but I felt like the pie needed to go in the yard, so that’s what I did. 😛

About an hour later, I looked outside and there was a momma dog in our yard eating the pie. She was EXTREMELY thin, but was obviously nursing puppies.

It slapped me in the face then – the Lord KNEW I was going to leave the sugar out of those pies, and He KNEW that dog was hungry. That’s why the Lord prompted me to throw the pie into the yard – I wasn’t crazy after all! 😀

What a humbling experience today has been! I didn’t understand why I was supposed to throw that pie (although I felt a LOT better after I did – LOL!!!), but God used my mistake to feed a starving animal.

I wound up setting the second pie into the yard so she could eat it too (which she did, after initially running off).

I am still just amazed and humbled – God cares about EVERYTHING in our lives, right down to baking mistakes, and can turn it into something good.

Lesson learned – even when it doesn’t make sense, trust God – He knows what He is doing. 🙂

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Our ROME UNDERGROUND VBS is this next week (July 13 – 17).  Prayers would be much appreciated.  This is this first time for our church to use this format, and I think the kids will love it.  We had a work day today and got almost all of the decorating done – had a wonderful turnout of helpers!

I know I’ve been AWOL a lot the past few weeks, but hopefully things will slow down soon.  🙂

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If you are looking for VBS snack ideas in general, please be sure to read my other post with lots of food suggestions.   🙂

Our church is doing Rome Underground this year, and I’ve done quite a bit of searching on the internet for food to fit in with the theme.  We feed our workers beforehand, and we also offer the kids a more “substantial snack” since many of them have not had supper before coming to church.

This year I decided to incorporate some traditional VBS fare along with some Roman-inspired food.  I told all of our workers that we’ll be expanding our taste buds!  😀

First, I’ll give you a run-down of what our menu will basically look like, then provide recipes for any particular dish.

1)  Quesadillas with hummus and veggies. Quesadillas made with fajita size flour tortillas, shredded cheese and taco meat – if you have large griddles, you can do 6 or so at a time – spray griddle with non-stick spray first to make the outside crispy.  After cooking, cut each one into 6 wedges using a pizza cutter.  These can be made ahead of time and frozen, then reheated to serve.  We also do some with just cheese.  Serve with a sauce on the side made from Ranch dressing and salsa.  Yum!

2)  Little sandwiches and tabouli.   The secret is to make the sandwiches several hours ahead of time – it really does make a huge difference.  For VBS (a crowd of 100 give or take a few), I use 8 packages of hamburger buns, 4 packages each of Oscar Meyer smoked turkey breast and honey ham, a package of sliced American cheese, and some toothpicks.  For each sandwich, use one slice each of ham, turkey, and cheese.  Put four toothpicks into the top of the sandwich and slice between them cutting the sandwich into fourths (each piece like a slice of pie sort of).  Put the sandwiches on a tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours.

3)  Chicken on a stick, Greek salad, kielbasa/cheese/crackers. The chicken on a stick is really just popcorn chicken threaded onto skewers (check Ebay or restaurant supply – we’re using the 4″ sticks, I think).  I plan on serving it with honey mustard on the side.  And lest you think I’ve lost my mind on this one, I will be buying the popcorn chicken from Wally World so I’m not standing on my feet for hours frying the little darlings up.  🙂  5 or 6 pounds of popcorn chicken goes a long way when you put 4 or 5 to a stick.   I’m not entirely sure about quantity on this yet – I plan on doing a trial run ahead of time with one pound to see how many we can make.

The kielbasa, cheese and crackers is simply Hillshire Farms kielbasa (sausage) thinly sliced with 1/4 slice of American cheese on top of a Ritz cracker.  You can make trays of this stuff very easily, and most everyone loves it.  It’s a good filler that tastes great!  Don’t make it up too far ahead of time or your crackers will go soggy.  You can chop everything and have it ready to set up assembly-line style when it’s closer to serving time.

4)  Macho Nachos with olives and pickles on the side. My version of Macho Nachos is chips with taco meat, cheese dip (made from 1 – #10 can cheese sauce and 1 can of rotel (undrained) ).  You can serve sour cream on the side if you like along with jalapeno peppers .  I cook the hamburger meat several weeks ahead of time, season with taco seasoning, and freeze until ready to use.  Crockpots work great to keep the meat and cheese dip hot.   Green and black olives along with sweet and dill pickles can be served on the side.

5)  Hot dogs plus any leftovers from the earlier part of the week.  Pan fry the hot dogs unless you want to grill them ahead of time.  Keep them warm in a crockpot as you’re serving.  Have ketchup, mustard, mayo (yes, some people like it on their dogs!) and relish handy.  Sometimes I make up another batch of sandwiches on closing night just in case we have parents who come and would like to eat too.  Sometimes we have a lot of leftovers from earlier in the week, sometimes there’s none.  Plan to have too much rather than not enough!

Desserts this year will be varied.  We’re having fig newtons, fruit salad, melon balls, pudding cups (#10 cans of pudding from Sam’s in individual serving cups and topped with whipped topping), popcorn, raisins, and possibly ice cream sundaes.

I’ve also asked any of our bread makers at church to donate homemade rolls if they’d like.  This will be part of the kids’ snacks each night.

We always have kool-aid slushies made from gallons of frozen kool-aid.  Let it sit out for a few hours ahead of time and chop up any remaining chunks of ice for an icy treat.  The kids LOVE these in the hot summer!

Iced tea is served nightly as well as water.

For the recipes:

Hummus – This is like a middle Eastern bean dip.  I use canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), some of the liquid from the can, about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 cloves minced garlic, parsley,  a good drizzle of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a healthy dash of cumin and black pepper.  Blend all of this together and serve with chips, crackers or vegetables (carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.).  Double or triple the recipe if needed.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Tabouli – Love this stuff!  It is a traditional middle Eastern salad which can be eaten alone or with crackers.  Below is the recipe as I received it, and I’ll tell you the modifications I made:

For a 1# bag of tabouli wheat (cracked bulgar wheat),  put it in a large bowl and run warm water over it to rinse it. Stir it around, let it sit a few minutes, stir it around again and then drain it.

Add:
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup white vinegar  (I use less – just a good glug from the bottle)
2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp sea salt

Add chopped vegetables:

1 large cucumber
3 large plus 1 med. tomato
1 bunch small red onions
1 small white onion
2 bunches parsley

Now, I will confess I cheat a little here and use dehydrated onion and parsley both.  It just makes my life easier. 🙂  I like a lot of tomato and cucumber in mine.  If you see it’s getting too dry as it soaks up the dressing, you can add some water to it.  It shouldn’t be soupy, but it shouldn’t be bone dry either – just lightly moistened.  Best if you let it sit overnight before serving.

Greek Salad

3 tomatoes, chopped
1 or 2 cucumbers, chopped
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
½ med. red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
dash dried oregano
dried basil
green olives

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, cheese and onion in a bowl.  Add olive oil and lemon juice, pepper, oregano, and basil.  Toss in a few olives.  Adjust seasonings to taste.   Easy to double or triple.

Fruit Salad – Just a simple mixture of sliced strawberries, grapes (red and green) cut in half length-wise, pinepple chunks, chopped apples, and mandarin oranges.  You can add a some sugar if needed (a couple of tablespoons or so).  For adults, I like to sprinkle a few chopped pecans in the mix.

Hope this helps to inspire your food ideas for VBS!  🙂

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I know Facebook is all the rage.   I myself signed up primarily to keep track of my niece and nephews, and I have actually reconnected with a classmate from long ago years past.  But there’s a dirty little secret that many parents are missing about Facebook – it is NOT kid-friendly!

Parents – do you really know what your kids are looking at on the computer?  I am absolutely shocked at the sheer number of children (elementary school through high school) who have their own FB page.  In the short time I’ve been on FB, I’ve seen ads that are completely inappropriate for kids (or adults for that matter), plus there are any number of “quizzes” you can take which have profane language and other vulgarities in them.   (Example – one of the most recent that I’ve seen is a quiz you can take to see “which %itch are you?”)

Yet – I have yet to hear any parent or child complain about the content on Facebook.  All I have ever heard is how much fun it is, blah, blah, blah.

I am not trying to be a stick in the mud, but I don’t care to read or see profanity and ads that are bordering on pornography, and I don’t feel it is appropriate by ANY stretch of the imagination for kids!

Have we sunk this low as a society?  Can it really be all that bad?  It appears so.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with the Facebook concept, but there should be parental controls to limit some of the areas of content.

I know parents who are careful about what their children are exposed to on tv, in books, etc. but they have no problem letting them get on the computer and mess with Facebook.

WAKE UP, FOLKS!  Wipe the cobwebs from your eyes and protect your kids.  If you don’t instill YOUR morals and values in them, the world will do it for you.

Ok – I’m off my soapbox…for now.  😀

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Easter isn’t the Easter Bunny, hiding eggs, and getting candy for the kids.

Do you know Jesus?

If there were no Jesus, there would be no Easter.   Jesus loved you so much that He gave Himself for you on Calvary – He literally nailed your sins to the cross, and paid your sin debt in full.

How far would you walk to be free?

It is as simple as getting on your knees and asking Jesus to come into your heart – believe that He is who He said He is – God’s Son, sent to save the world.  Repent of your sins and thank Jesus for what He did for you.  The Bible tells us that He will not turn you away.  The only thing He cannot forgive is denying Him.

In a world gone crazy where nothing is sure, place your hope, faith, and trust in Jesus.  He is the only constant we have – He does not change.

On this glorious Easter Day – REJOICE!  He is risen!

Budda’s tomb contains Budda’s bones.  Mohammad’s tomb contains Mohammad’s bones.  Jesus’ tomb is empty because HE IS ALIVE!

Praise God!  😀

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I am on the food committee at our church, and often work in the kitchen for various activities.  I struggle every year trying to find food or snack ideas for the kiddos during Vacation Bible School.   We also feed our Wednesday night kids a snack each week during the school year, so this post is dedicated to those dear souls who are looking for something new to feed the starving heathens.

For perspective on numbers, on Wed. nights, we feed around 60 people – kids and workers.  During VBS, we feed the workers beforehand each night (many are just getting off of work – feeding them is the least we can do!), plus we serve more substantial food for the kids too since many of them have not had supper.  We normally average 100 to 120 kids/workers total.

If you have any additional ideas for food, I would dearly love to hear them.  🙂

Snacks:

  • Popcorn – we  use around 12 to 13 bags of microwave popcorn to feed 60 to 70 people.  On Wed. nights, we scoop the popcorn into disposable bowls for the kids.  For VBS, we use paper lunch sacks and roll down the tops (one staple in the middle will secure it).  This makes it super easy to do ahead of time and pass out later.
  • Trail mix – I sorta came up with this combination based on what the kids seemed to eat and enjoy most.  You can use anything you like however.  I use a combination of pretzels, goldfish crackers, and marshmallows mixed together in a large bowl.  When serving, sprinkle a few M&Ms on top of each individual bowl (otherwise the M&Ms sink to the bottom – ask me how I know!).
  • Sausage, cheese, and crackers – We like the Hillshire Farms Smoked Kielbasa best – sliced into fairly thin rounds, sliced American cheese (cut into fourths), and Ritz crackers.  For 60 people or so, use 2 packages of the kielbasa along with a package of sliced cheese and a large box of Ritz.  Be sure to have extra cheese and crackers available – some kids don’t like the sausage (but we have one little girl who says this is the best thing we make – LOL).
  • Ice cream sundaes – large buckets of ice cream (a couple of them for Wed. nights, at least 4 buckets for VBS).  Vanilla and chocolate seem to go over better than the strawberry or mixed flavors.  Be sure to have a variety of toppings such as chocolate syrup, cherries, pineapple, caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce, M&Ms, whipped cream, etc.  The 4 oz serving cups available at restaurant supply companies work great for this and are the perfect size.
  • Teddy Grahams, animal crackers, and whipped topping – I take a couple of boxes of Teddy Grahams along with a large package of animal crackers and mix them together in a large bowl.  You can either spoon the whipped topping onto a plate when you serve it, or use the small 2 oz serving cups (restaurant supply) to put the whipped topping in.  Kids love to dip things!  (It usually takes 2 LARGE tubs of whipped topping for this amount of crackers.)
  • Pretzels and cheese sauce – We have had mixed reviews on this one, and don’t serve it often.  The 2 oz serving cups work very well for the cheese sauce, and either the straight or traditional pretzels.
  • Nachos – One large #10 can of cheese sauce mixed with one can of Rotel (not drained) (use a large crockpot), plus 4 bags or so of tortilla chips.  Sam’s Club carries the plastic nacho trays which makes serving easier.   For VBS, we sometimes have taco meat prepared on the side and available to serve over the nachos to make a more substantial snack.  (Note:  If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to let the crockpot heat the cheese dip, you can microwave the crock if it’s removeable.)  During VBS, we can easily go through two cans of cheese and Rotel per night.
  • S’mores – This is great on a cold winter’s night!  For the Wed. night crowd, we use 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (NOT Pet milk) mixed with 2 – (12 oz) packages of Hershey’s chocolate chips.   Microwave and stir until smooth.  It will make a thick, almost frosting-like consistency fudge.  You will need 4 boxes of graham crackers and 3 or 4 containers of marshmallow cream also.  Break a sheet of graham cracker in two so that you have two squares the same size, put a tablespoon of the fudge in the middle of one cracker (don’t spread it out) and a tablespoon of marshmallow cream on the other, then gently press them together (and will squish the chocolate and marshmallow out to the sides).  It works best if you have an assembly line of sorts set up to do these.  They can be made several hours ahead of time (which works great so that the chocolate can set up a bit more and will be less messy when eating).  Very good served with hot chocolate!  😀
  • Pickles – dill and sweet.  We normally buy the gallon jars of whole dill pickles and slice them into spears ourselves.  The kids can go through a gallon on Wed. nights with no problem.  During VBS (along with other snack items), a gallon a night still works well.
  • Cookies – large packages of chocolate and vanilla cream filled cookies are big hits.  One to two packages per night, depending on what else is served.
  • Pudding cups – Sam’s Club has #10 cans of vanilla and chocolate pudding that are actually REALLY good!  We use the 4 oz serving cups with enough pudding to fill a little more than half, then top with a dollop of whipped topping.  If you have the lids to the cups, it is very easy to make these ahead of time and refrigerate.  On Wed. nights, 2 – #10 cans (usually one of each flavor) and a couple tubs of topping will suffice.  For VBS, 4 cans total along with 4 tubs of topping.
  • Hot chocolate – We go through 2 gallons of hot cocoa plus some Kool-Aid on Wed. nights.  If you’re using the individual serving packets, it takes around 24 packets to a gallon of water, plus a healthy dose of some non-dairy creamer (it makes the cocoa a bit richer tasting).  Serve with mini-marshmallows.
  • Kool-Aid – Every Wednesday night, we use 2 gallons of Kool-Aid, which equates to four packages, 4 cups of sugar, and enough water to fill a two gallon pitcher.  We also serve plain ol’ water too.

Food to feed a crowd (besides snacks):

  • Sloppy joes
  • Tacos
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Macho Nachos (with meat, sour cream, etc.)
  • Quesadillas (we do some with cheese only, and others with taco meat and cheese.  Use a pizza cutter and slice into 6 pieces.  Serve with a dipping sauce made from Ranch Dressing (Hidden Valley is best) and salsa – about half and half of each.)
  • Mini- pizzas – made with cheap, canned biscuit dough, spaghetti sauce (Ragu works great), cheese, and pepperoni (optional).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, flatten a biscuit out with your fingers, top with a spoonful of sauce, top with cheese and pepperoni, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so – just until the biscuits are cooked through and the cheese is melted.
  • Little sandwiches – These go like hotcakes.  The secret is to make them several hours ahead of time – it really does make a huge difference.  For Wed. nights, I use 4 packages of hamburger buns, 2 packages each of Oscar Meyer smoked turkey breast and honey ham, a package of sliced American cheese, and some toothpicks.  For each sandwich, use one slice each of ham, turkey, and cheese.  Put four toothpicks into the top of the sandwich and slice between them cutting the sandwich into fourths (each piece like a slice of pie sort of).  Put the sandwiches on a tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours.  Double the amount listed above for a VBS crowd of 100.
  • Sweet tea – The workers (and many of the kids) love a refreshing glass of sweet tea.  My favorite brand (and I’ve done a side by side taste test of leading brands) is Luzianne De-Caf.  I use two of the family size bags per gallon (for the stove top, add the tea bags to some water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes).  For each gallon of tea, use 1  1/2 cups of sugar.  We could not keep tea made fast enough during our last VBS!

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What would you do if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow?  What about your life would you change or do differently?

No one knows the day or hour Jesus will return, but the Bible does tell us of the signs of His coming.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.

“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

“But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:3-14

also consider these Scriptures:

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

“Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”  Matthew 24:32-44

If you are a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ – always be ready.  Live your life as if Jesus were coming any minute.  We don’t know when it will be, but our lives should be a reflection of our faith in Him.  Don’t put off til tomorrow what you should do today.  Reconcile a relationship that needs healing and forgiveness.  Show kindness to others.  Tell people about Jesus.

If you are not a believer, it is my prayer that you will search your heart before it is too late.  The time draws near, time is winding down.  God gives each of us “free will” – He condemns no one, and by accepting or refusing the gift of His Son Jesus, you choose your own fate.

Jesus loves you, and longs for a relationship with you.  Come to Him now.  You might not have a chance tomorrow.

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