Unless I Wash You

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Unless I Wash You

“”What I am doing you do not understand now,

but you will know after this.”

John 13:7

Have you ever been to a foot-washing ceremony? If yes, how did it make you feel? Were you uncomfortable taking your shoes off and exposing your stinky feet to someone you looked up to, like maybe a leader in the church, or the leader at a ministry where you volunteered? Sounds like I might have some personal experience, doesn’t it? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you’d be right.

I worked as a counselor of sorts in the lending closet of a crisis pregnancy center for a time, and at one of our monthly meetings (where we would communicate information between the board, the directors, and the staff, and also have devotions and prayer), both of our directors rose up from their seats and began filling little tubs for each of the staff members. Our directors had just returned from a director’s retreat and explained to us how they had felt the Lord leading them to wash our feet. Oh no, I thought to myself, no, no, no! Que the panic attack of the century! Of all the hot summer days to be wearing my cheapo, made-in-China, dime store tennis shoes, and without socks. My feet are going to wreak! There’s no way I’m taking these shoes off my feet in this crowded room, much less let someone else take them off for me with their sniffer right down there at toe level. Oh heck no. Nope. Not happening.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean any disrespect, and surely didn’t want to put a damper on the spiritual experience at all, but I was squirming and sweating profusely, and was not in my right mind. I was scared to death that my racing thoughts would soon start spilling out all over my face. Thank God I was seated at the end of the chairs (a benefit of always sitting in the back of the room); this gave me a decent amount of time to try and figure out a game plan, an excuse, maybe, for running out early.

I didn’t run, however, and I’m not sure why not, except I was hoping someone else in the room would raise an objection, a genius excuse, and then I could chime in with my support, and the two of us would get out of it together. But no such luck. Each person seemed completely uninhibited, (of stinking course, gawd, why am I the only basket case in the room, ever), and each appeared to appreciate the experience. Lord have mercy.

When it got around to me, the last person, I tried everything in the book to get out of it, discretely, but the director wasn’t having any of it. She absolutely, positively would not take “No thank you” for an answer. So I begged her if I could then just please take my shoes off my own self and hurry and plunge my feet into the sudsy water while she was still a good distance away? Maybe she could hold her breath and we could spritz some air freshener in the room? And maybe I could wrap my shoes up in a grocery sack and toss them out the back door while everyone was distracted, please! OMG, I was so humiliated and embarrassed.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:3-10

You know what? My feet did not come out of the tub the same way as they went in. When they came out they were clean. They were stink free. The sweat and the dirt had been washed away. My heart-failure was over. I could finally relax and be humbled by the kind ministry taking place. Our director washed my feet, and also prayed for me while doing so, and spoke words of prophesy over me. I felt strength enter my body. I felt blessed.

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The Practice of Hospitality

Foot washing was first introduced in Genesis 18:4 by Abraham and 19:2 by Lot, and then in Genesis 24:32 by Laban, and Genesis 43:24 by Joseph. It is seen again in the strange story of the Levite and his concubine and the old man in Gibeah – Judges 19:21. Levitical priests were required to wash their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle (God’s house) Ex. 30:18-21.

It was once a common custom and courtesy in the ancient Near East to wash the feet of guests (as noted in my Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, NKJV, footnote for Judges 19:21). Most people of Bible days wore sandals, and all that walking around that they did in those days must have made their feet very dirty. Not only would it have been a welcome refreshment to get the sweat and dirt off their feet before sitting down to a meal, but it surely also helped keep the houses from being tracked into, and the bedding from getting soiled.

A note in my NKJV study Bible for Mark 6:11 says that Jews, returning home from a journey also used to knock the heathen dust off their sandals the moment they reentered Jewish territory.

This is probably the custom Jesus drew upon to instruct His disciples to knock the dust off their sandals as a testimony against any town or home who would not receive them or hear them when they preached the good news to them (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Paul and Barnabas actually did this in Acts 13:51.

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The Hebrew word for ground or earth is adamah (Strongs #127). The Bible says “the Lord God formed the man (Adam) of dust (adamah) from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7), but after the sinful fall of mankind God said, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). But, in case we should think it was only Adam whom God considers dust, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

In the New Testament there is the story of a sinful woman with an alabaster flask who “stood at [Jesus’] feet behind Him weeping; and washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” Luke 7:36-47.

Jesus compared her actions to a foot washing, and He forgave her sins. And He forgave her sins!

Considering all of this, I have a feeling that a foot washing is something like a baptism – a mini cleansing of the sole from earthly heathen soil, which we are bound to get on us simply by being in the world.

Of course we are cleansed of our sins (past, present, and future) by our Savior’s blood when we are born again and baptized, so we are essentially cleansed and do not need any other “baptism.” But…we ARE imperfect humans, and in this world we will have troubles (John 16:33); we’ll slip up from time to time – lose our temper, tell a white lie, borrow something and forget to return it, show partiality to someone, disobey God, etc. We may think these are insignificant, or secret sins, but God sees them. He smells our stinky feet, and whether we realize it or not, we are tracking heathen dust into our homes, into our friends’ homes, and into HIS house! But I have good news. When we’ve gotten some inevitable earthly dust on us James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another, and pray Jesus to … well … wash our feet of them (1 John 1:7-9 & John 13:10).

Jesus, after explaining to His disciples who He was in relation to God the Father said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:14-15.

I have often wondered, since foot washing has really gone by the wayside in many modern churches, as far as a frequent practice, did Jesus mean His actions to be figurative? Did He simply mean for us His followers to humble ourselves and be willing to serve others in the lowliest of ways? Or did He really intend that we literally wash each other’s feet – to symbolize God’s forgiveness and the washing away of our little daily sins? To be honest, something tugs at me in my heart that Jesus intended the basin & towel to be more than a lost and forgotten ritual, but the saved person’s sort of confessional?

The practice did continue in the New Testament church. It is on the list of the virtues of a godly woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10: “She [is] the wife of one man, well reported for good works, brings up children, lodges strangers, washes the saints’ feet, relieves the afflicted, and diligently follows every good work.”

Could it be that the lowly chore was delegated to the women? According to Rabbinical Literature, Jewish wives were once expected to wash their husband’s feet, as well as prepare their drink and bed (Yer.Ket. v.30a, jewishencyclopedia.com); otherwise servants were expected to wash the feet of guests.

What’s kind of ironic about women being relegated to this chore is that we girls LOVE to have our feet washed, don’t we? In today’s modern world we don’t make foot washing a part of our hospitality practices any more, but we do still observe the ritual in a way – we just go to a special (non spiritual) place to have it done and we pay for it. We call it a pedicure, and it is definitely a treat! Wouldn’t it be neat if there were Christian pedicure places, where we could go and it would be safe, and we could confess our sins, and we could leave with a whole new lease on life? Maybe the next time I get a pedicure I will put my headphones on, close my eyes, and spend the time in quiet meditation, discretely giving my sins to God.

“Confess your sins one to another” it says in James 5:16 (see also 1 John 1:8-9).

Say… what am I thinking? You and I can do this. What have you been struggling with this week? This month? This year? Have you been tracking sins into your house, into God’s house?

May I wash your feet?

8 Unless I Wash

How about if you think of all the little shortcomings, and sins that have entangled you this week. What is it that is weighing heavy on your heart? What is it that is making you feel guilty way down in your gut, and holding you back from running the race our Lord has marked out for you? Go ahead, take a moment and write your thoughts down?

When you have finished calling to mind each and every ugly little thing that is nagging in your spirit, will you please then come sit in this seat, slip your shoes off, and slide your feet into this tub of hot, soapy water I have prepared for you. I’m going to dunk a soft cloth into the water and run it over the tops and bottoms of your feet, and then squeeze the water over them. As I do, I want you to imagine the Lord’s forgiveness washing over your shortcomings as you give each one of them to Him. You name them, I’ll wash that dust off with this holy water, and we’ll just go for as long as we need to until we’ve covered everything on your list. You are precious dear one. The Lord loves you. And He forgives you!

Now lift your feet out of the water and let me dry them with a soft, fluffy towel. Don’t you feel wonderful getting that off your chest?

Let’s now pour this dirty water out on a flower bed, or under a big oak tree in your yard. All this water is sure going make the flowers and trees grow and blossom, and as you watch them getting bigger and stronger I want you to know that YOU are becoming a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. God’s beauty for ashes!

“How beautiful…are the feet of them that bring good news” Romans 10:15 (Isaiah 52:7).

Pray these verses with me: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the POOR; He has sent me to heal the BROKEN-HEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the CAPTIVES, and the opening of prison to those who are BOUND; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who MOURN, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:1-3

Go, be free, my friend, and sin no more. But if you find your feet dusty again, my door is always open. You come right back here and sit, and we’ll chat, and we’ll give those cares to God and let Him wash them all away again. Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among us.

“I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:15.

4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

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4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla Cheesecake is my go-to, super-fast-and-easy dessert after any Mexican dishes that I serve for supper (like “Taco Tuesday,” Taco Salad, Tamales, Chicken/Cheese/Beef Enchiladas, Chili Rellenos, Asada Street Tacos, Carnitas, Loaded Nachos, Quesadillas, etc.).  This year I decided it would be a perfect Red, White, and Blue sweet ending to our Independence Day meal, because of the colors, and because I had all the ingredients in my fridge!

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 

2 (8-oz) pkgs Cream Cheese, softened (room temp)

1 cup sugar

½ tsp Mexican Vanilla (or, if you want to be fancy, you can scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod)

Mix together all three ingredients until smooth and thoroughly incorporated.  Set aside.

 

2  (8-oz) tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (or, you can make your own croissant dough)

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ cup butter, softened (room temp)

¼ cup honey (warm in microwave for about 20 seconds, after baking cheesecake)

Lightly grease a large baking pan (or small high-sided cookie sheet) with a tablespoon of the softened butter.  Unroll one tube of crescent rolls and roll out to fit in the bottom of the greased baking pan/sheet, pinching the perforations together.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a small edge of the dough all the way around uncovered (like a pizza).  Unroll the second tube of dough and roll out to fit over the cream cheese layer.  Press down slightly around the edges.  Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and remaining softened butter together into a paste.  Spread over the top layer of dough. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and drizzle the entire top of the cheesecake with warmed honey.

 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

(This is what gives the dessert the RED and BLUE  on WHITE treatment)

¼ cup of cold water

Juice and zest of one lemon

½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 pkg frozen strawberries

½ pkg frozen blueberries

Place water, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and cornstarch in a sauce pot on the stove.  Stir to mix the ingredients and then turn heat on medium high.  Add strawberries and bring to a boil, stirring until mixture is thick.  Remove from heat and add blueberries.  Set aside until ready to serve.

 

Cheesecake may be served warm or cold.  My son-in-law loves it warm and gooey.  I think it is delish the next morning after being refrigerated overnight, with a hot, creamy cup of coffee – like a cheese danish.  Mmmmmmm…don’t you?

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The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25 NKJV

 

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” 

Galatians 5:1

 

Feast of Trumpets

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Feast of Trumpets

fall-feasts

Four Feasts we’ve studied (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost), three Feasts remain. The remaining three are fall Feasts, and all three take place at the last harvest of the year, the grape harvest, and within the span of about a month.

The Feast of Trumpets

This year (2017) the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, arrives on the evening of Wednesday, September 20 and will end in the evening of Friday, September 22, of this Hebrew Year 5778.

This is how it got started:

Then God spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:24-25

What was the offering to be made by fire to the Lord?

“… one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish. (a blood offering). Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil. (an unleavened bread offering). Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, (scapegoat) besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.” Numbers 29:7-11

Rosh Hashanah is always observed on the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Why is a “New Year” celebrated in the middle of a year? Because it celebrates the end of one agricultural year/season and the beginning of another. It’s what we might call a fiscal new year, like the one when we have to choose our healthcare plans. In God’s kingdom it is all about the harvests, the harvest of crops and the harvest of souls. How many stories did Jesus tell where He used sowing seeds, watering plants, tending crops, and bringing in the harvests to describe His kingdom and our ministry on this earth?

The trumpet is often used to gather people. Trumpets, and shouts, were also used as a weapon of war, for example, to bring down the walls of Jericho. And in the same vein, “… I [Jesus] will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (KJV). I believe that we who are His will hear the trump of the Lord one day very soon, and that it will gather us from the heavens and the earth, to protect us from some severely ugly times. I believe God will allow the ugly times to come to hopefully show the deceived who they are truly worshipping, and hopefully it will turn their hearts.

It was seventy years after the death and resurrection of our blessed Savior, that the Jewish people became a scattered people over the face of the earth, their temple destroyed, and their land taken over, but it was prophesied that in the last days God would gather them again to their promised land (Deuteronomy 28:58-67). After just under 1900 years it has happened as prophesied. In 1967 the Shofar blew in celebration in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount after the victory of the Six-Day War between returning Jews and the occupants of the promised land. Since that time Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland! Even so, it is still fearcely squabbled over, and hard to believe that such a tiny speck of a place on the globe could be the object of so much violent hostility. It seems there will never be peace in Israel.

The holiday though is also very relevant to Christians, as we also are a scattered people all over the globe – as God wanted us to be so that we could share the gospel with every tribe and tongue and race and nation; and we are also scattered between heaven and earth. (Please check out: Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?).

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year… prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” John 12:49-52

Clearly in the New Testament it is a trumpet that will summon and gather God’s people from all the places where we have been scattered:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

* * *

This picture of “gathering people” reminds me so much of something from the little town where I grew up. Atop of the hill, in the center of town stood a charming little log church with a steeple. The pews were each hewn of split logs, and even the pulpit and altar were hand-made of logs and hand cut boards. When the time for Sunday Service came one of the elders or deacons of the church would undo the bolt on the doors, turn the knob, and pull the front double doors open, and then He’d begin clanging that big brass church bell, taking grasp of the thick rope that hung down into the front foyer with his two strong hands and pulling with his body weight, then letting the rope rise back up, pulling it down again, and letting the rope rise back up. The sound would echo across the rooftops and down that lofty steeple, causing all the nesting birds to take flight.

Magically, at the clang-clang-clang of that bell, folks began bustling from their houses and vehicles, all dressed in their Sunday-best go-to-meeting clothes. Ladies in dresses, spritzed with perfume, curled hair in hats, wearing makeup and white gloves. Men, freshly shaven, in suits with stiff collars and ties, and hair neatly parted and combed into place. Children, bathed, with shining faces, coiffed and suited and well-mannered, as miniatures of their parents. They all strolled and shuffled up that hill, smiling and greeting one another, and gathering through the open doors, taking their places in the rustic hardwood pews for a sit-down spiritual feast. Oh how lovely it was on Sunday morning to hear those church bells ringing! The piano playing. And the choir singing.

In the same way as the church folks gathered in to satisfy their hungry souls, so similar was the practice on ranches all over my rugged cowboy state. When supper was ready it was common to hear the cook or the wife step outside and run the wand around on the triangle and holler, “COME AND GET IT!” and here they’d come. The hard-working, broke-back, famished ranch hands would wobble to their feet, swing a leg off their horses, toss their tools in a box, remove their hats to wipe the sweat from their brow, and knock the dust off their pants as they started the journey to the chow hall. They all came a hobblin’ from the far corners of the fields, some smiling, and some grunting, and all eager to fill their aching bellies, have a laugh (or a cry), share a story, and then call it a night.

Can you hear the church bells ringing? Can you hear the choir singing? Can you hear a little lady belting out, “COME AND GET IT! O weary sojourner, come and hear the word of the Lord!”

Our Savior is coming! The Landowner is coming to settle accounts, and gather His grapes into the winepress. I don’t want you to be taken by surprise.

Scripture says, two men will be in the field and one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be in the kitchen. One will be taken and one will be left (Matt.24 & Luke 17). The wise virgins will go with the bridegroom and the foolish virgins will be left behind (Matthew 25).

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking…until the flood came and took them all away…” Matthew 24:36-39

“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” John 14:28-29 (NKJV)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24: 23-27) …for those who are HIS!

Have you ever wondered why we dream that we can fly?  Not fly like a bird, but rather float like a balloon, but with the ability to maneuver up and down and left and right with our arms and legs, like we can in water, but without any resistance.  In my dreams I am able to fly above my enemies, just out of their reach.  I can go farther and faster than them.

(Thank you Carleen Sabin for making and posting this beautiful You-Tube video)

The word of God says that some of us will fall asleep (die), and some will just fly away (like Elijah). The redeemed will be blessed to experience the Rapture, the magnificent fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.  The defiant, who refuse to hear the word of God will be left behind.  If you’ve been riding the fence, please don’t wait until it is too late.  Get with a believer or a pastor today. Don’t let the trumpet of God surprise you. Come, while the door is open.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever will believe on Him shall have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 18:9-10

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the son of God. 1 John 5:10-13

Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

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South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

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South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

The title is kind of a guffaw, actually, and the reason I grin-and-bare that is that when hubby and I first moved to south Texas, and specifically the little town that we’re in, there wasn’t a chili relleno to be had on a single menu; not in a single restaurant in our town.  And when I asked for “green chili” on an omelet for the first time I was met with a puzzled look and a question, “Do you  mean Tomatillo sauce?”  Um, no.

Needless to say, we were terribly disappointed, and bewildered.  How could this be?  Is it that green chilies only migrated north and west from New Mexico and not east?  Maybe they aren’t a Mexican food at all?  Perhaps it was my ignorance that green chilies and Tex-Mex were synonymous? 😞

I’m happy to report that just a couple of years later Hatch green chilies started making an appearance in these parts, and when they did, they made a big appearance.  There are still no Chili Rellenos on the menus in our town, but at least this girl can get the ingredients in our local grocery to make them now, and that’s really all that matters.

And in all fairness, not all of South Texas is a dry Rellenos area; we’ve had them in a few San Antonio restaurants, even though they only barely resemble the authentic Rellenos that first stole my heart.

And, please pardon if I don’t make mine like you do.  This is the way I personally like them.  I’m sure I would love yours, unless you make them with ground beef filling, and then I’ll have to reserve my judgement until I’ve tasted them.  Husband likes the beef filled rellenos, but I dream about cheese filled rellenos and am content to eat those for the rest of my days.

I got my Ranchera Sauce recipe from a gal I stopped in the middle of HEB not long back.  She works in a local restaurant, so I knew she would steer me straight, at least as much of it as I could remember as she rattled her recipe off to me in the midst of my gathering ingredients.  Ha!  I hope I’m making it right. It’s sure tasty, so I’m sticking with it. 😆

First we start with the Ranchera Sauce

Place a stick of butter into a heavy pan and on medium high heat begin melting.  As soon as it is melted add one whole large chopped onion (white or yellow).  Saute the onion until it is translucent, turn heat down to medium and continue sautéing until the onions are caramelized.  This will take quite a while.

Chop 2 jalapenos (stems discarded), and about 6 large plum tomatoes into chunks.  Add them to the caramelized onions and let them cook until softened.  Add a 14-oz can of tomato sauce to the mixture, stir, place a lid, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook until you are ready to batter and fry the rellenos.  At that point you will want to use a Braun Wand blender tool to whirl the Ranchera sauce into a smooth sauce with no large chunks.

Now, the preparation of the green chilies…

Pick the largest, firmest ones you can find at your grocery.  Bring them home and wash them, and then dry them.  I like the spicy ones.  You might prefer the milder ones.

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Move an oven rack up to the highest level of your oven.  Preheat your oven broiler (you can do them on the grill too…but the oven is faster and easier).  Place your washed chilies on a cookie sheet and slide them onto that top rack in the oven.

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Close the oven door (I prop my door open slightly with a wooden spoon – I like to hear my chilies popping and crackling).

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Let the chilies broil on one side long enough for them to become charred and blistered.

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Use tongs to roll them a quarter turn and return to broiler.  Check them often for doneness.  Continue turning and broiling until the chilies skins are blistered and charred all the way around.

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Quickly remove them from the cookie sheet and place them into a large Ziploc freezer back, and seal it.

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Allow chilies to steam inside the bag for several minutes, while you prepare the rest of the meal.

NOTE:  I like to serve my Rellenos with homemade refried beans and a cheesy green chili rice.  See those recipes below, and it would be a great time to start making them now.  This is also a good time to blend your Ranchera sauce and make is smooth.  Keep it simmering on a back burner until ready to serve.

Start about 2 inches of oil getting hot in a deep sided frying pan (…just hot enough that a droplet of water makes it pop and fizzle.  Not hot enough to be smoking.  If you are seeing streaks/waves in your oil, it may be too hot.  Either drop your heat, or add a little more oil to cool it down a bit before adding your chilies).  The pan you use should be large enough that two chilies will fit without touching the sides or each other.

Hot oil

As soon as the green chilies have cooled enough to handle take them to the sink and begin removing the skins.  They should slide right off easily.  If not, be careful not to tear the chili, as it will be hard to keep the filling inside while you are battering it.

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Once the chilies are skinned, make a slight slit along the side near the top stem of each.

cut the chili

Only make it big enough to slide the pieces of cheese inside.  If you wish to remove some of the seeds you  may do that also.  I push the seeds out through the slit.  I don’t mind a few seeds in my rellenos though.  I use Pepper-Jack Cheese.  For 8 to 10 chilies you will need about 1 1/2 8-oz blocks, which I cut into quarter-inch slices and then into quarter inch strips.

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Begin stuffing your chilies with strips of cheese, about 5 or so strips per chili.  Dust the outsides with flour and lay them on a paper towel as you prepare them.  Once all the chilies have been stuffed and floured, you are ready to make your batter.

I beat two eggs and add about a cup of water to them…

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…and then I whisk in some seasoned beer batter mix (part of one bag) until the consistency is about that of thin pancake batter.  The batter should stick to your chilies, but just leave a fairly thin film.  Hold the chili by the stem and dip it into the batter.  Use a fork to sweep batter over the top of the chili and then gently lift the chili out of the batter, with the fork.  Slide it into the hot oil and let it begin frying.  Add another chili and let the two fry together.

Allow the chilies to fry for a few minutes and then use tongs to turn.  The batter should turn a golden color.  Scoop the chilies out of the oil and place on paper towels for a moment to absorb the oil.  Quickly plate them and cover them with simmering Ranchera Sauce.

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Oh my how I love them!!!!!   Now if I could figure out how to feed a crowd all at the same time I’d be in business.  I only know how to make Rellenos for one person at a time.  Hot and fresh.

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Colleen's Chile Rellenos

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Mama’s Refried Beans

If you’ve made a pot of pinto beans and have leftovers, by all means use them for this.  If not, look for these varieties at your local grocery store.  I used 2 cans of Charro and 1 can of Barracho (which means drunken – notice that they use Shiner beer for this).

First I drained my beans of all the liquid (don’t rinse them).  I melted about 2 Tablespoons of rendered pork fat (lard), actually I used some bacon fat I had on hand, in a sauce pan on the stove, and then added my beans.  I let them just bubble and cook on medium low heat until I was almost ready to serve my meal.  Moments before I was ready to serve I took a potato masher and mashed the beans until they were the desired consistence.  They may be served with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some chopped green onion.

NOTE: This also makes a wonderful bean dip, if you like that with tortilla chips for a snack.

DSCN9810Cheesy Green Chili Rice

First I sautéed my rice in about 1/2 a stick of butter in a small sauce pot, on high heat.  After about a minute of continuous stirring, I added 2 cups of hot chicken broth, 1 can of diced green chilies, and a grind of sea salt.  When the liquid boils, place a lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Lift the lid and lay several slices of pepper jack cheese on top of the rice.  Replace the lid and leave until cheese is melted.  Lift lid and fluff rice with a fork, incorporating the cheese throughout.  If you like it just a little creamier, you may add a splash of Crema, or heavy cream, and a sprinkle of cayenne.

 

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”  Acts 2:46

 

 

Mrs. H’s Santa Fe Burger

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Mrs. H’s Santa Fe Burger

My husband and I discovered a little burger joint soon after moving to south Texas.  It’s not a fancy place.  In fact it’s kind of grimey looking on the outside.  A regular person might even drive right past it and not think twice about it.  It’s just a little dive of a place really, along the side of the road in Hondo, TX, but one day the old man and I cowboyed up and gave it a try … and I tell you … we absolutely fell in love with the Santa Fe burger that we ordered that first day.  We love it so much it’s all we can ever think about when we drive by.  We stop in regularly, on our way through town, just to indulge in its deliciousness.  We love it so much we haven’t even ever tried anything else on the menu.  You ever find a restaurant like that?  They are real sweet about adding a few extra things to our burgers, which is what puts the Santa Fe right over the top.  The next thing we know we’ve got it dripping down our arms, not saying a word, chewing as fast as we can to make our nagging tongues happy.

So, because of the couple of little extras I always ask for, I feel like its okay to give you my take on Billy Bobs lovely little sandwich of deliciousness.  My version by no means replaces theirs, but it’s a nice little appetizer between trips.  I’ll warn you up front that It’s a little bit of work to make, but baby it’s worth it!!!!  At least in my book.

Prepare the Green Chilies

For this recipe you’ll need about two green chilies per person, so about eight should do. I pick out the biggest and most firm Anaheim (Hatch, Fresno, New Mexico) green chilies available at the market (I also grow them in my garden).

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Wash them and dry them off, and then lay them out on a cookie sheet.

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Raise one of the oven racks to its highest position in the oven and turn the oven on to BROIL.  Allow the oven to warm up, and then put the cookie sheet of chilies in, just under the top heating element.

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I usually prop a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open a tad, so I can hear the chilies popping and crackling.

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I keep an eye on them, as it doesn’t take long.  When I see that they are pretty popped and blistered, and burned on that top side, I open the oven, slide the rack out, and use tongs to turn the chilies a quarter of a turn, and then put them back under the heat.  I continue broiling and turning until the chilies are popped and blistered, and charred on all sides.

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Quickly remove the chilies from the oven with tongs and immediately place them into a plastic Ziploc freezer back.  As soon as all the chilies are inside the bag, zip it up, and then let them sit and steam for several minutes, while you work on the rest of  your meal.

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green chilies

Back in Wyoming there was a certain time in the summer when the green chile trucks would show up in parking lots around town with heaping baskets full of green chilies and a barrel-type roaster that rotated over an open fire.  We could buy the amount of chilies we wanted and they would roast them, and then package them up for us to take home.  I often bought large amounts of those chilies, took them home and repackaged them (about six chilies to a bag) into plastic zip bags, with their blistered skins left on, but all the air squeezed out, and put them straight into my freezer.  Whenever I wanted to make something with green chilies I’d grab a bag and let it thaw for a little bit on the kitchen counter, peel the skins off in the sink, and sometimes remove the seeds and stems (depending upon what I was making), and either use them whole or chop them into pieces for whatever recipe I was doing.  SOooooo many ways to use green chilies!!!!  

Its unfortunate, but we don’t get those trucks in the little Texas town where I live now, and perhaps not where you live either.  The BBQ grill works, but I’m not a fan of standing over a hot grill to babysit chilies on a hot south Texas day.  But, in this instance, you’ll be grilling burgers out there anyways, so you may prefer just to do it all on the grill.  And maybe you have a hubby who is all about the grill and happy to do them for you!  Knuckle bump!!!!

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The Beef Patties

1 (1-pound) pkg of high quality ground beef plus 1 (1-pound) pkg of ground bison

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1 jalapeno, stem removed, seeds and flesh chopped finely

1/2 of a small red onion, chopped finely

1 tsp Salt Lick dry rub seasoning (this is mostly just cayenne and ground black pepper)

Sliced Pepper Jack cheese – to be placed on burgers at the end of grilling

Hamburger buns of choice (Sometimes all I can find are the regular, sesame seed buns, but when I can find a good, soft, ciabatta-type bun, I use that).

Mix together gently and form into four or five good-sized patties.  Set aside while you prepare the following ingredients, and then grill the burgers over hot coals on the BBQ.  Add the cheese during the last minute or so of grilling.

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Toppings

Bacon (2 slices per burger), the best is the thicker sliced applewood bacon, fried crispy  (but if I’m in a hurry and don’t have leftover bacon from breakfast, I’ll use the precooked bacon available at the grocery store and go with 3 or 4 slices per burger)

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Peel the skins off the green chilies, and remove seeds and stems, but leave whole

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Sliced jalapeno

Sliced red onion

Sliced heirloom tomatoes

Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Dill pickle slices

Garlic Mayonaise (mash 1 clove of garlic and mix into 2/3 cup of mayo, I often add a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime, and sometimes some minced cilantro)

Dijon mustard

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To Assemble the Burger

Some like their buns toasted

Spread some mayo over the bun halves

Squirt on some mustard

Lay a whole slice of red onion down

Place a few slices of jalapeno on top of the onion

Then a freshly cooked beef pattie with melted cheese

Layer on two Green Chilies, two slices of cooked bacon, a slice of tomato, a folded leaf of lettuce, (and a couple slices of dill pickle if desired)

Place the top of bun in place

Mash down so you can fit it in your mouth and ENJOY!!!!!

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For this Memorial Day,

… I made these burgers and served them with my Jalapeno Potato Salad (from Cowboy Backyard BBQ), plus my latest favorite food: Mexican Street Corn, and sliced watermelon for dessert.

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Potato Salad

Mama’s POTATO SALAD 

Ingredients

6 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred

4 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1/2 large red onion diced

3 stalks of celery chopped

2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish

1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced

Sauce Ingredients:

1 cups Mayonnaise  (plus more or less, as you like it)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Sea Salt  (plus more as desired)

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground pepper

 Directions:

Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl.  Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional additions:

Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.

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Colleen’s Mexican Street Corn 

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  • 8 ears fresh sweet corn (leave the husks and stems on)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican crema (my grocer carries two types, a sweet cream type,which tastes like heavy whipping cream, and a sour cream kind. Both have a slightly thicker consistency than whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or Queso Fresco cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I make my own blend, see recipe below)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, mashed and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 or 5 limes, cut into wedges

I grilled my corn in the husks on the grill, turning about every 5 minutes until charred on all sides, and then I pulled the husks down over the stems (using oven mitt to protect my hands from burning) and returned the corn to the grill for a short time (about 3 minutes) to give the kernels that charred effect.  I left the husks attached for a decorative effect, but now as I look at these photos I’m thinking they might have been even cuter if I had tied something around each husk, like a piece of raffia or something, to bundle them together and anchor them to the stems, turning them into decorative “handles.”  NOTE: The corn can also be shucked and “grilled” in the oven at 425 degrees F, turning about every 7 minutes or so until cooked all the way around.  Once it is cooked on all sides and has some charred spots it’s time to dress it up.

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While the corn is grilling, mix together the mayo (please don’t use the fat-free stuff.  I know it may be healthier for you, but really, you must live a little!!!), crema, garlic, and add about 1/4 tsp of the chili powder.  Juice and zest a couple of the limes and then add the juice and zest to the mayo mixture.  Toss in about half of the crumbled cotija (Queso Fresco).  Mix well and keep in fridge until ready to use.  Cut the remaining limes into wedges and save for serving.

As soon as the corn is grilled, spread each cob with a generous amount of the mayo mix on all sides. Don’t be chincy.  Follow with a sprinkling all around of chili powder, and then cheese crumbles.  Sprinkle some cilantro on top, and a few extra sprinkles of the cheese.  Serve immediately with a wedge of lime for each cob!

You’ve died and gone to heaven, right?  I’m there with ya!!!!!!

 

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Colleen’s Homemade Chili Powder

  • 3 Ancho Chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 3 Cascabel/Guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 4 Arbol/Cayenne chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 Pasilla chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 New Mexico Red chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon hot Paprika

Place the chiles and cumin seeds in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl to cool completely.  Once cool, place in a blender, along with the other ingredients and process until a fine powder. Allow the powder to settle for several minutes before lifting the lid.  Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  Use for making chili, to season corn, or in BBQ sauces and dry rubs.

 

End-of-the-school-year OLYMPIC GAMES

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End-of-the-school-year OLYMPIC GAMES

Are you looking for a clever way to close out the school year for your little group of elementary students?  Are you on a tight budget, or have very few amusement options available in your town.  NO WORRIES.  Us too!!!  Hopefully your town at least has a city park that’s kept nice, mowed and watered, or a nice, large, grassy area with lots of shade trees?  That’s all that’s needed for this shindig.

There goes the school year!!!! Grade One Done… Only eleven more to go!

I sketched out my party plan in a notebook…

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…and then went to work making the signs for the games:

 

….and TORCHES for each of the kids to wear (as medals)…

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I printed out sheets of the torches, wrote the kids’ names on them, had them laminated, and then punched a hole at the top to string a ribbon through.  On the back I printed the list of events so I could mark winners with a red sharpie, or completed with a blue sharpie.

The kids began their afternoon of fun by first having lunch delivered to them at the school (from Wendy’s, courtesy of one of the awesome parents), and after each of them had used the bathroom, they began their little journey from the school to the park (about a 3 block walk with their teacher).  When they arrived at the entrance to the park, this is the first thing they saw:

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They were presented with their TORCHES, and then positioned behind the sign to pose for pictures.  We were blessed that a very talented member of the school staff, also teacher, photographer, and composer of the school’s yearbook, was there to take some wonderful pictures, which I will post here as soon as she makes them available, and gives me permission.

 

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BANG!   Let the games begin!

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The first game in our line up was the…

Lunchbox “Hammer” Throw

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(The kids aren’t gonna need a lunchbox for a few months.  Hip hip hooray, let’s toss it away!)

First I demonstrated to the kids what they would be doing in this game.  I grabbed the lunchbox by the handles, put my left arm straight out, twirled in a counter-clockwise circle a couple of times, and then when I was facing the field, let go of the lunchbox and let it fly as far away as it would go.  After the demo I handed the first kid the lunchbox and let them try.  The kids lined up behind the starting line and took turns twirling and tossing the soft-sided lunchbox out into the field.  (P.S. I had placed a small bag of pinto beans inside to give it some weight).  The child with the farthest distance after three tosses was declared the winner!

Supplies needed: Sign, lunchbox, a couple of orange cones, a jump rope, and something to mark the farthest distance.

 

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The next game was…

Crayola Archery

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After I attempted to demonstrate this game, we decided to turn it into a Crayola Javelin Throw, since our cheapo “dollar store” bow kept breaking.  The darn string kept popping out of its slot (Update: wind a rubber band tightly around the tip ends of the bow to keep the string in place. This works like a charm).  Anyway, after a bit of frustration from the darn bow popping apart every time we used it, we just decided to throw the crayon like a javelin.  The kids each got a turn to stand behind the line (I used a downed limb from one of the trees as the marker for this) and then take a turn hurling their javelins at the three hula hoop targets laid out in the distance.  (You can barely see them in the photo below, but look close.)

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This is what the arrows/javelins looked like up close.  I used fat crayons and inserted them into big straws (the ones used for smoothies).  They were a perfect fit, and stayed snuggly attached to each other for the whole event.  At least something stayed to together!

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(This is the dumb bow we used.  Um, scratch that.  Didn’t use!!!!)

The student with the most targets bullseyed after three tries was declared the winner!

Supplies needed: One dollar-store bow and arrow set, 1 pkg big crayons, the sign to identify the event, and three hula hoops.  Oh, and something to mark the starting line.

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The next game was…

Homework Fencing

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You are looking at the fencing arena.  Ours was marked by 4 trees as boundaries.  After demonstrating to the students what they would be doing, the students lined up behind the sign and two pairs at a time faced off using the pool noodles as their fencing swords.  (I got the fatest noodles I could find, to make it harder for little hands to hold onto).  With one arm behind their backs they each swung their noodles at their opponent’s noodle, trying to knock it out of their hands, because homework is now out of their hands.  Any body contact or face contact, or stepping outside the boundaries was considered a scratch and the offender was disqualified.  Winners of each duo were collected to the side to compete in round two.  Eventually a final winner was declared.

Supplies needed:  The sign, four pool noodles

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The next game was…

Alarm Clock Shot Put Throw

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(Hey kids, say goodbye to the alarm clock for a few months!!!!  In fact, let’s pitch that obnoxious contraption as far as we can throw it!)

First I demonstrated to the students how this game was played, similar to the hammer throw, and then the students were lined up behind the starting line, and took turns holding the alarm clock under their chins, twirling, and then heaving it as far as they could out into the field.  (Note: I used a cheapy plastic clock from the dollar store.  It broke on the first throw and left kind of a sharp edge that I cautioned the kids to be careful with.  Then the glass also broke.  Fail!  The better choice would have been something made 100% out of non shatterable plastic and no glass).

The child who launched it the farthest distance after all of them had been given three tries was declared the winner.

Supplies needed: Sign, cones and jump rope to mark the starting line, an alarm clock, and something to mark distance.

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The next game was…

Three R’s Shooting Competition

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The three R’s stood for Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, which were featured on the three targets placed at a distance from the starting line.  (Way to target your subjects this year kids)!  The students lined up behind the starting line. They were instructed that one kid at a time would approach the starting line, grab a squirty bottle, aim at the first target, and begin squirting at it, moving in closer until the stream of water touched the first target, then they could move to the next target, and then the last target and do the same. Their time started when the teacher said, “GO” and they began squirting and stopped when they hit the last target.   Each child took their turn.  The kid with the fastest time (after three rounds) was declared the winner.

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Supplies needed:  A sign, three targets, and a squirty bottle filled with water.

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The next game was…

Water Bottle Relay with Hurdles

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(Hey kids, you’re not gonna need those water bottles for a while, AND we can celebrate that you all got over your hurdles of – Language, Art/Music/P.E., and Science this year.  Way to go kids!  You are all champions!!!!)

The kids lined up in two groups behind the starting line.  After demonstrating to the kids how to run the course, I handed each first person in line a water bottle. At the sound of my whistle the two kids with water bottles ran down the course, leaping over the hurdles and down around the cone at the far end of the course, and returning to hand off their water bottle to their next teammate.  The first team to complete the course was declared the winner.

Supplies needed: A sign, three hurdles with words attached that represent school subjects, two water bottles, a start line, an orange cone, and a whistle.

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This concluded the structured games.  At this point the kids were given a break to get a drink and snack and rest for a bit. Several of the parents brought coolers full of drinks (bottled water, juice, Gatorade, etc.) and snacks (Cuties oranges, goGurts, popsicles, cookies, carrots, etc.) for the kids to  munch on and stay hydrated with, and they served their treats “Tailgate style” out of the back of their vehicles, parked alongside the park.

For the remainder of the afternoon  the kids participated in free play.  I had set up a Badminton net and blew up a giant beach ball for them to either toss over the net to each other volleyball style, or just kick around the park in a giant game of “keep away.”

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In addition I brought a giant soft-sided Frisbee, bottles of bubbles for everyone, a soccer ball, the hula hoops, and gave each child a squirty bottle full of water to also play with.  In addition, one of our awesome parents brought a huge cooler full of water balloons for a hot potato game.

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The parents and I chilled out on blankets spread-out under the shade of a grand old oak tree, and visited with each other while the kids tear-butted around having the time of their lives.  I think the kids all had as much fun, if not more, with free play as they did with the games, hey, but a theme is a theme, right?  What a great afternoon and terrific group of kiddos!!!!  I hardly noticed that it was 95 degrees and 50% humidity.  HA!

After a couple of hours of playtime, the parents went around and gathered up the signs and parts of each game and helped pack everything up.  The kids picked up all the trash and bits of broken balloons and then gathered with their teacher to walk back to school.  Before they dismissed to go home each was presented a gift bag, which contained a movie theater pass (that they could use to go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, which just released in theaters the week before), a pass to the local indoor inflatables park, and a gift certificate to Dairy Queen, plus a Nerf ball (which gave me the inspiration for the theme of the bags), so they could all… “Have a BALL this Summer!”  🙂

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Yay kids…you finished your race well!  Happy summer to you all!!!!!

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“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   Hebrews 12:1-2  NKJV

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Easter Fun and Games

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Easter Fun and Games

As a sequel to Easter Traditions … I present Easter Fun and Games!

Blah…blah…blah

My daughter says I write too much.  She just wants to get down to the nitty gritty and skip all the blah, blah, blah.  But I like to kind of open the door for you with a nice introduction and kind of ease you into my idea, before I just hit you with it.  Maybe some of you like the story part?  It’s the story part that knits our hearts to each other, right?  Okay, maybe not.  So here’s the deal.  If you like the blah, blah, blah, keep reading.  If not, please skip on down to the nitty gritty (labeled) and we’ll catch up with each other another time, when you’re in less of a hurry and we can chat a while.

So, I kind of questioned myself if I should just add this post to my other Easter post, or make this a whole new and separate one.  The thing is, THIS Easter was so far superior to all the others I’ve ever invented over the years, that I felt like it needed its own space.  Honestly, it feels almost inspired – like there is no way I could have come up with it on my own.  It turned out as a heavyweight title belt winning knockout of Easters.  A game four World Series winning home run of Easters.  A Super Bowl winning touchdown in overtime of Easters.  To think such a hit of a potlatch could have conceived in my frail noggin compelled me to blog about it.

It’s funny; I often wonder, somewhere in the middle of one of my writing fits, that with all the ideas  busting a move out here on Pinterest, Google, Etsy, and a millions blogs, if there is really anything new under the sun, and if by chance there might be, how on earth would anyone ever even know?  Click, click, click… scroll up, scroll down,  under and around, up and over, through the pin hole doors, down yonder a mile down on a psychedelic track with a million switchbacks, whoops, what was that, go back, to this one, lonely, little, secluded post in a random cul-de-sac of lower middle-class cyberspace-ville.  Boy!  It will make your brain hurt thinking about it, won’t it?  I guess this is why I decided that I just couldn’t start its young life buried in another old blog that nobody sees.

Oh well my dear reader, if you’ve happened to stumble upon this blog post today, it’s probably a miracle, and as such, I pray you know that it is my acquisitive aspiration to have a worthy offering for you.  Just imagining you and your sweet little family having the same blast in your home that my sweet little family had in mine is the most glorious daydream in the world.

May God shower His kindness upon you and me as we bless our families with fun and feasting, and may He bless our darling babies with dearly cherished memories to last their whole lives through, may He knit all our hearts together, and show us the Father’s extravagant love for His people … through FELLOWSHIP and FEASTING … by our callow human hands!

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More blah…blah…blah, but this is important

I keep calling it Easter, but you may call it Resurrection Sunday.  It’s the day Christians celebrate the empty tomb and our risen SAVIOR!  Why is that a big deal?  Well, because by Jesus rising from the dead, He proves that we all shall rise from the dead – some to eternal life, and others to eternal damnation (a second death).  The Lord Jesus rose from the grave to go into His heavenly kingdom, and to sprinkle the blood He shed here on earth onto the mercy-seat in heaven – the Holy of Holies.  His blood makes atonement for our sins in the Father’s eyes …  IF we accept Jesus as our Savior, and allow Him to be the King of our hearts and lives.

Allllllrighty then, finally, the “NITTY GRITTY!”

I like to start our Easter celebration the night before.  I have my little kiddos come just before dusk and plant “PROMISE SEEDS” all over in my yard. I usually just use jelly beans as the seeds, but this year I found this crazy perfect candy:

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I gave each kid several little bags of this candy, helped them open the packets, and as they were planting told them the Bible story about how when we sow gospel seeds (tell people about Jesus and the Easter story), some of those seeds will fall on rocky soil (which means the person has a hard heart and aren’t interested at all), some falls on the wayside (which could mean the person has friends that are a distracting influence, might tease them and talk them out of listening to us) , some falls among thorns and thistles (which means the person has too many other things on their mind to really pay attention to what we are saying), and some on good soil (which means they are happy to hear what we have to say and want to know more) (Matthew 13:3-8). The seeds are our words and actions, and the types of soils are the conditions of people’s hearts.  If the seed falls on good soil, the Bible says we will reap a harvest.  We also have to be careful with the words we use, because some of our words are life-giving and some kill.  If we sow the wind (which would be slander and gossip), the Bible says we shall reap the whirlwind (which is the same wind returning back on us with fury and without mercy).  We reap what we sow.

Once they’ve planted their seeds I let them take a watering can and go around and water each other’s seeds.  This is a good object lesson for the scripture that says, “One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).

The next morning when our grandchildren arrived after church, I first took pictures of them in their beautiful Sunday best, and then I handed each child a basket to go gather in their harvests.  We walked to the back door, where voila, they discovered what happened to those seeds they sowed:

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Their little promise seeds grew into Easter eggs strewn everywhere – Just as little chicks burst forth from their eggs in the spring and leave an empty shell behind, so did Jesus burst forth from the grave, leaving it empty.  Eggs are the symbol we’ve chosen to tell the story of the resurrection of Christ. (Of course grandma and grandpa placed those eggs and we are happy to tell them so in a year or two).  

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After the kids gathered all the eggs that they could find outside, our family sat down to Sunday dinner.  The unopened plastic eggs were set to the side and saved for when we were finished eating.

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If you are interested…. every Easter dinner features the same menu: a glazed ham, some sort of potato casserole, a cold, crunchy, sweet pea salad, and dessert.  Click this link (Easter Traditions) for the recipes. This year dessert was a white coconut cake.  I always make plenty so we can pull out leftovers for later in the day.

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As our meal sat steaming before us, the grandchildren said the blessing, they also sang it, and it is always precious to behold.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”  Mark 10:15 KJV

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Done Eating, Time for FUN!

Inside each of the plastic eggs were little slips of paper, and each slip was part of a game/activity for the kids and grown-ups to participate in.  After sharing our wonderful feast, we all gathered outside on the patio.  First we let one kid open one egg and do what their slip of paper instructed.  And then it was the next kid’s turn to pick an egg from their basket and do what it said.  The kids took turns back and forth opening eggs.  Sometimes the slips instructed them to do an activity alone, other times it involved both kids, and often times it involved the whole stinking lot of us.

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These are the Games contained in this year’s eggs: 

  • Resurrection Eggs: Twelve of the eggs contained a little trinket inside that corresponds to a part of the Easter story. They sell these egg sets at Christian stores, and online.  Whenever one of these eggs was opened, I read aloud the story from the book that corresponded to the trinket.
  • Guess the Picture: Several of the eggs contained a piece of paper folded up with a picture printed on it.  The picture was a close up of something familiar to them, but not immediately recognizable (you’ll see these a little further down on this page).  First the kids had to work together to figure out what it was a picture of … and then they had to dash off to find the objects hidden at that spot.  In each location tokens were hidden (a different colored token for each kid that matched the colors of their Easter Baskets – one kid had green, the other yellow, you could add pink, purple, blue, orange, etc.). (The tokens can be painted poker chips, buttons, play Monopoly money, painted clothespins, etc.).  When they found their tokens, and returned with them, they then were told they could use them to purchase one surprise each from grandmas prize bin (I had a stash for each kid of the normal kinds of things what would be featured in an Easter basket: candy, small toys, small games, cookies, coloring books, story books, stuffed animals, jewelry and hair things, etc. and as they gave me their tokens I pulled surprises out of each sack.).
  • Binoculars I-Spy: Inside four eggs were tiny plastic binoculars and a sticker of an object (dove, cross, empty tomb, Jesus fish).  When they got one of these, they had to use grandma’s binoculars to find the match for that object somewhere in the far parts of the yard.  I had the large-sized matching objects tacked up around the yard – a cardboard dove was tacked to a tree trunk in the far end of the yard, a Jesus cross was pinned to the fence on the far other end of the yard, a tomb cut-out was sitting on top of a big stone I have around in my front yard, and a Jesus fish was dangling from a fishing pole down by the river.  If they were having a tough time I gave them a hint:  Where would you find a bird?  Where would you find a fish?  What was rolled away from the tomb?  What was the cross made out of?  My grands love the binoculars soooo any excuse to get to use them makes them happy.  Once the child spotted the object, they had to run and get it.  On the backside was a little message that told what the special prize was for finding it (ie: coupon for lunch with granny at their school that week, or an ice cream treat to keep or give away).
  • Puzzle Pieces: I made two, four-piece puzzles, and placed the eight pieces in the eggs.  When a child opened one of these eggs, they needed to set aside the piece until they found all of them, and then tape the pieces together to complete a picture.  On the other side of the picture was a clue about the picture and what might be hidden there.  (For example, one puzzle was a photograph of the rear tire of my automobile, and the clue on the back of the completed puzzle told the kids they were looking for a key for a lock in that location.  Sure enough hidden behind the tire of my car was a box, with a key inside.  When they wondered what the key was for, I told them the other puzzle held that clue, and indeed the other puzzle when put together showed a treasure chest at the base of a tree.  The kids had to hunt to find the tree with the treasure chest, and then use the key to undo the lock to find out what was inside.
  • I-Pad Pictures: Inside some of the eggs were slips of paper that directed the kids to use the tablet camera to take pictures of specific things.  For example one slip asked them to take a picture of grandma and grandpa hugging one of the children really tight.  Another asked the child to take a picture of mom and dad making silly faces with one of the children.  Another asked the child to take a picture of all the grownups blowing bubbles, trying to do the splits in the yard, or showing their muscles, etc.  These pictures are a treasured keepsake of the day.
  • Silly Dares: These slips of paper instructed the kids or  often times the whole group to do some silly task, like doing six somersaults in the yard, or patting our heads and rubbing our tummies at the same time, or breaking a confetti egg on someone’s head, or eating a cracker and trying to whistle, or singing a song in a circle with each person singing just one word of it – we did Jesus Loves Me.  Some of the other things were: doing a one-minute crazy dance in the yard, running around front to wave at a car passing by on the road, grabbing water bottles and spraying solo cups down strings, I had set up, in a race with each other, laughing as loud as we could for 30 seconds, snapping our fingers as fast as we could, and so on.
  • Pencil puzzles: if your kids are older you can add in some pencil puzzles for them to figure out (secret codes, word searches, Jr. Jumble, connect the dots, etc.)

It could not have worked out more perfect for us that the last slip of paper to be gotten from an egg was the last piece to the puzzle that led the kids to the treasure chest hidden at the foot of one of the trees in our yard. Once they found it, they needed the key that they had found by my car tire to open the lock on the treasure box.  Inside they found some pretty jewelry and hair things to wear, and tokens to purchase the final grand prizes in grandmas prize bin – which were bunny mums that we planted in the yard after Easter.

Here are the FREE PRINTABLE paper slips and puzzles.  Just print them out (the puzzles should be printed front and back on one sheet of paper, and then cut into four pieces with a part of the picture on one side and a number or letter on the other), cut everything apart, fold everything up, and tuck each slip into your own set of plastic eggs.

 

Click this link: Easter Egg games 2017.

Below are the pictures I took for the Guess the Picture game.  They are of objects around my house, so of course they wont work for  you, but I thought you might like them for to give you ideas of what to photograph around your house.  Some, you’ll notice, were indoors, some were outdoors, and some were in my garage.

(L to R starting at top left: shower wall, bath mat, cow rug, wood stove, ash bucket by fireplace, inside dryer, bedside table, elliptical step, houseplant, water dispenser, fire pit, truck bumper, car wheel, garbage can, mailbox, spitoon, outside rock wishing well, target pallet, big rock, outside hosebib faucet, rock pile, oak tree, fig tree, flower-pot, and chiminea).

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It will take the kids quite a while to open all of their eggs and complete all the little tasks, so plan on it killing most of the afternoon.  But believe me, everyone will have such a blast, and kind of not want it all to end.  Making memories.

I think the most memorable part of our fun was when one of the kids drew the slip that instructed everyone to run around front and wave at a car driving by.  There was absolutely no traffic at that moment.  We had to actually stand there for several minutes and just wait.  But then, finally, to our delight, here came a mini-van towards us.  We all started waving like the Beverly Hillbillies on moonshine, and I’ll never forget the guy’s face as he drove by.  He had his passenger window down, and smiled, and waved back at us like he knew us, but he didn’t, and then just drove on by without even slowing down.  I will wonder forever what he was thinking.  Bless his heart for playing along though and making our day!!!!

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Movie Time!

After we were all done with the plastic eggs and all those little activities, we refilled our beverages and the kids had their choice of either doing crafts or watching a movie.  They opted for the movie, which was nice.  It gave us grown-ups a chance to relax for a bit.  The choice for the kids was Lion of Judah animated movie (I’ve included the trailer below, in case you’ve never seen it).  I offered Son of God for the grown-ups, but it was my son-in-law’s childhood tradition to watch Charlton Heston’s Moses – The Ten Commandments every year at Easter.  I think it was on TV this last year too.

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Crafts

Marshmallows & Toothpicks: After the movie, I dumped a big bag of colored miniature marshmallows and a box of toothpicks out on the dining room table and just let the kids create whatever they wanted.  We made crosses, and houses, and weird little hooked together things.  Ha!  We got more snacks and beverages, and this kept us entertained for a good long time.

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Decorating Eggs:  We pushed the marshmallows aside and pulled out the eggs.  Wal-Mart this year had faux eggs in their Easter section that were perfect for decorating.  They were white and felt just like real eggs, without being real.  They even sold them by the dozen in paper egg cartons.  All the egg decorating kits worked perfectly on them.

 

Nail Cross Necklaces: This craft was a little too difficult for the little kids to do by themselves, but their mother and I helped, and we had a lot of fun with it.  Using regular construction nails and thin colored jute, we made “God’s Eye” crosses, and then attached a long string for a necklace.

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Wooooo….  is it bed time?  I’m pooped.   Praise the Lord!

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These are the things you will need to purchase for this celebration:

Large bag of Jelly Beans

2 dozen Colorful Confetti Eggs (these are colored eggs shells with confetti inside)

1 or 2 dozen faux eggs, plus some decorating kits of your choice

About 50 plastic Easter Eggs (unless you have them leftover from a previous year)

1 Resurrection Eggs kit with booklet

Prizes, approximately 25 small somethings per child (candy, toys, games, cookies, story books, stuffed animals, kid jewelry, hair clips, nail polish, lip balm, etc.) and then one big something for a grand prize per child

Nails (one longer type and two shorter type for each cross)

Yarn or colored string/jute

colored mini marshmallows (1 or 2 large bags)

toothpicks (a couple boxes)

Bubbles for each adult

groceries for the feast

movies (if you don’t already have them)

These are the things you will probably find around the house, to use for this celebration:

An I-pad or other Tablet that can take pictures with

binoculars

tape

crackers

a tool or tackle box to use as a treasure chest

a pad lock or combination lock, and chain

water guns, solo cups, and string

And these are the things you will need to make: 

Cardboard cutouts of a dove, a cross, a tomb, and a fish

 

I hope you have as much fun with this celebration as I and my family did.

The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock, and let the God of our Salvation be exhaulted!!!

 

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