Monday, February 28, 2011

Countdown to Revival!

So, next week is the first Revival my husband is in charge of at a church.  Naturally, this requires a lot of planning and work; especially this week as we're finishing up all of the last minute details.  I got home from work around 2:30 with papers to grade, church members to contact, a house to clean, lesson plans to study... So, I did what everyone would do in that situation, and decided to take my first stab at making hot rolls from scratch!  (That's what you do when you have a lot of stuff to do, right?)  I also decided to roast/bake a chicken for dinner!

It turns out that making bread is not as difficult as I originally thought it would be.  It is just as if not more time consuming than expected.  I got the recipe off of the internet - it's pretty sweet (has an entire cup of sugar in it!) and a little denser than I normally like my rolls; so I didn't include the link.

Here's a picture of my bread dough rising on my stove.

Meanwhile...I roasted my chicken.

 You may or may not care about this, but I roasted it upside down from how they direct you to in the recipes and it turned out much juicier!  I also stuffed it with lemons and oranges; pretty tasty!

And, the finished product of the rolls.  I made 64.  Yeah...there are only two humans in my household.  That's 32 rolls a piece.  Looks like I'm going to take some food to church members this week!

I have absolutely no idea if there is a point to this post, other than I'm proud of my stab at being domestic tonight!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Valentine's Banquet

I think a lot of churches have a valentine's banquet each year; they all seem to vary slightly as to how nice they are and what they include.  Some are for the youth to bring "dates" to, others are put on "by the youth"  (really by their parents and youth minister) for the adults in the church.  The latter is what we have. My husband kind of lets me take control of the Valentine's Banquet.  It is always the Sunday closest to Valentine's day, and my goal is for it to be like attending a nice meal.  Sometimes I have some kind of theme.  This year, I wasn't quite feeling the theme direction so I just got some people to help me and hoped it would turn out alright.

So, a lot of people do this a different way, but here is what works pretty well for me.
1.  Find someone to decorate.  If I have a theme, I let them know what it is; this year I just told her to do what she wanted.  (She did an amazing job, by the way!)
2.  Pick out a menu early.  This year, we had brisket so I asked a man in our church who smokes meat to make all of it.  I have no idea how many pounds it took; or I would help you out.
3.  Have some kind of sign up so you can start planning how many tables to set up and how much food to prepare.  We had 42 sign up; I planned for 60 (You have to feed the workers too).
4.  If you can cook it ahead of time; do it.  Ex.  I made the dessert the day before (as seen in my apple pie post)
5.  Be realistic when planning your menu, you cannot realistically make lobster and make any money off of this deal.
6.  Rotate your help.  I had 3 people other than myself helping in the kitchen, all completely separate from the people who helped last year.  This keeps parents from getting burned out and allows them to enjoy the banquet from time to time.  I'm still waiting on the year when the parents want to throw it completely and let my husband and myself set out. (Just kidding, but really that would be awesome.)
7.  Don't feel the need to get into some kind of routine and make it the same - versatility is great!  On the same note, it is ok if you have some staples like we have the "Not so Newly Wed" game every year.
8.  Remind the students of the proper etiquette for serving and ushering.
9.  Have a menu on the table and include instructions for leaving a donation, if they wish. I also leave some kind of chocolate at each place; just to make it look a little nicer.

So, pretty much here's how it went down.  The boys usher the people in and seat them at their table.  Serve them drinks first.  Once pretty much everyone is there, we started salads.   After salads were done, we started the main course.  I'm an over achiever, I plate it nicely and buy parsley so it looks like I spent a lot of money on the meal. ( I only spent $120 to feed 60 people this year!) We have very talented youth, so we had kids singing or playing the piano throughout the meal.  After everyone was done, we served dessert then had the game.  I had these great plans to take wonderful pictures so you could see just how fabulous and eloquent the meal was; so just imagine the nicest meal you've ever had and realize it probably wasn't that great; but hopefully pretty close.  I got busy in the kitchen, took a picture of the garlic I roasted for the mashed potatoes and that was the end of it.  I would love to hear about your church's valentine's banquet, so I can steal some of your ideas!

Here's a shake down on how much food I cooked.
I made the Pioneer Woman's Garlic Mashed Potatoes - I don't want to steal her thunder so feel free to look up the how to's on her website :
I think he planned for 4 oz. uncooked meat per person
I used 30 lbs of potatoes
2 1/2 pkg cream cheese
4 1/2 sticks of butter (not margarine)
6 heads of roasted garlic
salt and pepper
the recipe calls for cream, but I didn't need it in mine.
The whole process from cutting potatoes to being done took about an hour, I recommend mashing by hand - it's a little more work but they turn out much better.  I kept them hot in one of those huge roasters.
3 cans of green beans
1 lb. of bacon
15 cans of crescent rolls
4 heads of lettuce
2 pkgs of spring mix
3 pkgs of baby spinach
3 bottles of salad dressing (3 different kinds)
3 bottles of barbeque sauce
And all of the apple pie from the previous post!

Maybe you could plan a banquet for your church!  Seriously, I would love to know how you do similar things; whether at your church, or home, or school, or work...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What About Me?

     We were warned that it would be hard for me to get pregnant.  What I wasn't warned about was how hard it would be to be someone who has a hard time getting pregnant.  This becomes especially difficult in social places such as your church.  It seems that every "young adult" class is focused on young parents.  While we have a great Sunday School teacher (My husband and I attend a young adult Sunday School class to get a break from being teenagers.), it inevitably comes around to how the scripture pertains to parents.  We get life advice on raising kids. Every week.  It becomes physically painful.
      So, last night I thought, what are our churches doing to reach out to young couples such as my husband and I?  I know that we are far from being alone in this battle, and so many people have to have words of wisdom in coping with infertility.  So why don't we have ministries that relate to this struggle?  There are many stories in the Bible of women who begged God for children, why aren't we seeking out the right and wrong ways to handle this through scripture?
      Tomorrow morning, while you're at church, why not search out someone that your church doesn't minister well to?  I believe that every church has a weak spot (if yours doesn't, I would love some advice.), so let's look for it and work on making it our strength!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who's Ministering to Who?

Occasionally, I get asked to sing at funerals.  Actually, it seems to be happening with more and more frequency.  In case you didn't know; the majority of the time the family picks the songs or the deceased has already picked what songs they wanted at their funeral.  So, on Friday my husband lets me know that he told  a family in my church who had just lost their dad that I would sing both of the songs at the funeral.  Normally, this would be no big deal; but, this particular weekend was the Valentine's Banquet I was in charge of plus I had never sang either of these songs before.  I was kind of stressed out about it, but I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to minister to the family.  What I wasn't expecting was to be ministered to by the family.  The deceased man had picked "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe and his daughter wanted "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin.  The first song is kind of typical, but I usually try to avoid singing it because it is HARD to sing.  Anyways, back to the story, I was taken aback by the impact of "I will Rise" and by the fact that the family wanted this at the funeral.  They didn't want to focus on the fact that they had lost their dad, but, rather on the fact that he was in heaven and the importance of having a relationship with God.  The service itself included a gospel presentation!  I loved it.  People left feeling uplifted and overjoyed with the love of God instead of sad and crying.
I pray that I can minister to people in the selfless way that this family did to the people at the funeral.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apple Pie for How Many People?!

Every year, we have a Valentine's Banquet on the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day.  This is done in appreciation of our church adults and as a fundraiser for our youth.  Needless to say, this takes a lot of preparation.  I carefully pick out the menu so we can have a nice meal without spending an incredible amount of money.  I usually delegate out a large part of the cooking; but reserve the dessert for myself to make.  This year I decided to make Caramel Apple Pie.

Making apple pie in and of itself does not need to be difficult.  I, however, have the gift of making even the smallest of tasks as difficult as they can possibly be.  In my head, it wouldn't be good enough to use canned  apple pie filling, or ready made crust.  It's not really that much harder to make your own crust, right? And it doesn't take THAT much time to make your own filling, right?

The first part of the task was figuring out the most efficient way to make enough pie for 60+ people.  I finally resigned myself to the fact that making it in pie pans was just not going to happen this time, so I made it in the convection oven size baking pans.  I called my mom, who confidently figured out I would need approximately 6 recipes per pan.  Yet, the physicist came out in me and I had to mathematically figure out exactly the area and volume of a pie pan and the same for the baking pans being used  - to which I discovered it would take 6.3 recipes to fill.  Yeah, I'll try to remember just to take my mom's word for it in the future.

I assembled all of my ingredients, and, true to my weird, organized nature I lined all of my ingredients and necessary tools up on the counter. I had enlisted two teenage girls to help me.  I can't praise God enough for convicting the heart of one of their mothers to come help also because, I found out that one girl didn't know how to peel an apple (and we had 36 to peel), and the other had to be late because she was working on a scholarship app.  So, today was a teaching experience! Here's a picture of my apples all lined up!
I'll spare you the details of the pie making itself, but if you're feeling ambitious here's what I used to make this much apple pie:
36 Apples (I mix the varieties between Braeburn, Pink Ladies, Fuji and, Granny Smith)
1 convection size baking pan and 1, 12x16 pan (this will make more than 60 servings, but I always plan for a few extra)
3 1/2 recipes of pie crust
3 C. Sugar
18 tsp. cinnamon
approx. 1 tsp salt
18 tbsp flour
I use a crumble topping, you could do whatever you want though.
My topping:
4 3/4 C. Brown Sugar
3 1/2 C. Butter
3 1/2 C. Oats
3 1/2 C. Flour
(mix with pastry blender or fork)
Bake @ 350 F for 30 min in a convection oven - I had to cover with foil have way through to prevent over browning.
I'm serving mine with caramel sauce and ice cream - If you'll the pie on top of the convection oven while you're cooking other things, it will warm up again so you can serve it hot!

The whole thing only took 2 1/2 hours, as long as all 3 (and eventually 4) of us worked hard the entire time.  I'm hoping it's worth it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Married to a Kid

Before you read the title and think I'm a terrible wife, let me say, I love my husband and praise God everyday for the man he blessed me with.  With that being said, I came to the conclusion today that I married someone who will forever be a kid at heart.  Considering our line of work, I'd say that's a good thing!  In our household, the usual day begins with me being awake for around an hour or two before my husband gets out of bed. I wake up ready to get things done and ready for breakfast; if he eats breakfast, he usually doesn't want it until he's been up for a while. This morning, that was not the case.

 I had received a text around 5 in the morning that I would not have to go to school because of all of the snow and was planning on sleeping in.  Around 7:15, my husband is wide awake looking out the window, giddy about the incredibly amount of powder in our yard.  He had already made plans with a few of our church members/friends to play in the snow at their house if we got as much as was promised.  So, at 7:30 I realized I had no hope of getting any more sleep and drug myself out of bed. By 8:30, I had cooked breakfast for the two of us (at his request), and he was showered and decked out in his snowboard gear.  Only because I was being slow, we waited until after 10 to "drive around town and look at the snow" - which actually meant go find somewhere to snowboard, in Oklahoma.  He finally resorts to calling a friend pretty far out in the country and we drive for miles down a drift-ridden road in hopes of a good hill to board down.

Once we got to their house, we drove out through more drifts to a field where we finally find a hill that will suffice.  We then proceed to climb, carrying snowboards, in 20+ mph winds, through snow past my knees in places.  Why would I do this you ask?  I have no idea, I wondered that myself multiple times while sucking wind and doing my best not to fall in the insane amount or powder, I guess I'm crazy.  While I was waterproofed, I was not dressed for that insane cold.  After some snow packing and a few attempts, he happily made it down the "run" he had created.  I decided to try, after all it had to be easier to get back to the car on my board then by walking.  I made it about 7 feet and was stuck in powder almost up to my waste.  The husband was at the bottom, so was no help.  I proceeded to flounder around and attempt digging with my hands.  The problem was that my feet were still firmly affixed to a board that was far below.  After way more exercise than I thought should be required of me while "looking at the snow" I finally climbed out and resigned myself to walking back down the hill to the vehicle where I would take pictures of my husband.  This is where I made my conclusion.  He somehow had the energy to repeatedly climb up that hill, pack snow and board down.

 After we were back in our warm house he proceeded to run around in the yard with our Mini Aussie Emma before having teenagers over to watch Harry Potter. Why does he do this?  Firstly, because he loves snow, he loves snow more than I am capable of putting into words.  Did I mention I love this man?  I think most importantly, he loves God and appreciates the life that he has blessed us with.

When we went to the farm we were going to board at, we stopped to talk to the family for a little bit (they have a 5 year old and 4, 3 year olds who are adorable).  We briefly shared our plans of having the youth over for the afternoon to watch Harry Potter (I realize this series is slightly controversial for some churches; my argument on that is for another time.), and he told us he had never known another minister to do have the youth over like we do.  We've never thought twice about it and just thought it was normal to want them at our house.  I enjoy the "mothering" of cooking and, gasp, cleaning up after them (my mom is probably having a heart attack while reading that).  Wow, that's alot of parentheses in one paragraph.  Anyways, my point for this little spill is we have them over because we genuinely love our youth.  I think that's the key to a successful ministry, you don't invite people to your house that you don't care about getting to know better. People realize that if they've never spent time with you on a personal level, then you don't care much about working on the relationship.

In the words of my dad, "Spread love, spread love".

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coping With a Miscarriage

Let me preface this by saying I have no idea where I'm going with this.  It's probably going to come across as some kind of weird, depressed sounding rant.  But, frankly, that doesn't bother me.

This past November, I miscarried our first child.  To say the least, it was and is frustrating and heartbreaking.  Unless you have experienced it, you can't understand the roller coaster of emotions it puts you through.  I think that is part of the reason it is so frustrating; so many people don't understand what's going on, so they don't know what to say or do to help you.  What happens as a result of this is that people either try to pretend that nothing happened to you or they say something that is the worst possible thing you could have been told at that moment.

The worst thing initially for me was feeling abandoned by some of the people that were so quick to give me a hug when I found out I was pregnant.  My sweet husband and mom kept reminding me that they just didn't know what to say, and I couldn't figure out why they just couldn't tell me they were sorry I was going through this.  I remember going to a school activity the next day and so many people couldn't look me in the eye or speak to me.  That was terrible.

For me, the miscarriage was huge and took captive the majority of my thoughts, for everyone else it was something that they briefly felt sorry for me for and then they didn't think about again.  It's not so much that I wanted people to feel sorry for me as much as I wanted to know that someone cared that I was suffering this much.  Nearly 3 months down the road and I still have days that I want to sit down and cry about it.  Occasionally, I give in.

So, three long, sad, and possibly pointless paragraphs later I will finally get to my point.  I want people to know what to do when/if a friend or family member has to experience this.

#1 - Ask them how they're doing, and do it often, and don't quit unless they ask you to.  They won't be over this in a matter of days.  And when you ask them, make sure you have time to really listen.
#2 - More than likely, you have no idea what they went through to get pregnant.  So, while to you a comment about them probably getting pregnant the next month seems encouraging, it's probably not going to get across that way.
#3 - Don't be afraid of "making them cry".  There is nothing wrong with giving them a hug and saying, "I'm so sorry".  If they start crying, let them.   Here's the deal, YOU aren't making them cry; losing a child is what's making them cry and there's nothing wrong with crying about that.
#4- If you don't know what to say but want to do something, take them a meal.  Chances are they don't feel like cooking or going out to eat.  A wonderful woman in my church brought us homemade chicken and noodles and hot rolls.  I couldn't thank her enough for it.
#5- If you know they are going to have to be at home alone alot, offer to just sit there and watch movies with them.  I hated any little bit I would have to be alone for the first few days.

Here is a short list of the best things people said to me:
 - I already loved your baby too (or other variations of the same point)
-  You will never forget about it, so don't try.  Let yourself be upset and trust God to take care of you.
Yeah, that list was really short, I'm sure there are a lot more that I'm not coming up with at the moment.

I would be remiss to not include how wonderful my husband was throughout this whole ordeal. He was honest about how he didn't feel like it impacted him as much as it impacted me.  He set aside the next 3 days to be there for me and do what I needed him to.  He sat on the couch watching movies he probably didn't want to see and held my hands through the physically painful part, and encouraged me to get out of the house when I started feeling better.

And, of course, my wonderful parents who came to the hospital and sat in the waiting room even though there was nothing they could really do but pray.

whew! I'm a little long winded.  If you have experienced a miscarriage; I would love to pray for you - please email me!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pancakes and Breakfast Meat

Last week we hosted the basketball 5th quarter at our church.  If you don't know what that is, basically we invite any teenager we can find to come have some free food, play some games and win some prizes at our church after a home game. For some people, this sounds like the worst way to spend a Friday night, for us, it's the best!  In our ministry, basketball 5th quarters are known to have breakfast food and a good give away.

I handle all of the menu making and food prep for all of our ministry endeavors.  I have a tendency to go a little over board with the details, and every time I try to make it a little better than the last time.  So, normally we do pancakes, milk and juice at these kinds of things.  This year I get this great idea to add breakfast meat, chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream.  So, I took care of getting nearly all of the ingredients donated and got some help lined up.  What I forgot to do was allow for the time to cook the meat.  Since we've done just the pancakes for a few years now, I thought I had the timing down to an art.  But, alas, I was far from having it right.  So, as the eighty hungry teenagers were arriving we were still in the middle of cooking the meat and hadn't even started the pancakes yet - mistake #1.  Lucky for me, teenagers aren't big on punctuality!  Thankfully, I had great help and pancakes cook really fast. I'm probably giving a painful amount of detail - I'll try to stop. If you're interested in how much ingredients are necessary to feed this many people, I'll post it for you to help you avoid some of the guess work I have.

So, although what's going on in the kitchen is really exciting to me, here's what was going down in everyone else's world at this time.  Whenever we plan an event we make sure there is something for every type of student.  For the athletes and/or people who can have fun doing anything and don't mind embarrassing themselves we had a gotcha contest and free-throw contest.  For everyone else, we had a coloring contest.  We also have a drawing for other prizes so everyone has an equal chance at getting something good.  Here's my advice; don't spend a lot of money on prizes for contests, you'll just end up with people having hurt feelings because they didn't win. The only things we really spend money on are the prizes for the drawings. Also, have a child judge the coloring contest (for the same before mentioned reason).  We do the drawings at the very end and gather the students for a gospel presentation before. I say we, but really my husband does this.

5th Quarter by the numbers:
1 large (sam's size) bag of krusteaz pancake mix.  I stick with the just add water for simplicity
1 bag of choc. chips
1 can of blueberries
1 gal. milk
2 gal. orange drink
8 lbs of sausage (it was a little too much)
10 lbs of bacon (again, a little too much)
2 containers frozen strawberries
1 can of whipped cream
3-4 bottles of syrup

One bag of choc. chips is enough for 4 C. of pancake mix
I used 1/2 can of blueberries for 4 C. mix
If you like hot syrup, I emptied 3 bottles into a crock pot and turned it on high 1 hr before serving

I hope someone can use these ideas and I would love to hear how you would make this better!

Here We Go!

My husband told me I should start a blog.  I initially told him no, I have no children and feel I lead a relatively boring life.  I then realized that I actually have 30-60 teenagers, depending on the day of the week and time of the year.  My husband is the youth minister at a small church in rural Oklahoma.  He is currently the only staff member which means the two of us do almost everything.  (If you've ever been on staff at a church or have been married to one, you understand.)  We work hard and love (almost) every minute of it.

My goal for this blog is to share our ministry with you, give you insight into what your church staff's lives are like and, for you ministry wives, maybe give you some ideas for your own ministry.  It's probably more likely that you will learn some things to avoid to save you some time!

Enjoy your look into our lives!