Last night was “Music/Birthday” night in my special needs group. Our ‘leader’ (my ‘partner in crime’) was out sick with stomach flu; normally that would really make me nervous, as I’m definitely NOT a leader (just a really good ‘helper’). I went into the evening with great hopes and a great ‘helper’ (another lady in that church who has joined us as a helper). Along with her help we had four high schoolers who drop by to help when they can – SO glad they were there! We went through the evening – we start with singing the 14 various Christian songs they know (in fact, we sang each twice – to kill time!). During that time the church’s pastor popped his head in and just said: “WOW!” and left – our room was PACKED! It was a VERY busy evening – end count (and I might have missed 1-2 names on the attendance sheet) was: 48 students and who knows how many caregivers! The BIGGEST number we’ve EVER had – in our 23 years together! We had 8 wheelchairs (we usually have about 3). On a ‘normal’ music/birthday night our leader gets a big Costco sheet cake and I cut it to feed the multitudes; last night, because she was sick, her daughter delivered 30 store-bought cupcakes. I had early notice of this, so I bought another 24 cupcakes – we had TWO left at the end of the evening (and that’s only because some of our students don’t (or can’t) eat cake/sweets). I was AMAZED and in AWE – the Lord provided, we survived the night and all went away happy! WHEW! I spoke to our leader today and she said she’s definitely going to have to speak with the church board about WHERE we can go (in the church) as we’re definitely OUTGROWING our room! There is one other room that’s a little larger, but it’s too far from the bathrooms for our kids (considering our wheelchairs). There’s the gym, BUT if we took over the gym, the other children’s programs that run there during the time we’re in our room would be kicked out and where would THEY go? I’m glad I don’t have to make those kinds of decisions! My thoughts go back to when I first started volunteering in this group: there were about 5-6 leaders and maybe as many ‘students’ – same room, very small numbers. I’m very grateful that the Lord has increased our numbers AND given us helpers to accomplish HIS mission for these handicapped/mentally-challenged individuals. We never know who we’re reaching with His message, but we are assured, through scripture, that His Word will not return void:
“So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
God has a purpose and a plan for each of us; I’m so very grateful He has put me in that room with those students – they are a blessing to me every Wednesday. I often wish the WORLD could see them through my eyes and realize that they are NOT an obstacle or an object of derision, to be made fun of – they ARE God’s creation. Whether they can see, speak, hear, walk – those are of no importance – even deaf & mute, they CAN teach us ALL something. For example, last night while I was praying outloud with/and for the group, I asked that the Lord help my friend/our leader Lois, to heal her and lift her up. One of our students stood up and said, very loudly: “I sure hope I don’t get sick! I don’t like to get sick!” That gave me the opportunity to tell the group that we ALL don’t like getting sick but we CAN ask the Lord for His help in healing us AND our loved ones! If you had been a little fly on the wall last night you would have heard, right after that: “I sure hope the Lord helps Lois to feel better! I want to pray for Lois! I LOVE Lois!” Our students are our blessings! They LOVE unconditionally, they speak their minds without boundaries (sometimes that can be very funny, too) and when you become their friend THEY WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER! How many other people in your life will do that? I’m sure the numbers are very small. That’s why, many years ago when my family left that church (for various changes/differences of opinions) I could NOT leave the group! They just WOULDN’T understand! Once you’re their friend, you are their friend FOREVER! I am also grateful to that church for allowing me to continue in that ministry, even though I do not attend their church. They know where my heart is.
Now I’ll get off my soapbox for the day –
Hoping you are all having a GREAT day! It’s 73 degrees outside, bright and sunny! In a short while I’ll hop into my car and go pick up my grandson from his bus stop. Dinner is enchiladas – quick to make and will serve us for more than one meal. Tomorrow I’ve signed up to attend a Ladie’s Dinner at church. (It used to be called the “Mother/Daughter Banquet” but they changed it to include ALL ladies – I’m glad, as I don’t have a daughter or a Mother!) With enchiladas in the fridge, I don’t have to worry about what ‘the guys’ will be eating for dinner!
(Was thinking of closing this post after my ‘soapbox’ comment, but I have way too many great sounding recipes to share, so here you go!)
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
(cooked on grill)
1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
12 C. torn Romaine lettuce
3 T. olive oil
1/4 C. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Spray cold grate of outdoor grill with nonstick
cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium heat.
Place chicken on grill; cover grill with lid. Grill
10 minutes or until no longer pink in centers
(165 degrees F.), turning after 5 minutes.
Cool chicken 10 minutes; cut into strips. Place
lettuce in large bowl; add chicken & mix lightly.
In small bowl, mix egg, oil, lemon juice, garlic,
mustard, salt & pepper using wire whisk until
well blended. Pour over salad; toss to coat.
Serve immediately. Serves 6 (about 2 C. each)
TIP: You can also sprinkle salads with shredded
Parmesan cheese just before serving, if desired.
*You can also substitute 1/2 C. Egg Beaters instead
of raw egg
(NOTE: because of use of raw egg, discard any
Sauteed Tomatoes & Zucchini
1 T. cooking oil
4 small zucchini, sliced (about 4 C.)
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add zucchini; cook 7 minutes or until tender,
stirring occasionally. Add undrained tomatoes,
salt & pepper; break up tomatoes with a spoon.
Cook 2 minutes more or until hot. Serves 4.
Easy Coconut Cream Pie
2 (3.4 oz, ea) pkgs. vanilla instant pudding mix
2 C. cold milk
2 C. Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 C. flake coconut, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust (6 oz)
Beat pudding mixes & milk in large bowl with whisk
2 minutes. Stir in 1 C. Cool Whip & 3/4 C. coconut;
pour into crust. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Toast
remaining coconut*, if desired. Top pie with remaining
Cool Whip & coconut. Makes 8 servings
*How to toast coconut:
Heat oven 350 degrees F. Spread coconut in shallow
baking pan. Bake 7-10 minutes or until lightly
browned, stirring frequently.
(recipe: Kraft Foods)
Four-Cheese Spinach Lasagna
2 C. chopped fresh broccoli
1 1/2 C. julienned carrots
1 C. sliced green onions
1/2 C. chopped sweet red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 C. flour
3 C. milk
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed &
1 1/2 C. (12 oz) cottage cheese
1 C. (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C. shredded Swiss cheese
12 lasagna noodles, cooked & drained
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
In large skillet, saute vegetables & garlic in
oil until crisp-tender; remove from heat & set
aside. In small heavy saucepan, whisk flour &
milk until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir
2 minutes then reduce heat. Stir in 1/4 C.
Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper; cook 1
minute longer or until cheese is melted. Remove
from heat; stir in spinach. Set 1 Cup aside.
In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, Mozzarella
& Swiss cheeses. Spread 1/2 C. spinach mixture in
a greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Layer bottom with
four noodles, half of cheese mixture, vegetables &
3/4 C. spinach mixture. Repeat layers; top with
remaining noodles, reserved spinach mixture &
remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover & bake
35 minutes. Uncover, bake 15 minutes longer or
until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Makes 12 servings.
(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)
French Chicken Broccoli Supreme
1 lb. fresh broccoli, broken into pieces & steamed 2 minutes
3 C. cooked chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
3 C. grated Cheddar cheese, divided
1 tube Ritz crackers
1 stick melted butter
1 T. poppy seeds
1/3 C. butter, melted
1/4 C. cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 C. COLD water
1/3 C. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 C. milk
1 1/2 C. Cheddar cheese (from above)
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In greased 9 X 13 pan, layer broccoli & chicken; set aside.
In saucepan, over medium heat, combine melted butter,
dissolved cornstarch, chicken broth, seasonings & milk.
Stir well, continue stirring until sauce has thickened. Turn
heat down to Low, add 1 1/2 C. grated Cheddar cheese;
stir until melted. Pour over the chicken & broccoli & top
with 1 1/2 C. grated Cheddar cheese. Melt butter, add
poppy seeds & stir well. Crush Ritz crackers in large zip-
lock bag with a rolling pin. (do not crush too small). Add
cracker crumbs to melted butter & sprinkle over top of
cheese. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until hot &
(recipe: Peg-Marys Recipe Exchange)
Ooey Gooey Turtle Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick margarine
2 (8 oz ea) pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter
3 C. powdered sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. chopped pecans
caramel ice cream topping
Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Blend cake mix, 1 egg & stick of melted margarine
ina bowl to form a thick dough. Place dough in
9 X 13 pan; press evenly onto bottom of pan; set
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth
then add room temp. butter; cream together. Add eggs
& vanilla, then gradually add powdered sugar, one cup
at a time. Pour mixture over base in pan; spread
evenly. Sprinkle pecans on top. Place in center rack of
oven; bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Top should be golden
brown. Remove from oven & cool 30 minutes. Drizzle
top of cake generously with caramel sauce. Cake may
be served warm or cold. Refrigerate unused portions.
(recipe: Wendy – justapinch.com)
That’s it for today – hope you have a GREAT day!