Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon on John 11: 1-45 – Unconventional Signs of Our Love and Humanity

Scripture: John 11: 1-45 – the illness and death of Lazarus

Focus: The sadness and grief we feel and share (i.e., crying) when a friend or loved one dies are some of the outward signs that we have learned to love one another and to share God’s love through our acts of kindness toward one another.

Who here has ever written a note or made a card for someone’s birthday or Father’s Day or Grandparents’ Day? Yeah! It’s fun, and we write nice things like “I love you” and “you’re beautiful” and “I have so much fun at your house”, right?

IMG_1727I’ve got a couple of notes my niece Anna has made for me. This one was for my birthday last year. It’s a pink Pecachoo and says “Happy Birthday CeCe” and has a heart on it. Do you think any of these words and pictures might be signs that Anna loves me? Yeah, the heart, and she says “Happy”. Those are great signs of love, easy to spot.

I’ve got this other note with me that she wrote one when she’d done something she wasn’t supposed to and I put her in time out. Here’s what it says:

IMG_1726I don’t like you, CeCe.
You’re mean.
By Anna

Isn’t that the very best, most wonderful note you’ve ever heard about how much my niece Anna loves me?

No? You don’t think that sounds like she loves me? It’s not a common sign of love, to tell someone you don’t like them, but when we share our feelings with someone – even our not-so-happy feelings, that’s also a sign that we love them. You see, there are more signs of love – especially Jesus’s and God’s love – than just the fun ones like hugging and saying I love you.

In today’s Children’s Church, you’ll read and talk about the time Jesus learned that his friend Lazarus had died. In the Gospel of John, we read that when Jesus went to see Lazarus after he had died that “He wept,” and that those gathered around saw Jesus’s crying as a sign of his love for his friend.

Will you pray with me?

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for becoming human like us
And showing us more ways
To love and to be kind to others.
Help us to always remember
That others will know
That we are Christians
By our love.
Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon – Genesis 2-3, focus on Rules and Forgiveness

Scripture: Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7

Props: house key

IMG_1663When I got old enough (third grade, age 8), my mom and dad decided that I could be allowed to come home right after school instead of going to after school. This meant that I would get on the school bus at school and off near my house in my neighborhood. And I would walk down the street to my house. And I used this key [hold up the key] to open the door and go inside and lock the door back. And the very next thing I had to do was to call my mom at work to tell her that I was home and that I had closed and locked the door.

That’s when my mom would remind me of the rest of the rules:

Rule #1: do all of my homework and leave it out on the dining table for mom to check when she got home. Who else has a “homework first” rule after school? That’s a pretty popular rule.

Rule #2: do all of the chores on the list on the counter. Weekdays, this would be some laundry and some part of getting dinner ready, like making a salad. What chores do you have to do at home?

Rule #3: pick up my room – all toys in the toy box, all dirty clothes in the hamper, bed made up

And sometimes I managed to do all of this in time to watch a show on TV. My favorites were Thundercats and G I Joe. That was my reward if I got everything done. But if I didn’t, my consequences would be an early bedtime, extra chores, and when I was older, losing my telephone time.

In today’s Children’s Church, you guys are going to read and talk about a time when God gave his first children Adam and Eve a rule to follow…and they didn’t follow it. What do you think God did? That’s right: He forgave them. He also gave them new chores and responsibilities to help them learn why following His rules will help them have everything they need. We are such lucky and blessed people that our loving God forgives us when we mess up, when we break the rules, because God knows we will try even harder next time to be better.

Will you bow your heads and pray with me:

Dear God,
Thank you for loving me
And giving me rules
To help me be a good person.
And thank you also
For forgiving me
When I make mistakes.
Help me to forgive others
When their mistakes
Hurt my feelings
Or someone else’s feelings.
I honor you now and forever.
Amen.

Delivered Sunday, March 5, 2017 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Children

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Corn chowder is a personal favorite, and I love the addition of the cheddar and the use of turmeric!

thebrookcook

IMG_5415

I try a lot of new recipes, but there are a few that I repeat EVERY season. This is one of them. I make it with fresh corn- but at the end of the season- when it starts to get chilly and we are ready to eat warm soup. This recipe was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Note: I wrote a guest post on SimplyVegetarian777.wordpress.com with a vegetarian version of this delicious soup. The recipe can be found here.

  • 8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow or sweet onions (3 to 4 large onions)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds medium-diced boiling potatoes, unpeeled
  • 6 -10 cups corn kernels, fresh (from 10 ears)
  • 2 cups half-and-half

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Posted in Children

Churro Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

LOVE ❤ these! My nieces adore churros, and I love making a simple but special treat for the families I cook for each week. These will be perfect for fajita night coming up soon!

thebrookcook

My kids had friends over for a taco dinner the other night, and we “needed” a special dessert. These churro cupcakes were perfect for our theme!

This recipe was adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain, via Sweet Carolines Cooking. I loved the cinnamon-sugar topping underneath the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Although we did debate whether or not these cupcakes were more “churro” or “snickerdoodle,” we all agreed they were tasty. 🙂

I’m sharing this party food at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #140 this week, co-hosted by Julie @Hostess at Heart and Linda @Fabulous Fare Sisters. Enjoy!

Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcake Batter:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1½ T ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¾ granulated sugar, plus 2 T for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2½…

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Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Matthew 5:4 (Beatitudes)

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My Nannie’s prayer shawl, gifted to her by the Franke at Seaside Prayer Shawl Ministry when she broke her shoulder.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Scripture: Matthew 5:4 – the second Beatitude

Props: something you have that someone else gave you as a gesture of comfort

This morning we are continuing to study the Beatitudes, what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s focus is on this sentence: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

What does “mourn” mean? Sad, someone died, someone lost something important

What does is look like when we see someone mourning? Crying, falling to the ground, wearing black

And we see and read right here that Jesus said that those who mourn will be comforted. Now, I’m a linguist, and that’s about the highest kind of English grammar teacher. And, like a lot of sentences in the Bible and many other books, when I read today’s beatitude, my brain fills in some gaps. Here’s what my linguist brain reads:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted BY WHOM? Someone had to do the comforting, right?

Let me tell you about this blanket I brought with me today. It’s not actually a blanket but a prayer shawl, my Nannie’s prayer shawl. You see, there’s a group of ladies who love to knit and they love to pray, and many years ago, they started to pray comfort and peace and help into every stitch they knit. And then they gave the prayer shawls to ministers and doctors and caregivers to give to people who had broken bones or really bad illnesses in the hospital or at home. These knitting ladies don’t know who will get the shawl and their prayers; all they need to know is what Jesus promises in today’s scripture: that someone is mourning and deserves comfort.

And when my Nannie put this shawl around her shoulders (demonstrate with your own shawl), she could hug herself and it was like getting a hug from God and Jesus and wonderful people who cared that she needed help not being so sad anymore.

Now when you see someone mourning – who is crying or sad or hurt – who is here to give them comfort like a hug? God – yes, God gives us comfort, but does he have arms? Jesus – oh, definitely, but he’s not here on earth anymore. Who did Jesus leave to keep giving out hugs? US! Yes, US! We are all part of this one sentence in the Bible – whether we are the sad person who needs comfort or the person sees a need and gives a hug or prayer for comfort.

I’ll ask you to pray with me and think – believe – that someone here in the church today is sad and probably needs some comfort:

Dear God, Thank you for reminding us to look for and see who needs comfort. We will hug the people we can read and ask you to send hugs to the ones we can’t reach with our arms. And we ask you to bless us when we are sad and lost with hugs and prayers of comfort. Amen.

Children’s Sermon delivered at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, on Sunday, February 5, 2017.

 

 

Posted in Being Healthy, Children, Cooking

BuzzFeed Recipe Trial: 4-ingredient Chicken Bake

On January 29, 2016, I shared BuzzFeed recipe video below on my Facebook feed with a note to use the kale from my local CSA share to make this for Sunday dinner. And I did. And paired it with simple salt-and-pepper thin spaghetti noodles.

HUGE hit! Takes maybe 5 minutes to layer in the casserole dish (line with aluminum foil to make clean up faster and easier too), and it turned out to be a GREAT way to HIDE VEGGIES from my guys because what they saw looked like pizza on top of chicken. They just thought it was all chicken-y cheesiness and AWESOME.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBuzzFeedVideo%2Fvideos%2F1826534510820756%2F&show_text=0&width=560

I’ve made this several times since that first weekend dinner with the following variations:

  • frozen chicken with fresh toppings – little bit juicier in the bottom of the pan, but otherwise no difference; the breasts were small and thin, and took 45 minutes
  • cubed chicken breast and everything layered more like a casserole for more servings, and baked directly over cooked penne pasta in the casserole dish; same temp and time as original recipe
  • “Mexican” style using canned chopped chilis and pepper jack cheese, still using the sliced tomatoes
Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Isaiah 11:1-10 – Jesse’s Root and Jesus’s Birth – Waiting

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10 with Romans 15:13

Props: cup/pot of soil and a Christmas tree seed (similar seeds for demo purposes only: pumpkin, cardamon pod, pepita/pine nut); slice of a Christmas tree trunk for counting the rings; photos of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, 6-8′ home tree (yours or online), and ask how tall the church Chrismon tree is

 

charlie-brown-pathetic-christmas-tree-3About 10 years ago when I moved back to Charleston, I didn’t know it but a squirrel or bird planted a Christmas tree in my front yard. The first year, it look pretty much like this [ask if anyone recognizes the tree; if not tell them it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree]. Yep, that’s what a 1-year-old Christmas tree looks like.

christmastreeNow, 10 years later, my front yard tree is about 5 feet tall. Can you believe that? It took TEN YEARS for my tree to grow only 5 feet tall. I mean, I’m still taller than my tree.

us_plants_homeThe tree you’ve got in your house – or will have – is usually about 6-8 feet tall, and that takes hmmmm 8 to 12 years to grow that tall.

Now take a look over at the Chrismon tree here in the church. I have it on good authority that’s a 12-foot tree. How long do you think it took for that tree to grow that big and tall? [take guesses]
chrismontreeringsWell, thanks to Mr. Jonathan who got us a slice of our tree, we can find out exactly how many years it took. [count the rings out loud] That’s right, FIFTEEN years. Are any of you fifteen years old? [no] Guess what that means? Our tree is older than you are!

In today’s lesson, the prophet Isaiah learns from God a really great description of who Jesus will be and what he will do for us. Now Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was even born. He says that Jesus will come from the root of Jesse and He will be wise and strong and so much more. And God’s people waited patiently and were faithful for 700 years before Jesus was finally born.

If you get a chance, ask your mom or dad to let you read the church’s newsletter. Both Pastor Mike and Ms. Crystal write about the word “advent,” which means waiting. And it takes two main qualities to wait: patience and faith. Sometimes we have to wait a while before a promise comes true, and when it takes an especially long time, it also takes faith to not give up hope that the promise-maker is really going to do what he or she promised.

Can you imagine waiting 700 years and still believing that God would make good on His promise? That’s some amazing patience and faith to wait and believe that whole time – 700 years – for God to keep His promise. We only have to wait 4 weeks every year – that’s how long the season of Advent lasts – where we prepare our hearts and lives for our first glimpse of the tiny seedling – the baby Jesus – who grew up to fulfill ALL of God’s promises as our Savior Jesus Christ.

Will you pray with me?

Dear God, Thank you for trees and especially Christmas and Chrismon trees to remind us just how long it takes to grow into what God has planned for me. Help me to be patient and faithful when I want things to happen faster than they are. Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church.