By Linda Brumley
We had hors d’oeuvres instead of a dinner the first night of our staff sister’s retreat. (Pictured at right L-R: Danielle Whitaker, Lynne Green and Karla Overstreet sampling Linda’s appetizers!) Since my lesson assignment on hospitality was headlined by the movie title, I felt compelled to be very Julia Child-like. Planning my menu with this in mind, I aimed for tasty, simple, and pretty. I’m no French chef. Indeed, my culinary skills are quite limited, but I deceive many about this deficiency by being a relatively savvy collector of easy, but yummy recipes. Lynne insisted that I share the ones I used for our retreat. I’m reluctant only because it so broadly blows my cover revealing to large audience online that I’m a short-cut cook. But I share them here hoping they help you all with Bible Talk refreshments or any other small gathering you may host.
SHRIMP WITH CILANTRO DIP
1 bunch cilantro
1/2cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
2t. soy sauce
2t. balsamic vinegar
1/3cup canola oil
2t. sesame oil
Blend it all in a food processor and serve with cooked, tail-on, jumbo shrimp (they’re pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s)
I broiled a small flank steak and cut it into thin slices before the retreat
Boison cheese (herbed cream cheese)
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
On each strip of steak, put a generous tablespoon of the cheese, stick a couple of red pepper strips in it, roll it up and secure it with a toothpick. Stand them upright on a platter (red pepper spears sticking up like horns)
CUKES AND CHICKEN SALAD
Peel and halve lengthwise an English cucumber. Scoop out the seeds. Cut into 2 inch slices and fill with chicken salad (I bought Trader Joe’s little tub of ready-made chicken salad. It’s divine. It has cranberries and pecans in it, but you could make your own chicken salad. I like to put a little curry powder in my chicken salad with some onion and raisins, but whatever….).
VEGGIES AND DIP
Easiest of all because all we did was arrange raw asparagus, green onions, red pepper strips and some great crackers on a platter with a ready-made (Trader Joe’s again) red hummus.
CHILI CHEESE DIP
(I stole this recipe from Dianne Caraway)
2 8oz. slabs of cream cheese (I used light, just to fool myself into thinking it was healthier)
1 can Nalley’s Original chili
1c. (or so)shredded cheddar cheese
Mash the cream cheese and the chili together, put in a heat-proof serving dish, top with cheese and pop it into the microwave until the cheese melts. Serve with a big bowl of corn chips (I like Tostitos Scoops because you can get such a big dollop of the cheesy stuff on one). This one is additive, so beware!
Mozzarella rounds (deli section at Trader Joe’s again)
Fresh basil leaves
On bamboo skewers alternate the first three ingredients, lay out on a platter and sprinkle with the vinegar. Lynne did this one and she wrapped the basil leaf around the cheese so the leaf got skewer twice. It was even prettier that the picture from the magazine where I got the recipe. Lynne really is Julia Child!
APPLES AND CARAMEL DIP
4 or 5 big, crisp red apples
1 pkg. Kraft caramels (the labor-intensive part is unwrapping all those caramels!)
2T. creamy peanut butter
½-2/3cup half and half
Dry-roasted peanuts, chopped and in a little bowl next to the caramel dip
Slice those lovely apples and put caramels, peanut butter and cream in a microwave serving bowl. Melt and stir until it’s smooth and not too runny. Guests dip an apple wedge into the caramel and then into the chopped peanuts and enjoy! It’s like a pauper’s fondue.
*The additional benefit of all these goodies is that they are relatively cheap. So, bon appetit!
By Annie McCune
At our recent staff women’s retreat Lynne Green asked me to share briefly about what format we had been using in Seattle’s Eastside Ministry to help our midweek services to be inspiring. The lesson title that she gave me was: “Best of Show”. I started my lesson by looking at a couple scriptures that have inspired my thinking about the purpose of our midweek services. In Acts 2:42the Bible talks about the first Christians and their dedication to the apostles’ teachings, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. In our fellowship we break bread every week on Sundays, but midweek services are a time that I believe can be dedicated to the other elements mentioned. It is a time to delve deeply into the scriptures (the apostles’ teaching), to take time to pray, and to carve out time for spiritual fellowship. All these elements contribute to a meaningful and successful midweek service. We also looked atEzra 7:8-10 which describes Ezra as a man who “had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” I believe that Ezra is a great example to men and women in the full time ministry. Not only was he a great example in his commitment to God, but he had dedicated himself also to being an excellent teacher. Midweek provides a great opportunity for full-time women’s ministry leaders to deepen the convictions and understanding of those they are leading as they follow the example of Ezra in teaching the Bible. I described the excitement of the women in the Eastside ministry as we have delved deeply into the books of Galatians, 2 Timothy and most recently Exodus. We all hunger for a greater understanding of God, and the Bible never fails to satiate that hunger. Finally we looked at the scripture in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 where Paul charges Timothy to entrust to reliable men the task of teaching others. We talked about how every ministry has many ‘reliable women’ who are not in the full time ministry, but have the gift of teaching and should also be given the opportunity to teach. Again, midweek services have provided a great venue for this to take place.
In light of these scriptures, I described the midweek schedule that has seems to be working for us recently on the Eastside. The Eastside is comprised of mostly families, so for midweek services we meet every other week. Each ‘season’ we have a different midweek structure. In the fall, as the kids are heading back to school, we also get back to studying. So for the months of September through November we have a class on a book of the Bible. The months of December and January in Seattle tend to be cold and dark. We had received feedback from many of the women on the Eastside that they would like to do something close to home during this winter season. So for the months of December and January we have midweek services in homes with our Bible talk groups. Some groups devote the time to prayer by candlelight, other groups decide to study a spiritual book or have time for discipleship groups, meeting the need for some extra fellowship. Each group individually decides what will best meet the needs of their group during this time. Our ‘spring’ season is February through June. This five month ‘season’ provides us with enough time to have two class sessions. One we dedicate to a book of the Bible, and one we dedicate to studying a biblical topic. Finally, in the summer (June and July), we have another opportunity to have in-home groups. This last summer was so amazing. I asked for volunteers to host and lead a small group. We had eleven different choices for the women. Everyone signed up for a class that interested them. Some women taught on a book of the Bible, some led discussions on a spiritual book, and some taught classes or led discussion groups on spiritual topics. It was so encouraging having so many ‘reliable women’ step up to teach others. We had classes on marriage, trusting God, prayer, church history, mothers in the Bible, personal development, and several other topics.
As we have tried to incorporate different elements into our midweek services, we have sought after spiritual growth while enjoying a variable texture of midweek experiences. As the church grows and changes, I’m sure that our midweek services will continue to grow and change as well; but for now, we are grateful to have experienced midweek services that we consider the ‘best of show’.
By Linda Brumley
She did it again! Lynne (pictured at right) planned your Seattle staff women’s retreat with stunning insight into meeting our spiritual needs. Obviously, we believe we serve the women of the Seattle church best when we are spiritually healthy ourselves. Yet, we are acutely aware that we face the same struggles and temptations, time pressures and practical challenges as most our sisters. Being on staff makes us immune to nothing, but it does give us a fellowship that each of us treasures.
Respecting the insight of the women she leads, Lynne asked us each to teach a lesson (you’ll get to hear more about these lesson since she also asked us to write an article for this web site about the lessons we presented during our time together—stay tuned!). To make it fun (a trademark of Lynne’s) she titled each lesson after a recent movie.
Annie kicked us off with “Best of Show” subtitle: “best practices for mid-weeks.” Annie has stayed so lovingly in touch with the Eastside women’s talents and challenges, she has delegated leadership wisely and has, herself, taught in-depth Bible studies on different books of the Bible.
You won’t be surprised to know that Danielle spoke to us about the campus ministry. Her assigned topic: “Deep Impact”. She shared a lot about her visions for the UW campus and my favorite quote of the retreat came from Danielle: “Even if none of my dreams come true, I want to die a dreamer.”
AT, who with her husband Darin leads our teens, spoke on “The Matrix”. Sorting through complex issues of teen needs has been the obsession of Darin and AT’s hearts.
I got to address the whole idea of hospitality with the theme of “Julie and Julia.” I had such fun passing out ingredients and recipes and watching my sisters serve one another with their culinary creations. I referenced how conversation over food was such a part if Jesus’ ministry and then had everyone comment on the value of food with fellowship (Acts 2:42ff).
Karla reminded us of the how blessed we are to have so many needs met through our spiritual friendships. Carol assured us that God is truly Almighty to meet the needs we cannot meet for one another. We each tried to put into words what God means to us.
Lynne shared with us her Bible study on dreaming. It was a lesson she repeated for our Sister’s Night Out on Friday evening (hope you were there). Here’s the thing about Lynne’s insights into the Bible: I could study the same passages and never make the same applications Lynne makes (true in some measure about all of our different viewpoints and why it’s so valuable for all of us to share our thoughts from our own study of the Word). After hearing Lynne’s lesson for the second time, I thought: “I wish I could hear this lesson a dozen other times and maybe even then I’d want an encore! What a blessing God has given the women of the Seattle church in Lynne’s leadership.
Plus, Lynne brought in Alison Stirret to sharpen our computer skills. Alison is amazing and this in-service training is a huge boost to us. She is smart, funny, easily communicates her vast knowledge on a level that we can grasp (Ok, I admit I can’t quite grasp it all, but I leave smarter than when I came).
For all the women of the Seattle staff, I want to say to each of you, we love you! We want to serve you better and better and this yearly retreat offers us a boost that our regular staff meetings never could. So, thank you for supporting us as we seek to grow to be an increasing blessing to all of you!