Super Easy Sheep Snacks–Taste and See Sunday

one sheep

You’ve heard me say it before, I love a good theme snack–especially when teaching preschoolers. Since we are now in week three of the Christmas lessons, this shepherd week. There’s an unwritten pattern to the Christmas story in children churches around the world. It goes like this:

Week 1: The angel comes to Mary

Week 2: The angel comes to Joseph

Week 3: Jesus is born and the angels come to the shepherds

Week 4: Wise men come bringing gifts.

Week 5: Review the above weeks above or a story about Jesus growing up.

Last year our shepherds week craft was shepherds staff cut out cookies. So this year, we gave the shepherds a rest and focused on the sheep and let the kids be the shepherds.

Here’s all you need to make just one or even a whole flock.

Giant marshmallows–guaranteed fun anytime, but they make for great big fluffy sheep
Skinny pretzel sticks–legs
Small traditionally shaped pretzels–these will be the eyes and nose.
Small pair of scissors or knife

Cut a slit in one of the ends of the marshmallow large enough to put the head piece into.
Put the head piece in there.
Stick the legs in and . . . .

Ta-Da! Ewe got sheep!!!

flock of sheep

Our preschoolers loved them. Well, so did our leaders! So have a little Christmas fun this year with your own little flock, and

Taste and See. . . .the Lord is good!!

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore–Taste and See Sunday


As Dorothy said, “. . . we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Tim and I are back home after spending the past couple of days in the small town of Fort Scott, Kansas, preparing for and participating in the wedding of our youngest son, Trevor, to his beautiful bride, Jordan.

day 0

While we were in Fort Scott we had the opportunity to “taste and see” God’s goodness in so many ways. This little town is such a treasure. It’s filled with some of the greatest people in the world. People who seem to go out of their way to make us, complete strangers to most, feel welcome and at home instantly.

So if you ever have a chance to visit Fort Scott, it’s just an hour or so away from Kansas City, I hope you can take some time to “taste and see” what a deliciously wonderful place it is by checking out places like:

levine house
The Levine House Bed and Breakfast–Our stay here was the best! The Levine House sits on National Street right across from the better known Lion’s Twin Mansion. Under new ownership, The Levine offers four rooms upstairs and our extended family shared the space with us while they were here. Our host, Glenn, did everything possible to help us and our family enjoy our time with privacy and comfort. The rooms were spacious, comfortable and we were provided with everything and anything we needed at an affordable price.

Ms Jamie’s Restaurant–Ms Jamie is a bit of a celebrity in Fort Scott and as a friend of Jordan’s family, we called her to do the catering for our rehearsal dinner, and we weren’t disappointed. We felt like family (even by those on her team who had no idea who we were!) Ms Jamie’s restaurant is open every day with great food, a fabulous staff and some of the most delicious treats ever. Her little place, tucked in neatly next to the State Farm office, does big business and is definitely worth a stop in.

Kelli Woodring–Kelli doesn’t have her own place, but she does make some mean cupcakes often sold at. . .you guessed it, Ms Jamies. Kelli, and her husband Tim, is a pastor, but he also helps out at Ms Jamie’s, and he and Kelli are servants at heart. Not only did she make the most amazing cupcakes for the wedding reception, but when we were in a pinch, Tim made sure that we had what we needed to bring technology to our gathering allowing Trevor’s brother Connor come to us from Russia via video to offer a toast to Trevor and his soon to be bride, Jordan.

sugar foot and peaches
Sugarfoot and Peaches BBQ–The little place is nestled near the edge of town (well, it seemed like it anyway, but I am a bit directionally challenged) and quite simply the place is not to be missed. The BBQ was so good, the ribs-yum!, the smoked sausage-uh huh!, sweet potatoes fries-ohhh, and the sauces–so, so, so saucy! The owners were friendly, gracious, helpful and made our meal even better. If you are in town, be sure to stop in and tell a friend.

community christian church
Community Christian Church–As a children’s ministry director, I rarely attend a service alone or with the husband. So it was a great treat to get to attend CCC in Ft Scott. We got there a little early and were greated and made to feel welcome. The minister, Kevin Moyers, is a guy I happened to go to church with as a teenager, and it was pretty cool to sit by his lovely wife, Cindy and hear him preach/teach/share such a solid message on the truth of Christmas and our need for a Savior. It was honest, sincere, and Biblical, and if you are ever in town on a Sunday you should certainly consider checking out one of their services.

Everywhere we went, we saw God’s goodness. Everywhere we ate, we tasted God’s goodness. In every person we met, we experienced God’s goodness. And I think part of the reason is because Fort Scott, Kansas, is one of those towns like the one I live in that, although not perfect, is still filled with really great people with a desire to make a difference.

And when we slow down long enough, we get the chance to see the things that are actually always right there under our noses. That way we don’t have to just taste and see that God is good, we can “sense” it, too.

Preserving a Legacy–Taste and See Sunday

jerky 2

My husband is a deer hunter. He would be a hunter of other things if time allowed, but during this season of our lives, deer is about all he has time for. In each year that he has hunted, the Lord has blessed him with success. Buck or doe, it doesn’t really matter, each year the Lord provides food for our freezer for another year.

We have always been thankful for that provision and enjoy passing on the blessings to others. Recently one of our favorite ways to do that is by making and sharing jerky. The boys and I got Tim a dehydrator a couple of years ago, and then one of them followed that up with a jerky gun! Since then my dear and I have been having a blast with our deer.

The thing about jerky is basically you are preserving it. After soaking it in a salt bath of marinade, we begin the dehydration process. When the jerky is done, it’s time to share, and so in essence we are preserving the venison, but we are also preserving a memory, a habit, and a legacy.

Giving and sharing–generosity–are things Tim and I want to be remembered for. We want to leave that legacy to our children and the children we minister to. We want to give back for all we have been given and we want others to know the generous God we serve, in part, by our decisions to live generously.

I have to be honest, it’s not something that has come naturally to me, but it is an area I have enjoyed growing in. We used to make jerky to take down to Ozark Christian College to share with our sons and their friends. Now that the boys have graduated, we find ourselves still making a batch or two before we head down that way. In fact, we recently made a new batch because we knew we would be seeing some of our favorite college students very soon.

Of course there are a lot greater ways to pass on a legacy of giving that sharing your venison. But on the other hand, when we begin to share in the small things we learn to share the bigger things. It’s when we learn that all we have comes from God that we begin to understand that He means for us to use what He has given us, big and small, to help meet the needs of others.

What kind of legacy are you leaving? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? As we head into the holy-days and another new year, why not take some time to consider the legacy you want to preserve and share. Ask God to show you how He might have you make a mark in big or small ways to help someone else know Him.

In the meantime, let me share with you the recipe we use to preserve our harvest and our legacy of sharing with those around us.

Farris Family Jerky Recipe
5 lbs meat trimmed into thin strips (beef, venison, steak, burger. . . )

1 1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1 t. seasoned salt
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
5 t. crushed red pepper (you might want to use less of this for a less spicy jerky)
10 t. liquid smoke
1 10 oz bottle soy sauce
5 TB Worcestershire sauce
10 TB Teriyaki sauce

Marinate your meat of choice in the fridge for 24 hours then layer in a dehydrator. Our dehydrator takes about 6-7 hours. You can also use an oven set for about 200F. Part of knowing if it is done is that there should be no pink in the meat. An internal temp of 160F is good, but it’s hard to check. Part of knowing when it’s done is preference as to how chewy you like your jerky. So at around 6 hours start to check it frequently.

Taste and See. . . .the Lord who provides is good.

Using The Corn Harvest to Share the Gospel–Taste and See Sunday

indian corn

This morning I had the opportunity to share a short message in our church’s main service as part of what we like to call “Harvest of Praise Sunday.” The service is centered around our praise and thanks to God for all He has done in our church through the year. My portion of the service centered around giving God thanks for the baptisms and decisions that took place. Having the double advantage of coming from a farming area and having a harvest theme service, I tied in the “wordless” book idea to corn.

It started with, what else? Yellow corn.

yellow corn

Yellow corn represented heaven, and the home Jesus is preparing for us there. (John 14:3)

black corn

Black Corn represented the problem–sin, and how our sin, if not dealt with, can keep us from heaven. (Romans 6:23)

red corn

Red corn represented the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. (Hebrews 9:22)


Blue corn stood for the waters of baptism that wash us clean. (Acts 2:38)

White Corn

White corn reminds us that when we accept God’s offer of salvation, we are washed clean and pure. (Isaiah 1:18)

green corn

Green corn represented the growth that needs to come after we have been saved.  (2 Peter 3:18)

indian corn

We finished up with a picture of mixed corns to remind us that we need to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all God has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

It was just a short, simple message,and I’m sure that in one form or another had been heard before by many. Then tonight, at our 6th grade discipleship group as we began our New Testament study, we got hung up on a question about sin. The kids were struggling to come up with answer to what we called the “problem,” because they weren’t sure what the problem was. When I uttered the words, “Black corn,” immediately they responded, “Sin!”

We were all pretty excited to realize they remembered practically every word of the morning’s talk, (I was really excited!) What I thought was so simple had stuck in their hearts and minds.

Why do I so often forget that the message doesn’t have to be complicated or flashy or entertaining? The message, quite simply, just needs to be the message. The message combined with the power of God, is all we need for a great harvest.

Corn? Who knew?

God did.  .  . Taste and See. . .the Lord is good.


Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho and the Rice Krispie Treats Came Tumbling Down

rice krispie treats

I haven’t posted a Taste and See Sunday in awhile. Well, the truth is I haven’t posted much of anything lately. But as the busy season winds down for me, it’s definitely time to pick up the laptop again.

Truth is, I’m a Rice Krispie Treat lover. My friend Kathy’s husband Stan, is not. He swears they taste like cardboard, and if you just mention the words he launches into the most amusing monologue of why these gooey, chewy treats should not be part of anyone’s diet. So I let him rant, thinking all the while, “Oh well, more for me!!”

Today our preschoolers and toddlers got to share in my love for the treats while they were learning about God’s power at work in a man named Joshua. Joshua, you may know was the leader of God’s people after Moses died. He was the commander of God’s army and led them into the Promised Land. There are a few things I’ve often wondered about Joshua, mainly after the whole “Twelve men went to spy on Canaan. Ten were bad and two were good,” thing. Like, what were the next 40 years like for him? I mean, while almost everyone around him was dying off, or waiting to die off, what was doing in the waiting period? The 40 years time out was his punishment, too, and he hadn’t even done anything wrong.

I suppose he and Caleb spent their days learning from God and being prepared for the days of Promise Land taking that were to come. It seems he must have still been a little nervous when the time came to start marching, since God encouraged him at least three times in the first 9 verses of his book.

“I will be with you. Be strong and courageous.”

“Be strong and very courageous.’

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


And strong and courageous he was. The Israelites followed Joshua’s leadership and took Jericho by simply marching around the city as God directed.

Enter Rice Krispie Treats.

Today our preschoolers used Rice Krispie Treats turned Jericho walls as a visual reminder of their story. Teeny tiny pieces of goodness became the stones in the wall and as God’s people marched around them, they tumbled down first onto their plates and then into their bellies!!!

It was a super fun, super tasty reminder of God’s faithfulness to lead, deliver, provide and faithfully keep His promises to His people. Even better, there were some left over!!

Hmmmmm!! Taste and See–the Lord is good!






Five Reasons Why You Should Help Your Kids Learn The Books of the Bible–Taste and See Sunday

group final
Six of our eight Bible Book Champions!

Today was a celebrating day!

This summer HiSKidZ in our 9am service have been working to learn the books of the Old Testament and a key word for each book to help them understand what the book is about. Our first service class is a relatively small group of kids (maybe 15-20) in the 1st-6th grade. About half of them memorized the O.T. books and recited them today. Woohoo!

Next week, they will recite the books and the key words. I am so proud of those who dedicated themselves to the task. Age was not a determining factor, there were kids in every grade who accomplished their goal and they were rewarded today after church with a pizza and ice cream party.

morgan and jackson2

It would be awesome if we could get all our kids on board with this, and we are quick to note it’s not just about memorizing 39 book titles. We repeatedly remind our kids that learning the books of the Bible isn’t just so they can eat pizza and ice cream or to be able to say, “Hey! I know my books of the Bible.” There are 5 top reasons we think a child (or an adult) should know the books of the Bible.

Here they are:

1) It’s God’s Word. We need to know all we can about it. Knowing God’s Word helps us to know God.

2) Learning the books of the Bible helps those little Bible tabs we buy make more sense!

3) When we learn the books of the Bible, we can become more familiar with what’s in the Bible, which gives us confidence, rather than insecurity, when we need to use our Bibles.

4) When you know the books of the Bible, you can begin to find things in the Bible. When you can find things in the Bible, you can grow and you can help others to grow.

5) Learning the books of the Bible helps you understand God’s purposes for His people. (For example: Almost 1/2 the Old Testament are books of the prophets which reveals to us how much time God spent warning us of the consequences of our behavior. This, in turn, reveals to us how much He loves us.)

Learning how to use the Bible–whether in paper or as an app on a phone or a tablet–is a skill we, as believers, need to acquire if we are going to be able to utilize the gift we have been given in having God’s Word at our fingertips.

Youtube has a zillion great songs, rhymes and raps that can help you help your family gain knowledge, skill, and confidence in beginning to handle God’s Word. One of my favorites right now is The Bible Book Bop by the GoFish Guys.

Taste and See!


Transformed–Taste and See Sunday

angel food cherry 2

I love cake!!! I made an angel food cake recently. Not just your ordinary angel food cake–a transformed angel food cake. Nothing fancy, but different nonetheless. I used to make it years ago, and had sort of forgotten about it. Then thanks to Rebekah the intern, and our “Cooking with Ms Dawn” lessons, it was back in my life once again.

Let’s cut to the chase-lol-I know you want to know how to make it. Here the thing. It’s super simple. Simply take a box angel food cake and a can of cherry pie filling–nothing else. Mix them together (it gets all pinky and foamy like), throw them in a 9×13 pan, bake for about 30 minutes and tah-dah! Cake!

A normal angel food cake transformed! I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is. What started out as something really simple was transformed into something that is now simply better!

Now my little angel food cake keeps coming back to my mind. You see the topic of transformation has been coming up a lot lately in my life, and it makes me really thankful. Thankful to be reminded of Christ’s power to transform us. Thankful for the truth of Romans 12:2 which says,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When I allow God’s word to renew my mind, I am transformed. I am renewed and transformed as I allow truth to take the place of lies. Honesty to take the place of deception. Humility to take the place of pride. I am transformed when I choose to take the risk to trust God, take Him at His word and let Him take me and transform me into someone I could have never imagined.

Evan as God transforms me, I’m still a pretty simple girl. But with the power of Christ at work renewing my mind, I am simply better–more joyful, more patient, kinder. . .

Taste and See. . .the Lord is good!