Thursday, June 19, 2008

Children's Sunday

Last week was Children’s Sunday at our church, Northside United Methodist. It is the last week of our Sunday School year and the children do the entire service. I’ve been doing this long enough that I no longer panic at the botched performances and shaky dress rehearsals leading up the main event. And the day itself proved there was no need to worry. When the time came, as always, they did an awesome job delivering a service that provided our congregation plenty of laughter and even a few tears.

We started the year with 32 kids enrolled in our Sunday School program in September. On Children’s Sunday we had grown to 72 kids – more than double in one year. Most of the credit for that goes to our new Director of Children and Youth Services, Evy Nickerson. She has brought a lot of fun, joy, and a genuine calling to serve our Lord to our youth. There were so many kids getting their certificates that I couldn't even fit them all in one picture!

My high school class did a very moving skit about the temptations today’s teenagers face at school and with friends to the song “Everything” by the Christian band, Lifehouse. Here is a version of the skit on YouTube. Our kids modified it to make it less violent and more reflective of their lives. So knives, guns and suicidal thoughts didn't play a part in our skit. We replaced those temptations with greed, money and jealousy.

Words can not express how proud I was of these kids who I have watched grow and mature into a really great group who support each other on life’s sometimes difficult path.

Afterwards, despite the rain, we had an all church barbecue and pot luck. My trusty husband, Steve, helped man the grills, pumping out hundreds of hotdogs and hamburgers. I brought my daughter Jess’s favorite pasta salad. It is the perfect salad to bring to a pot luck or picnic because it has a tomato sauce base so there is no worry of mayonnaise spoiling. Plus it is the simplest recipe ever. I got it off the jar of Ragu sauce a few years ago - and changed it up, of course.

Jess’s Pasta Salad with Red Sauce

1 box bowties, gemelli or cellentani pasta
1 can small black olives, drained
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 – 7 oz jar roasted red peppers, diced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
5 slices spicy Italian salami, cut into thin slivers
1 jar Ragu Parmesan and Romano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted water, according to directions on the package. In the meantime put the olives, chick peas, artichoke hearts, red peppers, red onions and salami in a large bowl. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water, letting set until well drained. Add to bowl and mix.

In a separate bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add Ragu and mix until well blended. Add to salad and toss until all pasta is covered. Serve right away at room temperature or chill to serve cold.

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