Lime Fiesta Devotional

So excited that spring is here! I start breaking out the knives and the juicer for all the fruits and veggies, and my kitchen smells like a citrus truck blew up in here!

Today we’re gonna talk about a whole bunch of different fruits, so hold on to your hat! 

First, of course, is limes. 

Did you know that limes did not originally exist in nature? In fact, all citrus fruit is grown from three original trees that were cross-bred. And limes don’t exist as a biological group. Most of what we call limes actually have more in common with various orange lines than they do with each other. In fact, some of the fruits we call limes are actually sour oranges. Persian limes and key limes and Keffir limes are only given that name because there is something about them that looks or tastes similar.

And speaking of growing citrus, did you know that almost NONE of the citrus grown commercially in the U.S. is grown on its own tree? In other words, if your buy a navel orange, the one thing you know about it is that it probably didn’t grow on a navel orange tree. It turns out that almost all of the commercially grown citrus is grafted.

Grafting. Now there’s a confusing concept. Farmers graft because strong rootstock trees that have branches strong enough to hold up large amounts of fruit almost always grow awful tasting fruit. And great tasting fruit seems to grow on really weak trees. So they found a way to combine them. 

The farmer cuts a “v” into the strong rootstock tree. Then he cuts a point into the end of a great fruit growing branch. He fits the point into the “v” and bonds the branch to the tree. Then the fruit will grow on a tree strong enough to support it.

Here’s something interesting about grafting: you can graft several citrus fruit varieties on to one tree. I think the record is like 20-something varieties on one tree!  But no matter what you grow on that tree, the rootstock carries through to the seed. So if you plant lemon, lime or orange seeds from the supermarket, you should end up with a very strong tree that grows fruit that tastes terrible!

If you do this with apples, you could potentially grown a Granny Smith tree with Gala branches and fruit, and the seeds would grow a Granny Smith tree with Granny Smith apples (it’s like a “Who’s on First” routine for fruit!).

Are you wondering when I’m going to get to spiritual application? Well, it’s just this: we, as the Body of Christ, are like limes. We come from different places and sometimes have very little in common. In fact, sometimes we have more in common with the world than we do with other church members. But there should be something about us that tastes different. That sets us apart and identifies us as being sanctified Christians. A group of limes.

And now I get to the verses you were expecting. We should look alike because we are grafted to the same tree. John 15 tells us that “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:1-2, 4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He is the vine. The strong rootstock that we are grafted into at the instant we are spiritually adopted. By the way, the Greek words translated “remain in me” in verse four are the same words He uses to describe Gentiles being accepted in to the church in Romans 11. But in Romans, those words are translated as Gentiles being “grafted in.”

We are grafted into a tree called the body of Christ. The fruit that we produce is not something we can support on our own. It is supported by the vine, which is Christ. 

And our legacy should be Him. Anything that comes from the fruit we produce should look like our rootstock!

He is the vine, we are the grafted-in branches. Now go produce fruit!

Blueberry Lime Tiramisu

  
1.  Set out limeade frozen concentrate so it melts and cream cheese so it softens.

2. Place one layer of ladyfingers in bottom of a clear glass or trifle dish.

  
3. Brush with limeade concentrate using a basting brush. 

  
4. In mixing bowl, combine one block of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, and one tsp of vanilla. Mix well.

   
 
5. Spread over ladyfingers.

  

6. Spoon 1/2 of the pie filling over the cream cheese mixture.

  
7. Repeat layering as many times as you need to to fill dish or use supplies. 

    
 
8. Lick everything with cream cheese on it. You know you want to.

9. Refrigerate.

  

Don’t Be a Jerk Fish and Mango Salsa

  
1.  Core, peel, and chop one sweet Apple.

  
2. Cut avocado in half, lengthwise around the pear. Remove the seed, score in diagonal lines, and scoop.

 
    
 
  
  

3.  Squeeze a fresh lime and coat first two ingredients with the juice.

  
4.  Dice the Serrano and 1/4 of a red bell pepper. Remember to cut the sides around the pepper, leaving the core and seeds intact. Combine with the apple and avocado.

5. Roll up the cilantro and cut 2 Tbsps. Remember that herbs are easier to cut when they are rolled up.

  6.  Identify the mango’s cheeks (the broad side of the mango). Cut off one mango cheek, cross hatch, then flip inside out to cut away the meat of the mango.
  
  
  
7. Cut off about 1/4 of the pineapple and dice. Remember that the core is a great cold remedy! Save it for juicing.

  
8. Cut off one side of your tomato. Use a grapefruit spoon or a sharp teaspoon to seed it. Dice it (easier with a serrated knife).  Salsa’s done! Give it a good stir and snack on it while you’re cooking your fish.

  
9. Coat fish (or chicken cutlets if you prefer) with jerk seasoning and garlic salt.

10. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet.

11. Put fish in. Flip when first side is browned.

12. Add lemon juice and cook second half.

13. Take fish out and top with salsa.

  

Lime Fiesta! – Shopping and Equipment

Since it’s spring, we’re going to celebrate the light, refreshing taste of lime this month!  Here are the shopping and equipment lists for Don’t be a Jerk Fish with fruit salsa and Blackberry Lime Tiramisu.
Don’t Be A Jerk Fish 

Fish (I get tilapia fillets)

Jerk seasoning

Lime juice
Fruit Salsa

Sliced mango

Cilantro

Lime

Sweet Apple

Tomato

Fresh pineapple

Serrano or jalapeño pepper

Bell pepper

Shallot
Blackberry Lime Tiramisu

Lady fingers (if you can’t find these, use pound cake, angel cake or shortcake cut in thin pieces)

Pre-prepared cheesecake filling

Limeade concentrate

Blackberry pie filling
EQUIPMENT

Fish and Salsa

Skillet

Spatula

Cutting board

Knife

Bowl

Grapefruit spoon or teaspoon
Tiramisu

Spoon

Basting brush

Can opener

Clear glass serving dish

Crock Pot Meals – Bible Time

Discussion starter: I cooked our meal tonight in the crock pot. Did you know God is like a crock pot?

Read:  Philippians 1:1-9, Acts 16:11-15

In Philippians, Paul says that God, “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Do you know how long God had already been working in the Philippians’ lives?

The first mention of Philippian Christians is in Acts 16. There’s a lady named Lydia who converts to Christianity during one of Paul’s missionary journeys.  That particular incident happened at least 12 years before Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians. Twelve years. For twelve years, the Philippians had been, in Paul’s words “partners in the Gospel.” Twelve years while Paul traveled to Thessolonica, and Athens, and Corinth and Ephesus. They were faithful, and loving, and learning, and the end of Philippians says they were still taking care of Paul, sending him gifts and help. But God wasn’t finished with them.

The Philippians were still a work in progress, and God had not given up working on them. Sometimes in church we talk about how the devil doesn’t leave you alone when you’re doing God’s work. The good news of Philippians is that God doesn’t leave you alone either. As hard as you’re working, and as much good as you’re doing, God is still working in you to bring His work to completion. And he’ll continue working in you until He comes back to collect you. His plans are long term. He knows that no matter how hard you work or how faithful you are, you don’t look quite like Him yet.  But you will. Philippians tells us at the end of chapter 3 that He will return to “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

The other good news is that He doesn’t just continue His work in those who are working for Him.  The flip side of this message is that He longs to bring us back when we are far away, to “forgive us our sins” and be “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9).

And when we do sin, He is again concerned with His long term plan for our lives rather than any short term emotion. Way back in Exodus 34, He introduced Himself as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” And this was just after His people had built a golden calf to worship!

How long ago did you become a Christian? Have you seen God work in your life? What things has He changed in you? What things is He still working on? What if we told our families what God had worked on in us? What if we became vulnerable and accountable to our husbands and children about what God is still working on in our lives? Do you think that would change the degree to which we began to look more like Christ?

Michael Pollan has this incredible documentary series on Cooking that is on Netflix right now. It’s four parts and the first part is called “Fire.” It’s about our ability to cook food and how that changed us as people.  He, of course, is looking at it from a different worldview, but there are some valuable lessons in it for us as Christians. In one part, he points out that we are the only species that cooks our food.  The only species.  If you really think about it, fire sets us apart from all the other animals. It gives us a different place in the universe. It was part of letting us “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s part of Genesis 1, where God is explaining how to make us in His image.

Every time we exercise dominion over the animals (by using them for food) and demonstrate that we are made a little higher than the animals (by using unique gifts like fire to cook), we look a little more like the image that God intended for us.  I’m not saying we become like gods every time we break out a box of Hamburger Helper. I’m saying that we can make cooking an act of worship and learn the lessons God has for us even in this simple act of service.  And one of those lessons is taking our time.  The crock pot teaches us to be patient. To put in the time required to finish good things.  To put in the things we have to contribute and then to give them over to an outside power and let go. In cooking, that outside power is whoever made your crock pot. In life, it should be God. Put in what you have to contribute, give it to God, and let him make something that tastes and smells amazing.

Alisande’s Chocolate Cobbler Instructions

I used to complain about having three older sisters. It seemed like someone was always telling me what to do. Now when they’re telling me what to do, it seems to be “you have to try this recipe.” I don’t mind that so much. This one came from my oldest sister, Alisande.

  1.  Mixing bowl: 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup Bisquick, 3 Tablespoons of the cocoa. Mix.image
  2. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  3. In a second mixing bowl, combine the butter with 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.image
  4. Mix the two bowls together.image
  5. Spread the mixture in the bottom of your crock pot.
  6. Sprinkle with a cup of chocolate chips.
  7. Eat some chocolate chips.
  8. In a small pot or in the microwave, boil 1 1/2 cups of water.
  9. Stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3 Tablespoons of cocoa.
  10. Pour in crock pot over the other batter.  DO NOT stir.
  11. Cook on high 2 1/2 hours.
  12. Serve over ice cream.

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Crock Pot Lasagna Instructions

  1. Brown 1 to 1 1/2 pound of hamburger meat in a skillet.  Sneak some veggies in if you want. Minced carrots, onions, bell peppers and spinach can all be mixed in here.image
  2. Add your spaghetti sauce to the pan. I use one jar of Prego, but any kind your family likes will do.image
  3. Add Italian seasoning.image
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine 16 oz of cottage cheese OR ricotta cheese with one cup of shredded mozzarella and an egg. Mix in some more Italian seasoning and some garlic salt.
  5. Put your liner in your crock pot. Don’t forget to spread out the bottom.
  6. Now start your layers! Ladle in enough meat sauce to cover the bottom. Then a layer of UNCOOKED lasagna noodles (this is the time saver) and then a layer of cheese mixture. Continue until all your materials are used up.image
  7. End with a layer of the meat sauce mixture (it may take some finagling to get this to happen).image
  8. Cook for three hours on low. Don’t cook any longer, or those noodles will get soggy.
  9. The last few minutes, add the rest of your mozzarella and some parmesan on top.
  10. Eat!

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Beef Stew – Instructions

1. Put the crock pot liner in the crock pot and push it down all the way around the bottom. I’ve never used these, but my O.G. Sheri assures me that they will change my life forever, so let’s experiment together, shall we?

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2. Put whatever meat you’re using in the crock pot. I used about a pound of beef round chunks. You can also use a whole chuck roast or pot roast. Just know that this recipe makes such a tender roast that it will probably not stay in one piece when you take it out.

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3. Sprinkle with black pepper. I don’t salt the meat until later, if it needs it, because our soups have salt in them.

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4. Cut some red potatoes in bite-sized chunks, wash them and lay them over the meat. I use about two pounds (1/2 pound per person).

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5.  Carrots. I use a one pound bag of baby carrots and just drop them over the potatoes. image

6. Slice some onions (or buy them already sliced if your name is Kristen) and place a layer over the top.

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7.  Now for the deliciousness. Get out a mixing bowl. One can of beef broth goes in first. Then whisk in the Lipton soup mix until fully combined. Then the cream of mushroom soup.image8.  Resist the urge to pour the deliciousness straight into a glass, and pour it over the veggies in your crock pot.image

9. Put the lid on and set on high for 3-4 hours.  At the two hour mark your whole house will start to smell delicious and you will wonder why they don’t make Glade plug-ins with a beef stew scent.image

10.  Serve and eat. Wait until your family leaves the kitchen, then remove the crock pot liner and lick it. You know you want to.

 

Crock Pot Meals – Shopping and Equipment

Beef Stew

Red potatoes (I buy the 5 lb. bag) – Produce section

Baby Carrots – 16 oz. bag – Produce section

Sliced onion – produce section

Beef round chunks -meat section

Cream of mushroom soup – Aisle 3

Beef broth – Aisle 3

Lipton Beefy Onion Dry Soup Mix – Aisle 3

Black pepper -Aisle 4

Equipment

Crock pot

Crock pot liner

Knife

Cutting board

Whisk

Mixing bowl

Teaspoon

Can opener
Lasagna

Italian seasoning – Aisle 4

Lasagna noodles – Aisle 5

Prego spaghetti sauce – Aisle 5

Grated Parmesan – Aisle 5 

Ground round (1 lb – 1 1/2 pounds) – meat section

Cottage cheese or ricotta (12 oz) – dairy section, Aisle 16

Mozzarella (2 cups, shredded) -dairy section

Equipment

Crock pot

Crock pot liner

Skillet

Spatula

Mixing bowl 

Spoon

Alisande’s Chocolate Cobbler

Bisquick -Aisle 2

Brown sugar – Aisle 4

Dark Cocoa powder – Aisle 4

Vanilla extract – Aisle 4

Chocolate chips -Aisle 4

Vanilla ice cream – frozen foods, Aisle 11

Milk -dairy section, Aisle 16

Stick butter – dairy section, Aisle 16

Equipment 

2 Mixing Bowls

Mixing spoon

Measuring spoons

Measuring cup

Small pot

Ice cream scoop

Quick Meals Devotion

Quick Meals or Eating with Your Shoes On

 

Conversation starter: Did you know that God talks about fast food in the Bible?

Devotional:

Read Exodus 12:1-13 and 16:1-8 ahead of time, so you’ll know what you’re talking about.

When the time came for God to rescue His people, the Israelites, from their captivity in Egypt, He knew that they would have to pick up and go IN A HURRY. There would be no time to pack. No making sure all the kids had shoes on. No charging the iPad so they would have a movie to watch in the car. So He gave specific instructions to them ahead of time to get them ready.

He told them in verse four to determine in advance exactly how much lamb to cook based on how much each person would eat at one meal. No waste, because He knew they wouldn’t be there to eat it. He told them to roast it and make bread to go with it. This is also important: He told them to make bread without yeast. Why? Because bread without yeast doesn’t need time to rise! They needed a meal they could make and eat quickly.

He even told them not to store leftovers: in verse 10 He said, ïf some is left till morning, you must burn it.” No time to look for Tupperware! But verse 11 is really the verse that’s interesting to me: “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.”

It should be a relief to us as moms that God understands eating on the run. All those times you felt guilty about throwing a bag of food toward the hungry hordes in the back seat at the McDonald’s drive-thru, God totally got it.

Although God gave specific instructions about what they were to eat and how to cook it, His focus was not on the food but rather on what purpose the food was going to serve. It was fuel for the road. That night, the Lord would pass through Egypt and slaughter the first born in the houses that weren’t covered in the blood of the lamb. He knew His people needed to be able to run, and run fast. And when they ran the next morning, they did so with no extra food as baggage and no waste left behind. Do you know what food they DID take with them? That unleavened bread dough! And it was compact and firm enough to pack into troughs on their shoulders because it hadn’t risen. It wasn’t some doughy mess to carry through the desert.

But then we get to Chapter 16. They were camping again, in a place called the Desert of Sin. (Do you think that’s a coincidence? Because I don’t.) And after a few weeks, the people started to grumble and complain. Why? Because they weren’t satisfied with their food situation! The same people who had walked through the Red Sea on dry land were irritated and said, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” They had been in the desert for 2 ½ months by that time.

But, and this is your “aha” moment, do you know how far their homes in Egypt were from the land that God had promised them? TEN DAYS’ WALK. Yup. Ten days. What were they doing this whole time? They were camped. They were sitting by the sea. Waiting on something to happen. Waiting to see if anyone was going to take charge or if anyone was going to give up and go home. Maybe even waiting on God to show up. They were wasting time hemmed in by a sea that God could move out of their way if they stepped in with a little faith.

We won’t go into the rest of the story now, how they disobeyed God and built an idol and ended up circling aimlessly in the desert for 40 years. Frankly, we don’t have time to catalog all the ways the Children of Israel messed up. But suffice it to say, they could have arrived in the Land of Milk and Honey while they were still burping lamb and bitter herbs.

God had given them a quick meal to focus them on the task ahead. He had given them fuel for the journey He had planned for them. It’s not His fault that they chose to take a totally different journey. So often we view food as the END to a day. The time at dusk when we sit down and take a load off and rest and stuff ourselves as a reward for surviving through a hard day.

What would happen if we viewed it as fuel for the journey instead? What if we asked God what He has for us to do and looked at food as a tool that helped us serve Him more effectively? What if, instead of feeding our families because we “have to,” we turned our tables into mission fields to reach our children. What if we used food to minister? What if we used it as fuel for ministry? Would it change the foods we ate? Would it change who we cook for? Would it change how we felt about cooking?

My dad used to say this prayer at every meal: “Bless this food to our bodies and our bodies, Lord, to your service.” We used to make fun of him because he said it every time. But it is truth and bears repeating. Food fuels our bodies to serve God. And in doing so, food becomes a holy act of worship. And every dinner becomes a Passover meal.