Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept--the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trustworthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us.

-Andrew Murray
(quoted in When Wallflowers Dance, by Angela Thomas)

Monday, March 28, 2011


It’s incredibly beautiful when women come together for Christian renewal and fellowship. I was so blessed by the Christ Renews His Parish women’s retreat, recently hosted at my church. Highlights…

-getting to know many of the women on a deeper level, and seeing the variety of gifts and personalities (1 Peter 4:10).

-open, heartfelt sharing of our hopes and heartaches. The bond formed when we go beyond surface conversation. -celebrating the amazing sacrament of Reconciliation. And afterwards laying the nails we’d collected through the day (to symbolize our sins and weaknesses) at the life-size wooden cross.

-the music and singing: hymns, praise & worship, contemporary Christian music. Each one so meaningful and so powerful.

-the parishioners who each faithfully committed to a different hour of prayer in the chapel, in support of the women on retreat.

-the retreat team, and their examples of loving service, Christian sisterhood, and victory in Christ.

-rededicating our lives to Jesus and making a personal commitment, kneeling before the tabernacle and laying it on the altar.

-the “Women of the Waves,” my small group, and their beautiful hearts. The inspiration they gave as they shared stories of fear and courage, sorrow and trust, and ultimately faith.

-okay, I have to add this: The food. was. amazing.

Faith, food, and fellowship. It doesn’t get much better.

Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful weekend of renewing my heart and the women of our parish.

Women of the Waves (Riding the waves of life because we know the One who walks on water! )

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

(Since I'm such a fan of quotes, I decided to post one each week. I've been rather remiss with the blog. Hoping to write more soon...)

"And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."

-Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, March 14, 2011


We visited my baby brothers at college recently. The little twins with the silky blonde hair are growing up to be strong young men with hearts that seek the Lord. Vibrant, sincere, mature...and the same delightful sense of humor. It was so good to see them, to hear stories of their new individual journeys. As my parents and I drove home on the long country roads in the fog and rain that night...

I felt the familiar heart-tug of nostalgia.

The reality of change.

The sudden realization of how much time can pass before we realize it has gone by.

Was it really that long ago that we all woke up in the same house, day after day? That we laughed at all our inside jokes, sang as we did the dishes, and knelt down to pray together in the evening?

Are we really all scattered now, seeing each other less often, talking less frequently?

And when did that happen?

Yet in the swirling of memories and realizations and wistfulness, I felt a constant.

Something that has never changed and never will change.

Or Someone.

The God who has been by our sides in the days of carefree childhood and lighthearted teenage years, and Who now guides us on the path of young adulthood. Faithful and unchanging.

He. Is. Constant.

Comforting thought.

And then I was pulled from my reflections as my dad changed the radio to an oldies station. I cringed smiled as he happily recognized an 80's song.

Ah, yes. The era of permed hair, leggings with stirrups, and that odd teal color that's neither blue nor green.

Maybe sometimes the passing of time is a good thing.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Beauty for Ashes

A cold, rainy, foggy Ash Wednesday.

With ashes still fresh on my forehead, I slowly drove down the cemetary lane and parked my car. I found the grave monument I was looking for and gently made my way through the muddy grass.

The ground was still broken in mounds, with grass just beginning to grow. A beautiful headstone stood at the front of the mounds, etched with animals and plants, a tribute to the teen boy who was such a friend of God's creation.

I stood there in the gloomy weather, praying and remembering, feeling the hushed sacredness of a cemetary. The cars passed by, the world continued on, seeming utterly oblivious to the fact that this life is so short, so uncertain.

And then I realized the meaning this moment held.

The gratitude in my heart that T. wasn't really in the grave below me. That there is more than this.

Right now I was standing in a cold and wet cemetary, on Ash Wednesday, visiting a cousin whose young death was so tragic.

But the sun rises after the rain. Easter comes after Lent. And life comes after death.

It doesn't necessarily take away the pain. But it brings hope and healing. Because we serve a God who was victorious over death and suffering by taking up a wooden cross and showing us the way.

And now at the beginning of another precious season of Lent, we join Him, the one who gives "beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3). We obey by taking up our crosses and following Him.

To life. To victory. To sun after the rain.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thankful...That a Perfect God loves an Imperfect Me

Today was one of those days. My to-do list seemed to magically grow two tasks for each one I completed. I felt stressed, irritable, and frustrated. (The hormonal time of the month wasn’t helping matters.)

Calm and peace were not just beyond my grasp—they weren’t anywhere near my grasp!

I sat in my car for a minute in my elderly neighbor’s driveway. I glanced over at the passenger seat, where a fresh cinnamon roll sat, snuggled in a cheerful, polka-dotted napkin. I had decided to drop by for a few minutes before Mass, to visit V. and share from the baking I had done earlier in the day (I did accomplish something!).

Yet I felt anything but charitable at that moment. I sighed, grabbed the treat, and dragged my feet walked to the door.

She answered with a smile and invited me in. As we sat in her living room chatting, I noticed a feeling I hadn’t felt all afternoon.


Her delight in the visit, her calm demeanor, the simplicity of the moment—the combination seemed to push aside the tension and irritability. I didn’t want to leave.

But I did. And unfortunately, the peaceful feeling decided to leave, too. But that was okay. I’d had my moment with it.

As I knelt down in church this evening, weary from the day, I quietly breathed a prayer: I’m here, Lord. And I think that’s all I can say.

I thought of how many times His presence is enough for me. Knowing He is there.

Perhaps tonight…simply my presence was enough, too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I’m here, Lord.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beautiful Thought

" not the absence of is knowing we are not alone in it."

-Pat Livingston

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not Your Typical Lasagna

I'm a self-proclaimed and (roommate-proclaimed) Rachael Ray fan. I love her bubbly, energetic personality and her fun, casual demeanor in the kitchen. This particular recipe aired on her show earlier this month at the perfect time-- a couple days before I was having two girlfriends over for supper. Intrigued by the flavors, I gathered the ingredients and tested it out on my obliging friends. It was delicious! I can't say I agree with the 'lazy' part as the many pots on the stove kept me on my toes, but I loved this unique spin on one of my favorite meals. Enjoy!

*Note: I used spinach instead of escarole.

Lazy Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Escarole


• 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
• EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling plus 2 tablespoons
• Salt and pepper
• 1 pound ruffle-edge lasagna noodles, broken into irregular shapes
• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 medium head escarole, chopped
• About 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
• 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
• A small handful of sage leaves, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 1/3 pound Italian Fontina or Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)


Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange the squash on a baking sheet and lightly dress with a drizzle of EVOO, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until golden at edges and tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and under-cook pasta by about 2 minutes, a little shy of al dente.
While the water comes to a boil, heat about 2 tablespoons EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium heat in sauté pan. Add garlic and stir a minute then add escarole and wilt. Season with a little salt and pepper, and add stock, simmer gently until ready to use.
In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, sage, salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
In a saucepot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook a minute or so then whisk in milk. Raise heat a bit and season sauce with salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Let sauce thicken to coat the back of a spoon then taste to adjust seasonings.

Drain lasagna noodles and add them back to hot pot. Stir in ricotta cheese mixture, combine evenly, then fold in roasted squash and escarole. Transfer to a casserole dish and pour the milk sauce evenly over the top. Cover with scant layer of Fontina or Gruyère cheese and place in the hot oven on center rack.
Switch oven to broil and leave casserole in oven until lasagna is brown and bubbly all over, about 4 minutes.