Apr 28, 2017

Friday Feasting: Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pie

**photo credit found here**

"My five boys are not fans of sweet potatoes.  I learned to cook this pie because I didn’t know what to do with sweet potatoes, when given by a friend who loves to grow them.  When I first made the pie, I did not tell the boys what it was. They thought it was pumpkin pie, as it was spiced very similarly.  Add some ice cream with some cinnamon on top, and dessert is awesome!"

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pie


3-4 sweet potatoes
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup milk
2 eggs
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Boil unpeeled sweet potatoes until soft. A fork should easily poke through the potato.  Depending on the thickness of the potatoes, 45 minutes should suffice.  Let cool.  Peel the potatoes.  Place skinless potatoes in a mixing bowl.  Add butter, brown sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extract.  Mix with beaters until smooth.  Note: Since potatoes can vary in size, the consistency may too thick.  Add 1 Tablespoon of milk until the desired consistency is achieved.  White sugar may be substituted for brown sugar to get a lighter consistency.  The brown sugar tends to thicken the texture, which my boys love.

Grease 9 inch pie pan.  Then pour mix into pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 50-60 minutes.  Check with toothpick.  It should come out clean.

Gluten option:  use a 9” unbaked pie crust.  When using a ready-made pie crust, it may need to cook a little longer.

Apr 26, 2017

A Case for Patience and Praise

When my husband and I were first married, we attended RCIA classes.  I had been poorly catechized growing up and he was Southern Baptist and wondered WHY we had to go to my church every Sunday.  I didn’t know the answers, and thus…we took the classes.  For me it was GREAT!!  It opened my eyes to why I was claiming to be Catholic and reaffirmed my belief that I needed to be in “my” church every Sunday, not every OTHER Sunday.  At the end of the classes, he had not been swayed to convert, but appreciated the fact that I felt more convicted than ever to practice my Catholic faith.

One image I’ve always taken from that class was a married couple in their 70’s.  He was finally converting after all those years.  She didn’t seem exceptionally excited, but sat there quiet and calm.  I recognize it now as divine trust.  She just KNEW he would end up coming to the Faith one day, you could just tell.

Fast-forward a few years for us…babies coming and the journey of parenthood has begun.  We were in a town where the local Catholic church was not a good one.  My husband, used to the preacher feeding you spiritually with his words, was starving.  In desperation, I reluctantly agreed to attend church services twice on Sundays, one at the Catholic church and one at the Baptist church (which happened to be across the street from each other).  It wasn’t easy.  Church in general isn't easy when you have two little boys and you’re a new mother.  You have expectations of church behavior that just isn’t possible for a toddler and a baby.  The Baptist church had a nursery, but I hated leaving my baby with someone I didn’t know.  You couldn’t bring them into the main sanctuary because as soon as they made one little peep, the “why isn't that baby in the nursery” stares started boring through you.

That set-up didn’t last long.

Suffice it to say that we’ve been through a rocky spiritual journey in our almost-18 years of marriage.  I’ve been pushy with the Catholic faith in the past, but I learned better.  He’s never been one to be public and forthcoming with his spiritual journey, and that’s been difficult for me. (I LOVE talking religion!). I’ve fought resentment as I believed the father is *supposed* to be the spiritual head of the household.  He’s endured spiritual deserts as he accompanied me and the children week after week and year after year to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

He didn’t have the Eucharist to fall back on, you see.  For my husband, it was more about the man giving the homily, and most of the Catholic priests were NOOOO Baptist preacher!

As the years went by, we moved to a town and finally found a Catholic parish where there was reverence for the Holy Mass and Eucharist, the priest is a wonderful homilist, and the people automatically feel like family.  This past year, my husband’s job changed, and he worked a “normal” 8-5 M-F schedule.  We had never had this luxury for most of our marriage, and it allowed him to commit to attending Mass with us every Sunday.  I suggested that he just go to the RCIA classes while we were in Sunday school.  No pressure.  Promise.  

All through the year, I hadn’t asked him more than “How was your class?”  Sometimes he would open up and talk about the people in his class, the questions they had and even some questions he had.  I didn’t prod too much.  It wasn’t until the week before the Rite of Election that I asked him, “What’s the deal??  Are you going to do this or not?  Because it’s next weekend when you stand up before the Bishop and ask him to accept you, and you haven't told me anything yet.  And I have things on the calendar already for Saturday that I’ll need to change if you’re going to do it, so are you going to do it?”  (All that came out in about 3.2 seconds.)

“I am.  I am going to do it.”

**Cue tears and hugs from wife.**

Years ago I gave his conversion over to the Holy Spirit.  I knew that it would never be able to come from me or anything I said or pushed.  It was going to come more from how I lived my faith than anything else. (No pressure!)

If you are struggling with a similar issue, I beg you to be patient, trust in God, and leave it up to His time.

Because He is all-wise and all-good.

Please welcome Bryan Anderson…Home.  And all Glory be to God!

Apr 23, 2017

Scripture Reflection: Peace be with YOU.

photo credit goes to...http://debbiedesigns.typepad.com

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 
"Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."
John 20:19-23

Come with me back to the Holy Land, just after Jesus was crucified...His apostles were holed up in a little room, with doors barred, and they were afraid. Their whole world was turned upside down.  They had watched from the edges as their master, their friend and rabbi, their hope, their everything, was savagely beaten and nailed to a cross. He was stripped of clothes and crowned with thorns. He was bruised and bloody. All but one apostle had fled in fear. These men were afraid of the Jews. They were afraid to suffer as Jesus had suffered. Every second that went by, they were afraid someone was going to discover them, drag them out, and kill them. In addition, they were afraid that everything they had known for the last three years was a lie. They were afraid that Jesus was not really who they thought He was. They thought Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, their salvation and their King. Now they were not sure.

Then, Jesus came.  The doors were still locked. He just appeared among them. Jesus said, "Peace be with you." And with those four little words, He took on all their fear. He proved He was really and truly risen. He offered His hands and side for their inspection. With His four little words, the apostles knew Him. They knew they could trust Him and all they had believed to be true.

With the breath of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, their courage started to return.

Jesus wants us to have peace...a true and abiding peace that comes from a place free of fear and worldly attachments and demons. He wants us to have that peace so we can focus on Him, follow Him, and be with Him forever in heaven.

He can say, "Peace be with you." But how do we do it? How do we have that peace? It takes faith and trust to open the door to our hearts wide for Him to fill us with His love and mercy and peace. We pray in the quiet..."Jesus, I trust in You," and He comes to us. He takes on our demons. He shines the light that casts out the darkness. He takes on our fears and replaces it with His peace.

Trust Jesus to give you peace on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

Apr 20, 2017

We are an Easter people (even when we don't feel like it)

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! Such happy words! Such joy! It is Easter week and we rejoice in our Savior.

But what if our alleluia feels a bit half-hearted, what if we can't muster that true deep joy that we know we are supposed to feel?

Mamas, Lent is a beautiful time that takes us into the desert. It interrupts Ordinary Time and calls us to focus, to look within, to sacrifice, and to lay ourselves bare, pruning ourselves for the glorious feast of Easter when we celebrate the Victory our Savior has won for us. But aren't there times in this vocation where Lent doesn't start with Ash Wednesday and end with Easter? Aren't there whole seasons of life that feel like Lent?

I want to write an Alleluia post. I want to share the joy that is overflowing from my soul! But this year, Lent came early and it doesn't feel over. I am deeply grateful to my Savior. I can ponder the Passion and give thanks for the Resurrection. My voice got choked up singing all those Alleluias on Easter Sunday, but still I felt like I was in the desert while surrounded by flowers. Past Easters have been glorious. I truly felt that passing from death into new life. Not this one.

Are you there? Been there before? If you know what I'm saying you probably felt some guilt, some thought that you were doing something wrong. Why isn't God pouring those graces you need into your soul? Surely, you are missing something. But, mama, it's not your fault. And you aren't alone.

We are a tired, striving lot, mothers and women. My crosses in this season might look nothing like yours, but they are real, yours and mine. Maybe this Easter is boundless joy for you, but it comes after a season of dryness you thought would never end. Or maybe you are in that place where consolation is rare and barely discernible. You just can't fix what you desperately want to fix and you can't figure out why it's so hard. And it is hard. I know it's hard.

When confessing the state of my soul, my temper, my discouragement, my worry, and really near despair at times, right before Easter, Father said that God must really love me a lot to allow this suffering, this lack of consolation in my life. He said that my perseverance, even if that looks like just going through the motions, is so beautiful to God. He sees us, mamas! He hears those aspirations and pleas you send up because you don't know what else to do. He knows our hearts. Our striving and even our worry are beautiful to Him because it shows the depth of our love. But we must remember that worry is not from Him, and striving, whether it is striving to serve our family or fix their problems, or striving just to keep it all together, often ends up us taking on crosses and burdens that He has not asked us to take up.

I was begging for prayers, again, from a dear group of friends, and a sweet, beautiful mama told me this, " I don't think there can be anything more beautiful to God than you, a mother struggling on without consolation in the darkness of this fallen world, her arms full of her children's needs and every moment filled with an ache to heal and help them. Do you know how beautiful you are? Even Mary didn't solve everything for her Son. There is nothing on earth wrong with things going well and enjoying life, but it is because the sword is piercing your heart that you are so close to Mary. She feels you next to her, even if you can't feel her. Rest in her motherhood; Mary didn't carry the cross for Jesus, she just loved Him through it and was there."

My friend wrote this to me, but it is true for every one of you mothers who carry on in darkness. To be a mother is to ache for your children, whether it's colic, or growing pains, or broken hearts, or a battle for their souls. To be a mother is to strive for more, always. But today, stop striving and worrying. Go to Mary. Stay close. Rest.

Easter will dawn in our hearts when we finally surrender. We don't have to feel it today to hold fast to the knowledge that the Victory is Won! Consolation will come. There will be rejoicing and a feast overflowing with graces that will erase the darkness and bathe us in Light!

Tired mama still waiting in the desert, trust in this. He sees you and you are loved. You can do this.

We are an Easter People. Alleluia!

Apr 19, 2017

How my Faith Helps me Worry Less

My husband and I have been trying to find a way to shorten his very long commute. He commutes over two hours each way to Chicago from our exurban, bucolic neighborhood. We’ve prayed and prayed, been close to some promising jobs over the last few years, and finally found a job with a shorter commute in a suburb of St Louis. Commute times are significantly shorter in St Louis, and our prayer has been answered in an amazing way.

Together, we prayed the 30 day prayer to St Joseph, and asked his help to move our family, and to find us a home where my husband can have a normal commute. He answered the prayer swiftly and definitively. We had outside confirmation from one of my husband’s coworkers that she understood through prayer that this was God’s will for our lives.

So why, now, when our prayer has been answered, am I filled with worry at the details of the relocation?

I think the answer lies in my prayer life. When I get too busy to pray, I forget to keep handing things over to God. I start spinning my wheels. I start worrying about the “what ifs?” God didn’t intend it to be this way. He knows us so well. He knows we need the intercession of the Saints, and a reminder that we are not in charge, and life is better when we keep turning our struggles and worries over to him, large and small.

“Deliver us from all Anxiety,” – words placed near the very heart of the Mass  - point to the reality that worry is a universal part of the human condition.  This frequent reminder that I am not alone in my worry, or my struggle, or my reclamation of the problems I should have turned over to God gives me hope that others have struggled with their anxieties and, through God’s unfailing and ever present help, have been delivered and set free.


Linking today's post up with the Catholic Women Bloggers Network April Blog Hop!!  Click on the image below to see what others are sharing on their faith and worrying....


Apr 14, 2017

Friday Feasting: Lenten Recipe Book

graphic came from http://mikeraynersermons.blogspot.com/

Many years ago I created the recipe book 
(linked above) for a group of Catholic women. 

You are welcome to click and print the booklet. 

Enjoy a fresh infusion of meatless recipes to carry you through Good Friday and into the Easter season, if you wish to continue the meatless Friday sacrifice.

Apr 10, 2017

Holy Week: Ideals vs Reality?

For many years, I found it hard to deal with the huge difference between my ideal Holy Week and my real Holy Week. This is the week! The culmination of all of our preparations, our prayers and sacrifices! Truly, this is the time to go so deep into the mysteries of our Faith, meditate on the Scriptures, and let God speak directly into our hearts.

But wait, we are still moms. Even if we take off school and pare down the schedule, there are still meals to be made and the dishes that follow. There is the laundry, the diapers, the interruptions. How are we supposed to dwell in the spiritual world when our material world never stops calling? Don't we deserve a "Holy Week "?

I can remember a day, a Good Friday, many years ago, when my husband and oldest went to confession and left me with five little people between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00. All I wanted was to meditate on the Passion. All I did was be mommy. And I was frustrated instead of Holy.

Our other Good Fridays consisted of wandering the church grounds or sitting in the van with a toddler and baby, while the older kids were inside for the Veneration of the Cross. I felt sure I was in the wrong place, missing where I was supposed to be.

But that's the point, that's where I was supposed to be, doing the mom thing when I wanted to be spending time in Adoration or even home meditating with a candle and a Bible, sitting in the van with the fussy little person when I wanted to be at the foot of the Cross. Because the point of Holy Week isn't to have it our way. There will be a time in our lives, God willing, for quiet, deep meditation. The point during these years is to embrace our Cross (which is also our blessing) and die to self while doing our best to point our littles ones towards God.

So, how do you live Holy Week as a mom of many? Small aspirations. Seize the moments for short meditations. Read to them about the Passion on their level. Participate where and when you can and offer the rest up.

Wishing you a Holy Week full of graces, obvious and hidden.

Apr 7, 2017

Friday Feasting: Orange-Vanilla Monkey Bread

**photo credit here**

"The recipe I'm sharing today would make a great addition to your Easter planning menu.  It's a perfect crowd pleaser with it's zesty sweetness.  My oldest daughter tracked the recipe down after watching the Pioneer Woman make it on television.  I assure you it's delicious.  We even adjusted the sweetness factor down a bit and found it just perfect for our many tastebuds!"

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 Minutes
Serves: 12


-3 cans Buttermilk Biscuits, not the flaky kind; cold
-1 cup sugar
-2 whole oranges, zested
-1 dash salt
-2 sticks salted butter
-3/4 brown sugar
-1 tbsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make sure all biscuit cans are very cold. Open all the cans and cut biscuits into quarters.  Fill a large Ziploc bag with the granulated sugar, orange zest, and salt.  Seal the bake and shake it around until contents are well mixed.  Add the biscuit pieces to the bag, seal, and shake the bag.  Be sure all the biscuit pieces are well coated with orange sugar.  Pour the pieces into a bundt (my preference) or tube pan and set it aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until just barely combined.  Pour mixture over all the biscuit pieces, scraping the pan to get all the yummy butter and brown sugar pieces!  Let the whole thing settle for just a minute then place in the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes or until top of the biscuits are golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Then turn the pan over onto a cake plate.

Serve and enjoy!

Apr 5, 2017

Ode to Big Van

(To the tune of “Big Bad John”)

The van seated 11 so it took our whole crew
We could do bout anything we wanted to do
We drove down the highway like a great white shark
But it was impossible to parallel park
The Big Van.

It carried ball gloves and swimsuits away in the back
And if you were hungry you could always find a snack
We were ready for action as we rambled about
Coulda lived a week if the power went out
In Big Van.

We drove birthdays and baseball and trips to the zoo
Drove two hundred thousand miles and we took the dog, too
We drove that Big Van till it just fell apart
We were there at the end like we were there at the start
Of Big Van.

Well, we all headed east one morning in May
And the Big Van took us bout a half of the way
On a Pennsylvania mountain came a terrible noise
And Dad said, I got a bad feelin’ boys,
Bout Big Van.

The Van drug itself to the side of the road
Had to call a semi-wrecker to get the thing towed
It spilled all its oil till every drop was spent
The trooper said, That’s a catastrophic event
For Big Van.

We rented one car for five and another for the rest
Finished our trip and then we headed back West
The rental cars were nice and they were certainly game
But the kids all said they just weren’t the same
As Big Van.

Driving back through the mountains we were running late
Had to stop off to grab the license plate
Driving away crying just as fast as we can
Cause everybody knew they’d seen the last
Of Big Van.

Got a couple five-seaters now we’re ready to go
And I have to say they’re better when we drive in the snow
But the Van lingers on in the hearts of our clan:
Somewhere in Pennsylvania lies a Big, Big Van.

Apr 3, 2017

Monday Meme: Priorities: Marriage or Children?

God, family, everything else.  Those are the priorities my parents taught me.  The list is streamlined, but it is not so clear.  Look at the second priority:  family.  Spouse and children, but does one come first?

I am blessed with a loving husband and five healthy, robust sons.  Our daily activities were quickly filled, but we were determined to keep our relationship going.  We never let a day go by without saying, “I love you.”  Sometimes it was just a whisper at midnight, but we said it.

Within one particular year, our youngest three boys were diagnosed with autism, with typical symptoms of nonverbal, self-abusive, tactile and sensory issues.  Obviously, my younger kids required A LOT of attention.  I was a self-employed, stay-at-home mom who faced unsurmountable challenges daily.

My husband worked 10-12 hours frequently.  At times, I felt alone.  However, when he came through the door, he’d pick up the pieces of whatever I couldn’t do.  If it was dinner or laundry, he finished it.  Quite often, he simply gave me a hug. We then did what needed to be done. We ended each day with “I love you.”

Although our lives were crazy with therapies and doctors, my husband and I recognized our relationship first.  By our example, we knew we were teaching our boys about love, marriage, and sacrifice.

We’ve all heard that about 50% of marriages end in divorce, but that rate skyrockets to over 90% when the couple has a child with special needs.

The relationship between spouses can never be secondary.  Just like fruit of the tree is the result of a healthy tree.  When the tree is not watered, the fruit will shrivel up. A good or bad marriage effects children in a similar way.  Children learn what they see and hear.