Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Today is the feast day of a 20th Century saint: Padre Pio. He was known for many miracles and I could go into many examples of his extraordinariness to impress you with the facts of his life. But I won't for this reason: his life was not meant to glorify himself, it was meant to glorify God.

That is the whole point of existence after all: reflected glory. Those of us who have bought into the falsities of the world believe otherwise: our lives only reflect our own small pieces of a puzzle. Someone like Padre Pio or Mother Theresa shows us how incredibly a life can be lived. They make us wonder. They show us how magnificent humility can be, what great things are possible when we choose to get out of God's way.

So with this in mind I will share with you this great saint's humble prayer. He prayed it after Communion when he felt closest to God. As puffed up with my meager accomplishments and small talents as I am, I can only hope, one day, to sincerely pray this way:

Prayer of St. Padre Pio

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close and life passes, death, judgment and eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.



For more information on an extraordinary life:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Fine Example of Oddball Thinking

I saw this headline from Yahoo "Birth control could help combat climate change." (
The logic of the article was, basically, reduce the number of people in third world countries through the use of condoms and other devices and we could help save the world.

Let me just sit quietly with the idea of limiting the one resource the third world actually has--the available and as of yet untrained and untapped human resource. I could get lost daydreaming about investments in information technology and India-style customer service centers cropping up in places like Uganda and Belize, but no. This article would rather see less people instead of actually helping people.

Putting that idea aside and taking the article at face value, the logic behind it seems plausible until you factor in actual carbon usage. We in the "first world" are the main carbon emitters. Here's a beautiful example of our emissions by country. The US is looking chubby here.

In fact, when checking the accuracy of this map on Wikipedia, I found that the majority of nations considered to be third world were actually less than 1 percent of world carbon emissions per country. (

What is going on here? Could it be that the overall goal is to reduce the world population? Yeah, that's pretty much the gist here. But why start in the third world? If you buy into this theory, why not start in the US?

Is it because we here in the west would never stand for the idea of mandated reproduction laws? The third world has much less of a voice. We'll just trim them down to size first, work the kinks out of the system, and then try to push through the agenda here in the West--er, let me check that map again--the North.

But since I'm working on illogic, how illogical is it for environmentalists, of all people, to advocate that countries with limited GNPs should invest in artificial contraception that not only produces waste in the manufacturing process but also as a discarded product? Our waters are full of hormones excreted into the watershed by women on various forms of the pill ( and Do we really need to add this environmental hazard to the already shaky infrastructure of third world countries? Discarded condoms and excreted hormones are contaminants that are unnecessary as there is a nonpolluting alternative in the form of Natural Family Planning (NFP).

NFP only takes training and a bit of discipline to use effectively. In a quick, simplistic summary, there is a monitoring and cross checking of female fertility signs and a monthly abstinence period of several days per month when those signs are present. Its effectiveness rate is right up there with the more pollution laden condoms and only slightly less effective than chemical alternatives, and it has the added benefit of being more cost effective to implement. (By cost effective, I mean it is free).

Here's a few links to back me up in case you are too lazy to Google:
and a cross check from a secular source

The effective use of NFP both as a means to avoid pregnancy and to achieve pregnancy presupposes someone who is willing to be disciplined in checking and cross checking fertility signs and to engage in sexual activity during opportune times. In the West (and North), we have been trained to think that sex is an on-demand sport. The idea of actually waiting a few days seems foreign and a bit ridiculous to us.

But that is just another example of our oddball thinking.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exercising Her Faith

As good Catholics, we all recognize that our bodies are a gift from God and an integral part of our person, right? Or do we, as average people, take these meaty things for granted?

I'm more of the take me for granted type. I know that God gave me this gift of life. I know that my soul will be the first part of me to get to Heaven if I'm good and if I ever make it out of Purgatory, and my body will join with me again in a perfected form after the end of time. Well, all that is so good to know, but...

It's just so easy to take a body for granted. Here she sits, typing. She's a little tired and could use a nice bath and a good night's sleep, but she'll hang out with me while I finish this thought. She always does. I know she'll forgive me, she's so easy going. Really, the only time she ever raises a fuss about how I treat her is when I've been terribly neglectful and she takes some time off to fight a virus.

Well, I've been rethinking this whole relationship lately. She's been getting a bit grumpy, and I must admit, a little frumpy, too. So we've entered into an arrangement of sorts. I'll let her exercise and have a little fun in the sun, if she'll not let me get too bored.

That's my only real problem with exercise. I just get so blasted bored. I'm not a fan of television, so I can't just send the mind on a television vacation while I work out. I also don't like the idea of being unproductive during that time. Oh, I know the score: I'm focusing on me; exercise is it's own reward. (Yawn!) It's just that I can't abide NOT multitasking. Why isn't there a way to dash off a few dozen crunches and fold the towels? That's something I could mentally justify:

"What did you do today, honey?"

"Oh, I just polished off the laundry, and hey! Check out my six-pack!"

Since that is probably never going to happen, I had to come up with an alternate plan. A Catholic Plan.

Let me just explain that I not-so-secretly delight in my Catholicism: I'm a Catholic convert in the Bible Belt, all of my relatives are Protestant, and I have the audacity to actually have FOUR KIDS. Everyone I know has already written me off as hopeless. It is actually quite fun to be so ordinary and so shocking all at the same time. I can be outrageous and never have to set foot in a Confessional. Well, not for being Catholic anyway.

So, back to my plan.

I hate to exercise, right? So what do Catholics do with the stuff we really ought to do, but really hate? We offer it up! Cool! (Don't you just love it that Catholics have been around for so long that they've got an answer for just about everything?) I can offer up all my suffering, the sore muscles, the boredom, the time I'd rather spend doing "more important stuff," for the good of mankind. Or for pro-life. Ooo! Or to convert people, hey! Wouldn't that be annoying if it got out? Hee!

So now I've put a touch of secret glee into my workout I can at least have a little motivation to start me up. Now, I need a goal. I could be like J. Lo. and train for a triathlon. I just love that picture of her at the end of hers when she looked all tired and triumphant holding her bike. I could see me doing that. I could even practice my tired, triumphant look in the mirror. But the exercise needs more nobility than, "I wanted to, so I did," for it to fit in the Catholic theme. Plus I'm thinking it's an awful long way to the nearest pool. Over 20 miles. It seems a little silly to go through all that gas to get down the road in order to move my body. Why not just cut out the car and move me down the road?

That means running. Even I have heard of 5K runs. That translates to 3 miles. 5K runs always have a charity attached to them, too. I could do that! With a little Googling I discovered a charity 5K run close to my heart as an adoptive, foster, and birth mommy. It's for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)! These men and women speak for the children and their best interests when they have to deal with legal issues while in the foster care system. The CASA volunteer who handled the hearings, reviews, and court cases for my now adopted daughter still keeps in touch. I'd love to help fund that worthy cause. The 5K happens in April. I could run 3 miles well enough to race someone in a year's time.

So now I'm running. It takes me about 20 minutes to warm up, cool down, and run a measly mile. I hate it, so I imagine souls just flying out of Purgatory as I wheeze and sweat. I imagine beautiful scenes of fallen away Catholics coming home to the faith, and I pray. With God, all things are possible, and with God, this chubby Catholic Chick fast approaching middle age can run a 5K and raise a few dollars for a worthy cause.

With God, I can get my body moving and keep it going. With God as my ultimate goal, I think I might even enjoy it.

Autumn Colour Brightens Up London

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Good Ol Southern Meal--From Desert and Back

Here's a few recipes for some really good stuff we've been eating lately, including some hot weather cookies: the handy No-Bakes!

Desert First!

No-Bake Cookies

1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
3 cups oats (or leftover oatmeal from the morning)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (try almond butter, too)
1 tsp vanilla

Put the first four ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir. Add vanilla and oatmeal. Drop onto cookie sheets to cool.


Here's another standard of Southern Fare: Cornbread! This makes a rather coarse, grainy-textured bread and happens to be a gluten free variety, but not to worry. This recipe has won repeated blue ribbons at the Tri-State Fair. One proud recipient is our teen guest blogger, Margaret Ohmes. She was nice enough to share.

Margaret's Cornbread

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp honey (optional)
2 Tsp oil
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk*

*Even if you don't make butter, you can easily make buttermilk by souring your regular milk. Put 1 Tbs vinegar into a one cup measuring cup, top off with milk. Repeat for the 2 cups you need in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 pan or a medium sized iron skillet (if you are baking in the skillet, I recommend preheating it while the oven preheats). Sift the salt, baking powder, and soda together and combine with the cornmeal. Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until smooth. Turn into the greased pan and bake about 20 minutes. (15 minutes for corn muffins)

If you are adventurous, or even just too hot, you can use a larger skillet on the stove and "deep fry" the cornbread in flattened-out dollops. I use about 1/2 inch of oil and drop spoonfuls into the skillet and mash them. They come out a little like a rather thick psychedelic shaped tortilla.
Not to be left out are the veggies. Of course, they are fried. I use the same basic recipe for frying all of my veggies. My family favorite is:
Fried Okra
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 to 4 cups sliced okra
2 Tbs oil
Preheat oil in skillet being careful not to scorch it. Mix cornmeal with salt and pepper. Slice fresh okra into 1/4 inch coins. Stir okra into the cornmeal mix. Spoon okra into preheated oil. Stir occasionally. Cook until cornmeal forms a firm crust over the okra.
This completely eliminates the "slime factor" in okra. Like my mother's doctor discovered on immigrating from the Middle East to the Southern US, "Anything is good fried!"
...and no Southern Recipe compilation would be complete without the end of season or early season tomato recipe....
Fried Green Tomatoes
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 to 4 thinly sliced tomatoes
3 Tbs oil (preheated)
1 diced onion
Preheat oil in skillet but be careful not to scorch it. Mix cornmeal with salt and pepper. Stir tomatoes into the cornmeal mix. Lay tomatoes evenly into the oil. Cook for approx 1 minute a side or until the cornmeal forms a crust, turn carefully. Once the tomatoes are turned, toss in the diced onions. Remove the tomatoes leaving the onions to fry until translucent. If you are feeling decadent, toss in the remaining cornmeal mixture to absorb the oil and act as a garnish. Top the tomatoes with the still-sizzling onions.
In reality, I grew up with ripe sliced tomatoes available at nearly every meal through the summer. A fried tomato is a luxury. Also, if you are looking for a use for those green babies, any recipe that needs a little mellow sour touch might be able to use a shredded green tomato.
Finally, the main course is my basic crock pot barbecue recipe. I use this as the base and then get creative with the meats and the spices. I'm going to use a boneless, skinless chicken thigh in the recipe, but it works with breast meat as well as with a beef or pork roast.
Crock Pot Barbecue
4 to 5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 cup water
2 Tbs chili powder
3/4 cup ketchup or tomato juice
1 Tbs paprika
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup yellow mustard
Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Dump it all into the crock pot. Use the low setting for 4 to 5 hours. Depending on the meat, you can serve it whole, sliced, shredded or pulled. This freezes well, too.
Now that you've made it all the way through the list, those cookies are probably cooled off enough to eat. They are really, really good if you freeze them first. Just saying.