Saturday Morning Thoughts

Memorial Day Weekend is underway. It’s a time for reflection. There is no shortage of ceremonies and activities to honor the fallen men and women who entered into every military branch knowing they may not make it home alive. There’s no shortage of families forever changed by those sacrifices made.

My plans are pretty simple this weekend. I plan to help other drivers and motorists by staying off the roads as much as possible. Perhaps I’ll spend a few long moments watching the new bee that showed up in the wildflowers this morning, we’ll see.

One certainty is waiting on the rain with some coffee in the backyard swing, and being eternally grateful for this life and those who have lost theirs while serving to build and protect our society and nation.

Whatever your plans include this weekend, I wish you all good health, peace, and safety. Make sure you take a few minutes in prayer or reflection, to just breathe, appreciate the day, and make sure those you love know you love them.

Hello Saturday. It’s good to be here.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

Advertisements

An Irish Anniversary Cake

It’s been a while since I actually broke out my cake decorating kit. Sure, we’ve had a series of birthdays, parties, mother’s days, and all kinds of reasons to bake, but I kept putting it off until now. Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. This milestone year seemed like the perfect time to play around in the kitchen.

There is no shortage of traditional recipes in this house handed down through the generations, but I decided to try something new and found this delicious Walnut Cake recipe by lovefoodies.com.

Y’all, this cake was so simple. I actually had concerns, thinking something must have been missing. A few simple ingredients into the mixing bowl and away we go! Simple and smooth!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cake batter so fluffy as this! The photos don’t do it justice, this batter was like air. The recipe specifies the times to whip the ingredients, hand mix the walnuts in at the end and don’t rush it. Good things take time.

Personally I like buttercream icing, and I especially like buttercream icing made with Kerry Gold Irish Butter. Really, this is not a commercial – it just tastes better to me. My husband is of Irish descent, so he really likes Kerry Gold as well, and since it’s technically his anniversary cake too, I used the good butter.

The kitchen smelled so good! Somehow the scent of cake and icing just seems to belong in this house. This is the same house where 25 years ago my mother and aunt made and decorated our wedding cake. I’m not even going to pretend I’m as good as they were, but I like to think they would be pleased with my attempts, or at least get a little giggle out of the effort.

At some point in icing the cake I decided I wanted as much of an Irish them as I could get into a 25th anniversary cake with what I had on hand. It would be blue instead of silver, with ivory, and a deep green. Sure, it could represent any number of places in the world, even this little patch of ground on some days. But for this occasion, it’s all about the colors of Ireland. Ok, the colors of Ireland and LOVE! (Happy Anniversary to my husband).

The blue became a marble-like streak for some roses, and a blend of Kelly Green and cocoa for the leaves. The white cake stand below belonged to my grandmother. Generations of wonderful and talented women have all had a hand in my choices today.

The end result is what I call Connemara Marbled Roses on Black Walnut Cake. Clever, eh?

Here’s to 25 years of marriage, and far beyond. To the moments that lifted us high enough in love and faith and joy to hold on when other moments knocked us breathless and spinning. To the laughter, tears, silences and more laughter. To me knowing he likes black walnuts and Irish butter, and him knowing I like evening cappuccino in a fine china cup. Now, let us eat cake.

Later…..

Later there will be time for maneuvering traffic. Later there will be time for phone calls, emails, meetings. Later there will be time to see people and remember to smile, just in case they haven’t seen a smile in a while. Later there will be time to clean the windows and floors. Later.

But these next few minutes shall be for appreciating the way the steam from my coffee dances into the morning sunlight. These next few minutes will be for a few prayers whispered from my heart in the morning silence. These next few minutes are for stillness and gratitude for this day, knowing “later” will be here so quickly.

Hello, Tuesday! It’s good to be here.

God Sightings~

There’s a question I ask the middle school youth with whom I get to spend many Sunday evenings:  “Where did you see God this past week?”   We’ve come to call these “God Sightings” and I cherish their trust in sharing their experiences with me.   This beautiful, breezy, cool, autumn Monday, I’d like to share some of my “God sightings” over this past weekend

There were glimpses throughout the news coverage and personal videos of folks weathering the storm.  There were glimpses on social media as folks were praying for others and helping neighbors and strangers alike.  There were glimpses in the blue sky and autumn breezes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but truly – the most impactful “God Sighting” I had this past weekend was sitting as a visitor, a few rows back from the front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

img_3230
View from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Looking back towards Pilot Mountain ~ Across the state lines

If you’ve ever been to Catholic Mass, you know the format:  Readings from the Old & New Testament first, then a homily by the priest, usually tying the two together in relevance and grounding.  If you haven’t ever attended a Catholic Mass, here’s your invitation.  They happen every day.   Anyway, after both readings on gratitude this weekend I was expecting a reminder to be grateful for the gifts received into my life.  I got so much more.

Rather than remaining at the altar to speak, the priest came down to the first few rows of the congregation commenting on how the Holy Spirit sometimes moves on a different schedule than we humans can understand.

img_3113
The beautiful brick of St. Leo The Great Catholic Church, Winston Salem, NC

What happened next was a short few lines inviting us to look around at one another and to remember that WE represent Christ and the Church to everyone who encounters us.  There is always something that draws folks into or pushes folks away from Church; and on that day, the goodness, welcoming nature, and love of the people in that community was being reminded of to be grateful for one another.   Rather than leave the congregation, the priest introduced a young man, had him stand up, and confirmed him there in a beautiful ceremony with a full congregation in attendance.

Normally this process of adults being received into the Catholic Church is reserved for a ceremony during Easter.  But this young man asked for Confirmation early, and was granted it, because as a U.S. Marine he may not be here with his family or congregation next Easter.    At the end of the service, the priest reminded everyone once again of OUR role in keeping one another uplifted, not only in times of trials and storms, but in the ordinary times as well.  And really, if we think about it and look for those moments of Grace, I think even the ordinary time qualifies as a beautiful gift.

img_3115
Peaceful garden with a statue of Christ. Come, Rest, Peace be with you.

Where did you see God this past week?