Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Who’s your Daddy?

When I went on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land I had a interesting experience that came right back to mind today when I was reading some words from Pope Francis’ audience on April 10,  he said:


“It is the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism that teaches us, leads us to say to God, “Father.” Or rather, Abba Father.”

Why the “rather”?

One day during our pilgrimage, when we were in Galilee, we started the day walking down to the shores of the sea and doing our meditation gazing at the very Lake that Jesus walked on and Peter Fished on. Some people had picturesque spots from which to ponder, but I was somewhere more like this:


A more crowded piece of beach front  and not totally silent, which at first was really bothering me. Between scolding myself for getting distracted when I “should have” been in profound prayer, (after all, this was the Holy Land I was in!), I noticed that there was a Jewish man a few yards down the dock with his two young boys. The dad was fishing, and the young boys were “fishing,” the younger one with a toy fishing rod, that had a short line, which had apparently gotten tangled. My ears jumped with I heard this young boy (maybe 3 or 4) call out, exasperatedly, to his dad: “Abba! לתקן את החכה שלי”

(I am guessing a little bit on the Hebrew part, but I am pretty sure it was along the lines of “fix my fishing pole!”)


That experience of the young Jewish boy calling out to his dad has stayed with me in a powerful way. That’s what God wants to be for us. I suppose it depends a lot on each persons life experience, but to me the word “father” brings to mind a more formal relationship. I never called out “father!” when I was about to fall out of the tree I was climbing, or when I was after I hammered my thumb when I was helping with one of my dads many projects. Thats when “daddy!!” escaped my lips, just like when I was a small child, and that’s what I think God wants us to know. He wants to help us with the daunting, God-worthy needs, but also with the silly tangles of our life that we just cant, or don’t want to, handle all by ourselves.

Pope Francis goes on to say:

This is our God, He is a father to us. The Holy Spirit produces in us this new status as children of God, and this is the greatest gift we receive from the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as His children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us even when we make mistakes .

Just like a good daddy would.

Now that my husband and I are experiencing parenthood from the other side of the relationship, we are both learning a lot. The day our small daughter first made the sounds “da-da” were probably the happiest of my husbands life. Whether she knows what she is saying or not, her calling out “daaa-daa!” has him running from across the room, but lately its just been because shes lonely in the fort he made for her.


and he’s all to happy to rescue her from her little fort, as he would be to bail her out of more serious situations.

So let’s try to call out to our daddy in heaven with the same trusting faith of a little child who knows no matter how silly the situation might seem, God is all to happy to reach down and help us!


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I saw something like this a few days ago:

And I must have read the explanation that Pope Francis would rather we use our money helping the poor than spend it on spontaneous trips on a whim, even if they are to see him, the Vicar of Christ on Earth! Well there goes my idea of dragging my little girl to Brazil for her first birthday…

Then I thought about my whims, the things I spend money on that I don’t need, money that could quite easily go to the poor, and I realized my little indulgences are way, WAY, more frivolous than trips to see the pope… think pretzels and Cinnamon Dolce Lattes with way more whipping cream than I need… so ever since it has been on my heart to try to sponsor another Child.

I already have one beautiful little boy in Haiti who I sponsor through Chalice, I have been donating the $33 each month for more than 3 years now! (I know this because his adorable 5 year old face stares at me from three pictures around my house, the annual update on his health and well being always includes and updated picture! and the little emaciated 2 year old I first chose to sponsor is now a strong healthy little boy!)

To me, changing one little child’s life through giving them the opportunity to go to school, have healthy meals, and access to health care is SO worth the little sacrifices it takes to free up $33 each month! It is a long term commitment, but completely worth it, and not really even as hard as I thought it was going to be! I chose little Kert when I was single and now I would love to take on the responsibility of helping one more child, as a whole family…. so as I am thinking about all this, I did that one thing you have to be very very careful about…

Going to the website and seeing the faces of all the beautiful hungry children just waiting to be picked!

Sarah McLaughlin started playing in my head,

and after I saw him:

there was really no going back!

So welcome, little Marian, to our family!

and THANK YOU, Pope Francis, for the reminder to put first things first in my life, and help others before I worry about my coffee needs…

Plus I am done with Starbucks, so that frees up $33 each month for this precious little boy!

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Cheesecake Recipe

As promised, the New York-White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake with an Oreo crust!

cheesecake 1cheesecake 2

crush Oreos in a zip lock bag, mix with melted butter and press down firmly into bottom of cheesecake pan.
Bake at 325°F  for 10 minutes

cheesecake 3cheesecake 4

Mix other ingredients as specified and pour into your pan

cheesecake 5

I find drizzling through a piping method a lot easier to get thin, straight-ish lines

cheesecake 6

drag a knife very lightly through just the topmost layer of the cake, deep cuts will lead to HUGE deep cracks in the cake later.


Garnish, and enjoy!!

cheesecake 7

30 Oreo cookies, crushed
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
Bake at 325°F  for 10 minutes


4  (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
a generous amount white or semisweet chocolate chips or chopped bakers chocolate (or both)
raspberry jam

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing at low speed after each addition, just until blended.
Blend in sour cream, stir in chocolate, pour over crust.

Top with raspberry preserves or raspberry jam, warmed and drizzled on top through the corner of a small zip lock bag

Bake at 325°F for 30-40 minutes, reduce heat to 275°F and continue baking for an additional 40-50 minutes or until centre is almost set (still slightly “jiggly” when the pan is moved) remove from over and run knife around rim of pan to loosen.

Cool, refrigerate 4 hours or over night, garnish, and eat!

I garnished with chocolate drizzles and white chocolate flakes and would have added fresh raspberries if I had any

Recipe modified by my amazing  mother in law Melissa who took it originally from a Philadelphia Cream cheese cookbook
A lot of things could be added to the basic New York recipe instead of what we did; fresh/frozen/canned fruit, caramel, pumpkin etc. Its the sour cream that makes this basic cheesecake light and fluffy!recipe

The recipe can be halved, or “three quartered” for a smaller cake, if you have a smaller (6 or 8 inch) pan. This is quite a lot of cheese cake to eat, but if you have a lot of friends or family to invite over…. you can also freeze a few pieces, or half the cake! Its never a bad thing to have cheesecake in your freezer!

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We can see God’s face!

So this past week I was trying to live like Mary, with peaceful acceptance of what God is asking in each moment….but that got kind of upstaged by the constant thought that “any day is a great day to change your life!” that kept running through my head. Either way, I  tried to start a few new things, one being exercise (we got to the class but it was full, but getting there was a heck of a lot closer than I have gotten in a long time! ) and the other being prayer, every morning, with my Love, offering our day up to God and having Saints, Scripture and the Spirit to learn from! Oh and I also have succeeded in finishing a book I was reading, completing a lot of back burner projects and making my way slowly through the Bible! Take that life – you’ve been changed! Now just to stick with it for another week!

This week on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I found this picture of the event and made it my computer wallpaper.

I have found myself looking at it a lot, and although the Jordan river is hardly done justice. When I saw it, it looked like this

it still has given me a lot to think about. I will pass on to you what I thought were the more beautiful words the Pope spoke on that feast day:

above all I would like to invite you all to remember your own Baptism, the spiritual rebirth that opened the way to eternal life to us. May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, rediscover the beauty of being reborn from on high, from the love of God, and live as a child of God.

But Pope Benedict just can’t get enough of Christ’s incarnation, of His revealing himself to us, and in doing so, revealing His Father to us as well. During the Audience on Wednesday the Holy Father talked about the disciple Philip asking Jesus to show him the Father:

“He[Philip] asks to ‘see’ the Father, to see his face. Jesus’ answer is an answer not only for Philip, but also for us and leads us into the heart of the Christological faith of the Church; the Lord affirms: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.'”

The Holy Father goes on to say: “The whole of life should be directed towards encountering Him, towards loving Him; and, in it, a central place must also be given to the love of one’s neighbor, that love that, in the light of the Crucified One, enables us to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, the suffering,” he said. “This is only possible if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us in listening to His Word, in interior dialogue, in entering into this Word in such a way as to really encounter him, and naturally in the Mystery of the Eucharist.”

This photo is of a statue in Jerusalem that was made
from the shroud of Turin. If the shroud is Christ’s,
this is exactly what he looked like. (We got to see it 
before the museum exhibit was open, hence the
bubble wrap)

So I feel like maybe I have a bit of a head start on this week just because I am a little more in the habit of prayer and Sunday means Mass!! Yay! I love spending some time before Sunday getting pumped for mass, hopefully it can keep building all weekend so by the time Sunday morning rolls around I can take advantage of the beautiful opportunity to be at the Sacrifice of the Mass!



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I don’t remember when, but a few years ago I decided that the telling of travel nightmares stories had to stop. Everyone has been there; the trauma of a lost bag, the horrible cramping of a full flight, endless waiting in numerous airports or the absolute worst: delay on the tarmac! We’ve all been there, we know the horrific experience of a plane without TVs, or running out of ginger-ale the row before yours, or yes, even a crying baby… having to go through it is uncomfortable and annoying, but having to listen to someone else tell their story about it is, in my opinion, worse. You did eventually arrive! your bag most likely did catch up with you, and you ended up thousands of miles from where you started, in a tiny fraction of the time it would have taken anyone from a handful of years before us…  So if I don’t want to listen to it, I try not to make people listen to mine. (And I have travelled a LOT, so there are lots of stories) But this past Christmas something different happened in our travels, and because I think God’s hand was holding our itinerary the whole time, I really would like to share it (also, I don’t think anyone actually reads this, so I don’t feel like I am making anyone listen who doesn’t want to)

My husband and I decided that we would spend Christmas with his family, 2,275 kms away from where we live. Almost all his immediate family would be there, and most of them haven’t met our 5 month old daughter. December being the beginning of his crunch time at work, he planned to take a reasonable number of days off and Christmas and New Years perfectly coincided with weekends to mean between Dec 22 and 31 he would only have to take two days off! Perfect, tickets were booked months in advance. And then the emails started coming, our flights changed by a few minutes here and there until suddenly what started out as a 1 hour layover in Minneapolis turned into 8 minutes and our flights needed to be rescheduled, the only flights available were the next day, so our return flight got bumped to Jan 1, and then again to Jan 2. During all this, I realized that almost all my husbands more extended family (Grandmothers, aunts, uncles etc) lived in the twin cities area, and wouldn’t it have been nice if I actually had PLANNED to stay there for a day or two instead of just passing through for an hour. Then these relatives could meet our daughter, and family ties could be strengthened  But alas, no such luck, international flights apparently can’t be rebooked easily unless its their decision to change them, not mine. So we accepted it and enjoyed the extra two days with the family and then began our journey home.

Those two days turned out to be such a blessing! With Christmas and all its activities past, we had time to actually just enjoy and get to know the new family members who had married into the family recently, me being one of them, and get past the awkwardness that can sometimes be a part of short visits. Having felt like I truly moved beyond the “in-law” relationship to friendship, I thoroughly enjoyed the longer visit.

Then, happy and refreshed, we headed home. Things were going well, the drive was smooth and our first experience of renting and return a car went flawlessly, our bags were slightly over the 50 lb weight limit but the kind woman waived the $90 fee and did not make us repack at the ticket counter, baby travelled well on the plane, but the 50 minute layover that Delta had arranged for us proved to be insufficient for their notoriously late flights, and we found ourselves stuck in the MSP airport, rebooked for a flight nearly 24 hours later.

The option was there, staring my right in the face: frustration. anger. exhaustion. (Even if it all goes smooth, any kind of travel with a infant is tiring, no naps for mama on these flights or drives!) for my husband too, the realization that this meant another day of work missed, another precious vacation day used, was there waiting to incite bitterness. But instead, we were shuttled by the airport to a beautiful hotel, enjoyed a nice dinner with the vouchers the provided, and had the precious opportunity for our baby to meet great-gramma and a great aunt, in a city far away that we very very rarely make it to.

The moment meant a lot to me, a lot to the great-relatives, and I know that one day it will mean a lot to my daughter. Being able to meet relatives and build connection with family means so much to me, and I hope to do everything I can to instil in my child(ren) a appreciation and love for their elder relatives and the wisdom that comes from those who have done it all before us.

To top it all off, when we finally did get on to our last plane trip home, we walked on the plane straight to the economy rows, looking for the row our assigned seats would be in and walked right past the large spacious seats of first class, only to find out that someone along the way had bumped us to first class. Thank you Delta, with all that spoiling I barely noticed that you lost a bag on the way home, well 1 our of 3 isn’t too bad. It got delivered to our house, no lifting in and out of trunks. There’s looking on the bright side ;)

PS. Word of advice, for surprising perks on your next flight, try being gracious and nice to the airline agents… or travel with an adorable infant, or both.

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