Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Nine

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”
1 Corinthians 1: 26-27

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Eight

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
Isaiah 40: 11

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Monday, September 28, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Seven

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Mark 10: 13-15

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Six

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him.”
Psalm 103:13

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Five

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“For the lowliest man may be pardoned in mercy.”
Wisdom 6:6

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Friday, September 25, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Four

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, the, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Three

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day Two

Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees.  As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
Isaiah 66: 12-13

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

St. Therese Novena Day One

From Story of a Soul:
We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully.  I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus , for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection.  I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a LITTLE ONE, let him come to me.”  And so I succeeded.  I felt I had found what I was looking for.  But wanting to know, O my God, what Your would do to the very little one who answered Your call, I continued my search and this is what I discovered: “As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you.”  Ah! Never did the words more tender and more melodious come to give joy to my soul.  The elevator which must raise me to heaven in Your arms, O Jesus!  And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.
Each day of this novena, I invite you to join me in reflecting upon a quote from Scripture that reminds us of our littleness before God.  We understand that some of these quotes were the ones found by St. Therese on her search through the Bible.  Others may have inspired her, but we will never know for certain.

St. Therese Novena Day One
Scriptural Quote of the Day:

“Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.”
(“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here.”)
Proverbs 9:4

Novena Prayer here.

Caution about littleness and humility here.

Bible quotes from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Humility and Littleness

In preparation for a St. Therese Novena, I began a search of scriptural quotations about littleness, children, humility, and the like. There is a risk in sharing these quotes, in that St. Therese’s quest for littleness might be brushed off as simplistic or childish.  On the contrary, the quest for littleness is a bold step towards uncovering humility.  And it isn’t for the childish at heart! Thus, a few notes on humility before we begin our spiritual preparation for the Feast Day of St. Therese.

Isn’t it funny, how false humility annoys people?  It seems we all display it to varying degrees.  False humility is most insufferable when found amongst Christians, but even the secular world has a low tolerance for it.  Go ask Urban Dictionary about the humblebrag. No humblebragging found in any copy of “Story of a Soul.”

Also important: keep in mind that St. Therese’s desire to become a little one was the result of her desire to be closer to God. She didn’t use her littleness as an excuse to avoid work, as a child might be unable to complete tasks, for she still strived to live a life of virtue. Her little way, her small acts of self-denial, opened her eyes to the needs of others around her.

Finally, a quote from Contemplative Provocations (a book I cannot recommend highly enough):
As the prospect of directly experiencing God tantalizes and sparks at times an infatuation with mysticism, the more subdued invitation of the gospel to die to self in service to others is often ignored.  The impulse toward humble charity gradually weakens.  A self-referential habit will be more evident in a life, which reflects the self-absorption that false types of prayer foster. The irony should not be missed. One can end up living less generously the life of charity as an aspiration to some form of spurious possession of God dominates one’s religious pursuit.
In paying a visit to my blog over the course of the next week and a half, consider that the Bible quotes you read are an invitation to reflect upon our littleness before God, as St. Therese understood it. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Gluten-Free Cake

Let us not delve too deeply into the complaints about gluten-free breads and cakes. Briefly, however: grainy texture, too egg-y, too potato-y, contains guar/xanthan/otherwise-leguminous gum.

Happily, I've happened upon a recipe secret that has changed the way I do gluten-free baking.

~ Rice flour/tapioca flour mixture in a 6:1 ratio ~

I'd credit the acquaintance who shared this with me, but I don't know if she blogs, so I cannot give a link.  If I ever find out that she does, I'll fix this and give her full credit. I've used this mixture in a number of recipes, simply substituting the rice/tapioca recipe for wheat flour. No matter the size of the recipe, use this ratio and you won't go wrong. 6 teaspoons rice flour to 1 teaspoon tapioca flour; 6 tablespoons rice flour to 1 tablespoon tapioca flour, etc.

Citrus Cake
This recipe and I have a history.  Originally, I think it was a recipe for lemon bread. Whilst nursing my youngest child, who was very dairy-intolerant, I substituted the milk called for in the recipe with orange juice, in order to make the bread milk-free.  At that point, we had to call it "citrus bread," since another child thinks she hates orange, lemon, or lime. (When she doesn't know what she's eating, she loves it.) I found the bread to be sweet enough to use as a cake, so when I needed a dairy-free birthday cake, I baked it in a round pan instead of a bread pan, frosted it with a sour cream frosting, and felt pleased with myself. The final adjustment to this recipe came when I needed to provide a gluten-free cake made from scratch, since gluten-free box mixes always contain some sort of leguminous product (something I cannot eat).

And here it is, a gluten-free, soy-free, almost-dairy-free (it has butter) cake that tastes delicious!

GF Citrus Bread/Cake

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 TBL lemon and/or lime juice
9 TBL rice flour
1 1/2 TBL tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/4 cup orange juice

* Cream butter and sugar together.
* Beat in eggs and lemon/lime juice.
* Add dry ingredients alternately with orange juice.

* For bread: Bake in a bread pan @ 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes, checking for done-ness in 5 minute increments.

* For cake:  Bake in an 8" round cake pan @ 350 degrees for at least 15 minutes, checking every 2-3 minutes for done-ness.  It's a fairly thin cake, so it doesn't need a long bake time.

Nota bene:  It is a pure coincidence, if there is a published recipe out there that is similar to this.  I promise, I haven't stolen this from anyone.  As you can tell, there was an evolutionary process in the creation of this recipe, so as far as I can tell, it really is an original!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Road Trip: Chicago

Photos from St. Gregory the Great, on Chicago's North Side.

See, Catholics? We can do banners. That are actually attractive.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 Thoughts


Fourteen years on.

So much to ponder.

I remain grateful for first responders: police, fire, EMT.  They are still the people who run towards the dangerous situations when the rest of us flee to safety.  It's sad how thankless the job seems to be, especially these days. Not for me, though, and I ask God's blessing upon them as they put their lives on the line for me.

I'm grateful for our military members.  While the citizenry seems to be appreciative of the sacrifices made by military personnel and their families, our elected officials (in multiple countries) have made a mess of the world in so many ways that seem to de-value or undermine the work that has been done, militarily.  You won't catch me naming names here, for I've grown beyond annoyed with both political parties.  Suffice it to say, I believe politics clouds their judgement all too often.  I pray for the safety of our military.  I pray for common sense and integrity to descend upon our elected officials.

I consider the state of the world since 9/11.  At times, I despair over the impossibility of fixing the messes in the world.  At other times, I remember that this is the state of the world and each generation has its own mess.  I take comfort from my favorite quote by JRR Tolkien:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I do not want to comment very much on the current crises facing the world, except to say I have never seen Christians so polarized as to how to face the crises.  If I had to sum up the differences, I'd say that one camp is thinking only with their heartstrings, of families fleeing horrid situations . . . and the other camp is thinking only with fear, of terrorists streaming in with the refugees.  Both camps are right, actually!  Talk to each other.  Pray for inspiration.  Wise as serpents, innocent as doves.  It is only by God's grace that anything will be solved.  When I think of how ill-equipped our elected officials seem to be, Psalm 146 comes to mind.

Because I am similarly ill-equipped at knowing how to solve the woes of the world, my prayer for the anniversary of 9/11 is not a common one for this day.  Today, my prayer is the Litany of Humility.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

God Bless, friends!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Another Video

Wait. . . didn't I do a video last Saturday?

This is a fun video, too. 

I cannot really choose a favorite fashion era, except to say that I think it starts to go downhill in the 1970s.  Gloves?  Yes, please.  I'd love to wear gloves.  I did wear vintage gloves, in cool weather, when I was 19 years old.  I wonder what happened to those.

I have always preferred a more formal look, even as a child.  I remember being rather young, pining for Scarlett O'Hara-type hoop skirts.  My mother told me that wouldn't be practical for climbing trees and I insisted that I'd rather not climb trees than not have huge skirts.  Similarly, I'd accept feeling warm on a hot day, if we were still a glove-wearing culture. 

As much as my husband and my son recoil from the idea, I enjoy photographs of baseball games from yesteryear, in which men are wearing ties and fedoras to the game.  No, I won't begrudge anyone wearing shorts in the heat to watch baseball nowadays, but the dapper men of the past look mighty impressive!

Thursday, September 3, 2015


My story is that I've gotten tired of looking at some of the builders' grade finishes in this house. No offense to those who love it, but I'm in need of aesthetic updates. Thanks to others sharing their talents online, I know that there are budget-friendly ways to give oneself a spiffy upgrade.  For example:

I was tired of the brass.  I've always preferred the dark-metal fixtures.  Back in the Seventies, I liked the hardware that looked like this:

Before I knew what Craftsman or the Arts & Crafts Movement was, I've loved the oil rubbed bronze, copper, and brushed nickel of the hardware from that era.  Swoon.  Lovely. Artistry.

So, I've been working on changing up the doorknobs and hinges in our house:

Still working on the strike plate/door catch pieces, as you can see.  That is spray-painted Rustoleum Oil-Rubbed Bronze.  I love it!

Not sharing the step-by-step here, as it can be found in a plethora of places online. Trust me!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wardrobe Challenge

I love September, for so many reasons.  New beginnings (see yesterday's post).  My birthday.  Cooler nights.

I stumbled upon a September challenge today. Despite my stepping back from planning Grand Schemes for myself just now, I cannot help clicking when I see tempting headlines. Leah Darrow (I know about her through her associations with the American Chesterton Society) is embarking upon Wardrobe and Peace: The Closet Challenge. The bottom line: pare down the wardrobe and examine the motivation behind accumulating things.

Interesting about this particular wardrobe challenge is the Christian perspective that Leah Darrow is bringing to it. There isn't a lot of that out there, that I have seen. I am fine with purely secular approaches to simplifying any aspect of life, wardrobe or otherwise. I cheer on those who are content to say, "I de-cluttered and felt peace," even if they are not specifically quoting St. John Paul or St. Therese (as Darrow did).  However, in a grumpy way, I am put off by those who try to inject a certain spirituality into their "pare down the excess" that runs counter to what Christianity teaches.  I do not believe that things are bad, in and of themselves.  I don't believe the material world is inherently bad.  In fact, I believe that most stuff is morally neutral: clothing, books, kitchen gadgets, toys, etc. We are an incarnational people. The Word became flesh.  Matter matters.  The key here is that we put our material possessions in their proper order. Whether our natural tendencies are minimalist or hoarder, we should strive to seek balance and order. (Ha, that rhymes.)

Personally speaking, I cannot recommend the capsule wardrobe highly enough.  I will follow Darrow's challenge, as it plays out online.  It promises to be interesting.