Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Thirst

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst." (John 19:26-28, NAB)

When Father R. commissioned the new crucifix in our church, he wanted it to represent the moment when Jesus said the words, "I thirst." Mary has her eyes fixed on her Son, and John is gazing into the crowd of onlookers to see who Jesus is speaking to. Every Sunday (and on those rare occasions I manage to make it to daily Mass) I'm drawn to these sculptures, and I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have when I look at these images. (Click here for more about the recent renovations at our church.)

Our Lord's eyes are directed at us, the faithful. When he says, "I thirst," he means me. He wants me to come to Him, to trust Him, to love Him. He is struggling to breathe, and He is in so much pain and his throat is so parched that even opening His mouth to speak the words is difficult. Through His agony He seems to say, "Look at how much I love you." In His eyes are pain and sorrow and agony and love.

Mary is looking at Jesus in anguish. Her arms are raised as if to say, "Why? Why must it come to this?" She looks as though she's about to fall to her knees. At the same time her face reflects acceptance and understanding. She trusts God and knows this is His plan. Sometimes I imagine the blood that must be dripping from His wounds, into his Mother's hands.

I remember hearing a story years ago about an atheist who was walking past a church, and was inexplicably led to go inside. The atheist walked to the front of the church and knelt down and prayed, "God, if you're real, show me." He (or she, I don't remember) got up to leave and when (s)he turned around there was a beautiful lady sitting in one of the pews, with a wounded, broken young man lying across her lap. She looked at the soon-to-be-former atheist with pleading eyes and said, "Look what they've done to my Son." Mary seems to be asking, "What have they done to you?"

The image I tend to be drawn to the most is John. I'm not sure why. He's looking for whoever Jesus was speaking to when he said, "I thirst," and his eyes seem to be searching for me. His face clearly shows the sorrow he must have been feeling as he stood at the foot of the Cross. His eyes seem slightly puffy, as though he's been weeping. I can almost see the tears on his cheeks. His arms are raised slightly toward Christ. He looks as though in the next moment he will put his hand out to touch the wood and look up at Jesus' face like Mary is doing. Or perhaps he's about to clutch his head in anguish. His hands are pointing to Jesus, and he seems to be saying, "Look. See what this man is willing to do for you and for me."

I heard our youth minister, Mr. C, tell the kids who were preparing for confirmation, that John was probably a young teenager, no more than fourteen or fifteen, when He walked beside Jesus here on earth. This surprised me, and gave me a new perspective on the close relationship John had with Jesus. At the Last Supper, John leaned against his Savior, as a child would lean against a parent for comfort. Looking at this statue of John the Beloved, I see a young man who, despite being confused and angry and devastated at what was happening, stayed with Him and prayed that God would help him understand.

Moments before, Jesus had spoken the words, "Woman, behold your son. Behold, your mother." I imagine that Mary and John were looking at each other as He said this. Now the Blessed Mother is looking at Christ, perhaps to say, "I will lead them to You." She understands that by these words he not only bequeathed her to John His beloved disciple, but to the whole world. Through Mary Christ was given to us, and through Mary God shows us Christ still. Among the sorrow and hurt in John's face, I see firm resolve as well. He will take Mary under his roof, to care for her for the rest of her days on earth, and with her help, he will bring the love of Christ to her children.

It's Corpus Christi Sunday. We Catholics celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Let's fix our eyes on Jesus. His eyes are fixed on us, after all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Friday...

I had some errands to run and Moe went with me. We stopped to say hello to the waterfowl who live in and around two drainage ponds, tucked away between an Outback Steak House and a bank.

We can't for the life of us figure out what this is. There are several of these here. At first we thought it was a baby heron, but it seems to be something else entirely.

*UPDATE* Thanks to my friend Nora, I found out that this is a green heron. I'd never heard of them until today.

Soon there will be blackberries. We'll come by and sneak some.

We haven't seen very many ducks or geese around our little lake recently, so it was nice to stop and watch these for a while.

This one looked a little lonely sitting all by itself.
Pretty soon it ran off and joined its mother.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The boys and I took a stroll through the streets of our little town, to see what we could see.

Seeing this in a store window...
...reminded me of this picture of my dad.

When we got home this was on our doorstep. It was sent to me by Joe's supervisor and all his coworkers, thanking me for all the support I've given him in the years he worked with them.
Tomorrow will be Joe's last day. He starts his new job on Monday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our New Favorite Cookies

Last week I needed to make cookies for Moe's class party. Instead of the sugar cookies that I usually make, he wanted chocolate. I found a recipe in the 1963 McCall's cookbook that I recently acquired from my Aunt A.


1 pkg (6 oz) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1. In top of double boiler, over hot, not boiling, waterm melt 1/2 cup chocolate pieces. Let cool.
2. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.
3. In large bowl of electric mixer, at medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy.
4. At low speed, beat in melted chocolate and 1/4 cup warm water.
5. Then beat in flour mixture, just until combined.
6. With spoon, stir in remaining chocolate pieces and nuts. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to wire rack; cool. Makes about 3 dozen.

I doubled the recipe. I don't know how it was in 1963, but these days a standard size package of chocolate chips is 12 ounces, not 6. I used a stick of butter, not margarine (Moe's dairy allergy is mild enough that I can get away with doing this), and instead of two eggs I mixed one heaping tablespoon of Ener-G Egg replacer with 1/4 cup water. Supposedly this recipe makes three dozen if you don't double it, but I only got about 3 1/2 dozen cookies when I did. And since Moe is allergic to nuts, I left those out.

It's not easy to find chocolate chips that have NO dairy, are made in a nut-free facility, and are gluten-free. The kind I used to get for Moe at the health food store were sweetened with barley malt (which contains gluten) and cost nine bucks per pound. I was excited to find these store-brand ones for two bucks a bag. I've been eating them right from the package.

You don't really need a double-boiler; a small metal bowl over a pan of hot water works just fine.

Mmmmm...they sure did smell good!

The cookies were a huge hit both with the kids at school and with our family. You would never guess they were egg free!

It's probably a good thing that I'm on a gluten-free diet these days, because I'm sure I would have eaten way too many of these. One day when I'm brave enough I'll attempt a gluten-free version.

Wanna see our new favorite egg-free cake? Click here!

Friday, June 17, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Bats, Birds, Blogs and Dogs


Lately I've been posting more on my other blog, Cooking Nick's Books, than I have on this one. It isn't that I don't have much to share with you here, I have lots; sometimes I think since that one has a specific goal (to read through all of Nicholas Sparks' novels and cook the food in them) it's easier to come up with ideas.

The more I blog about food, the more I enjoy it, so you might see more of that here as well. Tonight I tried a recipe for pork chops that I found in a 1963 McCall's cookbook I acquired from my Aunt A. not too long ago, and I decided to take some pictures so I could share it with you. I might even post it on both blogs, even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with a Nicholas Sparks book.


Every time I start taking pictures of food I'm cooking (or anything else inside the house, for that matter) my dog starts barking. I'm not sure why she hates me taking photos; maybe the flash bothers her. She's very weird sometimes.


Last week, Larry graduated with honors from eighth grade. (When I was growing up, we didn't have "graduation" until we finished high school.) There was a Mass and graduation ceremony for all of the eighth graders from the parish school; Larry even received some awards: the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, a Perfect Attendance award for the school year (I didn't even know he had perfect attendance), and an award for altar serving. We are so proud of him!

Know who else is proud of our son? Father R, our pastor. He told him so the next day. Wow!


Recently we've been hearing and seeing a strange bird flying around over the lake, several of them. They fly around making loud noises and grabbing fish out of the water. It's hard to get a good look at them because they're so fast. The other day, Moe announced that they were kingfishers. I grabbed my camera and attached the zoom lens, and we walked down to the edge of the water to see if we could see them. Finally they stopped long enough for me to snap some photos.

I wish these were clearer; I was able to confirm online that they are indeed belted kingfishers. I'd only seen them in books, except for the one I might have spotted once by a drainage pond in the middle of a nearby business district. (That's a favorite local spot for waterfowl. Check it out. In fact Moe and I stopped by there this morning, and I didn't see a kingfisher, but we did spot something that looked like a cross between a heron and a kingfisher. Maybe that's what I'd seen there.)

I hope they stick around for a while. They're way cool. Plus I want to get some better photos of them!


The weather has been wonderful this week. The kids at school were able to enjoy playing outdoor games during the last couple of days without sweltering (in fact, on Tuesday as I watched the fourth grade classes play a kickball game, I wished I had brought my sweater.

Next week it's supposed to be in the upper 90's and humid. Ugh!


When the sun goes down the bats come out. Curly likes to sit and watch them fly around over the lake. I enjoy sitting with him too, sharing a few quiet moments. It seems that during the day, my interactions with him have mostly been me nagging, and him pushing my buttons. It's nice just to sit.

It's hard to take photos at night. I took the first one with my phone, and the other two on the low-light setting. I couldn't keep my hands quite still enough, and Curly was moving around a little bit. I like the effect, though. (I wonder if that's a firefly in the upper right corner...)


Joe has a new job! He's worked at the same company for over twenty years. For the last thirteen years, ever since we moved into the house we live in now, he's had to commute as much as 90 minutes each way to work. His new job is five minutes away. Ten if there's traffic. Three miles. It was a hard decision to leave the people he's worked with for so many years, but spending ten minutes a day in the car versus three hours---that will be awesome. I can't wait; we can meet for lunch sometimes, and be finished with dinner by 7 pm (rather than getting started at 7:30 on a good day). He has one more week with his old job and then he starts his new one.

I was just thinking as I was showering this morning (I get lots of ideas when I'm in the shower, don't ask me why) that if he had been working for a different company back in the fall of 1991--and he hadn't been there all that long then, I don't think--he and I might never have met. My friend L. was working for the same company at the time, and she introduced us. Sometime I'll tell you the story of how we met. God has a way of putting people in the right place at the right time. And now it's time for him to start a new chapter in his life. And we don't even have to move!

See Jennifer's Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes! (I even posted some yesterday on Cooking Nick's Books.) Have a great weekend!
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