It was an early spring morning in 2010. I dropped off my then two-year-old daughter at the childcare center before heading into city hall to begin the workday. I turned on Catholic radio and heard an interview with Patti Maguire Armstrong. Up until that moment, I don’t recall knowing much about her, but the interview caught my attention. Patti shared a bit about herself, how she earned a M.A. in public administration (as did I), but set a career aside to be at home full-time with her children. Patti then began writing as a hobby while raising children.
Perhaps it was because the work-family balance never felt quite right for me, but Patti’s interview hit me rather raw. She planted a seed that eventually helped me make a similar decision. Patti inspired me then, and she continues to do so today.
Patti and her husband Mark have ten children, and she is an author of several books — the most recent Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and two children’s books, Dear God, I Don’t Get It and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. Finally, if you only have time to read one more thing on the Internet today, let it be this post by Patti titled Pushing 50 and Pregnant. Really, go read it. But only after reading the one below!
For most mothers, there may be many kinds of giving and sacrifices we make during Lent, but one that is constant is cooking. We must feed our bodies daily and even if we are sacrificing, we still must supply nutrition to stay healthy. Food, however, is more than mere physical nourishment.
A hearty meal with family and friends is a way a mother (and of course dads that cook too) can nurture our loved ones. Even during difficult times, be it stress in the family or a cross we must bear, pouring love into a meal brings a spiritual comfort that sinks deep into our family’s hearts.
As the mother of ten kids, for me, cooking has always been part assembly-line, part nourishment and part love. Even when my kids are more independent from me and no longer need me to read to them or comfort them from a skinned knee, and even after they leave home, I can always cook for them. It’s a way to still “do” for our loved ones.
Lent is a time to draw together as a family and draw closer to Christ. Mealtime compliments this. The love that we pour into our meal, comes out as we share that meal and pray a blessing before eating it. Even a simple meal takes on a deeper meaning when shared in the light of God and family. It is surely the reason that surveys show that the more families share meals together, the stronger and healthier they are as both a family unit and as individuals.
The work we put into a meal is but a small down payment on the investment of our family.
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Chicken Potato Soup (print a downloadable copy here)
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
4 large carrots
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed or 1 12-ounce jar of any sort of cheese sauce
1 package of frozen corn
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch or 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs to thicken and flavor
1 cup water
Directions: Peel the potatoes and skin the carrots. Boil them in the chicken broth until done. It’s up to you if you want to also cook the onions at this time. Then, add in everything else. I save the frozen corn for last so it cools down the broth just enough that it’s ready to eat.
My family loves this soup. I make many variations, sometimes adding broccoli or other vegetables, and chicken meat.
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Read all Soup & Stories entries here.