Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


Pep Talk

I saw my friend Jay across the courtyard at church one Sunday morning a few months ago. As I walked over to chat with him, I realized his usually friendly face was crunched up in pain. 

“Jay, is something wrong?”

“Root canal gone bad,”  he grimaced.

 “Oh, I’m sorry.”  I didn’t know what else to say, but I thought of the words of James 5: Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well.

“Jay, would you mind if we grab a couple of these guys and pray for you.”  Jay was hurting too much to care one way or the other; so I walked over to where Randy and Pepe were standing at the door of the auditorium waiting to greet people. 

“Would you guys be willing to come over and pray for Jay?  He’s got a really bad toothache.” 

They were there with alacrity!  We made a small knot around Jay, and Pepe began to pray out loud.  He prayed boldly, thoroughly and simply.  The rest of us “agreed” in silent prayer.  Amen! 

It felt good to know we could bring anything to the Lord anytime. 

We promised Jay that we’d continue to keep him in prayer for the next few days. Nothing hurts like a toothache!

I wandered around the courtyard, visiting with friends and chatting with people until it was almost time for church to start.  Then as I was walking up to the door Pepe said he’d like to speak with me privately for a moment.

“Of course.” 

We stepped away from the busy doorway, and Pepe asked me if I would keep him in prayer too.

The previous Wednesday he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I was dumfounded.  “You jumped in and prayed so fervently for Jay, and you have cancer?!”  It made my head spin.  “I will pray for you, for sure.”

I hardly knew what to say.

We talked for a few minutes about how we know it’s no harder for God to heal cancer than it is for him to heal a toothache. He’s GOD.

I know that’s true, but still, it amazed me that Pepe was able to set aside his own newly-discovered, and potentially devastating situation, to pray for our brother. 

The summer passed, and after a very complicated visit to an oral surgeon Jay’s root canal problem is getting better.

And we have watched Pepe “walk in victory” through his cancer surgery and follow-up treatments. It hasn’t been easy for him, but he has a good prognosis. Every week he laughs and jokes about some of the setbacks he experiences.

He always has a smile on his face, and words of encouragement for everyone.  Standing at the door of the auditorium, he greets people with a warm handshake or a backslap or hug.  He seems to know everyone, and to be genuinely interested in their lives.  And recently he has become involved with a program to help and support Palestinian Christians. He’ll talk your ear off about that!

A few days ago John told me about a conversation they had.  Pepe told John, “The cool thing about serving others is that you get your eyes off yourself!”

Well said, Pepe. It’s also a “cool way” to let the reality of God be seen in your life!



Sitting at my computer, I glanced out the front window just in time to see Kathy, our mail lady, stepping up onto the front porch. “Hello Simon!” She gave our door guardian a cheerful greeting and he stood to wag his tail eagerly.

Kathy had come up to the door to deliver a big package of books, which is always exciting, but I was even more excited by a small padded envelope she carried along with our “regular” mail.

The return address said “Zenni”.

I just about grabbed it out of her hands, nearly dancing with delight and excitement.

“You have to look at this with me,” I said. “I’ve been so excited for it to come!” Kathy stood there bemused but smiling as I ripped open the small package – no easy task.

Zenni is an online optical company. I had been hearing about it for more than three years, but had been dragging my feet about ordering glasses online.  It just seemed too strange and risky.

My sister, Monica, and my friend, Kristina, had done nothing but rave about Zenni products and service. So I asked my sister if she’d show me the web site and walk me through the process when she came out for our daughter, Monica’s wedding.

It was so fun and easy!  We went to where I created an account and uploaded my prescription and a picture of my face.

Then I went shopping through the hundreds and hundreds of pairs of glasses in the Zenni inventory.  Every color and style you can imagine. I clicked the “try on” button and, voilá! The glasses were on my face.  There’s a “favorites” page so I could pick a bunch of pairs and then go through them again, to make final choices.

There are so many choices, and they can make sunglasses and transition lenses and even bifocals and progressives. Each added thing adds a little to the cost, but it’s still laughably inexpensive.

(Before Zenni, my most recent pair of glasses were over $200.00)

Shipping is $4.95 for your entire order. But I wanted to be cautious with this first trial, so I only got one pair. I chose a cute funky green frame for a whopping $6.95.

After I ordered them I was on pins and needles, so eager for them to arrive!

And less than 10 days after I placed the order, here was my mail lady watching me open them. Kathy was getting kind of excited too, as she watched me pull out my new glasses.

They were so cute!

“You’re kidding!”  Kathy was amazed as I babbled about my Zenni experience. “$6.95?”

I pulled off my old glasses to try on the new pair.

Kathy was shaking her head. “And can you see with them?” she asked. “Can you can see as well with these as you can with your regular ones?”

“Yes!” I was so thrilled to tell her so. (I had been almost afraid to hope they would really work.)

Kathy was digging through her bag to find a pen and paper.  “I’ve been wanting to get another pair of glasses,” she said, explaining that she has trouble going from dark to light and her progressive lenses stay dark when she goes into apartment buildings and so on…

And since I got these and began to tell people about Zenni, a lot of other friends have said the same kind of thing.  Most people have a reason they’d like a few pairs of fun glasses, and at these prices we can have a pair to match every outfit and every mood!

You can check out Zenni’s facebook page right here!


Beth Moore and Bible Study Soup

Every Tuesday evening from September till May my little house is filled with women! There are usually 12 to 15 of us, creating a steady hum of laughter and talk. This bible study night is a highlight of the week for me and for many others!

Our house is pretty small so I scoot the bigger chairs over and bring folding chairs into living room. Some of us sit on the floor – and some of us are practically sitting on each others’ laps! We’ve become very close.

I was a little nervous this time because we have a larger group than ever before. Nineteen ladies signed up for the study. When the huge heavy box of Beth Moore workbooks arrived I almost had a panic attack.

Nineteen women in a 250-square-foot room – I’m not that great at math, but it sounded pretty tight.

Of course I shouldn’t have worried! Last night was wonderful. The four new women felt warmly welcomed and the others ladies were obviously delighted to be back together.

The love of God was evident overall.

We meet at 5:30 and have our bible study. This year we’re doing a video study of the book of Daniel with Beth Moore. We’ve done at least 5 of these studies, and most of us feel like Beth is just part of our group!

I do wish she could join us for dinner afterward. (Beth, if you’re reading this, please know you have an open invitation!) After the study we move to the kitchen and have a meal of soup and bread.

It’s such a lively hubbub as we trip over each other; and someone starts cutting the bread and someone else begins to ladle soup into bowls. Most of us crowd around the kitchen table, bringing in the folding chairs and the piano bench and whatever other stools can be found.

Some of the ladies take their food into the living room and sit in smaller groups to visit more quietly.

Last night I made French bread and hamburger soup. Everyone loved it! It’s one of the easiest soups I make, and it’s hard to actually write a recipe for it because I make it with whatever vegetable I happen to have in the fridge. But here’s the general idea!

Hamburger Soup Recipe
1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 large onion, chopped
½ head of cabbage thinly sliced
4 cans chopped tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 stalks celery
½ bag frozen peas
About a dozen carrots, washed and cut into pieces
5 potatoes washed (not peeled) and cut into pieces
Several sprigs of rosemary
Water to taste
About 3 tablespoons of some kind of good beef base (I use “Organic Better than Bouillon” – available at Costco)

(This is the recipe I used last night, but I doubled the amounts to feed a larger group. This recipe will probably feed a hungry family and have a little left over for lunch.)


Brown the ground beef in a heavy skillet
Add onions and garlic. Sauté.

Chop vegetables, and set aside

Transfer ground beef mixture to a large soup pot.
Add all the other ingredients.
Add enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for ½ hour. At this point the flavours will be blended and you should taste it and decide if you need to add more water or more bouillon.
Continue to simmer for ½ hour. Remove sprigs of rosemary.
Ready to serve!

Just before bible study I turn it on to simmer very low so it will be hot by dinnertime.

(In a future blog I’ll share my French bread recipe)


Stand With Me

Dora was everywhere – handing out lists and barking out orders and keeping everyone in line.  Dora is our son’s mother-in-law and she took on the role of wedding coordinator for Monica’s wedding. 

 She was amazing!

 I was telling my friend Kimi about her a few weeks before the wedding. Kimi  is a professional wedding coordinator in the Bay Area, and I was grateful that she let me pick her brain when I saw her at church each Sunday.

 I had never seriously thought a wedding coordinator was necessary. I had actually sort of laughed at the idea.  I thought it was somewhat “affected” and I couldn’t get Jennifer Lopez out of my mind. You might need a coordinator for a really rich fancy wedding, but not a somewhat simple, small affair as ours would be…

 Boy, was I wrong!

 As the day approached and details began to pile up, my admiration for Dora grew. And I began to understand how much of a real job it is to be a professional like Kimi.

Now, do you know what your most important duty is during the ceremony?” she asked me one day. 

 I had no idea. It was all a bit of a journey into the unknown.

“As Mother-of-the-Bride, it’s your job to stand up when Monica and John start to walk down the aisle,” Kimi explained.  “It’s very important. You need to tell Dora that, if she doesn’t already know. When the mother of the bride stands up it’s a signal for everybody to stand up and turn to see the bride.”

 Well who knew???  Actually a few people in our brain-storming, planning meeting did know that; and Dora was glad to put it into her file of “stuff a wedding coordinator should know”.

She’s thinking of doing wedding coordinating as a business now, and we’re all encouraging her to do so. But no amount of money could buy the friendship and love she added to the natural talent and drive she brought to Monica’s special day.

 I was supposed to stand, and then people would stand with me.  

 …So many people stood with me.

 It’s now been two weeks since the wedding.  It has all begun to settle in my mind and I’m leisurely reliving the memories. I’m humbled at the scope of help and support our family received as I walked through the day in a dreamy, dazed “Emotional Mother mode”.

 So many people “stood with me” and I’m thankful.

 It would take far more space than this blog to say thank you to the many people who helped us and worked hard to make Monica and Dan’s wedding “the wedding of their dreams”. We are so grateful to all of you.

I almost  hesitate to mention names because I’ll probably forget someone, but how can I not say thank you to Sandy and Roger?  As John says, “We could not have done it without them.”  While Dora was “front and center” managing and coordinating, Roger and Sandy moved busily and quietly in the background…serving and serving and serving. Sandy probably used two tanks of gas shuttling people to and from the hotel to the house to the rose garden.

 Thank you for standing with us!

 So many people stood with us in quiet, unseen, loving “background” ways.  We could not have done it without you.

 Thank you to my sister, Monica. (I knew there was a reason I wanted to name my daughter after you!)

 My sister-in-law, Tracy.  My brother, Brian. And Hannah. Kori, Denise and Doug, Rick and Judi.  Thank you.  

 Thank you for standing with us.