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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Giving Thanks for the Present

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself (Mt 6:34)

Hmmm ... I will confess I struggle with this one. I want to believe that this quote from Scripture is God’s way of saying, “Don’t worry, I got this! Everything is gonna end perfectly well.” The problem is, things don’t always end well. Illness happens, people die and wars break out, whether we are holy or not.

So what is the message? If I examine the entire passage in the Bible, I think it really has to do with priorities. The Lord seems to be commenting on the mistake of worrying about worldly needs to the extent that they eclipse our spiritual needs. If we spend all our time worrying about what we need or want, we don’t leave ourselves enough time for the Lord. And if we have a strong relationship with God, then, regardless of the good or the bad that life gives us, we will have the graces to handle it.

The best analogy for this, in my life, is when I prepare for guests at our house. There once was a time that hosting a party kept me up for nights prior to the event.

I had a way of over-doing it and creating a lot of work for myself, to the point that I would miss the enjoyment of visiting with our guests and being fully present to them. Not only did I take on worry and stress leading up to the event, I scurried about during the party and denied myself the gift of living in the present.

At the end of the night, I would realize I spent almost no time conversing with the guests, which was the whole point of having them over!

So it can be with life; we worry all day about the needs and concerns of life that occupy our minds so much. And then, one day, when the end comes, we risk being in the position of realizing we spent most of our time fretting about, and almost no time with the Lord, which was the whole point of our being on earth!

I have since worked on letting go of my worries and placing my trust in God. And in the area of entertaining family and friends, I’ve learned that it helps to plan ahead and not get too caught up in the unnecessary details that distract me from what is truly important.

One way I have helped myself is to select recipes that can be prepared the night before. Recently, I’ve had a lot of fun and success serving up individual desserts in mason jars. With Thanksgiving around the corner (a perennial source of worry and stress for those of us who host), you might consider this version, a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie. Throw it together, put it in the oven, and do not worry about dessert; dessert will take care of itself.

Pumpkin Spice Cake in Mason Jars

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pecan halves
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • 6 half-pint (or 8-10 smaller) mason jars

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray insides of mason jars with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter together for about two minutes. Add eggs and beat until combined. Add pumpkin puree and milk and continue to beat. Slowly add dry flour mixture. Mix on lower speed until combined.

Pour batter into jars until almost 2/3 full and bake for 20-40 minutes (depending on jar size) or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Using tongs or oven mitt, transfer jars to a wire rack to cool (for about 20-30 minutes). Cover with lids or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Using a knife or piping bag, cover with cheese cream frosting. Top off with mini chocolate chips or pecan halves.