Changing the World One Casserole at a Time

by | May 10, 2019 | Liturgical Living, May, Parenting, Parenting Advice | 7 comments

I don’t want to fall into hyperbole, but the apostolate of bringing a meal really and honestly changed the way I see the world. It changed my heart when it happened to me, and practicing it for others is something that brings me great joy.

While I was expecting my fifth baby, we made the decision to pull our oldest out of the parish school and start homeschooling him, and no one was more surprised than I was. We tried a couple different homeschool groups, and I finally found one I liked, but the parkdays were over a half an hour away and during naptime, so, to be honest, my attendance had been pretty sporadic and my participation in events and even email threads was pretty half-hearted.

But, I did manage to announce the July birth of our daughter that summer via the email group.

Imagine my surprise when people started emailing and calling to ask if such and such a day was available and if we had any allergies, and then when women who had kids and bellies of their own, and whose names I sometimes had to be reminded of at the door, drove all the way out to my house to bring us home cooked dinners and takeout for two whole weeks.

I had never heard of—let alone experienced—such a thing. You might even say my heart grew three sizes that day.

It changed the way I understood friendship and community, and taught me the immense value of attending to the practical needs of people in times of crisis. I was made to feel part of a community for the first time in my adult life, and those women are, ten years later, some of my closest friends.

This apostolate has been near and dear to my heart ever since. And it’s not just for new babies, of course. Whether a family is facing illness, miscarriage, a death, or some other hardship, they still need to eat dinner.

The practice is especially on my mind around the Feast of the Visitation or, as I like to call it, the feast of pregnant ladies helping pregnant ladies. And guess what? I made a video all about it . . .

Practices like this can really bind friends and communities together, so I hope you’re inspired to give it a try again or for the first time!

A big thanks to my friend Elissa for making the video, to the Bautistas and the Thibodeaus for making guest appearances, to my kids for coming to the car when I called, and to my awesome publisher Ignatius Press for offering to sponsor these videos! The adorable A Missal for Toddlers that I recommend at the end of this video can be found here, and my book, The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life is available here.

Speaking of books . . . the Catholic All May prayer booklet is available, and despite May being a third over, you’ve actually only missed one feast day covered in it! Still to come are prayers and devotions for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mexican Martyrs, Saint Rita, Saint Joan of Arc, the Visitation, the Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday, plus a script for a simple May Crowning that can be done anywhere, and the Pentecost Novena, a.k.a. the granddaddy of all novenas! Get it here as a printable PDF, or here as a paperback.

Other lovely books I’ve been wanting to share with you include . . .

A lovely new devotional aimed at kids 8-12, based on the virtues as taught by St. Thomas Aquinas. Amazing, right?! It’s called Rise Up, and is available from Blessed is She.

A really beautiful book called Spirit and Life: The Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church. I contributed an essay to this book, alongside some really heavy-hitters like Archbishop Aquila, Sister John Thomas, Sam Guzman (a.k.a. the Catholic gentleman), Lila Rose, and Dr. Andrew Swafford, also St. Ambrose, St. Cyril, St. Augustine, dudes like that. The photography is just . . . stunning.

And I need to issue an official Catholic blogger book alert! Mary Lenaburg’s Be Brave in the Scared: How I Learned to Trust God during the Most Difficult Days of My Life about her daughter Courtney’s life and death, but also so much more, was just released. And Bonnie Engstrom’s 61 Minutes to a Miracle: The True Story of a Family’s Devotion about her son’s death . . . and then life, is available for pre-order.

New in the shop: All new sacrament keepsake prints for Baptisms here, First Holy Communion here, and Confirmation here! The back of each print includes a space where you can record information about your child’s special day.

The meal I brought to the families in this video was this beef stew recipe (I made it times six, half for us and a quarter each for the other families), plus brownies from a box, a bag of salad, and bread from the grocery store bakery. If that recipe won’t open for you, it’s like this one, but I dredge the meat in flour with a little salt and pepper before cooking.

Finally, when I posted this video on social media, folks wanted to know about the scarf/do. I was going for a Rosie the Riveter kind of vibe, and there are tutorials available on YouTube if you don’t want to just wing it like I did! The actual scarf is by Erica Tighe Campbell of Be a Heart Design and has the sweetest Marian doodle print, perfect for any occasion. She also offers the world’s greatest collection of liturgical year paper party goods.

Update 2024: Unfortunately this bandana isn’t available anymore 🙁 but there are some super cute NEW bandanas in the CAY Marketplace by the talented Jamie at Marigold Catholic Goods Co.! Grab one here!

I mean, can you EVEN?! Check them out here.

The husband’s latest update (and hairdo) is here. The 2019 Fiat Conference is in the works. Save the date for October 12! New baby is cooking up nicely. Glucose test was yesterday.

Thank you for your prayers!


  1. Annette L

    Liturgical year party goods? Amazing! Thank you for this lovely post. I have always been interested in doing this for families who are facing something life changing and may not have the time to cook yet still need to eat. Thank you for all the wonderful resources you lost at the end. God bless and protect you and your family.

  2. Katie Heath

    This. I have been blessed by meals and have brought meals for years! It is truly so simple and so absolutely heart warming and necessary in our crazy world. It is the simple things like this that open our hearts even more to the Lord.

  3. Christine

    We are part of the military community, and bringing meals is my all-time favorite tradition! We were on the receiving end once, and I try to pay it forward whenever I can. Like you said, it’s such a valuable thing (for the receiver AND the giver. 🙂

  4. Cheree Hull

    I love the idea of making an unexpected “visitation” on this Feast! I have always been happy to make meals and help others but I never once felt comfortable asking for help (even when having babies)–and still don’t. However, several years ago I had a major back surgery that put me in bed for weeks, and not doing much else for weeks more. I was forced into it and I didn’t like it but it was a lesson God knew I needed. Am I too proud to admit to myself that I need help? That I can’t “do it all”? Yep. There it is. Learning this about myself has been a game-changer. I’m creeping up on mid-life and I wish I’d learned it sooner. Just maybe I wouldn’t have needed that surgery and just maybe I wouldn’t have constant pain to remind me daily of my humanity and dependance on God. But, it keeps me in line most(!) days so I’ll take it!

  5. Jillbert

    Awwww, that’s sweet. A gift of a meal is always welcome. Makes me think about who I can cook for this week.

  6. Anne Glenn

    I love this idea of a surprise visitation! Lately, I have been lonely and I have more time on my hands -I ought to surprise someone with a meal!

  7. Claire

    Thanks so much for this. It prompted me to think of someone (a fellow parishioner) who just gave birth to her second child. My daughter and I brought her a casserole.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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