Yesterday was the last day of my fall bible study. In keeping with the mysterious unspoken church doctrine followed all around the world, we went potluck style, with a min-numbing array of baked goods, casseroles and breakfast tacos (because nothing says AMEN like a breakfast taco). It was a show of abundance, and in the best way.
Anytime I’m faced with an event like this where I am bringing food for the masses to eat, I go a little crazy. I never ever take the safe route, place the safe bet. I never ever choose to bring something tried and true. I don’t know why. Call it a rebellion. Or insanity. I don’t know. But I almost always, without fail, use these types of potluck events as a time to experiment and bring something brand spanking new. As if, in my mind, it’s ok to bring a total wild card that may or may not be a complete disaster because there is some sort of anonymity in placing it down on a table and running away. Not cool, Meaghan. Not cool.
I know this but I do it anyway.
And yesterday was no exception to this rule as I rolled out a brand new recipe creation, my Pumpkin French Toast Casserole.
Now, luckily it was a hit. Luckily it was warm and sweet and spicy and just chock full of pumpkin goodness.
And it’s even luckier for me because I really wanted to bring something good that wasn’t, say, wrought with salmonella, because of how much this bible study meant to me.
Because at the beginning of 2017, I wouldn’t have had the guts to walk into a bible study like this and just start from scratch. Not because it’s a bible study, though I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has had visions of spontaneously bursting into flames the moment they walk into a holy building, especially after a long absence. But because it was new. And I have “little things” anxiety.**
**not an actual diagnosis**
Let me explain.
My entire life, I have been a “little things” worrier. I haven’t taken any scientific polls on this one, but I feel like when most people worry, they tend to do it about the BIG stuff. You know, like the future, mental health, kid and marriage problems, finances, eternal life or death.
You know….the STUFF of life.
Nope. Not me. I can blissfully ignore the big stuff like a pro. I’ll just glide through life thinking everything is fine when it comes to the big things. It’s almost as if I live in a state of denial, purposely. Like, I KNOW we need money, but I’m sure it’s all going to work out somehow in the end so I don’t want to waste any energy worrying about it. You’d be hard pressed to find me in a panic mode at 3:00am over it.
But you’ll surely see me in a corner somewhere curled up in fetal position sucking my thumb over how you check your child into the childcare at a new church.
Or breaking into a cold sweat as I try to figure out where to park for an event I’m attending with 1000 strangers. Talking to those 1000 strangers? Piece of cake. Figuring out where to park? Complete and total meltdown.
I’m not in therapy for this. But maybe I should be.
One of the things that I love about my husband is how he helps me manage my crazy. He is the calm to my storm. He can see me getting tense about some minor little detail, and he’ll just quietly swing into action, taking control to make sure that whatever I’m worried about is taken of. He will be the one to figure out the details, and he doesn’t even complain about it. He just does it. Probably because it’s easier than seeing me break into a cold sweat in the middle of a crowded room, but also because I think he loves me. And we never want to see the ones we love worry.
And isn’t that what the bottom line of worry is anyway, control?
When I’m worrying about parking at a new venue, I’m probably just worried because everything about the venue is new. And uncertain. And because it’s new I can’t control for any outside factors. I can’t control for anything, really, because it’s all unknown. I can fool myself into believing that I’m not worried about the big stuff, that it’s really just the parking that has my palms sweaty. But I know enough of myself now to know this isn’t the case.
I would hate it if you called me a control freak. But my worrying proves that maybe, just maybe, I am.
So it’s nothing short of a minor miracle that I walked into my first bible study this summer, with no noticeable sweat anywhere and not a paper bag to breathe into in sight. But it’s not really my miracle that got me there, and I know that now too. Because what I have learned so far in 2017 is that I’m not in control anywhere, that fear is the opposite of faith, and that the God who is in control loves me and has already won the battle. He is there with me when I’m panicking in the parking lot and He’s there when I am fetal style in the corner. And if the God who created the heavens and the earth and also defeated death and conquered the grave is on my side…..what on earth am I so afraid of?
Sure, I may have trials. I may be nervous. I am not going to lie and say that that first day of bible study where I didn’t know anybody wasn’t intimidating. But I am going to say that instead of panicking and squealing wheels to get the heck out of there, I did what He asks us to do. I turned to him. I prayed. And then I hitched up my big girl pants, and walked in.
So I prayed little prayers of thanksgiving that my casserole turned out to be just what I wanted it to be, a little bit of love and warmth in a 9X13. (and also that no one got food poisoning from it.) What I managed to create is an easy, low prep casserole that looks and tastes like it took a lot longer. It’s great for holiday mornings when you are preoccupied with entertaining prep but still want a celebratory breakfast (I’m looking at you, Thanksgiving). I would definitely recommend mixing the liquids without the eggs first so you can adjust the seasoning to your liking. I found that I added a smidge more maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice to mine. Also make sure to use more bread than you think you need to. You really want it to soak up the liquid, otherwise it will be a bit soggy in the middle. But other than that, all this recipe needs is warm maple syrup and a cold morning to be the star of the show. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Spice French Toast Casserole
- 1 Loaf Crusty French Bread
- 7 large eggs
- 2 cups Milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (divided)
- 1 16 oz. can pumpkin puree
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- Step 1 Cut the bread into cubes and place in a lightly greased 9X13 baking dish. Use just enough bread to fill the dish, you may have some leftover.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin and 2 teaspoons pie spice until well combined. Pour over the bread and gently push down to make sure that the bread is evenly coated.
- Step 3 Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Step 4 Come morning, preheat the oven to 350.
- Step 5 Combine the brown sugar and remaining pumpkin pie spice. Spoon evenly over the casserole.
- Step 6 Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the bread is golden and liquid is soaked in.
- Step 7 Serve with maple syrup.
- Step 8 IT reaheats really well, too.