Proverb 16:9 In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (NIV)
Planning is one of my strong points—especially planning vacations. Although asking God’s help and guidance on big things, big plans in my life were not ever a question. When planning the events of the day, or laying out the course of a vacation, I did not (and sometimes still need a reminder) always seek God’s guidance on the small things.
However, on our second trip to Italy, third year of marriage, God showed me in a gentle way, that He is definitely in charge of all of our hours, minutes—and that each day of ours is important to Him.
I was six months pregnant with our first child, our daughter, Jennie. My doctor assured me I would be fine on a trip I described as a traipse through Rome, a short drive south to Sorrento via the Amalfi Coast and a brief road circuit of the Island of Sicily. My health never did become an issue. I was fine. Had a bit of trouble on the slippery gravel on Mt. Vesuvius, but otherwise, all went well.
In fact, all aspects of the trip went well until we made the drive from Palermo to Agrigento, via Marsala, a place of current winemaking and an important site in Italian history. Before we left the hotel in Palermo, we asked the desk clerk to make a reservation for us in Agrigento.
So, we drove slowly, enjoying the sights of the coast. We had a lovely lunch and arrived at our reserved hotel destination in Agrigento around six in the evening. One small problem. The Agrigento hotel did not have any record of our reservation. Apparently, the man in Palermo had never phoned him.
That desk clerk hastily called around to other hotels in the area. However, this landmark site with more well-preserved Greek ruins in one location than even in Greece (Sicily was a Greek colony two thousand years ago), is under built when it comes to modern hotels.
I looked and felt very tired. I also looked and was very pregnant, a fact which did not escape the notice of the sympathetic clerk.
“I have one room that has not been claimed. I am obligated to hold it until eight,” he told us.
I collapsed on a chair in the lobby where I was in his direct line of vision and Joe sat nearby. Joe and I sat in the lobby, praying that we would not have to spend the night in the car. I specifically asked God to forgive me for not consigning my plans to Him—no matter how small. I tried to keep in mind that He had charge of us and our travels and not to worry. A few minutes after eight, my husband, Joe went to the desk and returned with a key. The room was ours.
We took the elevator up to our room, unpacked and made it down to the hotel dining room just in time for the last serving of dinner. The first course, pasta shaped like a butterfly, farfalle, was not widely known in the USA at that time. The sauce was creamy, with spinach, unusual for Southern Italy.
The taste was divine. In fact, I don’t know what the second course was because I repeated the pasta. (Pregnant ladies are allowed such eccentricities). I asked the waiter what made the white sauce so tasty. He shared the “secret” and I wrote it in my trip journal.
During the rest of the trip, we ate other wonderful meals but that one stood out so much so that on our return home, I found farfalle pasta, and duplicated the sauce. Every time I serve it, I am reminded that God is in charge of each moment of our lives—that even our natural gifts, like mine for planning, are to be used prayerfully. Our times are in His Hands. We need to pray that our plans align with His will.
It’s a fun dish to serve for St. Patrick’s Day or any celebration that calls for green since the sauce is laced with spinach. Jennie, our daughter, claims she learned to like this pasta dish in utero. It’s still one of our favorites and of course, I make it every time she visits.
Leotta Family Recipe: Farfalle with Spinach
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
½ cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese
2 teaspoons, freshly ground nutmeg (the secret ingredient)
I package, 10 ounces, of spinach, cooked and drained
Make a roux with butter and flour. Add milk. Add the cheese, slowly, stirring while you add it.
Put in the nutmeg and a dash of salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to thicken and then add the cooked spinach. Stir and then put it over the cooked and drained Farfalle pasta. Serve.
Note—I use DeCecco pasta. Trust me; the quality of the pasta makes a difference in the taste.