31 People: Jesus Christ


Jesus Christ is #1 on my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list.

I could have written about him first – but I wanted to save the best for last.

Jesus Christ is my biggest influence. He is a constant force in my life. My life would be but a fraction without Him in it.

I wouldn’t do life without Him.

He is my saving grace, my every breath, my driving force, the reason I wake up in the morning and the foundation of my very life is because of Him.

I am captivated by Him, drawn to Him, in love with Him and loved by Him.

Jesus Christ is my closest friend, my lover, my confidante. He likes me and loves me just as I am. No-one else in the world can say and mean that – not even Captain America, my Mum or my Dad.

Jesus Christ is my greatest inspiration. I want to and choose daily to be more like Him. I fail miserably most of the time but tomorrow is a new day and I get to try again, learning from my mistakes and continuing to be guided by His hand and Word.

I am more impressed by Jesus Christ than by anyone else. He is real, funny-hilarious, in fact, a man of great character who was tested beyond what He thought He could handle and yet He did what He came to do. He did it for me and He did it for you.

Do you know Jesus Christ the way I know Jesus Christ?

I pray that you will come to know Him and His great love and desire for a relationship with you.

31 People: Ruth


The Bible character, Ruth is one of my favorite people from the Bible.

Namesake, I here you cry! However, there is way more to my love and admiration for her than just having a shared name.

Yes, I love my name and I am delighted to share it with a woman of such character, faithfulness and kindness. I remember asking my parents, when I was old enough to know about Ruth from the Bible if that is where they came up with the inspiration for my name. I was, at least in part. Ruth is also a favorite Biblical character for my parents, and in part she inspired my name.

A hard act to follow I felt when I came to understand a little more about her from her story. I also didn’t feel like I could identify with her very much. God had other plans as he usually does!

In recent years, I noticed some major similarities in my life and Ruth’s and I have been challenged and felt inclined to take a similar attitude to her in my response to life hence why she made my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list.

One similarity is that I am a foreigner in the land. Yes, I am only from England, and you may think it is really not that different to America. You would be wrong. It is very different. More different that you would expect or prepare yourself for. In many ways I have had to start over again. All the things I thought I knew, and took for granted, are not the same. From how to apply for a job to laundry soap (and the fact that it is even called laundry soap is different, in the UK it is called washing powder!) it is different and I have had to start from scratch. Which believe me can lead to some pretty embarrassing conversations and feelings of insecurity and stupidity!

Ruth too faced these issues, she was a foreigner in a new land with just one person she knew, her mother-in-law! She didn’t know the etiquette, she probably made a fool of herself and she probably had more than a few embarrassing moments. However, like me, she know that is where she was supposed to be. It was God’s plan and intention for her life.

Ruth was faithful and I live my life in such a way that tries to be faithful to God first and those around me second. The other characters in the Book of Ruth also display great faithfulness-Ruth to Naomi, Boaz to Ruth and everyone’s relationship with God is a reflection of his faithfulness.

When she was called, Ruth was indignant. I love that about her. She was tenacious!

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

The Book of Ruth is a book of redemption. At the start of the book Ruth is a childless widow with no prospects and by the end she is the great-grandmother to David, Israel’s great king, happily married, settled. The love story of Ruth and Boaz is a reflection of God’s love for us in sending Jesus to die for us on the cross. Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, and Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer.

The character of Ruth is a huge inspiration in my life. She is faithful, kind, loving, selfless and a woman of honor. I am delighted to share a name with her and I only pray that I can be a fraction of the woman she was. I do hope I get to meet her in heaven – now she is someone I would love to have coffee with!

31 People: Todd Cataldo

Todd Cataldo

Today is our wedding anniversary so who better to feature in my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list than Todd Cataldo (or Captain America as you know him!)

He would have always made the list to be fair, but I wanted to save him until today and this can be his anniversary gift…no pressure!

Captain America, or Todd as I will refer to him just for today, is #2 on my list! Jesus is #1 and ALWAYS will be and Todd would have it no other way!

Todd Cataldo is by far the person who impresses me the most out of all the people I have and will list in my 31 People.

He is an incredible man. He is a great leader. He is consistent, solid, reliable.

He is pretty much unshakable. This is both highly frustrating to me and one of the things I love most about him. I like that fact that when he sets his mind to something he gets it done, He is a finisher. He completes things. He gets things done. He is also a stickler for details. When he makes a decision it is nearly impossible to make him change his mind….trust me I have tried many, many times and failed. He defines the word stubborn…..but it takes one to know one so who I am I to talk!

He is strong yet gentle. He leads our marriage with great authority and character and brings a security every girl dreams of – even when everything around us seems insecure.

A few years before I met Todd, I was praying one day and God spoke to me very specifically about the character of my husband. It was very overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time. I knew then that I would read the words God had spoken to me on my wedding day to my husband. Crazy I know! Two years ago today, I spoke these very words to Todd in my wedding speech.

As I was writing this post, I was reminded of those words and as I looked at them I am now understanding that they are more true today than they were two years ago. God was right (now there’s a shock!).

I want to share those words with you:

“He is my son

He is the apple of my eye

He is so loved by me

His earthly family love him so much and are so proud of the man he has become

I have watched him come into his inheritance and walk it out with pride, care and attention

He is my delight

He is the fairest among men

He is after my heart above all things

He is accomplished in earthly things and eternal things

He values eternal things more than others

He is not easily distracted. He is very focussed

He is steady and thoughtful

Courageous and strong

A mighty warrior

A strong leader, someone to rely on

He is a man of great character and worth

He is the greatest among men

He has the heart of a father, a protector

His eyes do not stray

He loves me with a fiery love that will not go unsatisfied

He is dedicated, passionate and zealous after the things of my heart

He is virtuous, a man of character

He is captivated by me, and captivating – others are drawn to him

He is known for his graciousness

He is seeking after my heart and one day the three of us will run together in ministry

One Heart, One Mind, One Strength.”

I made Todd answer my questions for the post too – just like many other people did and here are his answers. I think it’s very interesting that he says many of the same things about himself that God spoke to me all those years ago!

Name: Todd Cataldo

Age: most people think I am in my mid-30s but I am 45; The Holy Spirit keeps me young!

Status: ….? awake? online? Oh, you mean MARITAL status, marrried to the rosiest of English Roses there is!

Occupation: Kept Man ; ) … Pastor & Apostle

Who or what inspires you?

God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life?

Same as above

What is your greatest quality and why?

my butt, jk (I actually think it’s his broad shoulders!!) … mmm, well, I think my greatest quality may also be my greatest downfall … the good version of it is called tenacity, the bad version is called stubborness. I usually don’t have a problem letting my goals and dreams take a temporary rest, but once I have set my mind on accomplishing something I WILL find a way to accomplish it. I guess this goes along with what most people say is my best quality, which is reliability.

What is a struggle for you and what are you doing to overcome it?

Well, I have extremely high standards and expectations of myself and others. I don’t know that I necessarily want to overcome this, but I do want to use this trait of mine in a positive way. I think the best approach is a balance between grace, honesty and encouragement and equipping.

When people look at your life, what do you hope they will see?

I hope that people will see a man who glorifies and magnifies God.

I am overwhelmed that God saved this man for me.

He is exactly who I needed in my life. He makes my life richer – everyday!

There is no-one I would rather wake up next to.

His steadfastness has kept me sane through an incredibly challenging, stressful and faith-driven year and I am grateful more than words could ever express for who he is and how he loves me.

Happy Anniversary, Todd.

I love you, forever!

31 People: My Mum


My Mum made my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list because she’s my Mum!

She is inspiring, influential and impressive! In fact, she has probably had the most influence on my life than anyone else!

Ironically, this is one of the most difficult posts to write…..because it’s my Mum!

I don’t have a very dramatic story about my relationship with my Mum, no years of angst or separation followed by some remarkable reunion – just a lifetime of solid, dependability, a consistent, loving Mum who taught and raised me well. I am kind of like her mini-me. I usually tell people that when they meet my Mum I make more sense! After they meet her, they agree-I suddenly make sense.

We are very similar in many ways, we are both stubborn, bossy and we like to be in charge – which usually means we clash when given a task to do together as we both believe that “my way is better” – so we do what every Mum and daughter do, ‘nuke it out until one gives up or we find common ground, and then laugh about how ridiculous we were later (while the men around us take cover!!) If you here us arguing you would think we hate each other – but it’s because we love each other and are so close that we can yell like that and nothing changes or effects our relationship!

No, you get to find out a little more about my Mum….in her own words:

Name: Alison Kelly

Age: 63

Status: Happily married to Paul for 37 years

Occupation: Retired Teacher

Describe a typical day in your life:

After a lifetime of being controlled by a timetable and bells I decided, that on retirement, my greatest pleasure would be to having a varied routine or even no routine at all. So there is no such thing as a typical day any more. Some form of housework gets done most days – washing, ironing, cleaning etc. Then there’s walking our Westie, Jack; reading – a passion; crafting – a revived passion; some form of christian activity – ladies housegroup, teen housegroup, pastoral work and “mooching” – visiting a place and just spending time exploring.

Tell us about a defining moment in your life:

I was born with a hole in the heart and a blocked mitral valve and at the age of 11 these were repaired at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital. It was 1963 and the operation was relatively new. A couple of years later I had what I can only describe as a ‘light bulb’ moment – I could have died during the operation yet God kept me alive for a purpose and I owed him my life. This was odd as I wasn’t really a Christian more a God-fearer. A further defining moment occurred while walking to the local shops with my daughter in her pram. It was a lovely spring day, I had a beautiful baby, a loving, caring husband and a nice home. Yet I felt so empty and I remember thinking, “Is this all there is?” Then feeling very guilty. God answered that question a few years later when I did become a Christian.

Who or what inspires you?

I feel inspired by beauty in nature – a hillside of different types of tree clothed in their autumn colours, a glorious sunset, tiny snowdrops or a bluebell wood. Anything like that swells my heart and makes it sing.

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life?

My husband and daughter and now my son-in-law. They are such godly people who display so many of the qualities I lack or struggle with. Paul is so loyal and trustworthy and steadfast. Ruth is so honest in her relationships and taught me how to deal with conflict in a none aggressive way (I’m still learning). Todd mirrors Paul in so many ways.

What is your greatest quality and why?

I think it’s being a homemaker – I want my family and friends to feel safe, comfortable and loved whenever they enter the house so a lot of my time revolves around creating the right environment.

What is a struggle for you and what are you doing to overcome it?

Being critical of people who don’t match up to my expectations, including myself. I have renounced certain generational curses which reflect my critical attitude – my mum was the same with anything I did. Paul monitors what I say and challenges me when I fall back into critical mode.

When people look at your life, what do you hope they will see?

A woman who demonstrated the life of Jesus in her own life. A woman who was passionate about her faith and her family. A woman who impacted people’s lives in some positive way.

Thank you Mum, for who you are, all you have done to make me the woman I am today and all you continue to do in loving and supporting me and Captain America!

I am delighted you are my Mum and I love doing life with you – even at a distance!

I love you and am more grateful than words could ever express.

31 People: Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is one of the main reasons I became passionate about food!

He taught me a lot about cooking, growing my own food and how simple, delicious food can be. I have tried to implement his approach here at Captain America & His English Rose of creating simple, yet delicious dishes – that anyone can make!

Jamie Oliver taught me how to make risotto…..properly! His Pizza Dough Recipe is a staple at our house, it helped me overcome my fear of dough AND it is by far the most successful post I have ever written on this blog – so for that I am truly grateful!

I own many of his cookbooks, but rarely follow his actual recipes – yet they inspire me to create new dishes and to try out new methods. I loved his TV shows and found them to be the most inspiring. Jamie At Home was a series I particularly enjoyed as it taught me about growing my own vegetables, how simple it is and some amazing dishes I can make with the results. The summer after I watched that show I grew many vegetables and became a lifetime convert to a kitchen garden.

One of the things that inspires me most about Jamie Oliver is that his recipes are not complicated or pretentious – they often don’t involve expensive ingredients that are difficult to get a hold of and they don’t take hours. He breaks them down into simple steps that anyone can follow.

Don’t believe me – check out his Youtube channel ‘Food Tube’ or his website, jamieoliver.com and see for yourselves!

31 People: My Dad


Today is my Dad’s birthday!

What better way to honor him, especially as I am so far away, than adding him to my 31 People who Inspire, Influence, Impress list!

I love this picture of me and my Dad. It was taken (by our amazing photographer, Shauna Castaner Photography) on my wedding day.

I love the joy and pride on his face. He had waited 32 years for that moment and as his only child, and only daughter I know that moment was magical for both of us.

Growing up I was never a Daddy’s girl – even though I look more like my Dad (I have his eyes), my personality is so much more like my Mum which is the opposite of Dad. Dad is a thinker, a melancholy, a processor. He hates conflict and is a peacemaker. This served him very well in his career as a social worker specializing in fostering, but as a Dad with an incredibly verbally expressive, often argumentative, and extremely passionate (some call it volatile!) daughter it lead to my teen years having their fair share of conflict and arguments. Oh the joys of teenage angst!

Meanwhile, my Dad never raised his voice to me (even though I gave him many opportunities) instead he was constant and consistent. I ALWAYS knew I was dearly loved no matter what. I always knew he was proud of me no matter what. Those things matter so much more to me now and the frustrations of my teenage years are but a comedic and distant memory.

I was blessed with a Dad who never left me in any doubt about how he felt about me. I have met many women who have struggled throughout their lives with their identity because they did not grow up with a secure father figure in their lives. I realize the value and security his love and consistency brought me.

My Dad is one of the funniest men I know, admittedly some of the time people are laughing at him – but Dad is very aware of his idiosyncrocies and regularly makes light of them and ‘plays to the crowd’. Friends still talk about my wedding speech, partly because it was very long (by American standards not not by British standards!), full of useless details, funny memories, heartfelt moments and hilarious laughter – including the moment Dad started laughing at his own stories!! He laughs until he cries often and when you are with him you can’t help but get swept up in the hilarity!

For the purposes of these posts I interviewed some of the people I am featuring in the 31 People series so you can get a little more of an idea of who they are and what their real lives are like.

Here is a smattering of my Dad’s answers:

Describe a typical day in your life: 

Now that I am retired there is no such thing as a typical day. One of the advantages when I was working was that every day was different and now that I am retired I don’t do routine.

Having said that as I am now a dog owner he expects a degree of routine, so unless the weather is very bad he is taken out for a walk every day. Even then I try to vary the route & the time of day when we go for a walk. I go to the gym twice a week & like to go early in the morning before breakfast. I help out at a local food bank one morning once every two weeks. With my wife I go t church on Sundays and we both run a housegroup for teenagers which meets once every two weeks. I am also a member of a housegroup that that also meets every two weeks.

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life? 

As a Christian the answer should be my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and on reflection that is true because my Christian faith does influence a lot of my thinking.

However, in practical day -to-day matters my wife and my daughter are the significant influences. Both are able to provide insight and sound advice. My wife and I spend more time together now that we are both retired and for the most part this works well, but we both recognize that we also like to pursue individual interests, so we try to make sure we set aside time for them.

What is your greatest quality and why?

I cannot stand arrogance and conceit so I do not think about my own qualities. People say I am dependable, reliable and can be trusted. I like to follow through with promises I make to people and don’t like to let people down.

Tell us about a defining moment in your life: 

There are three, all related and of equal importance: when I became a Christian, when I met my wife and when my daughter was born.

I hope this gives you a great taste of who my Dad is and how proud and grateful I am to have him as my Dad!

I Love you Dad – more than you will ever know!

Happy Birthday!

31 People: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth

What a way to kick off my 31 Day series: 31 People who Inspire, Influence, Impress than with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Many of you may know very little about her and you may think my choice is strange but Her Majesty The Queen has impressed me immensely over my lifetime and it all started with a TV show about her life.

The show followed her for a few months and got a glimpse into her life behind the scenes. I was amazed by how hard she worked (for more information see A Day In The Life), the amount of tasks she undertook, the levels of personal investment she made in so many things and her passion and dedication to serve her country and commonwealth – all at the grand age of 88 years. I have had a huge level of admiration for her ever since.

Let me tell you a little about her:

Her childhood

The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

At the time she stood third in line of succession to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, The Duke of York. But it was not expected that her father would become King, or that she would become Queen.

Princess Elizabeth’s quiet family life came to an end in 1936, when her grandfather, King George V, died. His eldest son came to the throne as King Edward VIII, but, before the end of the year, King Edward VIII had decided to give up the throne in order to marry the woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Upon his abdication, Princess Elizabeth’s father acceded to the throne as King George VI, and in 1937 the two Princesses (Elizabeth and Margaret) attended their parents’ coronation in Westminster Abbey.

Princess Elizabeth was now first in line to the throne, and a figure of even more intense public interest.

Queen Elizabeth II was not born as an heir to the throne – it is a role she came into by pure chance. I love this statement she made on her 21st birthday,

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

I believe that she has lived up to that statement.

Second World War

One of the most incredible things many people do not know about The Queen is that in early 1945 the Princess was made a Subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). By the end of the war she had reached the rank of Junior Commander, having completed her course at No. 1 Mechanical Training Centre of the ATS and passed out as a fully qualified driver. She does not mess around, and when she says she will serve – she actually did!

Her Accession and Coronation

On Wednesday, 6 February 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the throne, while staying in a remote part of Kenya. The tour had to be abandoned, and the young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.

The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. It was a solemn ceremony conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury. Crowds of people viewed the procession all along the route, despite heavy rain. The ceremony was also broadcast on radio around the world and, at The Queen’s request, on television for the first time.

Her Marriage & Family

Shortly after the Royal Family returned from South Africa in 1947, the Princess’s engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was announced.

The couple, who had known each other for many years, were married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. The event was fairly simple, as Britain was still recovering from the war, and Princess Elizabeth had to collect clothing coupons for her dress, like any other young bride. They spent their honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire, the home of Lord Mountbatten, and at Birkhall, Balmoral.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary on 20 November 2014. The Queen has paid public tribute to her husband on several occasions, recalling his loyal support and service to the country. They have four children, eight grandchildren and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren.

Interesting Facts:

1) The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

2) There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen’s reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).

3) There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).

4) In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.

5) In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.

6)  Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.

7) Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers. They are:

  • Winston Churchill 1951-55
  • Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
  • Harold Macmillan 1957-63
  • Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
  • Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
  • Edward Heath 1970-74
  • James Callaghan 1976-79
  • Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
  • John Major 1990-97
  • Tony Blair 1997-2007
  • Gordon Brown 2007-2010
  • David Cameron 2010 – present

Sources: HM The Queen and Wikipedia