Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism 1.0

Lawn Chair Catechism has officially launched over at! I don't have my book yet, since I only just ordered it yesterday, but I'll be sure to catch up on the Recommended Reading once my copy arrives.

In the meantime, I read the introductory discussion that Sarah posted this morning. There's discussions going on in the comment box, and there's a link-up for blogs as well, for longer responses to the questions raised.

I really related to the story of the parish leader who confessed that she didn't have a "relationship with God." I have felt that way myself. I remember attending a Christ Renews His Parish retreat shortly before I was married. My husband was very involved in that retreat program at the time, and he encouraged me to go on the women's retreat. It seems to be a self-seeding organization--you attend a retreat and then you're on the team of presenters for the next one.

I was 25--a good bit younger in years and life experience than most of the other women there. That was fine during the retreat itself, but in the weekly meetings afterward where we began to prepare for the next retreat, it became an issue. We were supposed to be able to give a talk about the moment where God really came into our lives.

I didn't have a big, dramatic moment. All the other women did. I actually fled the meeting in tears, feeling like a fake because I couldn't come up with some time in my life when God smacked me in the head and made me notice Him.

Throughout most of my life, I have been a leader in my church:  through music ministry, campus ministry, religious education, and Secular Franciscans (where I hold a leadership position in my local fraternity.) And many, many times I feel like a fraud because I don't have that outward, obvious Relationship With God for all to see. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I play music at Mass and attend daily Mass when possible. I wear a Tau. And I find myself leaning on God more, and trying to do the right thing.

Am I an Intentional Disciple? I think I'm working on it. I'm getting better. It's a SLOW process, this growing-up-in-faith, and baby steps seem to be the name of the game, at least for me. Could I define my Relationship With God? I don't think so, and if pushed, I'd probably flee in tears, just like I did at that meeting 22 years ago.

Recently on Twitter, someone mused that she wished she had a thicker skin. I replied that I wished the same for myself, but that a thick skin can keep love out just as effectively as it keeps hurts out--and God is love, so praying for a thicker skin might be counterproductive.

The fact that I recognized this is, I think, a sign that I'm opening the door a crack--a door that I've kept closed far too long.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Reading

My kids have Summer Reading assignments--and now, so do I.

Mine doesn't come with a test at the end, or a book report to write, or a poster to draw. It does, however, come with the promise of an intriguing online discussion.

That's because my Summer Reading is coming from the brand-new Lawn Chair Catechism series at

We're reading Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples:  The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus.

Learn how you can read along, or even join the discussion without reading the book. (Try THAT with your traditional Summer Reading assignment!) The series starts tomorrow, but you can still order the book at a deep discount--with free shipping--through June 6.

Find out more!

Monday, May 27, 2013


Little Brother is just so desperate to be a Big Kid. As the youngest in a family with a wide age spread, that's not such a shocker.

For at least a year he's been asking me to buy him Axe. Since he's not one to be restrained in his use of anything, there was no way I was going to let him get anything he could liberally spray all over himself.

But just before Easter I was in CVS and I noticed that Axe makes shampoo and body wash. I'm all about encouraging cleanliness, so I bought him a bottle of shampoo and tucked it in his Easter basket. He's been a happily clean kid for almost two months now.

This morning after his shower, he came over to me and asked, "How do I smell?"

Me:  "Um, you smell like Axe."

LB:  "Yeah. I'm going to get all the girls."

Me:  "Oh really?"

LB:  "Yeah. That's what happens when you use Axe. Girls really like it."

Me:  "Not this girl."

LB:  "You don't have to like it. You already have a husband."

Friday, May 24, 2013


I'm holding a grudge.

OK, I'm holding many grudges. I'm good at multitasking that way, and my superpower is hanging onto a hurt/annoyance/outrage and blowing it out of proportion.

Holy Mountains-out-of-Molehills, Batman!

But even I knew that this one particular grudge was getting out of hand when I started to consider going out of my way to avoid something that the Grudge-Target and I both enjoy, because it reminds me of said Grudge-Target.

Can you say, "What, are we in middle school?"

Just for the sake of example, let's say that the Thing We Enjoy is root beer. (Because it's not. I can't stand root beer. But it works in this story).

Root beer is widely and conveniently available. Therefore, reminders that root beer exists happen quite frequently. When I am reminded that root beer exists, I am reminded of the Grudge-Target and how this person likes root beer.

And here's where my Inner Middle-Schooler is tempted to avoid choosing root beer, even though I like it, because the Grudge-Target likes it too.

I have a fear that if I bring this up in confession, Father will just laugh at me, because he has no idea what it's like to be a middle-school girl.

At the moment, making peace with the Grudge-Target may not be possible. But I have decided that it's ridiculous of me to stop drinking root beer just because it reminds me of someone with whom I have a conflict.

I need to do something else instead. I need to pray for the Grudge-Target. I need to pray for myself, too, that I will have the courage and strength and grace needed to make peace with this person.

So I have resolved that each time I have a root beer, I will pray. May God bless me with the grace to forgive, and may He bless the Grudge Target as well.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Pink Ukelele

There's a little girl whose parents bring her and her baby brother to the 12:00 Mass every Sunday. They've started sitting near the folk group, and she keeps her eyes firmly on the musicians.

One recent Sunday, she escaped from the pew during Communion and her mom had to chase her as she ran up to the altar. After that Mass, a bunch of us told her embarrassed parents that they shouldn't worry about it, and that they shouldn't stop bringing her to Mass. It would get better. We're all parents too, and we've had our share of embarrassing kids-in-church moments.

Yesterday, there they were, in their usual spot. But the little girl did not arrive at church empty-handed. Besides her little pink purse, she had a tiny pink gig bag. Her dad placed it carefully at the edge of the pew. It looked like a very, very small guitar case, and we all whispered to each other before Mass that the little girl was here and that she'd brought her own guitar.

Of course, we were completely charmed by that idea. I was wondering how long it would take for her to break out the guitar and abandon her parents in the pew for the folk group across the aisle.

She left her gig bag alone during Mass (amazingly) but afterwards her dad helped her unzip it, to reveal the cutest little pink ukelele. She let Little Brother try to play it.

More than just a cute and sweet moment, though, this tells me something:  despite the liturgical-music snobbery that "folk-groupies" like myself often encounter, what we do has the power to touch lives. That little girl, no more than three years old, clearly wanted to play music in church. She sees us do that, she likes it, and she wants to do the same.

Church music doesn't have to be written before the turn of the 20th century to be inspiring. There's a little girl in our parish who has found herself inspired by the music we play each Sunday. It's not everyone's favorite, but it has touched her heart. I hope that in a few years, this little girl finds that she has a musical gift, and looks for a way to use that gift to honor God and serve others.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Much Ado About (Paying) Nothing

Because I write for several shopping blogs, I come across a lot of offers for free or inexpensive items. It's my job to choose several of these each week to highlight at one of these blogs.

Many of these offers come from the Facebook pages of shops, restaurants or other companies.

Usually I just write up the deal, link to the source and get on with things, but in the past couple of days I've read a few of the comments attached to the posts announcing some of these specials.

Yesterday, as I printed out my weekly coupon from the Dunkin' Philly Fan Zone, some of the comments on the page were blasting Dunkin' Donuts for offering a breakfast-sandwich coupon instead of one for iced coffee. On other posts for past coupons, people complained that other stores were offering better deals. Or they complain that these coupons are only good Monday through Thursday.

Today, I was posting a deal for teachers from Chipotle Mexican Grill and saw that many commenters complained because the restaurant hadn't offered a freebie for nurses, daycare providers, student teachers and homeschoolers.

What an entitlement mentality!

I'm a former teacher, so I don't expect Chipotle to give me free food tonight. And I'm happy for the low-priced breakfast sandwich coupon, but if I weren't a breakfast-sandwich fan, I just wouldn't print a Dunkin' Donuts coupon this week. Next week, after all, there will be another.

These stores issue coupons to get customers in the door and generate some goodwill in the community. I didn't see a whole lot of goodwill on the Facebook pages for either establishment regarding these offers, and that's a shame. It's people like those commenters on Facebook that will ruin things for everyone else, because the stores will eventually give up and stop giving out coupons and freebies.

Can't use the coupon this time? Don't qualify for the free offer this time? Oh well! Maybe next time you will. In the meantime, be grateful that the store still offers special deals and stop blasting them because each and every deal is not for you.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

12/Year: April in Review

I have a nice camera, but if it weren't for my iPhone I wouldn't have ANY pictures at all most of the time!
I'm linking up with Barbara's 12 a Year.

Recommended reading.
 Evidence of an afternoon well-spent. We went to Tampa, Florida for a few days during Easter vacation. Fun in the sun!
Beautiful sunset over the Gulf.

Little Brother worked on his Science Fair report. For his project, we baked together!

The very first lilacs of the season.

Little Brother, at the dollar store:  "Look, Mom, a really big toothbrush!"

Kitchen equipment--needed to feed 125 people dinner for 5 days during Tech Week at the high school. The "play parents" make sure the kids have a good, hot dinner before those extra-long rehearsals. This year, I was the Dinner Mama.
The pool's open! (Yes, he knows it's only April. He'd open it on the first day of spring if he could.)

Polar Bear Plunge, April 23. The water was 55 degrees. The air was 50 degrees.
Middle Sister got her hair done for prom. She looks great in curls!

 Middle Sister on her way to prom!

All packed up for the first night of Tech Week dinners. My garage looked like an episode of "Hoarders:  The Restaurant Edition."