Month: May 2013

Book News and a Plea for Clothes and/or Prayer

Book trailer news:  I have an actor and a “screaming redhead” (as her own mother labeled her, lol).

I still need to borrow a mid 1908s-era boy’s CYO basketball shirt.  Color doesn’t matter.  If you live in PA/NJ/DE/MD and can help me out, please comment and we’ll get in touch somehow!  If not, pray to St. Anthony, finder of missing stuff.  Please share if someone in your circle might have a shirt we could borrow.  Thank you!

Also, I covet some prayers for good weather during the weekend of shooting (June 1-2, a week from today).


7 Quick Takes Friday: A Catholic Looking for the Rainbow Bridge

Join up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday!
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I sort of have a built-in theme for today (not sure if that’s how we’re allowed to do 7QT, but I’m a rebel). Last night we put our older dog, Willow, to sleep.



Putting a pet down seems like it would be a complicated matter for someone who is against euthanasia. It’s not. Pets are family… but they are not people. Pets cannot gain any spiritual benefit or moral strength or dignity from suffering. We can. That’s one of those things about being made in the image and likeness of God. Our suffering is never wasted–unless we choose to waste it.


Pets are not made in the image and likeness of God, but like all creation, they do give us an image of God’s love for us, if we’ll just look. Did Willow ever give me the cold shoulder because I’d ignored her, forgotten to give her my table scraps, or yelled at her for being so very in the way with her 90lbs of cluelessness? In the event I might have, say, forgotten to let her back in on a 20F day because the toddler was puking in the basement… did she hold it against me? Never. There is no sin so great that will keep a dog away from you. God’s like that.


On that note, let’s talk about faith vs. works, a topic getting a lot of press these days. God doesn’t need anything from us. Duh. He’s God. If you have faith in Him, hooray for you. If faith is all you choose to have for him, what’s your relationship with Him going to look like? It’ll look a lot like the relationship of someone who ignores her dog all the time. That dog will still be sitting in the corner, waiting to be loved. The owner will be patting herself on the back, saying, “I rescued her. That’s good enough for her.” Is it? That owner won’t get to experience the reciprocal joy of a belly rub:


If simply owning a dog isn’t the same as giving her a loving home, then how can we think believing in God is the same as making a loving home for Him in our hearts?


The more we allow ourselves to love and care for our pets, the more we–and our children–can see the merciful love God has for us. For instance, let’s talk about the time that Willow ate our Lenten Sacrifice Wreath THE NIGHT OF GOOD FRIDAY!


Her “sin” contained her punishment: all that salt dough makes for a beast of a lab who has to spend her usual sleeping time asking to go outside to pee. All she needed was our forgiveness and compassion–and someone with functional thumbs to open the door for her.


Our ability to love deeply is an image of God’s love for us. However much we miss Willow right now? That’s only a fraction of how much God misses us when we turn away from Him.


Willow taught me how closely my kids are listening to me. There were times when I muttered under my breath how “stupid” she was. There were times she was barking at the joggers passing down the sidewalk and I yelled at her to “shut up.” I didn’t think anything of those things… until I heard my kids say them to Willow themselves. Something to think about.


And now a word about The Rainbow Bridge. Ask anybody who went to Catholic School, and they’ll tell you, “Those heartless (nuns/priests/brothers/whathaveyou) told us that our dogs and cats and hamsters and iguanas WILL NOT GO TO HEAVEN!”

Okay. I’m going out on a limb here. I’m pretty sure this is not heresy: I think those nuns/priests/brothers/whathaveyou overwhelmingly meant really well, but they may have been answering the wrong question. Do pets have souls in need of redemption? Of course not. We do. I think all that means is that, while we are capable of choosing Hell, pets simply are not. If a sparrow can’t fall without God caring about it, how much more must He care about pets who taught us, His very favorite creations, about how to have a closer relationship with Him? If there can be precious stones in heaven, and if God promises to wipe every tear from our eyes, then I humbly submit that it is possible that God has put pet beds in the many rooms He has prepared for us.

And I’d like to think Willow is snoring in one of those beds right now.


7 Quick Takes Friday

Hi! It’s my first time joining up with 7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted by Jennifer over at Conversion Diary!  Care to join in?

If I do something wrong, here, let me know, but be gentle.


We have finished our first year of homeschooling. In honor of this momentous accomplishment, allow me to share with you what have been universally discovered (okay, by “universally” I mean simultaneously by myself and several other people) as…

The Five Stages of Homeschooling

(with all apologies to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)

Stage 1 Homeschooling is wrong and bad and wrong, and nobody should ever homeschool their children.

Stage 2 Okay, so I can see why some people homeschool, but I am absolutely confident that it would never be right for my family.

Stage 3 All right, so I can see how my children would really do better if they were homeschooled, but there is no way that I could ever do that.

Stage 4

Stage 5 Everybody should homeschool.

Personally, I’m somewhere between Stages 4 and 5. This year was great, and First Shift of Kids did a WONDERFUL job. We are adding some preschool activities next year for Second Shift, leaning heavily on Feast Days & Holidays by Joan Marie Arbogast . The biggest surprises have been that my poor math skills have not impeded their progress, and they have grown more socially this year than in all the years previous. Everybody should homeschool. Kidding! Kidding.

Everybody should homeschool.


I am hoping to finish the current round of edits to my novel, Don’t You Forget About Me, due to drop All Saints Day 2013. I’ve been calling it an “NFP Murder Mystery.” My publisher calls it “Theology of the Body suspense/romance.”


On that note, I’ve been “writing in my head” on three separate projects: two short stories and the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me. All of the chapter titles from DYFAM are the titles of ’80s songs, up to and including the first half of 1987. The sequel, tentatively titled Never Let Me Down Again, is going on the same path, only focusing on songs later in the ’80s, up to and including the first half of 1991. I’m already pretty sure the first chapter will be called “Just Like Heaven.” I also have “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Cuts You Up,” “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” and even “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” on my list, just to name a few.  I keep trying to justify “Rock Lobster,” but nothing’s coming to mind.

What are your favorite songs from those days?

We are working on potty training Second Shift of Kid. Aren’t you glad I didn’t list that as #1 or #2? We went from more accidents to success to equal numbers of each.  Progress.
I finally have taken a fresh plunge into veiling territory. I can sew, so I threw together a little triangular lace number that does the trick.


Pros: I have VERY fine hair (I’ve yet to meet a hair stylist who doesn’t bemoan my hair as “filmy”) and between using a wide band of heavy cotton at the front hem and keeping the rest of it very light, it stays on even my head, even through bowing before the Eucharist and otherwise wrangling Second Shift. On the spiritual side, our parish is very much a ripped-jeans-spaghetti-straps-bring-your-Dunkin’-Donuts-coffee-to-Mass-with-you kind of place. Needless to say, I’m the only veiled one there. I do get stared at. However, because my veil is so physically heavy, I do feel the parallel of God’s protecting hand on my head while I worship. I also found myself experiencing a more palpable compassion with those who get stared at for those non-optional reasons that I don’t have: the cancer survivor whose head wrap covers what radiation took from her; the man who can’t hide his cochlear implant; the mom whose kids are screaming to the chagrin of Little Old Ladies Whose Kids Never Behaved THAT WAY. I’d go on, but then this would become 7 Long and Agonizing Takes.

Cons: There is the Italian Widow look that just does not work for my giant Viking-Irish frame. I’m experimenting with something a little more “me” than knit cotton lace and point-d’esprit.

In future weeks, look for a post on venturing into hostel territory.
I was excited to find the trailer for the upcoming Rich Mullins biopic. I remember being a fledgling revert to Catholicism, still thinking, “Maybe I’d better go to a nice, respectable, non-denominational church near my college. I’m not sure I’m ready to be hated this much.” Then a Christian buddy played A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band on his car’s tape deck. I remember hearing “Creed” and thinking, “This guy is Catholic. Does he know it yet?” That small moment gave me courage–just the thought that a talented, respectable man could even consider the faith in with which I was about to throw my lot. Even in his choice to sing “one holy catholic church,” I could feel that tension of wanting to follow but wanting to make sure it was faith leading and not something else.  Anyway, Rich Mullins gave me that last shard of courage I needed to be what God was wooing me to become.  Rich Mullins was–is, I hope–the kind of Christian, the kind of Catholic I want to be.

So there’s my first 7QT! I’m still interested: You in the 80s? Big Hair or Skater Hair? GNR or something a little more like this:


Review: The King’s Gambit by John McNichol

Why did I not know about John McNichol until I was passed a review copy of The King’s Gambit for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval?  Because, it seems, I have had my head in the sand for the past ten years.  That’s why.  Nobody to blame but selfie, self.

The King's Gambit

Anyways, John McNichol is the author of the Young Chesterton Chronicles… which I’ve not yet read, but I plan on remedying that shortly.  I wanted to review Gambit because I have a pair of young chess players for whom it is increasingly difficult to buy reading material.  Both read at a high school level but are nine years old.  (That’s not bragging.  They also still can’t get through a meal without flinging food everywhere or remember where they left their toothbrushes.  We all have our gifts.  Academics are theirs.) You try finding books for young minds eager for literary adventure without digging up something that’s dumbed down, morally offensive, suggestive, or all three and then some.

“Send them to the classics,” you say.  “Boring,” they say.  I can’t even get them to read Little Women.  I’m about to try Dickens.  Pray for me.

Back to Gambit.  We have an unlikely hero who conquers impossible–like, literally impossible–situations with the help of… wait for it… HIS FAMILY AND THE HEAVENLY HOST.  ::gasp!:: What a novel idea.  I was delighted to read the story of Edward and his battle against life-sized chess pieces.  I was even more delighted to pass it on to my “biggns” without having to explain why Catholics don’t believe that what this character did was right, and why that character’s choice was wrong, and so on.  Nope.  None of that.  I was able to share it with them, confident that they would see their faith upheld, not put down with flimsy characterizations or weak philosophies.

Best of all, they loved the story, too.  Well done, John McNichol! You have yourselves at least three new fans.