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The F.U.N. Quotient… oh! the perils of childhood…

Gotta love that Bactine segment at the end…. I am rolling…

On writerlyness and fortune cookies… or the good fortune of writing.

On writerlyness and fortune cookies… or the good fortune of writing.

“…it’s not the published book that makes you a writer. You’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music.”

Susan Henderson

About twenty years ago, when my children were small, I got a fortune cookie once with my take-out order with an interesting message. “You are a lover of words. Someday you will write a book,” it said. It was a funny thing to ponder at the time. I never thought of really writing a book — but I was indeed a lover of words.

I knew what it was like to write for living. I was a women who gave up her radio and advertising work — where I wrote six days a week — to write a different story as a stay-at-home mother. I never regretted it.

Being a parent is one of the only jobs in the world where you have the privilege of writing something on another person’s heart. If you are fortunate, you live long enough to hear the melody you wrote sung back to you. There I was, back in the day, sharing that love of words, and love of The Word, by reading stories aloud to my children, and teaching them to read and write their own little compositions!

I don’t take much stock in fortune cookies, or any other way of discerning one’s future, outside of prayer and hard work. Looking back, it seems maybe the fortune cookie got it right. Some twenty-five years later, I am still a lover of words, and eventually, I did write a book!

More to the point, I have written the equivalent of many books if you add up all the songs, poetry, commercials, research papers, columns, articles, freelance projects, podcast scripts and blog posts I’ve written over time. Writing has been somewhat of a constant, despite interesting detours. Being new to book publishing does not mean that I’m new to the writing craft. It’s just that the word-stringing is more symphonic. There is a whole team that adds their notes to the page.

Over the last fifteen years, I have held other jobs that were less written-word-laden. Some of them were part-time pursuits that fit in well with my need to raise my family. Even though they were not writerly jobs, they allowed me to be creative in other ways, outside of the page. Some of those positions, in recent years, were with the church — and most of those people who have known me, those I have ministered to and with, had little idea about my love affair with words, other than my passion for Scrabble. Many are surprised when they hear I wrote a book. They did not know I was a writer, they say. As if the book makes the writer.

As grateful as I am for the book, this quasi-empty-nester has been embracing that shift from part-time to full time work, and much of that involves a pen or a keyboard. I’m figuring out that writing is still a constant, and still figuring into the midlife script that God seems to be writing.

I was just sharing with a friend that when I finished my Masters in theology I expected to teach, or do faith formation at a parish somewhere nearby, preferably with a short commute. But God had other plans. Now that “parish” looks a lot like the Catholic blogosphere and periodicals, and the opportunity to pray and speak and teach in parishes and dioceses well outside my comfort zone of the little country lane where I raised my kids.

Another friend, a writer with a gift I have long admired, shared that one of her early loves was music. And though her path deviated from pursuing music as a career, I told her I hear music whenever I read her best stuff. Her word-craft is a magnificent voice.

What I keep learning about the writing life, or whatever your field, is that it is important to pay attention to what makes your heart sing. Be it actual music to your ears, or a kind of music that comes silently from your heart when you are doing the thing that you love, the thing you are meant to do. It’s like you can hear God softly singing along.

I’m a writer today because of what Susan Henderson writes above. I notice things and I want to share them, usually by first writing things down. Making the words sing on the page, well, that’s just all part of the fun.

God, not the fortune cookie, got it right with me all along… from taking my love of words as a child, writing little plays for school, or performing in them… or penning song lyrics as a musician and sometimes singer… to my  radio work and copywriting in the commercial marketplace… to filling childhoods with bibles and books…to being the scribe behind church newsletters…  to my word-weavings in Catholic spheres that take me beyond my parish out to new places.

The good fortune of writing is not related to any material success, but to the music you hear in your work… especially if you hear God quietly harmonizing.

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior,

Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love,

Who will sing joyfully because of you…

– Zephaniah 3 :17

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The F.U.N. Quotient… joke and riddles for kids

I love clean kid jokes and riddles. Here’s a bunch for back-to-school:

Q. Where do New York City kids learn their multiplication tables?
A. Times Square!

Q. Why doesn’t the sun go to college?
A. Because it has a million degrees!

Q. What did the math book say to the other math book?
A. “I’ve got problems.”

Q. What did the calculator say to the other calculator?
A. “You can count on me!”

And you can never go wrong with a chicken joke:

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To get to the other side.

Q. Why did the chicken go up the stairs?
A. She was already across the street.

Q. Why did the hen cross the road?
A. To prove she wasn’t a chicken!

Q. Why do hens lay eggs?
A. Because if they dropped them they’d break!

Q. Which side of a chicken has more feathers?
A. The outside.

Finally, you can always throw ’em off balance by ending the chicken jokes with a good horse joke:

Q. A cowboy rode into town on Thursday and stayed 2 nights and left on Tuesday. How is that possible?
A. His horse was named Tuesday.

There’s many more here at the source.

The F.U.N. Quotient… the parenthood edition

 

Update: Ha! Two F.U.N. posts today cuz I forgot I had this one scheduled! Hope you like it, and hope I can get a handle on this post-vacation re-entry! Have a great day!

Adventing… a microcosm of real life

So, my latest column at Patheos is the requisite nod to the liturgical calendar, but its more about ALL the comings of Christ in my experience… that the season of Advent really lights up an awareness of the sacred found in every day.

Here’s a excerpt:

Advent is not just a liturgical season, it’s a spiritual reality that has been touching, moving, and changing me all my life. In Advent, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming. In this season, I reflect not only on the coming of Christ in history, but Christ’s coming to my own personal history. His presence is tangible in all the advents of my life.

Advent means “coming,” “arrival,” or “appearance.” These all makes sense when I relate “advent” to the coming of Christ. By the miracle of the Incarnation, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. Through that same incarnation, I can understand the Lord’s coming in all the “advents” of my own life.

Let’s start with my conception and being alive in my mother’s womb—my “coming.” My mother was, and is, an active Catholic. During her pregnancy with me, she received communion during Mass. As she “received” the Lord, in some way, so did I. As the Lord touched my mother through those frequent communions, he also touched me. For as a mother is fed, so is her unborn child. All nutrition passes from mother to child. The body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist pumped through my veins even as a tiny baby hidden from the world but known to God and my parents.

The next advent or appearance of Christ was at my baptism. Even if I was not fully aware of my being baptized as an infant, I didn’t need to be. I was baptized into the faith of the Church. Christ’s presence permeated the process of my “becoming.” “In him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28  RSV).”

The rest is here. Subscribe to my columns at Patheos here.

30 years ago I said “I do”. Here’s a recap on faith, grace, sex, kids, and love…

30 years ago I said “I do”. Here’s a recap on faith, grace, sex, kids, and love…

Bob and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this week. Dang! Has it been that long? It went by so fast! 

My latest column at Patheos is a look back, and a testament to the graces of living the Sacrament of Matrimony these thirty years. It’s one part our experience, one part what we have learned, and one part verifying that God’s plan for marriage is still a viable, and noble, and satisfying enterprise.  Bob and I often joke that we’ve seen it all, done it all… all the having and holding… and all the cycles of better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, and health… and that we’d do it again. Here’s a small section of a much longer missive…

People ask what makes our love special, or what “works” for us, and we tell them: long before we fell in love with each other, we fell in love with Jesus. There’s an old proverb in Scripture that says, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiates 4: 12). Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a whole book on the subject that it takes three to get married, and we believe it.

We have faith in God, and faith in each other. When we said our marriage vows in the church that crisp fall morning in 1982, we knew we would vow for life… and that what we lacked in our own strength would be made up for by grace.

Talk to any Catholic couple married for a few decades or more and the subject of grace is bound to come up. They may not always use the word itself. It might be their reference to “God only knows” or an indescribable or halting acknowledgement of something that is bigger and grander than they are. But what they will say next is also true: that this love has changed them, made them better, even transformed them.

There is a glue that is stronger than our human love… it is divine grace. Sometimes we think it is just because we were fortunate enough to marry someone better than ourselves — that we lucked out — or discovered someone who believes the best in us despite our frailties, a soul mate. But what we’re really seeing is the truth of the matter: the radiant beauty of God is in our spouse. God magnifies their best human qualities, attracts us to them, and then He give us the privilege of knowing His Love through them. And yes, I’m here to say, in all honestly, that the profound gift of God’s Love made visible in my life, today, has a few wrinkles, some gray, and a few extra pounds.

Just in case you think I’m offering some kind of romanticized view of the love of God and the love between married couples, let me also say that there is a side of grace that is gritty, tough and sturdy under fire. This is the power of the vow; the grace and mercy that flows from the choice – the consent – of the lovers. When we think we cannot hold on any longer, the power of the vow keeps us true.

Read the rest at the Catholic Channel at Patheos. Feel free to subscribe to my columns here.

Mr & Mrs since October 23, 1982. (This photo is from last summer.)

The F.U.N. Quotient… the joy of kids at a wedding…

A little boy, at a wedding looks at his mom and says, “Mommy, why does the bride wear white?”

His mom replies, “The bride is in white because she’s happy and this is the happiest day of her life.”

The boys thinks about this, and then says, “Well then why is the groom wearing black…”

(We’re in wedding planning mode around here at the Gohn home…. so this really cracked me up. It’s good to have a sense of humor, I’ve found, as one helps to plan, and pay for, a wedding.)

 

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