Readers may not be aware of how heavily writers rely upon reference books, such as encyclopedias, thesauruses, Wikipedia, Dickeypedia, and of course a rhyming dictionary, which often reveals hidden truths about language through a kind of mystical game of word association which posits that synonyms come in triads, or what Carl Jung used to call “threeness envy.” Nobody knew what he meant by that. He has a really weird accent.
Sometimes what I want most of all is just to have a clean kitchen. Sometimes I feel very strongly that the kids should learn how to clean properly. Sometimes I simply ardently want to lie down, and the hell with the house. But I probably can’t have all three things I want: A well-cleaned house, kids that work hard, and a restful evening for myself. I have to pick one or two. When I ask myself what I truly want, then I usually know pretty clearly how I can achieve that one thing. But the answer is almost never, “I myself have no responsibility here.”
Image: Lady Elizabeht Paget, by Rex Whistler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
People can be savage to each other, hiding behind the security of the keyboard. They lash out for no reason at all, other than that they can get away with it. I’ve seen that happen. And people can be breathtakingly open and generous with each other, because when there are two more more people gathered together, even if it’s online, Jesus is there. I’ve seen that happen, too.
The books we read as young kids stay with us for a lifetime, so I’m always on the lookout for books that not only have attractive and engaging illustrations, but convey powerful and lasting truths.
I’m especially careful when those books are explicitly about our Faith. Here are a few of my current favorites in that category. They not only tell my kids things I want them to know about God, but I’ve found them moving and engaging myself.
If we think back on our own childhoods, we can probably remember bad parenting that hurt us, but also good parenting that stayed with us and continues to strengthen and comfort us even as a memory. This shows that good parenting is real parenting, and it is powerful. So it’s good practice to remind yourself of what you’re doing right. There is probably more than you think, and it probably means more than you realize. Go ahead and list it off for yourself, the slight and the huge, the occasional and the constant. Most parents are doing so much better than they think they are.
I’m not saying we should hold out for the perfect spouse; and I’m not saying you should flee from a relationship the first time conflict crops up. It’s very good to test how well the two of you can work through problems together. And every human being brings a certain amount of imperfection into a relationship: Bad habits, personality flaws, unsavory pasts, immaturity, selfishness, and so on. Everyone’s got something — probably several things — wrong with them; and every good relationship will have conflict at some point.
But there are some flaws that should make us pause, think hard, and possibly back away before we make any vows.
Image: Skedonk [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
The thesaurus is a book made not only for utility, but for delight, and that’s surely part of why it’s fallen out of favor. Delight is an imprecise business, and it has its perils.
Image: Iron age coins from Beverly – Portable Antiquities Scheme from London, England [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Probably I will never know what became of that offering I made. It’s not really my business, any more than it’s my business what a beggar does with my donation or a bride does with the toaster I give her on her wedding day. A gift is a gift! All I know is I gave what I have, and I will forever be glad that I made that gift. Once you put something in God’s hands with sincerity and trust, you are praising God. That is never a waste.
Image via MaxPixel (Public Domain)
Good and loving and patient God, difficult me.
Adult converts sometimes sheepishly admit that confession scares them. What they may not know is cradle Catholics often feel the same way. Very often, anxiety around confession begins in childhood, when well-meaning parents send kids all the wrong messages about when, how, and why we go to confession.
But children aren’t doomed to hate confession. Here are some things you can do to mitigate anxiety and help kids even learn to look forward to confession . . .