Friday, June 04, 2010

Why God Matters Virtual Book Tour: Give Me Your Opinion!

Why God Matters Cover and link
Purchase from Tribute Books

The NY Book Review's review of Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life didn't come through as planned today. So, instead, how about you give my dad and me your opinions? (Good or bad, but be kind to my daddy--it's his first book!) Here's an excerpt; read it, post a review comment, and I'll do a drawing Monday for a copy of the e-book.


Love in a Pot of Rice

You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.
–St. Therese of Lisieux

One meal that always connects me to my heritage is arroz con pollo—chicken and rice. For me, this meal doesn’t so much represent an ethnic identity, it symbolizes the love and generosity of my family.

My mother is the seventh child of ten, born to a very poor family in Puerto Rico. They bought shoes only for the winter, shared two toys at Christmas (a game and a ball), and meat for dinner was a rare treat. Yet my grandfather, a schoolteacher, regularly brought home the students who lived too far away to walk home from school during the week, and they shared the family meal. My grandmother would say, “If I can feed ten, I can feed twelve.” When I cook arroz con pollo, I imagine her adding a cup of rice to stretch their meal, giving of their need rather than their wealth.

Many of my grandparents’ children escaped poverty, becoming doctors and social workers, businesspeople and spouses. However, they never lost their legacy of charity. When one is in need, the others are there. I remember when a hurricane took the roof off my grandparent’s house, where several grown children still lived. In Colorado, my mother combed the garage sales for linens and clothes to replace those ruined by the storm, and all contributed what funds they could to repair the roof. Years later, my grandmother died in that home, cared for by her children and grandchildren.

My own parents carried on that legacy, which, like my grandparents’, spread beyond family. Our friends were welcome in our homes, sometimes more than in their own homes. My parents called them their “love daughters” and supported them in their extra-curriculars, and on occasion, took them into our home. Several still call them “Mom and Dad.” When we did not have treasure, my parents gave of their time and talent. My dad made costumes for the school play; my mother was always crafting for someone. Mostly, though, they gave of their love.

When I’d given birth to my daughter, my mom came to visit for several weeks, and she met a pregnant friend who said she had only one craving: arroz con pollo. The next time we saw her, Mom had it ready.

As a mother myself, I must now carry on this legacy by setting an example for my children. Far wealthier than my parents or grandparents ever were, we do our best to give to the Church and to charities—and we involve our children in that. We also do our best to be available to their friends as well as to them. This year, I pack an extra lunch each day for Amber’s best friend. It’s a little thing, yet it connects me to my grandmother somehow.

Last night, I made arroz con pollo. It’s a different recipe, because I’m not the cook my mother is, yet it brought me back to my past, and my mother’s past, and to roots deeply embedded in charitable love.

Life Lesson

God calls us to be the first teachers to our children in living a life of faith, hope, and charity.

How did your parents teach you this? How are you teaching your own children? Spend some time in reflection and prayer today, then find something that ties you to that heritage—or inspires you to build a new heritage for your children.


So Help Me, God, I Didn’t Do It
Deacon Steve

Each of us is free to choose. Our decisions are important because they shape our life. Good choices take us in one direction, while bad choices can have devastating results. Morality is another word for living a good, full, decent life according to right choices. –Bishop Donald Wuerl

I can still hear the clang of the jail cell door as it closed behind me and my brothers in 1960. We were just teenagers, and I was terrified that it would never open again and that I would never get free. No matter how many times we told the sheriff we were innocent, he wouldn’t believe us.

The night before, someone had destroyed $4,000 of feed and seed by slashing the bags and pouring them down the elevator shaft. The real culprits had implicated us—and our reputations had sealed our guilt.

In the small town of Berthoud, population 1,200, everyone knew the Lumbert boys were trouble. We left burning sacks of doggie doo on random doorsteps. We moved the outhouse to the middle of Main Street. The night of the crime, we’d skipped Bible study to run around town. In fact, later that evening, we were hanging out with the real culprits, throwing water balloons at a state patrol car. We couldn’t resist temptation when it looked like it would be fun.

All day long, the deputies would grill me or one of my brothers, trying to get us to admit we were involved. We even tried demanding a lie detector test to prove our innocence! That was the longest day of my life. I spent a lot of time sitting on the jail cell bed—the only furniture in the room—thinking about what had gotten me into this mess.

That evening Mom came to get us. The real culprits had finally admitted they had lied about our involvement.

It was terrifying to think that we could have been convicted of something we did not do. I learned a valuable lesson that day, one that has remained with me all my life. A lesson that I taught my children about honesty, integrity, truth, and resisting temptation.

Years later I became a state trooper. Each time that jail cell door clanged shut on someone I had arrested, I remembered my own jail time and my narrow escape from the fruits of a bad reputation.

Life Lesson

Sin does not always look dark and evil—sometime sin looks like a lot of fun. It’s easy, then, to give in to that seemingly harmless fun, but it can lead us down the wrong path. The next time you’re tempted by something you know is wrong but seems innocuous, consider not just the impact of the moment, but the overall effect on your reputation. How will others see you? How will God see you?

Seek out the way of Christ, and with each new decision for him, you will be stronger to resist the evil one.



Tribute Books said...

Karina - I'll be sure to spread the word on the giveaway!

Debra Black/ said...

Wow this book sounds awesome from your excerpts! I can relate to both but especially feeding friends and generational charity. My friends always referred to my parents as mom and dad too. Funny we always had kids around to eat but don't recall my brother or I ever eating dinner elsewhere. I'll add your book to my bookstore!