Welcome to the CatholicMom.com Book Club! We're reading Don't Forget to Say Thank You by Lindsay Schlegel.     As a cradle Catholic, I admit that often times, the logistics of the Mass can become so commonplace and routine that I lose sight of just how much meaning is behind each part of this beautiful celebration. It wasn't until I reached my early forties that our priest clarified for me the meaning behind making the Sign of the Cross on our forehead, lips, and heart before the Gospel is read. "Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart," our priest said out loud one morning as I dutifully followed suit with my hands, my heart newly awakened to the beauty of the act. It's such a simple prayer but the significance of the request is comprehensive and far-reaching. It was this very prayer that was brought to mind when reading Lindsay Schlegel's Don't Forget to Say Thank You.  These two simple words, "thank you," are powerful and are often knit within the fabric of our being from a young age. I love how Lindsay uses the heart and mindset of a child to talk about how we should all approach the important lessons that God tries to knit within us from the moment we identify Him as our Father. She beautifully illustrates the need to allow God to be in our minds, our words and in our hearts and offers workable suggestions on how each one of us can keep God the center and focus our our daily life. I was particularly struck by the simple truth Lindsay puts forth in chapter seven. In speaking about our Blessed Mother as the ultimate disciple, she says, "It was never about her, so there was nothing to make her impatient."  Lindsay goes on to say, "Her life was lived for something, somewhere and someone else." I've always had a special devotion to Our Lady but have never read such a simple description of her that so perfectly sums up who she was.  In thinking of her perfect example, it becomes clear that the only way we can lose ourselves in this life is by intentionally asking Jesus into our minds and thoughts, our words and actions, and into the very depths of our hearts. As hard as this sounds, Lindsay offers several gifts hidden within the effort. By living with Jesus as our focus, we find it is easier to rest in Him ("On the importance of rest"), to be patient in our waiting for an answer to prayer ("On patience as a necessary virtue"), to speak of others with an understanding and nonjudgmental heart ("On speaking with charity"), and to align the intentions of our heart with His perfect will ("On living counterculturally"). By inviting God into our minds, words and hearts with sincere intention and desire to live as God wants us to, we become akin to the "little child" Jesus calls to himself or like his mother who emptied her mind and heart for Jesus to fill it. In Chapter 8, Lindsay sums up this lesson so well in saying, "we can be intentional about what we take in, or we can absorb whatever comes our way." As the mother of two teenage boys and a feisty eight-year-old with an iron will, I am thankful for Lindsay's camaraderie in the messy, her reminders of what is important, and her achievable suggestions on how to find Jesus in all of it. To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
  1. In Chapter seven, Lindsay talks about "patience as a necessary virtue" and how ineffective it can be to use the word "soon" with a toddler who can't yet grasp the concept of time. As mothers, a sound plan for the next minute, hour, and week is as essential to our sanity as that first cup of coffee in the morning. How might your life be different if you actually planned time in your day to take a three-minute break, a few deep breaths, and asked God for help in truly being present in the moment?
  2. My favorite line in chapter eight, "On living counterculturally," is found on page 63. Lindsay writes, "Every family is different, but God put you in this family, with these parents, and with these rules for a reason. We have to trust him." This was so eye-opening to me and helps to secure the importance of my unique (although flawed!) mothering in my children's lives. Looking back on your own upbringing, in what ways do you see that the family you were placed in prepared you for the family you have created today?
  3. I'm not on Facebook or Instagram and I wouldn't know how to tweet if my life depended on it. I'm not at all claiming that any of these things are inherently bad. For me, however, and my personality type, they just don't serve me well. On the rare occasion I do check out my husband's Facebook account, I always end up either feeling poorly about myself in one way or another or harshly judgmental against someone else (usually someone I don't even know). In chapter ten, Lindsay talks about the importance of "fraternal/sororal correction." This chapter really made me stand back and think about whose standards I choose to judge myself by. Do I put God's intentions for my life first or am I caught in the fear of not living up to society's idea of what I should be?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.   Next week, we'll cover Chapters 11 through 15. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Book Club page.
Copyright 2018 Nicole Johnson