Pope Awesome and Other Stories: How I Found God, Had Kids, and Lived to Tell the Tale is proof positive that God has a great sense of humor and that His plans for each of our lives are indeed much wilder and more wonderful than any we could come up with on our own. I found snippets of my own family’s story, out-of-state relocation adventures, hilarious situations, and quotable quotes within this hilarious spiritual memoir. There are several sections I read aloud to my husband, so we could share some much-needed laughter.
Cari Donaldson tells about how she and her husband Ken went from being a Jesus wasn’t invited to our wedding, two-dog, double income, no kids household to a family who put God at the center, welcomed Jesus, Mary, and the Catholic Church into the fray, then gradually added six children to the mix.
Because of the irony and ensuing laughter when it becomes clear God had other plans far beyond the ones the Donaldsons had, I kept thinking of this clip from the movie Evan Almighty about how to make God laugh: tell Him your plans.
It’s always fun to read and/or hear about another couple’s story, especially one that affirms that high school sweethearts can make great husbands. (Kevin and I met when I was still in high school, too.) The Lord so often works through our spouses to nudge us in the right direction or to ask us the question that will make us stop stewing and start doing. Sometimes it’s easier to appreciate this quality than others.
Cari certainly wasn’t prepared for her husband’s offhand comment apropos of nothing that he made on his thirtieth birthday: “A couple rugrats wouldn’t be so bad.” Once recovered from the initial shock, she warmed up to the idea and decided she wanted the Miraculous Mother on her side for the journey. With the Perfect Mom and a highly recommended obstetrician "Doc Ostrich Boots" onboard, they saddle up for a surprising “Whoa Nellie!” that has all of them shaking in their stirrups.
Her husband isn’t the only one to come out with a humdinger in transit. One day her intelligent four-year-old asked the question parents dread: “How did the baby get inside you?” Cari gave a brief, age-appropriate description that her daughter ran with. The daughter’s commentary went like this: “Mommy has a baby inside her. It got there because Dad’s sperm cell and her egg cell SMASHED! together, and BAM! A baby was started!” Her daughter’s birds and the bees for beginners with sound effects and gestures mini spectacle is unintentionally taken on the road. This little skit assures that one elderly neighbor’s experience handing out candy to trick-or-treaters will never ever be the same.
Thank goodness God doesn’t give up on us just because we try to run in the other direction as fast as we can. Cari thought she and her husband were fleeing from God, but they later realized they were just taking a bit of a detour before they ended up right where the Lord most wanted and needed for them to be.
One morning, Prince Phillip, who bears a striking resemblance to their four-year-old son Joaquin, enters their bedroom with quite the assortment of makeshift weapons and offers to protect the kingdom. Cari graciously accepts and asks the prince some questions about himself. She does her best to hide her amusement when he informs her in a very serious manner that he is married to the queen, has six children, an abnormally long horse on which all of his kids can ride at once, and that his animals use jingle bells to alert him when an evil giraffe needs to be slain.
Was this seasoned mother swept off her feet by a wee warrior in green, stripey, footie pajamas valiantly stepping forth to protect the kingdom? The proper answer to that would be: “You had me at ‘Good morning, lady. I am Prince Phillip.’”
I highly recommend Pope Awesome and Other Stories. The writing is great, and the stories hysterical. Plus, the conversions of two individuals and how they raise their self-proclaimed Pope Awesome the First and his posse are very inspiring. To find out more about this book and/or to order your copy immediately, click here. Want to keep up with the Donaldson clan? Check out Cari's blog at www.clan-donaldson.com.
Cari and Ken, the two of you and your pithy posse are indeed the champions riding off into the sunset in your passenger van, heading towards new adventures since you’ve let Jesus take the wheel. Ride on at Godspeed! (And for the amusement of us all, write on as well!)