Tag Archives: Easter

Why the holy water doesn’t land on me.

Chillan, Chile. May 1, 2017. The bishop blesses the Catholics attending the Blessed Sacrament with holy water….

Every year at Easter, we Catholics renew our baptismal vows. Then for the next five weeks, our ministers pass among the congregation, sprinkling us with holy water as a further reminder of our vows.

Most often, the holy water misses me and I’ve often wondered why. I can think of some spiritual possibilities, but I think the answer is a more practical one. I am a middle-of-the-pew Christian. It’s not that the seats on the aisle are all taken. I arrive early to mass and usually have my choice of seats. I choose to sit in the middle.

As I look out at the congregation, it appears as though someone has taken a huge magnet and passed it over the middle of the rows of pews, pushing everyone to the sides like iron filings. The people on the aisles are often  firmly entrenched, and others are forced to wiggle their way around them. There are those who need to get up during the service, commentators, readers, ushers, etc.  Sitting on the aisle is a requirement for them so they don’t have to disturb anyone. For the rest of us, we have a choice.

In my hope to convert others to the joy of sitting in the middle, I would like to offer these advantages:

  •  There is a lot more room in the middle. With everyone crowded along the edges, those of us in the middle can spread out.
  •  There are really nice people in the middle. I’m not saying those on the aisles are not nice, but I feel a kind of kinship with those in the middle.
  •  You don’t have to worry about people climbing over and around you.
  • You get to stay to the very end of the service. There’s no reason to hurry out the door. Life is crazy out there. Why not linger a little longer were there is peace and joy.
  •  You will leave room for those who need to sit on the aisle–those who arrive late, parents with small children, people who have physical limitations.

Those of you who move into the middle can probably think of other advantages. It is my hope that by pointing this out, others may choose to join us. See you in church!

If you have questions or comments, you can email me at contactme@handyhelpersbooks.com


A Rocky Start: Chapter Eleven


Chapter Eleven


The senior center was buzzing with activity when the Happy Helpers arrived. The Easter luncheon was one of the big events held at the senior center every year. Mrs. Snow was there, directing the volunteers. When she spotted the girls, she waved them over to where she was.

“We have to get these favors on the tables at each place.” She handed a boxful to each girl. They were tiny straw hats decorated with flowers and birds attached to tiny hat racks with even more flowers and birds.

“These are really cute,” Melissa said. “The ladies at our church made them.”

“That’s right,” Mrs. Snow responded. “They brought them here this morning. Now we need to get them on the tables.”

Amber noticed some of the ladies from the Community Church arranging larger hat decorations in the center of each table. Some other ladies were setting up the buffet tables and placing hat decorations there as well.

“The theme is ‘Hats Off to Spring,’” Mrs. Snow seemed to read Amber’s mind. “Wait until the other seniors start arriving. You’re going to see some crazy hats today.”

The Happy Helpers took their boxes of favors and started putting them out at each place. When they were finished, Mrs. Snow gave them boxes of silverware wrapped in pastel-colored napkins, each tied with a pink, green, or yellow ribbon. Plates had been placed at the beginning of the buffet line, and the glasses were on the beverage table.

“You did a lovely job,” Mrs. Snow said, surveying the room. “I knew my faith in you wasn’t misplaced.”

“Is there anything else we can do?” Laura asked.

“Would you like to be greeters at the door?” Mrs. Snow suggested.

“That sounds like fun,” Melissa said with enthusiasm.

“Yeah,” added Amber. “Then we can check out the crazy hats you mentioned.”

Mrs. Snow positioned the girls at the front door and handed them some programs to give out to each guest. The first couple through the door was Hank and Clarisse Anderson. Clarisse was wearing a fancy red hat with tiny roses and feathers around the brim. When Melissa told her how beautiful it was, Clarisse said that it was called the Titanic.

“It cost about as much as the Titanic,” Hank added. Clarisse shot him a dirty look.

“I see you have your video camera out already,” Amber said. “Are you going to make a movie of the Easter luncheon?”

“I want to catch everyone when they arrive in their hats,” Hank said.

“You have a nice hat,” Laura commented. “It looks like something from the Titanic movie too.” Hank wore a brown felt hat with creases in the front.

“It’s a fedora,” Hank said proudly.

“It’s a Stetson,” Clarisse added. “And it cost as much as mine.”

Gus was the next to arrive. The girls tried not to chuckle when they saw his hat. It was a black visor with black and gray hair sticking out of the top. This was especially funny since the girls knew that Gus had no hair at all underneath the hat.

“Like my hat?” Gus asked.

“It’s really you!” Melissa giggled.

“If there are prizes for the best hats,” Amber added, “you’ll win for sure.”

“Maybe the goofiest,” Melissa whispered to Amber.

Doris Duncan came in using a walker. Her hat was made of straw and was decorated with beautiful fresh flowers. Betty Jenkins wore a gray cowboy hat with a decorative band and black feather.

Once all the seniors were seated in the lunchroom, Mrs. Snow told the Happy Helpers to go to the kitchen. Bob Stone was there getting the food ready. Three Handy Guys were seated at the table, but when the girls came in, they stood up.

“What are you doing?” Amber asked.

“What do you mean?” Spike asked suspiciously. “We’ve been coming here to help before you even knew this place existed.”

“She didn’t mean anything,” Logan defended her. “She just asked what we were doing. We’re going to help serve the food, and then we’re going to help clean up.”

“Okay,” Bob said. “The food’s ready. Everybody grab a dish and take it out to the buffet tables.”

The girls didn’t wait to ask if he meant them. They followed the guys to the waiting dishes and helped move the food to the buffet tables. As soon as the food was set up, Walt Collins walked to the microphone. After welcoming everyone to the luncheon, he called on Pastor Evans from the Community Church to give the blessing. Then he instructed the guests at the first table to begin getting their food. Laura offered to help Doris Duncan since it was difficult to fill her plate while using her walker. Laura carried the plate for Doris as they made their way around the buffet tables.

When all the guests were seated and eating their lunches, Bob told the kids to grab a plate and get some food. Then they could eat in the kitchen. A buzzing sound coming from the lunchroom told Amber that Walt was speaking at the microphone again.

“Maybe they’re giving out the awards for the best hats,” she said.

The kids stood in the open doorway to watch as one by one, guests were called up to receive their awards.

Doris Duncan was awarded the “most decorative.” There was an award for most comical, but it didn’t go to Gus. There were three other men at the luncheon who had hats like his. That award went to a man wearing a pink flying pig hat. It had wings that he could raise and lower using the attached sticks.

“Well, Dave, I said you’d beat me at something when pigs can fly.” Gus laughed. Dave moved the sticks up and down to make the pig flap its wings. The entire lunchroom burst into laughter.

“Most original” went to a lady who had made a hat out of light-green felt. It looked like she was wearing a cabbage on her head. The girls were sure that Clarisse would win the “most stylish” category, but she was outdone by another woman who had a black hat with even more roses and feathers.

As the guests were leaving, the girls began clearing the tables. The Three Handy Guys went into the kitchen to get ready to wash everything as the dishes were being brought in. Chris rinsed the dishes while Spike loaded the dishwasher. Logan helped Bob with the leftover food.

Just as they were finishing, Walt came into the kitchen.

“I want to thank you for all of your help,” he said. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

“It was fun,” Amber said, and everyone nodded in agreement.

“I’d like you to have these gift cards,” Walt continued. “It’s the least we can do to say thanks.” With that, he handed each one of them a five-dollar card to McDonald’s.

“Wow,” Spike said. “Thanks a lot. This will come in handy.”

“Thanks,” everyone said.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Ten

AmberOn Tuesday afternoon, Amber was surprised by a phone call from Doris Duncan. She asked if the Happy Helpers could come to her house after school on Wednesday to give her a hand at watering her plants. Amber was so excited she said yes about six times.

On the way to Doris’s house, Amber told her friends what to expect.

“Doris has the cleanest house I’ve ever seen,” Amber said. “We’ll have to be very careful not to make a mess anywhere.”

When they rang the doorbell, Doris yelled for them to come in. She was seated on the sofa in the living room as she had been when Amber was there with Betty.

“It’s so nice of you girls to give up your afternoon like this,” Doris said. “I can usually manage by myself, but with this darn back, I decided I’d better get a little help.”

As Doris instructed them, they carried the plants into the kitchen. Doris had slowly made her way to the sink. As each plant was placed in the sink, Doris used the sprayer to water the plant. Then she asked one of the girls to remove it from the sink so it could drain. The plants that were too high for them to take down were watered using a watering can. Melissa, who was tallest, volunteered for that job. She stood on the step stool Doris had her get out of the laundry room. With that, she was able to reach every plant.

“You girls did a wonderful job,” Doris said when they were finished. “I’d like to pay you something for your trouble.”

“We’re volunteers,” Amber explained. “We do it because we want to help others. We don’t expect to be paid.”

“Isn’t there anything I can give you?” Doris asked.

“Your plants are so beautiful,” Laura said. “Can you tell us your secret?”

“Of course,” Doris said proudly. “It’s very simple. I talk to them.”

“And that works?” Melissa looked doubtful.

“Well,” Doris said, waving her hand around the room to indicate the plants, “what do you think?”

“It must really work,” Melissa said with surprise.

“I’ll tell you what,” Doris continued. “If you girls come back and help me next Wednesday, we’ll take cuttings from some of the plants, and then you can take them home and grow your own plants.”

“Wow,” Amber said. “Would you really do that?”

“Of course.” Doris smiled. “It’s the least I can do to thank you for all your help.”

Friday was Good Friday, so there was no school. Mary took the day off from work so that she and Amber could have a girls’ day out. They both got up early to take Domino for a walk. Either Mary or Kyle walked Domino every day.

Amber hadn’t been allowed to walk Domino by herself since he was five months old. Something happened that made her parents decide Domino was just too much dog for her to handle. Amber had been walking him on the next block, when Domino spotted a rabbit. Domino and the rabbit stared at each other for a minute. Then the rabbit took off running. Domino tried to run after the rabbit, but with Amber holding on as best she could, he wasn’t able to catch it. When the rabbit ran under a wire fence, Domino tried to follow it. He dug at the ground, throwing dirt all over Amber. The rabbit just sat there on the other side of the fence, taunting Domino. Finally, Domino gave up trying to go under the fence and went over it instead. He would have pulled Amber over after him, but she let go of the leash. The rabbit hopped away across the yard with Domino hot on its heels. When the rabbit went under the fence on the other side, Domino continued over it. Amber ran to the alley to cut them off, but they were nowhere in sight. After looking for Domino for twenty minutes, she went home. Kyle jumped on his bike and rode around the neighborhood, calling Domino. He told Amber to stay home in case Domino showed up there. By the time Kyle caught up with Domino, he had terrorized someone’s cat, torn up a flower bed, and eaten another dog’s food. Kyle and John went back the next day and fixed the flower bed, but they all agreed that Amber’s days of walking Domino were at an end.

After their walk, Mary and Amber got dressed up to go shopping. It was their annual quest to find the perfect Easter outfit. Before starting their journey, they attended the Good Friday service at church. As they walked into the church, Amber spotted Mrs. Snow sitting by herself in a pew.

“Hello, Mrs. Snow,” Amber said. “I’d like you to meet my mother.”

“Hello, I’m Mary Snyder. Amber told me you are the volunteer coordinator at the senior center.”

“That’s right,” Mrs. Snow said. “It’s nice to meet you. You have a very fine young lady there.”

“We think so.” Mary gave her daughter a squeeze. “Thank you for giving the girls another chance. I’m sure they won’t let you down.”

“No one can figure out what happened with the spoons,” Mrs. Snow said. “But I thought I should at least give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“We’ll be there tomorrow,” Amber promised. “And we’ll do exactly what we’re supposed to do.”

“I’m sure you will,” Mrs. Snow said. “We got off to kind of a rocky start, but I’m sure things will work out fine from now on.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon