“You didn’t actually read my book!”   My friend got caught like a kid cheating on summer reading.

Jodi, the “Don’t Sniff the Glue” supercovermodel, hates to read.

But since she’s on the cover, and we both have brown hair and clueless looks when we shove Elmer’s Glue up our nose (non-toxic, safety first), she has to read it.  People could confuse us.  She has to know what’s inside in case she must pretend to be me.

So, she promised to read all forty chapters, reminding me forty was the number of days of Lent. “Isn’t Lent about suffering?” she asked.  Jodi thinks suffering on purpose is silly, and that God gave her enough pain by making her friends with authors.

I didn’t want my book to be about suffering.  It’s why I made the chapters so short.

When I was a kid we’d make up things for Lent that would seem like suffering, but not really cause us pain.  We’d try to out-Lent Christ himself.  Suffering, we knew, was the road to heaven.

So, anyway, Jodi–a photographer, not reader–has been posting numbers all over my social media “1.  2.  3.5.  9.1.” to indicate how far along she is in her Lenten suffer-reading.

“If you really want to finish a book,” I said, “You should put it in your bathroom.  That’s where my mom’s old prayer devotional, “God Calling” stayed.  Books in the bathroom always get read because once a day people get stuck in there, whether they like it or not.  “God Calling” came to the rescue as much as the extra roll of toilet paper.

But now we have iPhones. We never get bored in the bathroom and we don’t need rescuing.  Most of us use our daily conference time to catch up on cat gifs and social media, not to read prayer books.

I used to look at the “God Calling” on the back of the toilet and think if God was really going to call, there should be a phone in the bathroom. Maybe that’s why he invented iPhones.  No one was praying, so he thought he might get our attention on Facebook Messenger.

If Jesus called the Bathroom Hotline, he’d’ve commanded us to skip the suffering, get off our toilets, and experience some joy.  But back then only rich people had phones in bathrooms and Jesus couldn’t get past their secretaries.  Something about eyes and needles.  That always confused me because I didn’t know Christ could sew.  I thought he was a carpenter.

But Jodi’s reading away, and somewhere on my Facebook wall it says “12” which means she’s made it through the first 65 pages of my book, leaving her only 179 to go.  I can’t stand her pain, so I went and recorded the audiobook for her.

“I hate to tell you how many audiobooks I’ve listened to,” she said.  I guess that was a wasted trip.

Meanwhile, I look at the calendar.  Two weeks until school.  Time to remind the boy that in two weeks he’ll have homework, a daily math and reading log, and spelling lists once again.  That’s bad news, so I tricked him.  I told him we’re having a Back to School party.  I wrapped up all his school clothes and supplies so it looks like all the Christmas except it’s all the stuff kids don’t want and we wrap anyway. “Clothes!?”

He looks excited. “A party? With pizza?”


“And soda?”


And after we had the party he was thrilled.  “A Minecraft shirt? Wow!”

That got me thinking–maybe I don’t need an audiobook to inspire Jodi.  Maybe I just need to find some good Chicago deep dish pizza delivery in her neighborhood and then she’ll get to the last page, even if the book is not in her bathroom.


I’ve mentioned Jodi’s project Woman of Strength before.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please look. Jodi brings light and respect to women “who never knew how strong they were–until they had to be.” It’s truly amazing work.