Take a two-income, quasi-New Age, newlywed couple with two Greyhounds and the resolve never to have children or to embrace any form of organized religion.
Add ten years of hunger for "something more."
What do you get?
A large Catholic family, of course. And one in which in which the second youngest, while watching Pope Benedict depart the Vatican, solemnly declares, "Now I'll be pope: Pope Awesome the First, with my Swiss Guard army. And if my army men don't give me any new video games, I'll punch them in the face."
In words often as sassy as those of her little Pope Awesome, Catholic homeschooler Cari Donaldson here relates how her friend's newborn baby, a portrait of the Virgin Mary, and the words of the Miraculous Medal called her forth from a selfish, small way of life into the welcoming arms of the Church.
Six children in ten years have banished all her hopes for a tidy secular life, and, in her upscale town, where "Cats, not kids" bumper stickers are seen, have raised countess eyebrows along the way. Undaunted, Cari declares that "If we're to be a traveling carnival freak-show by New England standards, then we're going to be a carnival freak-show for Jesus," although her husband has stopped her from airbrushing onto her van a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe riding a unicorn over a sparkling river.
Above all, Cari tells of the awakening of her love for the Eucharist, the deepening of her love for her husband and her children, and the humility and faith these experiences have nurtured in her. To Jesus she confesses, "You taught me to be open to the lives You wanted to bring into the world through me. I rose above myself just enough to let You bring the blessings of these children into my life. I was sometimes scared and sometimes angry, and always at a loss about how I was going to mother these children, but I knew that it would be Your grace, and not my shortcomings, that would triumph."
Through Cari's remarkable tale of her conversion and the peace she's found as a Catholic, you'll be reminded of the many profound, lifelong blessings God gives you through your Faith, and, yes, even through your daily small troubles and unexpected joys . . . like little Pope Awesome punching his Swiss Guards in the face! Cari's tale will lead you to share her conviction that we never know what God has planned for us tomorrow, but, for sure, "it will be better than anything we ourselves could have planned, even in our wildest dreams."
Jim Gaffigan, Stand-up Comedian and author of Dad is Fat
"Pope Awesomeis twice the Catholic and half the fat of Dad is Fat"
Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms
"Pope Awesome and Other Stories reads like you're sitting across the table for coffee with a good friend, the cool one who always makes you laugh and leaves you feeling inspired, like you can take on anything in life. Cari Donaldson's book -- a smart, sassy, irresistible spiritual memoir -- is the New Evangelization done right. If each of us shared our love for our Church just as openly as Cari does here, the New Evangelization would be a smashing success. Can't wait to share this great book with friends and family!"
Fr. Dwight Longenecker -- parish priest, blogger and author of Quest for the Creed and The Romance of Religion
"Pope Awesome is a rollicking, thoughtful, hilarious, heart-string tugging conversion story. Cari Donaldson stands up for life, love, family and faith with feisty good humor, open hearted intelligence and a subversive twinkle in her eye."
Jen Fulwiler, author, speaker, and blogger at conversiondiary.com
"Cari Donaldson is a brilliant storyteller who knows how to share her experience in a way that is humorous, touching, and imminently relatable. Pope Awesome is a memoir that everyone is sure to love."
Hallie Lord, editor of Sex, Style and Substance, and blogger at moxiewife.com
"Cari Donaldson brings the reader into the wild ride of conversion, marriage, and family life. The funny, often poignant tales from her life are sure to have readers laughing and nodding in recognition."
Colleen Martin, blogger at MartinFamilyMoments.blogspot.com
"Cari's hilarious and uplifting stories really touched my heart and renewed my love for our amazing Catholic faith! If I wasn't already a mother and a Catholic, this book would inspire me to become both."
Daria Sockey, author of The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours
"As a cradle Catholic sometimes tempted to take the life of faith for granted, I need to snack on conversion stories from time to time-they delight while they nourish. Cari Donaldson's story was a real banquet-and her zany descriptions of large family life are just plain fun."
Rebekah Es, blogger at RebekahsWeblog.blogspot.com
"I was truly inspired by this book's tale of how Faith was found and met with unabashed courage, and was allowed to radically change Cari's life."
Ana Hahn, blogger at TimeFliesWhenYoureHavingBabies.blogspot.com
"The presence of God's grace is all too evident in this beautifully and hilariously written book. Through so many heart warming and humorous stories, Cari does a stellar job of mixing the sublime with the real and constantly hearkening back to God's loving providence."