A little laughter amid prayer

In today’s hectic world, it’s refreshing to break away for a few minutes to enjoy a light read. “Goulash, Garage Sales, and God” is just what the doctor ordered after a long and tiring workweek.

In this 128-page collection of humorous and inspirational reflections, longtime author and humorist Bernadette McCarver Snyder reflects on everything from the hustle and bustle of daily life, to weeding, to painting jobs gone wrong. She says her idea of spirituality is a “little laugh and a little prayer, “and that’s exactly what this book offers. She has the innate gift of weaving together everyday happenings with the human spirit and the divine.

Each bite-sized chapter is dedicated to a particular musing regarding typical day-to-day moments in suburban life, modern marriage and motherhood. Snyder’s writing in this book is stream of consciousness, which makes her all the more relatable. A recurring theme is the challenge of trying to be the best wife, mother and Catholic — in a world that seems to constantly challenge all three.

There is something endearing and close to home about her struggle to get closer to God during life’s unexpected struggles. Who hasn’t had a kid show up to Mass in mismatched shoes? Or a son dash across your freshly cleaned floor completely oblivious and covered in mud? Or a cat that only seems to shed on your pants when it’s least convenient? Through it all, Snyder reminds us that sometimes you just have to laugh it out and move on.

In her slice-of-life narrative style, Snyder reminds us that the goulash of life isn’t always perfect but still turns out OK and God loves us as we are. (The book’s title refers to the “goulash of life that can be mixed up but delicious, the fun of finding treasures in the garage or where you least expect them, and of course, the warm, welcoming grace of God everywhere,” Snyder said in a statement.)

Snyder’s conversational approach makes you feel as if she’s talking to an old friend or to God — or both. Each chapter is punctuated with a free-form prayer in which she reflects on the topic at hand. Sometimes it’s a prayer of thanksgiving. Other times she’s asking for help to get through her day. For instance, in a chapter she reflects on driving as a metaphor for navigating life with the help of God’s grace.

“Dear Lord, every day I hit the highways and byways, list in hand, confident that I know where I’m going and how to get there. But when I hit a detour or have a breakdown, I realize I’m not really in control. Remind me, Lord, not to be too dependent on things or routines. I should only be dependent on You. Ride with me and help me remember that I am the traveler but YOU are in the driver’s seat!”

In short, “Goulash, Garage Sales, and God” is a lighthearted read sure to appeal to readers of all ages. Snyder’s timeless humor and down-to-earth tone make for an enjoyable and easy read. 

Lauren Caggiano is assistant editor of OSV Newsweekly.