Ave Maria Press
Review by Leticia Velasquez
This is a lonely time to be a mother. Neighborhoods are empty during the day, playgrounds are occupied with babysitters, and the parking lot after church looks more like a traffic jam than an opportunity for fellowship. Where is a Catholic mom to get solid advice on things like; prayer, fitness, finances, time management, doctor visits, and creating a culture of faith in our homes? We Catholic Moms are confronted with a culture which considers us at best, quaint, and we long for acceptance and a sisterly arm about our shoulders. Lisa Hendey, the woman behind the popular internet gathering spot, Catholic Mom, has given us just that in her book “The Handbook for Catholic Moms”.
For more than ten years, Catholic Mom.com has provided Catholic women with a place for friendship and counsel, wit and wisdom. Now she has organized the insights of her talented cadre of seasoned Catholic writers into several important themes to form a book to reach the mom in the trenches of laundry, dishes, teens and potty training with the message that they are not alone. They are part of a blessed sisterhood.
Lisa does not see herself as a Mom-guru, giving advice from on high; she’s far too humble for that. Her attitude throughout the book is “I found some great ideas on this subject from a friend, come and see”, or “here’s how I struggled with this problem”. I enjoyed reading about her experiences as a young mother moving to a new parish with a husband working long hours, and the story of her stirring victory over breast cancer.
The Handbook has sound, balanced advice on matters practical as well as spiritual, and the topics are so diverse, that any mom is bound to find a personally relevant section. The two which stood out to me were the nutrition and fitness sections; these are two areas where my husband and doctor have been trying to motivate me. Lisa’s upbeat, affirming words have helped me take another look at how I care for my body. She has helped convince me that my health is worth taking time out of my schedule, and that taking care of me is an act of love for my family. Encouragement is her particular gift and she uses it well throughout this book.
Lisa is a natural cheerleader, and when it comes to sharing her faith, her enthusiasm is contagious, yet she doesn’t get too theoretical. For example, in her section on prayer, she acknowledges the difficulty most mothers have maintaining an active prayer life and proposes practical solutions:
“The demands of our motherly vocation, couple with an ever-increasing societal ‘noise’ level and the busyness of the schedules we keep, leave our spiritual reserves running on empty. In this chapter, we look at different types of prayer and how busy moms have succeeded in prioritizing prayer in their lives.”
Hands-on strategies, heartfelt sharing of triumphs and tragedies, and authentically Catholic advice based on Scripture, the saints, and the Catechism are what make “The Handbook for Catholic Moms” an essential resource, you will consult frequently. As Lisa says, in her section on creativity, “When we take time to tap into our creative abilities, we acknowledge the God who placed them within us, and who crafted us, just so, knowing every aspect of us and loving every hair on our heads”.”The Handbook for Catholic Moms” reflects both the creativity of its author and the love of the God who made us.
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