I’m a bibliophile who always has her nose in a book or two. That’s why I’ve decided to start the Momopoly Book Club. This will simply be a series of posts featuring different types of books, author interviews, book reviews, etc. In the combox, I welcome mini discussions of the book (if you’ve read it), book recommendations, or any bookish remark.
To kick off my book club, I’m featuring an interview with Lisa Hendey, mom, wife, blogger, podcaster, breast cancer survivor, founder of Catholic Mom and the author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul. Here this multitasking maven chats about her book, the writing process, the challenges of motherhood, and more!
I’ve had the privilege of working with Lisa on several projects and also had the chance to meet her a few years back at the Catholic New Media Celebration. Lisa is a lively, passionate person who is eager to support women in their vocations as wives and mothers. And while her book’s conversational tone matches her friendly personality, don’t think for a minute that it’s only full of fluff. Lisa has written a comprehensive book that covers everything from protecting yourself from identity theft to squeezing in time for fitness, prayer, and fun with your spouse. It truly is a handbook that every mom should have on their reference shelf. It would make a lovely gift for a special mom in your life (Remember Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th).
Without further ado, here’s my recent interview with the ever-talented and amazing Lisa Hendey.
1. Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul. It almost appears to serve as a primer for “all things Catholic Mom.” In fact, I feel like I now have a book that compiles many of the great wisdom and resources that is shared on your CatholicMom.com site. What prompted you to write the book? What are some of the topics you cover?
First of all Kate, thank you for the wonderful opportunity to share about my book with your readers! As a fan of your blog, it’s very fun to be a guest on Momopoly, I think you’re on target when you call The Handbook for Catholic Moms a great companion piece to CatholicMom.com. This was our goal from the start with the book, to provide a lasting, cumulative resource that would serve as the “go to” reference for Catholic Moms.
I was encouraged to take on this project in collaboration with my wonderful publisher, Ave Maria Press, who recognized the work we’d accomplished through the website and wanted to provide me with an even larger and more lasting platform to support and encourage Catholic moms. I can’t thank them enough for their belief in me and for their conviction that this was an important message to share.
As you know, the book is aimed at supporting and encouraging Catholic moms in their mothering vocation. I am convinced that for us to truly serve our families, we need to nurture and take care of ourselves. The book is divided into four sections: Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. The Heart section looks at our relationships. Mind explores all of the intellectual pursuits in a mom’s life – everything from career issues to handling family finances. The Body section of the book urges a mom to care for herself physically. The Soul section, my favorite part of the book, shares all of the wonderful treasures of our faith that can be used by a mom to nurture herself spiritually.
2. Why is there a need for a book of this nature?
In ten years of relating to women on CatholicMom.com, I’ve noticed that a mainstay of my work on the website is encouraging women who at times feel frustrated, burned out, confused, or even bitter about their roles as wife and mom. We spend so much time and energy taking care of everyone else around us that we often neglect our own self-care. Although our intentions are good, the results can be disastrous. There are many wonderful parenting books on the market, both from Catholic and secular perspectives, but few of them look at a Catholic mom’s vocation from this particular perspective.
3. Who is your target audience for the book?
Thanks for asking! I’ve been taken to task a few times recently from Catholic dads, grandfathers, and singles who feel “left out” by the title of my book. But my true audience for this book is Catholic moms. The amazing thing though, is that Catholic moms come in so many shapes and sizes. We’ve attempted to provide something for moms of any age, and in any parenting situation. The book reaches out to “stay at home” moms, career women, homeschoolers, and grandmothers. We have also included resources for single mothers, those living in blended families, mothers of children with special needs, and foster and adoptive moms as well. That being said, many of the topics discussed in the book are relevant to any Catholic, and many men have told me that they’ve benefited greatly from reading the book.
4. Your book features many anecdotes from other Catholic moms (and some Catholic men, too!). Why did you want to incorporate different voices in your book?
Kate, I am thrilled that you and so many other faith-filled Catholics are among my many “co-authors” for this book. When I conceived the project, I knew from the outset that I wanted to get other voices involved. This has been the largest contributing factor for the success and growth of CatholicMom.com, and I felt it was critical to the book project.
Honestly, as I share in the introduction to The Handbook for Catholic Moms, I do not consider myself to be the “expert” on Catholic parenting. I wanted to share “real world” perspectives from my own life and from people I admired and respected. Each chapter contains formal sidebar contributions on the topic being discussed, and those voices were hand selected after a great deal of consideration. But the book also contains countless anecdotes from Catholic families literally around the world. These were contributed via CatholicMom.com, Faith & Family, and my various social networking communities. In our Church, there are so many different ways of living out the vocation to Catholic motherhood, and having more voices involved means that the book can serve moms in a more expansive and credible way.
5. What has been one of your biggest challenges as a Catholic wife and mom?
I believe the greatest challenges came when my sons Eric and Adam were younger, prior to my husband Greg’s joining the Catholic Church through the RCIA process. I felt a great responsibility to raise my boys in the faith, and to share my love of our Church with them, but this also felt like a very large burden to carry on my own.
I was blessed beyond measure with a husband who was very supportive of their reception of the sacraments and very committed to their Catholic education. But being the spiritual leader of my little domestic church often felt like a weight that was too heavy to carry on my own. In retrospect, I see now that I really wasn’t doing it by myself, but at the time I often felt like a failure. I judged myself too harshly, and I also let a lot of my frustration with the situation impact upon my relationship with my husband. Greg’s conversion process and my own spiritual journey have helped me look at the situation with a bit more maturity than I had at that time. I have a true heart for Catholic moms and dads who find themselves in this situation, and have tried to support and encourage them in my writing.
6. Who have been some of your greatest positive influences in your journey as a Catholic mom and wife?
Without a doubt, my greatest influences have been my own parents, and specifically my mother, who is to me the template for a great “Catholic Mom.” My parents have enjoyed a loving marriage and have raised five children who love and respect our Catholic Church. I cherish them and the rest of my family with all of my heart.
My husband Greg and my teenage sons Eric and Adam are the lights of my life and have put up with my “on the job” training in learning what being a Catholic wife and mom really means.
Additionally, I have to thank our many contributors at CatholicMom.com, who minister to me and so many others every day with their generous sharing of their spirit and writing talents. Women and men like you, Kate, make the CatholicMom.com website a spiritual home for so many families around the world!
I’m also blessed with two amazing sisters and a handful of girlfriends who are always present to support and encourage me, to celebrate my successes with me and to pick me up when I fall short.
7. What writers and/or books have inspired you (fiction or nonfiction) as writer, mom, and/or wife?
I have a great love for the Bible, and I truly feel that it is the single most important book in my library – I will spend a lifetime learning from it. I love reading about the lives of the saints – my favorite priest gifted me his old copy of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and it is one of my favorite books as well. My life continues to be changed by the book Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux.
In terms of current authors, I’m blessed to have met and interviewed many of my favorites, and even to count some of them as friends. I am inspired by Danielle Bean, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Fr. Jim Martin, Amy Welborn, Matthew Kelly, Mark Hart and so many of our contemporary Catholic authors. As a book lover, I’m incredibly lucky to come into contact every week with great Catholic writers!
8. I have several aspiring writers who read my blog. Could you please share a bit about your writing process? How long did you spend each day writing the book? What was the biggest challenge you faced during the writing process? Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms who are dreaming of being published?
Great question – being published was always one of my lifelong dreams, but I never believed it was a goal I would actually accomplish. So holding the finished copy of The Handbook for Catholic Moms in my hands is still a joy that brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes!
Ironically, writing this book happened at the same time as the greatest health challenge of my life. Last year, write before I began serious writing on the manuscript, I was diagnosed with DCIS, the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. My treatment consisted of surgery and seven weeks of daily radiation treatment. I was fortunately able to continue working through my treatments, so my daily writing process was almost a retreat-like experience! In January of 2009, I began my daily routine: Drop my son Adam off at school, attend daily Mass, go to radiation, and then head to a local university library to write until it was time to pick up Adam at school. I have a home office, but I found that getting out of my normal work environment enabled me to more fully focus on my book writing. I began serious writing in January and was finished with the first draft of the book in mid April. Honestly, with so many folks praying for me and contributing to the project, I felt like I had an entire team behind me!
Writing a book is a bit like having a baby in many ways [Note from Kate: It’s so funny that Lisa said this because I have a draft of a long-winded post that compares the process of writing to labor and mothering! Stay tuned!]. When you are in the midst of the project, you often think, “Never again!” And yet, when you are done, you can’t wait to do it again!
As far as words of encouragement, perhaps the greatest thing I could advise is that you pursue your dreams. As moms, we often put our own dreams on hold to raise and serve our families – and yet, there are so many seasons in our lives. If you love writing, practice your craft a bit each day – even if you only spend five minutes writing in a journal or blogging. Cultivate and capture ideas for the treasures they are. Always carry a small notebook with you – you never know when God will share a true pearl with you! Find your voice. Honestly, the books I love most are not the great spiritual treatises, but rather those that capture a sense of authenticity that gives me an insight into the author’s soul. Write what you know. Share your words with others, even if those others are your children, your sister, your best friend, or your husband. And don’t give up – honestly I still can’t properly convey the many moments of grace that developed into me being a published author. If it can happen in my life, it can happen to anyone! Pray prior to writing and always have the goal of glorifying God and serving others with your craft – if we have success in those two goals, everything else is gravy.
9. If you had to give one piece of advice to a fellow Christian mom, what would it be?
Love God with all of your heart, mind and soul. Love your husband and your children with every ounce of your fiber, but don’t neglect yourself in that process. Find the happiness, the blessing, in every moment – don’t wish away the tough times, but rather embrace them for what they are. Care for those you love most by taking care of yourself in your relationships, intellectually, physically and spiritually.
10. Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you Kate, for this opportunity to visit, as well as for the wonderful way in which you minister to those of us who enjoy your writing! I will keep you and your readers in my prayers.
For more info or to purchase Lisa’s wonderful book, click on over here.