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A boost for busy moms
Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com, moves her parenting blog into quick-read book format with The Handbook for Catholic Moms.
The Handbook for Catholic Moms was written by a blogger, and it shows.
In the 244-page book, subtitled Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul, Lisa M. Hendey doesn’t deliver a 22-chapter lecture on parenthood, but rather engages her audience — Catholic mothers — in a relaxed conversation. A Catholic mom from Fresno, Calif., Hendey offers mothers suggestions on how to raise children in the Catholic Faith while maintaining a balanced daily life. Hendey both writes from her own experiences and incorporates those of others. A mother of two, she admits she is walking the journey of faithful parenthood alongside her readers.
“I am writing this book to try to support and encourage you in your role as a Catholic mom and to encourage all of us to nurture ourselves as mothers, so that we have the energy, spirit and peaceful souls to help take care of those who fill our homes and lives,” Hendey writes in the preface.
The handbook is separated into four parts: “Heart,” “Mind,” “Body” and “Soul,” and each part includes approximately six corresponding chapters. Keeping in mind the time restraints of mothers, Hendey covers her topics, starting with “An Overview of Catholic Marriage Commitments,” in an average of 10 pages. She uses a “My Story” paragraph as a springboard into further exploring each subject.
The chapters are concise, divided into pieces and aesthetically appealing, with multiple fonts and a Bible quote at the beginning. Quotes from saints or popes or other Catholic notables break up the pages. Each chapter wraps up with “Mom’s Homework,” a checklist of chapter nuggets that gives readers concrete instructions for follow-through, followed by a list of “Web Resources.”
Because of Hendey’s online presence with CatholicMom.com, a Web site she created on Catholic faith, parenting and family life, her virtual parenting support network is vast. The book is filled with not only her insights but also the experiences of other mothers from around the country.
In “Heart,” Hendey reminds mothers of the importance of praying with, playing with and serving their spouses. She emphasizes that a balanced Catholic mom should have healthy relationships with their husbands, children and friends, and a solid faith community. On the chapters where she brings less personal expertise, such as single parenting or parenting children with special needs, Hendey relies on the words and experiences of others.
In “Mind,” Hendey reminds Catholic moms of the beauty of being a lifelong learner, and of learning with their children by exploring topics of faith and challenges of the Church together. She addresses practical issues, such as time management — St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a wife, doctor and mother of three, is Hendey’s pick for patron saint of productivity — and using technology to help “scrapbook” family moments.
She has developed her own scrapbook in CatholicMom.com; by flipping back through the pages of her writing, life’s memories jump out at her. It’s one way that she personally “cultivates creativity” — an activity she says is important for all Catholic moms.
As a victim of several thousand dollars worth of identity theft, Hendey offers practical advice on keeping credit cards and bank accounts safe.
In “Body,” Hendey recommends a regular fitness routine, incorporating the children if possible and taking a page from their book of active play. As a survivor of breast cancer, she stresses regular preventative medical care, along with good nutritional habits and methods for stress relief.
In “Soul,” Hendey prioritizes prayer, attending Mass, reading the Bible, and developing a close relationship with the communion of saints and Mary, the mother of all. She recommends incorporating Catholic identity into the home, whether with liturgical colors, crucifixes or religious art.
In addition to CatholicMom.com, Hendey hosts the weekly “Catholic Moments” podcast and the “Catholic Mom” television show. Hendey contributes to Faith and Family magazine, and has been published in National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor.
Though The Handbook for Catholic Moms is written with an obvious specialized audience in mind, Hendey’s words of advice can be applied to anyone looking to live a balanced life in the Faith, surrounded by family and friends. Her relaxed blogger-style tone makes the reader feel a part of her family or online community, even if reading her writing for the first time. And her insights, from one Catholic mom to another, should offer hope and help to any parent working to raise a family centered on faith and love.
About the book
The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul by Lisa M. Hendey. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Ind., 2010). 244 pp.
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