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It’s all about the “Yes!” A review of “The Grace of Yes” by Lisa M. Hendey

catholic mom logoI have known Lisa Hendey for many years. Her site, Catholicmom.com, hosts over 150 contributors and has won accolades and awards from grateful Catholics around the world. The site is all about the reader, a rarity on the internet today. A vibrant community thrives there as a result. I am honored to be one of Catholicmom’s contributors.

the grace of yes 640I am pleased today to review her latest book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living, published by Ave Maria Press.

Quick read; buried treasure

Lisa Hendey is the neighbor next door, the friend you confide in over a lingering cup of coffee. The Grace of Yes reads in this friendly voice but don’t be deceived–although this book is a quick read, there is much treasure to be found between the lines.

Authentic struggle

The Grace of Yes is a departure from Hendey’s other books, employing a memoir style. It is a story her legion of fans have longed to hear. She is authentic and honest in sharing her struggle to live a deeper life of faith, stemming from the goal to live generously for others, and for herself.

It is a life of the bolder “Yes, I will!” as opposed to the safer “No, I won’t.” It’s a life lived in full partnership with her Creator; it’s a life that any of us can live if we desire it.

She lives this grace of yes through eight different virtues:

  • belief
  • generativity
  • creativity
  • integrity
  • humility
  • vulnerability
  • discerning the right time to say “no,” and
  • rebirth.

Digging out the deeper meaning

The Grace of Yes is a book that calls you back for a second, more thorough reading. Having a sense that God was trying to tell me something, I journaled through the book on my second go-around. The result was 16 pages of notes constituting an extensive examination of conscience. Hardly the outcome I would have expected from such a seemingly simple book! It was a rich, exhilarating and thought-provoking experience.

Those dreaded words!

In exploring the eight virtues, Hendey is advocating several things which Catholics especially have seen as rather onerous:

  • fidelity
  • obedience
  • discipline
  • confession

And a new way of looking at them

I no longer view these words as oppressive negatives, forbidding a life of excitement, adventure and yes, even fun. I now look upon these words as the necessary tools to achieve all of that and more: a fulfilling, meaningful existence where I can make a difference in the lives of others around me.

Through Hendey’s stories of her own life and others who have inspired her, I have developed new definitions for these words:

  • Fidelity simply means being faithful, giving our best effort to everything we do.
  • Obedience is another word for “yes,” agreeing to go along with whatever God has in mind for us while trusting that he always has our best interests in mind.
  • Discipline is a tool, a means of creating healthy new habits which lead us closer to our real selves and to God.
  • Confession is the unloading of our failures, dumped into the lap of God who will wipe them away while granting us his kiss of peace and forgiveness.

Yeses that stretch

lisa m hendeyHendey explores the various “yeses” in her life that have propelled her in a most unexpected direction. From claiming her Catholic faith as her own, to marrying, having children and sacrificing a career she loved, to finding a new path in her life that led her to become a noted blogger, best-selling author and journalist traveling to Rwanda for Catholic Relief Services, Hendey is at times painfully honest about her motivations, ambitions and failures. She also acknowledges her triumphs in a spirit of gratitude, attributing them to the lifelong working partnership she has with God. With every experience she is stretched, sometimes to the breaking point, as she experiences the rich growth that comes when you give yourself away unabashedly.

The little things that get in the way

The sense I got from reading this book was that the details of life really do matter. Hendey seeks to live a life of fidelity, keenly aware of how those little details can either help her to lead more generous life or grind that life to a halt.

There are those little sins, the ones committed without a thought, the ones that fall through the cracks, straight out of our memory, brushing by the conscience on the way out. We don’t like to talk about sin today; it’s another one of those “onerous” words; strictly out of vogue. Yet an authentic life where yes means “Yes!” and no means “No!” hinges on those details. Hendey’s stories of self-discovery gave me the means by which I could examine my own life with honesty and humility.

An honest examination

In journaling The Grace of Yes, I came up with an extensive list of questions that I intend to compile into an examination of conscience. It is a honest examination but one that promises growth and renewed life rather than an oppressive burden of guilt. I have maintained privately for a long time that a new examination of conscience is badly needed, one that invites repentance (which simply means turning back to our loving God). One that helps us catch those sins that fall through the cracks. One that will motivate me to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often. One that inspires hope.

A new spiritual discipline

I have since added a new spiritual discipline of examining myself twice daily; already I am becoming aware of those pesky little sins. I am beginning to catch them and confess them; I expect one day soon I will even stop committing them. And that will be a day of celebration!

The Grace of Yes is a simple book with simple truths. Do yourself a favor: read it once for fun and then sit down and read it again prayerfully with pen in hand.

It’s time to dig for buried treasure.

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Breaking News: Pope Francis to come to America, and he will speak in English!

pope francisVAnd – he will be speaking in English! Here are details, courtesy of Father James Martin, SJ on Facebook: Pope Francis coming to Philadelphia.

Be sure and catch his visit to the Philippines, scheduled for January where he will be speaking English in public for the first time: Pope Francis in the Philippines.

Personally I am psyched about being able to watch Pope Francis preach and speak in English. Now I can put together his wonderful hand and facial gestures with the words. Wonderful!

Stay tuned and let me know what you think on my Facebook page. Let’s talk! :-)

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Dreading the holidays? Finding your secret quiet space in the midst of the noise and chaos

Here we go again! Daylight savings time is over, the decorations are up in the stores: the march towards Christmas begins.

And there’s so much to do!

  • from decorating our homes …
  • to cooking, entertaining and party-hopping …
  • to buying and wrapping gifts … and mailing them …
  • to making out cards … and mailing them …
  • to volunteering our time and giving to our favorite charities …
  • to spending time with family …

All good but …

Don’t get me wrong; all of these things are worthwhile, so long as we do them freely and we have the means to do so.

But …

  • What about people who are hurting financially and feel the pressure to buy gifts?
  • What about those dealing with complex family relationships who are obligated to spend time with that troublesome parent, sibling, aunt or cousin?
  • What about people (like me) who have no talent in cooking, decorating and entertaining but are expected to do them anyway?
  • And what of the poor souls who work in retail and are bombarded with the holidays 24/7?

Do the demands and the frantic pace of Christmas make you want to withdraw
to a quiet and peaceful space? How do you find that space?

There is a best-kept secret in our churches, that of the Advent season. Beginning after Thanksgiving, Advent presents a quieter and simpler approach. It’s a spiritual safe haven where we can retreat, be quiet and prepare for true purpose of Christmas, that of welcoming God come down as a human child to live among us.

In a series of blog posts, I will be presenting some of that treasure through songs, videos and readings in the hopes that this will lead you into that quiet space within yourself, the “inner room” where Jesus encourages us to go when we wish to pray.

Carry it with you

Advent introduces  you to a gift, a sacred space which you can carry around inside of  you long after Christmas is over. It’s a place to go to when you need to recharge your battery. It’s where you will find the endless welcome and acceptance from a God who longs to lavish love and mercy upon you.

Jesus retreated regularly to his inner room to be with the One he loved most. We can do the same.

Click here to listen to the Advent music I will be spotlighting.

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The reviews are in! Update on the success of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One

Thanks to all of you who have ordered The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One – so far we’ve raised over $900 for the Purrfect Pals no-kill cat shelter (exact figures – 102 books sold, $910.68 USD; £17.20 GBP; €17.28 EUR).

Here are reviews from Amazon, :

5 star graphic
I just wanted to let you know that I received my book today. All I can say is….. MARVELOUS!!! This book is a wonderful reminder of all the work and effort John puts into all his fosters. I laughed, I cried. I remembered. The only John left out in his interview is how Dorian flirts with each Momcat. LOL This is great fundraiser for Purrfect Pals. I can’t wait for the next volume. Well done to everyone who was a big part of the creation of this book.
A lovely book! Perfect for any fan of The Critter Room or, really, anyone who loves cats and kittens. Looking forward to Volume 2!
Received my book yesterday and had to look it over on the spot. In a word: PAWSOME! Even if you are not a follower of The Critter Room, the stories about these kitty families, coupled with the tireless efforts Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals, is absolutely heart warming. I love the fact that you have their early days chronicled in front of you and can the follow them on Facebook to see where they are today. Can’t wait for Volume 2!
What a wonderful book. Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals will touch your heart.

Double the Donation!

How about buying two or three extra books to send directly to Purrfect Pals so they can sell them in the store?  That doubles the donation and exposes more people to the book. Contact Connie Gabelein on the Purrfect Pals website to let her know of your intention and to find out the shelter’s address.

What inspired me to make the book

1. Two kittens – Ray and Arthur (now Ace) – I wanted high quality prints of these two adorable guys:

ray and arthur

2. All the wonder fan art:

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R - Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R – Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

 3. The fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats which includes “Over the Bridge” and Ray’s letter to Trillian.

Now I have my scrapbook of memories and many of you do as well. Grab your copy of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One if you don’t have one yet, donate copies to Purrfect Pals or give some as gifts – Christmas is coming … :-)

Thanks for all your support of Purrfect Pals!

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An image of peace for your Monday

From today’s daily readings;  Psalm 131: “In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.”

I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me. (verse 2)

If your world is swirling around you in chaos and busyness; if you’re feeling oppressed by life; if you’re just fed up: place yourself in this image and the words of the Psalmist and let the Spirit of God comfort you.

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Remembering Jesus through a fragrant aroma–reflections on Ephesians 4

In looking over the readings from today’s lectionary, I just had to share this lovely excerpt from Ephesians 4:

“Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”

640 flowers1Take a moment and think of a favorite aroma. It could be summer flowers or grass just mowed. It could a pork roast, slow cooking all day in the oven. It could be the scent of your child fresh and clean from a morning bath. It could be the smoke of incense rising up in church, reaching for heaven.

Think about your favorite scent and then think about Jesus and all he has done for you. How he taught you through his words and deeds. How he has consoled you or healed you in the past. How he has enveloped you with love.

Perhaps now he seems far away even though he is always inside of you. Scents are powerful triggers for memories–think of that favorite aroma and then think of Jesus. Perhaps then he will not seem so far away after all.

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Name a fish and win a donation to your favorite charity!

How would you like to win $250 to be given to your favorite charity?
It’s as simple as naming a fish!

the grace of yesGood friend, author and Catholicmom.com founder Lisa Hendey wants you to name the goldfish gracing the cover of her soon-to-be-released book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living. Just for entering, you will receive a thank-you gift of a 20% discount on the purchase of her book!

You will have to work fast!

You only have today and tomorrow to submit your name and favorite charity.

Click here to enter.

  • Round 1 takes place October 20, 21, and 22 – Submit your name and nominate your favorite charity.
  • Round 2 will take place October 23, 24, and 25 – Vote on the final 3, as selected at midnight, PST, by Lisa Hendey.

Prizes include:

  • First Prize: $250 to your favorite charity and a signed copy of The Grace of Yes
  • Second Prize: $50 to your favorite charity and a signed copy of The Grace of Yes
  • Third Prize: A signed copy of The Grace of Yes

Lisa-Hendey-285x400I will be posting a review of The Grace of Yes on November 3, the date of the book’s release. This book embodies all that Lisa Hendey is and has been to so many Catholics. Her generosity knows no bounds. She is everyone’s cheerleader and prayer warrior; her wisdom is simple and yet profound.

Can’t wait? You can pre-order The Grace of Yes on Amazon. Remember to use your 20% off link from entering the contest.

Good luck!

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October 18 Gospel reflection: receiving our marching orders

Previously published on Catholicmom.com

October 18 – Luke 10:1-9

Jesus gives explicit instructions to the apostles as they go forth as evangelists for the first time:

  • sent with nothingCarry nothing with you and greet no one along the way
    (in other words, remain unattached to people and possessions and do not be distracted; remain focused on the task at hand)
  • Grant peace to the household where you choose to stay; if your greeting is accepted, peace will remain and if not, it will return to you
    (in other words, show graciousness to your host and bring your best self into their dwelling)
  • Stay in the same house and eat and drink whatever they give you for the laborer deserves his wages
    (in other words, accept whatever hospitality the household offers even if the food isn’t necessarily what you want; accept the payment that is given without complaint)
  • Do not move from house to house
    (in other words, plant yourself in the community)
  • To the towns that welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure in the sick and say to them that the Kingdom of God is at hand
    (in other words, accept their hospitality without question and offer healing in body, heart and mind to everyone you meet)

Sounds like we have our marching orders. Ready to go?

Ponder

How do you approach sharing the Good News? What special directions is the Lord giving you?

Prayer

Lord, clear my mind and heart of my own ideas and fill them with your own. Help me to be loving and gracious to everyone I meet, letting your love shine through me, accompanied by a few choice words. Amen.

 

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