We recently had the opportunity to interview Lisa Hendey, the author of the wonderful new book The Handbook for Catholic Moms from Ave Maria Press. Lisa is also the creator of the www.catholicmom.com website which is a favorite of Catholic moms everywhere!
Our interview with Lisa:
Many of our customers know your name from the Catholicmom.com website. Can you give our readers/customers some information about your background?
Thanks Mike for the interview opportunity! I am a Catholic wife and mom living in the Diocese of Fresno, California. My husband Greg is an Emergency Medicine physician and our two sons, Eric and Adam, are teenagers and currently in high school. I’m the eldest of five, a cradle Catholic, raised by the world’s best parents.
Can you give us some background on the Catholicmom.com website, it's purpose and how you started it?
CatholicMom.com started as a hobby after I became the volunteer webmaster at my children’s Catholic school. I wanted to take my newly acquired (and very basic) web design skills to create a community for moms to grow in faith and parenting skills. I’m amazed at how far the site has come in the past ten years, and humbled to be a part of the wonderful community we’ve created there.
Our readers/customers are always interested in the process of writing a book. Please tell us about the process you went through to write “The Handbook for Catholic Moms.”
I have to give a great deal of thanks to my online community of friends for their help in the writing process! Honestly, once the main concept and outline for the book came together, the writing process was a true pleasure. I basically announced my writing topic online at the start of each day, headed to a local university library, and by the time I arrived my “friends” had shared many great suggestions, stories, and quotes for the day’s chapter. Ian Rutherford and his wife Paula were among those who offered many great suggestions and content ideas!
Tell us a bit about your motivation to write the new book.
Well, this is my first book and it’s been a dream come true. For years, through CatholicMom.com, I’ve supported and promoted the work of Catholic authors. At some point, I began to formulate the desire to write my own book, but didn’t have any idea if it would actually ever be more than a dream. With the encouragement and support of my wonderful publisher, Ave Maria Press, I can say that the dream has become a reality.
Honestly, my greatest desire in writing this book was to support the many Catholic moms in our world who may be struggling in their vocations. I truly feel that we, as mothers, are essential to the future of our Church. I hope that this book in some way supports those who are working so hard every day in their homes, often without notice or recognition, to be more fulfilled in their vocation.
We've heard that you had some contributors to the book – can you tell us how that process worked?
When I was putting together my plans for the book, I created a “wish list” of noted authors, priests, bloggers and artists whose work and faith lives I greatly respected. I wanted this book to include other voices besides mine – in truth their contributions really set this book apart.
I wrote to each of my “dream team” contributors and asked for their participation. Without exception, they universally supported the project. As a result, The Handbook for Catholic Moms contains contributions from such noted Catholics as Danielle Bean, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Fr. James Martin, Fr. Jay Finelli, Sharmane Adams, and many more names your readers know and love.
How do you describe the new book – as a reference guide or reflections on Catholic motherhood, or both or even more than that?
The Handbook for Catholic Moms is truly a combination of the two, and more. We have worked to compile a resource that will support a woman in every aspect of her life. The book also contains my own personal stories, the sidebars from “experts”, quotes from saints, citations from Church documents and teachings, scripture references, and a “moms homework” section at the conclusion of each chapter to encourage follow up on the topic discussed.
How have you arranged the subject matter in the book and why?
The Handbook for Catholic Moms is divided into four sections: Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. My goal in writing the book is to encourage mothers to care for themselves so that they can better love and care for their families, their neighbors, and their Church. In the “Heart” section, we discuss relationships and nurturing ourselves as mothers through family and friendships. The “Mind” section deals with everything from career issues to family finances to time management. In “Body”, we discuss health, fitness and nutrition topics and more. The final section of the book, “Soul”, looks at how we can nurture ourselves spiritually with the treasures our Catholic Church offers us.
As you know, many Moms are busier than ever. How does your book accommodate their lifestyle?
I know this from my own personal experience! The book’s chapters are intentionally concise and organized into segments that can be read a bit at a time as a mom’s schedule allows. Additionally, although the book can certainly be read from cover to cover, I tried to organize it so that a busy mom could simply pick up any place in the book when she needs a bit of support and encouragement. My publisher, Ave Maria Press, did an amazing job in the design and production of the book, which exceeded my hopes in both organizational structure and sheer beauty. I hope the book will be a “pick me up” for moms, whether they have five minutes or five hours to spend reading it.
As for content, as a busy working mom with two active teens, I tried to take a “realistic” approach to pulling together the resources in the book. For example, in the section on fitness, we offer many creative suggestions for finding time to exercise when you’re surrounded by little ones. Additionally, in the “Soul” section of the book, we’ve offered suggestions for moms to incorporate active prayer into their everyday lives.
Is there something in the book for every kind of Catholic Mom? For Moms whose children have left home? For home-schooling Moms, etc?
I hope so! We attempted to address the needs and struggles of each type of mom, including single mothers, moms raising children with special needs, adoptive parents, those moms living in blended families and both working and “stay at home” moms, for home-schoolers and even for those with adult children. Truthfully, much of the content in the book is relevant for any Catholic looking for balance in his or her life. Many of the issues are universal, but every family faces their own unique set of struggles and challenges. I’ve done my very best to acknowledge this in the book and to provide support for any type of mom.
With so many reading choices out there, why should Catholic Moms, and others, make your book the next on their reading list?
Moms, this is a book for you! I hope that in reading this book, you will be encouraged in your motherly vocation. I hope that you will discover new ways to refresh your spiritual life, to more fully live out and enjoy your relationships, and to care for yourself emotionally and physically. I know that you will enjoy the contributions in the book and will likely laugh along with a few of my personal foibles along the way. Most of all, I hope that reading this book will support you in the important vocation we share.
I also hope that caring husbands, fathers, brothers and male friends will support the moms in your lives by giving them the gift of this book as a reminder of your love and appreciation for them and the work they do.
As I continue to work towards being a happy, healthy and holy Catholic mom in my own life, I will keep each of the women who read this book in my prayers!
We'd like to thank Lisa so much for her time, for this wonderful new book, and for participating in our interview! – the staff of Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.
He lives with his lovely wife and eleven kids in northern Colorado.