New from Lisa Hendey: A Prayer Calendar for Catholic Moms

Lisa Hendey's Prayer Calendar for Catholic Moms -f

Space on my desk is precious real estate, only to be granted to the things that really need to be there: computer, planner, Post-It notes, a box of tissues, a mini-storage unit for clips and stickers, and a mug of pencils, pens and markers. I’m trying to keep my office neat. But I’ve added a perpetual calendar next to the Our Lady of Fatima figurine who stands by: Lisa Hendey’s new Catholic Mom’s Desk Calendar.

Flipping to the correct date, I found my very favorite psalm waiting for me, along with a beautiful prayer by Lisa.

CMdeskcalendar
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

As you can see from the photo above, the color scheme is a calming blue, tone-on-tone. I’ve chosen almost that exact shade for more than one room in my home. The serene colors invite the reader to slow down, quiet down, and enter into a moment of prayer.

You don’t have to have a desk to display this prayer calendar. You could keep it on your nightstand, bureau, or even the kitchen counter (though I fear that if I tried that in my tiny kitchen, it would be splattered with marinara sauce in short order).

I have plenty of calendars in my office. I display two months of the calendar at a time, because I need to see that much for work. I have a Google calendar on my computer. And I have a planner on my desk. But this calendar is different. It’s not part of yet another to-do list for my family, my household, or my job. This calendar reminds me that “only one thing is necessary,” as Jesus told St. Martha, and I need to embrace that.

Here’s a sneak peek at January’s calendar entries! Note that this is a spiral-bound perpetual calendar, not a book as pictured below, but you can get a good look at what the beautiful pages look like.

Each day begins with a quote from Scripture, a saint, a pope, or the Catechism, followed by a brief prayer related to that reading.

Place this calendar where you’ll be sure to see it each day, and enter into a quiet moment of prayer in the midst of your busy life.

9781593253202 (1)


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Advertisements

On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Strangers at the Manger

Here’s a book the whole family can enjoy together as the Christmas season winds down: The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa M. Hendey.

Number 5 in the “Chime Traveler” series of chapter books for kids in grades 2 and up (younger as a read-aloud), this novel finds twins Patrick and Katie traveling through time to Bethlehem, where they accompany Mary and Joseph through their attempts to find lodging and stay with them until the Holy Family flees to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempts on Jesus’ life.

Readers will feel as if they’re really there, encountering shepherds, Magi and even Anna and Simeon in the Temple. Hendey’s account of the Incarnation weaves Gospel stories seamlessly with the fictional addition of modern-day visitors who find ways to help Mary and Joseph take care of their newborn son. The stories incorporate a level of detail that will fascinate children who want to know what life was like during Jesus’ time.

Lisa Hendey’s devotion to the Blessed Mother is particularly evident in the way Mary is portrayed in the story.

Books in the “Chime Traveler” series always focus on a lesson the children must learn before they can return to their own families; this book centers on a refugee family seeking shelter in the twins’ parish church.

This series is published by Franciscan Media.

T36847-cvr

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Small Success: Shrines and Sick Days

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’m supposed to be substitute-teaching right now, but TheKid and I both have some kind of stomach ickiness, where you just feel terrible but nothing terrible actually happens. I haven’t had (or wanted) coffee since Tuesday, so something is definitely amiss.

I know he’s not malingering today, because I reminded him that no school today means no rehearsal tonight, and he didn’t protest.

When I picked up TheKid at school yesterday after the nurse called me, I stopped at the office to let them know that teaching today wasn’t happening. They graciously reminded me that TheKid comes first. Then the secretary called a few hours later to ask how he was and to let me know that they’d found someone to sub today–because she knew I’d be feeling bad about that.

I’d worked hard on Tuesday to get ahead on things, which was good, because I just wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Instead, I did a little bit of work and then bailed to the couch with my ginger ale and crackers and a novel I’ll be reviewing soon.

SKD with Pat and Lisa 2 photo by Lisa Hendey
Photo credit: Lisa Hendey

BUT I did have one nice big success on Monday. I got to visit with Lisa Hendey and Pat Gohn on the last stop of their Papal Pilgrimage to Philly: the Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel in Bensalem, PA. It’s less than 25 minutes away, and I’d never been there. It was a beautiful place to pray, walk and chat. I took many photos but they deserve a post of their own.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Book Review: Chime Travelers series for kids

For the past 8 years I have spent 1/2 day per week volunteering in the library of our local Catholic elementary school. I check books in and out, help kids find books, put books away, and talk with kids about what they like to read. In those 8 years I’ve seen , talked about, and read an awful lot of children’s books.

(Yes, I read children’s books. Sometimes it’s because the librarian has asked me to read something aloud to a class. Sometimes it’s because, as I was putting a book on a shelf, I was intrigued–so I’d take the book home.)

It’s a Catholic school library, but there’s almost no Catholic fiction in it. Except for Tomie dePaola’s picture books, I haven’t found any Catholic fiction in it.

chime travelers bannerThat’s about to change; I’m going to be donating copies of Lisa Hendey’s Chime Traveler series to the school library. And I’ll be talking them up when the first- through fourth-graders come in.

The first two books in the series were released today! I’ve read them both; they center on a set of twins who are thrust into adventures with saints from long-ago times. These adventures help the twins learn a life lesson related to something they’ve been struggling with.

chime travelers book 1

Book 1 is titled The Secret of the Shamrock. In this story, Patrick meets his patron saint, St. Patrick, and travels (with his frog in his backpack) across Ireland. On his journey, Patrick wrestles with the mystery of the Trinity and learns about trusting in God.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of that frog, though.

chime travelers book 2

Book 2, The Sign of the Carved Cross, tells the tale of Katie’s adventure as she journeys with St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Katie struggles with the popularity issues so many kids will relate to, trying to fit in with the “mean girls” by excluding others. Her encounter with St. Kateri will help her learn about true friendship and compassion. 

 These are fun stories, complete with mischief and humor, that feature the bonus of learning what it might be like to walk side-by-side with a well-known saint. The novels portray the saints as real people who become friends with Patrick and Katie and whom young readers will want as their own friends!

I’m glad to introduce these novels to young Catholic readers. They’d make great classroom novels or family read-alouds as well as being fun reads for independent readers getting their feet wet with chapter books. Kids will easily relate to Patrick and Katie, who try to be good but don’t always succeed and who struggle with the usual stuff: family, friends, chores and school. 

 I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb work done by illustrator Jenn Bower, whose art features a fun, lively, retro feel. The covers are totally eye-catching; I had the books on my coffee table one evening when a few friends came over, and everyone was picking them up. But there are more charming illustrations within the books as well.

Im a chime traveler

You can order the Chime Travelers books from the Amazon links above (the books are $5.99 each) OR you can purchase autographed copies directly from the author for only $5 each postpaid! Bulk orders save even more. Use this form for direct purchases

 
The fine print: I received advance reader copies of both Chime Travelers novels from the publisher, Franciscan Media, in return for my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. 

 
More fine print: Links to the Chime Traveler books are Amazon affiliate links. Your purchase of a book using those links adds a little something to my Amazon piggy bank, but costs you nothing extra. 

 Image credit: Chime Traveler Kids page on Facebook. Used by permission of Chime Travelers author Lisa Hendey. All rights reserved.

Grace of YES Day

grace of yes day header
Good morning, class! Today is Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

It’s Grace of YES Day.

grace of yes day classroom photo

A few weeks ago, I said “YES” to a long-term substitute-teaching assignment. I’ll be there through Christmas. I’ve gone into more detail on the subject here, but a “YES” to any teaching job is a “YES” to a gratifying, frustrating, entertaining, saddening experience. It’s not just a job; it’s a ministry.

The students and I keep their Regular Teacher in our prayers each day. She is dearly missed and we all hope she will return to good health, and her classroom, as soon as she can.

I pray for my foster-second-graders as I

  • hand out birthday pencils
  • give spelling tests
  • grade spelling tests
  • read chapters from Ramona the Pest
  • encourage reverence during Grace Before Snack
  • redirect children who use the wrong hand to salute the flag
  • line up the class for the bathroom. Again.
  • conduct science experiments involving rocks, water and flimsy plastic containers
  • enforce the “no sharing snacks” rule (we have allergies)
  • invent the “no shaking down other kids for snacks” rule
  • make sure the two Imaginary Students are not disrupting the class

This job saps my energy, creativity, and voice like no other.

And I love it. Even when I have outside lunch duty on 35-degree days and my hair is up because there’s a Head Lice Epidemic on the first floor and, well, I’m not willing to make that sacrifice for the kids…

Little Brother leaves notes on the board for my class before they arrive in the morning and visits us on his way to the nurse for his pre-snack insulin at midmorning. This “YES” has been good for him. I think he likes having me around his school. (He even hugs me in front of my class. Don’t tell him I told you this.)

It’s grace, pure and simple, that is getting me through these challenging days and weeks.

What’s your “YES” and how is grace making it possible? Share on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #graceofyesday

Want to learn more about the Grace of Yes? Read my review of the book here and join the discussion at CatholicMom.com!

Book Review: The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the driving force behind one of my favorite websites, CatholicMom.com. But her latest inspirational book, The Grace of Yes, is geared toward a wider audience.

grace of yesYou don’t have to be a mom to appreciate the wisdom in this book. For that matter, you don’t even have to be a parent. With The Grace of Yes, Lisa Hendey has broadened her focus even as she bares her soul and tells the story of her own struggles and joys as she lives out God’s plan in her life. It’s not a big book, but there’s a lot of food for thought in those 160 pages.

I’m glad I said “yes” to reading Lisa Hendey’s latest book. It’s a combination memoir and pep talk with prayer, Scripture and inspiring quotes to tie the whole thing together. This book touches on the many ways saying “yes” can be an opportunity for grace for ourselves and others–and why sometimes saying “no” is also necessary to allow grace to work within us.

Whether you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, looking for a new direction or just starting on your path, you’ll find help, encouragement and Lisa’s kindred (and kind) spirit within these pages.

I read a preview edition of this book on my e-reader and am eagerly awaiting delivery of my print copy (Amazon promises to have it here by November 10). I already know that I want to go through this book again, highlighter in hand.

GOY-Book-Club-sq-400x400To accompany the launch of this book, CatholicMom.com is hosting a Grace of Yes Book Club. Coordinated by the impossibly-energetic Sarah Reinhard, the Book Club will feature a reflection each Saturday. You can read along and add comments to each Saturday’s Book Club post. Here’s a list of the scheduled topics:

  • November 1 – Interview with author Lisa Hendey
  • November 8 – Chapter 1: The Grace of Belief
  • November 15 – Chapter 2: The Grace of Generativity
  • November 22 – Chapter 3: The Grace of Creativity
  • November 29 – Chapter 4: The Grace of Integrity
  • December 6 – Chapter 5: The Grace of Humility
  • December 13 – Chapter 6: The Grace of Vulnerability
  • December 20 – Chapter 7: The Grace of No
  • December 27 – Chapter 8: The Grace of Rebirth

I was humbled to be asked to write one of these reflections; my chapter is Chapter 3:  The Grace of Creativity and is scheduled for November 22.

Friends-of-Fiat-400x400Finally, take a look at that cute little fish on the cover, and read the story of how the fish got a name! I may or may not have stuffed the ballot box, voted early and often, and spammed my Facebook and Twitter feeds to help push my favorite fish name to the top of the charts. But it’s all good:  there was a donation to charity at stake. My chosen charity is the local crisis pregnancy center, First Way of Burlington County, NJ, and they are in great need of assistance at this time. In your kindness, remember their good work in your prayers, and please donate to your local crisis pregnancy center. They do amazing work!

The fine print: This review is based on a preview copy of the book, courtesy of Netgalley.