Books


Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick {Book Review} 2

While I’m still working on my movie update post (We watched too many last year), here’s a book review to keep my blog from completely falling into the dark internet abyss.

I asked my friend, Joel – father of 4 and an amazing Catholic elementary school teacher, if he’d like to read and review this book and so here it is! Thanks, Joel, for sharing!

Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick 

by  Marc Cardaronella

Parenting is hard. One of my good friends has an expression whenever we are commiserating about each other’s children and their idiosyncrasies: “They don’t come with owners manuals.” Navigating the minefields of raising a kid in the digital age is a daunting task. There is no roadmap because we’re all forging new paths in the here and now. Most of us are winging it. We’ve slinged together a game plan based off what our parents did that worked and what our parents did that didn’t work. Maybe we’re lucky enough to have some older siblings that we can learn from their parenting mistakes and triumphs. Hopefully, we’re plugged into a network of friends that can lend encouragement and advice.

But the reality is, many parents feel very alone and unsure of what exactly they are doing.  A lot of good parenting tools have gotten lost in the mix and not passed down between generations. This is especially true when we talk about passing on the faith. After all, for their parents, faith was such a private thing. It just wasn’t discussed. And that has left our generation of parents unsure of how exactly to pray with our kids, let alone how to help them develop a personal relationship with Christ.

Enter this book, Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by  Marc Cardaronella, which the amazing Erika from over at Simplemama put into my hands and asked me to do a review for.  It is a quick, easy read that confirms many of the hunches you’ve already been feeling, puts forward reflections that open your eyes in new ways, and offers specific steps you can take to strengthen your family. I often find parenting advice books obvious or sanctimonious, but Cardaronella’s writing is relatable and beneficial.

One of my favorite points of the book was discussing how important it is for parents to articulate the faith. This is also really helpful advice for teachers. Cardaronella starts by describing Bl. John Henry Newman’s approach.
“Newman didn’t just give knowledge; he gave himself…When he discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to believe it. Most students will accept a doctrine as true because the Church teaches it. However, they’ll allow it to become part of their lives only if an instructor pulls back the curtain to expose personal convictions and motivations.

When Newman discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to understand it and why he believed it…Cardinal Newman’s cure was to transform the notional into the real-to engage the spectator, bring him or her off the sidelines of intellectual passivity, and impart an awareness of the intersection between life and religious truth. For him, the crucial question is not how is it true, but how is it true for you? How does it affect your life and what does it mean for your particular situation?”

The author’s tips to parents on how you can begin to articulate the faith to your kids:

Tell them why you believe something, why you didn’t use to believe but now you do, how your thinking evolved, what the turning point was, or why you think it’s important.

Cardaronella also offers a really good reflection on the Parable of the Sower. This was probably my favorite part of the book. He says it’s not really a parable about the seed, it’s all about the soil, and then leads us through a reflection of the soil in our home. To paraphrase these chapters: Break open the hard ground. Deepen your roots. Clear away the thorns. Till your fertile ground. You can improve the soil! Some of the seeds bear fruit, thirty, and sixty, and a hundredfold. If it’s all good soil, why doesn’t it have the same yield? Clearly some patches of soil are more fertile than others. How can you tend to your fertile soil to improve it even more?
Another great quote: “Of all the thorns, probably the most dangerous are the never-ending lists of activities and interests that capture our hearts. Religion is just one player in the tightly contested battle for time, attention, and energy. Usually religion loses. By far the biggest offender is sports. Let’s be honest, though; the responsibility for these thorns doesn’t rest with kids. Parents are the ones prioritizing sports and other activities over Mass, religious education, and devotional practices. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be active, but time is a precious commodity. You have to weed your children’s schedule to allow space for God.”

These were just some of the quotes that I didn’t want to forget. I really liked this book and I think it could open up some great discussion among parents united in the trenches.

 

Thanks again, Joel, for reading and sharing your review of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by  Marc Cardaronella.

I enjoyed chatting with Marc Cardaronella on a CatholicMom.com CM Hangout and I encourage everyone to check out his book!

(Amazon Affiliate links included in this post, Amazon sends me a wee little thank you for purchases made via these links. )


Catching Up – Books I’ve Read, Reading, Hope to Read… 1

Well, hello.

It’s been a while, I know.

I’d like to blog again but it’s hard to know where to start after such a long hiatus. So I’ll start with books, since it’s easier, right now for me, to write about what others have written than to formulate words of my own.

I wish I could put together a Top 10 Books I read in 2016 like I’ve done in years past. Honestly, 2016 hardly exists in my mind, it’s too difficult to remember much from it.  I normally love reading but my mind’s been so foggy, I find it difficult to get through one page of a book before zoning out.

So I’ll just do my best to remember what I did read, what I’ve been trying to read, and what I’m hoping to start reading soon.

What I Did Read

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

This was the only fictional work I read last year, sometime in February, after a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation. It feels like a dream now, my mind was still shocked and numb from my father’s unexpected passing just a couple months before that. I will say that I did really, really like this book. It was exactly what I needed at the time. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. It takes place in old Russia and, though written and published in our own modern time (2012), it maintains an ancient air, as if it was written centuries ago, hidden in a deep Russian forest, and only recently rediscovered.  Similar to Kirstin LavransdattarLaurus is an epic portrayal of human frailty, constant seeking and the great pilgrimage that is life.

101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do by Betsey Kerekes and Jennifer Roback Morse.

After reading and reviewing 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other , Betsey emailed me last Fall and asked if I’d like to read their newest book, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. I really enjoyed the layout from their first book with a very short one-page reflection for each tip, it was very easy to read and the tips were simple and easily applicable. After reading through this new one, providing 101 tips for those who aren’t married yet, I enjoyed it just as well for the same reasons as their first.

Obviously I’m married already and don’t have to worry about dating anymore (thank goodness!), I still found the tips very interesting and helpful. I lent it to a single friend who said that while she’s not really ready for a book like this quite yet as she’s not seriously dating anyone right now, she still enjoyed the ease of reading the tips and could tell it could be useful to someone in a more serious relationship.

I’d recommend this book as a gift for a single friend or family member – as long as they are open to it!

Still Reading…

Marry Him and Be Submissive by Costanza Miriano T

My friends at Tan Publishing reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in checking this one out. I have to admit, the title itself is quite provocative and I can see why there’d be a wee bit of controversy over it. Apparently it has caused quite a stir in Italy where Costanza lives so my curiosity won out and I said I’d give it a go.  I’ll report back soon.

Fearless: Conquer Your Demons and Love with Abandon by Sonja Corbitt

One day I went to the mailbox and there was a package with this beautiful book smiling up at me. Ave Maria Press knows what I like and I’m happy to get a chance to share another of Sonja’s books. If you have heard of or read Sonja’s book, Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You, you know Fearless is another outpouring of Sonya’s Spirit-filled love for Christ and His Beloved – YOU. In Fearless, Sonja invites readers to lay out their fears and doubts that pose an obstacles to their spiritual relationship with God and the people around them. With this book, Sonja provides a guide to Catholic Woman to help us overcome our spiritual fears and live a life full of love and joy and trust

33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy

Speaking of Trust, I just got this book and my husband and I are going to try and work our way through it togethers. We read/prayed Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory together and we have done several Marian “To Jesus Through Mary” consecrations over the years so I’ve been looking for something that focuses specifically on a consecration to Jesus directly. I thought about trying his Consoling the Heart of Jesus but this Merciful Love seems simpler and hopefully a little easier for us both to get through together.

And I’ll add another plug for The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections our CatholicMom.com book.  

Now just because I’m one of the published authors doesn’t mean I have a bias, I really am enjoying this book! I try to sit and read the day’s reflection in the morning or whenever I can sneak in a quiet moment. The reflections are always so applicable to my own life and struggles and they provide much encouragement and guidance for personal reflection. 

Going to Read:

Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross by Gary Jansen

The great people at Loyola Press reached out last fall and asked if I’d like to read and review this. Christmas is still lingering but Lent will begin soon and I’m looking forward to reading this as a Lenten reflection.

Counting by 7’s

And, because one can only read so many spiritual and religious books, I needed to throw in a good fiction read for good measure. My daughter, 7th grade, read this and really, really likes it. I think I started it a while back and now I hope to finish it.

It’s fun that we both get to read the same books now that she’s getting older. At the same time, the world of Young Adult literature can be a scary place but it gives me a good excuse to read books along with her and then we can talk about it together.

Well, that’s my life-in-books update for now. I’m working on a Movie update next! I know at least one person who’ll be excited about that. 🙂

 


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter #BookReview

Simplemama Book Review Video

Time to catch up on some book reviews. First up,

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter: A Novel

I read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter this summer while on our summer vacation. 

I liked it well enough, it was a good fiction fix and light vacation reading companion. I think it could have been MUCH better, it started out with great potential but it didn’t quite live up to my hopes I had when I picked it up and started reading. Then again, I may be a little spoiled after reading novels like Hannah Coulter and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

That said, despite how much it lacked (and it was a lot!) there are three main themes in the novel that deserve closer reflection and helped me appreciate the book more:

Grief (especially unresolved).

The destructive effect of unreconciled guilt.

The subject of our society’s history with people with Disabilities and Differences.

First, the various experiences with the trauma of grief woven through each character was something I could definitely relate to. I’m not sure if I would have liked this book, or at least understood it, as well if I hadn’t recently experienced a close personal grief of my own.

I think the author really did a good job demonstrating how powerful grief is and how, when it goes unresolved, it can cause so much more pain. Characteristic to that time period, each character held their grief in instead of talking about it together or seeking outside help and, instead, they looked for “escape” from their grief instead of mutual consolation with those closest to them. This of course led each character on a path of destruction and pain and not healing and joy.

Then there’s the Guilt. This is a somewhat taboo word in this current time as the popular trend is to “do what makes you happy” and not feel bad about it. But, with Dr. Henry’s one pivotal choice, we see how much one choice, kept a secret, can affect one’s life and the relationships so irreversibly. Guilt, gone unreconciled, can grow like a thorny bush, blocking out all the joy and good of life from yourself and those around you.

Lastly, I was intrigued with how the author demonstrated how people’s perspective of those with unique needs and disabilities has evolved over the years starting with the idea in the 1900’s into the later 60’s and even 70’s that “people like that” had to be “institutionalized” or even gotten rid of altogether – an idea that still lingers even into our own modern culture.

So, while the book didn’t live up to my hopes and maybe could have been developed differently I still enjoyed it for the important thought-provoking themes that will probably mill about in my mind for a while.

Have you read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter?

What did you think and why?


Running Achievements, What Ifs, Books & Movies, Space Room, and other Fun Updates {7QT} 8

It’s been too long since I’ve blogged again, time for a 7 Quick Takes for a fun little update on fun and exciting things.

One

Let’s see, I’ll start with talking about my kids – since that’s what moms do when their kids aren’t around.

This is our daughter’s second year of running middle school cross-country and she has PRed (set a new personal record) twice and been awarded two medals this year! She has been happily surprised by this and it’s been fun as a parent to see her challenging herself to try just a little harder each time.

I really love the Cross Country sport. It’s about self-accomplishment and teamwork. It’s so great seeing all the kids trying their own best while also cheering on their teammates to also set personal goals and work hard to do just a little better each time. Her school doesn’t have its own team so all the area Catholic schools got together to create a full team, it’s been a great way for them to get to know other kids from other schools that they might eventually meet in high school…in just a couple years. (gulp!)

Two

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into a good exercise routine and running again. There are many mental challenges to overcome but there are also so many benefits for my physical and my mental health.  I’m still working on uniting my fitness life with my spiritual health too. A friend recommended this book I’m hoping will help: Fit for Eternal Life. Any other good resources out there?

I’ve been picking at the idea of running in a 5K race and that idea has migrated from the back of my head slowly up to the front. So, there’s one going on next Saturday. I’ve been running 1 to 2 miles when I do and did run a cumulative 3 mile run with my husband a few weeks ago (which was so awesome to do together btw!).

So today I made a decision. I’d get out and see if I could run 3 miles straight through. If I could, I’d register for the 5K next Saturday. In order to help me stick to this plan, I had to gather up the courage to tell a few other friends and my husband that I was going to do it this morning. I asked them to ask me how it went when they saw me later – because I knew I’d hate to admit I wussed out.

So guess what?

I did it! I ran 3 miles straight through and even kept up my regular 12 mpm pace!

So, 5K, here I come!

Three

We like to play different table games at dinner – like “I Spy” or “Guess Who I am”.  Last week, I started a new one by asking the kids What If questions like,

What if…there was a Tiger in our backyard, what would you do?  

It’s been fun to hear the responses that vary from logical to just outright ridiculous. It’s also been a good way to talk about personal safety and what to do in emergency situations.

The four-year-old likes the game so much that he asks me What If questions almost all day. Even as I’m trying to put him to bed.  I cracked up at a silly one he asked me a couple days ago:

What if there was a giant cookie monster in our backyard?

Me – I’d give it cookies.

He pauses and thinks about that then asks while giggling,

What if the cookie monster was a COOKIE?!

Me while chuckling – Well, then I guess I’d go eat it! What you would do?

I’d eat it’s tongue!

Me – Ummm….ok….

Not sure why he picked the tongue? Should I be concerned?

Four

It’s almost the end of the month and I have to say that so far the school year has been going pretty well! For which I am incredibly thankful. I’ve done a few different things this year to try and make things go smoother before and after school especially – because those are our most challenging times of the day ever!!!!

Anyway, I wanted to share one thing that’s been made a big difference:

15 Minutes of After-School Quiet Time

It’s funny how such a small thing can make such a big difference but, like I shared in the article about it on CatholicMom.com this week, it really has changed our family’s life!

Five

I’ve read a few books and seen a few other good movies the past few months that I really want to share about.  For now, I’ll just share the list and hope to get a chance to come back and share more about soon.

Books I’ve read:

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Out of My Mind

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter: A Novel

Currently reading:
Man’s Search for Meaning by Vicktor Frankl

Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son

And of course the Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion with daily reflections!

Movies:

Room

Of Gods and Men

The Fundamentals of Caring

Six

I’ve started my next room renovation project – Operation Space Room!

Our nine-year-old (almost 10!) has been sleeping in a room with cute puppy wallpaper for too long and it’s time. Time to get the scraper out and get rid of those cute little puppies.  Our son – like his daddy – is fascinated with space, especially black holes! He said he wants his whole room to be space. Well, I can’t make it be real space in the room, I can at least try and make it look kind of like space.

The challenge will be how to make a room look like space without making it too dark….hmm, not sure if that’s possible?

For now, I’m working on getting the wallpaper off first before going beyond to where no Mom has gone before.

Seven

Another exciting thing – I got a gig creating social media images for EpicPew! It’s a cool site that offers interesting and relevant Catholic-related topics with a great sense of humor to go along. I’ll be working up images for Saint feast days each week, it’ll be good way to learn more about awesome Saints while using my Canva-designing addiction for some good too. I’ll even have a good excuse to have a little “gif” fun too.

Today ,we remember St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina. Check out EpicPew’s social media sites and follow along – you might learn something new and have some fun while you’re at it.

 

That’s all for now folks. I hope to come back again soon! Be sure to check out other 7 Quick Takes on this fine Friday.


And the Catholic Mom’s #PrayerCompanion Giveaway Winner Is…

and the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Giveaway for the The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, A Book of Daily Reflections! I wish ALL of you could win one because I know everyone will like having this book as their prayer companion. For today, Ave Maria Press is gracious enough to let me offer ONE and so, the Random Rafflecopter Winner is…

Amanda B!

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Amanda personally and am excited she’ll get to enjoy this book! It will be a very “edifying read” to have before going to bed at night or upon rising before an early morning start. 😉  Amanda is a beautiful, kind, and loving mother and I’m thankful to call her a friend. She has inspired me in many ways, especially in the way of encouraging and motivating me back to a regular exercise routine! She’s also an AMAZINGLY TALENTED artist! I hope I get to show off her magnificent talents in another book project we’ve been collaborating on together that is getting close to completion (pray for us to find the right publisher!!)

Again, thank you to all who participated in the Giveway! Though I can’t offer another free book today, you can order The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion at any time by clicking on my Amazon affiliate links in this post. If you’d like to order directly through me, I can offer a 10% discount (before shipping) – I’ll even sign it for you! Contact me through the “Let’s Connect” page if you’re interested.

Also, check out Allison Gingras’s week-long series on The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion including podcast episodes with some of the The Prayer Companion‘s contributing authors!

CM Prayer companion book cover

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