Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Reviews: Raising Up Mommy and Let Nothing Trouble You

Raising Up Mommy
Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments
Heidi Hess Saxton
Hospitality: The Feminine Face of Generosity

Order and proportion, beauty and moderation. To embrace these principles of artistry within the home is to create an environment where the senses of family members are liberated to appreciate the fullness of God's design. A single bit of sun-ripened peach dances on the tongue with a far greater satisfaction--and far less guilt--than a quart of factory processed frozen yogurt.

True hospitality--the ability to tend to another person's needs while simultaneously putting that person at ease--demands both an empathetic perspective and an artistic touch. The generous person slips a check in a get-well card; the hospitable individual also leaves a jar of homemade chicken-and-dumplings or an inspirational book on tape.

But what does practicing the art of hospitality have to do with combating greed, one might ask? Just as the greed attaches to material things out of fear or pride, the one who practices true hospitality meets the physical needs of others out of an inner conviction of faith and trust, demonstrating by their own detachment a firm reliance on the only true Source of good things.

The motivation behind the act is as important as the act itself. Some people, for example, give not out of a sense of gratitude, but out of neediness--a need to be liked, or to be in the limelight.....
Contrary to the title, this book is actually about how women can practice the virtues in their lives, whether they are mothers or not. As Saxton guides us through the virtues, showing how they are antidotes for the seven deadly sins, we can see how practicing the small opportunities yields spiritual flowering in our own lives and those around us. I could relate all too well to Saxton's frequent confessions of her less than perfect moments of mothering or wifeliness. However, I think it is the rare women who cannot relate this realistic linking of sins and virtues to their own lives, whether at work, with friends, or even when alone.

I am a big fan of the virtues but all too frequently I am good at reading about them but then forget to practice them. This book will help anyone who reads it, myself included, see the many opportunities we are given to practice the virtues every day. Saxton makes the goal of living our vocations as Christians eminently more "do-able" through the insights in this book.

Highly recommended.

Update: I see that Heidi also has a new book out ... about Mary. Read a review at Just another day of Catholic pondering.

Bonus Review

When I was looking around for sales links to put with the above book, I realized that I have been an unwitting fan of Heidi Saxton's for a long, long time. At the time I became Christian, I was looking around for books about prayer and came across a short series of books about praying with the saints. I really wish the series had been longer, however, it was through these that I was introduced to my first two saintly "pals," St. Augustine and St. Teresa of Avila. (The other two books feature St. Thomas More and St. Francis of Assisi.) Saxton wrote the Teresa of Avila book.

I still love these books which combine simple but insightful combinations of 60 day's worth of morning and evening readings featuring scripture and readings from the saint. I pick up used copies whenever I come across them to give to new converts. Recently, I gave one to a friend of Hannah's who just entered the Church and heard back that she really loves it.

A much belated, but heartfelt thank you for that book!

Highly recommended.

Heidi tells me that she has copies of this for sale at her place. Just click through.

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