Heidi is on “Women of Grace” this week!

Teresa-21Birthdays and wedding anniversaries are so often opportunities to celebrate, to recall the past year and anticipate (usually with joy) all the new year will bring.

Today marks a special one-year anniversary, the release of my book Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  On Monday  “Women of Grace” will be airing its program about the book. Try to tune in when you can to EWTN (mornings at 11:00 EST, evenings at 11:30 EST).

If you would like to order ten or more copies for a parish group, to bring in the Advent season, please contact me at Heidi.hess.saxton(at)gmail.com, and I can offer you a special discount: $10/copy, postage paid!

Today marks another anniversary for me as well: Exactly one year ago today, a friend wrote to remind me, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my job at Franciscan Media, giving me a two-month hiatus as I thought about what I would do next. When Ave invited me back to do some acquisitions work for them, it was like going home again. Although, of course, it is true what they say: You can never really go home again. People and relationships are constantly changing, for better or worse. And we must change with it.

This time of year can be a tough time for those who are seeking work, or who find themselves otherwise in transition. As I continue to work for Ave, I find myself facing another transition: my mother is coming to stay with us. Her dementia prevents her from living at home with my dad, and I’m wondering what my life will be like a month from now, six months from now. My prayer is that she and my daughter will bond in a way that makes our home a happy place. My prayer is that the symptoms of the disease that has damaged my mother’s mind and her associations will abate, and her heart will find peace. My hope is that she will spend the last months of her life feeling the love of her family. My hope is that, day by day, God will grant us all the grace we need to do what needs to be done.

Today I’d like to offer this little prayer for those who are facing a similar personal Everest.

May the Lord keep you ever in his care.

May our Lady hold you in her mother’s heart.

And until we all meet together in the new Jerusalem,

May we journey all together in his peace.

 

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Day One: Thankfulness

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Day 1 in Costa Rica

This morning a fat cloud sits on the mountain at eye level as we sit on the porch in the cool of the morning, Colleen drinking coffee and I sipping the precious Diet Coke I managed to liberate from the plane on my flight last On the flight, I watched Genius, the true story of author Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his literary editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth). Though the movie was panned by many critics, I thought it did a great job of portraying the exquisite (and sometimes aggravating beyond words) creative dance between authors and their editors.  Granted, most dances (one would hope) aren’t quite so invasive on family life … but then again, genius has its share of big ugly gorillas.

On the drive home, Colleen and I got to talking about her new (second) book, Naked and Unashamed: The Blessing of the Female Body (Franciscan Media). I was her editor for her first book, Who Do He Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels. It is a powerful testimony of the life-changing power of Christ, and of her journey through grief after losing her son Bryce to SIDS and starting (with her husband Greg) the maternity home here.

I was laid off shortly after persuading her to write the second book, and so Colleen and I have been partners in loss. Listening to her describe her experience with the editorial process on the second book, I could feel myself getting angry — a fists clenched, shoulders tight, pit-of-the-stomach smoldering. Finally, I had to choose to let it go. I could not change it … and I knew that somehow God would work this out, too.

It’s been almost eight months since I was laid off at FM and six since rejoining Ave Maria on a part-time, contract basis. Despite the loss of income, I also have to admit that this change has also had its perks. In my old job, for example I could not have taken a month to spend with a friend in this idyllic setting, rocking gently on the front porch and listening to exotic birds as the fog clears from the mountain.

Looking over the valley, I can almost see the top. And I am thankful.

Honoring Milestones

The other day fifteen-year-old Chris came home from school and said to me, “MOM! You’re FAMOUS!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot having the slightest idea what he was talking about, but not wanting to show my hand, I hedged: “Really? Where?”

“On the Internet! I typed in your name and got ALL THESE PICTURES! Some of them are me, too!” (To my relief, he wasn’t unhappy about this.) “I showed the kids at school and they all thought it was cool!”

And, just like any mother, I smiled. Not at the thought of being famous, but at the thought that my son thought (at least for the moment) that I was . . . cool.

His comments prompted me to go back and look at some of those images, and to be honest, my favorites were not of me. I’ve never been particularly photogenic . . . but looking back and seeing all these photographs of the kids at the various stages of their lives made me realize just how blessed I have been.

If that wasn’t enough, one of my old professors at Bethany (where I got my degree in missions as well as my start in book publishing) reached out to me to tell me he’d seen my blog and was so pleased to see all the things I’d done with my life.

Your career and your interests and your schooling and your authoring of books–how many people have done what you’ve done? Impressive. But I’m sure you’ve discovered, as I have discovered, that all the accomplishments and really wonderful things God has done as you’ve been out and about really pale compared to your family and especially the kids. All of that is great, but without the love and joys and challenges of the family, the other stuff doesn’t mean much.

He was right, of course. That’s not to say that it’s been easy, or that there haven’t been other things I’ve enjoyed doing as well (including my day job). But even during the rough patches, my family has been the centerpiece of my crazy, frenetic life. And today, as Ave Maria Press (the company I work for) celebrates 150 years I decided to take a moment to honor the “big picture” of my life.

It all goes in the blink of a moment. But there’s so much treasure there. Including my two beautiful teenagers, who think I’m “famous.”