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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31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 11: Forgive the Unforgiving

confessionalI love my job, working with authors to help them express themselves with eloquence and creativity. An editor is part coach, part taskmaster, part encourager, part critic, and part intercessor. At its best, the author-editor relationship is based on trust and mutual respect.

Of course, once in a while — thankfully, only rarely — something goes wrong. A misunderstanding occurs, or an ego gets bruised. In one memorable instance in my career, an author complained to my boss about me so vociferously, I could have lost my job. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so shocked and betrayed; just days before, we had been together and she had thanked me for the work I had done on her project.

For weeks I puzzled over the injustice. How could I have so completely misread the situation? In the end, I decided to forgive; the author’s actions, though ignoble, had ultimately induced me to try something new. I wrote her a note, letting her know that I harbored no ill-will. (She did not reply, but I was at peace.)

Choosing love and choosing forgiveness is never a wasted effort. Life isn’t always fair. Good guys don’t always win, and bad guys don’t always get caught right away. But forgiveness levels the playing field in important ways. We may never know how that choice affects other people, but we can be absolutely sure it will help us.

To be honest, I haven’t always taken the high road. I’ve harbored resentments and wasted hours of precious sleep, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out how to make the best of a bad situation — at work, at home, or with relationships with extended family members. Each time I’ve decided to “forgive the unforgivable,” God has changed the landscape of my heart, forging paths, building bridges, and leading me beside peaceful, rejuvenating waters. I’ve also discovered . . .

*  Forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. Every day, another step.

*  Forgiveness is best expressed in words. Hearing the words spoken aloud (to the one you’re forgiving, in confession, or reading a letter aloud to an empty chair) often “breaks” the power of resentment or bitterness in a way that simple mental assent may not.

*  Forgiving ourselves can be the most difficult part of the process — and the most necessary. Try to give yourself as much latitude as you would give your best friend, if she had done the same thing.

*  Forgiving and feeling goodwill toward those who have hurt us are two very different things. Yet feelings are not facts, and sometimes negative emotions like resentment and bitterness need to be forcibly uprooted. Praying can be a good way to release residual anger. If that is not possible, try praying to be willing to pray for that person. Spiritual health, like physical health, is a matter of small choices, made daily.

Whom do you need to forgive this week?

 

 

The Road Trip Begins

fireplaceYesterday I arrived at Ave Maria to find my coworkers had transformed the office into a real “winter wonderland.” Up to and including the fireplace, fashioned from glittery paper and Christmas lights hidden behind a Yule log. Clever, huh? Made the sixteen-hour journey in the snow the previous day via train, two airplanes, and car . . . worth it.

“Journeying” is a popular metaphor in the publishing world. A good book is supposed to be transformative, leaving you better off simply for having invested yourself in it.

Parenting is also a journey. You start out with a little bundle (or, in my case, three larger ones), and discover a whole new side of yourself emerging. More love than you ever thought you had. Also more less flattering emotions (sleep deprivation does that to you.) But over time, you realize that even these begin to mellow into something more . . . human. Authentic. More fully “you.”

In the coming year, I’d like to invite you to journey with me on that parenting road trip. Sometimes that road trip will be literal (on Fridays I’ll be blogging about memorable places I’ve been to over the years, and invite you to join in the fun). Other times it will be more literary. (Wednesdays here will be my “Book Whisperer” column, where I point you to books and other resources that I’ve found helpful both in writing and in raising two special-needs kids, and invite you to share yours as well.) On Mondays, though, I hope to post about the journey of parenting. Feel free to play along!

Finally, I recently redid my “About” page (thanks to Michael Hyatt’s timely advice in Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World). If you’d like to guest post, to share your favorite book or not-to-be-missed road trip experience, please let me know!

Who’s Who in Catholic Publishing: CWCO Begins!

cwco_topicMonday morning at 9 am, the second annual Catholic Writers Conference Online kicks off with a little talk I’m giving about how to pitch a book idea to a publisher.

In preparation for this, I gathered information from the publishers who will be represented for the conference, to give attendees an idea of the distinctive “voices” of each house. This information was gathered from editors, publishing websites and the  CPA website

Why do publishing houses need mission statements? Here’s one excellent explanation from Michael Hyatt, President of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Someday when I grow up, I’d like to work for this guy. Bottom line: We need them to give us the “light at the end of the tunnel,” so we know how we fit in the great cosmos of the publishing world … and when we are accomplishing our corporate goals, individually and as a team.

Christian publishers distinguish themselves from other kinds of publishing in their desire to contribute meaningfully to the spiritual lives of others. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our primary customers, service providers, and (not to put too fine a point on it) the reason we’re around in the first place. This year, an extraordinary number of editors and other writing professionals have stepped forward to donate their expertise. With your indulgence, I’d like to take a few minutes to recognize them here.

Ami McConnell (Thomas Nelson Publishing)
Arthur Powers
Andrew McNabb
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Cynthia Cavnar (Servant/Saint Anthony Messenger Press)
Danielle Bean, (“Faith and Family” Magazine)
David Dziena (Our Sunday Visitor Parish Services)
Devon Ellington
Elena-Maria Vidal
Frank Creed
Heather King
Helen Gallagher
Brian Saint Paul, Margaret Cabaniss, and Christina Jopson (“InsideCatholic.Com” e-zine)
Jaquelyn (Jackie) Lindsey (Our Sunday Visitor, trade books division)
Jeff Gardener (Catholic Radio International)
Joann Alberts, Trinity Direct Marketing
Judith Costello
Karina Fabian (President, Catholic Writers’ Guild)
Kristen Johnson
Kyle Eller (“Northern Cross” newspaper)
Lea Schizas
Lisa Wheeler (Maximus Group)
Maria Rivera
Mark Brumley (Ignatius Press)
Mark Shea
Matt Pinto (Ascension Press)
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Melanie Rigney
Michelle Buckman
Mike Manno
Miki Tracy
Patricia Punt
Paul Pennick (Twenty-Third Publications)
Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, Sr. Christina Wegendt, and Diane Lynch (Pauline Books and Media)
Pete Vere
Ron Berry
Sally Stuart (Christian Writers’ Market Guide)
Sue Brinkmann, OCSD (“Canticle” Magazine)
Sue Lick
Sylvia Dorham
Terri Main
Terry Whalin (Intermedia Publishing)
Tom Grace
VS Grenier
Vinita Wright (Loyola Press)

On behalf of co-chair Karina Fabian and myself, thank you for making this week possible, and for doing your part to cultivate the next crop of bestselling Catholic authors!