When I was little, I wanted to be a gymnast, a teacher, an astronaut, a police officer, even a nun. But I never had dreams of becoming an author. Like many students, I rarely enjoyed writing any of the papers I was assigned.
When I actually became, well, not a nun, but a religious sister, I was unable to talk to my family regularly. I did, however, write letters to them faithfully. I would tell them about the joys and the struggles of religious life. I loved sharing the fruits of my meditations and all that our Lord was teaching me while in the convent.
Then I came home. It was not God's will that I remain a Dominican sister. He had other plans for me.
About three weeks after I left the convent, I met the man who would become my husband. Almost three years later, we married. Immediately, we began our family. That, too, was more God's plan than ours!
Having three children three years old and younger brought me face-to-face with the cold hard reality that being a mommy was hard. Even when doing my best, I had moments of doubt that I was doing this thing called motherhood "right."
While in the convent, I found reading biographies of saints inspiring. Reading about ordinary people who had struggles like mine and through them became holy encouraged me. Now that I was a mother, I wondered how many canonized saints were mothers, too. Maybe I could draw inspiration and encouragement from them.
Thus, I began looking up mommy saints. I was surprised to find that there are quite a few. Reading about the lives of these holy women did not disappoint. Each one had something to teach me.
At some point, I decided to take notes, for the thought came to me that one day I would like to write a book about mommy saints. Other mothers may need inspiration and encouragement, too.
Meanwhile, my crazy, busy life continued. God blessed me and my husband with ten children altogether, though one, Thomas Gabriel, is where I hope one day all my children will be - with God in Heaven. Needles to say, the nine at home with me kept me hopping!
In 2013, with an eye towards one day writing a book, I began to blog once a month for CatholicMom.com. I could share my faith and ideas of fun activities to do with the kids while honing in on my writing skills and developing a platform (a term used in the writing world that means an audience).
Then, one day, I received an email from the editor of CatholicMom. Our Sunday Visitor was looking for book proposals. An email address where to send our ideas was included in the correspondence.
Was this my opportunity? I wasn't sure the timing was right. I was still homeschooling four children, had two in high school, and two in college, and one recent college grad looking for a job. Plus, I was working for my church part-time. Could I possibly write a book now?
I decided to let God determine whether or not now was the time. So, I answered that email. Apparently, God had greater faith in me and my abilities than I had. OSV liked my idea of a compilation of the stories of saintly mothers written with a reflection on what these women teach us today about our vocation of motherhood.
In September 2018, I signed a contract. I gathered my notes from prayer journals and notebooks and began writing. My pastor, Father Michael Roach, read my chapters in their rawest form. He often knew things about some of the saints that I didn't. I did, however, introduce him to a few saints he didn't know. Encouragement from him, my family, and friends kept me going.
When I finished writing and after a friend proofread my manuscript, I was satisfied enough with the book that I submitted it. Then I waited.
I thought the book was scheduled to be published early 2020. So, as fall 2019 approached and I still had not heard anything from my editor, I reached out to her. Due to a variety of reasons, the publication of Saintly Moms was postponed until October 1, 2021.
At first, I smiled. Is this not how God usually worked with me? Always asking patience from me. Wanting me to trust Him.
Knowing that God's will was in this delay, however, did not take away the disappointment. I would have to wait another year. Yet, God promised that my "vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it - it will surely come; it will not be late" (Hab 2:3). So, I waited some more.
It is amazing to think that if the book had been published when I thought it would, Saintly Moms would have been rolling out with the Covid pandemic. Once again, God proved that His timing is always better than ours. He knows and sees all things.
Earlier this year, I got my manuscript back with the edits. I was warned that the editing process would be one of the most humbling experiences I would ever have, and, boy, was it ever! Two whole chapters were taken out and had to be be replaced. Two others had to be almost totally redone. Few chapters were left unmarked. There were some parts that I fought to keep and others I accepted as needing to be reworked. In the end, my editor made me and my book better.
In May, the back cover was sent to me to approve the book's summary and my bio. Then, in June, the beautiful front cover was revealed. In the meantime, I asked some of my Catholic author friends and "influencers" if they would read the PDF version of my book and write an endorsement. I was blessed that many responded positively. These are the reviews that you can read on the Amazon site. After many months of waiting, it was all quickly coming together.
Then, on September 8, the birthday of our Blessed Mother, the first woman I cover in Saintly Moms, a box from Our Sunday Visitor arrived at my door. I had a published book! God let my dream come true!
A friend asked if it felt like I had just given birth. If it did, it was the longest labor I have ever experienced! But, looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way. Throughout this process, God has taught me so much:
With God's help, we can do so much more than we think we can.
God's timing is perfect.
When all is said and done, humility does not cut us down, but raises us up.
God helps dreams come true.
He wants us to succeed.
To receive your copy of Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness, click on "My Books" or order on Amazon. If you have already ordered your copy, thank you. May Saintly Moms encourage each of us to become holy. That is my prayer.