Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood
by Carrie Gress
2016 Beacon Publishing
When I saw this book, it naturally made me think about Teresa Tomeo's Extreme Makeover based on the title. One main difference between the two books is that Tomeo's book was focusing on women in general, while Gress' book was focusing specifically on motherhood as a pathway to sanctification. She emphasized how motherhood has its challenges, but ultimately, the ways it stretches us and helps us to grow facilitate recognizing vices (that otherwise might be buried under the surface) in order to move toward the complementary virtues and to grow in intimacy with God.
She reflects on how "God in his mercy has given us the most gentle (and adorable) avenue to grow in virtue. Yes, we make many sacrifices for them, but with each sacrifice our love grows. While it is true that raising children is likely one of the hardest things you will ever do, there are much more difficult ways to become holy, such as martyrdom or prolonged illness. God in his mercy and love wants us to become holy, and he gives us a gentle path to get there. The sacrifice is real, but so are the joy, the peace, and the awareness that our gift is fruitful" (p. 66).
The book complements others I have been reading and an aspect a priest recently reminded me of related to love being willing the good of the other (more about the will, rather than an emotion). At 135 pages, the book was a quick read, written with a conversational style. Each chapter started with a quote and ended with Questions for Reflection. In general, the book celebrates the vocation of motherhood and provides encouragement for layers of how the vocation can be counter-cultural.
Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life
by Mary Elizabeth Sperry
2018 Ave Maria Press
When I read about the concept of Making Room for God, it made me think of Not of this World: A Catholic Guide to Minimalism. The description for Making Room for God refers to it as "the first book on organization from a Catholic perspective," so I was curious to see what it would add that would be different than Not of this World since that book came to mind as one that was already out there with a Catholic lens. Without referring back to Not of this World to verify, if my memory is correct, a key distinction is that Not of this World focused more on a Catholic lens for thinking about minimalism and our stuff, while Making Room for God moves beyond that to also have a parallel in depth dialogue about the spiritual life or how we can take the concepts about decluttering and organization and apply it to our journey with God in general, not only with things but with the intangible layers of life. For example, Sperry makes the connection between decluttering and retreats or penitential seasons of the liturgical year. She emphasizes how both organization and spiritual journeys are about the process and on-going.
I am enjoying the in progress discussions about this book with the St. Teresa's Online Book Club.
The Discerning Parent: An Ignatian Guide to Raising Your Teen
by Tim and Sue Muldoon
2017 Ave Maria Press
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
by Shauna Niequist
I enjoyed seeing glimpses into Niequist's journey. Some of her words felt like they perfectly captured my experience while others did not resonate. That is the beauty of being able to learn from someone else's experiences - noticing the connections and differences, considering implications for my own life and pondering how some ideas might fit with my context. Niequist is not Catholic but did include some references to the Catholic faith and how it fit with her experiences, as well as including some quotes or concepts from Catholics like St. Ignatius, St. Catherine of Siena, and Thomas Merton. I appreciated how she showed different phases of her realization to recognizing she needed to make a change in her life and the reality of it being a process to enact the changes, how it is an on-going process, something that I can relate to.
I loved Brené Brown's books when I read them about 5 years ago, so I enjoyed seeing a foreword by her and also noticed a reference to Tsh Oxenreider in the book, so though I had not read Shauna Niequist's other books, she seemed like a familiar voice as she has common values and priorities to other authors and bloggers that I have enjoyed.