Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simplicity During Lent

"The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes." —St. Therese

Dear readers: Lent is upon us. It's a time of prayer and increased awareness of Jesus and the suffering he endured in order that we all might be saved. Some people think of it as a dreary, sad time. I can see how some people might feel that way. After all, it's more serious at church on Sunday (no "Alleulias" are sung), people are fasting and not eating meat on Fridays, and giving up things they usually enjoy. A good friend of mine gave up all sweets, as she does every year. That would be very difficult for me, seeing as I love, love, love anything with sugar! Another friend of mine decided to make a greater effort to be nicer to the people she loves, and to try not to lose her temper so easily.

Lent is a time for simpler things, and about making ourselves better. Some of you may have soup suppers at your parish, which consist of a simple meal of soup and bread. Maybe your mom or dad prepares simpler meals on Fridays, meatless dinners without all of the extra trimmings. Others decide to keep it simple by going out of their way to do things for other people, things they might not normally do. Maybe some of you or your parents go to Mass more, like a daily Mass. Definitely, praying more is a simple but wonderful thing we can do during Lent to make us more aware of Jesus.

A funny thing happens when we get closer to God. St. Therese was right when she said that the nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes. When you love God with your whole heart and strive to make Him a part of your life in all things, all of the time, you become simpler, more childlike. St. Therese always said that she wished to be little, like a child, simpler. She said that being childlike is the way to get to Heaven. What does it mean to be "childlike"? Well, children are trusting. They trust that Mom and Dad love them and will take care of all of their needs. Both children and adults can also be that trusting with God, our Father. We can trust that He will take care of all of our needs, even if things look bad and we don't exactly feel that God is near. He is, and He wants you to put simple trust in Him for everything.

Children also love unconditionally. Think of a baby who needs her mother to meet every need of hers. She loves her mother no matter what; even if Mom forgets to change her diaper (oops!) or lets her cry a bit too long in her crib (time to nap!). When the wet diaper is changed or Mom comes in to bring her comfort, the baby is happy to see her. She loves her even though Mom goofed up or didn't come running in. After all, it's still Mommy, and the baby loves her no matter what. We should love God in that way, no matter what. I have friends who have been through very hard times, and you know what? They love God even more today. They love him unconditionally and He loves us in the same way.

I know most of my readers are children themselves. St. Therese always wants you to stay that way. Sure, you will grow up physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that is the way it is supposed to be. Everyone has to grow up and get big! But when it comes to God, especially during Lent, Therese reminds us to be like little children. The closer you get to Him, you will be simpler. Life will be less complicated because you won't let little things disturb you. You will love God like a trusting child, letting Him take the lead in your life. "The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes."

How simple—how little—can you be this Lenten season?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Talking About Olivia

Dear readers:
I love hearing about Little Flowers Girls Clubs and Challenge Groups who are reading and discussing Olivia and the Little Way. I have to agree with them that it is a helpful, age-appropriate book for the girls to discuss in their meetings. I think kids can learn a lot from Olivia and her struggles to fit in at her new school, and how it relates to their problems. The Little Way of St. Therese is a wonderful example for kids your age to follow.

I also know that some of your teachers are discussing the book in your classes in Catholic school, and that is great! For those of you who don't have one of the above clubs nearby, or don't have an opportunity to discuss the book in school, don't worry. You can always start your own little book club among your friends. Why not try something new? It might be fun!

Your teachers and club leaders can e-mail me for a list of discussion questions; I would be happy to provide them! They can e-mail me at:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

"Oh, how sweet is the way of love!...Oh, how I wish to always do the will of God
with no restraints." —St. Therese

Dear readers:

On Valentine's Day, we celebrate love. There can be no greater love than God's love for us. St. Therese's Little Way teaches us how to show our love for God and humanity. How can YOU follow the Little Way of loving God this Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Own Shower Of Roses

Dear readers:
I have something very exciting to celebrate today: Olivia and the Little Way is now officially in its second printing! I am so grateful to all of you, young and old, who have supported this book since its debut in October. How can I thank you enough? I especially want to thank:

  • All of my young readers who write and e-mail me to tell me how much they love Olivia and learning about her lovely friendship with Saint Therese
  • Young Zelie, who wrote an impressive fifth-grade book report about the book. Zelie, I give you an A+!
  • The Little Flowers groups who are reading my book and discussing it at meetings
  • Sixth-grader Jessica, who wrote to me and told me she loved the book "from the very first sentence"
  • The kind lady who told me at my very first book signing, "I've been waiting to meet you!" You made my day.
  • The mom who told me her daughter is now starting to follow The Little Way every day
  • The lady who e-mailed me and told me "You have no idea how this book has touched my life."
  • The bookstore managers across the country who gave this book a chance and happily reorder more copies
  • The Michigan dad who reads Olivia and the Little Way to his four children each night at bedtime
  • The Wisconsin mom who told me it was her daughter's favorite Christmas gift and that she read it cover to cover on Christmas Day
  • The bookstore owner who said the book made her cry with happiness
  • Not only the girls, but the boys who say they can't put my book down! :-)
  • The teachers who are reading this book to their students in Catholic school classrooms and discussing it
  • Illustrator Sandra Casali LewAllen, whose beautiful sketches made me cry when I saw them because she drew what was in my head all along
  • My friends and family, who tell everyone they meet how special they think this book is
  • And, of course, to sweet Saint Therese, who spreads the word about this book in countless ways that I don't even realize.
Thank you, everyone! You are all MY shower of roses from our precious Little Flower. I am proud and humbled to have written this book for all of you...and for God.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Vacation!

Dear readers:

Sorry I have been absent from here for a while; I was vacationing in Florida last week. A high point of the trip was visiting Ave Maria town near Naples, Florida. Have you heard of it? It is a brand-new, Catholic town, home to Ave Maria University. At the center of the lovely town is the gorgeous new church. I took a peek inside and it is incredible to see. The church is surrounded by cafes and shops and is across from the university. I feel very fortunate that I was able to visit Ave Maria!

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