Monday, April 27, 2009

A Little Gift For God

Dear readers:

I wanted to share a story with you about one of the many sacrifices St. Therese made throughout her life. I like to think of her sacrifices as little gifts she gave to God. This gift took place shortly after she entered the Carmelite convent. The following is taken from the book Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvemont, page 189:

"When Therese entered the Carmel, Sister Saint Vincent de Paul appeared to take malicious pleasure in humbling this young middle-class woman who seemed rather awkward when it came to manual work. She nicknamed Therese "the big nanny-goat"—a clear way of making her feel that she worked too slowly. When Therese came into the laundry room, Sister Saint Vincent de Paul said out loud: 'Here she comes! She certainly is in no hurry! When is she going to get to work?' Therese certainly suffered from these stinging remarks, but did not let it show. Jesus was simply asking for a new sacrifice. She never failed to smile at Sister Saint Vincent de Paul whenever she came to the laundry room."

Wow! Therese's feelings must certainly have been hurt by the sister's remarks. I know mine would have been. Do you ever hear hurtful things from kids at school? Kids can be very mean sometimes. Usually it's because they are feeling low self-esteem themselves, and need to bring other people down in order to make themselves feel good. She might have felt resentful toward Therese, since Therese was new, young, and not used to doing much housework.

And what did Therese do? Did she talk back to her superior? Did she give her a smarmy remark back? Quite the contrary! She turned it into something positive— an opportunity to offer it up for Jesus. Difficult, I know, to see the positive in that situation! But Therese was so good at that, and that is one of the reasons we love her so much. In her sweet way, she was giving a little gift to God. God has given us so many gifts. What gifts can we give Him back?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Deeds Beads of Saint Therese

Dear readers: Look what I found online! Good deeds beads! These would make an excellent addition to the St. Therese chaplet. In my fiction book Olivia and the Little Way, when fifth-grader Olivia learns from her grandmother how to pray the St. Therese chaplet, she develops a closer relationship with St. Therese and God. I love when readers and their parents tell me that they, too, pray to the Little Flower after having read the book. I am sure good deeds beads would also help you grow closer to God . I had read about St. Therese using them when she was a child. They can also be called sacrifice beads. The picture here and the information below is taken from the website

How to use your Good Deeds Beads:

These beads are large so you can hang your Good Deeds Beads up on your kitchen wall by the key ring. Every time you do a good deed take it down off the wall and move a bead. Remember to hang it back up so you don't misplace it.

Do a good deed,
Move a bead.

Feed the poor,
Move one more.

Give your friends the help they need,
You can add another bead.

Help clean up the kitchen floor.
Guess what? Now that's four!

In the 1800's Therese Martin's older sister gave her something called Good Deed beads. She said these were some beads that could help you count your presents to God. One day Therese was picking flowers and it was her grandmother's turn to bring flowers to the church for the altar. Therese didn't want to give the flowers she picked to her grandmother. Then Therese remembered the good deed beads and she gave the flowers to her grandmother.

It is very sweet to think of Therese using her Good Deeds Beads. You can try it yourself, if you wish. You can even make your own with beads found at craft stores. You could make a single strand of ten large beads to help you follow St. Therese's Little Way. For instructions on making your own, a great website is

I can just picture Olivia using these, can't you?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Artfully Done

artwork by Sandra Casali LewAllen

Mrs. Casali LewAllen holds up one of her original sketches to show fourth and fifth graders.

Here, she selects another of her original sketches to show the students.

Dear readers: Sometimes when I visit schools, I am lucky to have Mrs. Casali LewAllen come along with me to speak to the students. She brings the original sketches with her to show everyone. She likes to talk about the different types of media, and why she chose to use pencil instead of pen and ink. Pen and ink seemed a little harsh for a story of this type, she explains. She wanted something soft and sweet. She stayed up late into the night, when the house was quiet and still, to do the majority of her work. The results were amazing!

Saint Therese was a huge inspiration to her, she says, and helped her especially with the cover artwork, pictured at the top. She tried a couple different designs, but finally felt a nudge from the Little Flower telling her to make a beautiful, old-fashioned window, much like the one St. Therese would have had to look out of in her room in France. Shaded in colored pencil, the pink rosebush blooming in the background, combined with Olivia holding her St. Therese chaplet, all come together to make a beautiful image for the cover of the book. I especially love how it shows Olivia as a normal, modern girl, in her hoodie sweatshirt and t-shirt.

Mrs. Casali LewAllen is certainly an inspiration to budding artists everywhere!

Monday, April 6, 2009

What an honor!

Dear readers:

I mentioned earlier that I have been speaking at Catholic schools lately, telling children about the life of St. Therese and how she inspired me to write Olivia and the Little Way. The photographer at one of the recent schools took these great pictures with the images of the Little Flower behind me from my PowerPoint presentation. I love how she is behind me, watching over me as I do my speech. I feel her presence each time I step up to the microphone, giving me strength, humor, and inspiration that I so enjoy sharing with children. Thank you, St. Therese!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We're live in!

Talking about Olivia and the Little Way with Elaine Babbish

Dear readers:

See what fun you can have as an author? You get to talk to nice people on the airwaves! Yesterday I was privileged to be a guest on Michigan Catholic Radio with Elaine Babbish, host of "View From The Pew." It is their annual spring pledge drive and Elaine asked me to come and talk about Olivia and the Little Way and St. Therese for a half hour. I was so excited to answer all of her questions and talk about how St. Therese inspired me to write the book. I also got to talk about how the book has inspired all of you, which was great fun! Three lucky winners won signed copies of the book, which I hope they enjoy!

Being interviewed on the radio makes you a bit nervous at first, but as soon as the conversation starts, you can't help but relax, especially with a host as nice as Elaine. St. Therese, of course, was praying for us the whole time. How could she not be? We were broadcasting live from the National Shrine of the Little Flower. How perfect is that?!

Have a wonderful day!
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