Saturday, May 31, 2008

CWCO: Morning Prayers to Share, Day 2

Day 2: Pride

“The proud man counts his newspaper clippings, the humble man his blessings.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“The only way to become a better writer is to become a better person.” Brenda Ueland

Today (May 3) is my son’s First Holy Communion. When we became his foster parents in 2002, Craig and I knew we were going to change the lives of Christopher and his sister … But we didn’t realize just how much they were going to change us.

Our leap into parenting was less like an invigorating dive into a pool than a hapless blundering into a steaming-hot shower. In Raising Up Mommy I observe that all my impurities rushed to the surface, pride being chief among them. The vocation of motherhood is full of opportunities for humiliation, and humility is the primary antidote for pride. Oh, how I needed it!

Today as we begin the conference, I’d like to encourage you to take stock of the stumbling block of pride, and its holy antidote, humility. In the life of the writer, this unseemly vice can come out in a variety of ways, even before the first contract is signed. How do you respond to “constructive criticism”? Do you strive to do the best work possible, regardless of how many people are going to read your efforts? Do you get so engrossed in your own creativity that you tune out everything else going on around you – including the friend that needs a silent listener?

Mother Mary, yours was a calling largely hidden from the world: to carry the Word made flesh underneath your heart. Pray for us, that we when people look at us, they would see Jesus.

Please join me: Hail Mary...

Friday, May 30, 2008

CWCO: Morning Prayers to Share, Day 1

The Catholic Writer's Conference Online is now over ... but it was such a wonderful event, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you, so you'll be encouraged to sign up next year! Even better, perhaps you'd like to sign up for the conference e-book, which is available May 30. To order your copy of the book, click here.

This week I'll be posting the morning devotions that I shared each morning of the conference. Feel free to post any intentions you might have in the "comments" section of the post.

Author and writing coach Brenda Ueland once observed, "To become a better writer, become a better person." For Catholics, this means growing in virtue, and weeding out vice.

Every morning this week we will be taking a look at one or two vices, which I explore in greater depth in my talk "The Good Writer" (forum). I developed this talk based on the work I did while creating Raising Up Mommy. To order the book, go to

May 2: Beginnings

“Life is like a cash register, in that every account, every thought, every deed, like every sale, is registered and recorded.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen

We begin this conference (+) in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As we do so, I’d like to invite the Holy Spirit in a special way to hover over us. May He bring to light opportunities for virtue, as well as the insights intended especially for each of us, so that we might accomplish the work God wants us to do.

And so, please join me in this “Holy Spirit Prayer,” which we used at editorial meetings at Servant Publications … for creativity, for insight, for wisdom.

Holy Spirit, Font of Light,
Focus of God’s glory bright,
Shed on us a shining ray.

Father of the Fatherless,
Giver of gifts limitless,
Come and touch our hearts today.

Source of strength and sure relief,
Comforter in time of grief,
Enter in and be our Guest.

On our journey grant us aid,
Freshening breeze and cooling shade,
In our labors, inward rest.

Enter each aspiring heart,
Occupy its inmost part
With your dazzling purity.

All that gives to us our worth,
All that benefits the earth,
You bring to maturity.

With Your soft refreshing rains,
Break our droughts, remove our stains,
Bind up all our injuries.

Shake with rushing wind our will,
Melt with fire our icy chill,
Bring to light our perjuries.

As Your promise we believe,
Make us ready to receive
Gifts from Your unbounded store.

Grant enabling energy,
Courage in adversity,
Joys that last forevermore. Amen.

Catholic New Media "Girl's Night Out"!

There have been whispers throughout cyberspace about who's going to be attending the upcoming "Catholic New Media Celebration." And I'm so looking forward to meeting you!

If you don't have any plans for the Saturday evening before the conference (after the Eucharistic Conference Mass concludes the day's activities, please join CatholicExchange's Mary Kochan and me for a special "Girl's Night Out" (kids and husbands are welcome).

WHERE: Johnny Carino's Country Italian Restaurant in the Camp Creek Marketplace.

WHEN: Saturday, June 21 at 6:30 p.m.

WHO: Writers/contributors for "Canticle", "CatholicExchange" and "" (and husbands and kids who want/need to come along. Mary's husband will be there ... so will my kids!)

WHAT: Delicious Italian Dinner (dutch treat) to meet-and-greet before the conference! Anyone who is unable to get the kids to cooperate, feel free to join Heidi and Sarah for tea and chocolate pound cake afterwards at our post-dinner location...

2450 Old National Pkwy , College Park, GA, US, 30349
Phone: (404) 684-9898

RSVP: Heidi Saxton (hsaxton(at)christianword(dot) com. Mary has asked for a final count by Saturday, June 14 (give or take a day).

I can't wait to meet you ... at last!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Novena to the Sacred Heart

Dear Sisters in Christ: I'd like to extend an invitation to you, to join me in praying this Novena to the Sacred Heart, which begins today and ends 5/30. I have several opportunities in front of me right now ... and not a lot of resources with which to do it, at least not in hand. Please pray with me, that the way will be illuminated for me. Thanks for your prayers!

O Lord Jesus Christ, to your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention. Only look upon me, then do what your love inspires. Let Your Sacred Heart decide. I count on You. I trust in You. I throw myself on Your mercy. Lord Jesus, you will not fail me.

We put all our works at Bezalel at your feet and ask for Your blessings.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Your love for me.

Sacred Heart of Jesu, Your kingdom come.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked you for many favors, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in Your open heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, He will see it covered with Your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but Yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You. Let me not be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayer Requests from Our Canticle Community

At "Embracing Motherhood," Donna posts a request for the parents of a twenty-two year old girl who was murdered at her college dorm. Donna new this girl well, and asks for your prayers for the girl's family.

Cheryl Dickow (my publisher at Bezalel Books) asks for prayers for her grandfather, who died today. Please remember Norbert Makowski, a faithful and loving Catholic father, and his family who misses him so.

Pat Gohn requests prayers for the family of Steven Curtis Chapman, Christian recording artist, whose five-year-old daughter Maria was killed when an older brother accidentally struck her with the family car.

I'd also ask for prayers for the parish of Danielle Bean, which was recently vandalized. (Danielle is the editor of Faith&Family ... but sisters in faith don't let little things like market share get in the way of supporting one another, right? :-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good Books on Writing

At my presentation/chat on Canticle, which was held at the Catholic Writer's Conference Online, someone asked the question, "What books do you recommend for writers, to help them learn their craft?"

It was a great question (thanks, Pat Gohn!). And so ... here are a few writer's resources for you to check out.

For "Canticle" writers: ***Subscribe to the magazine! (Seems obvious, but not universally practiced. Yes, I know money is tight ... and that means if you don't financially support the publications you want to write for, they stand an excellent chance of folding!) So subscribe ... and, like many of our faithful subscribers, don't forget to purchase separate subscriptions for friends and family. You know who you are, Superstars!

Heidi's Resource Shelf

On the writing craft:
The Soul Tells a Story, by Vinita Hampton Wright
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
You Can Write a Column by Monica McCabe Cardoza (Writer's Digest Books)
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
On Writing, by Stephen King

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Desk top resources (always in arm's reach):
The Bible (RSV/NAB)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Documents of Vatican II
The Associated Press Stylebook
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Christian Market Writer's Guide (by Sally Stuart)
The 2008 Catholic Press Directory

Resources particularly relevant to me (yours will differ, depending on what you're working on right now):
Back issues of "Canticle" (every issue going back as far as I've edited it)
Mulieris Dignitatem
Voices of the Saints (my favorite saint book by Bert Ghezzi)
The Adoption Resource Book (for my adoption blog)
Podcasting for Dummies
Under the Neem Tree (for a novel I'm working on ... slowly)

What resources have you found most helpful?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Prayer Request: Prayer for comfort in sudden loss.

Dear Canticleers: At Pat H's request (Pat is a regular contributor to "Canticle") I am relaying my post to her in response to a special, heartbreaking request of hers. She wanted me to share my post to her, and her response to me. Please remember Pat and her family in your prayers.

Hi, Pat.

I always have time for you. And you don't need to worry - ever - of anyone having such thoughts about you. I won't post your news on the prayer request board, if you'd prefer not to make the knowledge public. But please know that I will be praying a rosary just for you.

Please do everything you can to take care of yourself, eating and resting and praying and exercising. Brush away the negative thoughts like so many buzzing insects. The truth, my dear sister, is that ALL of us have messy family problems, and that is why we need each other!

Dear Lord Jesus, please be with my friend Pat tonight.
She is hurting. She is sad. She may be angry, too.
Wrap your comforting presence around her, and hold her tight.
Guide her every step, so long as she needs it.

Holy Mary, Mother of us all, stay close to Pat,
and to her beloved sister, who is no doubt watching, too.
Pray for her, and for all those who have lost loved ones
Suddenly and without warning ...

Dear Father in heaven, help us to take comfort
that nothing surprises you ... and that
you make all things beautiful
in time.

Pat's response: Heidi,I thought that maybe the new bed was helping me awake refreshed and in such good humor this morning, and then I read your post. had nothing to do with latex firmness; it was the prayers of a very dear friend. Have a wonderful, blessed day, and thank you SO much. Also, at my request,please, post the script to your email and prayer and this--my response. That way, no details are necessary. But testifying to God's love is always fruitful. Ohhh, the POWER of prayer and genuine sisterhood! Love and prayers, Pat

Monday, May 12, 2008

Congratulations, Pat!

Lisa at posted an announcement today that our regular contributer Pat Gohn graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with her Masters in Theology ... Way to go, Pat!

You have so many gifts to offer God and the Church, an "embarrassement of riches," as a priest friend of mine once said. Congratulations on this great accomplishment, and we look forward to reading more of your hard-won wisdom in the near future!

Blessings, Heidi

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Too Tired to Write? Don't forget to journal!

Today at Storycrafters I have a guest post about my experiences as a new mother. Even when I was bleary eyed, I took time every few days to put down a few thoughts. Now those mommy journals are indispensable.

I've noticed some moms, like Kate Wicker, who manage to combine journaling and blogging. More power to them. I think when I was in the early throes of motherhood, I would have been too embarrassed for the entire world to see my incoherent babblings. But Kate is a natural.

Anyway... If you need some encouragement this week to keep up with the "writing thing," stop by and check out my guest post! Blessings-- Heidi

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Power of Prudence

This week on the Catholic Writer's Conference Online, I've been spending one day on each of the seven habits that good writers need to cultivate (which, interestingly enough, correspond to the "celestial virtues" I talk about in Raising Up Mommy).

When I got to greed, of course, I talked about how important it is to be willing to give of your talents even if you do not receive immediate financial compensation for them.

Then my husband called to say that our tax bill was due, and could I please transfer some money into the account? I looked at my business balance ... hmmm. Well, Lord?

There is a fine line between greed and fiscal responsibility. Frankly, I'm not there yet. And as I sat there, contemplating how to bring in some extra cash in a short amount of time, two things happened.

First, PayPal sent me an alert that someone had placed an order. I clicked ... It was the largest single order I've had to date. Gratefully, I autographed the books and sent them out.

Then the phone rang. A woman on the West Coast was calling me to find out how much it would cost for me to speak to their homeschooling mom's group. I quoted her the same price that I had recently charged another women's group. Her gasp was audible, and I misunderstood the source of her consternation. "I know it sounds like a lot, but when you factor in the cost of childcare..."

She laughed at me, and told me that her church had recently been charged five times the rate I'd quoted her to bring in another speaker, plus expenses. (She told me who, but my lips are sealed.) "You really should be charging at least three times the rate you quoted me. You're short changing your family, and you're shortchanging your ministry. You are a nationally known speaker and a published author. You've been on EWTN, which means you are now INTERNATIONALLY known ... you should never go ANYWHERE for less than _____."

I gulped, and asked her if she'd be my agent.

Now, it could be that the woman was just telling me what I wanted to hear, and that it was just a coincidence that her phone call tailed my husband's.

Or, it could be that God was trying to tell me something.

"A workman is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7). In ministry, it's important to be open to all the opportunities God has for us, and yet prudence is also a vital -- and necessary -- component. It does not honor God if we are so busy "ministering" that we neglect our own families.

It's a balance I'm still trying to strike. Thanks to this kind caller (who is probably kicking herself for not giving me that little pep talk AFTER she negotiated the deal with me) ... I know that it's OK to set the bar a little higher.

Monday, May 05, 2008

To Delete ... or Not to Delete?

Michelle at Scribbett came up with this particularly insightful post about how to handle obnoxious comments in cyberspace. I thought I'd pass along the good advice.


By the way, Sarah and I are making the road trip to the Catholic New Media Convention in Atlanta, and plan to hook up with Kate Wicker along the way. Anyone else care to join us? I'm thinking a "Canticle tea" would be lovely!