I am honored to share an interview with a Catholic wife, mother, and inspiration, Lisa Hendey. I met Lisa in person at last year’s Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta, and since then, I have been blessed to get to know her better. I count Lisa as one of those online friends who, though she lives across the country, is never farther than a phone call or an email away. Her wisdom and gentleness always motivate me to look deeper within myself, to listen more closely to the still voice of God, and to better treasure my Catholic faith.
Lisa’s the founder of CatholicMom.com, and she keeps things going over there. You’ll also find her weekly technology column at Catholic Exchange’s Today’s Catholic Woman, which she writes in between blogging at Faith & Family Live and podcasting both Catholic Moments and the Faith & Family Live Cast. She’s on Twitter and Facebook too. Most importantly, though, Lisa is a wife and mom, just like all of us. Her accomplishments are rooted in her faith and her vocation, and it’s that reality that most touches me about Lisa’s work out in the public eye.Lisa, CatholicMom.com is ten years old this year! Tell us a little about what inspired you to start that wonderful ministry, and how it’s evolved in the last ten years.
The website started as a hobby and a way to grow in my own faith. I had volunteered at my sons’ Catholic school to be the school webmaster and had begun reading the “Dummies” books on web design. I came up with the idea on a whim one day and thought I’d give it a try for a few months. That early site was built in Microsoft FrontPage and was extremely simple. I remember being excited the first month when the “hit counter” entered triple digits! At the time I founded CatholicMom.com, my husband Greg had not yet joined the Church. I felt a great responsibility for the faith formation of my two sons and was looking for support and fellowship with other Catholic moms. I had no idea the site would grow to what it has become today!How long have you been podcasting? At what point did you feel called to begin the podcast? Has there been anything about your involvement with podcasting and other new media that has been surprising to you?
I started podcasting in August 2007, inspired by the Rosary Army podcast (now retired) and Fr. Roderick’s early work (find his current work at SQPN). I toyed with the idea for six months before having the guts to pick up the microphone and jump in. I’d been doing print interviews with authors and musicians for several years, and felt like podcasting was a natural extension of this effort – what a wonderful thing to be able to provide a forum for the great work being done by so many faith-filled Catholics around the country!
I’m simply amazed that this week I celebrated my 100th podcast. I honestly didn’t know if the show would last, or if anyone would ever tune in. I’m also happily surprised by the calliber of guests who are contacting me and requesting to come on the show. I’ve been so honored to have interviewed so many incredible people in the last few years. I try to pray prior to each episode recording with the guest, so that God will help both of us to bring to the listeners His message (not our own!).
How do you prioritize your time, Lisa, so that you don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed? I try to begin every day with prayer and to remember that my primary service needs to be to my God and to my family. I work early in the morning and when the boys are at school, trying to reserve after school hours to be the best wife and mom I can be. I’m a terrible housekeeper, I hate shopping, and have burned more than a few dinners when I’ve run into my home office “just to check my email” and got carried away in something online. I never accomplish everything on my “to do” list, but awake each day joyfully and looking forward to the opportunities that will come my way during the course of the day.
I know you’re working on your first book. Give us a glimpse of what we can expect in that book (and a title?) and when we’ll get a chance to get our hot little hands on it.
I just turned in the first draft of my manuscript to my publisher, Ave Maria Press. The book will be released next spring (“God willing,” as my good friend Deacon Tom Fox has taught me to say!). The book is aimed at Catholic mothers and encourages us to nurture ourselves emotionally (through our relationships), intellectually (through everything from career issues to being a “life long learner”), physically (by taking good care of our bodies) and spiritually (by embracing the many gifts of our Catholic faith). Each chapter features sidebars by noted Catholics around the country. I also packed stories submitted by my blogging and social media friends from all over the country into the book. Look for the book in early Spring of 2010.
What has been the greatest blessing in all of this, for you? In all this work you do in the new evangelization, at the end of the day, what do you count as your greatest success?
Six years ago, after seventeen years of marriage, my husband Greg joined the Catholic Church through the RCIA program at our parish. Although his conversion came as a result of his own personal spiritual journey, it profoundly impacted me. I’d been praying for him for so many years. Being involved with CatholicMom.com and the wonderful community that had built up around the site taught me to have patience in this matter and to keep him constantly in my prayers – but not for the fulfillment of my own personal desires but rather for his relationship with God.
I’ve developed so many wonderful relationships through the website – many with friends I will never meet in person – that I feel as though I have my own personal faith family online. Our columnists and contributors, who are truly the heart and soul of CatholicMom.com, feed me spiritually and emotionally every day of the week. Any success the website has had is thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit working through these holy and selfless men and women. I could share so many stories of people around the world whose lives have been touched by the website, but if we’ve helped even one mom grow closer to God and to her family as a result of our efforts, I count that as the greatest success.
If you were to share one piece of wisdom, what would it be?
Be patient – with your spouse, your children, but especially with yourself. Sometimes when we devote ourselves so fully to serving others, we can feel as though we’ve lost a large piece of ourselves in the equation. I wish someone could have convinced me to relax and truly enjoy my boys at each stage of their developmental process. When they were little, I spent too many hours stressing out over milestones and not enough time snuggling and playing legos on the floor. Whether or not you work outside the home, you need to take time to nurture yourself emotionally, intellectually, physically and especially spiritually, through the gift of faith. By better caring for ourselves, we moms can do a better job of caring for our families and communities.
Thanks, Lisa, for taking the time to share this with all of us, and for the wonderful work you do in Catholic New Media and within your own family.