I had been writing Catholic articles whenever I could fit them into my schedule. After careful reflection and prayer, I decided to retire from my preschool program and to devote myself to full-time writing. Mother Teresa and Father Hardon had encouraged me to continue writing. Mother Teresa had said that she prayed my writing would “do much good” and that I should do it “for the glory of God and the good of the people.” Father Hardon had given me positive feedback and had reminded me that “many mothers are overwhelmed” and need encouragement and inspiration.
After many years of storing away my writings in cardboard boxes, I heard from a publisher who asked if I would be interested in writing a prayer book for Catholic mothers. They had seen some of my writing in the past, and I was thrilled to be invited to write for them. Before long, I signed my first book contract and got to work. Dave was very supportive of my writing work, and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process, praying as I wrote that God would use my words for His glory and to help and encourage mothers of all ages. I drew from some ideas I had during my long bed rest while pregnant with Mary-Catherine.
I’ll never forget the day that the copies of my first book arrived. Dave came in from the mailbox, and suspecting that the contents of the small package might be my first book, he placed the parcel on a pillow and ceremoniously carried it to me in the kitchen. I smiled at his presentation and eagerly opened the package to find two copies of Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers! I handed a copy to Dave to peruse while I checked out the other. As Dave read through the dedication, he wept upon seeing the words addressed to him: “Dedicated with great love….To my husband, David, for his love and support. He is the wind beneath my wings.”
Less than a week after my first book was released, it made the top ten Catholic bestseller list announced by Publishers Weekly. I was utterly astonished. My thoughts immediately returned to my sitting in front of my computer, typing the words of the prayer book, and having absolutely no idea about its future impact. I had thought at that time that I would be happy enough if I could reach one reader’s heart. I simply prayed as I wrote. God’s ways are amazing.
From The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross, excerpt used with permission.
I can trace my first “meeting” with Catholic superstar Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle to my inbox. I was a nobody blogger and she was writing to ask me to include a link to her blog in my sidebar. She also asked me to review a book she had written.
Because I’m nothing if not, um, something not nice, I told her that the blogs in my sidebar were blogs I actually read so no, I couldn’t include her there unless I started reading her blog. And then I clicked…and started reading her blog.
It didn’t take long for Donna-Marie to become “Mom Donna” to me. (I suspect this is her special superpower and that I’m one of maybe 100 or so of her “children.”) When she found out I was pregnant with my second child, she sent me a copy of what has become one of my favorite books and a couple of other treats.
But, even better than that, she has been, over the years, a sort of mentor and support to me in ways that have earned her that “Mom” title. It was Mom Donna who not only introduced me to the idea of praying a novena for my husband, but also prayed that first novena with me. She’s the one who said to me, echoing the unthinkable concept of someone else in my life, that she would someday be holding my books in her hands and cheering loudly.
When I stop to think about it, I think a memoir is probably long overdue. I’ve long known Donna-Marie’s an amazing person, the kind of lady who you want to be your neighbor, whose heart is gold, who is as human and difficult as the rest of us but also committed to getting herself and her family and hey! you too if you’re game for it! to heaven.
But she’s also had her fair share of hardship, of standing at the foot of the Cross and looking up at Jesus. I have a lot to learn from someone like Mom Donna. Really, don’t we all?
Sadly for me, I have not yet had time to read The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross cover to cover. My reading time is something all messed up lately (read as: I don’t not much of it). This book, however, is going on my “to read” shelf, and it will be a book that I know will come into my hands at exactly the right time, just as Donna-Marie herself came into my life exactly when I needed a friend like she has been.