Category Archives: For the Adults

Building a True Domestic Church: A Review of ‘Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Children’

“Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.”–Pope Francis

Review and Comments

This is the second book I have read by Greg and Lisa Popcak and I am once again in love!  After spending so much time reading parenting advice from every online article and opinion piece someone writes on their blog, I have found something I can get behind and learn from.

The Popcaks begin with a lot of statistics and research that indicate the difference between parenting and “Catholic” parenting to help lay the foundation for why we should listen to their advice.   They explain the difference between punishment and discipline and the effect that can have on children (and there is a difference!).  It provides numerous examples of children who were raised through “punishment” and how, as adults, they became great rule-followers, but not empathetic caring people.  These people often followed the rules to their own detriment and the detriment of others.  After reading this intro, though it was very long, I was convinced that they had done their research and were going to give some great advice.  Continue reading Building a True Domestic Church: A Review of ‘Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Children’

Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

“Our body is a cenacle, a monstrance: through its crystal the world should see God.”–St. Gianna Molla

Reading Level:

Grade 11+

Review and Comments:

I’ve always been fascinated by the lives of the saints.  Their ability to see God through suffering, their bravery in evangelization, their relationship to Jesus and His mother, and their willingness to face death and persecution for Him are awe=inspiring.  As a cradle Catholic, I have read many of their stories and wished to be closer to them and learn more about them.  They have been the celebrities I have looked up to, and though my favorite saint has changed with my season of life, I have found that often I feel as though their stories are unrealistic in this day and age.  I can’t see myself being like them and I feel that their virtue is unattainable.

It is for this reason I enjoy reading about more modern people who may not be saints (yet) but nevertheless they have lived holy and virtuous lives.  A few years ago I read about Immaculee Ilibagiza and her suffering through the Rwandan genocide.  Her joy and faith  amidst terrible suffering have been a beautiful witness of God’s forgiveness and love for those involved.  She became someone I aspired to be for a long time, but her suffering was extreme, and often times I could not fully relate.  (You can read more about her here.)  

My newest role model is Chiara Corbella Petrillo. I saw Chiara’s story make the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere a year or so ago.  I read a bit about her and thought it was a sad story, but moved on as people do when they read something online.  Then her book popped up as a recommendation for me.  I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

An Interview with Catholic Author, Leslea Wahl

I’m so excited to get to share my interview with Leslea Wahl with you all today!  I am a little star struck, I have to admit, whenever I get talk to someone I really admire.  Ms. Wahl is one of those people!  Not only is she a great young adult author, but she tells her story and shares her faith with such entertainment!  Her books are great adventures and mysteries and I, for one, am so glad she has decided to start writing.

We are so blessed to have her books entering the Catholic fiction genre.  Check out my interview…I think you will love her as much as I do!

Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?

I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and three children. Although “children” doesn’t really describe our kids anymore. Our oldest just graduated college, our middle child is currently in college and our “baby” will be a senior in high school. As a family, we love to travel and try new adventures like zip-lining, jet skiing and scuba diving.

What made you decide to start writing and why did you chose to write for a young adult audience?

I’ve always been creative but never thought about writing a novel, especially for teens. But when  my older children were preteens and began searching for YA books to read, I was having a really hard time finding books that they wanted to read that also reflected our values. I wondered why no one was writing these kinds of books. Then one day I woke up and the story of my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, just came to me. The characters and scenes kept flooding my mind until I finally started to write them down. I definitely felt God called me to write that book. Since then my passion has been to write Young Adult fiction and to encourage teens in their faith. Continue reading An Interview with Catholic Author, Leslea Wahl

10 Books for Dads This Father’s Day

Dads, I know what you’re thinking…I’m super busy.  I don’t have time to read.  Believe me, my husband has said it time and again.  But what if I told you that these books were filled with great prayers, lessons, opportunities, and hope to aid you in your tremendous vocation?!  They don’t have to be read in one sitting, they can be aids to your prayer life.  Chapters at a time with periods of reflection are often better than taking it all in at once.

Check out this list.  There are some books here that could change your outlook, give you a boost, and bring you closer to your own heavenly Father.  Father Lawrence Lovasik reminds all dads that “Fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service, to not be held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.” (Click on the pictures for affiliate link.)

The Original Fathers’ Manual is the first Father’s Day gift I gave to my husband.  I had received The Original Mother’s Manual as a gift from my mother and loved it.  The Father’s Manual is much the same.  There are prayers for every possible need for one’s children, marriage, and vocation.  The end lists the responsibilities of fathers for reflection.  It’s a powerful book and my husband uses it often.

In Be DADitudes: 8 Ways to be an Awesome Dad, Greg Popcak takes each beatitude and explains how fathers can use these points to become amazing fathers and husbands.  Greg Popcak is a counselor and presents the information in a simple way.  This is one of those books that would be great for short periods of reading.

Continue reading 10 Books for Dads This Father’s Day

15 Books for Moms this Mother’s Day

Being a mother is hard.  The list of things that need to be taken care of is endless.  The concern for our children is constantly on our minds and our love for them consumes every bit of us.  So, I know what you are thinking when you see this list.  WHO HAS TIME TO READ?!

The books I’ve collected for this list are practical for moms, short daily readings, resource books, small reflections, and calls to action in our homes.  Even the busiest moms can take a few minutes each day with some of these books.  We have been entrusted with such an important vocation. Let these books bring you closer to Jesus, his mother, and help lead our children to Him as we grow.

God Bless You, Mothers!

(You can click on the pictures to for the affiliate link.)

Prayer Books and Devotionals 

The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections is a wonderful prayer book for daily reflection.  Each day provides a short reflection and prayer.  It ends with something to reflect on or provides one simple act for moms to try to complete during the day.  The lovely thing about this book is that each reflection speaks to the vocation of motherhood and I often find much comfort in similar feelings and situations shared in the book.

The Original Mother’s Manual  was a gift to me from my mother and she received it from her mother-in-law.  It is by far my favorite prayer book.  There is a prayer for everything in here.  Prayers for marriage, childbirth, nursing, child’s companions, child’s studies, and sick children just to name a few.  Each prayer is beautiful and offers me comfort each time I open it.  It is my constant companion. Continue reading 15 Books for Moms this Mother’s Day

Simple Love for Him: A Review of ‘Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina’

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first—by deed, the second—by word, the third—by prayer.  In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is unquestionable proof of love for Me.” –Diary of St. Faustina (742)

Review and Thoughts

Once again I’ve uncovered a book that is perfect for the Year of Mercy.  Don’t worry!  If you’ve forgotten all about the Year of Mercy, now is your chance to be reinvigorated!  This book is beautiful, simple, and one of my most favorite ‘mommy books’ I’ve read. Continue reading Simple Love for Him: A Review of ‘Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina’

One Year with Lit By the Tree! Thank you !

I can’t believe it’s been a year since we started our tiny blog. Our hope was to review wonderful books parents could  read with their kids and suggest great Catholic lessons to go along with them.  We also hoped to provide a place for parents to look for help with determining if books were healthy for their older kids.  Hopefully we are doing what we set out to do and  we are incredibly grateful for those of you who have read us and shared us and supported us!Thank You

A lot has changed in our lives over the last year and we thank you for standing by us as we worked through some kinks and built our base of reviews.  We absolutely love being able to share our thoughts with you and we are grateful that we have been given this forum.  We hope you stay with us as we continue to grow and learn.

In honor of our first year, here are our top shared reviews!  If you missed them, be sure to check them out…and maybe add them to your summer reading list!  Click on any picture for more information! Continue reading One Year with Lit By the Tree! Thank you !

A Blessed Time: A Review of ‘The Moment is Now’

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.  Worry is useless.  God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”—St Padre Pio

Review and Thoughts

*I am so excited to be able to review this book.  It comes out today!  I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy.  Please share and spread the word for this lovely author!*

I spent the majority of my twenties as a single woman.  There were a few romances along the way, one or two that broke my heart, but most of my time was alone.  Waiting, wondering, praying and hoping for my husband to find me.  I’m pretty sure I prayed every Catholic novena, some with my other single friends and many on my own and I prayed every night for my husband…wherever he was. Continue reading A Blessed Time: A Review of ‘The Moment is Now’

Ordinary Things: A Review of ‘The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy’

“The family is the first essential cell of all humanity.”–Pope Francis

“In my little way there are only very ordinary things.”–Saint Terese of Lisieux

Review and Comments

The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy was a blessing for this young  stay-at-home mother of two (soon to be three).   With such young kids so close together, and with days when I often feel I do the same thing over and over again, it was relieving to read that I, too, can work for the glory of God in this Year of Mercy.

The corporal works of mercy were concepts I was taught in the third grade.  (My mother was my teacher and I remember learning them well.)  As an adult, I often think about how I should be doing more…how these corporal works should be the forefront of my life.  Then, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak wrote this wonderful book reminding us all that we can all live these works every day in our own families.  And what better way to teach our children the love and mercy of Christ?   When they see us live this way every day, they are learning as well. Continue reading Ordinary Things: A Review of ‘The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy’

A Necessary Read: A Review of ‘The Walls Are Talking’

“It seems to me that there are two types of pro-lifers active in the cause.  The first simply wants to win, and in their minds, they do this by saving the baby.  They are the right fighters who don’t seem to give any consideration to the other lives involved, such as the mother, father, and clinic workers.  Their goal is to save the baby at all costs.

Of course we all want to save the baby, but the second group of people I see in the movement have realized that the hearts, minds, and souls of many others are at stake as well.  They are the people who excite me and encourage me on a daily basis.  They are the people who want to help in any way possible.  They want to provide so many avenues of support that abortion would be unthinkable.  They offer solutions instead of slogans, prayers instead of protests, self-sacrifice instead of self-righteousness.”—Abby Johnson

Interest Level:

Grades 11-12+

Review and Thoughts

I’m pretty familiar with Abby Johnson, her And Then There Were None organization, and her first book, Unplanned, so I was excited to hear more from her.  The Walls Are Talking is a book that tells the different stories of women who have experienced first-hand what it is like to work in an abortion clinic.  Let me tell you, this was a tough read. Continue reading A Necessary Read: A Review of ‘The Walls Are Talking’