The Grace of Yesby Lisa M. Hendey
Length: Approximately 2 hours. To read (144 pages)
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Living out a Christian life as a woman means living a full and generous life. The Grace of Yes gives common-sense tips for eight virtues to develop in life where you can start living generously today!
Who should read this?
The Grace of Yes is geared toward Christian women and mothers who are looking to live a more Christ-centered life. Any Christian who is looking for help on daily living could read the book, but the virtues are more focused on women who have been Christians for many years.
Lisa M. Hendey has been writing for mothers for years. She started up a blog called CatholicMom.com in 1999, which encourages women in the Catholic faith and in their family life. Hendey has also written several books to encourage mothers and a series for elementary children called Chime Travelers. She mainly writes for a Catholic audience, but her writing can encourage any Christian woman.
Her most recent book, The Grace of Yes, focuses on how to live a generous Christian life by following eight virtues – belief, generativity, creativity, integrity, humility, vulnerability, saying no and rebirth. In the book, Hendey doesn’t just give suggestions on how to life a generous life, she gives examples from her own life on how she has struggled, failed and succeeded in each of the eight areas. The book invites the reader to join her on this journey of generous living.
The Grace of Yes is really an encouraging book. All Christians struggle daily in living a life that is full of all God wants from us. By bringing the reader along her journey to live a generous life, Hendey shows how we can each try and strive to achieve the eight virtues every day. In a way, this book is a way of mentoring younger Christian women since Hendey has been through a lot of different scenarios growing up with faith, having a husband find his own faith, raising children, starting a ministry and now facing an empty nest.
Through her relationships with people through CatholicMom.com, she has seen a lot of different scenarios and helped many women along the way. I felt like she really wanted to pass along her best advice to other women as they are on their own personal journey of Christian living.
The eight virtues Hendey addresses are belief, generativity, creativity, integrity, humility, vulnerability, saying no and rebirth. She starts out with belief because it is the key virtue that all the others are based upon. She tells about her own journey of making her faith her own once she was a college graduate and living on her own. She also shares her husband’s conversion story to Catholicism and how they raised their boys in the faith.
At the end of the first chapter, she emphasizes how faith is meant to be shared and all Christians have a call to evangelize. This is the basis for all the other virtues she then discusses. She compares it to going out with your girlfriends and ordering a piece of chocolate lava cake for dessert. One bite is all it takes to tell all your friends that they should try it, too – it’s just that wonderful. “If we can share our passion for a slab of cake with this much conviction, why is it often so excruciatingly difficult to share our beliefs?” (p. 17)
The virture of generativity is about being self-less and being concerned with others. This virtue applies to marriage, family and community. The virtue of creativity is about using the gifts and talents God has given us to help others. We are also called to be creative, trustworthy and honest, humble and vulnerable. When Hendey discussed humbleness, she used the quote from C.S. Lewis: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” She ends the book discussing the virtues of saying no and being reborn. Both are very important because we cannot do everything or we will be burned out and not be able to do anything and we have to focus on being the person God wants us to be.
Various Scripture passages, songs and prayers are discussed throughout the chapters to support each virtue she is talking about. Each chapter ends with several discussion questions that could be answered personally or in a group setting. Each chapter also ends with a prayer for that particular virtue written by Hendey. While I read the book over just a few days, it would be best read a chapter at a time with time spent thinking about the discussion questions before moving on to the next chapter.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a very quick read, but it was very encouraging to me. It is one that I will put on my bookshelf and read every year or so to remind me of how I should be living and what I should focus on. I have been following Hendey’s blog, CatholicMom.com, for several years to find encouragement and resources on my parenting journey.
I have read The Handbook for Catholic Moms and I am currently reading The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion – both written by her. I heard her speak about The Grace of Yes before buying it and was pretty sure I would be encouraged by it and I was. Hendey was speaking at a women’s conference I attended and was there to sign the book when I bought it. She wrote: May God bless your yes! She also asked for prayers as she ministers to moms through CatholicMom.com and travels for speaking engagements. She was very down-to-earth both while presenting and at her book-signing table.
Some strengths of the book are that the author uses personal examples to explain how to live the eight virtues. She is very open and honest with how she has tried to live all these virtues in her own life, even her failures. I think her honesty adds credence to her advice on living out these particular virtues. She’s not talking about anything she hasn’t strove for in her own life.
She also supports all her ideas with Scripture, prayers or songs. She writes in a style that is very easy to read and it feels like you are sitting down to have coffee with a mentor who wants to journey with you. The book can be read individually or in a small group setting. The questions are great to really reflect on each chapter and internalize what Hendey is writing about.
The book is written from a Catholic perspective, but not in a way that any Christian would have any objections to what she has written. Sometimes there are sayings that don’t translate well from Catholic to Protestant or vice versa, but this book doesn’t contain any of those sayings.
I do think she could have changed the virtue of generativity to a word that is used more often, like selflessness. I also think the book is not geared toward new believers as it goes in-depth in several Christian concepts that are more for someone who has been living a life of faith for a while.
I really appreciate books like The Grace of Yes where a wiser Christian woman is willing to be open an honest about their faith journey. Several authors have been going this route and it feels like there is more willingness in the Christian community to share true faith and struggles. Sheila Walsh, Shauna Niequist, Ann Voskamp and Lysa TerKeurst have all written books in the last few years that open the door for Christian women to take off their masks and share their real struggles, whether with self-harm, abortion, miscarriage or depression.
The years of aiming for perfection in the Christian community are coming to an end and supporting each other through struggles is becoming more the mainstay. I feel so encouraged as a Christian woman today when I see women in ministry being honest with their struggles. I think it will encourage the average Christian woman to be honest with her friends and in her church and community. If we’re honest with each other, we can help each other.
- “I look back now and shudder at the woman I was then, so wrapped up in my career and my personal goals that I couldn’t conceive of sharing my time with children.” (p. 27)
- “For some of us, saying no is far more challenging than diving into a new opportunity and figuring out the details later. Saying no requires more forethought, more discipline, and also a kindness that may seem contradictory to realizing and accepting our limitations.” (p. 109)
- “There are definitely nights when it seems all I’ve done is move backward, both spiritually and physically. But I’m actually learning that those steps count as well. They are part of my motion. They make up the entirety of what this journey will hold in store for me.” (p. 139)