Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Interview with Heidi Hess Saxton
Heidi Hess Saxton is an adoptive mother, author of five books, and founder of the “Extraordinary Moms Network,” an online resource for parents of adopted, foster, and special-needs children. Heidi became Catholic in 1994 after thirty years in the Evangelical tradition, and has combined her love of Scripture and Church Tradition in her latest book, My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories (Thomas Nelson).
There are so many Bible Story Books out there--why did you want to compile this book?
Thomas Nelson approached me to do this project because they felt the book in which these gorgeous illustrations originally appeared had run its course, and they rightly believed that the images were too beautiful to keep out of circulation.
I was interested in the project because I saw it as an opportunity to integrate the richness of our faith – how layers of truth may be found in the stories of the Bible, layers that can enrich the souls of entire families. St. Jerome, quoted in Dei Verbum, spoke of the “senses of Scripture” – of all the layers of meaning found in the Bible. I wrote this book to help Catholic and other Christian families go on their own spiritual “treasure hunt.” When pondered through the lens of the Catechism and other writings of the saints, and saturated in prayer and liturgy, the Scriptures really come alive!
I love the links to the Catechism, the Mass, and daily living. How did you come up with the idea to include that?
Mackenzie Howard, the amazing and hardworking editor who approached me to do the project, suggested that we might include sidebars – although she wasn’t familiar with the particular resources available to Catholic Christians, or understand how we use them in understanding Scripture. However, she quickly saw the potential for including them in the book. I’ve also included a number of helpful online resources on a special page on “Extraordinary Moms Network.” Just click on the link on the upper right side on that site, and it will take you right to the page.
What was the easiest part of writing this book?
The easiest part was selecting the stories. I grew up with most of these stories, and was eager to showcase those that are especially meaningful to Catholic sensibilities – images of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the communion of saints. These were old friends, arrayed in light and color and ready to visit!
What was hardest?
Honestly, the hardest part was for poor Mackenzie – after I created the index and table of contents using the special functions of Word, it turned out these functions didn’t translate into Mac for layout. So everything had to be checked and rechecked after the book was poured! (I helped, but I’m afraid she bore the lion’s share of the work on this.)
The other challenge was finding ways to illustrate stories that had not been included in the original book. The original book (compiled by someone who wasn’t Catholic), didn’t include all the stories that would be most important to Catholics, and so we had to “recycle” images from other parts of the book (or stories that were omitted for space). Overall, I think the publisher did a fantastic job!
What's next for you?
That’s hard to say. Our local paper recently asked me to become a contributor to their online paper, which is a great opportunity for me to cultivate a local readership. I’m also in the process of applying for a post-baccalaureate certification program, to become a teacher. This past year I’ve been spending a lot of time at my children’s school, and I’ve realized how much I enjoy interacting with children. This project was a broad “hint,” I think, of what God has in store for me!
My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories gave me an opportunity to reflect on how God led His people along many diverse paths: soldiers and leaders and teachers and parents and writers and musicians and doctors/healers. The lives of the saints also demonstrate that God uses people in all walks of life! I’m hoping that as families read this book together – the younger ones absorbing the stories and characters, the older ones applying the life truths to their own situations – many will take to heart the gentle whispers of the Spirit, and allow God to guide them in every area of their lives.
My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories is available through your local bookstore, Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. Autographed copies are available through my website: http://www.christianword.com. Be sure to check out my online resources for the book at EMN: http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.wordpress.com.