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Lindsey Mitzel reviews Catholic Mom contributor Samantha Stephenson's new 30-day devotional for busy Catholic moms.

With several young children, one on the way, and finishing up our first homeschooling year, it has been quite busy around my house to say the least. I’m grateful, though, to have taken time to read author Samantha Stephenson’s new book, Mama Prays: A 30-Day Devotional for Catholic Moms. Ms. Stephenson holds master’s degrees in both theology and bioethics. She hosts the podcasts, Brave New Us and Mama Prays. She is a wife and homeschooling mom to four. Ms. Stephenson’s new book is a collection of 30 reflections which can easily be read straight through, as month-long daily devotional, or even as a weekend mini-retreat. This book ponders deeply while remaining very relatable; it could also easily be utilized within a small group, book club, or moms' Bible study.


Mama Prays by Samantha Stephenson-1


Years ago, while staying with some friends, I noticed a little framed quote hanging above their sink full of dishes, “Wash the dish, not because it is dirty, nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” Though it’s remained on my mind, I’ve struggled to find this quote since. So, I was particularly joyed when I came across it on day four of Mama Prays. Ms. Stephenson aptly weaves together our daily tasks and the invitation to holiness that each presents for us, whether that be laundry, dirty dishes, or scrubbing floors. We have the choice to say “yes” or “no” to grow in holiness simply by serving our families through our daily efforts, be they small or large. She writes, “I trust God to iron out all my little wrinkles, starting here, in this laundry basket, with a joyful, ‘yes’” (14).

Just now, while typing, I hear my daughter wailing from downstairs—she hasn’t been feeling well today. She is with her daddy and perfectly safe, and I try to console myself with that while continuing to write. However, the memory of Ms. Stephenson’s words cause me to pause:

[Often] we neglect the non-urgent important things because the urgent things are pressing. They demand our attention and must be done in a timely way. But ... that time we neglect the important for the urgent adds up. Sometimes we have to set aside what is merely urgent for what is truly important. (23)


This is the time I have set aside to write, yet my daughter will only be this little and needy now. So I pause from my work and gather her in my arms and hold her until she calms. I can’t make her illness go away, but in this moment, I can give her my love. Ms. Stephenson writes,

We are the ones called to love Jesus in the least of these, in our little ones. We are the ones called to die to our egos, to the need for a sense of accomplishment. We are the Marthas, busy with many things, called to set them aside when we hear his voice. (77)


As any busy mother of young children, I relate immensely to the difficulty of finding moments of peace and solitude within my day. As an introvert, it can be oh so challenging to continue to love and give on those days when I am constantly being demanded of and followed around. I was particularly moved by a passage relating this experience to Jesus’ with those crowds that constantly followed Him as He preached and healed.


You went away up the mountain for a moment of peace, and they followed you. Your heart wasn’t bitter with frustration and you didn’t sigh in exasperation at their constant neediness. Your eyes didn’t well with tears like water leaving a wrung out sponge, leaving you dry, stiff, and cracked.

Your heart, Matthew says, was moved with pity. (74)


Ms. Stephenson’s new book, Mama Prays, is rich with the deep ponderings of her heart that arise from daily encounters with Christ at home, particularly with her children. It can be so easy to feel alone and unseen in these years with young children, yet the devotions in this book bring to life the invitations to grow in holiness in all the minute (and often messy) moments of our days. I highly recommend this new devotional and hope it will bless your life as it has mine!




Copyright 2022 Lindsey Mitzel
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