Sunday, August 10, 2014

Facilitating Trust in God with Author Connie Rossini

Connie Rossini is a wife and homeschooling mother to four boys.  She writes a spirituality column for  The Prairie Catholic, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota. She's the author of several books on spirituality and trust in God, and I am very happy to have her here on Bad Martha.

Welcome, Connie!

I first heard about your writing when I came across a copy of your book, "Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That will Change Your Life."  Change your life?  Of course I grabbed a copy!  How do you hope that reader's lives will be changed by reading your book?

Two of those lessons have been life-changing for me: the absolute necessity of daily prayer, and the importance of trust. I think we all have "aha" moments in life when we make huge changes in our outlook and habits. I tried to put together a list of some of the typical insights that help people change. And with each lesson, I gave one or two concrete suggestions for people who already know these things, but have not been practicing them faithfully.
 Carmelites are contemplative.  As someone who was pursuing the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (the 3rd order for lay people), were you surprised when your path led you to the decidedly public and active route of writing a book?  And what prompted you to write it?

 Not really. I've always been a writer, and I've been writing a spirituality column for the local diocese on and off for a decade. But there have been times when I've been tempted to quit, because I feel unworthy. I have a long way to go in my own spiritual life. My husband has encouraged me not to let that stop me.

I originally envisioned the book as a gift to my blog readers, a thank-you for subscribing. But once I put it on Amazon (as a favor to a reader who asked for a Kindle copy), it began to reach a much wider audience. That part did surprise me!
Your book, though bite-sized, actually includes more content than it first appears, because you have links to blogs you've written.   For writers who consider this a great idea,  did you write the blogs based on the ideas mentioned in the book, or include the ideas based on blogs you had written?

I wrote the posts first. I find it helpful to be really focused on my blog. It takes some months of blogging, I think, before a person is sure what his blog is really about. The Five Lessons book actually helped me to sharpen that focus. I want people who read it to know that if they come to my blog they're going to find a similar focus and perspective.

Your blog, Contemplative Homeschool, focuses on raising contemplative kids. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to homeschool their children in an environment they can control. What tips do you have for parents whose children are exposed to the secular school environment every day?

 Great question! Even though many parents put their children in a traditional school, it's still their responsibility to see that their children learn to live for Christ. The first thing we should all do is model the behavior we want to see in our children. That means finding time for daily mental prayer and making sure our children know it's our top priority. We also need to cultivate openness--openness to life, to the teachings of the Church, to God's grace, and to the needs of those around us.

We need to spend time with our children and limit their exposure to the bad things in the culture. I severely limit my kids' use of electronic media, because I want them to spend more time relating with me and each other. I also don't want them encountering threats to their faith at an age where they can't handle them.

We need to strive for a genuine love for God, humility, and a selfless love for our spouse and children. Then we can trust God to watch over our children's souls.

You have a new book that was just released, "Trusting God with St. Therese".  Readers can get the story behind the book here, but could you give us a brief account of why this topic is so personal for you?

 Trust has been an issue for me my whole life. Some of that's due to my temperament, but there were also some incidents in my childhood that hampered my ability to trust. The biggest was my sister's death in a car accident when I was six. I was sitting next to her before the accident. She had prayed for a safe trip that morning. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how much that affected me. When I had my own kids, I feared that our prayers for safety were meaningless, because we could experience tragedy anyway. Frustration with my lack of spiritual growth also caused me to question God.

For those who aren't familiar with St. Therese of Lisieux's  little way, could you explain it?

 After doing the research for this book, I see that the little way is all about trust. St. Therese did not perform extraordinary deeds. She didn't have the strength. She began to see that great trust and love could take the place of great deeds. She performed little acts, not to gain merit for herself, but simply to please God and to offer for others. She believed we should remain humble, always relating to God as little children relate to their loving Father. A father is delighted with his children's efforts, even when the children are too little to do a job perfectly. He readily forgives their faults. Therese rejoiced at her littleness, because a very little child can be carried more easily than a big one. We need to let God carry us, rather than relying on our strength to make us holy.

What do you hope readers will gain when they read "Trusting God"?

I hope that they will recognize how very good God is, how loving, how merciful. God is not looking for a reason to punish us. I hope that readers will feel God lifting their burdens off their shoulders. I want to help them surrender their fears, doubts, and frustrations to Him, so that they can become the people God created them to be.

I love how you include action steps at the end of each chapter in "5 Lessons".  Do you do the same in "Trusting God"?

 Yes! Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and practical suggestions. I always try to give readers specific help.

What's next for you?

I'm working on a small booklet for parents called A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child. I hope to do a booklet for each of the four temperaments. I will include templates, book lists, projects, and memory verses, so parents can create a tailored plan of spiritual growth for each child.

Thank you, Connie!  Find out more about Connie on her website


  1. Thanks, Jackie! I forgot you had two blogs. I was looking for this on your author blog. I hope you get lots of hits in spite of my mistake. I just shared on several social media and my blog.

  2. "God is not looking for a reason to punish us." Such an important truth to remember. Excellent post!

  3. You're absolutely right, Nancy. Connie's books are a great reminder that we should always trust that God wants what's best for us.

  4. Thanks, Connie and Jackie for this interview. I am certain your feelings, Connie, are mirrors of those in most women who desire a closer walk.