When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

When people throw shade on your Jesus shine


Hi, friends!

It’s a new day and a new week. I’ve been trying to get caught up on allllllll the things (including a new blogging/writing schedule! Hopefully coming soon!) after the incredible Catholic Women Rejoice conference, traveling to Minnesota for the wonderful Blessed is She team retreat and shortly thereafter to Alabama for the amazing Called To Love conference, and then I started my very first Whole30 eating regimen (no dairy, gluten, sugar, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum) because woah, Nelly – my health / #selfcare – and then I promptly got sicker than a dog.

Full stop.

My friends, it ain’t easy to rejoice and be free when you’re lying on your back, unable to move.

All I can say is: Please pray for my husband, who has been tirelessly (okay – that’s not exactly true – he is really, genuinely exceptionally and understandably! tired) holding onto the down-ish parts of the completely disheveled fort-like residence (read: he’s been minding the children, shuttling the children, cooking most of the meals, doing nearly all the myriad domestic things) while I’ve been away+away+convalescing. OY. That poor man. Oremus: Mike’s hard lemonade him patience, O LORD. Amen. 

Today, thankfully, is a new day. I feel better; I’m not burning up with a fever, my nose isn’t leaking like a faucet, and I don’t frighten my preschooler with my cough (or my pathetic sick face) anymore.

To celebrate, I decided to “treat” myself to an iced coconut milk latte this morning. And then I tasted the drink. Not yummy. At all.

Oh, well. There’s been plenty in the world for which to offer up bad coffee lately, yes? I’m thinking Hurricane Matthew, this recent announcement, and the impending Presidential, erm, political process, to name a few. There have been other, more personal things, too, like my sister being in the hospital unexpectedly for not one but two emergency surgical procedures over the weekend. Thank God she appears to be on the mend! Then there’s the birth of amazingly cute babies, and spunky bitty babies for whom we’re still praying, friends experiencing difficult career transitions, friends struggling in their marriages … the list of intentions is endless. I’m sure God is all, “Woah. That list, Heather,” when He sees me coming.

And thennnnn there’s the fast-approaching (uhhhh …. THIS WEEKEND) retreat with Sr. Miriam. That’s a whole ‘nother story for another day. Suffice to say, I obviously didn’t schedule enough time to be a human being rather than a human doing and it has caught up with me. Again. 

I dunno about you, but I have plenty to keep my mind occupied from this very next second until Kingdom come, but … in the latest issue of the Catholic Sentinel, I talk about what to do when you’ve just had an amazing get-away with Jesus and His people and then … real life sets in. As it does.

So, there you are, minding your own business, basking in the Holy Spirit-induced glow of your latest retreat, conference, or super-godly gathering, and BAM — real life hits you square in the nose. And then the jaw. And then the gut. A few times. And a big stomp on the baby toe juuuuust for good measure. Just to ensure that not only are you really down for the count, but you’re humiliated, too, because it was the baby toe of all things.

Read the rest of my regular Mea Maxima Cuppa column here, and, for the love of sweet Baby Jesus and all His many stable animal friends, please don’t let anything – not hurricanes, not head colds, not unemployment, not grouchy partners, not ANYTHING – steal *your* Jesus shine, my friend. He is with you. He is with me. And that’s the good stuff that will stick, if only we allow it.

God bless y’all,




Photo credit: the amazingly talented Ann Cereghino at the 2016 Catholic Women Rejoice conference. Book her today!


Pleasing God vs. Pleasing People

Pleasing God vs. Pleasing People

october-3-2016-imageHave you ever thrown yourself headlong into a task only to discover that God is obviously asking you to pursue another route?

Consider today’s Scripture readings. The parable of the Good Samaritan is rife with thought-provoking themes, including the most obvious: every person, regardless of station, season, creed, or country is, in fact, our neighbor, and worthy of love and respect. 

Surely could write about that, yet it wasn’t where God was leading.

Recently, I read fascinating commentary that illuminated today’s parable in a whole new way for me: the Good Samaritan is Christ Himself, and the robbers represent us falling into Satan’s grasp. Ultimately, neither the law (the Levite) nor the prophets (the priest) can save us, but only Christ Himself Who takes us to an inn (the Church) to seek healing

I wanted to write about that, and, more specifically, how, even if we were to diligently study our faith until the moment we draw our last breath, it would be virtually impossible to unearth and savor every drop of its goodness because there is just so. very. much.

But that’s not what God wanted me to ponder today, either. He’s a mysterious One, that Holy Spirit!

As it turns out, God wanted me to write about my tendency to look to others’ approval and acceptance for my sense of self-worth. He wanted me to reflect on St. Paul’s words in today’s First Reading:

“Am I now currying favor with human beings or God?
Or am I seeking to please people?
If I were still trying to please people,
I would not be a slave of Christ.”

Take a moment to read my complete reflection over at Blessed is She.

So, do I place primacy of importance on pleasing God with my words and actions? Sometmes.

All too often, I still choose to consider what others will think of me or my husband or our family if I or we say or do this or that or the other. I’m telling you – it isn’t easy to be a recovering people-pleaser! Maybe you can relate.

Sometimes I choose the path of least resistance over the path of righteousness. I go with the flow rather than speaking the truth in love. I hold back or carelessly barrel ahead because doing so, at least on the face of it, makes things a bit easier for the time being. But as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI famously said, “We are not called to comfort – we are called to greatness.” 

Here’s praying that, with God’s help, we can follow His call with complete surrender, caring quite a bit less about what others think as we’re walking with Him.

God bless you!


Vintage RCM: Where are *my* roses??!

Vintage RCM: Where are *my* roses??!

Hello! Today’s post is from exactly seven years ago, on the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux 2009 wherein I prove that I can be jut as bratty and entitled as St. Thérèse was reported to be in her childhood. I hope you enjoy this Vintage edition of RCM. 


Today is the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church. I have grown to love her “little way,” since most days I feel (okay, act) pretty little, myself.

Anyway, I have heard wondrous stories of people experiencing the fulfillment of Thérèse’s promise to “let fall a shower of roses” from heaven. And, earlier today, I was wondering – quite unattractively, mind you – where are MY roses?

Alright, so it’s totally selfish. I get it. Patience is a virtue and all that. But my husband and I said the St. Thérèse novena over the past nine days, and I was imptiently wondering, not if, but WHEN my roses would show up.

Today also happens to be my spiritual director’s feast day. She said they don’t celebrate birthdays in her religious order, but they do celebrate their feast days, so I thought I’d drop off a card on my way to another appointment across town.

Turns out, she had taken her feast day off, lucky lady. I dropped off the card and, since she wasn’t there, I had a few extra minutes to say a quick prayer in the on-site chapel.

My eyes fixed on the tabernacle straight ahead, and I had to smile.therese-roses

There, on either side of the tabernacle holding the precious Blessed Sacrament of Jesus Christ, were two vases holding the most gorgeous, perfect, vibrant pink roses I have ever laid eyes on.

Now, I know those roses weren’t originally intended for me, and yet, in a way, they were absolutely meant for me. I think Thérèse was showing me, in her simple yet profound way, that my consolation always has been and always will be waiting for me in the Tabernacle. She used “my” roses to adjust my attitude and point me in the right direction.

Thank you, fair Maiden of Lisieux, for the heavenly reminder. May Jesus be praised now and forevermore!




200th Post Giveaway Winner!

200th Post Giveaway Winner!


The time has arrived, my friends! We’re announcing the winner for the RCMBlog 200th Post Giveaway in this very blog post! But first – a reminder that you are ALL winners! How so? you might ask. Well, if you missed the announcement in the original post, Gina from Other Side of the Fence  has generously offered an exclusive 15% off for all RCM readers! Simply visit Gina’s shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/othersideofthefence – and enter LaughALot15 as your discount code when you check out.

The discount code for all items at Other Side of the Fence  expires tomorrow, friends, so shop soon and often!


And now … without further ado …

Drumroll, please …

Congratulations, dear Angela B.!! You are the winner of the #RCMBlog 200th Post Giveaway! If you would kindly email me  your mailing address, I will send it along to Gina, who will mail you this lovely print from her shop. I truly hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Thanks again, y’all for your participation and readership. It truly means a lot. Many blessings!

I’m running away, y’all

I’m running away, y’all

As I type this, it’s so early that the sky is painted darker than liquid swirling at the bottom of an inkwell.

The birds aren’t awake.

Neither are my children.

Nor is my husband.

But I am.

I’m stealing a few moments in the pre-dawn stillness to type out a few things before I hit the road and then hit the coffee and then hit the friendly skies for a long-needed weekend away. On my own, I might add. Important detail, that.

My things are packed in a brand-new discount deal carry-on rolling bag because my old rolling bag is over 20 years old and has at least one bum wheel and I finally gave myself permission to replace it.

Last night after the kids went to bed, I (mostly) finished up one writing assignment and then I went and did something quite rash – I activated the auto-responder for my three email accounts.

“I’m away from my inbox,” the notice reads. “I’ll respond as soon as possible upon my return. God bless you!”

Activate? Yes. Save? Yes.

Some may be surprised to receive such a message from me; I’m still sort of surprised that I did it. I haven’t employed the “vacation mode” feature on an email inbox since I left the working-away-from-home world before our youngest was born in 2013. It’s been with a somewhat twisted sense of pride that anyone who needs to may get ahold of me via any manner of multiple platforms most all of the time, much to my immediate family’s dismay.

I have a difficult time turning off and tuning out. Call it “monkey mind,” call it FOMO (fear of missing out) – whatever you call it, unplugging doesn’t come naturally for some reason, and I’ve paid a price for it.

So, last night, after activating my vacation auto-responder, I turned the laptop off, took an uninterrupted shower, and went to bed at a relatively decent time anticipating my severely early wake-up call.

Sacrificing sleep this morning to be at the airport by 6 a.m. was totally worth it, though, because I’m headed across the country to spend time learning, laughing, and lounging with friends both old and new.

Did I mention I’m traveling by myself?

Before y’all decide you want to shoot me and my plane-hopping self straight dead, I’ve missed out on plenty other opportunities like this over the years. Were I in a season where I was hugely pregnant, or had a newborn, a contagious illness, an inconsolable child, an unemployed husband, an ailing parent, or the like, I would likely not be making this trip. But I’m not hugely pregnant. I do not have a newborn. I’m not contagious. My kids seem to be okay. My husband is gainfully employed. My parents, God bless ’em, are likely galavanting across the countryside somewhere on a trip of their own.

And so I’m leaving. And because I’m in the season I’m in, I don’t really feel that guilty about going. Thanks be to God.


Recently, my Spiritual Director asked me what recharges my batteries. I didn’t have a quick response at the time. After several moments considering, I finally answered, “I need time with people who not only like me, but love me, and enjoy conversations about deep things and silly things and real things and want to hang out and eat good food and have a glass of something and solve problems and encourage and commiserate and collaborate and validate and cry and pray and laugh until our sides ache.”

And you know what amazed me? He said that I should go and do just that very thing at least a few times a month or, preferably, once a week. And even more stupefying – he really meant that I should.

Sure, Father – no problem, I snarkily responded inside my head. Once a week. Or a few times a month. Are you gonna watch my kids? And do the laundry? And take people to choir / volleyball / whatever practice? I wanted to ask. I think the astronauts in the space station orbiting Earth could see my eyes interiorly rolling at the prospect of regularly scheduled, fun (gasp!) time away from my responsibilities.

My laundry list of how and why Father’s scheme couldn’t possibly work in a million years began scrolling through my brain:

My husband. Five demanding young children. School stuff. Extracurricular activities. Volunteerism. Ministry considerations and tasks. Blah, blah, blah ad nauseum.

And yet, nowhere on that long list of why I should or shouldn’t do what he recommended was my name or my actual needs or my wants.


I say, “typical,” because I have long been afflicted with what my friend Rebecca calls ‘self martyrdom.’ I, like many women I know, think that by putting everyone and everything else before myself, I will be holier, healthier, and happier.

Well, perhaps this model of constant sacrifice and dying to self works magnificently for some women, but in my particular case, the exact opposite is true. Neglecting my physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs has NOT made me holier or healthier or happier. It has caused much heartache and many problems, the bulk of which I won’t go into now.

And so, with slight trepidation (because change weirds me out), enthusiastic encouragement from my spiritual director, and support from my husband, I’m slowly learning to consistently put myself on my extraordinarily long list of things and people to take care of. Simple, right? Simple conceptually, sure, but, for me, not necessarily easy.

Because … that list, don’t you see? The list. And the guilt.

When I first heard that the Blessed is She writing and creative team would be gathering for its first-ever retreat this Fall, my heart leapt at the opportunity to be with my co-workers in this amazing apostolate and then sunk at the specific obstacles that most assuredly would prevent me from joining in. Money. Time. Responsibilities. Money. Stuff.

And yet, not long after expressing my desire to attend the retreat to my hardworking husband, more details emerged that made getting there seem possible. And then my husband found a killer deal on airfare. And, blessed man, he bought my ticket. And, just like that, I was going.

Check out #bisteamretreat on social media this weekend to follow along!

And so, as fiercely as I love my husband and my children, I am most definitely running away for a few days. I can’t promise I won’t look back while I’m away, because that’s not in my nature. But I can promise that I am for sure leaving behind the guilt that often prevents me from fully enjoying myself. Hallelujah!

Oh – and I am going to work on finding a way to make a casual local gathering happen on a regular basis, because, holy heck, Batman – who can afford to fly across the country every time they need a break?? Certainly not I!

One last thing – even though I’m technically returning to the chaotic throes of family life on Sunday evening, my auto-responder says I’m away from my inbox until Tuesday, and I’m holding to that, since Monday I’ll be very busy yet again waking and feeding and clothing and chauffeuring and ushering off the school-aged kids, and later I have a very important appointment to bake brownies and snuggle on the couch for a good, long while with my preschooler, because that time with my baby boy sorta recharges my batteries in its own way, too.

Have a good weekend, y’all.


Photo credit

Celebrating 200 posts with a giveaway!

Celebrating 200 posts with a giveaway!

Hello, friends!

Along with being a Christian, married to my husband, parenting my kiddos, and owning some pants from x number of years ago that still sorta fit me sometimes, this here blog is one of the most steadfast things in my life.

And looky here – I recently published my 200th post! For a soul as inconsistently consistent as I, that’s nothing to sneeze at. So, to celebrate, I’m offering a fun little giveaway with the help of an amazingly talented and creative friend who is likely 100x more consistent and 150x more generous than I.gina-2

While she’s been on etsy several years, Gina Fensterer from Other Side of the Fence had a grand re-opening of sorts recently, adding home altar sets – including prayer cloths, candles, and printables – to her wares.

Gina told me she decided to open shop after she made a few prayer table cloths for her family: “I thought it would be fun to make special cloths for others, in combination with prints and candles,” she said. And, “After sharing the idea with women in a few online Catholic social media circles, I took the plunge!”

Soon, Gina says she will have preorders available for Advent and home altar sets for the entire liturgical year. How cool is that??

In between projects, Gina kindly agreed to make one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite (soon-to-be? I hope so! Saints), Mother Angelica, into a beautiful print to give away to one lucky reader. Isn’t it just lovely???laugh-a-lot-win-this-print

“Try to laugh a lot,” Mother Angelica said, “because life is funny and everybody today is too serious. The only tragedy in the world, my friend, is sin.”

If you’d like to win this custom print, simply put your name in the combox, below, and tell me something that cheers you up when circumstances threaten to knock you down. From all entries received, I’ll randomly select and announce the winner on Monday, September 19th.

Oh! And as if the giveaway wasn’t enough, beginning today, Wednesday, Sept. 14 and ending next Tuesday, Sept. 20, Gina is kindly offering an exclusive coupon code just for Real Catholic Mom readers – use LaughALot15 when you check out for 15% off anything in her shop!

Thank you so very much, Gina, for praising God with the gifts He’s given you, and thank you, dear readers, for hanging with me, as inconsistent as I may be. <3




We are never too far gone

We are never too far gone


Have you ever believed that you were too little or too much? Not enough or more than anyone could handle? I’ve felt that way, too. But you know what, friends? We are never too little or too much for our Heavenly Father. We could never be not enough for Him or more than He can handle, because He loves us – perfectly, unconditionally, mercifully.

Today, I have the distinct honor of reflecting on today’s Mass readings at The Catholic Conspiracy.  I pray that you will know in your soul that, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, there is nothing that can compare to the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s unending merciful love for you, today and always.

You are never too far gone for His love. Never.


Photo credit

Wherein I rap today’s Gospel

Wherein I rap today’s Gospel

Blessed is She 090716

Okay. You got me.

There might be a slight bait and switch going on with today’s post title. While it is highly probable that somehow, somewhere on the interwebz there is raw footage of me actually beatboxing or rapping or otherwise making a fool of myself for the Gospel, I’m not unearthing said footage today (cue my mother breathing a sigh of relief).

Rather, I’m over at Blessed is She, rapping about today’s Gospel passage, which is, quite literally, an oldie but a goody about the contradictions of Christian life. I share a bit about the methodology I use to dive into Scripture, as well as acknowledge how crazy it often seems to live as Christ-bearers in today’s post-Christian society:

“When we live the paradoxical, counter-cultural realities of Christianity, however, we are promised fruit that remains. In Him—and not in the world—we are ultimately satisfied. In Him, we rejoice and leap for joy. The Kingdom of God is ours through Jesus. Let’s continue to feed on the Word as we journey this road with Him.”

Read the rest here, y’all, and let me know what you do to keep yourself immersed in and open to His Living Word.

God bless y’all,


photo courtesy Blessed is She

Choking Down Humble Pie

Choking Down Humble Pie

imageGood morning and happy Sunday! Today’s readings had me staring down the powerful (and I’ll just say it – intimidating!!) Litany of Humility prayer over at Blessed is She. As scary as some of the words of the LoH might be, true humility is not the same as humiliation and embarrassment; rather, authentic humility reminds us of right order – that God is God and I am not – and thanks be to God for this truth! Find today’s Scripture readings and my complete reflection here. Have a wonderful Sunday, friends. God bless you. 


photo credit

Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

The Retreat (4)Women of God, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get away for extended time with Our Lord yet weren’t sure where to go, we have an incredible retreat opportunity for you this Fall with dynamic author and speaker Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT.

Sr. Miriam is the author of the incredible book Loved As I Am, and has countless speaking gigs under her belt, including Steubenville conferences, Called to Love, and keynotes at Catholic Women Rejoice in 2012 and 2013.


Sr. Miriam 2013

She’s also super active on Twitter as @onegroovynun, which is fun for me and all her 17.7k followers on that social media platform.

Sr. Miriam Twitter

Without further ado, here is the scoop for the upcoming Fall retreat with Sr. Miriam:

Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton, Oregon

Friday, October 14 (evening) through Sunday, October 16 (afternoon).

Opportunity for group prayer, individual prayer, Confession, Mass, Adoration, socialization, walks around the peaceful OLP campus, and, of course, several conference sessions with Sr. Miriam. This is NOT a silent retreat.

There is limited space to stay at the retreat house the whole weekend, but we will allow for some retreatants to use the “commuter” option, which means they enjoy everything but the overnight stays. Commuters are responsible to find their own lodging off-site if they do not live locally.

Transportation to and from the retreat venue is the responsibility of the retreatant. Folks flying in will want to select PDX (Portland International Airport) as their destination airport.

Due to logistical considerations, childcare is not available during the weekend; however, Moms with lap babies are welcome to bring them along!

TBD. Full retreat includes lodging for Friday and Saturday nights as well as all meals and materials, while the commuter rate includes all meals and materials but lodging is the responsibility of the retreatant.

Space is limited and will sell out, so if you’d like to be included on the registration list, please email: CatholicWomenRejoice@gmail.com or contact us via this form.

The Retreat (4)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Sr. Miriam’s book (and I highly recommend you do), you may learn more about her transformational story here and here.

loved as I am

God bless y’all!