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.

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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:

Location:
Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton, Oregon

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

Details: 
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.

Lodging:
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:
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.

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

Cost:
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!

heather

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A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

Back to school post

This summer has whizzed – and I mean WHIZZED by. Admittedly, this is mostly my fault. The time and space has been filled with lots of busyness and activity and not quite as much rest and relaxation as this Mama would like; however, time marches on, and the beginning of the new school year is staring us square in the face.

It is in the back-to-school spirit that I penned the following letter to the four (FOUR!) of my kiddos who will be in full-time school this Fall. You can read my Mea Maxima Cuppa column in its entirety here.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo Credit: Green Chameleon in Bristol, UK via Upsplash

Why I can’t quit

Why I can’t quit

Recently, people have noticed that I’m sort of, um, preoccupied, with the upcoming women’s conference. Have you heard about it?? No?? Well, it’s going to be fantastic!

The fifth annual Catholic Women Rejoice conference is happening Saturday, August 20 (that’s in, um, TWO weeks) with Author and blogger Hallie Lord, blogger Mary Lenaburg, Blessed is She Founder Jenna Guizar, best-selling Author, Blogger, and The Visitation Project co-host Rebecca Frech, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample. All the cool kids will be there! Register today! End commercial.

Anyway, the bags under my eyes are carrying their own luggage these days, and I’m not quite my usual perky self. The to-do lists have birthed multiple longer to-do lists, and while the work is beyond plentiful, the laborers are excruciatingly few. 

Over the years, people have peppered me with questions about my involvement with this event:

“Are you getting enough sleep?” No.
“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” Because.
“You have young kids at home!” Yep.
“It’s so much work.” Amen.

“Women are too busy to go to something like this, anyway.” Um, really?

“Why don’t you just give up?“

Why, indeed.

FULL STOP.

My friends, the very best reason to do something is because God asks you to do it. A close second is because the devil doesn’t want you to do it and whispers in your ear that what you’re doing isn’t worth it, and you’re not worth it, and the women who will be served aren’t worth it, and it’s just a big hassle, and you’re underqualified and crazy and you should just give up.

Apparently God made me extraordinarily stubborn for such a time as this, because I will NOT quit, and I will NOT give up.

Time after time, God has shown me that women absolutely do need opportunities like this. They need space for community, for fellowship, for encounter. For praise. And, like the little boy giving Jesus what he had to help feed the crowds, I believe God can take what precious little I give and use it to bless and heal women, their families, whole communities, and our broken and beautiful world, all for His greater glory.

Sr. Miriam 2013

What we Catholic women are doing – trying to live faithfully and joyfully – is an utterly counter-cultural existence. That’s right – we’re rebels. The Pacific NW, where I live, is consistently cited as one of the most unchurched areas in the nation, with Catholics as the crystal-clear minority or minorities. And we can feel it. We hear:

“You know what causes that, don’t you?” as we shop with our children in the grocery store.

“How come you let a bunch of old men in Rome to tell you what to do?” as we engage in the workplace.

“Why aren’t you taking more time for yourself and going on some exotic vacation?” as we pursue social media.

“Why do you need to confess your sins to a priest?” as we chat with our friends.

“Isn’t it enough to just be a good person?” as we talk with our neighbors.

“Live and let live, man,” as we’re told by our legislature.

Time after time our culture tells us: “That may be your truth, but it’s not my truth,” and, my favorite: “Be more tolerant,” as society drifts further and further away from the actual Truth.

Between you and me, as a Catholic woman, I have felt very alone in our society. I have felt isolated. I have felt extremely discouraged. I have believed the lie that I am the only one trying to do this work – this beautiful, difficult, amazing work – that Catholic women do. I have cried myself to sleep, wondering *where my people* were, and whether I would ever find them.

Eventually, though, I decided to quit complaining and do something. Since there wasn’t anything happening in my area where a big group of Catholic women could get together and be joyful about being Catholic women, I was going to start something. And so, with no money, no location scouted, and no speakers booked, I began planning the first general Catholic women’s conference in the Pacific Northwest with nothing but faith, hope, and a telephone.

I didn’t know if anyone would show. But they did. And they kept coming back.

CWR12

CWR13

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CWR 15 photo

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Catholic Women Rejoice and other conferences like it exist because someone decided to take a chance on the idea that women need a place (even if it’s only once a year) to gather together outside of Sunday Mass and know that we are most certainly not alone, that who we are as women matters, and that the gift of our common Catholic faith is something for which we should rejoice!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with connecting with other women online – in fact, it’s probably where I connect with friends most consistently, because that’s the season of life in which I find myself. But there is something about seeing other women – being in their presence – looking into their eyes and seeing the underlying compassion and deep understanding that transcends spoken language: “You get it.” 

image

At a typical Catholic women’s conference, participants are free to be fully themselves without fear or worry. A woman can bless herself and her food before eating and no one will give it a second thought. Another can nurse her baby while enjoying a conversation. Someone can be comforted in her struggles with infertility. Another can discuss the Pope’s latest encyclical, or the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning. Still another can steal away to the Adoration Chapel for a few quiet, distraction-free moments with Jesus.

No one will be accused of being a Papist. Or a bigot. Or an idol-worshipper. Or a hater. Or a breeder. Or a weirdo. We can celebrate Mass, go to confession, and pray. We can sing, laugh, and praise. We can ask Mary and the saints and each other to pray for our needs. We can eat good food that is still warm that we didn’t have to prepare ourselves. And, you know what? We can have FUN. You know, like, smiling ’til your face hurts, laughing ’til you can’t breathe anymore, fun.

BIS photo

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I honestly believe that Catholic conferences and events uplift women and reinvigorate them to go back into the world and do God’s will through their individual vocation*, whatever it may be. They remind us that we are not alone in this work. They remind us that we are Catholic. And that we are strong, resilient women – wonderfully, fearfully, and beautifully made. And because of these things, we are free to truly rejoice.

And so, as I continue to wade through my myriad to-do lists, I am praying for all the women who will come to Catholic Women Rejoice, or any other conference, for that matter, that in that time and space with their sisters in Christ, they will encounter Jesus and emerge renewed and transformed. And after that? After that I’ll sleep.

Even if women’s conferences aren’t your “thing” or you can’t attend or organize one this year for whatever reason, you could donate to  our scholarship fund, sponsoring another woman to attend, contact me about putting an ad in our program or supporting us as an underwriter, or – most importantly – we are so grateful for your prayers! And I will keep praying for you. ❤️

*Whether a woman is a stay-at-home Mom, a career woman, a single woman, a religious, a work-inside-or-outside-the-home Mom, discerning her vocation, not a Mom, retired, a full-time volunteer, an Auntie, Grandma, high school student, college student, or any other iteration of Catholic woman of goodwill, she is welcome at Catholic Women Rejoice.

Grandma A

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What’s the truth?

What’s the truth?

August 4 2016 image @s_mckendrick

Lots of crazy stuff happening in the world today, right? “Crazy” seems like an understatement. I can’t believe the headlines and the feeds and the videos and the photos … it’s just too much.

Sometimes the noise from the media and society at large is enough to make me want to ditch this suburban existence and go off the grid to live in a yurt somewhere in rural someplace.

But then I wonder where I’d get my fancy coffee and a wifi signal and how we’d fit all the kids in such a tight space.

Details, details.

Even when everything seems to swirl around me at justtoomany miles per hour, there are, contrary to what the culture tries to shove down our throats, some absolute truths (and Truths) to which I cling, including:

God is good.

I am His.

I am loved.

Everything is grace.

The Catholic Church is my home.

Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist.

Mercy awaits all who enter the Confessional.

Being a wife and a mother is good, holy, and thoroughly exhausting work.

Heaven is real.

Music lifts my soul.

Almond milk lattes make me happy.

My husband is hilarious.

I love a good bass line.

Each of my children are wonderfully, fearfully made, and I’m lucky to be their Mom.

Jesus Christ is real and I need Him.

***

Today, I have the honor of contemplating today’s Gospel reading over at Blessed is She. Basically, I’m asking myself – and you – if I truly have the faith to believe that God is Who He says. And, if I do believe it, what am I so worried about? 

” … faith isn’t reserved for some moment in the future when we have a minute to spare. It’s for today—it’s for right now. God is on His throne today. Jesus is saving us today. We are His children today. Do we believe?”

God’s got this. He’s got me. He’s got you. If only we have the faith to believe.

Read the rest here.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo credit: Shannon Lacy for Blessed is She

Quote

Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

woman-looking-at-forest-at-dawn

I have been a lonely Mom.

But first, a little context.

As the eldest child with only one sibling five years my junior, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with babies or younger children growing up. I was too busy with my own activities and interests and friends. Sure, I babysat on occasion, but at the time, I was way more interested in making some sweet cash than practicing for any future vocation with my small charges.

Vocation? What’s that? Like, a misspelled vacation? Wait – isn’t a vocation what priests and nuns have?

I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood actually was a vocation. I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood would be my path – my call – to holiness.

I figured I would go to college, have an amazing career traveling the globe, fall in love, and get married at some point. As I learned more about my Catholic faith, I figured being married meant that I would have kids. I mean, I didn’t plan to not have children, but it was more of a default reality that I took completely for granted – you get married, you have kids. Eventually. That’s what most people do, right?

So I skipped the fabulous globe-trotting career and fell in love and got married. And then the babies started coming. And coming. And I really had no idea what I was doing. And I got overwhelmed.

And I got very, very lonely. And severely depressed.

I knew that these little lives were good, marvelous, beautiful (!!) blessings, but I didn’t quite know how to navigate the sheer upheaval in my life – changing body, hormones, responsibilities, identity, sleep – once they arrived.

I knew I needed to find people [yet] going somewhere — anywhere — felt like an impossible undertaking most days. Attending the moms’ group, the playdate, or the meet-up meant the little people and I had to be presentable, likable, and relatable. All at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of ‘ables’ for someone who often felt like she was drowning in a sea of inability.

->Read the rest of my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column – – over at the Catholic Sentinel.

So, how did I break through my feelings of loneliness and isolation? I wish I could tell you I had some sort of a magic formula I followed that would work for you, too. If I did, I would surely whip it up and airmail it to you if you lived far away or drive it over to your place if you lived close by.

Here are some things, though, that (eventually) helped me:

  1. Admitting I needed help. It took a while before I could swallow my stubborn pride and admit that whatever I was doing as a new Mom (or a Mom with littles) wasn’t working for me and that I really needed some help. At first, I wasn’t even sure what anyone could do to help me, but I knew something had to change. There is no shame in asking friends, family, neighbors, parishioners, and/or medical professionals for assistance when you need it. None. God isn’t calling us to go crazy because of our vocations! Once I admitted I needed help, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to actually seek out the help I needed.
  2. Maintaining a schedule. Moms with littles might look at the word ‘schedule’ and be tempted to roll their eyes to China. “Schedule?! Ha!!” And I know it’s true. I found that I’d roll out of bed after another sleepless night and try to leave the house only to have someone poop all over themselves or me and by the time we were all ready to get back in the car again, the activity we’d been headed to would be 75% over. Not worth it. But as much as I could, I tried to wake up, get dressed into something other than what I slept in (even if it was yoga pants and a t-shirt), brush my hair, and if I was really feeling lucky and motivated, take a shower before my husband went to work. Adding in the things that I knew I had to do – meals, laundry (oh, Lord – the laundry with spitty babies!), naps, etc. helped me to try to find some rhythm in my day.
  3. Nurturing my spiritual life. Our youngest is almost three and a half, and I’m just now starting to feel like I might have actually attended Mass on Sundays.  I remember many, many, MANY times when I felt like even attending Mass was an exercise in futility. What was the First Reading about? I couldn’t even hear Father’s homily! Did we just receive the Eucharist? So. many. distractions. But as time went on, I realized that there had to be some grace available to me just for attempting, right??! So we kept going. Every Sunday. And things have honestly gotten easier. Additionally, I think my prayer life has improved significantly since I became a Mom, simply due to necessity! I know that I need Jesus. Like woah. So, I pray. A lot. I pray for myself. I pray for my kids. I pray for my husband. I don’t always get the super high-quality before-they’re-awake-quiet-meditation-with-Jesus time in, but I am often praying throughout my day – as I scrub the bathroom floor, as I change the laundry over, as I’m chopping onions, as I’m cleaning up yet another mess – it’s there. And He’s there with me. IIn the noise. In the chaos. In the mess. And it has changed me.
  4. Quit worrying so much. I used to worry that I didn’t have my make-up on and my kids’ shoes didn’t match and I didn’t have a Pinterest-worthy snack ready before I’d head off to the moms’ group or play date. But you know what? Those worries were keeping me away from community and vital friendships. We were not meant to do this thing called ‘life’ alone, but how often do we convince ourselves that we’re not worthy of community? We are worthy! I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring so much, but these days, I’m much more likely to be out the door with my hair in a pony tail and the kids usually wind up with some sort of shoe-like things on their feet. We might pick up donut holes from the drive-thu and are on our way. That’s where we are these days, and I’m okay with that.

So, from one lonely Mama to another – I’ve been where you are, friend. Loneliness in the trenches of motherhood can be a very deep, dark place. It can threaten to swallow you whole – I know, because I’ve been stuck looking down over the precipice myself more times than I care to recall. But I also know that you don’t have to remain in that place of isolation and anxiety; you really don’t. There are sisters and brothers who want to help you and know you and be your friend. Will you allow them to help you? Will you let Jesus in?

I would really love to hear from you – have you ever felt alone, isolated, or lonely? What do you do to re-connect with “the outside world” and to not feel alone in your vocation? Please let me know in the combox.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Membership has its privileges

Membership has its privileges

Membership photo

It’s not every day that a person gets the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of something special – something anointed – something Holy Spirit driven.

About two years ago, the call went forth from the heart of Jenna Guizar: It’s time, her message seemed to say. It’s time to strengthen women in the Word. It’s time for us to seek and find Him. And each other. It’s time for building community. It’s time for Blessed is She.

Although I’ve written recently about saying, “no” to various tasks, ministries, and projects, I don’t make it a habit of saying, “no” to Blessed is She.

Why? You might ask. What makes BIS so special? 

So many things, my friend. So. many. But, in a nutshell, I stick with this ministry, this community, this God-shaped mission because, above all else,

Blessed is She is good.

It is true.

And it is beautiful.

Not familiar with Blessed is She? No worries! Please take a moment to familiarize yourself – and perhaps even more importantly, sign up for the daily devotions – each day’s Scripture verses and a beautiful reflection delivered 365 days to your inbox – for free.

Don’t worry – I’ll wait.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, they totally did. Blessed is She is proud to announce an amazing new membership option.

  • Monthly workshops offered by speakers teaching on matters of faith, life, prayer, Church teaching, and more. My good friend and The Visitation Project Co-Host Bonnie Engstrom will be giving the next workshop, on Forming Intentional Community July 22, and I am on tap to give a workshop in the Fall – stay tuned!
  • The popular Lent journal auto-shipped to your door
  • The popular Advent journal auto-shipped to your door

Priced separately, workshops are $15 apiece and journals are $20 each, so your membership fee of $9.99/month or $99/year means you’ll save at least $100 each year!

journal-on-table-2-1  virtual workshops

If I seem a teensy bit excited about the BIS Membership option, well, it’s because I am excited! Women striving to learn, know, and live our faith, steeped in the Word of God and the love of Jesus is something I can get behind. I hope you will, too.

Blessed is She has provided untold blessings in my life, and I can’t wait to dive into the latest offerings. Subscribe today, friends. I promise you won’t regret this “yes”!

God bless y’all,

heather

Nobody reads poetry anymore

Nobody reads poetry anymore

various spring flowers planted in old chair
Nobody reads poetry anymore

Not really

Save

An assigned selection here

A referenced snippet there

Of story and

Truth and 

fantasy tellers

from years long

long

long

gone
Nobody reads poetry

anymore

Not really

which makes it 

so very tempting

and easy

and freeing

to pour everything out

line by 

line 

over time

A couplet here

A stanza there

Truth wrapped up in letters and

Unleashed in barely controlled torrents of telling riddles
It is safe to do

Safe to be

Allow

Place

Pour

Lie down

All the things

that would remain

unspoken

unclear

untended 
No one reads poetry anymore

Not really

Yet some

still 

Dream and 

wish and 

hope and

think and

write

it

anyway

For the love 

For the love 

woman writing with a pen at a table with a cup of coffeeOnce upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a little girl who loved to write simply for the sheer joy of writing.

She began by scratching out simple words and phrases in crayon, then illustrated short stories and poems using small stubs of pencil, and eventually penned dramatic plays and lengthier essays and various works of fiction.

Highly praised and robustly encouraged by family and educators alike, she wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.

One day, after the little girl had grown into a young woman, she realized that the joy of writing had completely disappeared. The thrill was gone. The love had died.

Whether because writing was now a compulsory prerequisite for educational advancement or whether she was distracted by other obligations and amusements, the bliss of writing for its own sake withered and faded like unharvested grapes at season’s end. 

And she stopped writing. Just like that.

It wasn’t until many years later, after many babies and many moves and at the insistent encouragement of someone who was an acquaintance at best, that the woman seriously considered putting her thoughts down in black and white again.

Could she still do it? Did she have anything to say? Would anyone care?

Ever so cautiously, she decided to give it a try. Slowly but surely, the words came out to play once more. And then they stopped for a spell, and then returned yet again. The desire and the energy and the time and the courage to write ebbed and flowed, but it seemed the initial spark of joy she experienced as a little girl had never been completely extinguished after all. 

The woman realized that she still had something worth saying, even after all those years of creative dormancy. And she further resolved that she would really, really strive to write for the greater glory of God rather than caring so much if anyone read or approved or encouraged or applauded.

And so … she wrote.

And so … she writes.

+++

For your reading enjoyment, from time to time, I’ll publish something in the spirit of that young girl. It’ll be tagged #forthelove if you care to follow along.

It likely won’t be fancy, nor groundbreaking, nor award-worthy, but it might just be … something. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I want to know: 

What do you do for the love of it? What brings you joy? Is there something you used to do but gave up when life circumstances changed? Let me know what you like to do not because you have to but simply #forthelove. 

God bless y’all,


Photo via VisualHunt

I’m a Girlfriend!

I’m a Girlfriend!


So … That headline might be sliiiightly misleading. 

No need to call my Archbishop – I haven’t done anything crazy like dump my husband or become polygamous. 

What I did however, was recently join the incomparable author/speaker/Mom-of-many Danielle Bean on her podcast called – you guessed it – Girlfriends

I figure since I was on her show, I am now an honorary girlfriend. Fun!

Listen in and let me know what you think. Happy Summer!

God bless y’all,

Understanding the power of ‘no’

Understanding the power of ‘no’

First fan letter!
Thanks, Diane, for reading the new column over at the Catholic Sentinel! God bless you!

People who know me well would likely agree that I’m usually not good for much more than a “yes” and a laugh.

Which is just another way of saying that I am categorically very, very, horribly bad at saying, “no.” At least, that is, until recently.

Lately, I feel like I have been saying, “no,” to just about everything. And it’s been simultaneously horrifying … and liberating.

You might wonder: why have I been giving ye old smackdown to interesting projects, exciting engagements, and other sparkly distractions these days? Because, frankly …

Saying, “yes,” isn’t making me happier or holier.

That’s it.

I have been taking a long, hard look in the mirror for a while now – in a totally healthy, non-creepy, non-narcissistic way, promise! – because things have been breaking down physically, emotionally, and with relationships for a while because of my, well, addiction of sorts to what usually happened when I said, “yes.”

The sense of productivity, needfulness, and recognition that often followed my affirmative response to whatever came my way became an idol of sorts – something to seek, something to save me from myself and my circumstances, something to depend upon.

In other words, saying, “yes,” was, however subconsciously, filling a God-shaped hole in my heart that was meant for my Savior alone.

I found that saying, “yes” to so many things really meant I was saying, “no” to more important things. And sometimes God. And especially people. My husband. My children. And maybe, more especially, myself.

I am learning that I must say, “no” if I am going to have the energy to say, “yes” to time to care for myself so I am able to care for the people closest to me. I need to be able to give them my best yes.

And I wasn’t.

And in many ways I still am not.

I’m getting better at taking care of myself and my core responsibilities, but guys – it is. so. hard. to say no. I still (whyyyyyyyy??) care a little bit too much about what people think of me, especially when I tell them I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do whatever it is they ask/want/expect of me.

Well, this weekend, I’m over at the Catholic Sentinel talking about this very thing, and about harnessing the power of ‘no.’

Which, by the way, is NOT a dirty word. Although it does still make me shudder and twitch a bit still. Just a bit.

I’m working on it.

God bless y’all,

heather