Fear not! Advent help is here! (+ giveaway)

Fear not! Advent help is here! (+ giveaway)

Advent begins in six. days. Y’all. SIX.

I wish I was joking. But I’m as serious as a profound case of Vitamin D deficiency right now. SIX. 

Personally, I’m sure I will be scrambling to get some half-way decent Advent decorations up on Sunday afternoon before we have company over for dessert, and it won’t be pretty:

Where’s the Advent wreath? Why is it bent into the shape of a trombone??!

Why does this purple candle look like someone took a bite out of it? It’s a candle, people, not an apple!!

What have I told you about opening up Day 24 of the Advent Calendar on Day One of Advent??!

Okay – WHO STOLE BABY JESUS FROM THE LITTLE PEOPLE NATIVITY SET??!

(Side note: While I cannot vouch for the rest of the comedian’s content, this particular video about house cleaning before company comes is SPOT ON and hiLARious. My belly jiggled like Santa’s I was laughing so hard.)

(Side note #2: Those of you who read through this post ’til the end will be rewarded. 🙂

There is good news, though, friends. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the impending holiday season, there is always good news. The good news in my world this year is that I don’t have to scramble for something to help me draw closer to the manger as I await the Christ Child this year. I am so very, very excited to dive into Scripture with the incomparable Elizabeth Foss, who wrote Blessed is She’s amazing Advent Journal.

advent-journal-2016
Used with permission by Gina @ Someday Saints

Not only is this journal beautiful to behold, my friends, but its contents … ahhhhhh! The contents I’ve allowed myself to peek at are like a warm cup of cocoa with your snuggie pulled to your chin sitting in your most comfortable chair on a chilly day with no one bothering you. It’s that good, y’all. Better, even. I can.not. wait to start. In fact, I am giving myself a teeeeensy weeeensy longer sneak peek tonight. Not too much. Just a taste. Because I, for one, want to savor and remember and really live the most important part of this season – that Jesus was born for you. And for me.

This Advent, I want to be overwhelmed by a huge God who came as a tiny Babe and Who knows me intimately*.

Will you join me? Today is THE last day to purchase in the U. S. for your journal to arrive in time for Advent.

So … no more anxiety about Advent, okay? Let’s breathe deeply the present of this time of waiting. Let’s journey together and breathe Him in.


*Be overwhelmed by a huge God Who knows you intimately. -Elizabeth Foss



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through this post to purchase the Blessed is She Advent Journal, a small portion of the proceeds go to my friend and fellow writer/speaker Mary Lenaburg. Thank you!


And now, as promised, here’s even more good news for you who’ve made it this far! Any RCM readers (please be sure to subscribe on the sidebar of my home page!) who click through and purchase the BIS Advent Journal through Mary Lenaburg’s affiliate links in this post (see above) between now and tomorrow, November 22nd at 5 p.m. PST will be entered to win their very own pack of original Blessed is She Jesse Tree Calendar cards! I used my own cards as a daily meditation last year with my family each day of Advent. So good!! Comment away, friends! One randomly selected winner will be announced*** on Wednesday, November 23rd.

jessee-tree-cards-advent-2016

***UPDATE 11/23/2016: Congratulations to Sofia B.! She won the Blessed is She Jesse Tree cards. Happy Advent one and all!

 

No, YOU’RE sad that the Jubliee Year of Mercy is ending

No, YOU’RE sad that the Jubliee Year of Mercy is ending

I’m not sure exactly why, but the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy has been a wee bit emotional for me. It’s not like I didn’t take advantage of its graces. It’s not like I was surprised that the end of the Year was coming. It’s not like, just because the Year of Mercy is over, that the Vatican will announce some other, non-Holy Spirit-inspired “Year.” See Larry’s post if you want to laugh about the possibilities.

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(c) 2016 Real Catholic Mom. Photo Credit – Mary Lenaburg

Maybe this year has been so personal for me because, in all humility, I often feel like the Poster Child for mercy. Trust me – that’s not a point of pride – simply the way things are. Glory to Christ the King, however, I once was lost (very, very lost), but now I am found. I once was blind, but now I see. And now you have the song “Amazing Grace” running through your mind. You’re welcome. 😉

Friends, there’s a reason Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son has hung in our home for many years. There’s a reason I asked for a Divine Mercy image for my birthday a few years back. These pieces of art are certainly not trophies, my friends, nor are they meant to make my home look like a Catholic bookstore. Rather, along with other items in my life, these pictures are frequent reminders of where I’ve been, but most importantly, how far I’ve been able to come through the almighty grace of God, acts of the will, and, in no small measure, God’s infinite, unfathomable mercy.

return-of-the-prodigal-sondivine-mercy-image

Upon further reflection, I suppose I’m grateful (and gratified) that God’s omnipresent mercy is significant and worthy of keen focus in the greater Church, not just in my own life. Maybe that’s it. That’s gotta be it.

As we near the end of this amazing Year, let’s keep in mind that God’s mercy (and our ability to give and receive it) is not a lightswitch – something to be flipped on and off. Mercy is at the very heart of our Christian walk. Let’s keep the mercy flowing, friends. Lord knows I need it. And I would hazard to guess that perhaps you do, too.

Keep scrolling for one of Papa Francesco’s recent tweets, the Closing Prayer for the Jubliee Year, and video for the commercial that made me cry. For reals.


May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst! – Pope Francis @pontifex via Twitter


CLOSING PRAYER
PRAYER FOR THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

Amen. +


And here’s the commercial that, I admit, made me cry. I was just minding my own business, watching football with my husband. Man!! #peace


Coincidence or?

Coincidence or?

mountains-november-2016-2I used to think it was merely random coincidence – happenstance.

As it occured with more frequency, I found it rather interesting – intriguing, even.

Yet, as time marched forward and it didn’t seem to be relenting, I began to find it pretty frustrating.

Most recently, I chose to brush it off as amusing – entertainment, even – because, as we all know, God likes to laugh at me. Why not guffaw along?

Nowadays, I am generally able to accept it as something that’s just part of the process. Sometimes, though, since I’m still human, after all, it can, at times, be extraordinarily exasperating.

And – what is it, exactly? Well, I’m talking about how God (yes, that God) attempts to teach me stuff through my own writing, as crazy as that sounds. And, more specifically, how He especially likes to send me messages through writing that isn’t published for days, weeks, and sometimes months after I’ve written it.

Probably nine out of ten times, when I’ve turned in an assignment ahead of schedule, I forget exactly what I’ve written until it’s actually published, and then – boom – there it is, words from my own hand, invariably coming back to smack me up side my thick, thick head.

Case in point: my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column over at the Catholic Sentinel. I wrote about acknowledging all of God’s gifts, regardless whether we perceive them to be good, bad, desireable, or abhorrent, since as St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Everything is grace.” Everything.

Things were going pretty well when I wrote those words. Naturally.

And now? Now that the words are published and out there and staring me down? Well. Let’s just say it’s been a rough month. In truth, thinking of the toughest moments as gifts from God has been the last thing on my mind.

So, therein lies the rub: Am I able to take my own medicine, heed my own words – to wade through the muck and mire of hurt feelings and disappointments, betrayals and exhaustion and all the rest of it – and lay it all down at the foot of the Cross?

Am I able to see the gifts He gives even if I don’t like the wrapping paper?

there-are-no-coincidences-social-media

Images (c) 2016 Heather Anderson Renshaw. All rights reserved. 
Logging Off and Kneeling Down

Logging Off and Kneeling Down

911prayer-itIn all my years of voting, I have never once cried about it. I am extraordinarily grateful to live in a country and a time in history where I am allowed – and encouraged – to vote. But I admit I cried when I took up my mail-in ballot earlier this month. I cried for our nation. I cried for my children. I cried because I am just so exhausted by the moral wasteland that is current American politics.

Once I stopped crying, I ate two cookies, even though I wanted to eat 10 cookies, because old habits (emotional eating) die hard.

With sugar from the chocolate chip cookies still surging through my veins, I wiped the tears from my eyes and the crumbs from my mouth and I decided to do the only genuinely constructive thing I felt I could do: I decided to pray.

Please read the full article here.

Image used with permission via Ignitum Today
Why forgiveness is so close to my heart

Why forgiveness is so close to my heart

close-to-my-heart

Here at Real Catholic Mom, I’ve written about lots of stuff. Perhaps not as much as some, but lots for a crazy chicken like me. I’ve written about superficial stuff. Deep stuffHard stuff. Fun stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where I’m coming from or where I’m going, content-wise, since I’m all over the map (thanks, brain). I can only imagine what I put you through, dear reader!

If there is one constant thread that weaves its way through my life, howeve, it’s knowing that our Mighty God can write straight with crooked lines. He can shine brightly through a little cracked pot. He can make magnificence out of mess. He can craft His own perfect order from chaos. I’ve seen it in my own life, time after time after time.

And I know that I know that I know He wants to make something beautiful out of every single part of your life, too. 

I hate to leave you hanging here, folks, but I promise (!!) I will write more about this topic in this space soon. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about why forgiveness is so very, very close to my heart, I’ll be touching on it during tonight’s Blessed is She workshop, which YOU can attend from the comfort of your own home – it’s online! In addition to personal testimony, I’ll be offering some practical tips and tricks for having a heart that’s after God’s own Sacred Heart, and – because this is me we’re talking about, there WILL be giveaways. Oh, yes – there will be giveaways. I’m even told there will be time for a “stump the Real Catholic Mom” Q&A session toward the end.

Let’s finish out this Jubilee Year of Mercy even more free, more joy-filled, and more compassionate than we began it, my friend. Who’s with me??

Register here.

God bless you,

heather

 

 

Photo by Todd Cravens, Winchester, US used with permission via Unsplash