When there’s no baby

When there’s no baby

35162078_10214873928894596_3158134378106716160_o.jpgNote: I’ll be on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air program to chat about this article on Monday, June 18 between 6:15 a.m.-6:30 a.m. ET / 3:15 a.m.-3:30 a.m. (!!!) PT. If it’s any good, I’ll post the link here. 😉

For so many years, I’ve been in the thick of things — up past my neck — submerged in the tiny army that God and my husband and I created and is slowly destroying me in the most painful and beautiful ways, one blow-out diaper and temper tantrum at a time.

I was so overwhelmed by the chaos and the noise and the sheer exhaustion that I couldn’t see this moment coming.

The moment when the eldest is jonesing to get her drivers permit. When the second is a freshly-minted teenager in her own right. When the third is on the cusp of double-digits and the fourth doesn’t need much help keeping up with the eldest three.

And then there’s the fifth. Goodness, the fifth. The one child with whom I’ve been privileged and blessed to be at home. For whom I’ve been on hand to experience every milestone even if I was lousy at documenting it for posterity. Everything about this last child is etched within me; it resides in a place that is at once tender and raw and grateful and strong.

And this fifth child cannot wait to go off to the big school with the big kids. I don’t take it personally.

A part of me is elated and relieved and bursting with pride and giddy anticipation for what comes next. And another, deeper part of me is just plain … bursting. Unraveling. Overcome and undone by it all.

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Holy Spirit nudges

Holy Spirit nudges

It began like most other days; I realized with great resignation that there were, as usual, many more items on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.

And then, somehow, I remembered it was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of my all-time favorite Marian celebrations.

Encouraged, I did something I hadn’t done in ages: I asked Mama Mary to grant me extra grace in my vocation because, honestly, I needed all the help I could get. It had been a rough few weeks with no relief in sight. I hoped the Blessed Mother would take pity on her overextended child and throw me a spiritual bone or 12.

Wouldn’t you know it? The Queen of Heaven and Earth heard my cry and answered in the most gentle and powerful way. Throughout the day, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering simple promptings into my heart. The most peace, joy, and satisfaction that day happened when I heeded and obeyed God’s voice.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I experienced peace and joy by listening to and — gasp — obeying God? Yes; I get it. An amazing concept, right? But as I have likely proved via previous content in this space, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into my stubborn head … until they do.

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photo credit: @Sunyu used with permission via unsplash
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One Beautiful Dream – Giveaway!

One Beautiful Dream – Giveaway!

Jennifer Fulwiler, Heather Renshaw, and Kelly Wahlquist at Catholic Women Rejoice 2015
I owe a lot to Jennifer Fulwiler. She and Hallie Lord concocted The Edel Gathering several years back, and because of their “yes,” this weary, overwhelmed Mama of five (with undiagnosed PPD) had the time and space to let her hair down and dust off her latent charisms of “dancing on chairs” and “rapping the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.”
Edel 2014. We bad.

At Edel, I laughed until I cried, cried until I laughed, and met a gaggle of amazing kindred spirits, several of whom are part of my tribe to this very day. I remembered that I like to dance, sing, laugh, and that it is OKAY TO HAVE FUN, dang it! For some reason, I’d forgotten all about who I was and what *I* liked doing beneath the never-ending avalanche of laundry and demanding chaos of large family life.

It was Jen who encouraged me to keep writing and to resurrect my blog. And, while keynoting at our Portland women’s conference the next year, Jen recorded a clandestine clip of me doing my MC thang. She emailed it to her booking agent, saying: “You need to get this person on the Catholic speaking circuit TODAY.” It sounds sort of audacious, but that’s the kind of person Jen is—she dreams big, and inspires others to do the same.

Which leads me to the reason for this post. I’m so grateful to Jen, whose amazing second book, ONE BEAUTIFUL DREAM, launches TODAY!  I hope you pick up a copy for yourself and your friends and allow Jen Fulwiler’s special brand of encouragement to uplift and inspire you to follow your dreams just like she did for me.
But, better yet, wouldn’t it be awesome to WIN a copy? Just in time for Mother’s Day, I have one for YOU or someone you love! Woooooo hoooooo! 🎉🎉🎉
Follow @realcatholicmom and @jenniferfulwiler for a chance to win THIS BOOK in time for Mother’s Day!

Simply head on over to my giveaway post on Instagram and tag as many friends as you’d like in my feed. You MUST be following me and Jen on Instagram to qualify–I’m gonna check and double-check! The contest ends on Friday, May the 4th (be with you), and I’ll pick and announce a winner on Sunday, May 6th just in time for my birthday. Man, I love giving good stuff away!!

Oh, and … If I look tired in this picture, it’s because I am. LOL 😆 Motherhood and chasing my blue flame isn’t easy. There are only 31 days until my first book is due to the publisher. THIRTY-ONE. And I’m really feeling the squeeze. There are super early mornings and late nights and lots and lots of prayer and coffee. But I’m happy. Blessed. Clinging to Jesus. That’s the way any of this works–bottom line–I cling to him. Personally, my one beautiful dream is to do all the things I want to do while still getting enough sleep. So.

Okay! That’s it for now–don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Open to U.S. residents over the age of 13 only.

PS: Congratulations again, and lots of love, Jen! Can’t wait ’til the next party! 💃🏻💃🏻💃🏻
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For the smile is the beginning of love

For the smile is the beginning of love

Our eldest just received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the chrism oil smeared across her teenaged forehead transported me back to when she received the same glorious-smelling oil on her bitty baby head at baptism. Incidentally, teenagers don’t tolerate their mothers huffing their sweet-smelling heads as well as infants do. Truly, truly I say to you: The days are long, yet the years are short.

Now, as a young Mom, my skin crawled whenever someone observed my spirited youngsters and felt compelled to offer this gem: “Treasure every! single! minute!” I’d force a smile and bite my tongue to keep from pelting the well-meaning stranger with a litany of grievances. Did she expect me to cherish every blow-out diaper, each sleepless night, all ear infections and colicky episodes? How about the countless tantrums and the myriad other exhausting maladies of young motherhood?

Today, comments about how full my hands are don’t irk me like they used to. When the cashier at the store is mortified that I have the audacity to mother five—FIVE!!—children and declares: “That’s too many kids!” I’m neither shocked nor angry, and I’m certainly not losing any sleep over her ridiculous opinion. Rather, I laugh heartily and ask: “Which one would you like me to take back?”

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photo credit: Marie Sylvester

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