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?”

Read the rest here

photo credit: Marie Sylvester

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Big Announcement: I’m Writing a Book!

Big Announcement: I’m Writing a Book!

Holy moly, y’all–I’m writing a book!

Although I’ve penned columns, blog posts, articles, reflections, devotions, studies, retreat and conference talks, fables, countless unpublished short stories and plays, academic papers, haphazard grocery and overflowing to-do lists (those count for something, right?!), an award-winning poem (when I was 9 years old, LOL) and even a chapter in this book, I’ve never written my very own, real life book.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to meet the little book that could: It’s called…wait for it…Death By Minivan. It arrives in the Fall of 2018 from the superlative and very brave folks at Our Sunday Visitor (please pray for them all, especially my long-suffering editor), and I! Am! So! Excited!

I’ll provide information about pre-ordering the book as well as some pre-order freebie goodness (‘cuz y’all know I LOVE me a good giveaway) in this space soon (see the end of this post to sign up!).

But for now, Death By Minivan, a book by me (!!!)–is on its way.

It’s not a memoir. It’s not even a “how to.” It’s for you Real Catholic Moms out there who have good days and dark days. Some days you’re on top of your game, and some days you drag yourself out of bed. But most days, you stop whatever you’re doing to clean bottoms and make lunches and say prayers even when you don’t feel like it. Because, as the Chief Minister of Interruptions for your household, that’s just what you do.

Death By Minivan is for you road warriors who drive the minivan (or any other vehicle) day after day after day to run errands, go to work, drop off one child for sports practice, pick up another child from religious education, and try to get everyone together for dinner at least, because this is what your path to holiness looks like, petrified french fries on the floor be darned.

Death By Minivan acknowledges the (sometimes ridiculous) sacrifices the vocation of motherhood entails, yet encourages you to cultivate and celebrate the many amazing fruits that come from offering yourself with love to your children–your very own “least of these.”

Death By Minivan is a book that, I hope and pray, will encourage, inspire, and uplift all you sweet Mamas who don’t always have it all together but are giving everything you have to live the life that God has given you. Because, my dear sister in Christ, like me, you may not win any “Mom of the Year” awards. But. You are worthy. You are enough. You are loved.

Please sign up for my email list to get the latest and greatest about the book (and so much more) delivered directly to your inbox!

 

Until next time; God bless y’all.

 

 

 

P.S. A huge shout-out to my dear sister from another mister Christy Stephens, the genius behind the minivan drawing. She will be providing illustrations for this project, and I am so excited to see what her pen produces!

P.P.S. Would you please pray for me during the writing process? May God’s will be done in this work. Thank you so very much!!

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{SQT} When a shirt is more than just a shirt

{SQT} When a shirt is more than just a shirt

St. Francis of Assist purportedly said, “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” I think I’ve previously expressed my disdain for this quote, because–hello!–two words: brown habits! Whenever people saw the good works of Francis and his brethren, of course they knew their good works were accomplished in service to the LORD, because they sported attire specifically reserved for those … in service to the LORD! They didn’t have to say anything.

For us modern lay folk, it’s slightly trickier. We can, within reason (and prudence and modesty), wear whatever we like while we’re living our Christian lives and fit right in with the rest of society. There’s usually nothing about our fashion sense that suggests we’re any different than any other human on the planet.

Unless … we make an intentional choice to do something a bit … different.

Being me means I am naturally attracted to the different; at my core, I’m slightly rebellious. Now, since reverting back to the Catholic faith, my rebellion has significantly mellowed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my ways of “sticking it to The Man.” Want to know the secret sauce behind my current counter-culturalism? Here’s my confession:

Hello. My name is Heather, and I am a dynamically orthodox Roman Catholic. I love Jesus, Mary, the saints, and the sacraments. I’ve been married to one man for 16 years, I’m open to life, my Minivan is covered in faith-centric bumper stickers, and … I wear blatant, flagrant, obnoxiously faith-related t-shirts nearly every day. 

So, let’s talk shirts, shall we? I wear them because I enjoy the conversations they illicit. I suppose it’s one way I’ve chosen to delve into the New Evangelization–as a sort of me-shaped billboard for the LORD. I guess it also means I have to remember to behave myself since I’m repping the Faith on the regular. Hahahaha.

Today, I am going to share a few of my favorites shirts with you in hopes that maybe you’ll consider joining me in this growing New Evangelization revolution.

Now, hear me out: Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to wear a Jesus Freak T in public every day like yours truly, but maybe you’re ready to wear one under your hoodie for a jog, or to a service project, or as a nightshirt. Baby steps. And don’t worry–I’m praying for you. Soon enough, you’ll be wearing your faith on your sleeve (actually and proverbially) all the time, too. By the way: If anyone knows who the patron saint for clothing-as-evangelization is, please let me know.

I realize there are many wonderful companies out there selling faith-based t-shirts, and I’m sorry I can’t highlight them all. I’m featuring those I personally wear and can confidently recommend because they come in an array of sizes and are super comfortable–Mama ain’t got time to wear scratchy or stiff shirts!–and because purchasing these shirts benefits sisters in Christ who also happen to be small business owners.

1. From Catholic Threads: BE BRAVE IN THE SCARED

Many of my readers know Mary Lenaburg, a remarkable woman and phenomenal speaker. This original design from the amazing Lorissa Horn of Catholic Threads isn’t just powerful and uplifting–the t-shirt is also a fundraiser to help pay down the remaining $57,000 (you read that correctly) debt incurred by the Lenaburg family while caring for their severely disabled daughter, Courtney. Shirts are currently available via pre-order only, which ends November 21st, so order now! This beauty will arrive in plenty of time for Holiday gift-giving for you and all your philanthropic friends wanting to help this family regain financial stability. P.S. The talented team at Catholic Threads has other amazing shirts (I have several!) … but you must buy this one first. Please and thank you. 😉

2. Rambling Mom: KEEP CALM & SAY A HAIL MARY

The past several months have been rough, with many loved ones suffering natural disasters, chronic disease and other difficulties. One dear friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I wanted to send her something to lift her spirits. When I saw Rambling Mom sporting this shirt on Instagram, I knew I’d found just the right gift. While the shirt I ordered wasn’t in RM’s shop last time I checked, word on the street is she might be able to make something just for you in a color you’ll adore; shoot her a message!

3. From Someday Saints: STRONG BRAVE LOVED

My friend Gina and I have known each other for several years now, and she continues to astonish me with her creativity and grace. Gina’s latest offering via her Someday Saints Design Etsy shop is a beautiful t-shirt I. just. love! Not only does it come in a lovely blue color, it conveys a wonderfully poignant message. Don’t tell my teen and tween, but they’re both receiving this t-shirt as Christmas gifts because these are three things I want them to know and believe about themselves. Annnnd I might have ordered one for myself because I might need a reminder sometimes, too! Check out the shirt and all Gina’s other lovelies in her shop today.

4. From Catholic Women Rejoice: REJOICE AND BE FREE

Once upon a time, in 2012, I started a women’s conference called Catholic Women Rejoice. For our fifth anniversary, we asked the fab gals at Catholic Threads (yes! they are that awesome) to design a shirt that was as comfortable as it is stylish. And, boy, did they nail it! This is my go-to sleep shirt, bum-around-the-house shirt, and clean all the things (again) shirt. My eldest daughter, who helped with the conference, lives in hers, too. I also have another, more fitted version for out-in-public appearances. If you’re interested in either shirt, I have limited quantities available. Send me a message indicating which version you’re interested in–slouchy or structured–and your size.

5. From Brick House in the City: ALL THE OPTIONS

I’m not even sure where to start; there are so many amazing (beautiful + comfortable) shirts in wonderful Lauren’s shop, it’s difficult to choose! I have the Everything is Grace shirt in honor of my girl St. Therese of Lisieux, the Love Begins At Home shirt because it reminds me of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and I bought the Cradle Catholic onesie for my sweet baby goddaughter’s Christmas gift. Currently, the Fiat and the Totus Tuus tees are on my Christmas list. Luckily, Lauren is offering a special code (BOGO10) for 10% off your order when you purchase two or more shirts. Hint, hint, Honey. 

Also? Decide which beauty you want soon, because TOMORROW (11.12) is the last day to pre-order guaranteed sizes and flavors of shirts in time for Christmas. Don’t be left empty-handed on The Big Day!

6. From Elly and Grace: NOT TODAY SATAN

I have to admit: My NOT TODAY SATAN shirt from Elly and Grace is a favorite to wear in my particularly heathenistic hometown of Portland, Oregon. Especially in the airport, where there are LOTS and LOTS of people. Ha, ha. I wear it when I need some extra Resurrection attotude, which is often when I am traveling alone for gigs, so this particular shirt has been getting more mileage lately. The funny thing is that I often get compliments on this shirt from perfect strangers–the lady in the bank, the lady at the coffee shop, the lady in the grocery check-out line. Apparently, allll the ladies like this shirt. But it could be that there are other prayer warriors out there like you and me who need the little bit of somewhat cheeky encouragement this shirt affords. Lots and lots of other choices in a broad range of sizes available on the E+G site!

7. Please feel free to comment with your favorite faith-based apparel, and I will update this post with your recommendations as my #7!

Of note: None of these are affiliate links. I just like (and wear) the shirts. 😊 Happy shopping, y’all!

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< king up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for {SQT}!

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