Blessed Am I: An update and an invitation

Blessed Am I: An update and an invitation

Happy Thursday, friends! It’s been an especially busy and fruitful season for ye olde Real Catholic Mom. Not necessarily for this here blog, as you may have noticed; this poor thing tends to be relegated to the sidelines whenever Mom’s dance card is full with family, conference, retreatconference, retreat, and convention. Woof.

As much as I absolutely love traveling and sharing The Good News with other women and experiencing incredible, Holy Spirit-infused Visitation moments (#myjamforlife), there’s something rather precious and sweet about having nothing (okay, well, almost nothing) on my calendar leading into the holidays except for “normal” Wife-of-one-and-Mom-of-five stuff, which, quite honestly, is plenty for any soul, especially a former (ugh! I cannot tell a lie!) current Martha-holic like me with uniquely challenging and beautiful children like ours. I feel like these blessed blanks on my calendar are God’s way of gently guiding me closer to hearth and home, allowing Him to expertly guide this busy ship to shore for a bit of leave.

My challenge: To honor the blanks and not rush to fill them to overflowing like the recovering human doing that I am.

But y’all must know by now that I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t share a bit of what’s coming up, and they are good things, friends – very good things. To that end, here are my personal invitations to you and yours:

living-abundantly-workshop

Please join me LIVE for my very first online workshop with the wonderful Blessed is She ministry next Wednesday. The workshop, called Living Abundantly Through Forgiveness and Healing, streams live at 6 p.m. PST // 9 p.m. EST or can be downloaded after the event closes if the live time doesn’t work with your schedule. My prayer is that you’ll leave the session encouraged and strengthened to completely release any nagging bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness behind so you may close out this glorious Year of Mercy with a renewed sense of healing and wholeness.


Speaking of slowing down and digging deep … Advent is coming. I know, I know. But! As with everything, it is an opportunity to draw closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. From the Blessed is She website:

You want to dive deeper into the season of Advent, you desire to lay aside the busy-ness this season can become, and you yearn for a deeper relationship with our Lord. Here is your chance. Here is your time to grow closer to Him, to learn more about Him, and to fall more in love with Him. “Together, let’s prepare our hearts and our very lives for the coming of the Baby.” // Elizabeth Foss, author of By the Manger in the Morning Prayer Journal

***Please note: Clicking through to the BIS website via the above image or the hyperlinked title financially benefits, in a small yet meaningful way, my friend and fellow prayer warrior/speaker/writer/uplifter, Mary Lenaburg. Thank you kindly for your generosity!


For local friends, I’ll be at St. Cecilia Parish again this year for their Women With Spirit Advent Recollection on Tuesday, December 6th at 7 p.m. Stay tuned for more details!


Finally, dear friends – would you please pray for me? The Holy Spirit has really been working on my heart these past few months, and even more intensely these past few weeks. I want to be able to be still (neither my best nor my most natural posture) to listen to and, more importantly, cooperate, with His leading.

Until next time, please know of my prayers with and for you.

heather

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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!

heather

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I’m running away, y’all

I’m running away, y’all

airplane
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.

Typical.

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.

heather

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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,

heather

photo courtesy Blessed is She

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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. 

heather

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