Who Am I?

Who Am I?

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In the silent stillness before dawn, I slowly opened my eyes, reluctant to survey the aftermath of the previous night’s activities. There were empty junk food wrappers strewn about the small room, as well as myriad red cups offering up their remaining contents to the already-stained carpet. The sickly sweet smells of alcohol, incense, and smoke clung to my hoodie and jeans and clouded my memory. As I slowly sat up, I noticed about ten or eleven other teens—male and female—still sleeping in whichever spot they found themselves when they eventually passed out.

As I finally came to, my thoughts came clearly and rapidly: What am I doing here? Is this all there is to life? Is this what my future holds? Who have I become?

Read the rest here.

Photo used with permission by Blessed is She.

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Rejoice. And be free. {My testimony at BiS}

Rejoice. And be free. {My testimony at BiS}

Several weeks ago, when I saw the request, “Can anyone write the devotion for March 7?” it was as if something supernatural compelled me to respond in the affirmative despite my crazy schedule. “I will,” I responded, half-cringing and silently chiding myself for my lack of self-restraint. But then I read the Mass readings upon which I would write my reflection: “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” from the Psalm, and the story of the Prodigal Son – and I almost laughed out loud.

I shook my head with disbelief and then a knowing smile. Man, I thought. I guess it’s time to share my story. Okay, God. Here we go.

Today I share a little piece of my story – a glimpse into how I was seeking God in all the wrong places, yet He beckoned me to journey more closely with Him in spite of my rebellious sinfulness and doubt. 

What He said next forever changed me. Referring to His saving mercy, His redemptive suffering, His unique and total love for me, a wretched sinner, He imparted this command: “RejoiceAnd be free.”

I welcome you to read the rest of today’s reflection at my home-away-from-home.

God bless you as you seek to rejoice in Him, and be free.



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{7QT} On filling the void left by fb

{7QT} On filling the void left by fb

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So, I bit the bullet and gave up the ‘book for Lent. I mean, detachment is good. Deep breath. Repeat after me: detachment is good. Give something up, though, and it’s usually best to take something on, right? Like, a GOOD thing to fill up the hole left by the thing that, maybe, in its own Fbook-y way, has become, well, not-so-good. So while it seems reasonable that I should be filling my extra time with more prayer, family togetherness, extra Masses, plus this, and this, and definitely this, I present to you how I’ve actually been filling the fb void so far:

 1.

More blogging here. And, by more, I mean six posts published since Lent began. Which, by comparison, is double the posts I concocted in all of 2015 leading up to Lent. So, while I’m not posting here every day, it is more than usual, which I predicted. And I am glad! I just … truly didn’t intend to blog this much more during Lent, but there you have it. We’ll see if I can keep it up.

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 2. 

More tweeting. Yeah. I said I wasn’t going to shift my (hyper) focus from fb to Twitter, but what can I say? I’m an extroverted stay-at-home-Mom going absolutely crazy bananas over here some days. I neeeeeeed people and interaction and it’s not always possible to leave the house. And I can stop this Twitter business any time I want to. Really.  I need to just pray more, don’t I?

As usual, too many open tabs.
As usual, too many open tabs.

 3. 

More instagramming. Okay. This social medium is new and shiny to me. I just joined, um, this year (I know, I knoooow). But I haven’t been on horribly much. Really. Honest!

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 4. 

I’m trying not to work on the upcoming Catholic women’s conference too much. But shoot, man! It is going to be AWESOME!! I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MYSELF!!

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 5. 

I just accepted an invitation from Deacon Tom Fox to contribute to the long-running podcast Catholic Vitamins beginning in April (after Lent is over, people), and I couldn’t be more excited! A couple of times a month, I’ll be reflecting on real J  O  Y. Hopefully Dcn. Tom won’t regret his decision after the first broadcast. We’ll see. I will link to new episodes here, of course, so please stay tuned!*

Catholic Vitamins

 

*If you’re feeling particularly magnanimous this tax rebate season and would like to help me purchase some recording equipment, I am gladly accepting donations! RealCatholicMom {at} gmail {dot} com. Seriously. Please. And thank you very much.

 6. 

A super, secret and AMAZING project that is in pre-production as I type! I can’t say anything more here now, but will on March 3 – which is NEXT WEEK! AHHHHH!

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So … you’re probably saying to yourself, “Um, Heather, this is all well and possibly good, but this post seems a) pretty heavy on self-promotion and b) pretty light on, well, holy stuff.” Okay. You got me. Truly, you’re mostly right. You are. If I’m being brutally honest with myself about all the ways I’m filling my time, it does seem, on the outside, that it might not be any better for my eternal soul than all the time I was spending on FB before Lent began. But I assure you, my friends … God is working on me this Lent. I am processing and working and pondering upon things that are not intended for public knowledge – they’re really supposed to be just for me and Jesus right now. God alone knows my heart. He knows if (okay, when) I’m wasting – or abusing – my time. And I can’t say that I’m being The BEST steward of my time at all times, but I truly am trying. I’m trying to be more intentional about what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. I admit I have a long way to go. But thankfully, I don’t have to go much farther any longer to get here:

 7. 

My husband and I just received our keys for the Adoration Chapel nearest our house. I am so, so, so very much looking forward to spending more regular time here with Jesus again. No computer, no phone, no babies who need me – just Him and me. Because, at the end of the day, at the end of Lent, at the end of our life, there is only one thing that matters. And it is right here. At the foot of the Cross. I pray I have the courage and self-awareness to choose the better part this Lent and always.

Jesus, please help me. Saints and angels, hasten to my aid.

Adoration

Linking up with the ultra-rad homeschooling, Whole30ing, mic-dropping Kelly Mantoan at This Ain’t the Lyceum. See what other amazing people are writing about right here.

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These children will be the death of me.

These children will be the death of me.

We’ve been having a difficult time getting going in the morning. It seems like, no matter what I do, somebody (and by somebody, I mean the 3-year-old and/or the 11-year-old) throws a wrench into the flow, everything gets all jacked up, and we’re late for school. Uh-gain.

Anyone who has tried to get more than two people ready and out the door by a certain time each morning knows just how crazy-making it can be. This particular cross is a legit reason, in and of itself, to homsechool, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, in an effort to retain what thread of sanity I have left and to hopefully improve my blood pressure, I’ve been working on streamlining our routine for the past couple of months. Here’s what we’ve been doing:

  • Clothes are selected, backpacks are packed, lunches are mostly made, and shoes and jackets are located THE NIGHT BEFORE.
  • Breakfast is over at 7 o’clock sharp, unless you’re age 3 and under and just woke up.
  • The three away-from-home school kids each rotate through dressing, teeth-brushing, hair-fixing, and last-minute lunch prep after breakfast. We have a rule that no two kids may be doing the same thing at the same time, because that’s just asking for trouble.
  • I help the 2-year-old and the 3-year-old get breakfast and get dressed, unless, by some miraculous occurrence, I can get one of the older kids to help.

The above plan has been working-ish, but we had a major problem this past Friday morning resulting in me falling on the garage steps and sniffling all the way to school and texting my husband that, yet againSOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!!!!!

After talking it over with my other half, the new routine was implemented today: all schoolkids must be dressed and have their lunches completely made before they eat breakfast. And Mommy is in charge of the babies, as usual. Sounds promising, right?

Except … today our schedule was hijacked because … wait for it … I had to go to the bathroom.

What was I thinking??!

Mere moments after I put the 11-year-old in charge, the 3-year-old was running full tilt up the stairs into my bathroom with her eldest sister in hot pursuit.

Man. Someday I will be able to toilet in peace.

Anyway, I will spare you the gory details, but the end result was me, blood boiling, fake-smiling my way through buckling car seats, and pretty much yelling at the older kids regarding listening and caring and helping. Yeah. I get the irony.

I think I might have asked them if they wanted me to suffer from a heart attack and die. Not my finest moment.

Once the kids were safely off to school (five minutes late, but who’s counting?), I texted my BFF and said, “I never knew how far from holiness I really was ’til I started having kids.”

There’s just nothing like having to wake up early after a restless night’s sleep to feed, clothe, corral, nurse, transport, educate, negotiate, soothe, bathe, train, love, discipline, and nurture five sweet, demanding, unbelievably loud and infinitely beautiful little souls to show you just how doggone self-centered you really still are. Especially when the kid who just had a rough time at the doctor’s office wants your snack. After he’s already eaten his.

But I digress.

Having children is like turning on a ginormous spotlight and putting a big, fat mirror in front of your face while hearing a voice sneer, “Neener-neener! You thought you were getting it all together, but this [insert crazy stressed Mom behavior] is how you really are!!”

Reflecting on the tumult of the morning and my response to it, I thought, “These children will be the death of me.”

I sat with that thought for a moment ” … the death of me …” It sounds simply horrible, doesn’t it? Perfectly wretched! But, upon further reflection, I considered what those words really meant and figured, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED.

Anything within me that isn’t love needs to die: the despair; the pride; the selfishness; the anger; the need to control; the fear of failure; the ego-centrism; the entitlement; the lack of gentleness, generosity, and compassion. Just like a really good clearance sale, everything must go.

The Bible tells us that God prunes those whom He loves. And to get to the essence of who I am as His child, to be more a more perfect reflection of Him, I must be pruned. A lot. Which means He must love me an AWFUL lot. Because the pruning? It often feels terribly awful and horrifically painful. Because those who bear the pruning sheers aren’t always gentle, and I’m not always (okay – hardly ever) predisposed to receiving the trimming I need.

But my Heavenly Father knows me well enough to know, as I like to joke, that it would take these five little people to get loud and crazy me to crave silence with Him in Adoration, and to really and truly lean on Him as I’d never leaned before – almost so far that I thought I’d fall over. He knows. Because He knows me. And He loves me. And He’s patiently waiting to see the good fruits that will be borne from this time of pruning as I remain in Him.

I think it’s time to go get some gardening gloves.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Remain in Me, and you will bear much fruit.” -John 15:5

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You got me right between the eyes, Pope Francis.

You got me right between the eyes, Pope Francis.

Wow.

I just read the Catholic News Service story about Pope Francis’ homily at his residence this morning. I was particularly struck by these words:

Being generous toward the church, but selfish and unjust toward others “is a very serious sin: It is using God to cover up injustice,” he said

And these:

Some people may regularly make financial contributions to the church, but, the pope asked, how generous are they toward their loved ones and their dependents? Are they generous and just to them, too, he asked.

People cannot “make offerings to the church on the back of injustice,” he said. “It is not a good Christian who doesn’t do justice to the people who depend on him” and who does not “deprive himself of something essential for him in order to give it to another who is in need.”

The parallels to social justice and fair and equal treatment with neighbor and employee/worker are clear … but what about for me as a wife and mother? Am I soooo very busy with my “important” church-related / faith-related deeds that I fail to show charity and justice, necessary time and attention, to my husband? My children? My parents? My friends and neighbors and extended family?

God is using His Holiness’ words to remind me that when I choose “The Church” or “My Ministry” over the needs of my family, I’m just like the Pharisees with their hollow cleaning of the cups all over again. It all looks well and good on the outside, while the inside is decayed and ineffective.

It’s a delicate balance, this earthly tightrope walk of vocation and avocation, but I’m sure God wants me to not be, as our dear friend would say, “so heavenly minded” that I’m “no earthly good.”

Goodness.

I have a long way to go in rending my heart this Lenten season.Thank you, Papa, for the reminder. Time to go change another diaper and play some Legos.

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