It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

Okay – I admit (yet again) – I’m a big “bah humbug” Halloween All Hallow’s Eve person. Some have wondered why I don’t particularly care for Halloween, so I decided today was as good as any to set the record straight. To clarify:

  • I am not anti-dressing up in costumes. I had a dress-up box as a kid and I wore the heck out of that stuff.all-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-papa
  • I am not anti-creativity.
  • I am not anti-fun. (Hello.)
  • I am not the world’s most uptight, protective parent. Truly. I’m not going to provide evidence to this assertion here, but trust me when I tell you this is not the case.
  • I am not anti-treats, although I don’t want my kids’ teeth to rot out of their heads nor do I want them to develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • I am not even anti-trick-or-treating. More on that later.

What I am is this:

A caring, concerned Mom of young, impressionable souls who doesn’t want her kids subjected to things that could disturb their peace and desensitize their spirits in the name of “fun.”
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I am against:

  • evil
  • sin
  • fear, and
  • anything that makes light of these works of the enemy
  • anything that leads my kids into those works of the enemy

I’ve read my dear friend Rebecca’s post about protecting our kids, and I agree with her – I don’t think a zone of perfect safety exists. I mean, who wants to protect one’s kids to the point that they can’t survive in the real world? It’s our job to help our kids to develop and form their consciences and practical skills so they can, among other things, navigate life out in the big, amazing world beyond the doors to our homes.

Still, there ain’t no way you’re going to convince me that I must – or even should – at least once a year, knowingly subject my progeny to the creepy, gory, scary, gross, and sometimes truly frightening stuff that can be easily stumbled upon Halloween night. Perhaps you disagree. And that’s fine. You and I can agree to disagree, and I’ll still be your friend.

In fact, if you’re my husband, I will still be married to you. More on that later.

Oh, lighten up, Heather. It’s just good, clean fun.
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Sure. I agree: Activities surrounding All Hallow’s Eve can wholesome, and even good. We’ve participated in some really lovely Harvest parties, Trunk or Treat activities, and All Souls’ Day Masses with the kids dressed up as their favorite saint. But some things can also scare the pee out of a kid, and give them nightmares for a good, long while. Ask me how I know. Still sound like “fun?” More importantly, do I, as a Christian Mom, need to expose my younger or more spiritually sensitive kids to things resembling the demonic in a non-controlled environment just because society tells me it’s no big deal?

All the nope.

Perhaps what it boils down to, for me at least, is this: Hell is real. Some people will go there. Satan is real. Some people serve his agenda. Demons are real. Some people are bothered by genuine demonic influence. Evil is real. All one has to do is take a quick look around to realize this is true. I’m not too keen on watering things down to the point where we are unable to identify and avoid evil.

Now – and I promise – my thoughts about Halloween are not (NOT!) a judgement on parents who allow their kids to go trick-or-treating, or to participate in haunted houses, haunted corn mazes, and the like. You are the parent of your children. You are in charge. You know your kids. You know what they can handle. You get to develop your own family culture, just like we as parents do. My preference, as a Mom, is to try to err on the side of Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

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Okay. So now you hopefully (even if you don’t agree) understand what I think about Halloween and why I feel the way I do. If you still disagree with me, you aren’t alone.

Lo these many moons ago, when I still felt like I wanted my children to avoid Halloween altogether, my husband asked me to consider allowing them to go trick-or-treating in select locations. I finally, reluctantly agreed – with one caveat: If they were going to go trick-or-treating, the Renshaw kids were going to dress up as Saints or Biblical characters. End of story. Renshaw kids are going to be lights in the world. Period. My husband finally, reluctantly agreed to my terms.St. Francis of Assisi

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Our alliance has lasted, more or less, for the past 13 years. Yes, there were times when I grew weary of fighting the battle (“Why can’t we wear other costumes? No one else dresses up like a saint!”) and years when we had babies and concocting an awesome saint costume was too much to deal with. We weren’t always a united front. But we soldiered on. Church Militant, and all that.

And now we come to this year.

Once the end of September hit, as sure as Bob’s your uncle, the kids began asking the questions – and complaining – about Halloween. Again. For about the 11th year in a row. And you know what? I stepped aside. I deferred to my husband’s judgment as spiritual Head of our home. He discerned it was okay for our children to dress in non-saint / non-Biblical character costumes for Halloween, so long as they weren’t dressing up as something scary/gory/evil, etc. And I finally, reluctantly agreed.

This year, we have an extraordinarily excited Captain America, Rapunzel, Iron Man, Robin Hood, and Piper McLean of Percy Jackson fame.

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And, while their costumes aren’t exactly my preference, I’ll be saying a covering prayer over each of them, putting blessed salt in their pockets and holy water on their foreheads as I usually do, and walking around the neighborhood with them, rosary in hand. I even bought a little something of my own to wear for the occasion, because, while I may have lost this battle, I sure as heck ain’t ever gonna concede the war.

all-hallows-eve-2016-heather-hoodieall-hallows-eve-2016-featured-imageBe safe out there, y’all. God bless,
heather

 

 

 

Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints Keep Trying; Sinners Give Up (2)

Confession: I haven’t always lived the shiniest life ever. As Freddie Mercury so emphatically sang, ” … and bad mistakes/I’ve made a few.” Or five hundred.

But since my reversion process began, with many starts and pauses along the way, I’ve really tried to walk as a child of the light, and part of that walk, for me, means taking care of myself by not smoking, not drinking to excess, not using illicit drugs, and staying true to my marriage vows.

Am I perfect? Excuse me while I go laugh myself completely off the page. No. I am absolutely not perfect. Just ask my husband and my children. But I keep trying. And trying. And trying. Ad nauseum. My Mom used to tell me growing up that saints keep trying while sinners give up. Well, I haven’t completely given up yet. I surely have a long way to go, but I hope it’s a shorter climb than it was when I was living as a agnostic hedonist 20 years ago.

And there are plenty of temptations, even as a mostly clean-living person. That used to surprise me: “I’m doing the right things! I love Jesus! I pray! I go to Mass every Sunday! I go to Confession! Why am I still being tempted?!” After some prayerful reflection, however, the ongoing temptations made so much sense: Of course I’m being tempted. Usually the enemy will try to get you where he’s gotten you before, and if you aren’t vigilant, BOOM! You’re taken completely off-guard by temptation that you thought you’d conquered years (or months or days) ago. The enemy of our souls doesn’t want us in the game of life at all, and especially not a life surrendered to Jesus, so he’ll use whatever he possibly can to take us out of the game.

Usually any desire I have to backslide is eventually trumped by my desire for Heaven.

Except. I still struggle. For several years now – maybe even for most of my life – the devil has been doing whatever he can to keep me out of the game using something that we all need to survive: food.

It’s not like there’s something morally wrong with food, as can be argued with other addictions. If someone handed me a bottle of vodka, I could graciously decline by saying, “No thanks, I’m cool.” I don’t NEED alcohol to survive, although after long days with lotsa kids, it surely can feel like it! 😉 But with food, man, it’s hard. We need food to survive. Granted, do I need mint M&Ms and pork rinds and chocolate cake to survive? No. But the stuff that nourishes always seems to be right next to the stuff that doesn’t on the buffet table. And so I take some. And eat it. And then I want more, so I eat more. And then I feel badly. So I eat more again. And on and on it goes.

Not only do I have a hard time with self-control and food choices, I really don’t care for exercise. Like, I hate it. That’s not a good combination. After five pregnancies in nine years, I think I probably could stand to lose about 75 pounds. The extra weight I carry contributes to feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue, worthlessness … so many things. And yet, I continue to struggle.

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One of my babies accidentally took this picture of me typing at the computer the other day. This is my fat.

For some reason, I especially struggle with keeping sugar at bay. It’s like my kryptonite or something. Seemingly, a pattern was established from early childhood: I remember the neighbor girl taking me across the street to buy sweets at the corner store. I remember using my garage sale money to buy ungodly amounts of candy. I remember my grandmother greeting me with a box of Red Vines whenever we’d visit. I remember going out for ice cream after each band concert, piano recital, play performance …

Last summer, I really and honestly rallied to make a permanent lifestyle change. After the cloud of post-partum depression from my fifth pregnancy finally lifted, I decided I was tired of being a food zombie, mindlessly eating whatever, whenever, and joined a national weight loss program. I lost weight. I stuck to my guns and lost more. I felt really, really good about my progress. Then we were hit by a cloud of stress including a surprising cross-country move and some other really tough things, and the weight started creeping – and then leaping – back on. I tried to go to meetings, but my previous resolve seemed so very far away and outside my ability.

I don’t know if my attachment to food – specifically to sugar – could be classified as an addiction, but maybe? I sometimes feel powerless to its allure. I have all the resolve in the world … until I don’t. I feel empowered … until I don’t. I exercise amazing self-control … until something like this happens on the day I have a Mother’s helper and am supposed to be working on 5,000 words for my end-of-the-month deadline:

kolbe pantry

And then I want to drink all the sugary coffee drinks in the world to make myself feel better.

Yet …  I only feel better for a tiny window of space and time, and then … I don’t. I feel awful. I’ve fallen. Again. It makes me feel so dumb and helpless. I’m a smart person! I love Jesus! I have overcome so. many. things! Why can’t I overcome this??!

I spoke with my Spiritual Director about self-control the other day. It was interesting, because as I lamented how I frequently don’t feel like I have the power within me to say,”no,” he sagely suggested: “Perhaps, Heather, you need to do this for someone other than yourself.” What he was suggesting was that I offer up my cravings and self-discipline in food choices and exercise as a sacrificial prayer for other people, causes, and intentions. He was encouraging me, in essence to nail my temptation to the Cross.

Little did he know, I have attempted this maneuver before. I even wrote about it on this here blog, and it got a bit of a spruce-up for my very first article (just published) for Ignitum Today. <<EXCITING!!!!!

Bottom line? Perhaps, dear readers, it is time for me to pick up my cross and try yet again. Will you please, please pray for me? I would very much like to know how I may pray for you as I’m on this journey. Maybe you’re struggling with something that’s really tough for you, too, and just don’t know how you’re going to overcome it. Maybe you just need to know that you’re not alone. Feel free to be specific or just say “special intention” in the comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

Oh, and by the way – yes, I did buy that gorgeously blended coffee drink (above) today. But it is sugar-free, half-caffeinated, with non-fat milk. Baby steps, y’all.

Peace,

heather

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.



Holy stressballs, Batman!

Holy stressballs, Batman!

Hello! I have been stuck in a very intense, all-consuming women’s conference and other significant life events vortex lately. Please pay no attention to the caffeine-riddled, dangerously sleep-deprived woman behind the Real Catholic Mom curtain!!! All shall be well. Prayers (and maid service and ice cream treats) gratefully accepted!!

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Meanwhile, please listen in tomorrow from 7-8 a.m. CST to the Live Hour on WNGL for an interview with the sassified Cari Donaldson, author of this fine book. Her Celebrating Real Catholic Women post is forthcoming, complete with (ooh! ahhh!) giveaway … Just you wait and see.

Get behind me, satan

Get behind me, satan

Some days, it just seems like nothing is going right. You can almost see the world, the flesh, and the devil trying to steal the best of what’s left of you.

In these circumstances, I highly recommend you look that darn spirit of whatever-it-is (defeat, depression, frustration, anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, unforgiveness, addiction, exhaustion … whatever it is) RIGHT IN THE EYEBALLS, and, standing firmly in the knowledge that you are the beloved Child of the King of the Universe, say:

“You want a piece of me??!”

And if the spirit of whatever-it-is dares to counter with, “Yes – a piece of you. That is EXACTLY what I was hoping for!” You can calmly reply, “Sure thing, buddy. Sure thing. But first, you’re gonna have to go through Him …

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… and her …

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… and him …

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… and allllll them …

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… and, did I mention, especially Him …

The Resurrected Lord
(Yeah – The Resurrected Lord – you know, the One Who conquered sin and death. Ka-chow!!)

… and a bunch of other friends and loved ones here on Earth who are probably praying for me right this very moment. Soooo … if you still want to bring this fight to my door, to my family, to my Church …

… Go ahead. Make my day.
(Exchange that gun for a rosary, and you’ve got the only weapon you’ll ever need.)

Because, devil, I’ve been bought with the blood of the Lamb. You have no power here. You’re gonna have to steal my peace, my joy, and the unshakable Love of my Heavenly Father from my cold, dead hands.”

Get behind me, satan.