Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Last night, as I was compiling today’s to-do list, I noticed that things on my calendar are looking a bit, um, squishy again, which means I am trying to shoehorn too many things into not enough time and it’s getting pretty … uncomfortable. I suppose juggling multiple obligations for multiple family members, end-of-school year stuff, traveling (for super happy reasons!!), writing and speaking gigs, and, oh, a MOVE (!!) can do that to a person.

{{{S Q U I S H}}}

= life without abundance; life not centered upon Jesus Christ

Thanks be to God, squishiness is no longer my preferred state of being, especially since I’ve realized: a) it’s completely unhealthy for me and, by extension, my family; and b) with God’s help, I can prevent the squish from taking over.

What I’m learning from this side of my epiphany is this: To remain un-squished, one must be mindful and intentional about remaining un-squished. Somebody embroider that gem on a pillow!! LOL

I don’t know about you, but I desire a more abundant life. I don’t want to live in the squishiness that feels full, but is really only full of lack. I don’t want to feel as though life is bearing down on me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me and my family at any given moment. I want to be whole, healthy, and healed.

We all need time away to reflect, replenish, and renew, regardless our station and season in life. It’s okay to recognize our need to put some distance between ourselves and our “squishiness” (whatever that means to you) and connect with our Heavenly Father. Even Jesus Christ (Who–spoiler alert–was actually God) spent regular time alone in prayer. Last time I looked, I am not God. So … why do I think I am better than He? Why do I think I can just keep striving and rolling and trying … and not take time to simply be with Him?

Here are some ways I conscientiously work toward unsquishifying my life, in no particular order:

1) Prayer

Instead of rewarding myself with chips or brownies (heyyy–don’t judge), I’ve been trying to take a moment to hang out with God instead. It may sound silly, but that little bit of time in prayer gives me something those extra calories and fat grams never could–communion with the One Who made me, sees me, knows me, loves me, and Who will never, ever leave me feeling shame, regret, or isolated, unlike an empty bag of potato chips. The great thing about prayer? It comes in many forms, and can be done pretty much anywhere I am.

2) Silence + Adoration

I realize silence can be super difficult for some, especially if you’re knee-deep in the throes of family life, or struggle with Constant Brain Swirling-itis, like I do. Lately, I’ve been slipping away to spend regular quality time with Jesus in the silence (well, usually) of the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Sometimes I pray the rosary or a chaplet; sometimes I thank Him for my blessings; sometimes I wrestle with a problem or ten … it honestly doesn’t matter if I don’t say or do anything; what matters is that He is there, and, in the silence, He is able to speak to my soul. Whether I only have five minutes or (preferably) an hour or more for silence, it always leaves me feeling more peaceful, more joyful, more wellness in my soul.

3) Sacraments

There’s nothing like a big (or little) splotch of sin to make me feel squishy. I don’t care how much vacation time you’ve earned, or how big that bonus check was, or how clean and tidy your house is, or how many 5ks you’ve run. Sin = squish. It’s a different kind of squish, sure, but praise God if sin makes you feel even the slightest bit squishy; that means your conscience is working! Get thee to the Confessional–stat! A good Confession is a sure path toward unsquishification.

How long has it been since you worthily received Jesus Christ–Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity–in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist? Receiving Jesus = instant unsquishification. Will you still have problems when you’re worthily and regularly pariticpating in the Sacraments of the Church? Well, sure. But your perspective will change. And your priorities might, too. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself if you aren’t already.

4) Retreat + Conferences

I’ve written about the amazingness of retreats before, but it bears repeating: take some time away for God to refresh your soul. Whether it’s just you and the Big Guy on a self-directed silent retreat or you and 400+ of your closest friends at an annual conference, we were made for communion. A retreat or conference is a wonderful way to reconnect with Creator and faith community.

Which leads me to an important invitation: Will you join us this June? 

NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

The first-ever Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference is happening in just a few short weeks near beautiful Bend, Oregon.

Women from all over the Pacific Northwest (and beyond!) are welcome to grow in our beautiful Catholic sisterhood June 23-24 at the Diocese of Baker Retreat Center in Powell Butte. Make friends, be with Jesus, and get a spiritual jump start to your summer!

You’re invited to join me, Kelly Wahlquist, and Sr. Maria Gemma as we share on the conference theme: Abundant Life in Christ. Adoration, Holy Mass with Bishop Liam Cary, and ample opportunity for Confession round out the schedule. Several awesome vendors will be on-site, providing resources and material to assist you in your faith journey. Three meals are provided with your registration fee.

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Check out the gorgeous grounds of the retreat center! It’s located right under the Three Sisters Mountains, appropriately named Faith, Hope, and Charity. Limited on-site lodging is still currently available, as are nearby hotel options.

Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nez
Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nerz

Registration is limited, and closes soooooon (June 20, 2017), so reserve your spot (and one for your sister, your friend, your neighbor, your aunt, your niece, and your other friend) TODAY!NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

It would be soooo wonderful to see you in Bend this Summer! You’ve been warned, though–I’m a hugger, but I will settle for a hearty handshake. 😉 So, my friends, until Bend, I’d love to hear from you in the combox: What are your go-to tips for “unsquishifying” your life?

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{SQT} So Much Awesome, So Little Time

{SQT} So Much Awesome, So Little Time

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Sometimes life is so busy you don’t even have time to catch your breath and tell anyone what’s going on. Thank God for the opportunity, a day late (natch), to exhale for a minute (brushed my teeth – promise!) and share some of the incredible stuff that’s been happening in my little corner of the world.

 1. 

Recording with these ladies was a tremendous blessing. We laughed waaaaay more than is likely legal in the contiguous United States and abroad, yet we still managed to complete everything on our production schedule (thank You, Holy Spirit!). I’m so incredibly grateful to them for their generous friendship and I’m especially excited to spill even more beans about The Visitation Project in late April.

 2.  

And that’s a wrap for our first round of recording – time to celebrate! Bottoms up!

 3.  

The last few weeks have been so great, but honestly, also pretty stressful for me. There’s a ton of stuff I feel called to do, but I don’t want my family to suffer, you know? Although I worked outside the home the majority of our marriage, I’ve been a SAHM the past two-plus years, and it appears I’d forgotten the specific struggles working-outside-the-home Mamas face. My hat is off to those valiant women who work outside the home and still manage to hold everything together en casa. Ladies, I salute you, and pray God blesses the work of your (seriously full) hands.

 4.  

Taken at a local Lenten prayer retreat … So beautiful, meaningful, and necessary during this penitential time of the year.

 5.  

The Rock and Worship Road Show with Mr. Matt “I speak Elvish” Maher and the glowing Shaina.

 6. 

 The Enforcer and I took turns attending a days-long Lenten Mission led by our dear brother in Christ, Richard Lane. We even took the whole kit and kaboodle to Adoration and Benediction the second-to-last-night, and against all odds, there were no casualties!

 7. 

    
After so much awesomeness and no real sign of the jam-packed “to-do” list letting up anytime soon, I was grateful to steal away for a little while to our beloved local retreat house not once but twice this week – yesterday with just my babies and our friend with her babies, and today with the whole family. I’ve always felt it to be a place of genuine refuge, and today’s visit, albeit super brief, didn’t disappoint because (of course!) God is faithful.

Bottom line? No doubt I’m an incredibly blessed child of God. I pray for the grace to wholeheartedly glorify Almighty God, the Giver of all good gifts, through all the various times and seasons of my life.

Until next time,

Peace.

heather

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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{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!

IGProfile

 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!!

Catholic Women Rejoice Graphic NEW

 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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{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!

{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!

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Since I’m usually running behind on most things (hellooo, recovering perfectionist/adrenaline junkie/busy mom of five/late bloomer), I thought there might be others who are struggling with what they can do this Lent and scrambling to choose easy yet edifying resources. I realize Lent has been blogged about to death already. But, if you’re like me, and you sometimes think, “I’m so late to the party, I might as well stay home,” this post is for you. While my list isn’t exhaustive, I’m not listing anything I wouldn’t do, haven’t done, or am not attempting to do right now. ‘Salright? ‘Salright.

7. ONLINE RESOURCES: Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part one

Best Lent EverWord on Fire

  • Lots of friends are signed up for Matthew Kelly’s Best Lent Ever program, and if it’s like the rest of Kelly’s offerings, it’s bound to be excellent and transformative.
  • Although not Lent-specific, Blessed is She offers daily readings and devotions directly to your email box. The great news is, once you’re hooked on the practice of meditating upon the daily readings this Lent, you can continue the practice all. year. long. Winnnnning!
  • Fr. Robert Barron from Word on Fire will send you daily emails this Lent to keep you on track, too. Really good stuff, and it’s free!

6. JOURNALS & MEDITATIONAL HELPS: 

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  • Blessed is She Lenten Journal – While the paper versions sold out, the super good news is you can still download a digital version for under $15! The other good news is, I think there will be another journal available for Advent. Woo hoo!
  • The Little Black Book – Maybe your parish already stocked up on these bad boys and is offering them for free. If not, you can order one (or many) for waaay cheap in regular or e-book format. About five minutes a day is all it takes to read the scripture and short meditation, and I love that it fits easily into a small purse or, let’s be real, my diaper bag.

5. BOOKITY-BOOKSYou know – the kind you read. 

consoling the heart of jesus

loved as I am

walking wtih purpose

I like to have a few titles available to read for Lent just in case one is awesome and I race through it or if, for some reason, God isn’t calling me to read one selection just now, or, frankly, I find I just don’t like one I’ve chosen. You may notice that the following titles aren’t even explicitly about Lent. And that’s okay. Pick what speaks to your heart. Here’s my short list:

  • Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. This do-it-yourself retreat has, sadly, been sitting on my bookshelf for months. I have picked it up a few times, yet never dove in. After being completely transformed by the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration process in 2013, however, I know I can trust Fr. Gaitley’s material to bring me closer to Jesus and His Church.
  • Loved as I Am by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT. I’ve been putting this off for several months now because, as I skimmed the first few pages, I realized I wasn’t reading the words of a typical memoir; rather, I was reading words that were going to challenge, pierce, and potentially convert me. Sounds like a good choice for Lent to me.
  • Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brinninkmeyer. The author’s last name might be tough to pronounce, but it’s easy to get ahold of this well laid-out book from Dynamic Catholic. It’s only $5.95 for shipping (U.S.), and there’s a free downloadable study guide here. Whether I’m able to do it this Lent or not, I’m reading this book. Oh yes, I am.

4. OTHER STUFF: Things I found helpful and/or pretty aka Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part twoglory of god bis

  • Lacy over at Catholic Icing always has amazing resources for families with children.
  • Kendra at Catholic All Year has a big, fat post chock full of Lent-y goodness right here.
  • Bonnie has some Sheenazingly beautiful graphics at her site. Not specifically Lent, but apropos all the same. Plus, she’s coming here next month (see below). Y’all better come!
  • Sarah wrote one of my most favorite posts on repentance (don’t be afraid; it’s probably not what you’re thinking – it’s about self-care and it’s completely awesome).
  • Last but not least, Sterling created this awesome worksheet – 40 days of suffering – that she kindly offered permission for me to share with y’all. It is BRILLIANT in its simplicity: indicate a person, organization, or cause for whom you’ll be offering up your suffering for each of the 40 days of Lent.

3. COMMUNITY Do something more, different, or new this Lenten season.

Power of PrayerRichard Lane Mission

  • Is your parish or one nearby having a Lenten retreat? Even Jesus had to take time away in the desert! Make plans now to attend!  Here’s one for women in the Pacific NW featuring my friends Bonnie Engstrom from A Knotted Life and Sterling from Beauty in Belief. I hope to see you there.
  • Here’s a Lenten mission for the whole family with my brother Richard Lane. I guarantee it will be Holy Spirit-filled!
  • Many parishes offer a light soup/supper and/or Stations of the Cross, especially on Fridays (that’s tonight, by the way). Find one in your area, and make it so. If nothing like these events are happening in your (Arch)Diocese, perhaps you’re being called to organize something for next Lent! Think about it.

2. CHURCH Go hang out there more.

  • Go to Confession. Too afraid? Tell the priest. There is an ocean of Divine Mercy awaiting you in the confessional, my friend. What better way to celebrate Jesus in all His resurrected glory than in a state of unblemished grace?
  • Add an extra daily Mass at least once a month, twice a month, once a week, or as often as you are able.
  • Adoration. Find the Adoration Chapel nearest you and go. to. there. as often as you can. I’m trying for a couple times a month, but hope to get to once a week. And, finally:

1.  FRIENDLY ADMONITION Here’s where I beg.

I implore  you: please, for the love of God and all things holy, do not attempt to do all of the things on this list. Lent isn’t about checklists, remember? It’s about rending our hearts and being in closer relationship with Christ. Put down the mental and/or physical checklist and pray. Ask your Heavenly Father to speak to your heart, and choose to do only one thing, like Mary in the Gospel.  And stick with it.

Peace!

heather