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?
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, retreat, conference, 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, almostnothing) 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:
Please join me LIVE for my very first online workshop with the wonderful Blessed is She ministry next Wednesday. The workshop, calledLiving 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!
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.
Lots of crazy stuff happening in the world today, right? “Crazy” seems like an understatement. I can’t believe the headlines and the feeds and the videos and the photos … it’s just too much.
Sometimes the noise from the media and society at large is enough to make me want to ditch this suburban existence and go off the grid to live in a yurt somewhere in rural someplace.
But then I wonder where I’d get my fancy coffee and a wifi signal and how we’d fit all the kids in such a tight space.
Even when everything seems to swirl around me at justtoomany miles per hour, there are, contrary to what the culture tries to shove down our throats, some absolute truths (and Truths) to which I cling, including:
God is good.
I am His.
I am loved.
Everything is grace.
The Catholic Church is my home.
Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist.
Mercy awaits all who enter the Confessional.
Being a wife and a mother is good, holy, and thoroughly exhausting work.
Heaven is real.
Music lifts my soul.
Almond milk lattes make me happy.
My husband is hilarious.
I love a good bass line.
Each of my children are wonderfully, fearfully made, and I’m lucky to be their Mom.
Jesus Christ is real and I need Him.
Today, I have the honor of contemplating today’s Gospel reading over at Blessed is She. Basically, I’m asking myself – and you – if I truly have the faith to believe that God is Who He says. And, if I do believe it, what am I so worried about?
” … faith isn’t reserved for some moment in the future when we have a minute to spare. It’s for today—it’s for right now. God is on His throne today. Jesus is saving us today. We are His children today. Do we believe?”
God’s got this. He’s got me. He’s got you. If only we have the faith to believe.
Today’s installment of Seven Quick Takes Friday should be known as the #HASHTAG version, because, sweet fancy Moses, this post is rollin’ in ’em. Let’s dig in, shall we?
For the past 30 days, I’ve been writing about the same topic – unexpected joy – every. single. day. as part of the aptly-named 31 days. Wowza. It’s been a huge leap of faith for me to participate – an exercise in creativity, discipline, and sheer guts, and I am dang proud (and, truthfully) more than a little surprised that I’ve actually made it this far. I’ll show you what I purchased for myself to commemorate this feat as sooooon as it arrives. So excited! Meanwhile, please check out all of the posts here.
Since last I participated with SQTF, The Visitation Project has made its debut on iTunes! We are super excited, and can’t wait to share more episodes with y’all. We’d love it if you’d bless us with some happy reviews. Please and thank you so much!
People get ready – Jesus is coming! Friends, the season of Advent is, as of today, LESS THAN ONE MONTH AWAY. Stop screaming (please – you’ll hurt your nice singing voice) and get ye over to the huge blessing that is the Blessed is She shop, where they are pre-selling an Advent journal with devotions by none other than Catholic recording artist Audrey Assad. There’s also some amazing Jesse Tree calendar (with some Scriptural reflections by yours truly and other fabulously talented writers) that will inspire you on your journey toward Bethlehem. Buy the bundle (journal + calendar) and save!
Speaking of calendars, my friend Meg has created this gorgeous liturgical wall calendar for 2015-2016 that will knock your socks off! Each day offers the Mystery of the Rosary, Advent ountdown stickers, Saint of each day, liturgical season color coding, Advent & Lenten Meditations, two Novenas, and much more. If you’ve been itching to live a more liturgically Catholic lifestyle, this is the calendar for you, and at 12″ x 18″, it will surely be a focal point in your home. I can’t wait to use mine!
Speaking of writing about the same topic for 31 days, I plan to write a wrap-up piece about my experience to be published on the CatholicMom.com website this coming Monday if I don’t collapse beforehand. UPDATE: read all about it here.
It’s hard to believe, but tonight (Friday) marks the first organizational meeting for next year’s Catholic Women Rejoice conference, our 5th (!!) annual. I’ve joked that conference planning is a bit like pregnancy + childbirth – it’s simultaneously hellacious and rewarding to live through. Within a few (several?) months, you’ve forgotten the bad parts and are ready to do it all again. Please keep watching the blog and especially the Facebook page for more details. It’s gonna be great!
Okay, so this hashtag isn’t really a hashtag, but dang if it shouldn’t be. I’ve been going at a pretty brisk clip in a lot of areas for quite a while now, and I am starting to feel it in a variety of ways. I went on a silent retreat at the end of September, and while it wasn’t horrible, it was really hard because it became quite clear that I am living a much too stressful existence right now, and something has to give, or my brain and body will eventually give out. I am going to be talking to Jesus and Mary quite a bit in the next season about being more intentional about this. And, yes, I get the irony of talking about allthethings (above) and talking about slowing down (here). I’ve never pretended to be someone who makes sense. 😉
Alright, then – I think that’s it for now! Thanks to the amazing Kelly for hosting yet again; please check out all the other fantastic SQTF entries here. Until next time, God bless y’all!
While some of y’all may think it’s a stretch to link the glories of Christ’s glorious Resurrection this past Easter Sunday to my experience last summer at the Edel Gathering, please bear with me for a minute.
After much convincing on his part, I finally accepted my husband’s offer to, “Go – enjoy – have fun,” when we really couldn’t financially afford for me to do so. Yet, getting on that plane and flying to Austin last July was probably the very best thing I could have done for my personal well-being, and, for that matter, the well-being of my whole family. Because something happened when I walked away for a weekend to connect with other exhausted Mamas who were, nonetheless, holding on to hope and expectant with faith – I was able to remember who I was. And not only that, I was reminded of, in a palpable way, to Whom I belong.
There was an immediate benefit to experiencing get-together that I didn’t have to plan (for a change!), but then there were more gradual changes that I won’t get into now (but maybe someday I will). I see now that there was a part of me – the truest part – that had been wrapped up in the burial cloths of rapid-fire and wholesale life changes, profound personal loneliness, and, as it turns out, an undiagnosed case of postpartum depression – that was resurrected that weekend and in the days that followed.
Here’s the post I wrote about my experience. Many Easter blessings to you, my friends. Alleluia! He is risen! And may you rise with Him as well.
*Originally written August 5  (which is like 13 years ago or something in online time), this post has been aging, like a cheap fine wine, as I impatiently waited for my blog to be released from, ahem, WordPress Purgatory. But that’s another story for another day.
Surprise, surprise – I am late to the Edel after-party!!
Friends, I have started this post in my mind a thousand times. And I just. couldn’t. write. it. Couldn’t. Could. Not.
So many amazing and talented women had already written eloquently and, according to the Facebook comments, really, really beautifully about what happened in Austin last month. I intentionally didn’t read all these incredible blog posts because I was waiting, as I tend to do, for the perfect time – the perfect time to write out my many, swirling thoughts, and then the perfect time to savor everyone else’s. I was waiting. For perfection.
I hadn’t blogged in almost three years, which basically means, in Internet-speak, that I hadn’t blogged since 1864. I obviously needed to update my blog. PANIC!! How can I invite people over to this space?! It doesn’t look or feel right! I need new drapes … or buttons. Something. And content? Lord Jesus! I need time to ponder. I need to think. I need to go out at night, under the cloak of darkness, away from my home, away from the chaos, so I can concentrate. I need to go to Adoration. Okay, the needing Adoration part is almost ALWAYS TRUE. BUT STILL.
And then, somewhere between the piles of dirty laundry (dear God – where does it ennnnd?) and the stacks of filthy dishes, and the fact that school starts next week (whaaaaaat???) I had a moment of clarity, and I finally remembered probably the most important thing I realized at Edel:
God does not want me to be perfect. He just. wants. me.
He wants the me who just shrunk all her new shirts because she forgot they were 100% cotton. He wants the me who procrastinates because the timing (or the something, and the other something, and the something else) isn’t quite right. He wants the me who says awkward things at inappropriate times. He wants the me that is too loud. He wants the me who crashes the dance floor in flip-flops because her shoe strap snapped. He wants the me that is broken, and unsure, and wounded, and spends too much time on Facebook. He wants the me that encourages and prays and stands up on her chair when amazing homeschooling Moms do the robot and the me who shouts, “Amen!” during Marion’s talk.
He wants the me who can still close down a bar with the best of ’em. The me who is often drowning in priorities and diapers and is both confident and hesitant. And friendly and shy and who likes to laugh (again, loudly). He wants the woman who was excited to have a break yet felt very, very guilty for going and almost didn’t. The one who had so much fun live-tweeting during the talks yet admittedly hid behind her self-appointed task so she wouldn’t cry (too much) when the points about being isolated and alone struck too close to home.
He wants all of that. And more. The good, the bad, and the ugly. He wants Heather, His beloved daughter. Heather the wife. Heather the mother. He wants it all. He wants and loves ME.
And still, despite this mini-epiphany, I didn’t write. Womp, womp. Have I learned nothing??! Did I mention it takes me a while?! Late bloomers unite …
So, in a flurry of, “Yes, Lord, I surrender this all to you,” that happened on this very day*, I write this imperfect post – my first third on my own blog since November 2011 (sweet fancy Moses – did they even have the Internet back then??) I decided that, if I don’t write this thing today, it was just not going to get written. So, this post isn’t anywhere near perfect, and in that respect, it is a perfectly accurate reflection of its author.
And there you have it. For now, at least. There are so many more things I want to say – about Edel, and life, and … I may just have to write about them all. Soon. In His timing.