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:

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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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Why I can’t quit

Why I can’t quit

Recently, people have noticed that I’m sort of, um, preoccupied, with the upcoming women’s conference. Have you heard about it?? No?? Well, it’s going to be fantastic!

The fifth annual Catholic Women Rejoice conference is happening Saturday, August 20 (that’s in, um, TWO weeks) with Author and blogger Hallie Lord, blogger Mary Lenaburg, Blessed is She Founder Jenna Guizar, best-selling Author, Blogger, and The Visitation Project co-host Rebecca Frech, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample. All the cool kids will be there! Register today! End commercial.

Anyway, the bags under my eyes are carrying their own luggage these days, and I’m not quite my usual perky self. The to-do lists have birthed multiple longer to-do lists, and while the work is beyond plentiful, the laborers are excruciatingly few. 

Over the years, people have peppered me with questions about my involvement with this event:

“Are you getting enough sleep?” No.
“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” Because.
“You have young kids at home!” Yep.
“It’s so much work.” Amen.

“Women are too busy to go to something like this, anyway.” Um, really?

“Why don’t you just give up?“

Why, indeed.

FULL STOP.

My friends, the very best reason to do something is because God asks you to do it. A close second is because the devil doesn’t want you to do it and whispers in your ear that what you’re doing isn’t worth it, and you’re not worth it, and the women who will be served aren’t worth it, and it’s just a big hassle, and you’re underqualified and crazy and you should just give up.

Apparently God made me extraordinarily stubborn for such a time as this, because I will NOT quit, and I will NOT give up.

Time after time, God has shown me that women absolutely do need opportunities like this. They need space for community, for fellowship, for encounter. For praise. And, like the little boy giving Jesus what he had to help feed the crowds, I believe God can take what precious little I give and use it to bless and heal women, their families, whole communities, and our broken and beautiful world, all for His greater glory.

Sr. Miriam 2013

What we Catholic women are doing – trying to live faithfully and joyfully – is an utterly counter-cultural existence. That’s right – we’re rebels. The Pacific NW, where I live, is consistently cited as one of the most unchurched areas in the nation, with Catholics as the crystal-clear minority or minorities. And we can feel it. We hear:

“You know what causes that, don’t you?” as we shop with our children in the grocery store.

“How come you let a bunch of old men in Rome to tell you what to do?” as we engage in the workplace.

“Why aren’t you taking more time for yourself and going on some exotic vacation?” as we pursue social media.

“Why do you need to confess your sins to a priest?” as we chat with our friends.

“Isn’t it enough to just be a good person?” as we talk with our neighbors.

“Live and let live, man,” as we’re told by our legislature.

Time after time our culture tells us: “That may be your truth, but it’s not my truth,” and, my favorite: “Be more tolerant,” as society drifts further and further away from the actual Truth.

Between you and me, as a Catholic woman, I have felt very alone in our society. I have felt isolated. I have felt extremely discouraged. I have believed the lie that I am the only one trying to do this work – this beautiful, difficult, amazing work – that Catholic women do. I have cried myself to sleep, wondering *where my people* were, and whether I would ever find them.

Eventually, though, I decided to quit complaining and do something. Since there wasn’t anything happening in my area where a big group of Catholic women could get together and be joyful about being Catholic women, I was going to start something. And so, with no money, no location scouted, and no speakers booked, I began planning the first general Catholic women’s conference in the Pacific Northwest with nothing but faith, hope, and a telephone.

I didn’t know if anyone would show. But they did. And they kept coming back.

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Catholic Women Rejoice and other conferences like it exist because someone decided to take a chance on the idea that women need a place (even if it’s only once a year) to gather together outside of Sunday Mass and know that we are most certainly not alone, that who we are as women matters, and that the gift of our common Catholic faith is something for which we should rejoice!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with connecting with other women online – in fact, it’s probably where I connect with friends most consistently, because that’s the season of life in which I find myself. But there is something about seeing other women – being in their presence – looking into their eyes and seeing the underlying compassion and deep understanding that transcends spoken language: “You get it.” 

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At a typical Catholic women’s conference, participants are free to be fully themselves without fear or worry. A woman can bless herself and her food before eating and no one will give it a second thought. Another can nurse her baby while enjoying a conversation. Someone can be comforted in her struggles with infertility. Another can discuss the Pope’s latest encyclical, or the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning. Still another can steal away to the Adoration Chapel for a few quiet, distraction-free moments with Jesus.

No one will be accused of being a Papist. Or a bigot. Or an idol-worshipper. Or a hater. Or a breeder. Or a weirdo. We can celebrate Mass, go to confession, and pray. We can sing, laugh, and praise. We can ask Mary and the saints and each other to pray for our needs. We can eat good food that is still warm that we didn’t have to prepare ourselves. And, you know what? We can have FUN. You know, like, smiling ’til your face hurts, laughing ’til you can’t breathe anymore, fun.

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I honestly believe that Catholic conferences and events uplift women and reinvigorate them to go back into the world and do God’s will through their individual vocation*, whatever it may be. They remind us that we are not alone in this work. They remind us that we are Catholic. And that we are strong, resilient women – wonderfully, fearfully, and beautifully made. And because of these things, we are free to truly rejoice.

And so, as I continue to wade through my myriad to-do lists, I am praying for all the women who will come to Catholic Women Rejoice, or any other conference, for that matter, that in that time and space with their sisters in Christ, they will encounter Jesus and emerge renewed and transformed. And after that? After that I’ll sleep.

Even if women’s conferences aren’t your “thing” or you can’t attend or organize one this year for whatever reason, you could donate to  our scholarship fund, sponsoring another woman to attend, contact me about putting an ad in our program or supporting us as an underwriter, or – most importantly – we are so grateful for your prayers! And I will keep praying for you. ❤️

*Whether a woman is a stay-at-home Mom, a career woman, a single woman, a religious, a work-inside-or-outside-the-home Mom, discerning her vocation, not a Mom, retired, a full-time volunteer, an Auntie, Grandma, high school student, college student, or any other iteration of Catholic woman of goodwill, she is welcome at Catholic Women Rejoice.

Grandma A

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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.

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7 Quick Takes about my stalker (-cough-Mother Teresa-cough-)

7 Quick Takes about my stalker (-cough-Mother Teresa-cough-)

— 1 —

A funny thing happens when you finally decide to name a particular holy person (<ahem>BlessedTeresaofCalcutta<sniff>) as the patron of an event you’re planning. I don’t remember reading the fine print regarding such an alliance in the Catechism, but apparently, naming aforementioned holy person and using one of her quotes as your conference motto

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gives aforementioned holy person license to stalk bless you with her presence. Randomly. And without warning. On the regular. For example:

— 2 —

There I was, mostly minding my own business, feeling particularly discouraged about some pretty serious things, a few of which directly related to the conference, and there, out of the complete blue sky, was a direct message from someone I don’t know particularly well and hadn’t heard from in months. Clicking on the message, I saw this:

Oh, wow! It's Mother Teresa!
Oh, wow! It’s Mother Teresa!

“From my friend Steve,” read the DM, “I remembered my [New Year’s] promise to you … to help you become the best version of yourself … I promised to send you art …and this is as good as I can do right now.”  Uhhh. Ohhhkay.

I stood there in stunned silence, tears welling up in my eyes. As I gazed upon Mother’s weathered face and into her holy eyes, I whispered, “I see you, Mother Teresa,” and I could almost hear her saying, with a bemused chuckle in her voice, “I see you, too.”

— 3 —

Fast-forward a few days, and my friend (with whom I shared the story of the randomly beautiful Mother Teresa painting in my FB) says, “Have you looked at the parish calendar yet? Tomorrow is September. Just wait until you see!”

Teresa Calendar

I had to laugh. Of COURSE her picture was featured this month. Of COURSE her Feast Day was coming up. If I even knew, at one point, that her Feast Day was in September, I’d completely forgotten amidst the whirling dervish that has been my life as of late. I started joking with my husband that Mother Teresa was like Roz from Monsters, Inc.: “I’m keeping my eye on you.”

— 4 —

And then, as I was looking over my writing schedule, I noticed that I’m hoping to submit something for Dianna about faith-building resources. “Hey,” I thought to myself, “What about that book two different people gave us last year that we haven’t even read yet?” I picked it up and looked at the cover. Sho’ nuff.

Left-hand side sporting the sari. Yup.
Left-hand side sporting the sari, y’all. Yup. That’s Mother.

— 5 —

And then, I’d promised to bring our neighbors dinner because her father died recently, and they were returning on Monday from his out-of-state memorial services. I’d really been looking forward to hearing Fr. Gaitley speak that evening in the next state, but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to deliver the meal AND make it on time for the talk with an hour and a half drive to get there. It was then that I suddently remembered the Glory Story about Mother Teresa, who learned the “Gospel on five fingers,” as her mother explained it: “(1) You (2) did (3) it (4) to (5) me.” My stalker happens to be an excellent “brass tacks” kind of catechist. It was, what you parenting types might call, “a teachable moment.”

If you can't feed

— 6 —

And then, yesterday, we had our “30-days-to-go-until-the-conference” core team meeting. I kid you not – this text (which I apologize is tough to read) came through in the middle of our meeting:

The text reads: "USCCB: CallToPrayer: May the witness of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta teach us that we belong to one another."
The text reads: “USCCB: CallToPrayer: May the witness of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta teach us that we belong to one another.”

— 7 —

There you have it – pretty much 7QT about Mother Teresa – a blessed soul who, once invited, loves to show up to the party and hang out with you. All the time. In various and sundry ways. These experiences have honestly made the Communion of Saints come alive for me in a way I’d never experienced (at least on this level) before.

Oh – before you leave, and in honor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta – I humbly invite you to prayerfully consider donating to help this young man obtain a service dog that will greatly aid in his quality of life. Because, as Mother has shown me over the last two weeks, we really do belong to one another.

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Por mas Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!