No more.

No more.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but I don’t feel like celebrating. Honestly, today I wish I could just run and hide myself in Mary’s mantle, never to be seen or heard from again. Because I am horrified. Devastated. Grief-stricken. And angry. So, so angry.

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And yet. My Mama Mary is a fighter. She is gentle and loving, but she isn’t taking this wretched evil sitting down. Now way, no how. She shows me that she is crushing the enemy with her bare foot. She shows me she is interceding for her broken children, pleading for us all to return to her Divine Son in Spirit and in Truth. She is showing me that God wins.

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So, today, I’m choosing to be my Mama’s girl. I will choose to be brave. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not leave. I will not give up. I will not allow the sorrow and the anger and the fear to drown out my voice, trample my faith, or usurp my free will. I will stay. And I will fight.

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Today, I join millions of my brothers and sisters on this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, the Church Triumphant — offering what little I have as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise to a God Who is GOOD. Who still sits on His throne. Who is loving and merciful and just. And Who will not. be. mocked.

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I will pick up my rosary. I will offer my little sacrifices of praise and lamentation and fasting. I will ask for answers. I will demand change. And I will pray. Yes, I will pray. Because I am my Mother’s daughter. And the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

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+ Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen. +

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#Solemnity #BlessedVirginMary #Assumption #pray #hope #faith #justice #rebuildMyChurch #nomore #holyday #Catholic #Catholicwoman #bebrave #MamaMary #holydayofopportunity #GotoMass #ComeHolySpirit #JesusITrustinYou #totustuus

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Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends!

Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends!

This past weekend I met up with a whole posse of amazing Catholic women at the NW Catholic Women’s Conference in the breath-taking Bend, Oregon area.

Seeing women of all ages and seasons — single, married, religious, widowed, retired, students — gathered together to celebrate our common faith makes me really, really happy.

In fact, you might say that women’s events are my love language. 

It’s almost like Saint Elizabeth of the Visitation knew what she was doing when she became my Confirmation saint or something …

Anyway, event founder and superwoman Scout and her team did a fantastic job, and I hope that many kind and benevolent souls will step up to support this faith-building endeavor for 2019 and beyond.

High praise hands for speakers Sr. Maximilian Marie, Mary Lenaburg, and Lorissa Horn for inspiring, challenging, and informing!! I’ll be unpacking the truth bombs they threw down for weeks, if not months …

I feel extraordinarily blessed that, through a little thing called the Internet and a conference I used to run, I’ve found some amazing women who are now like sisters to me.

Some might think it’s weird that I find besties online, but then again, that’s where I found my husband, so at least I’m consistent!

However you find your people, community is so important. I keep praying that every person (women, especially) has or finds someone with whom they can have Visitation moments — times when they feel completely seen, known, and loved.

While we’re talking about community, have you listened to the wonderful Danielle Bean’sGirlfriends podcast from Ascension Press lately? She talks about all sorts of things you and I are interested in, and she welcomes some pretty fantastic guests, too (hint, hint).

I was first introduced to Danielle when a Moms’ group at church went through her Momnipotent study. I credit Danielle’s super-helpful content as well as the love and support of new friends for helping me navigate my first-ever postpartum depression diagnosis after our fifth child was born. Needless to say, I wrote my first-ever Amazon review for Momnipotent, and I’m a Danielle fan for life.

For those who are jonesing for the very first ever interview containing exclusive scoop about my first book Death By Minivan(now available for pre-order! /commercial – haha), and how in the world my husband and I felt called to large family life, this is the podcast for you! We had a really fun conversation, and I hope you’ll listen! I can’t wait to talk to Danielle again closer to the book release date.

More soon, friends. Hoping your summer is filled with a whole lot of peace and a generous helping of joy.

With joy and gratitude,

heather

P.S. Some photos from this weekend!

Mary and Heather NWCWC

Reunited and it feels so good … with fabulous keynote speaker and dear friend Mary Lenaburg at the NW Catholic Women’s Conference

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Finally met the amazing Lorissa Horn IRL — in real life! What an inspirational woman, speaker, and small biz owner. Can’t wait to work with her again!

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Sr. Maximilian Marie shared about how her serious boyfriend broke up with her because he thought he was called to the priesthood. He did not, in fact become a priest. His biological sister, however, did have a call to the religious life, and is part of Sr. Maximilian Marie’s order! Sometimes he visits his biological sister, and “It’s … awkward,” said Sr. Maximilian Marie with a smile.

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Gorgeous view from our retreat location in Powell Butte, Oregon

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Breathtaking sunset in the high desert of Central Oregon

So in love with the mountains. This is Mt. Hood, Oregon

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When there’s no baby

When there’s no baby

35162078_10214873928894596_3158134378106716160_o.jpgNote: I’ll be on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air program to chat about this article on Monday, June 18 between 6:15 a.m.-6:30 a.m. ET / 3:15 a.m.-3:30 a.m. (!!!) PT. If it’s any good, I’ll post the link here. 😉

For so many years, I’ve been in the thick of things — up past my neck — submerged in the tiny army that God and my husband and I created and is slowly destroying me in the most painful and beautiful ways, one blow-out diaper and temper tantrum at a time.

I was so overwhelmed by the chaos and the noise and the sheer exhaustion that I couldn’t see this moment coming.

The moment when the eldest is jonesing to get her drivers permit. When the second is a freshly-minted teenager in her own right. When the third is on the cusp of double-digits and the fourth doesn’t need much help keeping up with the eldest three.

And then there’s the fifth. Goodness, the fifth. The one child with whom I’ve been privileged and blessed to be at home. For whom I’ve been on hand to experience every milestone even if I was lousy at documenting it for posterity. Everything about this last child is etched within me; it resides in a place that is at once tender and raw and grateful and strong.

And this fifth child cannot wait to go off to the big school with the big kids. I don’t take it personally.

A part of me is elated and relieved and bursting with pride and giddy anticipation for what comes next. And another, deeper part of me is just plain … bursting. Unraveling. Overcome and undone by it all.

Read the rest here

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One Beautiful Dream – Giveaway!

One Beautiful Dream – Giveaway!

Jennifer Fulwiler, Heather Renshaw, and Kelly Wahlquist at Catholic Women Rejoice 2015
I owe a lot to Jennifer Fulwiler. She and Hallie Lord concocted The Edel Gathering several years back, and because of their “yes,” this weary, overwhelmed Mama of five (with undiagnosed PPD) had the time and space to let her hair down and dust off her latent charisms of “dancing on chairs” and “rapping the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.”
Edel 2014. We bad.

At Edel, I laughed until I cried, cried until I laughed, and met a gaggle of amazing kindred spirits, several of whom are part of my tribe to this very day. I remembered that I like to dance, sing, laugh, and that it is OKAY TO HAVE FUN, dang it! For some reason, I’d forgotten all about who I was and what *I* liked doing beneath the never-ending avalanche of laundry and demanding chaos of large family life.

It was Jen who encouraged me to keep writing and to resurrect my blog. And, while keynoting at our Portland women’s conference the next year, Jen recorded a clandestine clip of me doing my MC thang. She emailed it to her booking agent, saying: “You need to get this person on the Catholic speaking circuit TODAY.” It sounds sort of audacious, but that’s the kind of person Jen is—she dreams big, and inspires others to do the same.

Which leads me to the reason for this post. I’m so grateful to Jen, whose amazing second book, ONE BEAUTIFUL DREAM, launches TODAY!  I hope you pick up a copy for yourself and your friends and allow Jen Fulwiler’s special brand of encouragement to uplift and inspire you to follow your dreams just like she did for me.
But, better yet, wouldn’t it be awesome to WIN a copy? Just in time for Mother’s Day, I have one for YOU or someone you love! Woooooo hoooooo! ???
Follow @realcatholicmom and @jenniferfulwiler for a chance to win THIS BOOK in time for Mother’s Day!

Simply head on over to my giveaway post on Instagram and tag as many friends as you’d like in my feed. You MUST be following me and Jen on Instagram to qualify–I’m gonna check and double-check! The contest ends on Friday, May the 4th (be with you), and I’ll pick and announce a winner on Sunday, May 6th just in time for my birthday. Man, I love giving good stuff away!!

Oh, and … If I look tired in this picture, it’s because I am. LOL ? Motherhood and chasing my blue flame isn’t easy. There are only 31 days until my first book is due to the publisher. THIRTY-ONE. And I’m really feeling the squeeze. There are super early mornings and late nights and lots and lots of prayer and coffee. But I’m happy. Blessed. Clinging to Jesus. That’s the way any of this works–bottom line–I cling to him. Personally, my one beautiful dream is to do all the things I want to do while still getting enough sleep. So.

Okay! That’s it for now–don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Open to U.S. residents over the age of 13 only.

PS: Congratulations again, and lots of love, Jen! Can’t wait ’til the next party! ??????
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How our family life went to the dog(s), part one

How our family life went to the dog(s), part one

With five children in three schools, plus activities, appointments, and work, my husband and I didn’t think our lives were crazy enough. So, we bought a dog.

Meet Lola Rose Renshaw! The cutest, fluffiest, sassiest puppy in all of the motherhood. Good thing she’s cute.

Not just any dog, mind you. I may be biased, but I think our Lola Rose is the cutest little puppy ever. And it’s a good thing, too. Because I know for a fact that she’s been (more or less) absolved of a myriad puppy sins based on sheer cuteness alone.

While I don’t subscribe to the “fur baby/fur Mommy” culture that’s exploded in recent years, I understand how and why hyper-attachment to furry companions is a real temptation.

Read the rest here!

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