When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

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Hi, friends!

It’s a new day and a new week. I’ve been trying to get caught up on allllllll the things (including a new blogging/writing schedule! Hopefully coming soon!) after the incredible Catholic Women Rejoice conference, traveling to Minnesota for the wonderful Blessed is She team retreat and shortly thereafter to Alabama for the amazing Called To Love conference, and then I started my very first Whole30 eating regimen (no dairy, gluten, sugar, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum) because woah, Nelly – my health / #selfcare – and then I promptly got sicker than a dog.

Full stop.

My friends, it ain’t easy to rejoice and be free when you’re lying on your back, unable to move.

All I can say is: Please pray for my husband, who has been tirelessly (okay – that’s not exactly true – he is really, genuinely exceptionally and understandably! tired) holding onto the down-ish parts of the completely disheveled fort-like residence (read: he’s been minding the children, shuttling the children, cooking most of the meals, doing nearly all the myriad domestic things) while I’ve been away+away+convalescing. OY. That poor man. Oremus: Mike’s hard lemonade him patience, O LORD. Amen. 

Today, thankfully, is a new day. I feel better; I’m not burning up with a fever, my nose isn’t leaking like a faucet, and I don’t frighten my preschooler with my cough (or my pathetic sick face) anymore.

To celebrate, I decided to “treat” myself to an iced coconut milk latte this morning. And then I tasted the drink. Not yummy. At all.

Oh, well. There’s been plenty in the world for which to offer up bad coffee lately, yes? I’m thinking Hurricane Matthew, this recent announcement, and the impending Presidential, erm, political process, to name a few. There have been other, more personal things, too, like my sister being in the hospital unexpectedly for not one but two emergency surgical procedures over the weekend. Thank God she appears to be on the mend! Then there’s the birth of amazingly cute babies, and spunky bitty babies for whom we’re still praying, friends experiencing difficult career transitions, friends struggling in their marriages … the list of intentions is endless. I’m sure God is all, “Woah. That list, Heather,” when He sees me coming.

And thennnnn there’s the fast-approaching (uhhhh …. THIS WEEKEND) retreat with Sr. Miriam. That’s a whole ‘nother story for another day. Suffice to say, I obviously didn’t schedule enough time to be a human being rather than a human doing and it has caught up with me. Again. 

I dunno about you, but I have plenty to keep my mind occupied from this very next second until Kingdom come, but … in the latest issue of the Catholic Sentinel, I talk about what to do when you’ve just had an amazing get-away with Jesus and His people and then … real life sets in. As it does.

So, there you are, minding your own business, basking in the Holy Spirit-induced glow of your latest retreat, conference, or super-godly gathering, and BAM — real life hits you square in the nose. And then the jaw. And then the gut. A few times. And a big stomp on the baby toe juuuuust for good measure. Just to ensure that not only are you really down for the count, but you’re humiliated, too, because it was the baby toe of all things.

Read the rest of my regular Mea Maxima Cuppa column here, and, for the love of sweet Baby Jesus and all His many stable animal friends, please don’t let anything – not hurricanes, not head colds, not unemployment, not grouchy partners, not ANYTHING – steal *your* Jesus shine, my friend. He is with you. He is with me. And that’s the good stuff that will stick, if only we allow it.

God bless y’all,

heather

 

 

Photo credit: the amazingly talented Ann Cereghino at the 2016 Catholic Women Rejoice conference. Book her today!

 

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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.

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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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