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.

CWR12

CWR13

CWR14

CWR 15 photo

CWR15

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.

BIS photo

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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

C2L14

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{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!
Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!

Hey, everyone – sorry it’s been a while. I didn’t even get over here to post a link to my latest Blessed is She post (boo, Heather – bad blogger!). And I haven’t written my personal recap of Edel 2015 yet, either, although I did do this one last year, and I did do a sort of “rallying cry” post about women’s conferences in general for my girl Rebecca over at Patheos.

My last post here was about being sick. And, while I’m better (it wasn’t consumption – it was bronchitis), I am still pretty wiped out a lot of the time But the wiped-out-edness might also be because the TVPCrew and I are recording our next round of episodes beginning tomorrow (15 episodes in all) AND I’m co-hosting the first Blessed Brunch Wednesday, and, overall, scrambling trying to advertise, promote, fund, organize, and generally deliver the women’s conference I hadn’t planned on being responsible for this year.

Is that seven things yet? Well, it should be if it isn’t. So, while all these other things are swirling about (and my husband’s starting a new job in a week – NBD), I had a chance to write my latest post for CatholicMom.com, aptly titled, “When Mama doesn’t have time to be sick.”

Okay – who *does* have time to be sick, anyway? Not many people I know, that’s for sure. But for busy Moms hoping to enjoy summer vacation with their families while simultaneously tackling a “to-do” list the length of a pro-NBA player’s arm, now, sweet Baby Jesus, is not the time to be sick. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been struck with a pesky illness during these hot summer days, and wonder how to take care of yourself amidst the loads of laundry and bickering siblings and phone calls that need returning.

Please read the whole thing and love it and hold it and call it George here.

Until next time, y’all, take GOOD CARE of yourself. You are worth it!

heather

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Vintage RCM: The Catholic Mom’s “Drop-Kicked Into Reality” Prayer

Vintage RCM: The Catholic Mom’s “Drop-Kicked Into Reality” Prayer

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Originally published after Edel ’14, the truths and sentiments behind this prayer are timeless. While Edel’s impact on my life resonates so much more deeply than these few sentences can convey, here’s my offering of support for my sisters once we’re back in “the real world.” The best, my friends, is yet to come. <3

The Catholic Mom’s “Drop-Kicked Into Reality” Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, King of rowdy, stubborn children, Redeemer of questionable smells and short tempers, Savior of misplaced shoes, boo boos, messy kitchens, blowout diapers, endless dishes (and laundry and more laundry), double-booked activities, practices and lessons, burned food, cold coffee, clogged toilets, and uniquely depleted Moms, I earnestly pray that the grace received through our Edel experience sustains me as I build my domestic cathedral in the hidden recesses of my home. May I reach out to my Edel sisters for unconditional support and encouragement because, after all, they *know.* May I please, dear Jesus, not allow my sister to drown in plain sight when I sense she is in need. But most importantly, Lord, may I seek You, before and above all else because, when everything is said and done (or necessarily left undone), YOU’ve got this, Lord – You’ve got me, my family, and allllll the beautiful messiness that is my life in the palm of Your hand because You love me as if I were your one and only. I offer all I say and do for Your glory through the intercession of the best Mom around, our Blessed Mother Mary. In Jesus’ Name – Amen!

+Venerable Edel Quinn, Pray for Us!+

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So much awesome: Series launch | Celebrating Rebecca Frech | Giveaway Time!

So much awesome: Series launch | Celebrating Rebecca Frech | Giveaway Time!

TIME FOR A NEW SERIES!

I am suffering from a raging case of bad news fatigue, my friends. It’s everywhere I turn; it’s unavoidable! Sometimes all the evil, false, and ugly becomes a bit too much for my little brain to process. So, rather than curling up in the fetal position on my couch with a bottomless tub of ice cream and posting pictures of kittens on FB, I decided to shine a little light on some pretty amazing Catholic women who are making this world a better place in their own unique way. Without further ado, welcome to the very first installment of Celebrating Real Catholic Women! Because sometimes, we need permission to ponder the good, true, and beautiful. Sometimes we just need a break from the bad.

CELEBRATING REAL CATHOLIC WOMEN: REBECCA FRECH

Ain't she purty??
Ain’t she purty??

I first “met” Rebecca online by way of her underrated blog, Shoved to Them. Soon thereafter, this homeschooling newbie had a copy of Rebecca’s latest book in my hands, and, imagine my surprise when she not only generously responded to each and every one of my petty and profound homeschooling questions, but proved to be somewhat of a kindred spirit. Rebecca is extremely talented and resourceful, and she is fiercely intelligent and wickedly hilarious, which I truly appreciate. We finally met “IRL” at Edel, and I can honestly say she is even more awesome in person! I recently caught up with Rebecca for a quick conversation in between history lesson planning, writing, and laughing about cultural differences.

Real Catholic Mom: So, Rebecca, you’ve had a blog for quite a while and even wrote a book. Why and how did you start writing?
Rebecca Frech: I started blogging out of boredom and loneliness. We had just moved to a neighborhood of elderly people; it was just the blue haired women and me. I needed people to talk to, so I started a blog. I never really thought that anyone would read it or that I would have much to say. I figured I’d blog for a few months until I found real life friends, just to help me over the hump.

Writing the book was definitely a calling. I had never read a single homeschooling book before I began homeschooling. It’s crazy but true!

Several years later, a friend began looking into teaching her children at home, and would call me just bawling. After reading the “best books on the market,” she was convinced that she could never homeschool. I was curious and began reading those same books, and quickly determined that there had to be something better out there. When I couldn’t find it, I decided that I would have to write it myself!

RCM: You write about a bunch of different things, but what is your most favoritest thing to write about?
RF: I love to write about politics. If I could get a good back and forth debate going, without nastiness and name-calling, I would do it every day. It makes me so energized! I was a poli-sci major in college and on the debate team, so I think it must just be in my genetic make-up.

RCM: Obviously, your faith plays a major part in your writing.
RF: My faith is the prism through which I see the world, it informs and helps to form my world view. I sit down to write and offer a silent prayer to do no harm. That’s always where I start. I’m not a theologian. I’m just a mom who writes things down in an effort to make sense of the world around me. My great fear is of harming someone else’s faith in my effort to explore my own.

That said, I try to walk in the memory of St. Catherine of Alexandria. She was a great talker who led many people to Christ through the example of her life and the power of her words. If I can, through exposing the imperfections and trials of my own life, help to bring other people to Christ with me … that would be my ultimate dream.

RCM: Okay, so you’ve already got one saint in your corner! If you could spend the day with any saint, who would it be?
RF: I’d spend time with St Philip Neri and his fat, farting dog. He was hysterical and loved to make people laugh. I think a day with him would be one well spent.

RCM: You’ve gotta tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know. You’re interesting!
RF: Is it possible that people don’t know something about me at this point?? I pick up accents when I talk to people. It’s a habit of being a Navy brat. Sounding like people helped me to blend in, so I can drawl and twang along with the best of them. It also means that my kids can tell you who I’m talking to on the phone just be listening to how long or short my vowels are.

If, like me, you need more Frech, connect with Rebecca via e-mail at shovedtothem {at} yahoo {dot} com, and be sure to listen in to Archangel Radio Friday, August 22 from 7-8 a.m. CST when Rebecca chats with the Live Hour guys about all things good, true, and beautiful.

GIVEAWAY!!

For homeschooling newbies everywhere!
For homeschooling newbies everywhere!

It seems particularly appropriate to kick off a new series with a giveaway, yes? Yes! The gracious and unstoppable Rebecca Frech (see above), who officially began blogging over at Patheos this week, also wrote a wonderfully helpful book I cannot recommend highly enough called Teaching in Your Tiara – a homeschooling book for the rest of us. And she is generously offering a signed copy to one lucky Real Catholic Mom follower!!

Here’s how to win: follow the Real Catholic Mom blog here on WP and Twitter and Shoved to Them on Patheos and Twitter and leave a comment on this blog post by 5 p.m. EST Friday. This isn’t a fancy-shmancy Rafflecopter giveaway – we trust you when you tell us you’re following. A winner will be randomly selected and announced in this week’s Real Catholic Mom 7QT link-up on Friday night.

Good luck!

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7 Quick Takes – Maiden Voyage! #7QT

7 Quick Takes – Maiden Voyage! #7QT

 

It’s my very first link-up EVAH! I figured it would be appropriate to begin with the hallowed 7 Quick Takes, since Jen is one of the big reasons you’re being subjected to blessed by my random musings again. So, without further ado, let’s roll!!

— 1 —

This Lady is the REAL deal.
This Lady is the REAL deal.

Gotta lead with Mary Most Holy since it’s her day, y’all! Happy Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Get ye to Mass on this wonderful Holy Day of Obligation Opportunity! Out of town? Need to find Mass locally? Go to here now. No excuses. ‘Salright? ‘Salright. 🙂

— 2 —

Time for a cute baby pic! This little guy got some awesome chocolate bundt cake (mixed in a blender, no less) because it was his Feast Day yesterday. Sooo many reasons to celebrate! Oh, and check out the super sister photobomb. This makes my Mama heart happy. 🙂

Personally, I think he's *slightly*  yummier than the cake. Yep.
Personally, I think he’s *slightly* yummier than the cake. Yep.

— 3 —

On Monday, Divine Mercy Academy is off and running for its first official full year of homeschooling! We have one full-time enrollee, two students who will join us after school away from home, and the Destructo Twins preschooler and toddler babies. It’s about to get REAL up in here. Did I mention we are Divine Mercy Academy? THERE IS A REASON. Jesus, I Trust in You!

Last year's class
Last year’s class
Because we need ALL the mercy!!
Because we need ALL the mercy!!

— 4 —

Today’s Gospel is one of my all-time favorites. It contains the gorgeous Magnificat prayer of Our Lady, and describes the beautiful encounter between Mary and Elizabeth. I’ve got many posts percolating around the Visitation, but for now, here’s my favorite painting by Mariotto Albertinelli. It still takes my breath away.

What real sisterhood looks like.
What real sisterhood looks like.

— 5 —

My dear friend sent me this little gem this week. I immediately thought: “Oh, so THIS is how productivity works. I just have to write things down. I’ll be sure to share this with the dishes and the laundry.”

The Key to Productivity! What I've been missing all these years ...
The Key to Productivity! What I’ve been missing all these years …

— 6 —

Speaking of productivity, my house has not recovered since I was gone to the shenanigans at the end of July. I have some major cleaning, sorting, and tossing to do this weekend. For some reason, I hold on to things for far too long for REALLY IMPORTANT reasons, such as: “I could USE this in six years!” or “This was exPENsive!” or “Someone will NEED this … probably!” Luckily, one of my friends recently provided me with a mantra of sorts to help whenever my Justification And Keeping gene (“JAK”) looms and threatens my decluttering quest. Repeat after me: “That’s what a hoarder would say.”

— 7 —

I’m really looking forward to this evening. Some friends and I went through the amazing 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration process a year ago today and will celebrate our anniversary with Mass, reconsecration prayer, and an intimate celebratory dinner. After the upheaval of the last couple of years, I know this to be true: “Totus Tuus Maria” just makes sense and brings me peace in the storm.

I'm all in, Mama.
I’m all in, Mama.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

For more stunning, delectable Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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