{SQT} Writing, Advent, radio, conferences, and (yes!) slowing down

{SQT} Writing, Advent, radio, conferences, and (yes!) slowing down

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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?

31 days of unexpected joy

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#write31days

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.

TVP on itunes (2)

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#TVPRadio

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!

journal-and-cards-on-table (2)

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#BISAdvent

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!

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#DiveInLiturgicalCalendar

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!

My second post is up at CatholicMom.com on Monday. It's a doozy.

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#CatholicMom

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.

CWR15 Social Media 72215 (2)

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#CWR2016

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!

Retreat feet.

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#projectslowdown

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. ūüėČ

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!

heather

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Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints Keep Trying; Sinners Give Up (2)

Confession:¬†I haven’t always lived the shiniest life ever. As Freddie Mercury so emphatically sang, ” … and bad mistakes/I’ve made a few.” Or five hundred.

But since my reversion process began, with many starts and pauses¬†along the way, I’ve really tried¬†to walk as a child of the light, and part of that walk, for me, means taking care of myself by not smoking, not¬†drinking to excess, not using¬†illicit drugs, and¬†staying true to my marriage vows.

Am I perfect? Excuse me while I go laugh myself completely off the page. No. I am absolutely not perfect. Just ask my husband and my children. But I keep trying. And trying. And trying. Ad nauseum. My Mom used to tell me growing up that saints keep trying while sinners give up. Well, I haven’t completely given up yet. I surely have a long way to go, but I hope¬†it’s a shorter climb than it was when I was living as a agnostic hedonist 20¬†years ago.

And there are plenty of temptations, even as a mostly clean-living person. That used to surprise me: “I’m doing the right things! I love Jesus! I pray! I go to Mass every Sunday! I go to Confession! Why am I still being tempted?!” After some prayerful reflection, however, the ongoing temptations¬†made so much sense:¬†Of course I’m being tempted. Usually the enemy will try to get you where he’s gotten you before, and if you aren’t vigilant, BOOM! You’re taken completely off-guard¬†by temptation that you thought you’d conquered years (or months or days) ago. The enemy of our souls¬†doesn’t want us in the game of life at all, and especially not a life surrendered to¬†Jesus, so he’ll use whatever he possibly can to take us out of the game.

Usually any desire I have to backslide is eventually trumped by my desire for Heaven.

Except. I still struggle. For several years now Рmaybe even for most of my life Рthe devil has been doing whatever he can to keep me out of the game using something that we all need to survive: food.

It’s not like¬†there’s something morally wrong with food, as can be argued with other addictions. If someone handed¬†me¬†a bottle of vodka, I¬†could¬†graciously decline by saying, “No thanks, I’m cool.” I¬†don’t NEED alcohol to survive, although after long days with lotsa kids, it surely can feel like it! ūüėȬ†But with food, man, it’s hard. We¬†need food to survive. Granted, do I¬†need mint M&Ms and pork rinds and chocolate cake to survive? No. But the stuff that nourishes always seems to be right next to the stuff that doesn’t on the buffet table. And so I¬†take some. And eat it. And then I¬†want more, so I eat more. And then I¬†feel badly. So I¬†eat more again. And on and on it goes.

Not only do I have a hard time with self-control and food choices, I really don’t care for exercise. Like, I hate it. That’s not a good combination.¬†After five pregnancies in nine years, I think I probably could stand to lose about 75 pounds. The extra weight I carry contributes to feelings of¬†depression, anxiety, fatigue, worthlessness¬†… so many things. And yet, I continue to struggle.

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One of my babies accidentally took this picture of me typing at the computer the other day. This is my fat.

For some reason, I¬†especially struggle with keeping sugar at bay. It’s like my kryptonite or something. Seemingly, a pattern was established from early childhood: I remember the neighbor girl taking me across the street to buy sweets¬†at the corner store. I remember using my garage sale money to buy ungodly amounts of candy. I remember my grandmother greeting me with a box of Red Vines whenever we’d visit. I remember going out for ice cream after each band concert, piano recital, play performance …

Last summer, I really and honestly rallied to make a permanent lifestyle change. After the cloud of post-partum depression from my fifth pregnancy finally lifted, I decided I was tired of being a food zombie, mindlessly eating whatever, whenever, and joined a national weight loss program. I lost weight. I stuck to my guns and lost more. I felt really, really good about my progress. Then we were hit by a cloud of stress including a surprising cross-country move and some other really tough things, and the weight started creeping Рand then leaping Рback on. I tried to go to meetings, but my previous resolve seemed so very far away and outside my ability.

I don’t know if my attachment to food – specifically to sugar –¬†could be classified as an addiction, but maybe? I sometimes feel powerless to its allure.¬†I have all the resolve in the world … until I don’t.¬†I feel empowered … until I don’t.¬†I exercise amazing self-control … until something like this happens on the day I have a Mother’s helper and am supposed to be¬†working on 5,000 words for my end-of-the-month deadline:

kolbe pantry

And then I want to drink all the sugary coffee drinks in the world to make myself feel better.

Yet¬†… ¬†I only feel better for a tiny window of space and time, and then … I don’t. I feel awful. I’ve fallen. Again. It makes me feel so dumb and helpless. I’m a smart person! I love Jesus! I have overcome so. many. things! Why can’t I overcome this??!

I spoke with my Spiritual Director about self-control the other day. It was interesting, because as I lamented¬†how I frequently¬†don’t feel like I have¬†the power within me to say,”no,” he sagely suggested: “Perhaps, Heather, you need to do this for someone other than yourself.” What he was suggesting was that I offer up my cravings and self-discipline in food choices and exercise as a sacrificial prayer for other people, causes, and intentions. He was encouraging me, in essence to nail my temptation to the Cross.

Little did he know, I have attempted this maneuver before. I even wrote about it on this here blog, and it got a bit of a spruce-up for my very first article (just published) for Ignitum Today. <<EXCITING!!!!!

Bottom line? Perhaps, dear readers, it is time for me to pick up my cross and try yet again. Will you please, please pray for me? I would very much like to know¬†how I may pray for you as I’m on this journey. Maybe you’re struggling with something that’s really tough for you, too, and just don’t know how you’re going to overcome it. Maybe you just need to know that you’re not alone. Feel free to be specific or just say “special intention” in the comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

Oh, and by the way – yes, I did buy that gorgeously¬†blended coffee drink (above) today. But it is sugar-free, half-caffeinated, with non-fat milk. Baby steps, y’all.

Peace,

heather

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