On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

woman sunsetThey say, “Write what you know.”

But … what if what you know is too painful, too difficult, too private to write about?

Maybe they’d say that I should write it all down in a personal journal rather than in a public forum. And maybe they’d be right. Just keep expressing, keep trying, keep moving forward.

That’s not my story, though. When life got too difficult, too painful, too messy, I wouldn’t write anything. Not a darn thing. Well, maybe one or two things, but nothing that required me to dig in and peel back the fragile layers of my life and possibly bleed all over the poor soul who happened upon my words.

I admit: I’ve been holding out on you.

It’s sometimes a confusing tightrope to walk, this life of imperfect faith and so-called public platform. I strive to be “real” and “authentic” and “genuine,” with as little difference between how I am behind closed doors and when they’re open. But I also am a flawed human being, tied by sacrament and faith and birth to other flawed human beings. Respect for my dignity and theirs (and yours) means that, sometimes, I write around the things that are breaking my heart rather than fliging the thin veil aside for everyone to see.

The last thing I want this space to be is one where, in my brokenness, I damage relationships and possibly my heart and maybe even your heart as well. I have always, always intended this to be a place of encouragement and redemption.

And so I wait. I wait for it to stop being so painful and difficult. I wait for the sunshine to appear, burning off the months and months of frozen cold and dreary damp in my soul.

I wait for the redeeming wounds of the resurrected Christ to bind and heal my own tender wounds.

Because if there is one thing I can write with any semblance of authority and certainty today, it is that God is not finished with me yet. I know that He is guiding this healing, this transforming, this becoming.

I believe that my story–where Jesus Christ alone is glorified through every detail of my wild and blessed life–is being written, even if I can’t yet see the words.

photo credit: Alex Jones via unsplash 

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I wasn’t able to forgive my husband – until I gave myself a gift

I wasn’t able to forgive my husband – until I gave myself a gift

woman-sitting-next-to-stone-wallEndless salty tears rolled down my cheeks as I replayed the evening’s events over and over in my mind as if on a loop. After providing just enough detail for me to feel as though I’d been hit by a freight train, my husband apologized for his behavior and asked for my forgiveness. And I couldn’t—wouldn’t—forgive him. No one in their right mind would expect me to forgive what my husband has done, I reasoned. No one.

Read the full article here.

Photo by Igor Cancarevic used with permission via unsplash.com
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Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

The Retreat (4)Women of God, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get away for extended time with Our Lord yet weren’t sure where to go, we have an incredible retreat opportunity for you this Fall with dynamic author and speaker Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT.

Sr. Miriam is the author of the incredible book Loved As I Am, and has countless speaking gigs under her belt, including Steubenville conferences, Called to Love, and keynotes at Catholic Women Rejoice in 2012 and 2013.

CWR12

Sr. Miriam 2013

She’s also super active on Twitter as @onegroovynun, which is fun for me and all her 17.7k followers on that social media platform.

Sr. Miriam Twitter

Without further ado, here is the scoop for the upcoming Fall retreat with Sr. Miriam:

Location:
Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton, Oregon

Dates: 
Friday, October 14 (evening) through Sunday, October 16 (afternoon).

Details: 
Opportunity for group prayer, individual prayer, Confession, Mass, Adoration, socialization, walks around the peaceful OLP campus, and, of course, several conference sessions with Sr. Miriam. This is NOT a silent retreat.

Lodging:
There is limited space to stay at the retreat house the whole weekend, but we will allow for some retreatants to use the “commuter” option, which means they enjoy everything but the overnight stays. Commuters are responsible to find their own lodging off-site if they do not live locally.

Transportation:
Transportation to and from the retreat venue is the responsibility of the retreatant. Folks flying in will want to select PDX (Portland International Airport) as their destination airport.

Childcare:
Due to logistical considerations, childcare is not available during the weekend; however, Moms with lap babies are welcome to bring them along!

Cost:
TBD. Full retreat includes lodging for Friday and Saturday nights as well as all meals and materials, while the commuter rate includes all meals and materials but lodging is the responsibility of the retreatant.

Space is limited and will sell out, so if you’d like to be included on the registration list, please email: CatholicWomenRejoice@gmail.com or contact us via this form.

The Retreat (4)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Sr. Miriam’s book (and I highly recommend you do), you may learn more about her transformational story here and here.

loved as I am

God bless y’all!

heather

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A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

Back to school post

This summer has whizzed – and I mean WHIZZED by. Admittedly, this is mostly my fault. The time and space has been filled with lots of busyness and activity and not quite as much rest and relaxation as this Mama would like; however, time marches on, and the beginning of the new school year is staring us square in the face.

It is in the back-to-school spirit that I penned the following letter to the four (FOUR!) of my kiddos who will be in full-time school this Fall. You can read my Mea Maxima Cuppa column in its entirety here.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo Credit: Green Chameleon in Bristol, UK via Upsplash

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Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

woman-looking-at-forest-at-dawn

I have been a lonely Mom.

But first, a little context.

As the eldest child with only one sibling five years my junior, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with babies or younger children growing up. I was too busy with my own activities and interests and friends. Sure, I babysat on occasion, but at the time, I was way more interested in making some sweet cash than practicing for any future vocation with my small charges.

Vocation? What’s that? Like, a misspelled vacation? Wait – isn’t a vocation what priests and nuns have?

I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood actually was a vocation. I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood would be my path – my call – to holiness.

I figured I would go to college, have an amazing career traveling the globe, fall in love, and get married at some point. As I learned more about my Catholic faith, I figured being married meant that I would have kids. I mean, I didn’t plan to not have children, but it was more of a default reality that I took completely for granted – you get married, you have kids. Eventually. That’s what most people do, right?

So I skipped the fabulous globe-trotting career and fell in love and got married. And then the babies started coming. And coming. And I really had no idea what I was doing. And I got overwhelmed.

And I got very, very lonely. And severely depressed.

I knew that these little lives were good, marvelous, beautiful (!!) blessings, but I didn’t quite know how to navigate the sheer upheaval in my life – changing body, hormones, responsibilities, identity, sleep – once they arrived.

I knew I needed to find people [yet] going somewhere — anywhere — felt like an impossible undertaking most days. Attending the moms’ group, the playdate, or the meet-up meant the little people and I had to be presentable, likable, and relatable. All at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of ‘ables’ for someone who often felt like she was drowning in a sea of inability.

->Read the rest of my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column – – over at the Catholic Sentinel.

So, how did I break through my feelings of loneliness and isolation? I wish I could tell you I had some sort of a magic formula I followed that would work for you, too. If I did, I would surely whip it up and airmail it to you if you lived far away or drive it over to your place if you lived close by.

Here are some things, though, that (eventually) helped me:

  1. Admitting I needed help. It took a while before I could swallow my stubborn pride and admit that whatever I was doing as a new Mom (or a Mom with littles) wasn’t working for me and that I really needed some help. At first, I wasn’t even sure what anyone could do to help me, but I knew something had to change. There is no shame in asking friends, family, neighbors, parishioners, and/or medical professionals for assistance when you need it. None. God isn’t calling us to go crazy because of our vocations! Once I admitted I needed help, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to actually seek out the help I needed.
  2. Maintaining a schedule. Moms with littles might look at the word ‘schedule’ and be tempted to roll their eyes to China. “Schedule?! Ha!!” And I know it’s true. I found that I’d roll out of bed after another sleepless night and try to leave the house only to have someone poop all over themselves or me and by the time we were all ready to get back in the car again, the activity we’d been headed to would be 75% over. Not worth it. But as much as I could, I tried to wake up, get dressed into something other than what I slept in (even if it was yoga pants and a t-shirt), brush my hair, and if I was really feeling lucky and motivated, take a shower before my husband went to work. Adding in the things that I knew I had to do – meals, laundry (oh, Lord – the laundry with spitty babies!), naps, etc. helped me to try to find some rhythm in my day.
  3. Nurturing my spiritual life. Our youngest is almost three and a half, and I’m just now starting to feel like I might have actually attended Mass on Sundays.  I remember many, many, MANY times when I felt like even attending Mass was an exercise in futility. What was the First Reading about? I couldn’t even hear Father’s homily! Did we just receive the Eucharist? So. many. distractions. But as time went on, I realized that there had to be some grace available to me just for attempting, right??! So we kept going. Every Sunday. And things have honestly gotten easier. Additionally, I think my prayer life has improved significantly since I became a Mom, simply due to necessity! I know that I need Jesus. Like woah. So, I pray. A lot. I pray for myself. I pray for my kids. I pray for my husband. I don’t always get the super high-quality before-they’re-awake-quiet-meditation-with-Jesus time in, but I am often praying throughout my day – as I scrub the bathroom floor, as I change the laundry over, as I’m chopping onions, as I’m cleaning up yet another mess – it’s there. And He’s there with me. IIn the noise. In the chaos. In the mess. And it has changed me.
  4. Quit worrying so much. I used to worry that I didn’t have my make-up on and my kids’ shoes didn’t match and I didn’t have a Pinterest-worthy snack ready before I’d head off to the moms’ group or play date. But you know what? Those worries were keeping me away from community and vital friendships. We were not meant to do this thing called ‘life’ alone, but how often do we convince ourselves that we’re not worthy of community? We are worthy! I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring so much, but these days, I’m much more likely to be out the door with my hair in a pony tail and the kids usually wind up with some sort of shoe-like things on their feet. We might pick up donut holes from the drive-thu and are on our way. That’s where we are these days, and I’m okay with that.

So, from one lonely Mama to another – I’ve been where you are, friend. Loneliness in the trenches of motherhood can be a very deep, dark place. It can threaten to swallow you whole – I know, because I’ve been stuck looking down over the precipice myself more times than I care to recall. But I also know that you don’t have to remain in that place of isolation and anxiety; you really don’t. There are sisters and brothers who want to help you and know you and be your friend. Will you allow them to help you? Will you let Jesus in?

I would really love to hear from you – have you ever felt alone, isolated, or lonely? What do you do to re-connect with “the outside world” and to not feel alone in your vocation? Please let me know in the combox.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo via VisualHunt.com

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