Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Last night, as I was compiling today’s to-do list, I noticed that things on my calendar are looking a bit, um, squishy again, which means I am trying to shoehorn too many things into not enough time and it’s getting pretty … uncomfortable. I suppose juggling multiple obligations for multiple family members, end-of-school year stuff, traveling (for super happy reasons!!), writing and speaking gigs, and, oh, a MOVE (!!) can do that to a person.

{{{S Q U I S H}}}

= life without abundance; life not centered upon Jesus Christ

Thanks be to God, squishiness is no longer my preferred state of being, especially since I’ve realized: a) it’s completely unhealthy for me and, by extension, my family; and b) with God’s help, I can prevent the squish from taking over.

What I’m learning from this side of my epiphany is this: To remain un-squished, one must be mindful and intentional about remaining un-squished. Somebody embroider that gem on a pillow!! LOL

I don’t know about you, but I desire a more abundant life. I don’t want to live in the squishiness that feels full, but is really only full of lack. I don’t want to feel as though life is bearing down on me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me and my family at any given moment. I want to be whole, healthy, and healed.

We all need time away to reflect, replenish, and renew, regardless our station and season in life. It’s okay to recognize our need to put some distance between ourselves and our “squishiness” (whatever that means to you) and connect with our Heavenly Father. Even Jesus Christ (Who–spoiler alert–was actually God) spent regular time alone in prayer. Last time I looked, I am not God. So … why do I think I am better than He? Why do I think I can just keep striving and rolling and trying … and not take time to simply be with Him?

Here are some ways I conscientiously work toward unsquishifying my life, in no particular order:

1) Prayer

Instead of rewarding myself with chips or brownies (heyyy–don’t judge), I’ve been trying to take a moment to hang out with God instead. It may sound silly, but that little bit of time in prayer gives me something those extra calories and fat grams never could–communion with the One Who made me, sees me, knows me, loves me, and Who will never, ever leave me feeling shame, regret, or isolated, unlike an empty bag of potato chips. The great thing about prayer? It comes in many forms, and can be done pretty much anywhere I am.

2) Silence + Adoration

I realize silence can be super difficult for some, especially if you’re knee-deep in the throes of family life, or struggle with Constant Brain Swirling-itis, like I do. Lately, I’ve been slipping away to spend regular quality time with Jesus in the silence (well, usually) of the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Sometimes I pray the rosary or a chaplet; sometimes I thank Him for my blessings; sometimes I wrestle with a problem or ten … it honestly doesn’t matter if I don’t say or do anything; what matters is that He is there, and, in the silence, He is able to speak to my soul. Whether I only have five minutes or (preferably) an hour or more for silence, it always leaves me feeling more peaceful, more joyful, more wellness in my soul.

3) Sacraments

There’s nothing like a big (or little) splotch of sin to make me feel squishy. I don’t care how much vacation time you’ve earned, or how big that bonus check was, or how clean and tidy your house is, or how many 5ks you’ve run. Sin = squish. It’s a different kind of squish, sure, but praise God if sin makes you feel even the slightest bit squishy; that means your conscience is working! Get thee to the Confessional–stat! A good Confession is a sure path toward unsquishification.

How long has it been since you worthily received Jesus Christ–Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity–in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist? Receiving Jesus = instant unsquishification. Will you still have problems when you’re worthily and regularly pariticpating in the Sacraments of the Church? Well, sure. But your perspective will change. And your priorities might, too. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself if you aren’t already.

4) Retreat + Conferences

I’ve written about the amazingness of retreats before, but it bears repeating: take some time away for God to refresh your soul. Whether it’s just you and the Big Guy on a self-directed silent retreat or you and 400+ of your closest friends at an annual conference, we were made for communion. A retreat or conference is a wonderful way to reconnect with Creator and faith community.

Which leads me to an important invitation: Will you join us this June? 

NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

The first-ever Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference is happening in just a few short weeks near beautiful Bend, Oregon.

Women from all over the Pacific Northwest (and beyond!) are welcome to grow in our beautiful Catholic sisterhood June 23-24 at the Diocese of Baker Retreat Center in Powell Butte. Make friends, be with Jesus, and get a spiritual jump start to your summer!

You’re invited to join me, Kelly Wahlquist, and Sr. Maria Gemma as we share on the conference theme: Abundant Life in Christ. Adoration, Holy Mass with Bishop Liam Cary, and ample opportunity for Confession round out the schedule. Several awesome vendors will be on-site, providing resources and material to assist you in your faith journey. Three meals are provided with your registration fee.

WomensConf2017_Flyer-page-001

Check out the gorgeous grounds of the retreat center! It’s located right under the Three Sisters Mountains, appropriately named Faith, Hope, and Charity. Limited on-site lodging is still currently available, as are nearby hotel options.

Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nez
Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nerz

Registration is limited, and closes soooooon (June 20, 2017), so reserve your spot (and one for your sister, your friend, your neighbor, your aunt, your niece, and your other friend) TODAY!NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

It would be soooo wonderful to see you in Bend this Summer! You’ve been warned, though–I’m a hugger, but I will settle for a hearty handshake. 😉 So, my friends, until Bend, I’d love to hear from you in the combox: What are your go-to tips for “unsquishifying” your life?

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We are never too far gone

We are never too far gone

welcome-home

Have you ever believed that you were too little or too much? Not enough or more than anyone could handle? I’ve felt that way, too. But you know what, friends? We are never too little or too much for our Heavenly Father. We could never be not enough for Him or more than He can handle, because He loves us – perfectly, unconditionally, mercifully.

Today, I have the distinct honor of reflecting on today’s Mass readings at The Catholic Conspiracy.  I pray that you will know in your soul that, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, there is nothing that can compare to the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s unending merciful love for you, today and always.

You are never too far gone for His love. Never.

heather

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When the Holy Spirit whispers

When the Holy Spirit whispers

 Today began like most other days – I awoke with the resignation that there were, as usual, many more things on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.

And then I remembered that today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – one of my most favorite feasts of all time.

In the relative stillness of my heart, I boldly asked for extra grace from Mama Mary today because, hey, I obviously need it, and hey also, she doesn’t have anything better to do, amIrite?

Wouldn’t you know it – the most grace – and joy! – came from doing a few pretty minor things that the Holy Spirit whispered onto my ‘to-do’ list … things that weren’t necessarily my idea but His.

Finding joy in listening to what God asks and actually obeying His wishes? I know. What a concept. 

But as I have likely proved via ample evidence a la this blog specifically and random musings on social media in general, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into this stubborn head of mine … until they do.

Whisper #1: Be with Me.

Even though I wasn’t dressed in my Sunday best, I’d actually changed out of my pajamas, brushed my hair, and my face was clean-ish … and the littlest offspring had honest-to-goodness shoes on their literal feet … so I decided we would all go to daily Mass. If the only thing we did was go to Mass today, surely that would be something, right?

As is my custom during the proclamation of the Gospel, I closed my eyes and held an impossibly wriggly child, hoping His Word would somehow seep into the marrow of my being, healing and soothing and resurrecting each of my dry bones.

Sure enough, as Father read these words, tears welled up in my eyes:

“And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.'”

In a special way, today I heard these words as if they applied specifically to me:

My soul proclaims and rejoices.

He has looked with favor upon me, His lowly servant.

He has done great things for me.

Holy is His Name – I praise Him.

It was impossible to ignore the personal, practical application of the text, even as I unsuccessfully wrestled the 3-year-old boy who has, of late, been uncharacteristically clingy.

The proclamation continued:

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Underneath the currents of the literal meaning of these words, I also heard:

He has shown mercy to me.

He shows mercy to my children.

He lifts me up.

He fills me up.

He comes to help me.

He remembers the promises He has made to me.

He remembers the promises He has made to my children.

Tears of joy.

The lesson from Whisper 1? I love you, Heather. I always have. I will never forsake or abandon you. I give you myself. Forever.

This experience, coupled with the graces received by receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, propelled me into …

Whisper #2: Celebrate Life.

I reasoned that I had to go to the store anyway, so why not pick up a few extra things to drop off for a friend’s birthday? After all,  I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this Feast than by celebrating her life, especially as ridiculous scheduling and sickness and life has kept me from seeing her IRL as often as I’d like.

Whisper #3: ___________.

I’m not gonna go into too many details about this whisper because it’s still in-process. I did what I felt the Spirit was asking, but I don’t think the eagle has landed, so to speak. Suffice to say – maybe someone will feel encouraged and uplifted today because I took a moment to consider her needs as more important than my silly, superficial to-do list.

Lessons from whispers 2 & 3, respectively? Be His hands and feet. However and whenever He calls.

The rest is really just silliness – every single bit of it. The very best to-do list is the one that is crafted by the Holy Spirit. Hands down and chin up.

God bless y’all.

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Daily Mass (Day 29)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Daily Mass (Day 29)

What can separate us (2)

When we lived in Alabama, we were extraordinarily blessed to attend a parish that offered not one opportunity to attend daily Mass, but two. My husband worked across the street from the parish, so we regularly attended as a family, both during our homeschooling season and when the children were at a parish school.

It. was. awesome.

We were so incredibly fed – and healed – during this season of near-daily Mass attendance. Hearing the Word of God every day? Receiving His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity every single day? There’s just nothing, nothing in the universe like it.

Now that we’re back in Oregon, we’re in a different season. We are lucky if we make it to one extra Mass a week. But I am so grateful when we do.

Today was one of those days.

And it didn’t take long for me to feel God’s presence even as I attempted to keep the little people from climbing all over the pew. As the familiar verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans washed over me, I got misty-eyed:

“Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son

but handed him over for us all,

how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?

It is God who acquits us.

Who will condemn?

It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,

who also is at the right hand of God,

who indeed intercedes for us.

What will separate us from the love of Christ?

Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,

or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day;

we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly

through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,

nor angels, nor principalities,

nor present things, nor future things,

nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor any other creature will be able to separate us

from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


So, what can separate us from the love of God, my friends? Nothing. Nothing.

And that is something to be eternally joyful about. I’d bet my life on it. Today’s recommendation: attend daily Mass if and when you have the opportunity. It will change your life.

Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

It’s fascinating to me how many “bad” days I’ve had since October 1st. Truly. I mean, right out of the gate things were wicked hard, and I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into??!” Or, to flagrantly (and poorly) steal from St. Catherine of Siena, I’ve definitely wondered, “Lord, if this is the sort of joy you bring to your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies!”

I hadn’t planned on letting this cat out of the bag until October 31 or even November 1 (assuming my brain still works at that point), but I must admit: the School of Joy has contained many more hard knocks than I anticipated. 

I mean, choose to write about joy, and surely God will load you up with all sorts of happy experiences and fun anecdotes to share with your blog readers, right? Right?!

Of course, it hasn’t all been bad 

And yet … it has been hard.

Praise the Lord for Pope Saint John Paul II, man, because I think he might have personally asked Almighty God to give me a break on his Feast Day today. And so I present to you, The Top Five Consolations for Thursday:

Consolation #1: NO MORNING CHAOS

I started the day with a quick trip to the lab (only a busy + exhausted Mom would consider a blood draw as a break, amIright?), thus completely bypassing the crushingly exhausting morning routine. I got home just in time to tag my husband, swap cars, and head in early (early! What a concept!) to school drop-off.

Consolation #2: HELPFUL HUSBAND

As I’m driving, I realize it’s Pope Saint JP2’s Feast, and think: “Wow! Since we’re early today, I can go to daily Mass in honor of JP2 on his feast day. How marvelous!” We arrive at school, and I don’t even have to search for shoes and coats for my little people because my husband already did that before they got in the van. He is so great.  We exit the vehicle and head in to Mass.

Consolation #3: TO MASS OR NOT TO MASS

Except … there was no Mass. Okay, so this is kind of a bittersweet joy, because there was no Mass. Honestly, I was hoping for Mass. However, because of schedules, there weren’t any priests available, so we had a Communion service instead. The joy (please don’t hate me for saying this) is that the Communion service took about 12 minutes. Twelve. My 4- and 2-year-olds didn’t even have a chance to think about doing (m)anything(s) naughty because it was over in a flash. And, yet, in that 12 minutes, we still said prayers, heard the Word of God, and received Jesus in the Eucharist … what a wonderful way to begin the day!

Consolation #4: CHILD’S PLAY

I played board games with my preschooler and toddler and I didn’t lose my ever-loving mind. There may be some of you with much more patient temperaments than mine. I have gotten so, so, sooooo much better over the years, but practicing patience is really energy-sapping for me. Because of this, I generally avoid playing games with my kids. Legos and blocks and imaginative play I can handle, but usually I  keep the board games on the tippy-top shelf  in the boys’ room (it’s almost as if they don’t exist!) so as to avoid the crying, ripping, etc. that happens when attempting to play a game in a civilized manner. For some reason, however, I decided to do forego the non-essential trip to Costco and head to Candyland with the littles instead.

Blame the loss of blood, blame the surge of energy gained by skipping morning routine or by receiving the Eucharist, but it was pretty cool. Okay, sure, the 2-year-old couldn’t wait his turn, and the 4-year-old had a crying meltdown because she wanted to wiiiinnnn, but the real joy was that I did it and was freakishly calm, even for the non-enjoyable parts. I mean, I’ve gotten much better at faking calm on the outside, saying, “Your brother’s game piece does not belong in your mouth!” while smiling through clenched teeth, for example, has become easier. But I didn’t even have to fake itI was calm on the outside AND on the inside. And that, my friends, is nothing short of a minor miracle. Truly.

Consolation #5: BABY LOVE

A friend picked me up to attend a new women’s study on – wait for it – one of JP2’s writings. And even though I didn’t get to participate in the whole meeting, it was only because I got to hold my friend’s squishy baby girl for a chunk of time. It was so great! Normally, I am ecstatic when I have a minute to be child-free, but it was really and delight and a joy to have tiny baby hands and suckling noises and coos and smiles staring me in the face. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was holding her.

So, there you have it, friends – an oasis of consolation in an otherwise terribly, horribly, Jesus-take-the-wheel, living one Glory Be at a time sort of month. And I do believe I have a Saint to thank for it.

Thank you, Pope Saint John Paul II! We love you.

Pope Saint JP2 Funnin

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