Leaning in to Lent

Leaning in to Lent

Lent Burger and fries 2017-03-21Hello. My name is Heather. And I have a problem with Lent.

Before you sharpen your pencils to compose a blistering letter to our esteemed editor recounting my heresies, I humbly implore you to please hear me out.

I know all about the regulations and practices and have heard countless suggestions for having the BEST. LENT. EVERRR. I understand that the Church, in Her wisdom, provides us with this designated time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as an opportunity and a gift. As one who enjoys opportunities and gifts, I am totally on board. Goodness – I actually like Lent, in theory, and often in practice – especially when I can continue consuming bacon and gelato and social media. I’ll even go on record as being pro-Lent. And yet, I have struggled with discerning and maintaining my personal Lenten observances.

My theory is that my difficulty with Lent was rooted in a skewed notion of what the season is actually intended to accomplish. As an example, let’s look at my approach to fasting.

Over the years, I’ve attempted to give up just about everything – sweets, screens, sanity – you name it. And I think I knew, at least in the back of my mind, that I was sacrificing something I enjoyed to become closer to God. But I don’t think that half-praying, half-crying, “Dear God, when will it be Easter so I can eat chocolate/drink coffee/indulge myself?!” several times a day for 40 days straight is what our Lord had in mind.

Read the rest here

Photo credit: Thomas Habr; used with permission.

Listen closely … he is coming!

Listen closely … he is coming!

Fr. GaitleyThere I was, hurtling down the country roads en route to school, listening to the local Catholic radio station. The morning show host and his guest, an enthusiastic and kind-sounding woman, were talking about a program that was “new” and “exciting.” Only, I couldn’t quite catch what they were saying over my noisy children in the backseat.

“Please, you guys!” I begged my beloved offspring. “Mommy is trying to listen!”

What was the woman saying? I still couldn’t quite make it out. “You guyyyys!!” I yelled back at my children, otherwise known as they-who-could-not-be-shushed. Something about getting closer to Jesus? Maybe a book and meeting together with a group of people? “Oh!” I concluded. “She must be talking about a Bible study.”

Whatever it was, I decided I was interested – really interested.

Read the rest here.

photo credit: Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Used with permission.

When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

lady-at-cwr16

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!

 

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

Understanding the power of ‘no’

Understanding the power of ‘no’

First fan letter!
Thanks, Diane, for reading the new column over at the Catholic Sentinel! God bless you!

People who know me well would likely agree that I’m usually not good for much more than a “yes” and a laugh.

Which is just another way of saying that I am categorically very, very, horribly bad at saying, “no.” At least, that is, until recently.

Lately, I feel like I have been saying, “no,” to just about everything. And it’s been simultaneously horrifying … and liberating.

You might wonder: why have I been giving ye old smackdown to interesting projects, exciting engagements, and other sparkly distractions these days? Because, frankly …

Saying, “yes,” isn’t making me happier or holier.

That’s it.

I have been taking a long, hard look in the mirror for a while now – in a totally healthy, non-creepy, non-narcissistic way, promise! – because things have been breaking down physically, emotionally, and with relationships for a while because of my, well, addiction of sorts to what usually happened when I said, “yes.”

The sense of productivity, needfulness, and recognition that often followed my affirmative response to whatever came my way became an idol of sorts – something to seek, something to save me from myself and my circumstances, something to depend upon.

In other words, saying, “yes,” was, however subconsciously, filling a God-shaped hole in my heart that was meant for my Savior alone.

I found that saying, “yes” to so many things really meant I was saying, “no” to more important things. And sometimes God. And especially people. My husband. My children. And maybe, more especially, myself.

I am learning that I must say, “no” if I am going to have the energy to say, “yes” to time to care for myself so I am able to care for the people closest to me. I need to be able to give them my best yes.

And I wasn’t.

And in many ways I still am not.

I’m getting better at taking care of myself and my core responsibilities, but guys – it is. so. hard. to say no. I still (whyyyyyyyy??) care a little bit too much about what people think of me, especially when I tell them I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do whatever it is they ask/want/expect of me.

Well, this weekend, I’m over at the Catholic Sentinel talking about this very thing, and about harnessing the power of ‘no.’

Which, by the way, is NOT a dirty word. Although it does still make me shudder and twitch a bit still. Just a bit.

I’m working on it.

God bless y’all,

heather