Who Am I?

Who Am I?

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In the silent stillness before dawn, I slowly opened my eyes, reluctant to survey the aftermath of the previous night’s activities. There were empty junk food wrappers strewn about the small room, as well as myriad red cups offering up their remaining contents to the already-stained carpet. The sickly sweet smells of alcohol, incense, and smoke clung to my hoodie and jeans and clouded my memory. As I slowly sat up, I noticed about ten or eleven other teens—male and female—still sleeping in whichever spot they found themselves when they eventually passed out.

As I finally came to, my thoughts came clearly and rapidly: What am I doing here? Is this all there is to life? Is this what my future holds? Who have I become?

Read the rest here.

Photo used with permission by Blessed is She.

Why forgiveness is so close to my heart

Why forgiveness is so close to my heart

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Here at Real Catholic Mom, I’ve written about lots of stuff. Perhaps not as much as some, but lots for a crazy chicken like me. I’ve written about superficial stuff. Deep stuffHard stuff. Fun stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where I’m coming from or where I’m going, content-wise, since I’m all over the map (thanks, brain). I can only imagine what I put you through, dear reader!

If there is one constant thread that weaves its way through my life, howeve, it’s knowing that our Mighty God can write straight with crooked lines. He can shine brightly through a little cracked pot. He can make magnificence out of mess. He can craft His own perfect order from chaos. I’ve seen it in my own life, time after time after time.

And I know that I know that I know He wants to make something beautiful out of every single part of your life, too. 

I hate to leave you hanging here, folks, but I promise (!!) I will write more about this topic in this space soon. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about why forgiveness is so very, very close to my heart, I’ll be touching on it during tonight’s Blessed is She workshop, which YOU can attend from the comfort of your own home – it’s online! In addition to personal testimony, I’ll be offering some practical tips and tricks for having a heart that’s after God’s own Sacred Heart, and – because this is me we’re talking about, there WILL be giveaways. Oh, yes – there will be giveaways. I’m even told there will be time for a “stump the Real Catholic Mom” Q&A session toward the end.

Let’s finish out this Jubilee Year of Mercy even more free, more joy-filled, and more compassionate than we began it, my friend. Who’s with me??

Register here.

God bless you,

heather

 

 

Photo by Todd Cravens, Winchester, US used with permission via Unsplash

 

I AM my brother’s keeper

I AM my brother’s keeper

Brother's Keeper

Today’s post is brought to you by the power of technology because, frankly, technology can be pretty amazing.

Specifically, a piece of mail or a package arrives at my post office box, and I receive a text message on my smartphone notifying me to come retrieve it. Yesterday, I received such a text, so after school, to the post office we went.

The lone irritant about this otherwise brilliant notification process is that the text messages arrive whether I have received five long-awaited packages or one piece of thankless junk mail – the system doesn’t discriminate – so some days it’s obviously fruitful to take the detour to the post office and others the trek beyond our regular route feels like a waste, culminating with yet another cable solicitation torn up and tossed in the recycle bin.

Yesterday’s sojourn, while not fruitful mail-wise, instigated one of those unexpected “teachable moments” with my children, so I don’t count it all as loss.

Here, I pause for a brief parenting prayer: Lord, some day, I hope that I will be able to gracefully and gently segue into these moments with my children and not bulldoze into them with combat boots and a megaphone. But anyway. Baby steps. Amen.

After my solitary shredded solicitation was dispensed into the proper receptacle, we drove through the small parking lot. I glanced to my right and saw a young man and a young woman standing near the sidewalk, with a small child (probably toddler age) in a stroller.

Normally I wouldn’t have given a second look, but the young man appeared to be shouting at the young woman, who had her head down. He took one small step closer to her – he was still several paces removed – and angrily shook his finger at her several times before turning and facing the other direction.

From the back seat, I heard a child’s voice admonishing me: “Hey, Mommy – don’t stare.” I responded, “I’m not staring – I’m assessing the situation.” As the young man appeared to be calm and we eventually turned right onto the street,  I glanced at my children riding securely behind me.

“What if that man was so upset that he hurt the woman?” I queried. The response that came from the back seat sent a chill through my bones:

“It’s none of our business.” 

Insert all the wise, loving, Christ-like comments here:

If you were that woman, wouldn’t you want someone to care about and try to protect you if you needed to be protected? It’s called The Golden Rule, you know.

Let’s talk about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, shall we?

Remember Mother Teresa’s Gospel on Five Fingers -“You Did It To Me”?

We are all part of the Body of Christ!

We are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.

Except … I didn’t exactly say those things.

Other than a variation on the first point about the Golden Rule, no saintly story or parable of Christ came to my mind in the heat of the moment.

Side bar: I can think and speak so very well on my feet sometimes … why can’t I be as eloquent and effective when it pertains to teaching my children? Ugh. I need to get over myself. 

Frankly, my child’s response both stunned and saddened me.

I asked my children, “What if he punched her? Shouldn’t we call the police?” And a kid retorted, “So-and-so sibling name sometimes punches me, and we don’t call the police.” Riiiiiight. I replied, “Well, even though that’s not good or right, it’s not exactly the same thing.”

And then the questions flooded the car like a rising river –

Why? Why isn’t it the same?

What is the difference between protecting someone we know and protecting a stranger?

Why should some things be reported to the authorities while some things should not?

What difference does it make if something is done in public or in the privacy of our home?

Are we going home now? I need to pee.

Sigh. This momming stuff ain’t easy, yo.

Anyway, now that a day has passed, and more appropriate things to say have come to my mind, I will be revisiting the incident – expanding the teachable moment beyond the actual moment, if you will – so that my children can hopefully eventually understand and know and live out the fact that, yes – we ARE our brothers’ keepers. And EVERYONE is our brother.

Now, I’m not advocating that we all turn in to Nosy Nelly and Busy-body Betty – not at all. What I am saying, however, is that there are surely situations we encounter or conversations we overhear where we genuinely feel the quiet nudge of the Holy Spirit telling us to say something. Anything. And we ignore the nudge and we walk on by. “It’s none of my business,” we tell ourselves.

How many people get away with horrid things because someone is afraid to call him or her on it? 

Maybe it’s because the recent tragedy in Orlando weighs so heavily on my heart … I can’t help but ponder if someone heard something, saw something – anything – that portended the coming catastrophe and didn’t do or say anything about it because they thought it wasn’t any of their business.

All deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, love, and mercy. All. Each. Every. 

Had that young man struck the young woman, I would have dialed 911 in a heartbeat. And I would have rolled down my passenger’s side window and yelled at him to stop and asked the young woman if she needed help. And I would have driven her and that toddler somewhere safe if they needed it. Maybe we would have had two guests for dinner that night. I would never knowingly put my children in harm’s way, but there might have been something we could do.

Thanks be to God, no intervention on my part appeared to me necessary this time. But what about next time? Will I have the courage to be my brother’s keeper?

And, perhaps more importantly at this stage of my mothering game, when I am gone, will my five children rise up to help those in need? Am I raising compassionate kids who will bring the light of Christ’s love into the world? Will they be their brothers’ keepers?

Thanks in no small part to text notifications, crappy junk mail, and being where we needed to be when we needed to be there, we’re going to keep working at it.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo credit: hans s via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

The day I cried, “Mercy”

The day I cried, “Mercy”

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My “to do” list is longer than it has probably ever been in my entire life, so why don’t I just write a blog post about it rather than actually tackling my tasks? Ha, ha. You think I’m joking.

So, you may remember a game from your school playground days called, “Mercy,” or maybe it went by the name, “Uncle.” Pretty much the same game, just different names. You don’t remember it? Well, God bless your socks off – you are one blessed individual. Seriously.

Whatever it’s called, “Mercy” was basically a test of feats of physical strength or pain tolerance or cruelty or lying to one’s self about what was actually going on. Or something. Anyway, two (usually) boys would just go at it, forcing each other’s fingers, arms, legs, etc. into unnatural and contorted positions until one of them just couldn’t handle the pain any longer and cried out, “mercy,” and the game would be over.

The first person who admitted he couldn’t take it any more was the loser.

Now, there’s no way a teacher in today’s schools would allow something like this to go down. And, honestly, I think the only times I saw it as a kid was when a teacher was otherwise occupied on the far other other side of the playground. But still.

What does this cruel school-aged activity have to do with me? Great question.

Well, right now, I sort of feel like I have put myself into a situation where I’m playing a game of “Mercy” with myself. Specifically, my desire for a strong home life and a strong “outside-the-home” life are battling it out over here, and it’s slowly but surely crushing the life out of me.

Things are shifting over here, and I think – no, I know – that I need to make some wholesale changes and take things in a radically different direction. But here’s the problem – I don’ t really know how. And yet, I don’t want to cry, “mercy,” because I don’t want to lose – and I don’t want anyone around me to lose, either.

Especially my family.

See, here’s the truth: I want to be a good mother. And a good wife. I really, really do. But I am struggling with how to actually, practically be a good wife and mom given my current life circumstances and commitments. Some days, man – I just feel like I am not cut out for this mothering gig. I know my husband and my children are a gift. I know they are.

But the truth is also that I have this radical zeal – this desire – to serve God in His Church in so many other ways. He put desires on my heart and talents in my toolbelt. And I just feel completely ill-equipped many days to be the sort of mother they need and deserve while spinning all the other plates that are currently in the air.

And sometimes I wonder what sort of mother I’d be if I put down some of the “other” plates that I find so personally fulfilling. Would I have enough? Be enough? And sometimes I sort of wish all the plates would crash so I could just start over. True story.

My youngest son’s godmother posted this article on my BFF’s FB timeline today and I just read it and cried.

I have read many books, many blog posts, said many prayers (including the Divine Mercy Chaplet novena that just ended yesterday), and talked with many people about finding that ever-elusive work/ministry/home “balance.” I’ve also sought guidance via spiritual direction, a counselor, and even asked around for a Mom mentor (a position that has yet to be filled!!). And some good has come from all this praying, reading, talking, and searching. But I still haven’t been able to figure it all out. Yet.

So, maybe this quickly-typed blog post that no one will ever read is my cry for help – my shout of, “Mercy!” – as difficult and humiliating as it may be, before my fingers … or my toes … or my soul … gets crushed.

Hi. My name is Heather, and I have way too many things going on. Mercy.

P.S. Don’t worry, dear friends and readers – I am not suicidal, chronically depressed, or even remotely in despair. Just going through a rough patch of yet more transition that is tougher to navigate than I expected. I would greatly appreciate your prayers, words of wisdom and encouragement, but especially your prayers. I am one of those crazy souls who is very much helped just by knowing that I am not alone. Peace! <3

Christ the Healer | Blessed is She

Christ the Healer | Blessed is She

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Today, I’m over at Blessed as She talking about Jesus’ healing power. Here’s a sneak peek:

In Jesus’ time, thousands sought healing in the midst of their pain and affliction. They sought Him. And, over and over again, Jesus welcomed them, touched and healed them; He loved them without condition and showered them with mercy.

Read more here!

God bless y’all.

-H