Mea Maxima Cuppa: Prayerful, grateful, distracted

Mea Maxima Cuppa: Prayerful, grateful, distracted

This past month, I attended the second annual Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference near Bend, Oregon. One of the speakers, a mom of seven children, discussed her struggles to be fully present in her busy, day-to-day life.

I could relate.

I tend to get caught up in multiple projects, biting off more than I can chew. I think that’s how my phone ended up in the freezer that one time and how I accidentally triple-booked my family that other time.

Anyway, the speaker recently gained helpful perspective from a wise priest. He said, “Commend your past to Divine Mercy. Entrust your future to Divine Providence. Live holy the present moment.”

The priest’s words sounded familiar. Apparently, various iterations of this sentiment have been passed on for ages. In the calm of the retreat center, however, I received them in a new, heart-changing way.

I’ve been clinging to Jesus’s Divine Mercy for a long while now. I often rejoice in God’s love and mercy as I shed the baggage of guilt, shame, and regret in the confessional.

But I’m human, so sometimes I don’t truly let things go even after I’ve received absolution. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus puts my sins as far from me as the east is from the west, and yet I pick up the baggage again, allowing it to weigh me down. Commending my past to Divine Mercy means I must drop everything at the foot of the Cross and – this is key – leave it there.

Please read the rest here.

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Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends!

Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends!

This past weekend I met up with a whole posse of amazing Catholic women at the NW Catholic Women’s Conference in the breath-taking Bend, Oregon area.

Seeing women of all ages and seasons — single, married, religious, widowed, retired, students — gathered together to celebrate our common faith makes me really, really happy.

In fact, you might say that women’s events are my love language. 

It’s almost like Saint Elizabeth of the Visitation knew what she was doing when she became my Confirmation saint or something …

Anyway, event founder and superwoman Scout and her team did a fantastic job, and I hope that many kind and benevolent souls will step up to support this faith-building endeavor for 2019 and beyond.

High praise hands for speakers Sr. Maximilian Marie, Mary Lenaburg, and Lorissa Horn for inspiring, challenging, and informing!! I’ll be unpacking the truth bombs they threw down for weeks, if not months …

I feel extraordinarily blessed that, through a little thing called the Internet and a conference I used to run, I’ve found some amazing women who are now like sisters to me.

Some might think it’s weird that I find besties online, but then again, that’s where I found my husband, so at least I’m consistent!

However you find your people, community is so important. I keep praying that every person (women, especially) has or finds someone with whom they can have Visitation moments — times when they feel completely seen, known, and loved.

While we’re talking about community, have you listened to the wonderful Danielle Bean’sGirlfriends podcast from Ascension Press lately? She talks about all sorts of things you and I are interested in, and she welcomes some pretty fantastic guests, too (hint, hint).

I was first introduced to Danielle when a Moms’ group at church went through her Momnipotent study. I credit Danielle’s super-helpful content as well as the love and support of new friends for helping me navigate my first-ever postpartum depression diagnosis after our fifth child was born. Needless to say, I wrote my first-ever Amazon review for Momnipotent, and I’m a Danielle fan for life.

For those who are jonesing for the very first ever interview containing exclusive scoop about my first book Death By Minivan(now available for pre-order! /commercial – haha), and how in the world my husband and I felt called to large family life, this is the podcast for you! We had a really fun conversation, and I hope you’ll listen! I can’t wait to talk to Danielle again closer to the book release date.

More soon, friends. Hoping your summer is filled with a whole lot of peace and a generous helping of joy.

With joy and gratitude,

heather

P.S. Some photos from this weekend!

Mary and Heather NWCWC

Reunited and it feels so good … with fabulous keynote speaker and dear friend Mary Lenaburg at the NW Catholic Women’s Conference

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Finally met the amazing Lorissa Horn IRL — in real life! What an inspirational woman, speaker, and small biz owner. Can’t wait to work with her again!

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Sr. Maximilian Marie shared about how her serious boyfriend broke up with her because he thought he was called to the priesthood. He did not, in fact become a priest. His biological sister, however, did have a call to the religious life, and is part of Sr. Maximilian Marie’s order! Sometimes he visits his biological sister, and “It’s … awkward,” said Sr. Maximilian Marie with a smile.

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Gorgeous view from our retreat location in Powell Butte, Oregon

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Breathtaking sunset in the high desert of Central Oregon

So in love with the mountains. This is Mt. Hood, Oregon

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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.

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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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