All the light we think we can see

All the light we think we can see

It’s been quite different having only one small child tagging along with me this past schoolyear. Young Sir K has been my shadow, my sidekick, and my adventure buddy. We’ve spent countless hours running errands, reading aloud, chatting about Legos and Paw Patrol and bugs. Simply enjoying each another’s presence has been so refreshing as I work on embracing a more measured pace of life.

I’ve found that, during this time of less doing and more being, God speaks to my heart in ways I couldn’t hear amidst the cacophany of constant noise and motion.

For example, something interesting happened during a routine trek to the grocery store the other day that compelled me to ponder perception, reality, and waiting on the LORD.

Small red basket overflowing, Sir K and I headed toward the check-out lanes. Since the self-serve stations were occupied, we high-tailed to the nearest open lane. What a blessing! I thought. There’s no one else in line! I figured we’d be out of there in no time flat.

Read the rest here.

photo credit: Josh Boot with permission via unsplash
Share
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?

Share
St. Miriam Angelica + how to help

St. Miriam Angelica + how to help

Baby Miriam and MomFriends, it is with geat sorrow that I report sweet baby Miriam Angelica Ho went home to be with the LORD the day after her birth. I first posted about our prayer efforts on behalf of baby Miriam here.

Countless members of the online community didn’t hesitate to pray for the miraculous healing of this beautiful new life, but it wasn’t meant to be.

On May 23, Miriam’s father, Erik, provided this heartbreaking update via Facebook:

With a heavy heart I would like to tell everyone who has been offering their thoughts and prayers that at 12 pm today (5.23) our little Miriam passed away. She was with all of us while the NICU staff removed her breathing tube and we were able to be alone with her as she died. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers. Saint Miriam is with our Lord and our Lady now praying for all of us.”

Later that evening, Miriam’s mother, Cassandra, wrote the following message:

Our dear, sweet baby girl Miriam Angelica has left this world. We now have a Saint in heaven praying for all of us, after all the prayers and masses said for her over the past 30 or so hours.

We are overwhelmed by all the prayers, kind thoughts, and offers of help from friends and family near and far. It is amazing how small and intimate the world becomes in a time of tragedy. Miriam’s short time with us has touched so many hearts, we could not have asked for more. We will go home with empty hands, but very full hearts.

It has been really helpful and comforting to know how quickly and widespread our news and needs for prayers has spread.

In times of great sorrow and loss, it can be difficult to know what to do to help a grieving family. Writer Laura Fanucci, who is walking the path of life after loss, provides excellent suggestions for practical and spiritual help. She has a lot of powerful, well-written entries about grief (and other things, too), as has Writer Tommy Tighe, whose son, Luke, died shortly after birth.

Specifically, there are particular ways that you, in your charity, may assist Cassandra and Erik Ho and their children during this extraordinarily difficult time.

1. Material support via gift cards

While local friends are helping with a meal train, the family has asked for gift cards to cover general expenses (ie groceries, restaurants, Costco, Amazon, etc.).

Any gifts may be mailed to:

The Ho Family
c/o Bronson Family
2126 Peaceful Garden Way
Rescue, CA 95672

2. Spiritual support via prayers and sacrifices

The Blessed is She sisterhood is gathering a spiritual bouquet for the Ho Family. Your offering of prayers, sacrifices, Masses, etc. for their consolation and peace is greatly appreciated. You may contribute to the bouquet by commenting on the original Facebook thread. If you don’t have a Facebook account, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will gladly add your offering to the bouquet that will be presented to the family in the near future.

And, finally, if you live near the Ho Family in California, please consider joining them in prayer for Miriam Angelica’s funeral Mass. Here are the details from Miriam’s parents:

Next Thursday, June 1, at 10am, we would like to invite all who can come to a Mass of the Angels for our daughter Miriam. There will be a reception afterwards. If you are wanting to offer any assistance of any kind for the reception or anything else, please feel free to contact Sarina Bronson at 530-503-7474 via text or call, or she can be reached at sarina@bronsons.net.

Thank you, dear readers, for your prayers and support. Let’s lift this family up and remind them that the Body of Christ, the Church Militant, is alive and well. Let’s be Jesus’s hands and feet for them in their time of need.

image credit: Lena Flores

Share
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.

Share
Update on Bury the dead: Y’all done brought it!

Update on Bury the dead: Y’all done brought it!

Earlier today, I asked for your help, and y’all done BROUGHT it. I mean, for reals and for trues. I stand in awe of our awesome God and the amazing things we can accomplish as believers when we stand united in prayer and purpose. PRAISE HIS NAME!!

Here is an update on the situation, from Mary herself:


*** UPDATE AS OF 4:28 PM EST, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2016***

You all are amazing! Just amazing. I have absolutely no words left. I am typing through tears. I had to pick Jerry up from the floor. You fabulously wonderful people have given $4,200 plus dollars in the last several hours. I walked away from the computer to go to the grocery store and post office and I come home to yet another Christmas miracle for the Lenaburg Family. We have more than enough to get back to Oklahoma for Jerry’s Dad’s funeral early next week and to pay for extended parking and other traveling expenses. There is more than enough to cover Jerry’s leave without pay as well. Whatever is left, we will apply to the debt that remains from Courtney’s time here on earth. I should have known that when Courtney is involved, she doesn’t mess around. My daughter is an incredible intercessor. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for your love and most generous support. We are humbled beyond belief … God is GOOD, ALL THE TIME.


praise-hands-edwin-andrade

So thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! While these dollars and cents don’t erase the pain, they sure do ease some of the burden for this faithful family. I am so humbled and grateful for your response.

And, just for fun, here’s what I texted Mary when I heard that y’all helped them FAR surpass their goal:

Thank YOU Jesus!! Thank YOU!!! You are worthy! You are powerful! You are mighty! We thank You!! We praise You! We adore You! You are worthy! Of ALL the honor, glory, and praise!!

That’s how I felt, and that’s how I feel, and that’s the truth, and I’m stickin’ to it.

God bless y’all. REALLY.

heather

P.S. Anyone who has struggled with grief knows that it is an ongoing process of the heart, mind, and body. Ongoing prayers for the entire Lenaburg Clan are, of course, encouraged and appreciated. Amen and amen. <3

Photo by Edwin Andrade. Used with permission via Unsplash.com

Share