Why I can’t quit

Why I can’t quit

Recently, people have noticed that I’m sort of, um, preoccupied, with the upcoming women’s conference. Have you heard about it?? No?? Well, it’s going to be fantastic!

The fifth annual Catholic Women Rejoice conference is happening Saturday, August 20 (that’s in, um, TWO weeks) with Author and blogger Hallie Lord, blogger Mary Lenaburg, Blessed is She Founder Jenna Guizar, best-selling Author, Blogger, and The Visitation Project co-host Rebecca Frech, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample. All the cool kids will be there! Register today! End commercial.

Anyway, the bags under my eyes are carrying their own luggage these days, and I’m not quite my usual perky self. The to-do lists have birthed multiple longer to-do lists, and while the work is beyond plentiful, the laborers are excruciatingly few. 

Over the years, people have peppered me with questions about my involvement with this event:

“Are you getting enough sleep?” No.
“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” Because.
“You have young kids at home!” Yep.
“It’s so much work.” Amen.

“Women are too busy to go to something like this, anyway.” Um, really?

“Why don’t you just give up?“

Why, indeed.

FULL STOP.

My friends, the very best reason to do something is because God asks you to do it. A close second is because the devil doesn’t want you to do it and whispers in your ear that what you’re doing isn’t worth it, and you’re not worth it, and the women who will be served aren’t worth it, and it’s just a big hassle, and you’re underqualified and crazy and you should just give up.

Apparently God made me extraordinarily stubborn for such a time as this, because I will NOT quit, and I will NOT give up.

Time after time, God has shown me that women absolutely do need opportunities like this. They need space for community, for fellowship, for encounter. For praise. And, like the little boy giving Jesus what he had to help feed the crowds, I believe God can take what precious little I give and use it to bless and heal women, their families, whole communities, and our broken and beautiful world, all for His greater glory.

Sr. Miriam 2013

What we Catholic women are doing – trying to live faithfully and joyfully – is an utterly counter-cultural existence. That’s right – we’re rebels. The Pacific NW, where I live, is consistently cited as one of the most unchurched areas in the nation, with Catholics as the crystal-clear minority or minorities. And we can feel it. We hear:

“You know what causes that, don’t you?” as we shop with our children in the grocery store.

“How come you let a bunch of old men in Rome to tell you what to do?” as we engage in the workplace.

“Why aren’t you taking more time for yourself and going on some exotic vacation?” as we pursue social media.

“Why do you need to confess your sins to a priest?” as we chat with our friends.

“Isn’t it enough to just be a good person?” as we talk with our neighbors.

“Live and let live, man,” as we’re told by our legislature.

Time after time our culture tells us: “That may be your truth, but it’s not my truth,” and, my favorite: “Be more tolerant,” as society drifts further and further away from the actual Truth.

Between you and me, as a Catholic woman, I have felt very alone in our society. I have felt isolated. I have felt extremely discouraged. I have believed the lie that I am the only one trying to do this work – this beautiful, difficult, amazing work – that Catholic women do. I have cried myself to sleep, wondering *where my people* were, and whether I would ever find them.

Eventually, though, I decided to quit complaining and do something. Since there wasn’t anything happening in my area where a big group of Catholic women could get together and be joyful about being Catholic women, I was going to start something. And so, with no money, no location scouted, and no speakers booked, I began planning the first general Catholic women’s conference in the Pacific Northwest with nothing but faith, hope, and a telephone.

I didn’t know if anyone would show. But they did. And they kept coming back.

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Catholic Women Rejoice and other conferences like it exist because someone decided to take a chance on the idea that women need a place (even if it’s only once a year) to gather together outside of Sunday Mass and know that we are most certainly not alone, that who we are as women matters, and that the gift of our common Catholic faith is something for which we should rejoice!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with connecting with other women online – in fact, it’s probably where I connect with friends most consistently, because that’s the season of life in which I find myself. But there is something about seeing other women – being in their presence – looking into their eyes and seeing the underlying compassion and deep understanding that transcends spoken language: “You get it.” 

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At a typical Catholic women’s conference, participants are free to be fully themselves without fear or worry. A woman can bless herself and her food before eating and no one will give it a second thought. Another can nurse her baby while enjoying a conversation. Someone can be comforted in her struggles with infertility. Another can discuss the Pope’s latest encyclical, or the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning. Still another can steal away to the Adoration Chapel for a few quiet, distraction-free moments with Jesus.

No one will be accused of being a Papist. Or a bigot. Or an idol-worshipper. Or a hater. Or a breeder. Or a weirdo. We can celebrate Mass, go to confession, and pray. We can sing, laugh, and praise. We can ask Mary and the saints and each other to pray for our needs. We can eat good food that is still warm that we didn’t have to prepare ourselves. And, you know what? We can have FUN. You know, like, smiling ’til your face hurts, laughing ’til you can’t breathe anymore, fun.

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I honestly believe that Catholic conferences and events uplift women and reinvigorate them to go back into the world and do God’s will through their individual vocation*, whatever it may be. They remind us that we are not alone in this work. They remind us that we are Catholic. And that we are strong, resilient women – wonderfully, fearfully, and beautifully made. And because of these things, we are free to truly rejoice.

And so, as I continue to wade through my myriad to-do lists, I am praying for all the women who will come to Catholic Women Rejoice, or any other conference, for that matter, that in that time and space with their sisters in Christ, they will encounter Jesus and emerge renewed and transformed. And after that? After that I’ll sleep.

Even if women’s conferences aren’t your “thing” or you can’t attend or organize one this year for whatever reason, you could donate to  our scholarship fund, sponsoring another woman to attend, contact me about putting an ad in our program or supporting us as an underwriter, or – most importantly – we are so grateful for your prayers! And I will keep praying for you. ❤️

*Whether a woman is a stay-at-home Mom, a career woman, a single woman, a religious, a work-inside-or-outside-the-home Mom, discerning her vocation, not a Mom, retired, a full-time volunteer, an Auntie, Grandma, high school student, college student, or any other iteration of Catholic woman of goodwill, she is welcome at Catholic Women Rejoice.

Grandma A

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The New Evangelization (Day 7)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The New Evangelization (Day 7)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, y’all!

Many of you may not know that I owe much of my understanding of the Catholic faith to what I learned through the excellent programming of Catholic radio, specifically, Mater Dei Radio, based in Portland, OR. It is in no small part because of what I heard and learned on this station that I not only fell back in love with and reverted to the Faith, but am now doing whatever I can to be a small part of the Church’s efforts in the New Evangelization, including blogging, organizing the local women’s conference, producing and co-hosting The Visitation Project, leading retreats, speaking at events, etc.

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Today, my Visitation Project co-hosts Rebecca and Bonnie and I are honored and blessed to appear live (eek!) on-air at 9 a.m. PST to help raise money to keep Mater Dei fully funded. We’ve supported their bi-annual sharathon pledge drive once before, but this is our first appearance as a team! As TVP is produced through the facilities of Mater Dei, we owe them a debt of gratitude and are proud to joyfully support them in their efforts to bring the Truth of the Catholic faith to the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

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We hope you will be a part of the New Evangelization, too, and support Mater Dei by calling in your pledge of support: 1-888-823-5286. Please be as generous as you are able … you never know whose life will be changed by what they hear on Catholic radio!

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Joyfully yours until tomorrow,

heather

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{SQT} So Much Awesome, So Little Time

{SQT} So Much Awesome, So Little Time

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Sometimes life is so busy you don’t even have time to catch your breath and tell anyone what’s going on. Thank God for the opportunity, a day late (natch), to exhale for a minute (brushed my teeth – promise!) and share some of the incredible stuff that’s been happening in my little corner of the world.

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Recording with these ladies was a tremendous blessing. We laughed waaaaay more than is likely legal in the contiguous United States and abroad, yet we still managed to complete everything on our production schedule (thank You, Holy Spirit!). I’m so incredibly grateful to them for their generous friendship and I’m especially excited to spill even more beans about The Visitation Project in late April.

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And that’s a wrap for our first round of recording – time to celebrate! Bottoms up!

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The last few weeks have been so great, but honestly, also pretty stressful for me. There’s a ton of stuff I feel called to do, but I don’t want my family to suffer, you know? Although I worked outside the home the majority of our marriage, I’ve been a SAHM the past two-plus years, and it appears I’d forgotten the specific struggles working-outside-the-home Mamas face. My hat is off to those valiant women who work outside the home and still manage to hold everything together en casa. Ladies, I salute you, and pray God blesses the work of your (seriously full) hands.

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Taken at a local Lenten prayer retreat … So beautiful, meaningful, and necessary during this penitential time of the year.

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The Rock and Worship Road Show with Mr. Matt “I speak Elvish” Maher and the glowing Shaina.

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 The Enforcer and I took turns attending a days-long Lenten Mission led by our dear brother in Christ, Richard Lane. We even took the whole kit and kaboodle to Adoration and Benediction the second-to-last-night, and against all odds, there were no casualties!

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After so much awesomeness and no real sign of the jam-packed “to-do” list letting up anytime soon, I was grateful to steal away for a little while to our beloved local retreat house not once but twice this week – yesterday with just my babies and our friend with her babies, and today with the whole family. I’ve always felt it to be a place of genuine refuge, and today’s visit, albeit super brief, didn’t disappoint because (of course!) God is faithful.

Bottom line? No doubt I’m an incredibly blessed child of God. I pray for the grace to wholeheartedly glorify Almighty God, the Giver of all good gifts, through all the various times and seasons of my life.

Until next time,

Peace.

heather

Linking up with the ultra-rad homeschooling, Whole30ing, mic-dropping Kelly Mantoan at This Ain’t the Lyceum. See what other amazing people are writing about right here.

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Introducing The Visitation Project #WhatisTVP?

Introducing The Visitation Project #WhatisTVP?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a mailman, Wonder Woman, a writer, astronaut, broadcast journalist, jazz singer, and then a writer again. In that order. And maybe a cowgirl somewhere along the lines, too. Whatever the case, it’s not every day that one of your childhood dreams comes (well, sorta, anyway) true!

No. I am not becoming Wonder Woman. Nice try. 😉

What I am doing, though, is joining with two wonderfully amazing women to broadcast an exciting new show called T H E   V I S I T A T I O N   P R O J E C T!

I am incredibly blessed to partner with the fantastic Rebecca Frech (Patheos blogger, best-selling homeschooling author, CrossFit junkie, and #AdaptiveArmy mama) and the phenomenal Bonnie Engstrom (A Knotted Life blogger, founder of the Sheenazing Awards, the Behold conference, and speaking next week at St. Joe’s in Vancouver). Together, we’ll be chewing the fat about everything and the kitchen sink from the perspective of Catholic women, wives, and mothers, because, hey – that’s who we are.

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Exactly #WhatisTVP? Here are some details:

  • Coming soon to soundwaves near you
  • Website under construction but we’ll announce as soon as we can
  • Launch date/time to be announced in April
  • Like and follow our FB Community page here, Twitter here, and Insta here for the latest updates
  • Y’all best join up with us on social media ASAP, because we will be giving away a very special prize NEXT WEEK!

And that’s quite literally all I am permitted to say for now. No more details. None. Nada.

So, #WhatIsTVP? Stay tuned and find out! Hold on to your horses, friends – it’s gonna be a wild ride!

heather

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

... drumroll, please ...
… drumroll, please …
Congratulations to Jennifer, a super sweet blog reader who just won the most recent Real Catholic Mom giveaway as part of our Celebrating Real Catholic Women series!

Jennifer, please send your snail mail address to: RealCatholicMom {at} gmail {dot} com and you’ll receive your signed copy of Rebecca Frech‘s book in the mail.

Many blessings to you, Jennifer! Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

In Christ,

-Heather

P.S. Stay tuned for another episode in the Celebrating Real Catholic Women series, with a special offer from our guest!

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