{SQT} When a shirt is more than just a shirt

{SQT} When a shirt is more than just a shirt

St. Francis of Assist purportedly said, “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” I think I’ve previously expressed my disdain for this quote, because–hello!–two words: brown habits! Whenever people saw the good works of Francis and his brethren, of course they knew their good works were accomplished in service to the LORD, because they sported attire specifically reserved for those … in service to the LORD! They didn’t have to say anything.

For us modern lay folk, it’s slightly trickier. We can, within reason (and prudence and modesty), wear whatever we like while we’re living our Christian lives and fit right in with the rest of society. There’s usually nothing about our fashion sense that suggests we’re any different than any other human on the planet.

Unless … we make an intentional choice to do something a bit … different.

Being me means I am naturally attracted to the different; at my core, I’m slightly rebellious. Now, since reverting back to the Catholic faith, my rebellion has significantly mellowed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my ways of “sticking it to The Man.” Want to know the secret sauce behind my current counter-culturalism? Here’s my confession:

Hello. My name is Heather, and I am a dynamically orthodox Roman Catholic. I love Jesus, Mary, the saints, and the sacraments. I’ve been married to one man for 16 years, I’m open to life, my Minivan is covered in faith-centric bumper stickers, and … I wear blatant, flagrant, obnoxiously faith-related t-shirts nearly every day. 

So, let’s talk shirts, shall we? I wear them because I enjoy the conversations they illicit. I suppose it’s one way I’ve chosen to delve into the New Evangelization–as a sort of me-shaped billboard for the LORD. I guess it also means I have to remember to behave myself since I’m repping the Faith on the regular. Hahahaha.

Today, I am going to share a few of my favorites shirts with you in hopes that maybe you’ll consider joining me in this growing New Evangelization revolution.

Now, hear me out: Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to wear a Jesus Freak T in public every day like yours truly, but maybe you’re ready to wear one under your hoodie for a jog, or to a service project, or as a nightshirt. Baby steps. And don’t worry–I’m praying for you. Soon enough, you’ll be wearing your faith on your sleeve (actually and proverbially) all the time, too. By the way: If anyone knows who the patron saint for clothing-as-evangelization is, please let me know.

I realize there are many wonderful companies out there selling faith-based t-shirts, and I’m sorry I can’t highlight them all. I’m featuring those I personally wear and can confidently recommend because they come in an array of sizes and are super comfortable–Mama ain’t got time to wear scratchy or stiff shirts!–and because purchasing these shirts benefits sisters in Christ who also happen to be small business owners.

1. From Catholic Threads: BE BRAVE IN THE SCARED

Many of my readers know Mary Lenaburg, a remarkable woman and phenomenal speaker. This original design from the amazing Lorissa Horn of Catholic Threads isn’t just powerful and uplifting–the t-shirt is also a fundraiser to help pay down the remaining $57,000 (you read that correctly) debt incurred by the Lenaburg family while caring for their severely disabled daughter, Courtney. Shirts are currently available via pre-order only, which ends November 21st, so order now! This beauty will arrive in plenty of time for Holiday gift-giving for you and all your philanthropic friends wanting to help this family regain financial stability. P.S. The talented team at Catholic Threads has other amazing shirts (I have several!) … but you must buy this one first. Please and thank you. 😉

2. Rambling Mom: KEEP CALM & SAY A HAIL MARY

The past several months have been rough, with many loved ones suffering natural disasters, chronic disease and other difficulties. One dear friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I wanted to send her something to lift her spirits. When I saw Rambling Mom sporting this shirt on Instagram, I knew I’d found just the right gift. While the shirt I ordered wasn’t in RM’s shop last time I checked, word on the street is she might be able to make something just for you in a color you’ll adore; shoot her a message!

3. From Someday Saints: STRONG BRAVE LOVED

My friend Gina and I have known each other for several years now, and she continues to astonish me with her creativity and grace. Gina’s latest offering via her Someday Saints Design Etsy shop is a beautiful t-shirt I. just. love! Not only does it come in a lovely blue color, it conveys a wonderfully poignant message. Don’t tell my teen and tween, but they’re both receiving this t-shirt as Christmas gifts because these are three things I want them to know and believe about themselves. Annnnd I might have ordered one for myself because I might need a reminder sometimes, too! Check out the shirt and all Gina’s other lovelies in her shop today.

4. From Catholic Women Rejoice: REJOICE AND BE FREE

Once upon a time, in 2012, I started a women’s conference called Catholic Women Rejoice. For our fifth anniversary, we asked the fab gals at Catholic Threads (yes! they are that awesome) to design a shirt that was as comfortable as it is stylish. And, boy, did they nail it! This is my go-to sleep shirt, bum-around-the-house shirt, and clean all the things (again) shirt. My eldest daughter, who helped with the conference, lives in hers, too. I also have another, more fitted version for out-in-public appearances. If you’re interested in either shirt, I have limited quantities available. Send me a message indicating which version you’re interested in–slouchy or structured–and your size.

5. From Brick House in the City: ALL THE OPTIONS

I’m not even sure where to start; there are so many amazing (beautiful + comfortable) shirts in wonderful Lauren’s shop, it’s difficult to choose! I have the Everything is Grace shirt in honor of my girl St. Therese of Lisieux, the Love Begins At Home shirt because it reminds me of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and I bought the Cradle Catholic onesie for my sweet baby goddaughter’s Christmas gift. Currently, the Fiat and the Totus Tuus tees are on my Christmas list. Luckily, Lauren is offering a special code (BOGO10) for 10% off your order when you purchase two or more shirts. Hint, hint, Honey. 

Also? Decide which beauty you want soon, because TOMORROW (11.12) is the last day to pre-order guaranteed sizes and flavors of shirts in time for Christmas. Don’t be left empty-handed on The Big Day!

6. From Elly and Grace: NOT TODAY SATAN

I have to admit: My NOT TODAY SATAN shirt from Elly and Grace is a favorite to wear in my particularly heathenistic hometown of Portland, Oregon. Especially in the airport, where there are LOTS and LOTS of people. Ha, ha. I wear it when I need some extra Resurrection attotude, which is often when I am traveling alone for gigs, so this particular shirt has been getting more mileage lately. The funny thing is that I often get compliments on this shirt from perfect strangers–the lady in the bank, the lady at the coffee shop, the lady in the grocery check-out line. Apparently, allll the ladies like this shirt. But it could be that there are other prayer warriors out there like you and me who need the little bit of somewhat cheeky encouragement this shirt affords. Lots and lots of other choices in a broad range of sizes available on the E+G site!

7. Please feel free to comment with your favorite faith-based apparel, and I will update this post with your recommendations as my #7!

Of note: None of these are affiliate links. I just like (and wear) the shirts. 😊 Happy shopping, y’all!

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< king up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for {SQT}!

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Blessed Am I: An update and an invitation

Blessed Am I: An update and an invitation

Happy Thursday, friends! It’s been an especially busy and fruitful season for ye olde Real Catholic Mom. Not necessarily for this here blog, as you may have noticed; this poor thing tends to be relegated to the sidelines whenever Mom’s dance card is full with family, conference, retreatconference, retreat, and convention. Woof.

As much as I absolutely love traveling and sharing The Good News with other women and experiencing incredible, Holy Spirit-infused Visitation moments (#myjamforlife), there’s something rather precious and sweet about having nothing (okay, well, almost nothing) on my calendar leading into the holidays except for “normal” Wife-of-one-and-Mom-of-five stuff, which, quite honestly, is plenty for any soul, especially a former (ugh! I cannot tell a lie!) current Martha-holic like me with uniquely challenging and beautiful children like ours. I feel like these blessed blanks on my calendar are God’s way of gently guiding me closer to hearth and home, allowing Him to expertly guide this busy ship to shore for a bit of leave.

My challenge: To honor the blanks and not rush to fill them to overflowing like the recovering human doing that I am.

But y’all must know by now that I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t share a bit of what’s coming up, and they are good things, friends – very good things. To that end, here are my personal invitations to you and yours:

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Please join me LIVE for my very first online workshop with the wonderful Blessed is She ministry next Wednesday. The workshop, called Living Abundantly Through Forgiveness and Healing, streams live at 6 p.m. PST // 9 p.m. EST or can be downloaded after the event closes if the live time doesn’t work with your schedule. My prayer is that you’ll leave the session encouraged and strengthened to completely release any nagging bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness behind so you may close out this glorious Year of Mercy with a renewed sense of healing and wholeness.


Speaking of slowing down and digging deep … Advent is coming. I know, I know. But! As with everything, it is an opportunity to draw closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. From the Blessed is She website:

You want to dive deeper into the season of Advent, you desire to lay aside the busy-ness this season can become, and you yearn for a deeper relationship with our Lord. Here is your chance. Here is your time to grow closer to Him, to learn more about Him, and to fall more in love with Him. “Together, let’s prepare our hearts and our very lives for the coming of the Baby.” // Elizabeth Foss, author of By the Manger in the Morning Prayer Journal

***Please note: Clicking through to the BIS website via the above image or the hyperlinked title financially benefits, in a small yet meaningful way, my friend and fellow prayer warrior/speaker/writer/uplifter, Mary Lenaburg. Thank you kindly for your generosity!


For local friends, I’ll be at St. Cecilia Parish again this year for their Women With Spirit Advent Recollection on Tuesday, December 6th at 7 p.m. Stay tuned for more details!


Finally, dear friends – would you please pray for me? The Holy Spirit has really been working on my heart these past few months, and even more intensely these past few weeks. I want to be able to be still (neither my best nor my most natural posture) to listen to and, more importantly, cooperate, with His leading.

Until next time, please know of my prayers with and for you.

heather

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When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

When people throw shade on your Jesus shine

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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!

 

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Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

Retreat with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT

The Retreat (4)Women of God, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get away for extended time with Our Lord yet weren’t sure where to go, we have an incredible retreat opportunity for you this Fall with dynamic author and speaker Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT.

Sr. Miriam is the author of the incredible book Loved As I Am, and has countless speaking gigs under her belt, including Steubenville conferences, Called to Love, and keynotes at Catholic Women Rejoice in 2012 and 2013.

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Sr. Miriam 2013

She’s also super active on Twitter as @onegroovynun, which is fun for me and all her 17.7k followers on that social media platform.

Sr. Miriam Twitter

Without further ado, here is the scoop for the upcoming Fall retreat with Sr. Miriam:

Location:
Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton, Oregon

Dates: 
Friday, October 14 (evening) through Sunday, October 16 (afternoon).

Details: 
Opportunity for group prayer, individual prayer, Confession, Mass, Adoration, socialization, walks around the peaceful OLP campus, and, of course, several conference sessions with Sr. Miriam. This is NOT a silent retreat.

Lodging:
There is limited space to stay at the retreat house the whole weekend, but we will allow for some retreatants to use the “commuter” option, which means they enjoy everything but the overnight stays. Commuters are responsible to find their own lodging off-site if they do not live locally.

Transportation:
Transportation to and from the retreat venue is the responsibility of the retreatant. Folks flying in will want to select PDX (Portland International Airport) as their destination airport.

Childcare:
Due to logistical considerations, childcare is not available during the weekend; however, Moms with lap babies are welcome to bring them along!

Cost:
TBD. Full retreat includes lodging for Friday and Saturday nights as well as all meals and materials, while the commuter rate includes all meals and materials but lodging is the responsibility of the retreatant.

Space is limited and will sell out, so if you’d like to be included on the registration list, please email: CatholicWomenRejoice@gmail.com or contact us via this form.

The Retreat (4)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Sr. Miriam’s book (and I highly recommend you do), you may learn more about her transformational story here and here.

loved as I am

God bless y’all!

heather

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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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