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.

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.


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?

{SQT} Writing, Advent, radio, conferences, and (yes!) slowing down

{SQT} Writing, Advent, radio, conferences, and (yes!) slowing down


Today’s installment of Seven Quick Takes Friday should be known as the  #HASHTAG version, because, sweet fancy Moses, this post is rollin’ in ’em. Let’s dig in, shall we?

31 days of unexpected joy



For the past 30 days, I’ve been writing about the same topic – unexpected joy – every. single. day. as part of the aptly-named 31 days. Wowza. It’s been a huge leap of faith for me to participate – an exercise in creativity, discipline, and sheer guts, and I am dang proud (and, truthfully) more than a little surprised that I’ve actually made it this far. I’ll show you what I purchased for myself to commemorate this feat as sooooon as it arrives. So excited! Meanwhile, please check out all of the posts here.

TVP on itunes (2)



Since last I participated with SQTF, The Visitation Project has made its debut on iTunes! We are super excited, and can’t wait to share more episodes with y’all. We’d love it if you’d bless us with some happy reviews. Please and thank you so much!

journal-and-cards-on-table (2)



People get ready – Jesus is coming! Friends, the season of Advent is, as of today, LESS THAN ONE MONTH AWAY. Stop screaming (please – you’ll hurt your nice singing voice) and get ye over to the huge blessing that is the Blessed is She shop, where they are pre-selling an Advent journal with devotions by none other than Catholic recording artist Audrey Assad. There’s also some amazing Jesse Tree calendar (with some Scriptural reflections by yours truly and other fabulously talented writers) that will inspire you on your journey toward Bethlehem. Buy the bundle (journal + calendar) and save!




Speaking of calendars, my friend Meg has created this gorgeous liturgical wall calendar for 2015-2016 that will knock your socks off! Each day offers the Mystery of the Rosary, Advent ountdown stickers,  Saint of each day, liturgical season color coding, Advent & Lenten Meditations, two Novenas,  and much more. If you’ve been itching to live a more liturgically Catholic lifestyle, this is the calendar for you, and at 12″ x 18″, it will surely be a focal point in your home. I can’t wait to use mine!

My second post is up at on Monday. It's a doozy.



Speaking of writing about the same topic for 31 days, I plan to write a wrap-up piece about my experience to be published on the website this coming Monday if I don’t collapse beforehand. UPDATE: read all about it here.

CWR15 Social Media 72215 (2)



It’s hard to believe, but tonight (Friday) marks the first organizational meeting for next year’s Catholic Women Rejoice conference, our 5th (!!) annual. I’ve joked that conference planning is a bit like pregnancy + childbirth – it’s simultaneously hellacious and rewarding to live through. Within a few (several?) months, you’ve forgotten the bad parts and are ready to do it all again. Please keep watching the blog and especially the Facebook page for more details. It’s gonna be great!

Retreat feet.



Okay, so this hashtag isn’t really a hashtag, but dang if it shouldn’t be. I’ve been going at a pretty brisk clip in a lot of areas for quite a while now, and I am starting to feel it in a variety of ways. I went on a silent retreat at the end of September, and while it wasn’t horrible, it was really hard because it became quite clear that I am living a much too stressful existence right now, and something has to give, or my brain and body will eventually give out. I am going to be talking to Jesus and Mary quite a bit in the next season about being more intentional about this.  And, yes, I get the irony of talking about allthethings (above) and talking about slowing down (here). I’ve never pretended to be someone who makes sense. 😉

Alright, then – I think that’s it for now! Thanks to the amazing Kelly for hosting yet again; please check out all the other fantastic SQTF entries here. Until next time, God bless y’all!


31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sunday (Day 4)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sunday (Day 4)

Happy Sunday!

I thought I’d give you a peek into how we spend the Lord’s Day as a family. But first, here’s what an ideal day of rest looks like:

  1. Attend Holy Mass together; everyone is so well-behaved (with no meltdowns, no WWE impersonations, and no parade-o-trips-to-the-bathroom) that the priest provides the whole family with celebratory donuts that don’t cause unwieldy sugar rushes, subsequent crashes, or weight gain.
  2. Enjoy family time doing something together that fills everyone with great joy. There is no bickering, whining, begging, cheating, or otherwise troublesome behavior noted from the adults or the children.
  3. Everyone takes a nice, restful snooze that doesn’t make them cranky or unable to go to bed at a reasonable time later that evening.
  4. Meals make themselves.
  5. Cleaning up? Don’t be silly! That’s why God made forest creatures!
  6. Bedtime is a breeze, with everyone reading diligently above their grade levels, followed by each saying heart-felt yet non-rambling prayers that are surely heard at the Throne of Heaven because, darn it all, we have all been so very good and have enjoyed a MARVELOUS DAY!
  7. Sleep comes easily and meaningfully. For the children, as well, of course.

Annnnd …. here’s what our Sunday usually looks like:

  1. Go to Mass and sit together until someone has to take the 2-year-old out and/or the 4-year-old has to pee for the third time, whichever comes next.
  2. Fend off kids begging for a donut after Mass with promises of a yummy brunch at home!
  3. Make and eat brunch after Mass.
  4. Enjoy family time until someone asks to watch TV or use the computer (usually about three minutes in).
  5. Hold off on allowing screen time until the fifth kid asks for the 122nd time.
  6. Fall asleep on the couch for a while while kids watch something on TV – preferably Veggie Tales or The Sound of Music or something else edifying and uplifting.
  7. Throw something easy together for dinner.
  8. Clean up most of the kitchen with the kids’ help.
  9. Get everyone down to bed at a reasonable hour so the parents can watch sports highlights (Mr. Fix-It) and work on all the computery things (me).

And here’s what today looked like, actually:

Please don't make fun of me. I'm not an artist, and I don't even play one on my blog.
Please don’t make fun of me. I’m not an artist, and I don’t even play one on my blog.
Okay. So, it wasn’t that bad. But it did involve several round-trips to church  for Mass, volleyball, volleyball, volleyball and choir practice. I am telling you – “death by mini-van” may very well be on my death certificate. There was also a birthday party, and one trip to Urgent Care for good measure since the 7-year-old decided to shove this in his ear:

Lego pic
I’m so excited to see how much this Lego piece is really worth once we get the Urgent Care bill!
One of my online friends remarked, “Sometimes it seems to me that parenthood is just a string of, ‘What were you thinking?! moments.” #preach. Which made me wonder if that’s how God sees me … #yes #almostalways

Anyway, we did attend Mass as a family, we did eat a yummy brunch with scrambled eggs and pumpkin spice biscuits

Sunday brunch

and we did see a heckuvaLOT of volleyball this weekend.  Volleyball

I’m wondering what your Sunday was like today, friends. What things do you do on this day that fill you with joy?

Until tomorrow,


Serenity Now!!

Serenity Now!!

I don’t have any formalized medical training, but I’m pretty sure my head is thisclose to exploding.

My husband and I are a mere 2 hours away from leaving for our once-a-year couple’s retreat. I should be rejoicing. Except … I am so sidetracked right now, it might take an act of God to get me to be able to concentrate during our weekend “away.”

Thanks be to God, my parents are on their way to watch our kids … but they’re running late. Very late. And we need to drop off a meal to a family that miscarried at 5 months before we can settle in at the retreat house. Thank you, God, for my parents. Thank you, God, that my children are healthy. Thank you for our friends, for the hope I heard in the Mom’s voice despite deep suffering, for providing peace that goes beyond all understanding.

As far as the retreat goes, we have to be a “commuter” couple this year, traveling the 25 minutes back and forth from our house to the center at night and in the morning, because our 20-month-old doesn’t sleep through the night consistently enough for my Mom’s taste yet. Oh, well – at least we get to go. Thank you, God, that the retreat house is not too far away. Thank you, God, for healing my Mom of cancer three years ago and giving her the energy to help us out this weekend.

The phone won’t stop ringing. The guest bathroom has yet to be cleaned. I haven’t showered yet. The “how to” instructions for our kids’ care is done, but the printer doesn’t want to work. Oh, and on my way out of the garage this morning, I took a big chunk out of our left-hand side-view mirror. I am hoping I got all the pieces off the front lawn and that super glue will cover a multitude of sins. Thank you, God, for the phone, for running water, for a computer, printer, garage, home, and car. Oh, and a big thanks for the inventor of super glue.

There are a few other big things on my mind, too: I just heard that a couple who’s going to be at the retreat this weekend just lost their adult daughter suddenly. Thank you, God, for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of friendship. Thank you for your healing and saving power.

I have a big meeting with a client Monday morning after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat. I have a panel interview for a short-term full-time job the Monday afternoon after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat, too. So much for basking in the “mountaintop” experience of our retreat! Thank you, God, for the opportunity to earn money to support my family, however far from ideal our economic circumstances might be.

We got a letter from the IRS Wednesday telling us we own $35,000 in back taxes from 2008, which is hilarious, because I don’t think we even made $35,000 in 2008. Seems my former employer put a “comma” where there should have been a “decimal point,” and I made upwards of $80,000 instead of $8,000. Getting out of this mess will take a stack of paperwork and a lot of time that we don’t have right now. Thank you, God, for the gift of humor, perseverance, and patience. Help us, Lord, to get this cleared up soon so we can get our Federal tax return in the bank.

The financial aid paperwork deadline for school this Fall is looming overhead, and … and … and …

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus beckons:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of your Word. I am starting to slow down … I am starting to listen …