Listen closely … he is coming!

Listen closely … he is coming!

Fr. GaitleyThere I was, hurtling down the country roads en route to school, listening to the local Catholic radio station. The morning show host and his guest, an enthusiastic and kind-sounding woman, were talking about a program that was “new” and “exciting.” Only, I couldn’t quite catch what they were saying over my noisy children in the backseat.

“Please, you guys!” I begged my beloved offspring. “Mommy is trying to listen!”

What was the woman saying? I still couldn’t quite make it out. “You guyyyys!!” I yelled back at my children, otherwise known as they-who-could-not-be-shushed. Something about getting closer to Jesus? Maybe a book and meeting together with a group of people? “Oh!” I concluded. “She must be talking about a Bible study.”

Whatever it was, I decided I was interested – really interested.

Read the rest here.

photo credit: Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Used with permission.

Living in the weeds and other updates

Living in the weeds and other updates

woman-outside-a-window-staring-into-a-roomThis is just going to be a relatively quick entry – and I apologize for that. I am quite behind with a number of things (hello, unfinished Christmas cards staring me in the face) and, of course, posting here is one of those things.

I won’t attempt to fool you or myself by promising regular entries from here on out; we all know that’s a pie crust promise  – easily made, easily broken.

What I can promise: I am praying for you. Each and every one. You are dear to me – even those of you whom I’ve never met face-to-face and I dare say that’s the majority. Your patience with me as I work out with fear and trembling what I should say – what I am able to say – in this space and your acceptance when I finally get around to actually saying it has done my heart such good over the years. And for that, I am so very grateful.

May I ask a favor? If you think of it, would you please, in turn, pray for me? I could sure use it. Due to a strange mix of circumstances, I’ve been feeling rather low and quite overwhelmed since the end of November/beginning of December, and the usual remedies don’t seem to be working. Thankfully, Christmas was beautiful. For that pocket of grace, I give thanks.

But on balance, things have been hard – so very hard. Unfortuntely, I am no stranger to the vice grip that can be clinical depression, although I am not sure if I’ve ever written about it in much detail before. Whatever the case, I find myself, yet again, researching and attempting and crying and fighting and starting and stopping and trying once more. ‘Tis the human condition overall, is it not? Sometimes, however, even the normal difficulties of daily life are magnified a million times over when one is trudging through the weeds of it all.

What I know to be true is this: my faith in God continues to be the most precious gift I have and will ever possess. Even when things are at their bleakest, I believe that God is here with me, holding my hand and counting my tears and encouraging me forward one step at a time in ways both seen and unseen. I thank you for your prayers. Truly, I do. They are precious to me and mean more than I could express.


In all honesty, I didn’t plan to write this much about my struggles today, but I think I am going to hit the “publish” button anyway, if only so that any of you who struggle with depression, anxiety, loneliness, or any of the accompanying symptoms may be encouraged by knowing you are not alone.

Let me say it again: You are not alone

Also? There is no shame in seeking help, whether via professional counseling, conversation with a trusted friend or priest, or via medication as prescribed by a medical professional. A resourceful friend reminded me of this wonderful book about Catholics and depression, and I whole-heartedly recommend it to you without reservation. If, God forbid, you are struggling in the most difficult of ways, help is available 24/7 via telephone: 1-800-273-8255 or via online chat. You are unique and precious and unrepeatable, and this world needs you. I believe this with all my heart, my friend.


And now, if you’ve hung on thusfar, you will rewarded with the originally intended main topic of this post: Fr. Michael Gaitley is coming! To our state! Next month!

fr-gaitley-retreat-poster-photo

A little bit of history might be in order so as to explain my enthusiasm.

Fr. Gaitley’s books 33 Days to Morning Glory and Consoling the Heart of Jesus had a profound impact on my life, as well as many others’, I’d imagine. Over the past four or five years, I’ve made numerous attempts, via official and unofficial means, to lure invite Fr. Gaitley to Oregon (and even Alabama) with no luck. Thank the good LORD for the persistance of my friend Betsy at St. Cecilia Parish. At her suggestion, we both submitted two separate yet official inquiries to his office last year in an effort to gang up on convince him that the Pacific Northwest is beyond ready to receive the message he stewards. I don’t presume to know the mind of the Holy Spirit, but apparently, he agreed that the time had come. Because Fr. Gaitley is indeed coming. I believe the fruit of this retreat will be manifold for our local church, and I praise God for what He is doing in the world, in our community, in me. Seen and unseen. Weeds and all.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo credit: Priscilla Westra used with permission via unsplash.com

Vintage RCM: Where are *my* roses??!

Vintage RCM: Where are *my* roses??!

Hello! Today’s post is from exactly seven years ago, on the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux 2009 wherein I prove that I can be jut as bratty and entitled as St. Thérèse was reported to be in her childhood. I hope you enjoy this Vintage edition of RCM. 

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Today is the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church. I have grown to love her “little way,” since most days I feel (okay, act) pretty little, myself.

Anyway, I have heard wondrous stories of people experiencing the fulfillment of Thérèse’s promise to “let fall a shower of roses” from heaven. And, earlier today, I was wondering – quite unattractively, mind you – where are MY roses?

Alright, so it’s totally selfish. I get it. Patience is a virtue and all that. But my husband and I said the St. Thérèse novena over the past nine days, and I was imptiently wondering, not if, but WHEN my roses would show up.

Today also happens to be my spiritual director’s feast day. She said they don’t celebrate birthdays in her religious order, but they do celebrate their feast days, so I thought I’d drop off a card on my way to another appointment across town.

Turns out, she had taken her feast day off, lucky lady. I dropped off the card and, since she wasn’t there, I had a few extra minutes to say a quick prayer in the on-site chapel.

My eyes fixed on the tabernacle straight ahead, and I had to smile.therese-roses

There, on either side of the tabernacle holding the precious Blessed Sacrament of Jesus Christ, were two vases holding the most gorgeous, perfect, vibrant pink roses I have ever laid eyes on.

Now, I know those roses weren’t originally intended for me, and yet, in a way, they were absolutely meant for me. I think Thérèse was showing me, in her simple yet profound way, that my consolation always has been and always will be waiting for me in the Tabernacle. She used “my” roses to adjust my attitude and point me in the right direction.

Thank you, fair Maiden of Lisieux, for the heavenly reminder. May Jesus be praised now and forevermore!

Love,

heather

 

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.

CWR12

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

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Silence (Day 5)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Silence (Day 5)

Retreat feet.
Retreat feet.

Folks who know me well and not-so-well might be surprised to read that silence brings me joy. Well, that’s one of the reasons this series is called “unexpected,” my friends – you never know what you’re gonna get!

Anyway, silence did NOT always bring me joy.

A trip in the way-back machine will show my younger self surrounded by a LOT of noise – the bigger the car stereo system, the louder the rock concert, the rowdier the party – I sought out the noise, and the noise was more than happy to be found. I believed these things were bringing me joy.

I’ve often joked that God knew it would take having the incomparable noise of life with five young children and a husband to get me to want to spend time, alone, in a chapel filled with nothing but Jesus in the Tabernacle and my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong – I still crank up TobyMac in the minivan and get down to Lecrae in the living room. But it’s different now. I’m not as apt to seek noise for its own sake anymore. I’m not trying to drown God out … usually. I want to actually be able to hear Him.

And yet, I do still struggle with silence. I sometimes struggle with it mightily. Because I am out of practice actually entering in to the silence. And that is because I lack discipline.

I suffer from what Buddhists would call “monkey mind.” My thoughts swing from branch to branch like busy little monkeys, and more often than not, I have seemingly several dozen monkeys swinging around simultaneously with no end in sight. Admittedly, my mind can be a very scary place. I have not figured out exactly how to calm the monkeys yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion it doesn’t involve bananas. Rather, I must regularly invest the proper amount  of time to be still and know that He is God. 

So, late last month, I found myself on a silent retreat. Again. You read correctly – silent – as in, no talking whatsoever. It had been four years – way too long – since my last silent retreat, and it took me all the way until the final Mass on the final day to begin to feel like, perhaps, my soul was beginning to start to become acclimated to the rhythm of silence and prayer.

My time at silent retreat this year solidified three things:

  1. I need more silence in my life, not less.
  2. Daily silent prayer/meditation and weekly Adoration must be non-negotiably present on my schedule.
  3. No retreat or program or new good endeavor can take the place of spending time with Jesus, and only I can do the necessary work to spend time with Him. I can’t outsource that.

Today I had a chance to reflect a bit on my very first retreat into silence over at CatholicMom.com – how my spiritual director tricked me into going and how it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It is still bearing fruit today, lo, these six years (!!) later.

My advice? If you’ve considered going on silent retreat but aren’t sure, DO IT. If you’ve been before and have another opportunity to go, DO IT. If you haven’t considered it because it scares you, consider it and DO IT. Be not afraid of the silence, my friend. You will find God in the silence, if only you seek Him.

Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Matthew 14:23

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” -Luke 6:12