Heading in to the holidays with intention

Heading in to the holidays with intention

and breathe 2018-11-19 BLOGAs a kid, I often wondered how long it would be until the weekend, or spring break, or when we ate dinner. My mom advised me to enjoy the present moment, because she said time would fly by at lightning speed when I was an adult.

Of course, Mom was right. Again.

The holidays in particular are so sneaky! I mean, they happen at the same time each year, but … wasn’t it just New Year’s Eve a month ago??

At the very least, it seems like only yesterday we were brushing sticky summer sand from sun-kissed toes and checking items off back-to-school supply lists. And yet, here we are: pumpkin carving and midterm elections are in the rearview mirror, and Thanksgiving, Advent and (gasp!) Christmas are coming up fast. It surely doesn’t help matters that, long before we can say, “Boo!” retailers are hauling out Santa and snowmen and candy canes for purchase.

While this time of year is jam-packed with more nutty goodness than Auntie Gen’s famous fruitcake, Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, encourages us to observe one day at a time by following the liturgical calendar. First comes All Saints’ and All Souls’, then Thanksgiving, then Advent and, finally, Christmas.

As Catholics, we celebrate Advent as its own season apart from Christmas — a time prayerfully to prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ Child. Here are some ways our family observes this special time: An Advent wreath sits at the center of our dining room table, and we mark the days with an Advent calendar. I try to finish gift shopping early so it’s not my focus. I write Advent cards or wait until late December to mail Christmas cards since, it’s still Christmas, after all! In years past, we’ve waited until Christmas Day to add lights to our tree and home decor, symbolizing that the Light of the World has come into the world. Baby Jesus doesn’t appear in our Nativity sets until Christmas Day. I attend an extra daily Mass, mission, or day retreat whenever I can. I personally prefer to limit Christmas music during Advent, too, although it’s quite challenging. My point is this: Whatever helps you to prepare the way for the Lord, I encourage you to do it.

Here are some upcoming highlights from the church’s liturgical calendar, including some ways to help make your celebrations more meaningful and memorable (in a good way):

Thursday, Nov. 22: Thanksgiving Day. While not a holy day of obligation, every day is a holy day of opportunity.What better way to thank and praise God for all our blessings than to spend an hour at the holy sacrifice of the Mass? Check out the Oregon Catholic Directory for the Mass schedule at a parish near you, whether you’re home for the holidays or away.

Sunday, Nov. 25: The solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Visit pbgrace.com for celebration ideas, and download their free activity called “Who’s the Real Superhero?” Remembering that Jesus is King over everything is a wonderful way to celebrate the last Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Friday, Nov. 30: feast of St. Andrew, Apostle. Today begins the Christmas Novena, a prayer traditionally recited 15 times each day until Christmas. Our family has prayed this novena in years past; I think we’ll resume the practice this year.

Sunday, Dec. 2: Advent begins! Say a prayer before you light one purple candle in your Advent wreath. “Light the Advent Candle” and “The Whole World is Waiting for Love” are simple songs I remember singing as a child. Your local Catholic bookstore and the Holy Heroes website have a wide variety of Advent resources and activities for your family.

Thursday, Dec. 6: While not officially on the church calendar, many families celebrate St. Nicholas’ feast day. Traditionally revered as the real-life inspiration for Santa Claus, St. Nicholas fills our children’s shoes with small treats and golden coins. There’s a fun Veggie Tales movie about St. Nicholas you likely can find at the library. Find a kid-friendly story about this saint online, and share with your little saints-in-training.

In part two of this holiday series, I’ll cover ways to commemorate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (12/8), the Second Sunday of Advent (12/9), the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe (12/12), the Third (12/16) and Fourth (12/23) Sundays of Advent, and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (12/25). I might even write about how you can extend the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord through the 12 days of Christmas. Or perhaps I’ll succumb to a long winter’s nap. Either way, I’d better start looking for our Advent wreath. Dec. 2 will be here before you know it. But first: Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

This article first appeared in the Catholic Sentinel

photo by Max van den Oetelaar used following unsplash guidelines

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Come Party with Us, Death By Minivan Style!

Come Party with Us, Death By Minivan Style!

The Sisters at Our Lady of Peace Retreat House in Beaverton are rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the launch of Death By Minivan, the first book by me and my friend, the brilliant artist Christy Stephens! Please join us Thursday, November 15, 2018 from 6:30-9:00 PM for appetizers, wine, an author + artist Q & A, raffle, and book signing. A signed copy of Death by Minivan makes a unique a special hostess or other holiday gift!

We look forward to celebrating with YOU! 

Again, please join us this Thursday, November 15, 2018 from 6:30-9 PM at Our Lady of Peace Retreat House: 3600 SW 170th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97003

Come when you can; stay as long as you’d like!

SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM – Mixer with appetizers, wine, and fellowship
7:00 PM – Q & A with Author Heather Renshaw and Artist Christy Stephens
8:00 PM – Book Signing and Raffle

#DeathByMinivan
#DBMLaunchParty2018
#OurSundayVisitor

Still not sure what to think of this whole “Death By Minivan” business? Check out what others are saying in this fun video, or listen to the most recent interview I did with Mater Dei Radio.

Until next time,

heather

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Death by Minivan Goes South: A Book Tour

Death by Minivan Goes South: A Book Tour

Please note: this schedule is updated as much as I’m able! Thank you for your patience.

Hello, friends!

Things have gotten verrrry interesting around here, and I am pleased as punch to finally be able to tell you that I’m embarking on an adventure of a lifetime this Friday (yes, I said this Friday).

DEATH BY MINIVAN IS GOING SOUTH!!

That’s right, y’all: as soon as the uber driver picks me up in my driveway at 3 a.m. (yes, I said 3 a.m.), I’m heading to PDX, taking an early morning flight to Texas, and getting this crazy book show on the road!

And here’s the really exciting part … I WILL HAVE BOOKS! ON! HAND! TO SIGN FOR YOU! … even though they won’t officially begin shipping out until Monday, October 8th. Eeeeeeeek! Thanks to my publisher, OSV, for making this happen. WOOT! Go, #DeathByMinivanOSV team, GO! 

((By the by, you can still get the ebook version TODAY and read the WHOLE ENCHILADA on your smartphone or other device! You can also pre-order the physical book!))

Here’s what the tour looks like right now, and I’ve even included a few white spaces in my schedule (see below!), so … if you’d like a parish mission, moms’ group meeting, lunch and learn, moms’ night out, bagels and brunch, Q & A, etc., hmu! Let me know ASAP and we might be able to work something out. #willworkforcoffee and also #cashmoney because, hello! Driving is expensive! haha Also, here are some events I’ve done in the past as reference.

DBM Goes South 18 imageFriday, 9/28/18 and Saturday, 9/29/2018: 

SAN ANGELO, TEXAS

Sunday, 9/30/18 and Monday, 10/1/2018:

AUSTIN, TX

Tuesday, 10/2/18

HOUSTON, TX

  • 9-11:30 a.m. CST Bagels & Books event at Little Flower Bookstore in Katy, Texas
  • 12-1:30 p.m. CST Lunch & Learn for St. Anne’s Society of St. John Vianney Parish in West Houston 
  • Intimate Meet & Greet At Copperfield’s Bookstore in Spring from 7-9 p.m. Only the first 20 RSVPs will attend. Click here to reserve your spot!

Wednesday, 10/3/18:

LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA

  • Evening Event (details coming soon!

Thursday, 10/4/18: 

NEW ORLEANS

Friday, 10/5/18

  • Friday morning in NOLA area open Click here to inquire.

MOBILE, ALABAMA

  • Private event (evening)

Saturday, 10/6/18 and Sunday, 10/7/18

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Sunday, 10/7/18:

  • Fly home to PDX from Pensacola, Florida by way of ATL

That’s it, folks! That’s the #DeathbyMinivanTourGoesSouth in a nutshell! I would be so grateful if you’d help me spread the word. And, you know, I wish I could have announced and planned sooner and better, but, you know what? LIFE. That’s what. #truth

So … will I see YOU when I’m down South? I sure hope so!!!! Otherwise, I would greatly appreciate your prayers. For real and trues. This ain’t no lie.

God bless y’all!

heather

P.S. To answer your questions:

  1. I will be gone for nine days total. #WOW
  2. Yes, this is the longest I’ve ever been gone from my babies and I have a lot of feelings about it. #allllllthefeels
  3. My hubby is taking vacation time from work to be Even More Amazing Daddy while I’m away, and … would you please pray for him and the kids??? #please
  4. Yes, I am driving from Texas to Pensacola. #epicroadtrip
  5. Yes, I am driving by myself. #coffeeme
  6. Yes, I have a Death by Minivan playlist to pass the time. #jams
  7. No, I will not be renting a minivan (unfortunately). Too expensive, as it turns out! Who knew??
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No more.

No more.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but I don’t feel like celebrating. Honestly, today I wish I could just run and hide myself in Mary’s mantle, never to be seen or heard from again. Because I am horrified. Devastated. Grief-stricken. And angry. So, so angry.

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And yet. My Mama Mary is a fighter. She is gentle and loving, but she isn’t taking this wretched evil sitting down. Now way, no how. She shows me that she is crushing the enemy with her bare foot. She shows me she is interceding for her broken children, pleading for us all to return to her Divine Son in Spirit and in Truth. She is showing me that God wins.

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So, today, I’m choosing to be my Mama’s girl. I will choose to be brave. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not leave. I will not give up. I will not allow the sorrow and the anger and the fear to drown out my voice, trample my faith, or usurp my free will. I will stay. And I will fight.

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Today, I join millions of my brothers and sisters on this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, the Church Triumphant — offering what little I have as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise to a God Who is GOOD. Who still sits on His throne. Who is loving and merciful and just. And Who will not. be. mocked.

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I will pick up my rosary. I will offer my little sacrifices of praise and lamentation and fasting. I will ask for answers. I will demand change. And I will pray. Yes, I will pray. Because I am my Mother’s daughter. And the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

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+ Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen. +

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#Solemnity #BlessedVirginMary #Assumption #pray #hope #faith #justice #rebuildMyChurch #nomore #holyday #Catholic #Catholicwoman #bebrave #MamaMary #holydayofopportunity #GotoMass #ComeHolySpirit #JesusITrustinYou #totustuus

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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.

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