15 November 2018

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members During the Holidays

I do not claim to be an expert in any way or that I have the best skill set.

But I have been to a lot of counseling on my own.

And boy, oh boy, has it given me new insights into myself and my relationships with other people.

For many people the holidays can be a messy, even painful time when trying to navigate relationships with difficult family members.

I am sharing some helpful tools and tricks I have learned over at the Blessed is She blog.



Mosey over here to read more.


Would you add anything else to the list? What is helpful for you personally when dealing with difficult people?

post signature

22 October 2018

Running, Retreating, and Why It Matters to Dress for the Weather

It feels like for many of us these fall months can be some of the busiest.

Back to school for kids, sports teams begin again, and getting ready for the holidays and colder months, it seems to be a full time.

This weekend was just that for me.
Friday and all day Saturday was the first (hopefully annual) Radiant Light Conference here in SE Michigan. It has been the prayers and a lot of hard work from friends of mine in ministry. Seeing a need, we jumped and took a risk to make it happen.

We had 130 women of all ages show up, and overall I think it was a beautiful and fun weekend.

We had a fancy social gathering on Friday night. Saturday morning started with Eucharistic Adoration. 

Women arrived to a beautiful space, legit swag bags, lots of amazing vendors, and opportunities for reconnecting with friends while time to meet new women. There were keynotes from local women and break-out workshops in the afternoon on everything from finding holy rest, finding joy in transition, and finding God in creativity/art.


I think Mary (the brains behind this project) really tapped into a need in our local community for women to have more of these types of things: for community, sisterhood, and learning and growing together.

It was a long day, but I was so happy to be part of this good work.


Sunday morning I ran my second marathon in Detroit. 


I will be honest and say my training was less committed, and I felt that in both my mental game and in my physical body at times. My time did not really improve at all, but I think going in I knew that.

I was disappointed I had to walk a little bit. But as I finished, I didn't want to be shaming myself. I ended really convicted of a few things.

First, I need to train smarter and be consistent with my running group. 
And second, I need to be committed to strength training. Like a lot.

Every life experience is a teaching moment and this race was no different.

It was so wonderful to see my cheering squad at the half-way point. But even better right as I crossed the finish line, and after for some big bear hugs.

I also learned the valuable lesson of why it really matters to dress properly for the weather. With running, I typically tend to overdress in worry I may get too cold. Wellllll yesterday I could've dressed warmer.

When I started seeing everyone else in their running tights, I knew this was going to be a longggg morning. Case in point, be prepared and dress for the weather. #themoreyouknow


It is not always about the race, but the journey.

Yesterday's race was harder than I planned, but I know I can do hard things.

All of us can.
post signature

16 October 2018

What a Broken Crucifix Teaches Me

We meet in the old convent basement. 

The couches don't match the faded pillows and the carpet is worn. It sometimes floods when a heavy rain comes and that musty basement smell hangs around.

This is where we meet on Thursday evenings for a divorce support group from now through January.

On the wall across from where I sit hangs a broken crucifix, literally.

I cannot help but find it to be rich of meaning, especially as I gather with a handful of other women going through a divorce.

One of Jesus' arms is busted clean off, while the remaining arm hangs on the cross.

It takes me back to a tearful conversation I had with my parents a few years ago.


I was still living with my parents as I waited for my divorce to be finalized.

It was one of those no-good, very awful days. I was a mess and hot tears ran down my face.

I wept over the loss of my marriage, wailing to my parents wondering in fear what would become of the new reality of my life: Would I always be alone? How could I trust men again? How would I make it financially on my own?

I was overwhelmed and afraid.

I distinctly remember crying and saying to my Dad (a deacon), "Dad where is Jesus in all of this? I don't feel His presence. The pain of it all feels like I am being nailed to a cross. Where is He?!"

My Dad, a very quiet man of faith, looked at me with tears in his eyes, his voice shaking said: "Well He's getting nailed to the cross next to you."

It made me stop and think.

I recall that conversation now as I gaze on a broken crucifix, helping to lead other women through their own pain and grief.

That broken crucifix is a reminder of the pain I was in at one time of my life, and how my Dad helped remind me to believe that Jesus was in it with me.

One the the things I most deeply love about Christianity is the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ all rolled into one. Jesus knew the human experience in all things except sin.

He knew what it was to be afraid, anxious, angry, confused, joyful, depressed, and even silly. Jesus of all people knows what it is to suffer. And looking at that little broken crucifix is a gentle reminder of that to me.
My God understands and can relate to the pain in my life, in your life.


I easily forget about God's presence or faithfulness when life is all hunky dory. 

All too often, I take for granted the people or blessings in my life. I forget to thank God for all that I have, all that He has done in my life and how He has restored me.



Every Thursday evening, I glance up at the wall and look at Jesus. I smile, grateful for the reminder of His nearness in the most messy and painful experiences of our lives.

The next time your gaze lands on a crucifix in your home or church, linger there a little bit longer. Savor the image.

And remind yourself (especially when you don't believe it), that the presence of the living God is nearer than you realize.


post signature

09 October 2018

An Epidemic Only Whispered About?

I recently came across a Gallup poll that said in 2018 43% of Americans believe that pornography is "morally acceptable."

That is up from 36% just one year ago. And the reality that percentage will only grow is heart breaking to me.

I am deeply convicted that pornography is the greatest killer to healthy relationships between women and men. It leads us to treat other people as objects, merely used for personal sexual satisfaction. 

I recently was on an episode of Certifiably Catholic hosted by some of my favorite humans.

In it, we talk honestly about a conversation too often I find the Church only whispers about, pornography and sexual addiction. 


You can listen here


In the interview, I share about a ministry my friend Danielle and I have developed over the last year called Whispered in the Dark.  We work to offer resources, counselors, and hope to people whose lives, relationships, or marriages have been impacted by pornography and sexual addiction.

On November 10th, we are offering a day conference in Detroit, Michigan. 

If you are in or near the SE Michigan area, we would so greatly appreciate your support and help in getting the word out.



Its time to stop whispering.

Let's start to have honest, real conversations about the biggest relationship epidemic in modern culture.



Thank you for your support.

It means so much to me. 


post signature

08 October 2018

Advent, Bearing Light, & why I'm not just trying to sell you stuff

It is currently 82 degrees in southeast Michigan on October 8th. 


I have needed to turn the AC back on for at least the next day or so. When you live for fall, this feels absolutely insane. 
I totally feel like I have been getting gypped on the weather department.

The good news is by the weekend it will be in the mid fifties.


Let's talk Advent, yes in October.
If fall is my favorite season, Advent is my favorite liturgical season in Church year.

On Friday, Blessed is She released the new Advent devotional, Bearing Light. This year the author is Shannon Evans. She wrote a great blog post on her own blog describing the story behind the prayer and making of this year's Advent devotional


What I am most looking forward to in this Advent devotional, is that we will get a chance to dive more deeply into Mary's prayer, the Magnificat. There will also Lectio Divina prayer to related Scripture verses, as well as, three unique female saints who bear the the light of God out into the world.

Another way to order the Advent devotional is to order the Bearing Light Advent Bundle
It is exquisite. 


This year's bundle includes: the devotional written by Shannon, an imago Dei canvas mini wristlet, and the Magnificat candle (which is made of frankincense and myrrh essential oils).

I have seen the candle in person. It smells amazing, and the packing it arrives in is equally beautiful.

Shannon is such a gifted writer and her own first book will be published this spring. I hope you'll join me and thousands of other women around the globe to prepare our hearts together this Advent. 
And if you wouldn't mind using my affiliate links, I would be so very grateful. ;-)


Sometimes it feels weird to ask people to buy stuff through using my affiliate links, but I really try not do it a lot. And I only do so when there are products I personally use in my life and ones that I get excited about.

So I am not just trying to sell you stuff, honest. :)


It can feel crazy to talk Advent so early in the fall, but we all know it will arrive sooner than we think.


Have you started thinking about Advent yet?

What do you most look forward to in that liturgical season of the Church year?


post signature

05 October 2018

What I Wish I Had Done Before Getting Married (and Divorced)

I shared this past weekend on retreat that at thirty three years old, I have never felt more whole and free than any other time in my life.

I know it has a lot to do with the last five -six years of dating, marriage, divorce, and now being single again.

There are so many lessons I wish I knew before I had gotten married, so many questions I wish I was brave enough to ask. But sometimes you only what you know when you know it.

I didn't know certain things in my late twenties, but now I am much more self-aware.

Counseling is a great way of helping you dig deep and acknowledge the broken pieces inside your heart and soul.

As I navigate things like dating and sexuality (in healthy ways), it causes me to reflect on what I wished I had done the first time around.


Here is what I have learned from these chapters of my life:

I wish  . . .

  • Someone told me what healthy sexuality looks like in marriage, that is never about forcing or manipulation
  • I had wiser, older women I could talk about really personal things like sex with and ask questions
  • That I knew more about my own body as a woman 
  • I had asked direct questions on my partner's sexual history, addiction, and addictive behaviors
  • I knew its okay (even as a married woman) to use my voice to say "NO!" or "I am not comfortable with this..."
  • I worked through wounds and baggage from my childhood and family or origin
  • I learned about things like codependency or unhealthy relationship dynamics
  • That I knew I was enough just the way I was or that I don't need a man to make me feel "happy" or "fulfilled"
  • I was secure in my own body, soul, and spirit
  • I was at home in my body

There are probably a lot more things I could add. 

Life experience has an odd way of sometimes being one of the most powerful catalysts for growth and inner healing. I know I have learned that.

I celebrate and thank God for the journey (sometimes an intense one at that!) He has me on.

It has refined me into a stronger, wiser, more courageous woman.

Perfect? Gosh no!

But more healed, whole, and free to be me the way I am? Absolutely.


post signature

03 October 2018

Retreating, Writing, & Seeing my Reflection in Jesus

This past weekend I went to Arizona for a team retreat with all the writers from Blessed is She. The last two years we've met in Minnesota, but this year sprung for a Southwest location so more of our west coast writers could come.

While it was over 100 degrees the entire weekend, our days together were filled with sharing, praying together, laughter, great food, and time to be together as a sisterhood. 

I am so grateful to be a part of this team, and for the gift of these women in my life.





One of the things we were asked to do in preparation for our team retreat was to come up with writing goals.

I know I keep saying I want to have a better rhythm of writing here, but I keep struggling with actually making it happen. There is something of me that is drawn to blogging even if it is not as popular these days.

I have had some new freelance writing opportunities come into my lap, one which includes becoming regular contributor for Verily. I am so excited to be a regular contributor and have been eagerly following Verily since it launched.

One of the best things from the weekend in Arizona was the writing workshop led by our managing editor, Nell

She posted our first devotion each of us ever wrote for Blessed is She (almost four years to the date!) and our most recent one. Then, we were given some things to think about and compare our writing from the beginning to our writing in the present.

I almost burst out laughing. You know what I wrote about in my first devo?

William Wallace yelling, "FREEDOM!" before he is killed. And you know what? 
I don't even like the movie nor I have seen it in its entirety. 

It really got me thinking about the authenticity in my writing voice for Blessed is She, but also how it has shifted personally. 

I shared in the large group after this exercise, that at 33 years old I am more free and whole than at any other time in my life. And because of those things I think it has opened up greater authenticity in my own life, through my writing and in sharing personally.

It left me thinking how I really want to craft my skills to become a better, more effective writer.

One of the best parts of the retreat was when we had Eucharistic Adoration after the Vigil Mass. Fr. Parks did a procession and brought Jesus to each of us individually. A friend took this picture, I'm the one with my hands opened.


Isn't that just beautiful?

When Fr. Parks brought Jesus to me, I saw in the gold of the monstrance a reflection of my eyes. I saw my reflection in Jesus and my reflection was in Jesus. 

It was such a sweet moment with the Lord and left me feeling like jelly on the inside.

I came home a little more tired physically (hello 3 hour time difference!) but refreshed spiritually from time with the Lord and renewed after time with my sisters.


The next month or two will be pretty busy around here: my second marathon, some work functions, and two speaking events in our local diocese.

So as life picks up, I am glad I had this past weekend to rest and return back to renewed for all that is ahead.


What is new and exciting in your life these days? :)


post signature

20 September 2018

God Can Bring a Greater Good out Your Divorce

The other day I was on a radio interview for our local Catholic radio station.

I was sharing about a new divorce recovery group that begins tonight where I work.

Having gone through a divorce and the annulment process myself, I see a real need to better help Catholic men and women who are trying to figure out what to do and where to find help.


When I accepted the current job I have, the pastor asked me what were new, creative ideas that I wanted to try and offer at the parish. 

Almost immediately, I expressed the need to offer this type of group, as they are so needed today.

My own experience led me me to visit a support group once at a nearby, large Catholic church. But it was such a negative experience, I ended up going to a support group at a big non-denominational church in the area.

I was frustrated when I didn't see the Church doing more to help people who have been in this situation. 

If we want to be the Church Jesus desires, we have to be willing to walk with and accompany people through the painful, messy experiences of their lives.


Looking back on those years, one of the concepts that was difficult for me to accept was that (somehow) God could use the experience of a divorce for a greater good in my life. That doesn't mean I advocate for people to walk away from their marriage, though I do believe sometimes that is the best option.

As I talked and prayed through that concept with people in my life I began to see that, yes, God could even use my marriage ending for a greater good in my life and in the wider church community.

I share more about that experience over at the CatholicMatch Institute.

READ THE REST HERE.


PS If you wouldn't mind saying a prayer for our group starting tonight, I would so appreciate it. :) 



post signature

11 September 2018

Thirty-three

Sunday, September 9th was my birthday. 



I was out of town the last few days, so I am just getting back in the swing of things. 

A few years ago I did a list of thirty-one things I wanted to do in my thirty first year. (You can read that list here, and last year's birthday follow-up that did not carry in consistency.) I wanted to do it again, with three more added.
So here it is:

My Thirty-Three Things 


1. Run Chicago Marathon.

2. Have at least five speaking gigs.

3. Lose 10 pounds.

4. Go to my Weight Watcher meeting every week.

5. Cook more frequently (and try new recipes!).

6. Pray the Examen each night.

7. Continue reading my Bible each day.

8. Go to a new European country (thinking about Austria, Switzerland, or Iceland). Or go back to Ireland.

9. Work on being less defensive and reactionary in relationships.

10. Organize special birthday celebration for my Dad's 60th birthday with my siblings.

11. Never miss an opportunity to say "I love you" or affirm those I care about in my life.

12. Keep asking for more of the Holy Spirit and to stay out of the way.

13. Get a book deal.

14. Learn more about my ancestry with 23andMe

15. Do a weekend away trip with Kevin and my parents.

16. Attend a silent retreat.

17. Regular Confession, at least every other month.

18. Drink more water, not just LaCroix.

19. Do more intermittent, water fasting.

20. Fast one day a week.

21. Make time to do things with my Dad, like going out to dinner together.

22. Have a visit with my friend Laura from California.

23. Attend a conference.

24. Do something special for Kevin's birthday.

25. Plan three surprise dates for us together.

26. Get back into regularly attending my weekly running group. 

27. Volunteer more often at my parish.

28. Attend a Bible Study.

29. Update my blog and get new head shots.

30. Nurture good rhythms of rest and work in my job. 

31. Be present, to whatever I am doing or whomever I am with. 

32. 15 minute pick-up every night before bed.

33. Pray the Rosary more frequently, start with one time a week.



post signature

29 August 2018

Why Pornography is a Feminist Issue

I am really excited to share with you an interview I did with Claire from The Catholic Feminist.

If you have been around here for awhile, you know my experience of a previous marriage has been affected by pornography and related things.

God has really used that experience of those years to make me stronger in so many ways.
Give a listen to my chat with Claire. 

If you or someone in your life needs to hear this conversation, please share it with them.




P.S. If you are not already subscribed to The Catholic Feminist, please go do that immediately.
Claire is doing some amazing work through her microphone.


post signature

21 August 2018

The Questions Every Woman Needs To Ask A Man

My counselor has this saying, "You know when you know it."

There are a lot of life lessons I wish I knew in my twenties when I was dating and before I got married. 

But here I am, almost 33, and now I know what I need to ask a man. I know what are things I will not tolerate, how I will not allow myself to be treated.

These insights, these questions are things I think all women need today in the world need to be brave and courageous in asking.

Today I am over at FemCatholic sharing on the questions all women need to ask men with whom they are in a serious relationship with.

No it is not easy, but these messy conversations are some of the most important ones we need to be having.

Head over to FemCatholic to read more . . .



post signature

19 August 2018

Where to Go From Here? Action, Repentance, Prayer, and Fasting

What an awful, terrible week it has been.

I am trying to pray about all the evil and brokenness coming out of the recent sex abuse scandals in the Church. But honestly it is really hard for me right now.

I alternate between rage and weeping. I have yelled and hollered at Jesus. 

I was only 16 when the scandal in Boston broke in 2002. While I didn't fully understand what it meant, I knew it was very, very bad. 

Now I am older, an adult Catholic practicing the faith. 
I have a more holistic, healthy spirituality and relationship with God.


But I, like so many Catholics, am very much struggling with horrific stories I have learned over the past few weeks at the lack of leadership.

All of this has rattled me and I am wrestling with it all.
Amid trying to pray and fast, I have taken to writing letters and calling offices of bishops and the USCCB. 

As the reality of what needs to change grows stronger, I want to share with you a few articles I have found helpful as I try to process it all. Also included are phone numbers to contact to express your voice demanding justice for the crimes committed.

Articles:

An Open Letter from Young Catholics 

A Letter to my Bishop and A Letter to my Parish Priest by Molly Walter

What Can *WE* Do About the Abuse Crisis? by Haley Stewart

Dear Catholic bishops: This is not the time to play defense by Katie Prejean McGrady

The Church And Clergy In Crisis: 7 Practical First Steps We Must Take by Elizabeth Scalia 

An open letter to my Roman Catholic friends by Jeffrey Salkin 


Action:

You can contact the Archdiocese of Washington if you desire to ask for the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl. I plan to be making a phone call this week.


You can also call the USCCB at 202-541-3000. 



There is also a concentrated prayer and fasting effort organized by Catholic women through the internet. More on that as it goes live tomorrow...


Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Help us rid the rot of evil that has hidden for far too long.




09 August 2018

Codependent Red Flags & What You Can Do

I'm convinced every single human being has issues and probably at some point in life would benefit from going to counseling.

I still go for regular tune ups myself. 

One of the the greatest lessons I've learned about myself through that journey is how I have codependent tendencies. I most especially realized this after my divorce as I started diving deeper into my healing work. I read a lot of books that have helped me in this area.

While I am a few years past that chapter of life, I still find I have to live acutely aware how easily these tendencies can sneak up behind me.


What does it mean to be codependent?

If you're in a codependent relationship, you will find yourself basing your self-worth and sense of purpose on your partner's approval. Often times your life revolves around someone else in an unhealthy way. This can quickly become a dysfunctional cycle of sacrificing yourself for the sake of someone else's happiness, while often receiving very little in return.

Codependency is an unhealthy, chaotic dance you dance with another person, it could be a friend, family member, or significant other. In my life, I was in a very codependent relationship when I was married.


If you are new to understanding what is and is not codependent behavior, I would HIGHLY recommend you read everything on this topic by Melody Beattie. She is the guru and go-to person for the best of the best stuff on codependency.
Seriously, just do yourself a favor and read all her books.


Some red flags to consider?

  • You feel your happiness depends on another person
  • You are not able to say no to your partner
  • You struggle to focus on your own needs and lean towards people pleasing
  • You feel guilty for not helping others, sometimes this may look like mothering
  • You NEED to feel needed
  • You struggle (often a lot) with boundaries
  • You may struggle with communication
  • Your mood is dictated by your partner's behavior and actions (boy did I struggle with this one!)


This is just a sample, there are plenty more red flags.

What I have found in my own life, is self-awareness is key. Once I started to learn and understand what codependency was, I began to see how it played out in my daily life and relationships.

Once you can see things for what they are, continue educating yourself more. Read books (enter Melody Beattie). Consider finding a therapist to help you grow and learn new tools. Think about joining a support group like Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA) to find support and practical tools for your life and relationships.

When we are able to identify unhealthy patterns, then we are able to deconstruct the chaos and entanglement in our relationships.

You are worth the time and work.

Healthy love (which I did not always know what that looked like) is about creating relationships that are inter-dependent and built on respect and honesty.

I know I still have codependent tendencies that creep in from time to time.

But I also know I am a lot wiser and stronger for growing through these issues.


post signature

25 July 2018

Living with the Effects of a Contraceptive Culture

We live in a world of cause and effect. The choices we make individually (and yes, as a society) bring about effects, some good and some bad.

50 years ago today Humanae Vitae was released.

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on where we as a Church and culture are at with the history and real story behind artificial birth control. 

I have discussed with priests and friends on how prophetic this document was and why its even more relevant now when we look around and see how sexually broken our culture has become.

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960's promised us more freedom and self-expression, but as a culture have a lot of sexual baggage, wounding, and pain.

In drafting this encyclical, Blessed Pope Paul VI did not intend to predict the effects of what contraception could do to marriage and sexuality. 

But I do find it very striking (and timely) that there are several effects that contraception would have on society.

Specifically, he writes that artificial birth control would lead to: 

"an easy path to marital infidelity, moral degeneration, a loss of man's respect for woman whereby he would no longer care for her physical and psychological well-being, governments would impose coercive methods of control that exhibit freedom in one of the most sacred acts, and mankind would think he has unlimited power over his body" (HV 17).

I think his words can be summarized in three specific effects that we live with in a contraceptive culture:

  • Martial infidelity and moral decline
  • Loss of respect for women
  • Abuse of power


Marital Infidelity & Moral Decline

In the past 50 years, we have seen a sharp rise in things like divorce, abortion, infidelity, and cohabitation. The impact of contraception on these issues is like pouring gasoline on a fire. 
Contraception has so trivialized the sexual act so that it exists free from any sense of responsibility. 
I do not think birth control has made us better people.


Loss of Respect for Women

All I am going to say is #metoo.

We are living in a time where we constantly hear about more and more women who have experienced sexual manipulation and abuse from men. Why is no one making the connection from a contraceptive mentality of "sex without consequences" and the disrespect for women as mere sexual objects for me to use?

And don't even get me started on the rampant pornography addiction in our culture. Or that now 46% of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable. That has increased so much physical and sexual violence against women.

Wake.up.people.


Abuse of Power

It is very frustrating to see the promotion of contraception used as a "necessity" for charitable organizations working in foreign countries. People like Bill and Melinda Gates think contraception is what poor countries most needed in the development of poor countries.

Pope Francis denounces this abuse of power calling it "ideological colonization," where too often Western countries seeks to forcibly impose their sexual ethics on another country.



Sure you could easily say these effects have been caused by a wide variety of factors, but it is impossible to refute that they exist today. 

And I would say that a contraceptive mindset has added to these effects.


18 July 2018

Lessons I've Learned Living Alone

I remember growing up I thought I would do things exactly the way my Mom did in her life.

I thought I'd be married with a baby by the time I was 25 and live at with my parents until I got married. I envisioned my life looking very similar to her own. Obviously my life has turned out very different than I initially expected. 

Before I got married, I never lived on my own. After my wedding, I moved from my childhood home to the house I thought I would be building with my then husband.

After my divorce, I moved back home with my parents for about nine months to save money and get my feet on solid ground as I started looking for a new home for myself.

I moved into my new apartment on August 14, 2016, which also happens to be the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He is my spiritual BFF and his heavenly friendship has greatly blessed my life.

That first night in my apartment was such a mixture of emotions. I felt overwhelmed, anxious, excited, and nervous all rolled together.

I knew it would be a big transition learning how to live on my own for the first time in my life.

It has been almost two years, and I have found myself thinking about the lessons I have learned in how to live on my own over the last few weeks.



I needed to learn how to be comfortable in my own company

This was a lesson I never knew before I got married. I didn't know how to be comfortable with myself. On some level, I think I was always looking for validation or affirmation from others because of my own insecurities. I avoided facing my wounds and looked for ways that other people could help me feel more loved.

Moving into my own apartment at 30 was a real growth and healing opportunity. It helped me face things I had previously avoided in relationships or hidden in the depths of my heart. And living by myself, I had no option but to face them head on.

I think doing this has made me stronger and more emotionally healthy.


Loneliness is not something to run away from

This was probably one of the most messy, painful things to maneuver and work through after my divorce. 

Sometimes the loneliness just felt so overwhelming. While I knew this time around being in a relationship with a man would not fix me, I still wished there were times I didn't have to come home to an empty apartment or cook dinner by myself with no one to share the meal with. 

There were plenty of times I cried or journaled all the big feelings to help me deal with how I was feeling. I learned over time the only way to get through the mess is by going straight through it.

Eventually I came to a place where I realized loneliness is not something to avoid or run away from. It taught me a lot about myself and showed me how I used it to run away from facing bog feelings or emotions.


Even if its just me, I need to make my home beautiful and cozy 

Even if it was just me living in my apartment, I decided early on I wanted it to be a simple, beautiful, safe space for myself.

I took time to find the right frames for gallery walls. I spent time finding beautiful words to hang in my home and decorate in a way that made my home feel special to me.

Honestly it felt weird at first doing these things all by myself.

Over time I added news pillows, candles, hand painted signs. Each new little touch made my apartment become a home for me.



Have you ever lived alone before in your life? What were some of the lessons you learned through the experience?
post signature

22 June 2018

Where I Am & Where I've Come From


Today is an odd day.

June 22, 2012 was the day I got married. 

It feels weird to look back on a day that I thought would have been one of the happiest days of my life, is now just another day. 

The first year after my divorce I was a hot mess, but know I can look back on June 22 with peace and realization that it was not all that I thought it would be. And that is okay.

I often say I never would have imagined all that happened over these last six years, but I am so grateful for all that God has taught me about myself through it.


So this June 22, is just another Friday in June.


I am really excited for summer and have had some fun things going on the last few months.

The first weekend in May I went to Holland, Michigan for the Annual Tulip Festival. It was SO much fun and apparently the last time I went I was only two years old. 

There was a cute little parade through downtown Holland and I got to tour the oldest working windmill in the United States which was originally from Holland. Did I mention soaking up the beautiful scents of fresh tulips? #bestillmyheart.






In May, my mom and sister and I had a good ol' fashioned slumber party to watch the Royal Wedding. We were up at 4am and drinking both mimosas and coffee by 4:30. It was so much fun. I was quite pleased I went home with leftover scones and champagne.

I am starting to train for my second marathon on October 21 in Detroit. I have had two injuries which have slowed me down and thrown me off a bit. But I am coming back and my shin splints are healing well. #praisehands



Deep down, I dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon someday. I am nowhere near that yet, and I just want to finish with a slightly quicker time this year. 

I was on the Fountains of Carrots podcast talking about divorce and annulment and in August I am so excited to on The Catholic Feminist.

I have had a few graduation parties for several of the teens in youth ministry from the church I used to work at. It has been so fun to celebrate them and catch up on all the wonderful things in their lives.

One of my dearest friends Lauren is getting married in August and her bachelorette festivities were in June. Lauren helped me for several years in youth ministry and we went to World Youth Day together in Poland. I am so excited to be a bridesmaid and celebrate her wedding on August 4th. :)

Love this girl.


What are your fun, exciting plans over the summer?!

I'll be working on writing project. In July, I am going to Chicago and am excited to see my uncle, aunt, and little cousin.

I hope you have some fun things to look forward to over summer.

Happy Friday, friends! :)




post signature

06 June 2018

The Man You Love is Addicted to Porn. Now What?


The effects of living in a highly sexualized culture continue to have devastating effects on both men, women, and our relationships.

When this painful reality was what I faced in my marriage, I was so frustrated initially because I did not know where to find help or get good resources.

I am writing over at FemCatholic today sharing resources to encourage and empower women who find themselves in these situations.

Even if this is not your reality, I would encourage to read and learn more because it is highly likely you know someone whose life or relationships have been impacted by this.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE . . .


post signature

25 May 2018

Podcasts I'm Loving These Days - Newbies and Oldies

I love me some podcasts. 
Like a lot.

I feel like I am constantly editing what I subscribe to and am always on the hunt for new ideas.

So here is just a sampling of what is new that I am enjoying (plus a couple favorites I cannot seem to do without!)

For The Love with Jen Hatmaker  I have seen this one recommended in a few Facebook groups I am in right now. Jen does a 4 guest series rotation on a different topic. She has a variety of guests and discussions on everything from race, culture/spirituality, creative entrepreneurs, speakers, writers, etc. This is one I enjoy having in the background while I am making dinner or getting ready for work in the morning.

The Gathering Place  A brand-new podcast put on by Blessed is She. This has such a cozy, homey feel for me. It is only about 30 minutes, but it feels deep and leaves me thinking about the topic without dragging on too long. I love the conversational style and flow, and Jenna and Beth (the co-hosts!) have a different guest on each time to talk on a topic together.

What Should I Read Next? Okay, confession time. I listened to a few episodes of this when it first came out, but I didn't love it. Sorry Anne. BUT, about month ago I gave it another try and this time I am hooked. What I love most?

The crazy, good book recommendations I get and such a wide variety! I lvoe Anne's blog and giving this podcast another try was a good call for me, not to mention my read list continues to grow and grow.

Abiding Together This is a new-ish one to me. I actually heard about the first time from Debbie Herbeck last Fall when she and a team of young adults led the Confirmation retreat at the parish I used to work at. 

Led by three women (two married and 1 religious sister), I like the conversational style of this one as well. My favorite episodes so far have been the book study they did over Lent on Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved
SO.good.


Here are two of my favorite oldies:

Up First This one is my companion as I stumble into my kitchen each morning, ground my coffee beans, and get my French Press moving and grooving. Usually around 10 or 12 minutes, it gives a brief recap of the last 24 hours of world news.

Since I do not have a TV (I actually love not having one!), this is a simple way for me to be aware of what the heck is going on in the world these days.

On Being THIS is the podcast I tell everyone and their brother about. I love it. Krista Tippett is the host and has a wide variety of guests and conversations: religion, science, art, creative dreamers and doers, poets, movers and shakers of culture, etc.
This one always leaves me thinking and helps broaden my perspective of people and the world.


What are your favorite newbie or oldie podcasts?

Listening to anything particular good these days?



post signature

23 May 2018

Both Fierce and Tender: Insights from A New Marian Feast

I can be a bit of a loud person. Growing up, I never loved activities that required me to be sitting down. I was always on the move. I am a big feeler and an even larger verbal processor.

I have sometimes struggled with messages in the Church or from other people that to be female, to be a woman means you have to act a certain way. More specifically, that women are supposed to be mild mannered, gentle, tender, quiet. etc. That somehow quietness is better. 

It is almost as if sometimes there is an attitude that particular traits of women are more honored or recognized than others. (Now please don't hear this as a slam or negativity to women who are more quiet or even introverted).

I have often noticed this in the ways our Blessed Mother is talked about. Looking back on my life as a Catholic, I feel the majority of homilies I heard or talks on Mary often were connected back certain traits: her meekness, gentleness, tenderness, etc.

Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with those traits, in some ways I would use those words to describe myself at varying times.

When I think of Mary, I do think of words like tender or gentle (sometimes).

But those are not the only words that come to mind.

I think Mary was brave and courageous. I think she was fierce, and even a strong force in her own way.

Was Mary an introvert or extrovert? Honestly, we'll probably never know this side of Heaven. I like to think she was a mixture of both, and that she was a variety of traits.


There is no one way to be a woman, to be feminine.
It is not a one size fits all.

And similarly, I think there are many words we can use to describe Our Lady.
On this first celebration of a new Marian feast, Pope Francis said in his Monday morning homily:

"The Church is feminine. When this trait is lacking, the Church merely resembles a charitable organization, or a football team; when it is a masculine Church, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness."

And later on:

"The Church is feminine, because it is church and bride: it is feminine. And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church."

I love hearing the Holy Father speak of this important, dynamic feminine nature of the Church. It needs to be explained and taught more.


To be a woman, to be feminine is not summed up in just a particular phrase or certain words.

Women can be both fierce and tender-hearted, both gentle and passionate. both quiet and spirit-filled.

Here a few places I am finding peace and growth in my understanding what it means to be a woman, to be feminine:
-Edith Stein
-FemCatholic
-The Catholic Feminist Podcast



What are ideas or people helping you understand your role in the Church as a woman? Who is teaching your heart right now and stretching you in your spirit?



post signature
09 10