tabernacle rest

Rest isn’t really something we talk about, is it?

I mean, sure, we talk about sleep. We talk about how to get more of it, how to get better quality sleep in the time we are sleeping, but it’s usually in the context of, “I want to stay up and binge watch House of Cards so how can I get an awesome night’s sleep in like five hours?”

Our bodies aren’t meant for that. We may be a 24/7 society, but our bodies are not 24/7 machines.

In my “past” life (when I was working full time) I ignored rest like it was my job. There was no time to rest. There were deadlines and things to do and getting up early to beat traffic. There was no time for the nine hours of sleep I needed, because then I’d be going to bed at like eight thirty, and then I couldn’t do theater, or church things, or sing in the choir, or anything else I enjoyed.

I was also the same way in college. I was in a lot of things. I just went, went, went, until I landed in the hospital. Then it was an obvious TIME OUT from God. Go, go, go, until you can’t go anymore. And since everyone does it, how bad can it be?

When I left my job, I realized how much sleep I’d been missing. I’ve always liked sleep and my bed (“I miss my bed. I’m thinking about keeping a picture of it in my wallet.”–The West Wing). Sleep is good. Even the Bard said so: “Ah, sweet sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” (Macbeth II.iii) I found I needed a solid 9 hours to really be happy, productive, and uncranky. And also–head bang–healthy. My body needs sleep.

This is not something people are generally sympathetic to. Admitting you need sleep is almost shameful. People say “Oh you can make it up.” “Oh, we’re not tired!” But in my case, I can’t make it up. My body needs sleep. It needs that time to rest and repair, otherwise bad things happen later. So now I know I need nine hours of sleep, and I’m finally getting it. And I’m much happier and probably healthier for it, because I’m not always running on coffee and sleep deprivation fumes.

But there’s another part of rest–spiritual rest. And this goes back to the same sort of thing: “Oh, I don’t have time for it.” I don’t have time for prayer, I don’t have time for a retreat, I don’t have time for a holy hour. And this may be true for a lot of us (moms, CEOs, full-time worker bees, etc). But I also know that even when I was working full time, these spiritual rests were vital to keeping me sane. I need that time in prayer, whether it’s saying my rosary at home, attending a Holy Hour at my parish, reading a spiritual book, or weekend long silent retreats.

We have to go to the well of Christ to fill us spiritually. We have to draw the water every day. If not, it’s just like sleep deprivation–at some point, you crash and burn. You can’t handle it anymore, you know? Everything becomes way too hard. But with Him, and with adequate rest, we can handle things (if not completely, then at least better).

But it can seem like time wasting, right? Or not as important? There’s dinner to make and laundry to do and trash to take out and sidewalks to shovel and oh the plumbing needs fixed and the car’s being wonky and the bills need paid……who has time for sleep? Who has time for rest?

You do. You have to have it.

Lent is a good time to think about this. Winter can be brutal. We can feel beat up and badly used. But we’re looking toward spring, it’s a good time to reassess our habits. What’s working for us? What isn’t?

Slipping on rest definitely does not work. Stop doing it. Listen to Christ and trust him. Come to him. Rest.

Why I Give Up Facebook for Lent

For the past few years I’ve given up two things for Lent: Facebook and Book Buying.

The book buying because, well, let’s be real. Emily has a lot of books, and she doesn’t need that many. So I usually donate the money I would’ve spent on books to a worthy cause. And no, this doesn’t mean I go hog-wild on Amazon right before Lent, either. 🙂

Giving up Facebook is harder.

One of the reasons I like Facebook is that it enables me to connect with people that live far away from me (friends in Boston, in the UK, family spread all over), theater friends, and people I may not see on a regular basis. I love being able to see photos of people’s babies and know what’s going on in their day-to-day lives. And really, that’s why I keep facebook–for those great connections.


A lot of the time, it’s a time suck. I’m there because I’m procrastinating: I don’t want to write, I don’t want to clean, I don’t want to do something I should be doing. It also encourages unhealthy comparison: this person has the life I want. This person is going to Italy for two weeks. This person just got a new car.

That’s not healthy: mentally, spiritually, emotionally. It’s just not. This is a big, gaping hole in my life that I need to work on (and I know I’m not alone. )

I’m happier when I spend less time on Facebook. All through 2015, I’ve been sort of easing my way off it. I will never get rid of it completely, for the good pockets I mention above. And being a writer in the 21st century almost demands that you have a “social media platform”. (And why yes, I do have an author page. Sorry. Plug.)

I do not need more comparisons in my life. I don’t need to feel like I am “less than.” What I need is to spend more time with God. By eliminating Facebook use during Lent, I’m cutting down on a distraction that keeps me from Him.

To reiterate: There are GOOD PARTS of Facebook. I have wonderful friends there, people that I never would have connected with if I didn’t have Facebook (I’m thinking of some awesome Catholic writers and other Catholic women that I’ve met through their blogs, but on Facebook I’ve been able to chat with them and share things more deeply.).

However, we have to keep the right balance in these things. Food is good–to a point. (Like the piece of Guinness cake I may or may not have had for breakfast). Wine is good–to a point. See where I’m going?

Books and Facebook are not bad in and of themselves (unless the book is 50 Shades of Grey…..or the Da Vinci Code). It’s how we use them.

So that’s why I give up Facebook for Lent. It’s so I can focus on the better part.

Seven Quick Takes No. 68


Happy Friday, everyone!! 🙂 how was your week? Mine was little hit or miss–there was lots of super-busy, so I fell down on the writing, but that was also due to a bad case of writer’s block, which I think I have figured out how to overcome! So that made me happy. One of my goals for February is to have an ending on my manuscript, so this will get me closer to that goal.


As I write this, it’s 10 degrees outside, but tomorrow, the low will be 0, and on Sunday, the high will be…..nine. I hope my car starts in time for CCD, let me tell ya! (It’s old. It has a newish battery, but it’s still old.) So we’re veering toward Hoth-ish territory, but–praise Jesus–I don’t see any negative numbers in the forecast. Wheee!


Wednesday starts Lent. I shall now direct you to my Lenten Practices series!

Seriously, though, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to like Lent more. This year I’ve got the Women’s conference and a silent retreat lined up, both of which are enjoyable things to me.


Time for some kid funny.

Part one:

me on my grandmother's lap, with my grandfather and one of my aunts behind.

me on my grandmother’s lap, with my grandfather and one of my aunts behind.

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here but man I am excited about it.


Part Two:

Last week in CCD, we were talking about the Last Supper, the Eucharist, and Transubstantiation. The kids got all those things, no problem. One of the girls raises her hand:

Me: Yes?

Her: So, what did the kids drink?

Me: Oh, you mean instead of the wine? (She nods) Um….they probably drank wine. There wasn’t any soda, or water that was healthy to drink….no apple juice or anything like that. They might have had goat’s milk, I guess? But wine was a pretty common thing.


So, for the record: the kids were fine with transubstantiation. Understanding that kids in Biblical Time probably drank wine, however, threw them for a huge loop.


Posts from this week, ICYMI: Daybook, Teaching Science and Math like Snape!


Valentine’s Day plans, anyone? Here it involves me and a Guinness Cake. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! 

Catholic Woman’s Daybook No. 55

catholicwomansdaybookOutside my window::

Well it’s not “my” window, it’s the hospital’s window–I’m hanging out here all day, first with tests and then with pulm rehab crew at three. I’m in the hospital’s “magic forrest”, sitting right behind this guy’s tail:



This guy, coincidentally, is also the “mascot” for the transplant floor. Each floor has an animal mascot that greets you when you come off the elevator.

It’s crazy sunny, so I can’t complain about that , especially after being in a dark room in Nuclear Medicine for the past two hours.


Jeans, black flats, and a green and blue stripped sweater.


A Dance With Dragons, City of God, and St. Faustina’s Diary. I made good progress on Dragons over the weekend. Sometimes I’ve found the Game of Thrones books a little hard to start, but once I’ve started, I’m sucked in.


Went to confession on Saturday, so I’m glad I got that done. I will never be someone who loves confession, so yeah, I talk about “getting it done.” However, I did have the best confessor my parish has, so that’s a definite plus. For my lectio, I’m working my way through the Gospel of Matthew in the Ignatius Study Bible.

Around the house::

Today it’s the normal stuff, like taking out the trash and dusting and vacuuming. This week’s focus is in the living room, according to the Fly Lady plan I’m valiantly attempting to follow. So the idea is to do some serious cleaning in that room this week. I also have to change the sheets when I get back to the house today.

In the kitchen::

Making cock-a-leekie soup tonight from the Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook. It just sounds fun. And it’s sort of chilly, so soup is good! Not sure what else this week. I have ideas, so I need to do that later today too. I might reprise the potato salad from last week, because that was crazy good.

Plans for the week::

Tomorrow: Lunch at my alma mater with one of my favorite people. 🙂

Wednesday: Back here for a CT scan and more rehab.

Thursday: Stuff with mom–lunch and making a fleece blanket

Friday: Rehab and Pens/Jackets game with my dad (wheee!)

Sunday: Teaching the kids in CCD about Jesus’ second coming and the four last things.

And also, I’m doing this crazy awesome workshop called Restore, which, I gotta tell you, is really exciting. The whole idea is to, well, restore. To slow life down to a manageable pace and not be all frantic and all over the place, like, oh, my life has been for the past four months or so?

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 42



The madness has started! And I love it. Thank God Pitt won yesterday. I was a bit surprised OSU lost to Dayton but I had OSU losing in the next round anyway, so not too sad about it. 🙂 We’re Pitt peeps in my family! (Dad did his undergrad there) They play again (against Florida) on Saturday.


I watched some of the games at the home of two of my friends who, coincidentally, are married–I was friends with each of them before that, however. 🙂 They have a gorgeous little girl (she’s almost 1 1/2) and I got to read Madeline to her, which was fun. I love reading books to kids–I do voices. Some of my favorites are the Llama Llama books, Go Dog Go! and Fish Out of Water (probably because my mom read the last two to my brother and me).


First week of Pulm Rehab ends today–five more weeks to go! Today I have my sessions with my PT and with nutrition. Really, the problem with nutrition is I am hungry. A lot. Sometimes all the time. That’s a med thing, and I’m not sure what we can do to fix it. But we’re gonna try! I also have a CT scan with contrast at 2:15 before my pulm rehab session at 3:00. That means–peripheral IV time! YAYYYY! 🙂 (NOT)


But before I get poked with 20 gauge needles, I’m having lunch with one of my favorite people, who is also a student at my alma mater, so I get to eat in the Main Dining Hall (MDR) again. I really loved my college years and I”m glad I live so close so I can go back and visit. 🙂 (I cannot believe my ten year class reunion is this year….gulp!)


I want to see Divergent soon. Loved the first two books. The third–eh.

Also, I am not happy with The Giver trailer. Not at all. Ages are all wrong. Sets are wrong. Costumes are wrong. IT’S A LOT OF WRONG, peeps.


Read a great book this week: Girl at the End of the World. People, you need to read this. It’s a real, honest, moving account of a woman’s escape from a fundamentalist cult founded by her grandparents.


Going to confession tomorrow. Have you been yet this Lent? Maybe you should go too? 🙂 (Friendly Catholic reminder!)

Lenten food for thought….

“How about just getting back to the basics? How about all the things you are supposed to be doing and have let slip or gotten sloppy with? How about concentrating on a few key things and really working at them? Because what’s the point of doing this grand thing, if you’re lax on the essentials?”
-Mother Mary Angelica

one thing is needful


Big Fat Catholic Book Review!

And RIGHT before Lent! See how nice I am?

Catholic Book Review button

These are all books I purchased at the Catholic Women’s Conference last weekend. I haven’t read all of them yet, but for the ones I have read, book reviews are there!

Therese, Faustina and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged My Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How To Love, by Elizabeth Ficocelli. There are several books by Ficocelli in this list (all following this one), for the big reason that I used to go to the same parish and often watched her kids in the nursery or at church functions. 🙂 She’s a really lovely woman with a great family, and she’s also a rather prolific writer. This is her newest book. I haven’t read it yet, but the conference’s emphasis on St. Faustina and Divine Mercy made it a “must pick up” for me.

The Child’s Guide to the Seven Sacraments and The Child’s Guide to the RosaryI bought these books for my first grade CCD class, since these are things we definitely talk about during the year. They are beautifully illustrated and the text is first rate.

The Fruits of Medjugorje: Stories of True and Lasting Conversion: This book is made up of individual stories, the chapters broken down by themes. Ficocelli compiled the stories and wrote a foreword. If you’re interested in Medjugorje, this is a good book for you.

Mass Start: Toeing the Line for Faith, Family and Fitness with U.S. Olympian Rebecca Dussault, by Bill Howard. This book just came out, and there’s not an Amazon link for it, so this link takes you to her personal website. Mass Start is what happens at the beginning of a race ( everyone crowding at the starting line), but Dussault also calls her new website Mass start, because the Mass is really the start of our faith, right? Everything builds from that. The book is a biography of Dussault, who spoke at the conference, and is well-written and includes a great color photo inset. Dussault has a compelling story and infectious enthusiasm, and you will too after reading the book.

God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Ways to Happiness in This Life and Beyond, by Teresa TomeoTomeo’s first book Extreme Makeover, is a must-read for all Catholic women. This is her second book following that one. I enjoy Tomeo’s conversational writing style, but I think I should note that this is pretty basic stuff she’s talking about–being still to be able to listen to God, prayer, reading the Bible. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s that I wanted more from the book, sort of something a bit more abstract.

The other books I purchased, but haven’t read yet, are Seven Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn; Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Father Thomas Dubay (who also wrote the excellent Prayer Primer and Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer), and St. Faustina’s Diary, which I’m currently reading.



Today’s Bible Reading.

I’ve been doing a “Bible passage a day” on faithlife, and this was today’s selection. 

Jer 29:10–14

10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Yeah, I needed that today!

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 40



Shamless promotion: Last post in the Lent series went up today. If you missed the earlier ones, you can read the entire series here. Lent starts on Wednesday, so get thy plan in gear!


So, as we know from the post that went up today (yes, I’m making you all read it, bwahahah!), my Lent has basically been decided for me, with GI tests, rehab, and med changes, but I have some plans of my own. I can’t entirely abandon facebook, because people will want medical updates, so I’ll still be there, but it’ll be limited. I’m going to switch my lectio divina from the OT to the NT, starting with the Gospel of Matthew. Of course being dedicated to my office and going to Daily Mass as often as possible are givens. With all the waiting for my tests, I’ll be able to get a good chunk of reading done. And I’ve also given up book buying, so I’ll be reading only the books I have–in “real” or “e” form–already on March 5.


Anyone else using Verbum software? Any tips or tricks? I love how many books are in the library (I have foundations). Just reading Bl. John Paul II’s encyclicals will keep me busy for a good long while, and I’m also using their Lenten devotional plan.

While we’re on the topic (sort of), here are some of my favorite Lenten resources: Magnificat’s Lenten companion; Death on a Friday Afternoon  by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus; B XVI’s Way of the Cross Meditations.  For additional Lenten reflection this year, you can also read the Pope’s Message for Lent 2014.


What I’m reading right now, incidentally: City of God, St. Faustina’s Diary, An Echo In the Bone, Pickwick, and Therese, Faustina and Bernadette. A real emphasis was placed on the Divine Mercy devotions and chaplet at the Women’s Retreat last weekend, so I’ve been inspired to delve back into it.


The conference! Holy cow, I didn’t tell you about it. So I will now. 🙂

2,600 Catholic women from all over the diocese (and beyond!) were crammed into our building at the state fairgrounds. I got there around 7:15 and hit up a book vendor (Of course, come on, it’s me) before heading into the main conference area to find a seat. The rosary began at 7:30 and Mass began a little after 8:00. The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter was that day, so the readings and homily reflected that. Our bishop gives excellent homilies, so it’s always a treat to hear one (soundbite: When Jesus walked toward the apostles on the stormy water, after the Resurrection, and came into the boat, “he told them to calm down!”)


After Mass, we had breakfast. Our first speaker was Sr. Miriam James, SOLT, who gave a talk that had just about everyone in the audience in tears (showing Anne Hathaway singing “I Dreamed A Dream” didn’t stop them, for sure).  She talked about the “holy longing, holy desire” that we have for God, and our desire to be seen and noticed by the one who loves us. Part of desire is stretching, wanting to desire God Himself, who wants to fill us with Himself. A woman’s body and spirit reveal God to the world and emphasis receptivity, openness, and grace. The beauty of body and soul speaks to the longing for eternal beauty that everyone desires. A woman’s attentiveness to the person, recognizing the inidivudla, intuitiveness, nurturing spirit and being the guardian  and bearer of life make the world more humane–more fully human. Sister spoke about the toxicity of culture, and that outré mission to authenticity is to love and be loved. Christ wants to touch us and heal us, if we let him.

A priest spoke about Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Confession, leading to so many ladies lining up for confessions. Forty priests were on hand to hear them! I got lunch and did some more book shopping, because we have abundant confession at my parish, so I didn’t want to deny someone who may not have it a chance to go.


After lunch, Kimberly Hahn took the stage. She spoke about the Proverbs 31 woman, and how we can work those qualities into our lives by being Godly, a woman of excellent, a woman who feast the Lord. To fear the Lord means to have reverence and awe for the God of the Universe who is our Father (I loved this definition.) This fear leads us to a faithful and faith-filled relationship with Him. God lavishes His love on us–we are His beloved daughters! We must hope in His steadfast love, because He made us, and bought us back–we are His twice. Kimberly encouraged us to let Jesus reside in our hearts, and to pursue purity and holiness, and know that God delights in each one of us.

The last speaker of the day was 2006 Olympian Rebecca Dussault , who talked about health and holiness–a great topic. (Her new book is excellent as well!) She talked about how FIT is an acronym for Finding Interior Transformation–I really liked that! Discipline in our prayer life leads to discipline win other areas. “It’s not that we win,” she said. “It’s that we take part.” (also liked that, although I do love to win.)

At 3:00, we said the Divine Mercy chaplet, and a period of adoration was offered, but, to me, was marred by overenthusiastic singers who wanted us to “participate” instead of praying in silence before the Monstrance. So I left around 3:30.

Overall, it was a great conference and I saw so many women I knew, and met some new ones! And I have so many great resources–CDs of the talks, books, and other things–to use for Lent. I feel so well prepared. 🙂

Lenten Practices 7: My plan for Lent

There’s a story I read somewhere about St. Teresa of Avila. One year for Lent, she had an amazing plan–penances, mortification, all these things she was going to do.

She ended up getting sick for all of Lent, and her sisters had to wait on her, as she was confined to her bed.

One day in prayer, she said to Jesus, “Why is this happening? I had so many plans for this Lent and now I can’t do any of them!”

He said, “That was your plan for Lent. This is my plan for your Lent.”

Right now, St. Teresa and I are kindred spirits.

I started this series before I had my regular doctor’s appointment on Monday. Before that, I had planned to give up book buying, as well as Facebook, for Lent, and really focus on my writing, my prayer life, and things of that nature. Then I had my doctor’s appointment, and my Lent became crammed with GI tests, Pulmonary Rehab dates, and possibly surgery (but we won’t know about that until after the GI tests). So my Lent, so to speak, has been determined for me.

I am used to this stuff. I am. I know how a doctor’s appointment can make the world go titled and suddenly everything you had so neatly written in the planner goes out the office window.  I should be used to this by now. But I’m not. I wonder if you ever get used to it?

I have some time before all this starts. The GI testing takes place on March 17–St. Patrick’s day, so the patronal feast day of my parish–and pulmonary rehab starts the say day. Pulmonary rehab is basically exercise with physical therapists, to increase stamina and lung function and show you what sort of program works for you. Generally the sessions included cardio, weights, and stretching/flexibility exercises. There’s also some other components, like Occupational Therapy (if you need it), there’s a psychologist who works with the team, and a dietician. So between me and all these people, we should come up with some sort of plan to get my ridiculous slackerly body into shape.

I’ve always been an “indoor” girl. My brother runs marathons, my sister played tennis for Capital, but I….read. And sing and act and write and shop and travel. I don’t run for fun. Working out, to me, is not pleasurable. It doesn’t given me a runner’s high. I don’t lose weight. I don’t generally like it. But now I sort of have to like it. Or at least tolerate it.

So….that’s my Lent.