The courage to rest

Praying the ancient Vespers prayers at sunset. That's the life.

A few years ago, I found myself in a state of being perpetually overwhelmed. I mean, I still feel that way a lot of the time now, but back then it was worse. There was more of a sense of hopelessness, a feeling that I was sinking and couldn’t figure out how to pull myself up. Nothing I did seemed to get us any closer to having a peaceful routine or a house that didn’t look like it was b-roll footage from Hoarders. I pondered and prayed and whined about the issue for months, then, finally, something clicked. I had an epiphany that would... Read More

How to think about the afterlife (hint: you can’t, because you live in Flatland)

I don’t spend much time trying to imagine heaven. To be honest, it always stresses me out. Every time I get a mental image that I like, I realize that something about it would get old if I had to deal with it for, you know, eternity. The other day, Joe brought home some chocolate-frosted donuts as a special treat. The kids were evidently curious to see if it is in fact possible to have one food item contain over 10,000 calories, so they topped each donut with whipped cream. I took one bite, and it was everything I dreamed a chocolate-frosted,... Read More

Desert spirituality at two o’clock in the morning

Look at pretty much any culture that existed before the use of electricity, and you’ll see that they had deep superstitions about night. Throughout the ages, it’s been a nearly universal human belief that evil forces gained potency after the sun went down. Age-old evening prayers reflect fears of death: Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord my soul to keep / and if I die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take. …And an awareness of evil: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting... Read More

21 tips for survival mode

A few years ago I made a passing comment about being in “bare minimum mode” because we had four kids under age five. I was surprised when I opened up email the next morning to have a flood of questions asking me for more details about this concept. Ever since then, any time I bring up the topic I get a great response from others who find themselves in seasons of life when things are too crazy to do anything other than just get by. I find myself in a survival season once again since I now have six kids under age nine, so I thought I’d... Read More

Six questions for conquering crazy-think and making good decisions

I don’t do suffering well. Some generous people said that they thought I handled the pulmonary embolism thing gracefully, but a) they would have retracted all of that and slowly backed away in fear if they could have heard my inner dialogue, and b) sitting in a quiet hospital room and listening to my iPod didn’t exactly make me St. Josephine Bakhita. Also, it’s usually the little trials that throw me for a loop more than the big ones: I can kind of go with the flow when major medical procedures go awry, but getting interrupted... Read More

Behind the scenes of a mid-life crisis

I think I had a mid-life crisis a few months ago. It was a weird experience, because I didn’t see it coming. Ever since my conversion I’ve had this unshakable sense of peace at the foundation of my life, a sort of root-level happiness that I never knew was possible. Yeah, things are hard, sometimes really hard, and I whine now and then (okay, a lot), but all of that stuff has to do with day to day annoyances. When you look past all that, I’m actually deeply fulfilled with this crazy existence of mine — after all, life doesn’t... Read More

A few other things I learned from my month o’ doom

I’m now entering week 10,000 of this pregnancy, with only 40,000 more days to go until the April due date! (I don’t have a calendar handy, so that’s just a guesstimate.) Also, I just found out that I’m seriously anemic, which will help me fill out my “Blood-Related Issues that Make You Feel Like You’re Dying” punchcard. I thought I’d take a break from my big afternoon plans of staring at a wall (and occasionally yelling utterly empty threats to the kids about what will happen if I have to get off this... Read More

“Joy is not a flag Jesus plants in us; it is a fruit he grows in us”

I received a copy of a new book while I was at the monastery this week. I planned to read it when I got home, but as soon as I glanced at the first page, I knew I’d been given something special. I ended up spending hours poring over its pages, soaking up its insights and nodding and just about saying out loud, “Finally, someone is explaining this in a way I understand!” That book is Choosing Joy by Dan Lord, and you just have to read it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dan, he was once the lead singer of a popular... Read More

My (very late) word for the year

I didn’t choose a “word of the year” this year. The New Year happened to coincide a particularly low point in the book process, even by doomed project standards, and I scrapped the whole word choosing process when the only options I could come up with were: Futility Despair Floccinaucinihilipilification Then last Tuesday I found myself at daily Mass, and I think I got my word. My husband had kindly arranged to take a day off of work so that I could get some time to recuperate after a month that has so far been insane on a lot... Read More

What a spiritual director and an MBA taught me about being overwhelmed

I have a personality type that leads me to feel overwhelmed a lot. I’m ambitious but lazy; I have a latent perfectionist streak that comes out at unexpected times; I’m an Olympian procrastinator; and I’m so non-confrontational that I often find myself saying “Yes, I’d love to help with that” when what I should be saying is, “I CANNOT EVEN FIND TIME TO BRUSH MY HAIR RIGHT NOW, LET ALONE SIGN UP FOR ONE MORE FREAKING THING.” Because God looks out for people like me, I’ve had some very wise counsel... Read More

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