Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Evangelizing in Everything #CWBNCA

Surrounded by strangers and tucked into the middle seat, I laughed most of the way back from California.  I was returning from an amazing conference:  The Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference for the Southwest Region.  It is mouthful.  We just called it the Catholic Mom's Blogging Retreat #CWBNCA.  

On the way home, The Girls and I got separated for the flight back because we decided to pass the 40 minutes before boarding… in the bar.  Just one drink and we had a horrible boarding number anyhow.  We were separated not because we were at the bar too long,but rather because we didn't plan ahead and get our boarding passes early.   We were just having to much fun to think about going home 24 hours into our vacation.

And I don't even feel guilty about that.

Now let me clarify here.  Usually on this blog when I refer to "The Girls" I mean Anna and Gracie.  I did not take them to a bar with me.  They are after all only 3 and 6.  They were at home with their super awesome daddy.   In this post when I talk about "The Girls" I am referring to my roomies for the weekend.    

On the airplane ride home, I was able to sit within earshot of one my sweet, fun, friends. She is one of those people who has never met a stranger.  Before we even got into the air she was chatting it up with the couple next to her and explaining that they are still Catholic even though they referred to themselves as formerly Catholic.  She actually asked them if they got a letter from The Pope and I almost choked on my gum.

 "Were Catholic? What do you mean? Did you get a letter? No? Oh well then you weren't excommunicated.. you are still Catholic… you can come home..this is just a stage".

They were laughing, and she was laughing, and they continued in this vein for the next 90 minutes. 

This conversation, on which I was ease-dropping, just sums up so much of what our weekend was about.  

Laughter, community, sharing our culture, 
learning from one another, 
and evangelizing in everything we do.

When I started blogging it wasn’t so much about evangelism.  I really wanted to talk about child development with people who wanted to hear about it all.  I know some of my readers follow the blog because they know me personally and want to hear funny things about the kids, but I think a lot of you probably read it because you want to get something concrete and practical out of the posts.

That is what I strive to give you anyway.  No one ever really tells me what they want.

Well the kids do all the time, but that is not blog related.

At the conference, it became so clear that each online presence has the opportunity to change lives and save souls.  I didn't start with that intention - I just want to help you all be more intentional and maybe just keep your from loosing your minds in the craziness of parenting.

When I converted there weren’t really any Catholic mom blogs.  At least none that I knew about.  Now there are hundreds of them.  When I searched for answers to my questions about Catholism I turned to the internet.  I found Q/A websites like Catholic Answers although I dont really remember which ones.  They were very academic and very impersonal.  Which was fine really.  

But now there are so many ways for people to see what if means to live a devout life in-line with the magisterium.  

For instance, the conference was organized by Micaela (from California to Korea), and hosted by Kendra (from Catholic All Year) and the speakers were Jenna (Blessed is She), Kristin (This Inspired Life), Andrea Boring (Modern Catholic Mom), plus Kendra and Micaela.  These are some pretty awesome bloggers so if you haven’t checked out their pages you are missing out.  I am going to be linking to as many post by fellow conference folks as I can through my Facebook page in the coming month to share the love.  If you haven't checked out the blog FB page that is the best reason to do so!

Back to it though...

Here is the lovely group

We had time for prayer, learning, getting to know one another, worship, and a little free time too.  I learned how to edit photos (and why it is important), how to interface with different social media (and why I should), as well as learn why it is really important for me be a responsible and consistent voice for my God and His Church.    

Plus we got to let loose a little.  

Yes I am a total nerd and that is my crossword puzzle in the background.

Aside for learning blogging stuff... it was a good time for me to recharge.  I was really in need of having my cup filled.

At home I get my cup filled regularly but then kids keep knocking it over.

I used some not-PG rated language, I stayed up late and but slept through the night, I cried, I connected, I met new friends, and I bonded with some of my favorite people in the world.

It has been a tough year in terms of my own identity.  Getting away from my blessed life gave me the chance to reconnect with ME.  Not just the mom-side of me, or the wife-side of me, or the sister/daughter/aunt - side of me.  I got to just be ME.  

The Girls

We ended up separating from the larger group to attend mass Sunday morning pretty much because we wanted/needed an extra bit of sleep.  We chose to attend mass at the closest Roman Catholic Church rather than venture to a prettier one.  I know that is horribly practical of us, but it ended up being one of the highlights of the conference.   

The priest really spoke to me and the need that I have for joy in my life. This is what he said

I love that he started with the reality that we have JOY already because of our relationship with Christ... and we make a choice daily or even hourly to surrender that joy.    

St. Paul said to evangelize in everything and use words only when necessary (or something like that). That goes for blogging and real life stuff too.  There is so much in our lives for which to be joyful & thankful even when it gets tough. And the joy and the thankfulness go hand in hand.   But what separates us from the unfaithful is how we respond and why we respond that way.   

My girlfriend in the top picture (and many other of these women from the weekend) knows this.  She is filled with joy and that joy spills over from her to all those around her.  She wears her faith outwardly with her smile.  And on that flight home she shared her joy and her love of Our Mother Church in such a beautiful, authentic way.

It really brought the whole weekend full circle.  

When I returned home I played a late-night game of foozball with Anthony, JR and their dad.  Parents against kids and there is some debate in our home who actually won.  It was a choice to have fun for 10 minutes and not rush them off to bed and for once I made the right choice!

I am choosing today, to stop surrendering my joy, and to choose gratitude.  In doing so I can live authentically for Christ and spread His light.  Plus, it will make me a better wife, mother, friend, daughter and blogger!

Can you join me?  Let's be more joyful because we certainly have much to be joyful about!

Thanks for stopping by to think with me!

PS- If you are curious about the conference and want a play-by-play of the weekend check out Michaela's post on the weekend.  Kendra (our hostess-with-the-mostess) has a nice post summarizing some of the other attendees posts as well.  

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