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Posts tagged ‘Catholic writer’

Wounded, but put me in coach

This has been a rough year.

I was at the top of my game. Syndication going well. Published author. Travel writer. Catholic Liaison for Israel. Yes, Israel.

Traveling Catholic speaker. Keynotes and everything.

And wham. PTSD. Quit my job. I had stopped writing the year before–all but the blog. I still traveled to Israel, but on my own, a kind of personal and mostly quiet retreat.

The speaking engagements kept coming. And the Holy Spirit always showed up.

But in between, I was dry. No. That’s not quite right. I was broken. Hurt. Wounded.

I didn’t faint and collapse in the middle of the fifth inning, but it sure seemed like it. It seemed like they whisked me off the field and I found myself on the bench, disoriented, a little incoherent, but wanting to brush aside their arms and say, put me in. Come on. I’m okay. Just put me back in.

Only I wasn’t okay.

I wrote about this in my book. One day, I would be out of the Catholic hustle and bustle. God would call me to “higher elevations,” I wrote, “where the crowds don’t gather but the view is amazing.”

Only the view didn’t seem so amazing.

I just wanted to go back to what I knew. The familiar. And being busy made me feel like God liked me at least a little. He took joy in using me.

“Just sit there for a while. I’m taking you out of the game. Cheer on your teammates all you want. But there is no way you are going back out there for a while.”

That’s what it is like when you are a writer and you have absolutely nothing to write. You love the Eucharist, but you can’t seem to get yourself to be around people.

You go to Mass on Sunday and Adoration because there is nobody there but you and the Lord. The rest has become practically impossible.

You aren’t depressed.

At least you don’t think that’s it.

Only God knows. So He is telling you to sit there on that bench. It’s like you have the “Mysterious Malady” that some baseball players get. You suddenly can’t do all the things you once did. You don’t have the it-factor anymore.

Just fix me and put me back in. But that’s no good. That won’t work.

In the spiritual realm, God needs to spend some time on you, and you need to let Him do it. It isn’t that you are suddenly ill, you were a little screwed up the whole time. The Mysterious Malady is not so mysterious.

Once it gets quiet, once you are pulled out of the game for a bit, you begin to see the wounds. You remember the day a young man had a knife and sexually molested you. You realize it made you fear anyone who could overpower you.

You remember the nights your husband in the non-Sacramental marriage waited for you to fall asleep so he could take you without asking. You think of the night he did it on purpose because he knew you were in the middle of your cycle and you would get pregnant. He did it to control and manipulate fate – and you. You became angry when anyone did things behind your back that seemed to take advantage of you or sabotage your life in any way.

You have trust issues.

Yet you say, Jesus, I trust in You.

Let’s get to that. Let’s analyze it for a while.

And the only way to do that is to take away everything that keeps you busy — until you see.

Practice setting good boundaries on everyone you need to, except Jesus Christ. Learn that He can be trusted…even in the quiet. Even when writer’s block shows up for a whole year. Even when you aren’t sure about anything except Jesus and His Church.

You get back to your motel room, shut the door, and cry. Still wearing the team uniform, you stumble to the mirror.

I have a few wounds.

But the good news is that the coach is also the ultimate healer. He knows how to heal these wounds, and He also wants to put you back in more than you want to get back into the game.

You sit on a chair. Alone.

And then someone knocks on the door. The healer wants to come in. And you realize you desperately want that, too.

A Wispy Grace

Memories of Dad are a gift. A blessing. I pause life – the social-media scanning, the conversations around me, the house cleaning & writing, Once Upon A Time (which is my latest obsession), the errands – and I soak up the gift. The wispy grace.

There are a handful of people who have been my open-door to grace. I can pick up the phone to reach them… or write an email… or walk to the bedroom or home office.

But not Dad. Dad is a special gift of grace. One that can be reopened, but only with keys that come along as surprises. I don’t know where they are hidden. I don’t know how to find them.

They find me.

Like today. In Door County. Where the wifi is spotty in our third-floor suite overlooking Lake Michigan. Where the shops are full of miniature sailboats, and handcrafted walking canes, and lighthouse paintings.

Where there is cheese curd for sale at the Piggly Wiggly a few blocks away. Where a quaint bookstore or coffee shop or park bench calls to me – like it would have called to him.

He is with me.

And in these moments, I start to ask him what he thinks – of the things I’ve done since he left. The conversion. The falling in love with the Sacramental life. The books I’ve read and the book I’ve written.

My kids. Grown and having kids of their own.

Before I can ask him, I sense his smile. His gentle pat. The wordless exchange that says he is pleased – not so much with what I’ve done, but with what grace has done with me and to me and for me.

The cheese curd is good – even if it is orange – I think. A Wisconsin boy would laugh at that. Especially one who was familiar with cheese factories, where cheese curd was always white.

The book I bought at the bookstore today was one he wouldn’t have purchased. The Protestant minister wouldn’t gravitate to a Pope Francis book. But it’s on humility, and Dad would have understood that. They – the Pope and Dad – are more alike than my Protestant family might think – more than even Dad might have realized.

Wisconsin and Argentina can both produce humble men. Men who’ve marked me by their lives. And words. And love that lingers.

Tonight, we’ll get ice cream even though the weather’s cold for July – perhaps even for Door County, Wisconsin. But that wouldn’t stop Dad from getting ice cream. And it won’t stop us tonight, either.

Yesterday, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help before traveling the final hour of our trip to Door County. The Shrine is lovely. Peaceful. And I thought of all of the good help I have received at the hand of a Good and Gracious God.

Help.

Help that comes in the form of a Wisconsin boy who loved with every breath and ate ice cream in the middle of winter and always had a book at arm’s reach, a boy who grew up on cheese curd and found ships & lighthouses aesthetically beautiful.

And there is still a bit of grace in a bite of ice cream, a book store aisle, a creamy cheese curd whether white or yellow, and the glimpse of a sailboat or a lighthouse.

I don’t need a vacation.

This is all I need.

The help that comes from grace – even wispy grace.

 

Two Questions Every Presenter (and Catholic writer) Should Ask

I just signed up for Prezi. It is supposed to revolutionize the speaking industry. It’s Power Point on steroids. Animation. Interactive. So, I’m learning the ropes.

Prezi sends me emails to keep me engaged. One of the latest emails included links to helpful websites for speakers.

Seth Godin was on the list.

Seth says, “Before you start working on your presentation, the two-part question to answer is, ‘who will be changed by this work, and what is the change I seek?'”

These are two important questions for those who give talks. But I would posit that they are even more important questions for Catholic writers to ask as they work on books (and articles).

Who will be changed by this book?

What is the change I seek (or that the Lord seeks)?

So…

I immediately started thinking about the book I just completed. The book Ave Maria Press will release in about six months. Did I have an answer for both of those questions?

Yes. Instantly, yes!

The book is for every Catholic. Every. Single. One.

What is the take-away–

How can I give birth to Jesus Christ in my world? In my sphere of influence? How can I model everything I do after the one who did the whole Christ-bearing thing best? Mary.

I wanted to hop to my feet and shout. Can you imagine what would happen if every Eucharist-loving Catholic got that?! If we each became the true Christ-bearers that we have been called to become?

We’d set the world on fire, like St. Catherine of Siena once predicted.

So there it is. My two-fold question.

It’s all written down… ready to ship out. Which means just one thing:

I’m ready to go from writer to speaker – and even Seth Godin would agree!

If you are interested in having me speak to your group or parish, here is the link to CMG Booking.

The (Catholic) Writing Life

Because you asked . . .

Recently, I have had a number of people ask me how I became a Catholic writer – and whether I had any tips for them. The easiest and best answer is that God wanted me to do it.

He gave me the desire.

Whatever talent I have is because He put it there.

He opened the doors.

He matched my writing to the needs of editors so that what I wrote matched their publication needs. And He didn’t just do that once. He kept doing it. And doing it. And doing it.

Writing is a gift. It is a gift from God to the writer. It is a gift God gives to editors through the writer. It is a gift God uses for the ones He ultimately wishes to bless through the writer and the editor: the reader.

Writing is a gift from God, ultimately given for the reader. Many writers talk about their passion, their love for writing. And there must be passion. Without a doubt, you have to love writing. But to be a Catholic writer, you need more. You need to love the reader. The deepest part of you must want to be a gift to the editors for the readers. You must desire to be poured out – for them.

If writing is more for you than for God (and what He wants to do in the hearts of the readers), then you need to choose another work – or at least another kind of writing.

So, the first most important thing to keep in your mind and heart as a Catholic writer is that God is the author of all of it. Read more

Activate Your Gifts

I never forget to eat – except when I’m writing.

I’m a classic introvert – except when someone gets me talking about Mother Church and the Eucharist.

When writing is paired with evangelism, something inside of me ignites. I can’t explain it, but I hope it never stops happening to me. Read more