The Pretender – My 2019 Lenten Journey

“Fake it ’til you make it.” This is a phrase I heard repeatedly from one of my coaches when I was younger. This phrase was yelled at us to remind us that even if we didn’t feel like the athlete they wanted us to be, we needed to “pull the lead out” (another fun phrase often yelled by my coaches) and at least start behaving like we were in the game.

Throughout my life I have applied the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy to various things such as love, friendship, and work and not always for the best reasons. I think there is a time when something doesn’t feel right that we need to look to the Lord for wisdom and discernment. However, the really tricky part is when reaching out to the Lord isn’t a natural response for someone.

Prayer has always been a part of my life. When I was young, I said prayers every night with my mom before I went to sleep. When I was older, prayer became a last resort as an act of desperation. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties, when I returned to the Church, that my prayer life really opened up. Now, it is rare if a day goes by without at least saying “thanks” to the Lord.

However, my prayer life, just like many other things in life ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I feel Jesus’ presence beside me all day long. Other days, I neglect to acknowledge his presence with me. The fact is life happens and sometimes I have to “fake it ’til I make it” and almost force myself to pray first thing in the morning. Even if the day is off to a bad start and I’m rushed, my perspective changes when I pause for a moment to tell God, “thank you for this day, for my faith, for my sobriety, and for all the love you have given to me in my life.” The day may not completely shift the course, but it adds love and hope that wasn’t felt prior to the nod to God.

I love music. Weird segue, but I promise I’ll bring it back around. Anyway, music has a way of marking a time in my history so when a song plays again, it can take me back in time and make my emotions swirl. I love the impact music has on my soul. I have a wide range of music interests and a pretty extensive iTunes library. Often, I will be in the car and opt to shuffle all my songs. Let me say up front that I’m not a big Christian music fan. I have a couple of artists in my collection, but I’m more of a secular music kind of gal. I heard a priest say on a podcast recently that we can often find non-secular themes in secular music that can really draw us toward God and help us relate. I agree. Now, like I said in the beginning of this paragraph…I promise I’m bringing the original blog subject back around.

A couple weeks ago after Mass, I was driving home and shuffled my music. “The Pretender” by Jackson Brown began to play. I love Jackson Browne but some of his music reminds me of a dark time in my life and this song is no exception. I decided to apply the priest’s idea by seeking out a message, since I had such an emotional response to the song. As I sang, I cried and then it all hit home when I got to the lyrics:

In those things that money can buy
where true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender.
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender.

Say a prayer for the pretender

Are you there for the pretender?

And even though the real meaning behind Jackson Browne’s lyrics is different that how I interpreted them that evening after Mass, they spoke to me in a way that reminded me of my own story.

Sometimes we are so compromised by counterfeit gods that we don’t even know we are missing out on our true love contenders. Are you there?

Say a prayer for the pretenders. Say a prayer that we can all “fake it ’til we make it” in our dried up prayer lives, so we can get back on His path. Say a prayer that we can surrender and take time to give thanks to the Lord for all his gifts.

And get up and do it again.


Lyrics to “The Pretender” written by Jackson Browne

Making a Pathway for Prayer – My 2019 Lenten Journey

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Friday morning, I drove to Miami, OK to take my dad to a doctor’s appointment. On my drive to and from, I listened to some podcasts. One of them was the “Word on Fire Show: Episode 169, The Metaphysics of Prayer.” It could not have been more timely.

Over the last ten years of diving into my Catholic faith, I have learned there are different types of prayer. Traditional Catholic prayers fall into one of four types: Adoration, praising God; Contrition, asking for God’s forgiveness; Petition, asking God for a favor; and Thanksgiving, showing God gratitude. I’m heavy on Contrition and Thanksgiving, almost to a fault.

As Catholics, we have many many prayers to recite from, but I always wanted to pray spontaneously in a way that didn’t sound simple or selfish. When I was younger, I was in awe of all the Protestant kids who could rattle off a prayer at the dinner table that was both spiritual and personal. It was no wonder why they stopped asking me to say the blessing after the first time they heard “Bless us O Lord…”. It was as dry as the breakfast toast. The other kids would look at me like, “what’s a ‘bounty’?”

When I went off to college and was seeking God through some very tough times in my life, I started to talk to Jesus like he was a buddy. I thought it would connect me with Him in a more personal way, but frankly I wasn’t ready for it, yet.

I wasn’t on the wrong track. Bishop Barron says we can visualize ourselves with Jesus kneeling/sitting with his arm around us, praying to the Father through the Holy Spirit. That visualization isn’t too far off from how I’ve been picturing it. However, I’ve always wondered how to tie the Holy Spirit into the whole prayer-trinity mix. The Good Bishop laid that out well.

Listening to that podcast on my way to see my dad, as I said was appropriate. *Confession alert!* I have a hard time praying for my dad, sometimes. Long story for another blog…or two…or a whole book, but it’s been tough taking care of my dad. I needed the long drive to honestly talk to the Father about how I was feeling about my father. The Blessed Mother got me through the death of my mother, so it seems fitting that the Father guides me along this path with my dad.

As I make more room for prayer in my life, I imagine it gets easier to pray and the words come more naturally. Sometimes, I have to say to God, “Look, you know how I’m feeling. That. That is what I want to talk to you about.” And I think He is okay with that. I believe He knows I’m trying. Thanks be to God.

Love and Marriage – My 2019 Lenten Journey

Another successful day of checking off the boxes of my Lenten promises. Yesterday, I talked about returning to a 5 AM wake up that allows me to start my day off with prayer and exercise, and gets me to work on time.

The next Lenten promise on my list was a 10 PM bedtime. This goes hand-in-hand with the wake up time because my ability to process information and be nice to others diminishes with each minute under seven hours of sleep.

My evenings are often occupied with work, volunteer activities, or school. It seems as if I only have one or two nights a week when I can actually sit down and chill out for a minute. I don’t mind the busyness. I grew up with a mother who never sat down until she went to bed…except on Friday’s when “Dallas” was on. I think most people who know me would tell you I am an active person, and possibly a bit ADHD. When I am fortunate to be home in the evenings, I am usually busy playing catch-up on house work or prepping things for the week to come.

The one thing I miss when I’m not home at night or I am home and busy running around, is spending quality time with my husband. My husband is my favorite person on this earth. No doubt. When I am heading home, I am pretty excited to walk in the door and hear him say, “Snazzle!” (That’s my nickname. And for future reference, my nickname for him is “Sparky.”) I love spending time with my husband, even if it’s just being in the same room with him while doing other things.

This Lenten commitment has made me see the last couple days that if I am going to shorten my day even more in order to wake up earlier, I am going to have to make sure I spend some quality time with my husband. Quality time can be as simple as watching an episode of “The Office” together, folding laundry in the same room while he watches some “Die Hard Lethal Terminator Predator ” movie, or just going to bed early together so we can drift off to sleep in each other’s arms.

Love never fails. ~ 1 Cor 13: 8

We are living out the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which means there is more than just me and him in this equation. A marriage is three parts: Husband, Wife, and God. We need all three to make it work and anyone who is married knows that it comes with challenges. I think when we let the outside world take God’s place in our marriage equation is when we let those challenges get in the way of what God truly is — LOVE.

So, while a 10 PM bedtime is a good thing to set my sleep/body clock, it is also a reminder. The reminder is that time is precious, so when the evenings are short, make the best use of time by spending it with my favorite person on this earth — my Sparky, my love.

I’ll conclude this evening by asking you to pray for your spouse and ask God to renew the love that seals your marriage covenant. If you aren’t married, say this prayer for a married couple close to you. Good night and God bless you all.

On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife,
“Sister, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord
To have mercy on us and grant us deliverance.”
Sarah got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs.
They began with these words:
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
Praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
Let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
Not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
They said together, “Amen, amen.”

Tobit 8:4-8

Ash Wednesday – My 2019 Lenten Journey

This is my “Holy” face.

Day 1 of Lent 2019 is in the books. I actually got up and out of bed at 5 AM this morning and went for a brisk (and when I say “brisk,” I mean 19 frigging degrees) run. I felt good. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t start my morning at a deficit.

I used to be faithful to the 5 AM wake up/workout. Used to be. Then, life happened and I started going to bed later, then waking up later, then pushing everything else in my day behind. It really bothered me and I started to notice how I was showing up to work late everyday stressed out with high anxiety. It is a horrible way to start a day. Consequently, I was pushing all my work back often times scrambling to find times on future dates to get things done. Plus, I was missing workouts, which fuels my engine. Sure, I would sometimes workout at lunch or after work, but, it wasn’t the same.

The most impactful thing I was skipping was my prayer time. I realized that on the days I was finding time to pray in the morning, it pointed my inner compass in the right direction for the day. I was also extra emotional when I had that time with God. I would sit down with some green tea before I would start to get ready for the day, read the daily readings for the day, and cry throughout my prayer to God. I would cry because I realized how much I missed Him, how much I needed Him, and how much He needed to hear from me. This alone was enough for me to make the 5 AM commitment for Lent this year. Out of everything I mentioned above, this one is the most important and most fulfilling.

So, the results of Day 1 are good. I woke up, went for a run (in the Tundra), prayed, and started my day. I fasted the traditional Ash Wednesday fast with a couple of small meals and didn’t get too cranky. And I wrapped up a busy day with an evening Mass with ashes and the Sacrament. Any day is a good day with the Sacrament. (For all the non-Catholics, the Sacrament is the Eucharist, a.k.a. Holy Communion, a.k.a. The Body of Christ, a.k.a. awesomeness.)

Now, on to turning in to make Day 2 another good day. Say a prayer, right now, for all those in need. Good night and may God bless you all!

My 2019 Lenten Journey

I’ve had this blog account set up for a few years and have failed to add any content.  I figured Lent was a good reason to push me toward making my blogging dreams come to life.  Although, I’m not sure a 40-day series about suffering is going to be so exciting it will attract many readers; however, I want to assure everyone up front that I promise to make fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as entertaining as possible.

Today was Mardi Gras, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday and I missed out on celebrating.  I woke up with a terrible tummy ache which made me feel like I was going to poop my pants or barf with any sudden movement.  So, no Kings Cake for me, this year.  And if you’re Catholic and follow the traditional rules of fasting on Ash Wednesday, you know how brutal that can be.  Normally, I feel fairly secure about going into that day of starvation because I’m sick from all the “Gras” in my “Mardi” the day before.  Umm, not this year.  Yikes.  All I could stomach today was some  tea, water, and a bland turkey sandwich, so I’m headed into tomorrow at a deficit.  Prepare the masses for a very cranky Chelsea.

What is Lent in a nutshell? Lent is a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  People who aren’t Catholic typically assume we (Catholics) give something up during that time, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s about taking things on, like extra prayer; giving more, like feeding the needy; and sacrificing something of comfort to remind us of Christ’s sufferings as he prepared for his crucifixion.

So, here is what I am doing this year for Lent:

  • Going to bed at 10 PM every night
  • Waking up at 5 AM every morning
  • 10 minute morning prayer time
  • 10 minute bedtime prayer time
  • Journal (blog) about my Lenten journey
  • Giving a dollar for every cuss word I say to the poor (Poverty Pennies for the Poor — explained in a future blog post)

That’s it.  It all starts at 5 AM tomorrow morning.  I’m stoked…and when I say “stoked” I mean totally not stoked.  But, it’s been a while since I really sacrificed some things for Lent and it’s time to enrich my experience for this period of time and reconnect with Christ.

Pray for me over the next 40 days that I may connect more deeply with God and I will pray for you to do the same.  Good night and God bless you!