Living In The Lenten Desert With Small Children

Living In The Lenten Desert With Small Childrenby Colleen Duggan.png

A friend asked me recently if I had any tips for living in the desert of Lent while parenting small children. Like many of us, I suspect she feels stifled by the noise and the chaos of her daily life and desires to go off Jesus, to sit at his feet and learn from him in quiet prayer.

I can relate, what busy mom doesn’t want a little peace and quiet? And not just during Lent … but anytime.

It’s a bold statement, though, to say we want to live with Jesus in the desert because it means we want to commit ourselves to living like he did for forty days: hungry, thirsty, and engaged in spiritual combat! I don’t know about you, but I find a twenty-minute toddler temper tantrum or a teen tirade a challenge, so forty days of spiritual warfare and attack seems daunting.

Residing in the desert requires a type of fasting I’m not used to on the regular: no human company, water, food, and noise. It requires I deny myself those creature comforts I enjoy in life in order to bathe in his presence.

Read the rest at Catholic Mom.

Chaotic Confessions


About once a month we drag our six children to Confession at a local parish. I use the word drag because that’s how it feels. The kids complain about dressing in appropriate church attire, the imposition of abandoning their neighborhood play dates in lieu of a Saturday afternoon sacrament, and their perpetual state of “starvation.” Their objections are sandwiched between rhetorical statements like “Why should I go to confession again? I just went last week!”

On top of the basic challenge of getting everyone out the door, if we don’t arrive by a certain time, we won’t have any face-to-face time with the priest. Punctuality is of the essence and the narrow timeline adds to the burden of receiving the sacrament.

By the time we arrive, I’m tense, snappy and issuing threats through gritted teeth. At least once during the preparation and drive to church, I offer an impassioned State Of The Union about the inherent weaknesses of all my family members — including their chronic lateness, disobedience, and general spiritual lassitude — and absolutely no one is convicted by my diatribe.

Read the rest here.


A Few Things

A few

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on how often I think I know better than God.  It's the story of an experience I had with my son, Patrick, who is always challenging me to grow and change.  This time he reminded me how I need to get out of the way and let God work.

One of the hosts of the Morning Air show liked the story so much, he invited me to come on the radio last week and share it.  You can listen to the segment here beginning around minute 16:10.

In other news:

I'm no social media guru, but it seems as soon as I figure out something that works for me via social media, the platform changes.  This is most certainly the case with Facebook.  In case you don't know, Facebook has changed the way users see personal Facebook pages like mine.  Unless you manually change your settings, all articles, updates, and book promotions from me will be hidden from your feed. 


If you want my page to stay visible in your news feed, please follow the instructions via this handy dandy graphic so that you will be sure to receive my updates.

 image via

image via

I'm going to be blogging a bit more regularly now that my book baby is about to be launched into the world, so my website and my newsletter are going to be the best places to find me.  If you haven't done so yet, please sign up for my newsletter here.  You get some cool freebies including the Litany Of Humility for Parents Prayer written by yours true AND a 25% off coupon code for my new book entitled Good Enough Is Good Enough: Confessions Of An Imperfect Catholic Mom.

You can't go wrong!  :)

A cool idea:

My friend Jessica Ptomey is launching a great initiative:  the 2018 Catholic reading challenge.  You can learn all her project via the link, but I personally love the idea of intentionally selecting books that are edifying and faith forming.  Get all the deets here!

I think that's it.  Have a great Monday, friends.


Lab Work

Lab Work.png

A few mornings ago, I took Christopher to get some blood work at a lab in town. It’s been wicked cold in these parts and the temperature on this particular morning was maybe 5*. 

John, before he buckled him into this car seat, had convinced four-year-old Edward that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat Santa brought was indeed a good idea. Edward kvetched only a little before agreeing to put on the hat.

Christopher, being a few years older, was diligent about his cold weather gear so when we finally arrived to the lab, we did it laden with hats, mittens and puffy winter coats.

As I settled the boys, I smiled at an elderly married couple beaming over at us. I could tell right away they enjoyed seeing Christopher and Edward.

The older lady said to them, “Boys, how is the weather?”

Christopher looked at her, wide eyed, and didn’t know what to make of her comment. 

He is a young man of very few words and so he said,

“It’s good…cold.” 

He shoved his hands into his winter coat and looked at the ground.

Edward fussed with his Teenage Mutant Turtle cap before I finally took it from him and shoved it deep into his zipped up coat. 

I rolled my eyes at the old lady and she giggled.

I sat down across from the boys and right next to the couple.  

They immediately told me they had two grown children of their own, one great grandchild, and another great grandchild on the way. They both mused about when their boys were the same ages of mine and we talked about the joys of life with small children.

When his wife was called back for her blood work, the older gentleman shared that just a few short months ago the doctors took 32 ounces of liquid off of his wife’s stomach because she was having some kind of heart issue. 

His eyes filled with tears. 

“She looked pregnant there was so much fluid,” he said. 

“She looks wonderful now!” I told him. 

We found a terrific physician who calls us all the time to check on her. That doctor saved her life. We love that doctor,” the man explained.

I told him a good doctor was hard to find and I was glad they’d discovered one. He shook his head in agreement.

Then the man switched gears and told me about how, in the last few weeks, his wife’s best friend died suddenly early one morning. They were devastated by the loss. 

“My wife was laughing and cutting up with her on the phone the night before she died! The next morning, she was gone,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

His eyes filled with tears again when he told me about loosing his friend and the trip they were all planning to take together in the spring.

Before I knew it, we were talking about marriage.

“We will be married for 58 years this summer,” he said. (Though his wife corrected him later and told me they’d been married for 59 years.)

“I’m not gonna lie, I spent some of that those years sulking out in the garage but it kept me from yelling at her,” he joked.

“I went to my nephew’s third wedding this summer. I asked my wife if we could get the gifts we gave him for the first two marriages back!” he said. 

I laughed at his comment, but I think he was serious.

“People don’t stay married anymore,” he said.

“Marriage is hard and I don’t think people know how to endure hard things these days,” I countered.

“Maybe,” he said. 

“If you aren’t willing to compromise, you need to probably stay away from marriage, he said.  “ That’s my advice.” 

“I think I’m going to take your advice,” I said. “If you’ve stayed married for 58 years, you know what you’re talking about. You’ve got some weight behind your words.”

At that, his wife came out from getting her blood work done. 

I thanked them both for visiting with me and told them to have a nice day and off they both went into the bitter cold.

Later that evening, when I huddled under my heating blanket hoping the warmth would penetrate the cold that had permeated down deep to my bones, I opened my examination of conscience book and I read the question, “Who wore the face of God for you today?”

And I thought of that old man and his wife, who in just a few short minutes schooled me in the ways of life.