It began like most other days; I realized with great resignation that there were, as usual, many more items on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.

And then, somehow, I remembered it was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of my all-time favorite Marian celebrations.

Encouraged, I did something I hadn’t done in ages: I asked Mama Mary to grant me extra grace in my vocation because, honestly, I needed all the help I could get. It had been a rough few weeks with no relief in sight. I hoped the Blessed Mother would take pity on her overextended child and throw me a spiritual bone or 12.

Wouldn’t you know it? The Queen of Heaven and Earth heard my cry and answered in the most gentle and powerful way. Throughout the day, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering simple promptings into my heart. The most peace, joy, and satisfaction that day happened when I heeded and obeyed God’s voice.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I experienced peace and joy by listening to and — gasp — obeying God? Yes; I get it. An amazing concept, right? But as I have likely proved via previous content in this space, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into my stubborn head … until they do.

The first whisper I heard was this: “Be with Me.”

Even though I wasn’t dressed in my Sunday best, my clothes were clean and they weren’t pajamas. My hair and teeth were brushed, and my face was clean-ish. The youngest offspring had real shoes on their actual feet and weren’t acting like rabid hyenas. Clearly Jesus was beckoning us to attend daily Mass and spend some quality time with him. I figured if the only thing we accomplished that day was attending Mass, we’d have something for the ‘win’ column.

The children and I slipped into a pew toward the back of the church just in case we needed to make a quick, child volcano-induced exit, and I again implored Mary for her help.

During the first 10 minutes of Mass, I wrestled an impossibly wiggly child while shushing his chatty older sister. I sighed, wondering again why I thought it was a good idea to attend Mass with two energetic kiddos. I desperately hoped God’s word would seep into the marrow of my being, somehow soothing and healing each of my tired, dry bones.

Father began proclaiming Luke’s Gospel, and I immediately got goosebumps as he read:

“And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed; the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.’”

I couldn’t ignore the way the Spirit was breathing new life into the text I’d heard hundreds of times before. I was deeply touched by how personal and applicable each word was, even as I simultaneously wrestled my freakishly strong preschooler:

My soul proclaims and rejoices in God. He looks upon me, His lowly servant, with favor. He has done great things for me. Holy is His Name — I praise Him.

As Father proclaimed the rest of Mary’s Magnificat, a gentle current of truth continued to flow deep into my soul:

God shows me mercy. He shows mercy to my children. God lifts and fills me up. He helps me.

Soon I could no longer contain my tears. They flowed like rain down my cheeks until my preschooler noticed and stopped fidgeting for a blessed moment as I pondered these things in my heart.

God seemed to say, I love you, Heather. I always have. I will never forsake or abandon you. I give my mercy, my love — my very self — to you and to your children. Always.

After Mass, I felt rejuvenated and energized. Since I had to go to the store anyway, I figured I might as well pick up a few goodies to take to a friend for her birthday. I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate the feast of the Visitation than by celebrating my friend’s life, especially as ridiculous scheduling conflicts had kept us from getting together as often as we preferred.

I recognized the second whisper: “Be Christ for others.” As our Heavenly Father pours his love into us, so we share his love in the world.

There were other Holy Spirit nudges that day, but some things are best left between us and God. Bottom line: The very best to-do items are those whispered to us by the Holy Spirit. This Pentecost, may we heed the gentle stirrings we receive to love and serve the Lord.

Renshaw is a mother in the wilds of suburban Portland. Her first book, “Death By Minivan,” will be published by Our Sunday Visitor this fall.