Friday, February 28, 2014


Make no mistake about it, being a lady takes sacrifice.  A lady is not obsessed with self but puts her focus on others.  Her focus, if she is a homemaker like me, is on her husband, children, and home.  If there is still room left her focus is her Faith.  If she is truly blessed she has time for even more in her life.

When is the last time you made a sacrifice, no matter how small for your husband?  What does that look like in your world? 

There is a movie from the 1990s called "Forget Paris".  Below is a clip from the movie that had significant impact on the shaping of how I would treat relationships and marriage.  Prior to this scene the two characters Mickey (Billy Crystal) and Ellen (Debra Winger) have an on again off again relationship that began when his father's remains were lost by the French airline where Ellen is employed.  This is the moment where they commit to remaining together.

"Nah, we've handled all the big issues.  The rest will work itself out."

How often do we forget about these little things, these little sacrifices that can mean so much to those we love?  How often do we brush it aside that he prefers this brand of mayonnaise (constant argument in the home I grew up in) or she likes him to write the item on the shopping list that he just emptied (preferably legibly - also a constant problem in the home where I grew up)? 

When someone commits the offense of not remembering our own preferences, how do we handle it?  Do we smile that little smile, shake our head, and shake it off?  Or do we turn it into WWIII?  If we turn it into WWIII was it worth it?

I have actually met people who got a divorce because she wouldn't put the car mirrors back where he liked them or he refused to help with the laundry.  I wish I were joking, but sadly I'm only keeping their names to protect the "innocent".

Is it worth throwing away all that history and love and life over toothpaste?!?!?!? 

When our eyes are on Christ the needs of our families are much easier to meet.  It is easier to give of the self when we aren't obsessed with hanging onto that self. 

Can you make that sacrifice of self today?  How?  In what little way can you make someone else's world light up a little bit?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On the Cusp of Lent

Since I'm 1 week into this project I figured it's about time to outline what you should be able to expect of me and what I hope to be inspiring in you as well.

You may have noticed there was one day in the past week where there was no posts.  I will not be posting on Sundays because that is the Lord's day.  It is my time with my family and God.  We made a resolution back in January that we would not make others work on Sundays, including ourselves whenever possible.  We promised to remember the Lord's Day and keep it holy.  I don't like to think of this blog causing "work" so we'll just consider Sundays to be your "catch up day" for posts you may have missed.

With Lent around the corner I will also not be publishing on Fridays for religious reasons.  I will be spending the time I would have spent working on the blog post praying the Stations of the Cross and in other devotions as well as time with my family.  And trying very, very hard to stay away from the brownies...

Each year I try to spend my Lent doing four things - I try to make strides in my faith life in four new ways.  Often these become habits I continue long term so I consider them very carefully.  Prior examples of this would be praying the Rosary daily, giving up all beverages except water, and choosing an act of service I can perform to better my community.
This year I am committing myself to the following:

  1. Praying a Rosary, a Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily.
  2. Learn how to make wire wrap and corded rosaries, offering the former for sale and donating one of the latter for each sold to veteran's hospitals for Catholic Chaplains to distribute. 
  3. Limiting my Facebook time to no more than 2 hours per day. 
  4. Walk 1.5 miles per day so by the end of Lent I will have "walked a Rosary" - each bead representing 1 mile (59 beads per Rosary + crucifix + center), 
  5. Skirting Up for Lent!  Offering this up during Lent for the intentions of the group running Skirting Up an act of reparation.

I'm interested to know, what are your plans for Lent?  How are you going to use this time to increase your faith? 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Life Lessons from Tap Dancing

I swear I have not flipped my lid.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, many of you have probably seen someone tap dancing at some point in your life - either at a Broadway show, a local theater, or your own children's dance recital.  Getting up the speed necessary for "good tap" takes time, practice, and patience.

The heart of tap dance is balance.  If you cannot return back to the center and keep yourself upright you are not a tap dancer for very long.  You officially become a tap faller as you sprawl on the wooden floor looking up and wondering whatever possessed you to decide to nail 2 pieces of metal on each of your shoes and attempt movement.

Balance - the key to good tap dancing and the key to life.  When we fail to have balance in our spiritual life we end up sprawled on the floor, sometimes on purpose prostrate before Him, other times more accidental and haphazard. We fall on our own sword, repenting and pleading for His mercy.
Photo courtesy of Chastity Martin.  This was her Mass of Consecration during the Litany of the Saints.
The amazing thing to me is that He meets us there, in that deep, dark, unspeakable place and calls us forward.  We are not left abandoned in those moments of weakness and pain but compelled forward to healing and beauty.  He restores our balance in these moments with His Sacrifice on the Cross for us and for many.

The beauty is not in the falling, but in the restoration.  Can you recall a time when you fell from His Grace?  When you lost your balance and hold on the world and it tilted sideways and became obscured and even possibly unrecognizable?  Do you remember the Grace that came after as you found your footing again?  As you pulled yourself up off the floor with His help and began the journey again?  Can you recollect the little "everyday miracles" that happened as you found your way back to the path He placed you on?

As you dusted yourself off and set your eyes back on the goal of Heaven with purpose and determination you began your journey anew.  Reaching toward Him you renewed your promises of Baptism, Confirmation, and perhaps even your own vows of vocation as you found yourself propelled forward. We fear the fall, but we rejoice in the return.  Just like the Prodigal Son we are welcomed back with open arms and we move forward in purpose. 

Falling is necessary in our growth.  No Saint short of the Blessed Virgin Mary managed a path to heaven without pitfalls.  Not one of us is without sin and failure no matter how polished and perfect we may appear to be on the outside.  Just like the tap dancer beginning to learn toes, heels, shuffles, and stops, it may not always be pretty on the outside, but it is for the better glory of Him in the long haul.

A lady embraces these falls as they come.  She allows trials and tribulations to sanctify rather than destroy.  She brings herself closer to God at the precise moment that the world is pulling her away.  She rejoices in truth and hope as she sojourns on in her walk until she reaches the arms of the Father in fervent hope and prayer that she will be embraced by Him and hear the words, "Well Done".

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Ladies

Today I want to paint you a portrait of two ladies in my life.  Both are no longer in this world but both directly shaped who I am and how I choose to live my life.  Both were in their elder years when I was in my youth and they were actually within a few years of each other in age.  They were the same religion, went to the same church, were in the same clubs, and were very good friends.

The first lady can be best described as "merry".  She was a delight to all who met her, young and old, male and female.  There wasn't a person who didn't genuinely like her because you just couldn't help yourself!  She engaged actively in the corporal works of mercy in her spare time but also lived them with her own family and friends.  I don't think I ever heard her speak an ill word about anyone in the 20+ years I was blessed to know her.  She had that unmistakeable quality that someone has that tells you that person is someone you can trust and be comfortable with.  She never put on airs of superiority or other "ugly" behavior.  She was humble because she knew how to love deep in her soul and happiness exuded out of her.

The other lady was her best friend.  They'd known each other since they were young mothers sharing the same street.  The other lady had come from a troubled childhood of abuse and neglect.  She married a man who was also violent and raised two children with him.  She was very good at "putting on a show" when out and about but if you really listened you could hear the timbre of her voice that did not quite ring true.  Always ready with the latest gossip of who, what, when, and where she was a lively conversationalist.  Privately and sometimes even publicly she criticized those she loved in "socially acceptable ways" with a little laugh after her comments.  Her son's new wife was "very young but doesn't have a brain in her head".  His son was "a well behaved boy but never well dressed".  She often hurt those she knew without even realizing she was causing them pain causing many to distance themselves from her including her own children and grandchildren.

At the second lady's 81st birthday the first lady wrote her a beautiful poem and presented it to her framed wishing her another wonderful 81 years on this earth.  Sadly that was not to come true and less than a year later the first lady mourned the death of her dear friend deeply.

I think we can all give examples of both the first and second lady in our lives without blinking an eye.  In fact I contend that the vast majority of us see pieces of both of them in our own souls, not that we ever want to admit being like the latter.  It's easy to embrace the qualities of the first lady, but harder to acknowledge and confess that we are like the latter.

We cannot always follow the path that is easy.  Having known both of these ladies fairly well I truly believe in my heart that the second could have lived more like the first.  I don't believe there is such a thing as "too damaged" or "too far gone".  If that were the case why do we have Confessionals?  If we can never run too far from Christ then we are all capable of being the first lady when we make the conscious choice.

How can we minimize being the latter lady?  When forced to confront our own demons in ourselves as well as cope with the family member/friend who acts this way how can we bring that to create improvement in our own soul rather than allow it to tear apart our hearts and lead us towards sin?  How can we learn from this tale of two ladies and find ways to bring out the former in all of us while allowing the latter to sanctify us?

Monday, February 24, 2014


Accolades from heaven, especially on this side of the divide are rare.  Sure, a  woman can put on a skimpy top and walk past a construction site and get all the accolades on this earth she may desire in the moment.  Whistles and cat calls are easy to come by. 

How many of those same men would open the door to help her carry her sleeping child out of the Church?  Carry a 50 lb. bag of dog food to her car for her?  Even more rare, how many men would do it without leering at her?

I want to share with you a bit of what brought me to where I am on my modesty journey.  I will likely share many of these stories over time but the first I want to share had a profound impact on me and I can't help but wonder if my "unscientific research" may adjust your opinions as well.

Your view of modesty changes when you become a mother, particularly the mother of a boy.  Your eyes are opened to a whole host of offenses to modesty that were previously called at best "fashion" and at worst "well, *I* don't dress like a lady of the night so....".

My son started noticing girls as soon as his vision cleared enough to be able to see that far.  At around 4-5 months he would smile back at women who smiled at him but generally not at men.  By the time he was 2 he would only go down the slide if there was a pretty teenage girl at the bottom to catch him.

A few summers ago we went camping as a family.  He was just turning 9 at the time.  In the middle of the night he goes to the restroom with his father and is waiting patiently outside.  My husband comes out of the building to find him chatting with two 18 year old girls.  He ends the conversation and they start walking back toward our tent.  My husband asks him "So, why were you talking to those girls?"

His response? "Oh, it's just a little hobby I have."

SAY WHAT?!?!?!?!?!  We're still laughing about that one.

Boys notice and they notice W-A-Y earlier than we would like to think.  I will give my son immense credit, he is very good about custody of the eyes but oh my word are we in for it in a few more years. He is his mama....heaven help us.

The thing about having boys is they have little boy friends and, well, you end up noticing how those little boy friends treat you very quickly.  I could say it's how they are raised but all of these friends have treated me the same despite coming from vastly different backgrounds.

If I wear a shirt that shows even a hint of cleavage I cannot hold their attention.  I don't care if I'm waving a platter of Twinkies and pizza rolls.  They are NOT paying attention.  Actually, that's not true, they ARE paying attention, but not to what I want them to be watching.  I cannot get them to look me in the eye.  I cannot get them to take ANYTHING I say seriously.  They go from fighting the urge to "look" to looking at the floor to looking at my chest to looking at the ceiling.

I've found this phenomenon begins around age 10, sometimes even younger.

Now, here's the amazing part.

SAME BOYS.  The only difference is I wear a modest shirt that is within 2" of my collarbone.

Photo courtesy of AJ Rumina - my favorite store for women like me who are well-endowed.

They pay attention!  They even offer to *gasp* HELP!.  These same boys who were turning purple before are now grappling to help.  They hold the door open for me.  They hold each other accountable if they are getting loud.  Their speech changes (no swearing and more respect).  They carry piles of stuff to/from my car without blinking an eye.  They are a completely different group of human beings due to three inches of fabric!

I have watched this phenomenon over and over for 5 years now with a wide variety of boys in varying environments.  The effect is always the same.  3 inches of fabric not only helps them keep custody of their eyes, but it helps them rise to the occasion of being gentlemen instead of just "boys".

Make the effort.  Bring out the best in those around you, especially those who are just barely trying to figure out their hormones.  Cover it up ladies.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Cookies and a Visit

Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother.  She was a delightful woman, full of life and vigor.  I spent nearly every weekend at my grandparent's home as a child and honestly they are some of my very best memories.

I would garden with my grandfather and "help" in his small motor shop.  I would bake and can in the kitchen with Grandma.  There was never a dull moment but lots of time for play.  If I could choose to how I will be a grandparent, I would want my grandchildren to see me as I saw them.

One thing I remember, nearly every Saturday, was Grandma making little boxes or plates or trays of homemade treats to deliver to the elderly and shut ins around her community.  Once she had them all together we would walk from house to house delivering one package at a time.  We always stopped to visit and talk.  Sometimes we would play card or board games and other times we would just sit and chat.  When the weather was too cold or wet we would take her car and drive from place to place, all across town until every person she knew had gotten a teeny bit of Grandma's "personal touch".  I never wondered why or begged not to go.  I loved these little journeys.

One of Grandma's favorite treats was apple pie.  Fortunately it was one of Papa's favorites too.  Unfortunately most of the pies left before Papa got any...much to his unending chagrin. ;)
As an adult I look back on those walks and see how much they had delighted those people.  Grandma is now in a long term care facility with severe dementia and suffering the effects of a major stroke.  No one goes to visit her or bring her treats other than my mother and I am too far to visit more than once a year or so.

Grandma was the epitome of class and charity.  Sure, she was the wife of a mechanic who also worked her whole life while raising two children.  She scrimped and saved and worked so hard so that my mother and uncle could have a good life.  I remember stories of her bringing others in for dinners when my mother was young who could not afford a meal despite them barely making ends meet.  She was the woman who taught her granddaughter how to do the polka in a living room instead of a ballroom.

She was not what "society" would have called a lady, but she was a lady where it counted.  She understood charity and faith better than almost anyone I have ever known.  She gave of herself, her time, and her talents with vigor and abandon.  I was never wise enough in my youth to tell her how much she taught me and I regret that.  I only hope that someday she will come to know how blessed I am to have her and her examples.

Charity begins at home.  It begins in our own home and our backyard and our immediate community.  Grandma knew that and understood it but she went beyond and lived it.  Who do you know that could use a little boost?  A little treat?  Who could benefit from the gift of your time and talents?  This is where true charity begins.  Not in escapades that lead to honors and gratification, but in the little moments that you choose to go beyond yourself and quietly care about someone else. 

What have you done quietly for Christ lately?  Where do you sit on the Corporal Works of Mercy?  Have you fed the hungry or given water to those who thirst?  Clothed the naked?  Have you helped to shelter the homeless or visited the sick?  What about those in prison and the dead?

Where in that list do you need to make improvements - not for your own glory, but for God's?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rejoicing in Hope

Hope is a constant.  Hope is what gets us through the days when we would rather run screaming in the night.  Even when all is lost, hope remains.

Photo courtesy of Amy's Third Place

Yesterday I wore about Faith and it's quintessential role in being a lady so that you have a true north.  We must have a true north in our faith in order to be able to have hope.

"And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep." (Romans 12:3-15 - bold verse is 12)

This verse to me is all about hope.  Following the will of God and His divine message for our lives is not the easy path, but it is the right one.  That we will use our gifts for His glory and His divine Will.

To give with simplicity, without fanfare or accolades.
To rule our homes carefully and purposefully.
To show mercy with cheer. 
To love in quiet ways.
To despise that which comes from evil and is evil.
To cling desperately to the things which are good.
To love with charity.
To avoid sloth.
To keep the spirit lively.
To serve God.
To rejoice in hope.
To be patient when things are not going our way.
To have prayer be our FIRST gut instinct.
To be the good hostess, even when we don't feel like it.
To bless and pray for those who wish us harm.
To rejoice with those who rejoice.
To weep with those who weep.

Hope is where we go with Faith.  A hope for Heaven, a hope for peace, a longing for the things that come from God rather than the things that come from man.

Where do you sit on hope?  Do you rejoice in it?  Even in tribulation?  Do you have the moral fortitude to say, "Not my will but His Divine Will be done?" and then actually mean it?  Can you hope in His plans even when they are not your own?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Moral Compass

I outlined the three "starter criteria" for ladies yesterday.  Today, I want to focus on the first of the starter criteria, faith.

Let's backtrack to ancient times, or at least more ancient than now.  One of man's greatest achievements prior to the industrial revolution was the compass. A revolutionary concept of a magnetized needle floating in a liquid (usually water) that could find north in any situation.  It changed the world as we know it.

What many people don't know is that while an "old school" compass is very accurate, it actually has a problem that's called "declination".  The way a compass reads "north" depends on where you are at any given moment.  Declination changes depending on where you are in the world at any given time.  Magnetic north, the "natural pull of north" can vary from 0-20 degrees in the continental US.

Over a short distance, that's okay.  Magnetic north according to a compass doesn't send you that far off track.  Let's say you are in Chicago. Over a distance of 750 feet with a declination of 3 degrees you'd be off by about 41 feet.  Not a biggie - you're in the ball park.  Travel 3 miles where I live in Montana by magnetic north and you're off by approximately 3/4 a mile due to a 16 degree declination.  Even more confusing, over time declination can shift and change! 

To find "true north" in an area with declination you must know how much declination you are dealing with.  There are many guides out there that exist but you will need one in order to "figure it out" and not end off miles from the intended mark.

In order for one to have a moral compass that is capable of having a "true north" without declination, one must have a way to find "true north" in the first place.  "True north" for ladies is faith.

Our faith is what guides us.  It establishes a path and a purpose for our lives.  Faith gives us the tools to stay on that path and to help us find not only contentment, but also the way to the other two key starter criteria, hope and charity.  Faith is based on Truth.

I find my Faith to be immensely important in how I choose to live my life.  I am not saying that one "must" be of my faith in order to be a lady.  I was every inch a lady every time I have changed my religious inclinations with the final path leading to my conversion to the Catholic Church in my early thirties.  I am saying one must have faith.  One must be able to locate true north in order to be able to pursue it.

Begin delving into what your faith says about ladies.  If you are a Christian or Jewish please read about the Proverbs 31 woman.  If you wish to be a lady, you must have a true north and you must be open to what changes need to happen to follow that path.  I freely admit I have many, many changes to make still on my own journey.  Be open to those changes and to letting God mold you into who He needs you to be.  Pray.  Pray daily if not more often.  Go to church regularly.  Fill your cup with the goodness that comes from following true north rather than the garbage that comes from declination to the east or west.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Lady in 2014

We are beginning to see a rise of blogs, books, and other media to teach men how to be gentlemen.  I'm all about that.  In fact, I think it's a wonderful idea.

Unfortunately gentlemen want LADIES and our society appears to be significantly lacking in applicants for those positions.

In the interest of cutting to the chase, this blog is going to cover the things that I believe.  We're going to talk about advice to become a better lady, and a lady of tomorrow, not yesteryear.

Here's the bottom line:

1. Men will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity.
2. If you don't like how you are being treated, chances are you are giving subliminal cues that are causing that to happen.
3. Like it or not, being a lady does take hard work.
4. Like it or not, being a lady does NOT mean you are barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
5. Like it or not, being a lady does NOT mean that you can't be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

I am fed up with modern culture's assessment of women.  A modern lady is not one of fluff - she is a woman of substance and thought.  She is not inferior nor does she believe others to be inferior.  Let's get some "starter criteria" right out there in the open.

1. A lady has faith.

You don't have to have MY faith, but if you have no moral compass there is nothing left to point you north.  When you have no north, your path to figuring out how to be a lady is going to be one fraught with destruction and insanity.

2. A lady has hope.

A lady is a woman who is capable of hope no matter what her circumstances in life.  She does not need to step on others to achieve her goals because she is capable of success without ruining others.  She does not need to be falsely built up by external praise.  She has hope for her family and those she loves.

3. A lady is charitable.

If the last time you volunteered was because someone decided you were "voluntold", you need to find a place to be charitable in your community and society.  If you do not have charity, you are not a lady.  If you cannot help bring criteria 1 and 2 to others in a charitable light, you have a very long way to go.

That's where it begins - Faith, Hope, Charity.

Let's pull it together for the sake of the world ladies.  The world needs gentlemen, but the world also needs ladies to encourage and love them.  Rise to the occasion.  Join me.