I am hot...

it just comes in flashes.

The Carmelite Way(s)

Posted By on April 15, 2022

One of the things that has long amazed me and given me joy is how there is room for everyone in the Catholic Church. We have people of all races, from almost every imaginable culture celebrating their faith within the Church. We have different Rites for different cultures and different traditions. Most western people think of the Church as being what they see in an “ordinary” Latin Rite Mass (in their language), but there is so much more out there. There are prayer groups, the Charismatic Renewal, the Latin Tridentine Mass. We have priests, sisters, lay people. Apologists and prayer warriors; missionaries, authors, and families. Many of these groups overlap, and several do not; but the thing that has really struck me is how many different forms Catholic spirituality can take. The religious orders are a very good example.

Contemplative orders have a mission of prayer and penance, while active orders have a mission within the world. Many religious orders also have a “third order” for those who commit to the spirituality and authority of the religious order, while living in the world with jobs, spouses, children, and so on.

Franciscans focus on poverty and charity, following St. Francis’ model of humility and love. Dominicans have a mission of education to strengthen the Church. The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s order) serve the poor in concrete ways. The Carmelites are called to contemplation, study, and prayer, especially for priests, under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin. There are too many others to name them all, but each has its own distinctive way of serving God and interacting with Him.

Now, as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Carmelite. Specifically, I am a member of the Order of Secular (third order) Discalced Carmelites, or OCDS. A large part of our devotion lies in following the examples and teachings of the Carmelite saints. And while the charism of contemplative prayer, community, and service may seem straight forward, an examination of the Carmelite Doctors of the Church illustrates how, even within one order with the same charism, there is much room for different “types” of people.

St. Teresa of Jesus (St. Teresa of Avila) was a powerhouse. A strong but humble personality, always willing to accept correction, yet fearless fearless in teaching her sisters and in spreading the reform of the Discalced Carmelites. She understood human psychology without having been taught it, and knew when to be firm and when to understand human weakness. Her writings are instructive and teach not only “what to do” but also “what not to do,” recognizing dangers to the soul and to the community. She spoke to God deferentially, but in a conversational way, even with humor.

St. John of the Cross, on the other hand, was a sensitive soul who wrote deeply moving poetry and sought an austere life of penance. He endured more than most people could. He had a gift for spiritual direction, and while stern with himself he was known as a very gentle confessor. Where St. Teresa often approached her teachings from a very practical standpoint, St. John delved into the deepest elements of spirituality and the soul.

And then there’s St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, otherwise known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She never sought to teach or establish anything but only to love as steadfastly as she could. She had a personal spirituality, “the little way,” of love. She had no idea it would be recognized by the Church and followed by many as a path to holiness. All she desired was to love God with everything. She explained her thoughts with analogies and in her simpleness never guessed that she was profound. It was not her accomplishments that drew attention, but her holiness.

How can three such different people represent the same order? It is because even within the Rule of the order, God is still personal. Each of us has a different relationship with Him, just as we do with anyone else. They all lived a contemplative, prayerful life. They all gave their lives to serve the Lord as He called them; but they also brought their very selves into that relationship. God has no desire to see us as matching prayerbots. His hope for us is that each of us be the most perfect version of ourself. Whatever we do, we bring our self into it. And that is as God wants it.

God made you to be you.

It Matters

Posted By on June 25, 2021

I was listening to a Christian radio station recently, and I heard a song in which the singer mentioned sinning and said “It doesn’t matter” because of salvation. I can’t remember the title of the song, or the group that sang it, so I can’t look up the exact lyrics, sorry.

Every time I turn on that particular station, the first or second song I hear has a doozy like that, that reminds me how far modern ideas of Christianity have descended. We can sin if we’re redeemed, and it doesn’t matter? Does sin have no consequence? I think that’s what many Christians believe, and what the radio station is willing to preach through the music they select.

The real question I think needs answering is this: what does redeem mean? To trade in, to shift the cost. When we say “redeemed” what we really mean is that the cost hasn’t changed, but has been shifted to someone else. When we sin, the cost has been shifted to Jesus.

To allow Jesus to take our punishment should be humbling. We don’t deserve it, and we know it is a huge burden He took so that we wouldn’t have to. To make light of future sin because it “doesn’t matter” is like a youngster taking the “emergency” credit card the parents supplied and saying “I can get what I want because it doesn’t cost anything.” Yeah, it costs. It just isn’t you who pays the price. It is the parent, who owns the account. It is Jesus, who pays the price.

Just Talk

Posted By on March 8, 2021

The vast majority of us like to talk more than we like to listen. A lot of time, listening looks a lot more like waiting to speak. As we grow in maturity, we learn to shut our mouths and listen to others with interest, even when we’re not really interested in what the other one is saying. And maybe it’s insecurity at times, but there’s also truth in it: everyone we talk to is sometimes shutting their mouths and listening with interest, even when they are not interested in what we are saying.

So why would we avoid the one Person who actually listens to every word we say?

It’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly, it is, but prayer is hard sometimes. Even for someone who actively wants to follow her faith and have that relationship. Obviously, it is much harder for someone who feels alienated from God. But it’s sad, and in many ways illogical. We spend our whole lives hurting, wishing for someone to really listen to every word, and to care about what we are saying. The biggest loneliness isn’t being alone, but feeling unheard. We have an omnipotent, omniscient friend who is not almost always, but literally always, ready to listen. Yet we keep on feeling lonely and looking for someone to make us feel heard. Maybe not all the time, but for all of us at least some of the time. For some, all the time.

Maybe it’s because we don’t trust that He will really listen and really care. We feel awkward, not hearing replies, and want Him to stop listening and reply, so that we may have proof. Or maybe it’s because we feel alienated, even if we have faith and do all the right things. Perhaps we are aware we can’t do all the right things, because we sin and fall short of the glory of God.

False humility might tell me I am the worst of sinners, or false pride might tell me I’m just where I need to be, but both are wrong. The fact is I sin, but I am not the worst of sinners. Nor does it matter if there are sinners worse than me. That’s none of my business. No matter where I am in my relationship with Him, He is ready to listen fully. Even when I have trouble believing it, I at least know it mentally. And even when I have trouble approaching Him, He is still approachable.

We can feel hurt or angry when we talk to others and they spend the whole time waiting for us to finish so they can talk, but we can feel hurt or angry at God for not doing that. We go through life looking for someone to listen to us, when God is right there wanting to listen. Loving to listen. It may feel difficult sometimes to ramble at Him, when we know He is perfect and we are not; but He already knows our imperfections, so we aren’t telling Him anything He doesn’t already know. Pardon me for saying it, but He has already seen all of the embarrassing, mean, ugly, and dull things we’ve done. There’s nothing you or I can say that can disgust or bore Him more than the things He’s already seen.

So make the time talk to someone who likes the sound of your voice as much as you do. No, much more than you do.

Go Tell Aunt Rhodie

Posted By on July 25, 2020

The old grey goose is dead. What’s more is that we know how she died: in the milk pond, standing on her head. We know this because the song gave us a visual image. I was in kindergarten when I got the gruesome details of the pitiful death of a goose.

Every single day I wake up with a song stuck in my head. On a good day, it might be Air Supply or Johnny Mathis. Today it was Go Tell Aunt Rhodie. I sang it cheerfully as I prepared my breakfast and refilled my water bottle. Cheerfully because I was never traumatized by the song.

At another school, I learned about the cowardly murder of the heroic Jesse James, a serial/mass murderer who was a truly good man. At another, I learned that even a man who drives a not-so-cherry woodie can get two swinging honeys at the same time, if he goes to the right place. Through the years, there was a cat that endured many tortures and kept coming back, the very next day, a gambler with solid advice who died within inches of the singer, and a temperature comparison of going naked vs going skinless. My memory can’t conjure up all the songs I learned in music classes.

Not one of the songs traumatized me.

I wasn’t traumatized by snackless recesses, hand-me-downs, or wearing a pair of jeans twice between washings. Using cheap scissors in school and affordable toys at home has had no harmful impact on my life.

Which isn’t to say I was never traumatized.

Before I go on, I want to note that the things I say in this post are about society, the “school district, ” and social norms. They are not a criticism of parents. Parents have little control over societal expectations or how they are conditioned by media, public figures, or education.

What did traumatize me was cruelty that was completely ignored and tolerated. The teacher who held a class meeting for students to tell me why they disliked me. The teacher who was well known for looking down girls’ tops, a rumor that I personally know to be true. Being called mentally ill by a teacher, in my permanent file. Years of daily bullying and hazing while teachers and administrators looked the other way, even after it was brought to their attention. Being called a liar by a teacher for doing something she had given me permission to do. Routinely getting my grades lowered because I wasn’t an athlete.

Basically, a society that didn’t care about my actual well being. Being exposed to admittedly inappropriate songs didn’t scar me. Being exposed to wrong ways of thinking didn’t scar me. What really scarred me and many in my generation, was institutional lethargy concerning us. Being an inconvenience to the “me” generation. Selfishness and intentional cruelty scarred us.

I’m not going to say too much about current societal expectations that children must live idyllic lives of censorship of independent thought and success from preschool on. I do think that going overboard is harmful, but it’s not the big problem that will hurt them. The big problem is not the obsession with perfection, but the side effects of it.

Nobody is perfect, but parents are constantly being told they are supposed to be. First, they feel persistent guilt for not being good enough, and then they have more of it shoved in their direction by judgers who fake it better. So parents know they have to fake it or be judged harshly. So they end up with impostor syndrome. Not all parents have the same limits to their resources (money, time, and energy) but all have limits. Parents are being scarred, probably much more than children, by our compulsory mindset.

Even that, though, isn’t the greatest harm. It is what gets lost in the pursuit of perfection in every small detail. There isn’t enough time or energy for parents and teachers to meet every demand, let alone the necessary things that aren’t currently trendy topics.

So what’s gonna give? Which things will get neglected while parents are striving for the visible perfection to keep from being reported for child abuse (and possibly losing their children to a system in which most children do eventually get actually harmed and scarred)?

And what will get lost in the shuffle at school, where teachers are expected to give ten hours of information in six hours of instruction? Will math be reduced to a series of topic introductions instead of mastery and comprehension? Will logic, remediation, and higher level learning drop off to make room for the blizzard of factoids teachers must present or risk loosing the job? Will administrators spend so much time in meetings that they no longer remember that the kids, not the meetings, are their job?

Will the adults in children’s lives forget to tell them that relationship abuse can look very different from hitting, or that women aren’t the only victims? Will they overlook letting children know some healthy and useful ways to respond to depression? Will they not have the time to look up good ways to explain grooming and how to identify it?Will they have too many pressing duties to deal appropriately with bullies and fairly with their victims?

There are so many real dangers that schools, government, and parents may not have the resources to protect children from, in their frantic worry about visible perfection. We do not have infinite resources. Like in economics, where every dollar spent is a dollar you can’t spend on something else, every hour spent is an hour you can’t spend on something else.

When we let perfection be the enemy of the good, that is when we risk the world scarring children.

Some rules for a happy marriage

Posted By on November 9, 2019

I will let you in on a secret: my Charming and Patient Husband and I don’t fight. Maybe it’s because we were older when we started off, and had gained wisdom. Maybe it’s because we were older and too tired to fight. Maybe it’s because it’s sometimes felt like us against the world. Or maybe it’s because my CaPH is so kind, so patient. *

I’m putting it on a combination of the first and the last. The key to our not fighting is, I think, summed up best by a line from War Games. “The only way to win is not to play.” When you fight you may win the battle, against the one you love. Or you may lose it. If you choose not to fight, you win the marriage and the love, and so does your spouse. You can also grow in grace in the process.

Yeah, I guess you could say that we have a mutually agreed upon rule: don’t fight. But it isn’t so simple, because our marriage is filled with unspoken rules “rules” that keep us both happy. They do not constitute an exhaustive manual for marriage, but I do believe they sum up much of the perspective that keeps a marriage thriving.

  • Don’t fight. Find other ways to resolve things.
    • LET IT PASS. I cannot stress this enough. If it’s not important, don’t act like it is. The vast majority of fights can be skipped entirely by simply letting it pass.
    • If it’s important, that does not necessarily mean it is urgent. Discuss it rationally, calmly, and kindly. If you are angry, wait till you are rational, calm, and kind.
    • Learn to apologize. Even if you are right about the big issue, if you have said something hurtful in the discussion, you are responsible for your part. If you intentionally hurt them, apologize. If you unintentionally hurt them, apologize. The world gets easier when you know how to say you’re sorry.
  • Always say more good than bad. A friend gave me some of the best advice before I got married. For every negative thing say five positive things. My husband calls it putting investments in the bank, in preparation for the time when you goof up and have to make a withdrawal.
  • There are a lot of kinds of love. Committed, marital love is not always going to give you goosebumps and heart flutters. That is because it was never love that did that in the first place. It was the thrill of discovery: discovery of the person, and discovery that you love them. It is the thrill of considering taking a huge leap of faith, putting your heart into their hands. It very often goes with the advent of true love, but it is not love itself. Don’t confuse it. Don’t get addicted to the thrill of the conquest.
  • Remember that your spouse is vain. And so are you. He wants to know that he is appreciated. She wants to know that she’s beautiful. You both want to know that you are loved. Tell your spouse — regularly — what you admire in him or her.
  • Keep romance alive. If you have kids, it can be hard to find alone-together time in the normal routine. So you have to make it. Go on dates. Kiss every single day. I don’t mean a perfunctory kiss, either. I mean the kind of kiss that says “I still find you hot.”
  • Learn your spouse’s love language. Learn their favorite way to give love, and also their favorite way to receive it. If you understand that when he does an act of service he is saying I love you, that when she buys you a gift she is saying I love you, you are able to receive that love even if it is not the way that comes naturally to you. And if you discover that she really wants her feet rubbed, or that he really wants praise, then you are better prepared to make each other happy.
  • Understand and appreciate that you are different. Just because your spouse doesn’t do this or that your way doesn’t mean that he or she is wrong. You married each other fully aware that you are different, so don’t let what was once a positive come to seem like a negative after you’ve said vows.
  • Back each other up. Do not ever, ever fight in front of the kids. Don’t disagree about parenting in front of the kids. Have a quiet, “we are both aiming for the same result, we just disagree about how to get there” conversation behind closed doors.
  • Put on your own gas mask first. As in your spouse comes before your children. As it should be. You have made a vow to be partners for life. Your children will, and should, move out and start their own life. If you have modeled putting spouse first, they will be far more likely to have happy marriages themselves.

If you are consistently kind, encouraging, and uplifting to your spouse, you will find that his or her love grows every day, and your spouse will try harder to be consistently kind, encouraging, and uplifting to you. Because that’s what love does.

*Special thanks to my CaPH, who pretends I can do no wrong.

note: this is not intended to solve all problems, to substitute for other solutions (retreats, couples therapy, etc), or to suggest that all problems can be overcome. In cases of abuse or danger to either yourself or your children, get distance first. Then evaluate.

Morning Praise

Posted By on September 27, 2018



My Deliverer,
My Delight,
My Daily Bread


Psalm 23 and the Sacraments

Posted By on August 29, 2018

My Charming and Patient Husband and I took the kids to a Christian family conference last week, and while the kids were in age-appropriate groups for play and singing,  we adults heard two exceptional speakers named Bill Butterworth and Rene Schlempfer. They were both very funny, but also had good, broadly applicable messages. Rene structured his talks around Psalm 23.

It wasn’t till almost the end of the week that it occurred to me that the Psalm distinctly prefigures the Sacraments. (I wonder what these Evangelical speakers would have thought about that.)

Below I offer first, the Psalm with one word connections to the Sacraments; and below that, my reflections on those connections.

The Psalm:

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2     he makes me lie down in green pastures.   MARRIAGE
He leads me beside still waters;                           BAPTISM
3     he restores my soul.                                         RECONCILIATION
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;                                                         ANOINTING OF THE SICK
for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,                                           HOLY ORDERS
    they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me                     EUCHARIST
    in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,                         CONFIRMATION
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

My reflection, broken down:


23 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2     he makes me lie down in green pastures.   

To attach this verse to marriage might sound like a stretch. The “lie down” part, however, is more than a bawdy joke or a euphemism. The nature of marriage is both unitive and procreative. Lying down (together) is unitive, and green pastures are fertile and thus procreative. Thus, the verse points not only to the sacrament, but also to its dual purpose. A healthy, sacramental marriage is furthermore a life assistance by sharing burdens, which allows physical, emotional, and spiritual rest.

Baptism and reconciliation

He leads me beside still waters;                           BAPTISM
3     he restores my soul.                                         RECONCILIATION
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

These lines and corresponding sacraments could have been separated, but the verse seems to use them together not merely to name the action of the sacraments, but to show connection between them and grace. Both baptism and reconciliation absolve sin and instill grace. The first row refers only to baptism, but the restoration refers to both: the one time baptism, and the grace we receive with ongoing forgiveness. It is through this grace that He leads us in paths of righteousness. 

Anointing of the sick

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;                                                         

Considering that the anointing of the sick is also part of last rites, the parallel here is somewhat obvious. The valley of death, in the context of the sacrament, can be metaphorical (spiritual or emotional pain, stress, etc) or physical (illness, deformity,  physical suffering). I have heard a number of priests say that anointing of the sick sometimes brings physical healing but always brings spiritual healing. I fear no evil because God heals, and because earthly suffering is temporal. 

Holy orders

for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,                                           
    they comfort me.

Jesus is with us as He promised (Mt 28:20.) Both spiritually and physically He is with us in the ministry of the Church, both through teaching and through the Eucharist. The rod and staff represent the guidance (teaching authority) of the Church and the priest who acts in persona Christi and as a personal representation of the Church. It is through holy orders that we are able to receive the comfort of the sacraments, and only through holy orders are 5 of the sacraments possible. (Marriage and baptism can be performed by a lay person if it is impossible to have a priest available, such as in countries where the Church is underground, or where death is imminent.)


5 Thou preparest a table before me                     
    in the presence of my enemies;

A whole separate study could be done just on the phrase “in the presence of my enemies” but for now I will leave it with the historical fact that no matter how much persecution the Church experiences, the Eucharist has always continued.  


thou anointest my head with oil,                         
    my cup overflows.

This looks like an obvious prefiguring of the Oil of Chrism used in the sacrament of confirmation, also called chrismation. As the sacrament is deeply connected with baptism, the oil in the Psalm is connected with the overflowing cup.

The conclusion: grace

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

Through the acts of consecration (both direct (baptism and confirmation, marriage and holy Orders) and indirect (The rest of the sacraments, which renew and refresh our consecration), God grants graces. He is the goodness and mercy, and he promises to follow us, not give up on us, because we are His. And if we allow Him to lead us, or lead us back, He will lead us to His home.

Why I Am Glad I Sought a Sjogrens Diagnosis

Posted By on August 27, 2018

I’ve realized that this is the view of a lot of people, including many people who have the condition. “Ok, so you’re thirsty. Do you need a diagnosis to drink more water?” 

It isn’t that simple. Well, for some maybe it is. But after that experience, I wasn’t really sure where to go after my diagnosis. It wasn’t until I started having intense nerve pain in my feet that I went back to my rheumatologist, but she asked me why I hadn’t been in sooner. I shrugged. I wasn’t sick. I didn’t really think I had a reason.

I think it was 2011 when I got my diagnosis of primary Sjogren’s Syndrome. I had suspected it for a while, but the first round of testing indicated a “probably not” because the most common markers were absent in my blood. At that time, my primary care physician discouraged me from bothering to seek a diagnosis because it wouldn’t change anything. 

“You have a disease. That is your reason.”

From then on, I was scheduled every six months or so, and two things changed. First, my body started fighting me actively. Second, my rheumatologist rescued me. I had started thinking that having every single muscle in my body hurt was a normal thing. After all, as my primary care physician had said, it’s not like there’s anything we can do about it.

Except that I was wrong. My rheumatologist prescribed a “disease modifying” medication that not only slowed the progress of my disease, but also made my body stop hurting 24/7.  Then she prescribed two medications for my nerve pain, and set me up for routine ophthalmology that is necessary with one of the medications. I got medicine to help me make spit. (Say good bye to root canals!) I was offered medicine to compensate for having “poor quality tears.” (I later tried it, and it worked beautifully.)

The next time I went to see her, I said “I pray for blessings for you every single day. Thank you. Thank you!” It turns out that the things you can get used to, or at least get used to thinking of as normal, can be mitigated with good medical care. And this is why I’m writing this today. If you think you might have Sjogrens, or some other auto-immune disease, and you think there’s no point in bothering with a diagnosis, or that it’s not a “real” disease, just an inconvenience, you might be underestimating the medical field and how much better you might be able to feel.

On the other hand, maybe you are one of those who just don’t feel too bad. I hope you are. I hope you never need to be on 17 pills a day like I am. I pray that your disease never progresses to the point of interfering with your life. I still recommend that you don’t belittle yourself into avoiding the medical care you should have, by thinking you’re just being a sissy. Maybe it’s the treatment your rheumatologist offers that keeps you from becoming a hot mess of symptoms. Or maybe you will catch a new symptom early and nip it in the bud because you have an expert on your side. 

In the long run, getting appropriate treatment isn’t going to do you harm, and might well be able to do you a lot of good.

Chivalry Isn’t Dead

Posted By on May 5, 2018

I was listening to the Drew Mariani show on Relevant Radio, and he talked about a time when a barista took offense because he offered to buy someone’s coffee. The someone was a female. As is often the case, in the name of progress, someone took umbrage at a kind gesture. On the show, he talked a little about chivalry, and then posed: Is chivalry really dead? Do women really dislike having doors open for them, or having their date pay for dinner?

It occurs to me that chivalry really isn’t at all what we think it is. It’s not about subjugation. It’s not even about kindness. It’s about respect. Chivalry teaches respect.

There is no getting around it, men have opportunities women don’t have. Most men are taller, stronger, and better paid than most women. (I am not arguing that it’s ok. It is not ok for women to get paid less if they are doing the same job, and it is not ok for women to be passed over for raises or promotion, if they are equally qualified.) It is far too easy for men to lord it over women, It is also easy for men to become passive and cease to pay any attention to women’s abilities, needs, and personalities. That, of course, breeds selfishness and narcissism. And the narcissist is going to want women to pay attention only to his abilities, needs, and personality. When men don’t respect women, we open the door for a harmful level of self-centeredness in society. And if women don’t receive care, they will start relying only on themselves and caring for only themselves. I’ve said before that love isn’t give and take. It’s give and give. When it’s each partner for his/herself, it’s take and take. Which isn’t love at all, it’s just two people using each other.

The thing is, we all have potential fatal flaws, and some tend to be more present in men, and some tend to be more present in women. And, at the risk of sounding like I’m anti-man, I want to talk about men here.

Men often don’t know what’s going on in the world around them outside of their careers. Men like my Charming and Patient Husband have a lot on their plates. In the typical nuclear family, men are making a living 40 hours a week.  That’s a lot of hours to be away from the home. Right from the start, they have less opportunity for bonding, even with paternity leave, if Mom nurses. I applaud the families that have overcome that risk, but it’s not common enough. (Have I mentioned how awesome my son in law is?)

Disconnected men often don’t know what’s going on in their families. They aren’t there to see everything, and are often too tired to take over when they are home. even in my family, with my emphatically connected husband, “where’s the…” is always prefaced with “Mom?” They expect me to be the one who can locate things. (I tell them that if they would clean, they would know where everything is, but they don’t believe me. Again, that’s for another time!) It’s never “Dad? Where’s the tape?” or “Dad, can I go to my friend’s house?” As I hope I’ve made abundantly clear, it is not because my husband is a slacker, but because I’m the one they are most used to.

Now, imagine a world where men never care for women. Let’s say they are told never to do something for a woman, because it will offend, so they stop doing.  If they stop doing these things, they become less respectful and caring, not more. The phrase “Do unto others before they do unto you” has taken root in many homes. It makes husband and wife adversaries instead of partners. When a man feels unnecessary to anyone but himself, he will act unnecessary.

Chivalry fights that. Chivalry means a man opens the door, because he is reminded that he cares for women. Chivalry puts women and children first, because he is reminded that women and children are of tremendous value. Chivalry reminds a man that he is capable of being kind, helpful, and useful. And that he can reach that box on the top shelf at the store. Chivalry isn’t to take away a woman’s agency, it is to remind her, and himself, that she matters. Far too many women have lived lives where they were treated like they didn’t matter. Far too many women still do. If we want to get rid of disrespect for women, there are a lot of things we need to do. We need to teach boys that no means no. We need to teach men that fatherhood means Daddyhood. We need to prepare young women for careers, so that they know that they are able to support themselves; and so that their husbands know. We need to teach all children that we take care of those who are smaller or weaker. Having a cat is a great idea. And we need to teach boys and young man honor. That they do for others because it’s the honorable thing to do. And that honor is a defining characteristic. Honor means not putting yourself first, and without an opportunity to learn honorable behavior, men will skip out on parental responsibilities, take advantage of women, and fear a woman who is career-prepared.

Chivalry isn’t dead. I know because I married my knight. But the world needs a whole lot more of it.

What the Opthamologist Taught Me about Art

Posted By on May 21, 2017

A few months ago, just after my 50th birthday, I went for my biannual ophthalmology appointment. The doctor said, among other things, “Well, your cataracts aren’t progressing too quickly.”

Wait, cataracts?

The way she worded it revealed two things to me. 1: I had cataracts. 2: She had known it since at least six months ago. I asked the obvious, enlightened question: “Huh?” She looked at me quizzically and repeated the comment. “I didn’t know I had cataracts. I don’t think it was mentioned before…” Between the offhanded comment and the fact that the drops in my eyes prevented focus, I probably looked bewildered.

“Most people don’t like being reminded of their age.”

Fair enough assumption, I guess. It was a week after my fiftieth birthday. But I’ve never been bothered by the thought of growing old. Grey hair doesn’t bother me, and I’m rather pleased to see that mine is growing in silver. I love the idea of growing old with my husband and maybe even someday living alone with him in retirement. (I’m not counting my chickens on that one, since Curtain Climber was an after-40 baby.) I had a whopper of a surprise birthday party, with even most of my out of town family there. It was a good start to a promising decade.

It wasn’t until a month or two later that I found myself increasingly starting projects and not finishing. I don’t mean like starting a painting or a journal. I mean like learning a new skill. Taking a class. Keeping an art journal, starting a YouTube channel. And it wasn’t till two months later that I realized that my conviction that I didn’t really have a bucket list wasn’t accurate. I had one, it turns out. It’s just that it wasn’t about travel or parachuting. It was mostly about learning.  I want to learn to draw, and to use Adobe Illustrator. I want to learn how to organize my life and how to make a Coptic stitched journal. I want to take a class about  drawing faces, and a class about running a business, and on the side I want to learn watercolor and redstone design. It turns out there is just not enough time in the day, or even in the year, for all that I want to do right away. And ever since I hit 50, I have this frantic urge to do it all. I want to be a better me, and if I try to do all of these growing and learning things I will be in way over my head. If my idea of success is to accomplish all the things I want to accomplish, then I will surely fail.

If, however, my main goal is to praise God, I have time for it. I have time to honor Him whether it’s through formal prayer or through painting. I don’t have to do everything. I only have to do one thing, and let the rest serve as a tool in the quest to reach my Father’s house by nightfall. And I will be delighted to show up there with grey hair and wrinkles.