TBT: OBXcellent Way to Pass a Day


I love the snow and actually like the cold (I am enjoying my Ohio winter thankyouverymuch)… But uh… Remember when we stayed right on the beach in the Outer Banks? Oh blessed days… When literally my only worry in the world was whether the tide was going to reach my beach chair…
(cf. “Knee Deep” by Zac Brown Band ft. Jimmy Buffet)

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


Where’s That Restart Button Again?

Hello anyone who is still out there, or out there for the first time!
Trying out the “blogging for Lent” thing again, even though I failed miserably last year. Whoops. *picks self back up*

Here’s the plan:
Carmel(ite)-covered Sundae
Man-crush Monday: Jesus, Church, Secular
TOB (Theology of the Body) Tuesday: self, dating, marriage
Woman-crush Wednesday: Mary, Church, Secular
Throwback Thursday: Church, personal
Free-for-all Friday: 7 Quick Takes on whatever I want! Possibly questions from my middle schoolers.
Source and Summit Saturday: Mass readings for that weekend, Eucharistic reflection

Let’s see if I can get a full week of this, and see where I go from there!

My first Woman-Crush Wednesday:

1. Mary, Mother of God
Because she chases me like a bloodhound on a scent! And thank the Lord, her Son, that she does! I’d never be where I am in my life, in general, or in my faith, specifically, if not for Our Lady.
O Mistress of Lourdes, intercessor of intercessors, stalker of my soul, please continue to keep me under the mantle of your protection and the guidance of your hand, that I may serve your Son most faithfully.

2. St. Teresa of Avila
She’s my girl, yo.
I’m rereading her Life for Lent: It has 40 short chapters, so I saw it as a sign!
Chapter one is all about how her family was so awesome, holy, and supportive that she is even more sad that she has only herself to blame for going astray in her early youth. Now, her version of “going astray” is merely being distracted by worldly things instead of being as holy as she thinks she could have been, but still: How utterly grounded and relatable this lady is!
I think it’s hilarious that she used to want to go off and be a martyr just so she could get right into heaven. It reminds me of that When Harry Met Sally quote near the end of the movie: “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
St. Teresa speaks often of her prayer relationship with Jesus, which is nothing more or less than a real and true friendship… At a young age, whether she realized it or not, she knew who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with… And she wanted that life — eternal life — to start as soon as possible.

3. Edge Moms
There have been so many mothers of my middle schoolers (the middle school youth group I run is called Edge) who have just rocked my socks over the years. Working in ministry, one is bound to come across a few challenging personalities that make you repeat to yourself, “This is why they pay me… This is why it’s not a volunteer position…” However, by and large, I’ve met so many beautiful mothers in my 8 (how has it been this long?!) years that I just want to give them a collective message: ” Thank you for making my job easier. Thank you for loving the Lord and your children this much. Thank you for getting my humor and for giving me so many undeserved but extremely appreciated encouragements. I have a Woman-Crush on all of you: I can only hope that one day I can be half the mom, half the woman, that you are.”

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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


In the beginning, it was not so

In doing my research, I really wanted to find the earliest examples I could as a beginning point. Turns out, we have no idea. (Come on, historians, sheesh.)

But the earliest written record is from the Assyrian Code…

“If the wives of a man, or the daughters of a man go out into the street, their heads are to be veiled. The prostitute is not to be veiled. Maidservants are not to veil themselves. Veiled harlots and maidservants shall have their garments seized and 50 blows inflicted on them and bitumen poured on their heads.”

– I.40 The Code of the Assura, c. 1075 BC
Excerpts from the Code of the Assyrians from cuneiform tablets of Nineveh, Assyria, oldest surviving royal library in the world (668-630 BC)

Setting aside the atrocious treatment of harlots and maidservants as somehow “not women” and a woman taking her worth from the men with whom she is associated (*le sigh*)…

The use of the veil for wives and daughters seems to suggest the veil as a sign of honor, a sign that this woman was protected by her connections. There is nothing here about her body being the reason for veiling, but rather “who she is” in society. And those who would pretend to this honor await severe punishment.

The oldest image we have specifically of veiling is this small sculpture from several thousand years B.C.:

Miniature sculpture of a seated woman wearing a head veil, dated around 2350 - 2250 BC. The veil drapes over the shoulders and back and may have been typical for women of status in ancient Syria. Recovered from the Ebla Palace at Tel Mardikh and now held in the Idlib Museum, Idlib, Syria.

Miniature sculpture of a seated woman wearing a head veil, dated around 2350 – 2250 BC.
The veil drapes over the shoulders and back and may have been typical for women of status in ancient Syria.
Recovered from the Ebla Palace at Tel Mardikh and now held in the Idlib Museum, Idlib, Syria.

So though later usage and some *lovely* Early Church Fathers indicate that the veil had something to do with the woman’s sexuality, these first examples don’t really indicate the same reasoning.

Lord, wrap me in the mantle of Your protection.
Father, claim me as your daughter; Jesus, claim me as Your sister; Holy Spirit, claim me as your spouse.

Day 7: Lightly gilded brunette

Day 7: Lightly gilded brunette

This one was a little heavy today, but it felt like it looked nice. I went into actual non-church public several times today, and though I felt like there were a few strange looks, it was probably my self-consciousness more than anything.

Full disclosure because I JUST SAID I wouldn’t buy any scarves, here was my planned exception:
Totally bought cheesy Irish scarves because I only have a pea-green scarf and the High Holy Day is coming up fast. I balanced it by donating twice as much to the Disabled American Veterans today, and sending in the checks for 2 different fundraising galas I’m going to in the next month. NO MORE BUYING, I PROMISE! IT’S JUST FOR MY CULTURAL FEAST DAY! And together they were under $10! Please, Abba, was that okay? I promise to get a lot of use out of them! And not to buy other St. Patrick’s things besides meal-food!

Somewhat in my defense, at least I didn’t get this, which, by actual Jewish female modesty rules, I believe actually would be completely legit to wear:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, indeed!

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, indeed!

God bless ❤ À bientôt!

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Veiling


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Sorry for the delay in the updates to the veiling saga; wait no longer!

Post-retreat is always super emotional for me, and incredibly draining, even though it’s typically all in very good ways, and this weekend’s Poustinia was no exception.

(To correct my previous post in the interest of accuracy (forever a copy editor at heart, sorry friends), it’s the 4th time I’ve gone with this group of women, 5th time I’ve done Poustinia.)

Though going in I didn’t have a *major issue I am having a REALLY hard time with* to pray about (besides ongoing stuff I have been dealing with) — like I always seemed to have had in previous years — I really did get a lot out of it, including…

… the feeling of just being in a sort of “sick bed” of the Holy Spirit,
You know, sometimes you need to be still, rest, and let the healing happen instead of actively doing a thing. I try so hard to *figure things out* and analyze the best solution for every problem… but sometimes you need to just stop and let something run its course like a cold or a low-level sinus infection. In some ways, I’m good at letting go of control. In some areas, I’m the WORST. So I just felt like a lot of the Poustinia, I was just lying in the Holy Spirit’s care, allowing the healing to just… happen… It was an awesome feeling.

… realizing that a few things were troubling me of which I was previously completely unaware,
Nothing like “Bible roulette” to let Scripture just lead you to what you really need. Bible roulette = just opening your Bible to a random place and using what you see for lectio divina (i.e. holy reading; praying contemplatively with Scripture). Like I had said pre-Poustinia, I love this retreat because it’s always exactly what you need, very specifically. I was not disappointed. The ways that I see God working often sound a little like the mystics, and I don’t know if I want you, dear readers, to realize just how bonkers I really am, quite yet, so I’ll save the crazy for another time, but know that God gives me goosebumps pretty regularly.


… learning that I have to believe what I know to be true.
I talk all the time about how middle school youth ministry is really a ministry of planting seeds that you may never see come to fruition. It’s even in the “What is Edge?” document that I wrote 6 years ago when we started the ministry at this parish. But here I am, worried about my middle schoolers because the lessons fall on deaf ears and they sit and nod politely and give me the answers I want to hear DURING Edge, but go home and start swearing on Instagram or share some post about sex or send a really mean bullying text. And I understand that they are middle schoolers being middle schoolers and trying to fit in and be cool. I remember being a middle schooler. But that doesn’t keep me from wanting to shake them and say, “Please, please, please, don’t do that! I want the best for you, and Jesus loves you, so pleeeeeease listen!” I’m sure, by the way, that whatever poor priest hears my confession is always thinking the EXACT SAME THING, so I won’t pretend I’m any better off about 2 decades further down the road. But it can feel so heavy to be ministering to children when they are still fairly innocent, and to see the progression as some of them have their eyes opened in ways that they can never undo, simply thanks to the societal surroundings. I can preach it up and down to adult volunteers and parents: that it’s just part of middle school that they struggle to live their faith and start to question their faith, and they’ll take something of what we teach them with them now so that even if they fall away for a while, they’ll come back — and Jesus smacked me this weekend and told me to believe it, stop beating myself up, and just do what HE calls me to do as my duty and mission for HIM, not for anyone else. Like Mother Teresa said, “God did not call me to be successful; He called me to be faithful.”

So there’s all that. Love, Jesus. ❤

Lord, keep me recollected and striving to do Your will.

So I know you’re going to be devastated (*eyeroll*), but I didn’t get a picture of my headscarves this weekend. While by myself in Poustinia, I didn’t wear one, though I had the hood up on my sweatshirt for the time I wasn’t sleeping; I did put one on when we came out to be social after Poustinia was over on Saturday night. Sunday was navy blue for the morning wrap-up and my Secular Carmelite meeting.

Today I decided to attempt a back-of-the-head shot. I have the feeling you’re going to see this particular scarf several times, since it matches most of my wardrobe, ha ha.

Day 6: Khaki from the back

Day 6: Khaki from the back

I did stick a hat pin in it to keep it up all day, and at the end of the day, I can say that it succeeded AND I managed not to prick myself. Happy Monday, indeed. 🙂

All right, I’m definitely out.

God bless ❤ À bientôt!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Veiling


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In thinking about attempting the headscarf thing for Lent, at first, I got all excited looking at Veils by Lily, Headcoverings by Devorahand definitely… Shopping! An excuse to shop for Lent!


That’s kind of the opposite of the idea of a Lenten sacrifice. Whoops.

I also toyed with different styles of headcovering, but I thought that a) I should stay within my own Judeo-Christian culture and (hopefully) not offend anyone by not understanding headcovering rules and b) lace chapel veils were too transparent and too delicate for my intent.

The tichel style haircovering uses scarves, pashminas, and the like. And oh, honey, do I have scarves and pashminas! So I already owned all of the scarves you’ll see, so no fair getting all judge-y when I have to repeat one. *insert pretend disapproving look*

Because I’m me, I’ll be mixing up the wrap-style and combine a few things here and there to make them different and/or match an outfit.
(cf: my cheesy one-liner from Wednesday: “I gave up my hair, not my sense of fASHion!” *ba-dum-CHING*)

So here’s today’s selection, using the scarf I got because it was purple that matched my wedding color (look, Judgy McJudgerson…), and broke up the solid color with a gray band from a dress.

Day 3 - Sorry for the bad lighting, that's what happens when I leave my house before dawn and can't use my living room

Day 3 – Sorry for the bad lighting, that’s what happens when I leave my house before dawn and can’t use my living room

I need to be better in general about using what I already have, rather than jumping to buy something; no matter how much the *retail therapy* helps, Pope Francis says I gotta knock it off.

I do have to leave for a Poustinia retreat soon, so I apologize for the shorter post, but you’ll get an extra long bonus post from me on Sunday instead of Saturday, all right? (I know I could schedule one, but I thought I’d leave you in suspense… or I just didn’t have the time to write more 😉 ) 

Poustinia means “desert” in Russian. Catherine Doherty brough the concept over to the United States, but basically, you spend 24 hours in a room by yourself with only bread & water to eat/drink (cheating announcement: I have to do protein drinks instead of bread so I don’t pass out), and the only things you can bring to occupy your time are a Bible, journal and pen, and an Icon, all for prayer, listening, contemplation.

God is your retreat director. It’s fantastic and exactly what you need every time.

It sounds scary, but this is the 4th time I’ve gone on one, and it’s beyond spectacular.

See you on the flip side friends!

Lord, teach me to be grateful for what I already have, and lead me through the desert to You.

God bless ❤ À bientôt!


Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Veiling


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Unveiling the Veil

Day 2, and Lenten sacrifice only gets more difficult to stick to from here on out!

This is why I added the blogging element: Now that I’ve told you all, I can’t wriggle out of it 😉

It actually got me thinking a little bit yesterday, listening to the readings at Mass and afterwards having a teen ask me, “With all the talk about praying and doing things in secret, why do we wear ashes or say what we’re doing for Lent?”

The way I’ve heard it explained is that Jesus is actually talking about our intentions here.
If we are worshiping or sacrificing in order to say “Look how good I am!”, the Lord is not pleased with that. But if our intention is to witness boldly to the beauty of our faith, to invite others into that beauty, and to point to God as the source and summit of that beauty… The Lord delights in our faithfulness.

That being said, I hope you know, dear readers, that this whole veiling thing is not so that people look at me, but rather so that they look at God working to teach me humility. And I’m only telling you about this journey so that even the thought of you reading these posts will keep me from wussing out in about a week, when I stop wanting to cover my hair.

Because I really like my hair. I spend a lot of time thinking about my hair. I still wash my hair every morning, and it actually doesn’t give me any more time in the morning, because I generally don’t do much on a day-to-day basis, so it actually takes longer to wrap my hair so that it will stay all day long. I just got a cute haircut — and will keep my hair appointment for another one, even though it’s still going to be smack dab in the middle of Lent. I’m proud of the fact that I have always kept my natural hair color (aside from some occasional streak highlights in high school) because I like the color of it. I like that I have my father’s and grandmother’s hair color — and its resistance to gray *knock on wood*. My bathroom and closet are chock full of hair implements, clips, scarves, bands, and a million other things. I still have the crimper I’ve had since around 1st grade. (Totally had crimped hair for my First Communion in 1990, baby.) An incredible amount of my identity is wrapped up in my hair. (Ha!) So this is why the headscarves. This is why I’m giving up my hair, what St. Paul calls a woman’s “glory” (I will get into that Scripture passage later on).

So actually, by blogging and telling people what I’m doing, I’m making it more challenging because it involves a witness to Christ. It involves drawing a modicum of attention, when my inner child wants to yell, “SHE’S LOOKING AT ME, MOM! MAKE HER STOP!!”

It involves seeing myself as a handmaid, instead of royalty.

Lord, make me humble

Day 2: Lord, make me humble

So here I’ll start sharing from my presentation on veiling, with mostly the research I did for that, and some occasional addition. Keep in mind that though I do touch on modern era perspective, this project was a Patristic-centered approach, given that the time period for the class was about 0-800 A.D. and it was on the Early Christian Church. Also, since this was a presentation and not a paper, I do not have footnotes, and this will be the first time I’m writing anything down beyond notes, so bear with me, and I’ll post a bibliography later.

Veiling: Ever Ancient, Ever New

In Christian circles, we often hear about the “problem of evil”: The question along the lines of “If God is all-good, and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world? Wouldn’t a good God refuse to allow evil if He had the power to do so?” It’s a reasonable question with no simple answer, and it requires faith to believe that if there is evil in the world, God has His reason for allowing it, which we may never fully know or understand. This answer is reasonable on an intellectual level, however, we as humans are just at a loss for what to do with evil in reality.

As you’ll see, the Church Fathers (and many of their Jewish predecessors) also had what I’ll call a “problem of beauty”: Faced with a woman’s beauty, or even the beauty of God, they theoretically could handle it, but in reality, they often couldn’t come up with a better way to “handle it” than covering it, whether for protection of the Beauty, or protection of themselves from said Beauty.

“O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new…” St. Augustine of Hippo
The practice of veiling is an ancient cultural and religious practice, and practiced in modern times by various cultures and religions. The universality of it is actually quite remarkable because, as you’ll see later, the reasons given for veiling tend to ring with similarity, even though the sources are neither referring to nor related to each other.

We have many visible proofs and textual references to veiling for many purposes.
From the pagan Empress Faustina the Elder veiling for everyday public appearance by pulling her palla (part of the cloak) over her head in the 2nd century A.D….

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

… To this woman depicted worshiping in the “orans” (praying with arms raised) position in a Christian catacomb from the 3rd century A.D…


Early Christianity Dictionary

… To this beautiful crowd of First Communicants and a religious sister parading on the Feast of Corpus Christi in Ireland in 1963…



All these to say that the veil has various uses and takes various forms, even within the Greco-Roman and/or Christian realm. In fact, the word “veil” itself comes from the Latin vēlum, meaning “to enclose, to cover”. So the word doesn’t have female-specific application, even though upon hearing or seeing the word in modern times, we typically automatically envision a woman wearing some form of veil.

Along that line, “unveiling” = “discovering”, does it not? [cue: “OOOoooooOOOO”, ha ha]

Lord, help me to discover, by covering.

God bless you ❤ À bientôt!


Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Veiling


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On the first day of veiling, my True Love gave to me…

Thank you so much to everyone who’s taken the time to show support. Y’all are just the best, and I know I’m going to rely on your accountability to keep this up!

One question several have asked, online and in person, has been

What kind of veil?

Short answer? Usually something like what I’m wearing today, taking after the conservative Jewish ladies’ tichel. (I will definitely get more into that later, but it’s pronounced like “tickle”, but with a chutzpah-esque ch-sound)

So here we go, day one!


Ash Wednesday swag

(I know, I’m not ashen-faced yet, going with my Edge kids tonight!)

So this is just a regular scarf, wrapped around my hair a bunch. A true tichel would probably not leave so much hair peeking through, and might have more volume, but for me veiling completely of my own volition, there’s no rules!! this works for my first real attempt.

Here I have to give a hat tip to a Jewish woman named Andrea whose YouTube videos taught me how to wrap — and how to pronounce tichel !
She’s here at Wrapunzel, and on YouTube here, Tying a tichel.
Thanks for teaching a Catholic girl what’s what!

Now to actually go into public… oh boy…


Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized, Veiling


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