Friday, October 28, 2011

No more nunsense

I interrupt this 7 Quick Takes Friday to bring you something much heavier and more necessary for my sanity this weekend. I'm going to the mountains with my beau and good friends and I cannot wait for the fresh air and marvelous views that remind me how much more credit I need to give to God on a daily basis.

Anthony challenged me to write a post about the religious life that dives deeper into my true feelings about the chaste, poor, and obedient vocation. In good faith, he offered the same.

The truth is I have no idea how to discern my vocation. I flip-flop between certainty about marriage, a general openness for God's plan in my life, and back to terror. This (and the profound Love of my unblackened soul) is why I can never be a politician.

I spend a lot of time talking to God, praying the Our Father and Hail Mary, reading what people have to say that either affirms or juxtaposes (therefore confirms) what I believe, and thinking I have most of it figured out. Yes, my faith grows in and through God, but I limit it with my fear when there should be nothing scaring me.

I listened to this sermon, "How to discern your vocation," which a commenter on offered. I wish I heard it in middle school, not because it cleared anything up for me, but because it explains why it's important to discern the religious life before dating.

As I lay in bed, having listened to the sermon, I wept. I wept when I became aware of a darkness filling the void where discernment belonged. I wept because I vehemently don't want to choose away from my boyfriend, if that's what God called me to do.

I ached, a violent, physical pain in my chest, at the idea that choosing a religious vocation meant my children would never exist. My ribs caved in with my silent sobs.

I cried thinking about writing letters to my family and friends instead of seeing them daily or weekly. I cried at the thought of Alternate Elizabeth explaining a choice for religious vocation to her family and friends. My tears fell because the religious life has rarely been a serious consideration and I realized that meant I had walled up a path to God.

As I mentioned in my original post, I know it would be a fulfilling life. The priest in the sermon linked above went so far as to say it is the most straightforward (albeit toughest) path to Heaven. I could work with children, speak a different language, live simply, and create strong bonds with a community.

How beautiful the life of a religious! You choose the tougher path and become a joyful light in the world because of it! Your day is ordered between prayer, service, simplicity, and a healthy helping of patience.

Like the rest of the world, you encounter stress, sorrow, doubt, happiness, surprise, and God's sense of humor. The difference is that you carry the weight of a community on your shoulders with a great sense of humility that it is really Christ's yoke.

The other side of my head (Is it my heart? Is it my self-tradition?) wants to scream out, "I can do those in the vocation of marriage, as well!" Obviously, I have not "solved" this puzzle, but I have seen a void in which prayer needs to erupt. Immediately and without fear.

My sorrow over what is really a new realization doesn't necessarily mean married life is for me. The joyful nature attached to the habit is not exclusive to religious life, as marriage might be my calling. Everyone makes sacrifices in their chosen path. It's about time I start sacrificing that wall of fear and tear it down.

Now, God, I need your help figuring out how to do that.

Ahem: Enough with the kooky titles? This post needs a kooky title because it emotionally exhausted me beyond my abilities to keep things peppy in the body of it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Being nun the wiser

With the help of a winky face, Sister Lisa challenged me to reach into the deep end of my spirituality.

Her honest and beautiful approach to a recent wedding led to a curiosity of my perspective on the possibility of religious life today. The winky face was for effect.

Other than the occasional pop culture reference, the majority of my childhood exposure to women in religious life was at family events (several non-habit-wearing nuns in my family) and from the 1966 classic, The Trouble with Angels. If you have never seen this film (shame on you), I suggest you stop reading.

The goofiness of 1960s films culminates in this story about a trouble-maker and her partner in crime. These teenage "captives in a nunnery" spend three years throughout the movie at a boarding school populated by nuns and other teen girls. Heads butt and rules break at every turn.

By the grace of God, after a lot of trial and much more error, the trouble-maker comes to understand a purpose in self-sacrifice, especially that which it takes to be a religious sister.


"But how could you give it up?" Mary presses. Reverend Mother smiles and says, "I found something better."


Monday, October 24, 2011

Church Facts I Learned This Year

This month marks my one year anniversary for blogging! I started blogging about Catholic-centric things in late October 2010, so in celebration, here a list of Catholic facts I never knew until this year:

Prayer candles in Chicago
1. Abortion is a severe mortal sin and committing it can lead to excommunication. The catechism outlines that there are certain grave sins can only be absolved through a good confession with the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them (see the Catechism - #1463).

2. Any confirmed Catholic can baptize someone into the Catholic faith. A friend had to wait several months before he could have his daughter baptized, so he created a plan to line his the car seat with holy water balloons in case of an accident. He said it would be his dying breath, baptizing his daughter. I hope he drives more carefully and makes it to the planned baptism. UPDATE: Someone who commented graciously informed me that in extremes, one does not need to be a confirmed Catholic (or baptized at all) to baptize someone (CCC 1256).

3. You don't have to go through a Catechism program in order to get baptized and confirmed into the faith if you were baptized into most other Christian faiths. If someone was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, they can study the doctrine of the Church and we can welcome them into the Church year-round.

4. Taking Communion on the tongue is actually not the most traditional way to receive the Eucharist; receiving Him in the hand was the original method. The only reason the Church started distributing the Eucharist on the tongue was because superstitious, uninformed people thought the Eucharist was a magical talisman. They would conceal the Eucharist in their hands at Mass and plant them in the fields to improve their crop. For more, listen to this -- one of our diocesan priests gave a talk about praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Elaborate altar - St. John Cantius in Chicago

5. The altar was meant to face east in a church, representing the direction of Christ's birthplace. As churches were built, the altar slowly moved from the middle of the room toward the side, but the priest continued to face east. Once the altar hit the east wall, the priest still faced east, putting his back to the congregation. It was never a way to block out the congregation or exclude. The priest and the people were reverent and facing God together.

6. Catholics cannot get married or baptized during Lent.

7. Catholics cannot take the symbolic communion that Protestant churches serve. Because Protestants do not preserve "the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness...[,] Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible." (Catechism, see 1400)

8. My one companion is darkness (Psalm 88, Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer)

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Friday, October 21, 2011

DIY in pitchas, 7QT, Volume 49

Truly quick quick takes: The fun DIYs I've discovered recently, in pictures!

This lovely lady made her wedding dress out of vintage curtains!


Homemade laundry detergent: $6.00 for 576 loads. Uh, yes please.


DIY decoupage, just in time for Christmas crafting!


Step-by-step how to install under-the-sink shelves. It's enough to make me want to clean...


Closet dividers made from old CDs. Wow, this is like chocolate for my OCD palette. Not only do I have a use for those old CDs, but I can organize my closet again and again!


Want the light in the background of a depth-of-field photo to appear in shapes? DIY it! For the non-photogs out there, the contraption that makes this possible is called a bokeh.


Vinegar runs at about $1 for a gallon. That squashes any competition for chemical cleaners and now you have a list of 45 uses for the cheaper alternative. No brainer, PLUS you can pretend you are your grandmother as you clean everything you can find with vinegar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Easier than you think

Today is day 183 of the romantic relationship with my beau. Six months, half an anniversary, the six-mensiversary, a nanoversary, halfaversary, something somewhat silly to celebrate. Or is it?

Rather than swoon to you about the awesome man in my life, I thought I'd take a crack at how we got here. How did I land a great, Catholic man who wants to grow in Christ with me? Where did I go right that God would present me with someone who truly wants to discern God's plan? What help can I possibly be to others with only six months under my belt?

How we got here

Whenever people "give advice" to single people from their [haughty] chairs, it often inspires temptation of mild violence. I hope to avoid that.
Love his face

I've known my beau for almost three years now, so our road has been a long one with a large percentage of a friendship-only identity. We met in a young adult club. I can hear the sound of facepalms everywhere:

Of course you met at church! I've already tried that! I exhausted my pool there, give me another direction!

Remember that the majority of our relationship has been strictly friendship; we surprised each other as we became better friends. "Hey! Where have you been?"

A little over a year ago, after a series of weekly dinners in a group of church friends, several non-church-related events, and many email exchanges, my beau and I became great friends. We became best friends.

Then, despite my best efforts to control my mind (like nailing warm butter to a wall), I looked up one day and realized I had a big crush on my best friend.

Believe me when I say the "trust in God," "it happens when you least expect it," "you have to be happy being alone before you can be happy with someone else" cliches bugged me to no end. So as not to cause another wave of facepalms I won't explicitly say those cliches are mostly true... I'll just hint at it.

Get to the practicalities before I click out of this post.

Read more at I promise, I really give practical points.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Suspicious Superstitions?

"Suspicious Superstitions?" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"Guest Post: Scapulars are Distractors from What’s Really Important" by B.

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I never realized how superstitious Italians and Irishmen are. They are also very proud people, so I'll be clear: I get to say this because I'm both Irish and Italian (with German, for good measure).

Italians will not drink with out clinking glasses and you must take a sip from the glass before setting it down after clinking. It's an involved process and must be handled with care. One must never toast with a glass of water in this exchange, however, because that is bad luck and will have a table-full of nervous Italians trading glances.

The Irish believe that a deceased aerospace engineer has it out for them. Edward Murphy, Jr., they say, preys on the Irish through his rule, Murphy's Law. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." There are many other superstitions involving bad omens that prey on the Irish. For instance, did you know women with red hair are most unlucky?
Is she unlucky? Or just unwise...

That is, as they say, the luck of the Irish.

Though I think superstitions are mostly silly and pessimistic, many stress that they can be dangerous if one truly believes the minute act causes a rip in the universal order of "luck." If superstitious people honestly think that having red hair or toasting with water in one's goblet will result in misfortune, they excuse a certain amount of faith in God and natural order.

This is what makes people so uneasy about the idea of a scapular. The item resembling a necklace, if worn at the time of death, is said to be a "ticket to Heaven." Using this kind of language closes the proverbial door on discussion because it seems obviously superstitious.
"Take, beloved son, this scapular of the order as a badge of my confraternity and for you and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant" -Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to St. Simon Stock, 16 July 1251
I once wrote it off as superstitious and if I had worn a scapular anyway, I wonder if that would have been sinful. If I'm wearing it with false faith, I'm not really wearing it as a "badge of confraternity," and I'm therefore trying to avoid the pain of hell without the desire to be in union with God.

A scapular played a triumphant role in my reversion, but that's another story. When I wore it that day, I wore it with a profound faith that Mary would not have lied if she had made this promise. I was trying to turn back to God and my faith was in faith alone, though I was holding on by a thread.

I understand why people would object to the practice of wearing a scapular. As Catholic Christians, we believe, as the Bible explains, we will be judged for our faith and works (Romans 2:6, etc). It seems almost "unfair" that someone would bypass the system when it seems their only motivation is to avoid hell in the easiest way.

I argue that wearing a scapular with the believe in Mary's promise is an act of faith, and is therefore an expression of both faith and works.

What other ways do we believe lead us to Jesus' merciful judgment to bring us into Heaven? We believe our job as a spouse is to bring each other to Heaven. We believe parents are meant to lead their children to a path to Heaven. We believe that absolution of sin heals us as much as we can be healed on Earth, and in effect, if we were to die immediately after leaving a good confession session, we trust we'd go to Heaven.
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" -John 14:6

It all comes down to God's mercy and we should never presume we can limit it by determining we know who goes to Heaven and who goes to hell. We can have faith that our loved ones are in Heaven, but absolute statements about those going to hell take on God's role.

Discern it, reflect on Mary's words, and listen to see if God is calling you to wear an outward sign of faith. Perhaps wearing one will be a reminder to behave more like the person God created you to be.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oasis week - 7QT, Volume 48

Click here to read the original post at

How'd I do? Two weeks of a blog desert and then I hit you with five posts in one week!

Did you know that contraception is a 3000-year-old practice? Yeah, Ancient Egyptians would put animal dung inside a woman's body and use other methods to maker her womb uninhabitable. Centuries later, physicians concocted potions and spermicides that often sterilized or killed the woman. Talk about preventing pregnancy...

Many people have staunchly challenged me by saying NFP is the same thing as contraception. I can never come up with a sufficient explanation to rebut this inaccuracy. Jason does a great job of explaining Dr. Janet Smith's analogy of bulimia and dieting as they reflect the difference between contraception and NFP. Check it out!

Haunted houses confuse me. You willfully enter a house with the promise that someone in there is PAID to scare the poo out of you. And then their co-worker does it again.

I posted my first YouTube video this week!

And at the end of it I invite you (especially young women) to email the Bright Maidens with your own video, introducing yourself, and we'll post it to the channel. Then we can get this #Cathsorority project started, gathering young, female voices of triumph for Christ and His Church!


Guys, I didn't forget about you. Far from it, I actually called you out a little. I mean it well and I say it because Jesus trusted you with this message first:

"It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument." - 1 Timothy 2:8

You may have remembered that I traveled to the Seattle area a few weeks ago. Here is your first peek into what I did there! The lovely Allie Terrell has graciously hosted me on her blog where I wrote about a cathedral my beau and I visited in Victoria Canada.

Delight over the unique mesh of Native Canadian art and traditional Victorian decorations!


Next week the Bright Maidens will tackle the admittedly tough subject of scapulars. This is a very Catholic-specific topic and my research is leading me in some interesting directions. Whether you like them, hate the, don't understand them or make them in your spare time, I hope you join us on Tuesday!

Remember to visit this post if you would like to subscribe to our Google Calendar alerts and know about topics in advance!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cathdudes, we need you

I told you I'd be back and I think this week proves it. I feel compelled to apologize for the blogging overload, but then I immediately say to myself, "HEY, you are back in the groove. Apologize not for your grooviness." Then I wonder why I talk like Yoda when I talk to myself.

I'm over at today, pointing a big ol' finger at the men in this world. Yes, YOU! Bonus: I doctored a Superman photo and created SuperCathDude, complete with Vatican symbol on the chest. Glory! -- UPDATE: The links are fixed now.

Calling all young men with a blossoming Love for Christ! Your time has come, brothers. You have been called up.
"It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument." - 1 Timothy 2:8
We need you and your manliness to take one for the team and be Catholic dudes. Step out of the blogosphere every day and be Catholic dudes for lost and struggling dudes.

Abs-olution of steel!

We need men to step up unabashedly and show us why even the best examples of men in the media fall short of what we deserve and what our world deserves. Yes, we’re human, but that doesn’t mean we should aim to eat from the dumpster when there’s a feast waiting in heaven (source: Jason Evert).

Barney from How I Met Your Mother: Please, men, show us how satirical this terrible example is for men. Show us how his hyperbolic “player” ways are insulting to men and women alike every time he tricks a woman into going home with him and proceeds to talk about it like he won a little league trophy.

Gibbs from NCIS: Believe me, I am definitely a fan of this man and his stoic heroism, but he’s not the best male figure on TV. He got married three times after his true love, his first wife, was murdered. He avenged the murders of his wife and daughter in a brutal, execution-style sniping. This man takes morality into his own hands, following his own rule book. Men, we need you to show us how affirming humility and vulnerability before your Father are.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Traveling within the Church

The lovely Allie of Here is the Church has graciously allowed me to post on her blog about a church I found in Victoria, British Columbia. Don't worry, I don't go overboard on my curious love for all things Canadian:

America is never more divided than on the topic of Canada.

Perhaps that was an overstatement, but I often laugh at the split opinion amongst Americans when speaking about Canada. The majority of the United States is ignorant about the Great White North, but that doesn't stop them from having opinions about it:

Why isn't it the 51st state in the union? Isn't that where snow comes from? Hockey, eh?

Personally, I have a fervent, yet random love for Canada. After all, the first novel I read was the Prince Edward Isle-set Anne of Green Gables. That can make a big impact on a girl. 

It has always fascinated me to think there is an English-speaking country just north of us. When I met several Canadian friends a few years ago, I realized they are so much different than Americans, despite our similar language. Eh?

This summer, I took my first step on Canadian soil and I wish I had a Bryan Adams song to sing for you to commemorate it. I traveled all the way to Seattle for work, where my boyfriend flew out and toured around with me.

We spent a full day on the ferries and in Victoria, British Columbia solidifying my opinion of Canada:

Canada is much like the offspring of America and Europe, while still having its own, unique atmosphere. 

After several hours of walking around the beautiful, tourist-filled city of Victoria, my boyfriend and I stepped into the first Catholic church we found to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Lo and behold, I think we found one of Victoria's most popular and beautiful churches, St. Andrew's Cathedral.

According to their website, St. Andrew's Cathedral was dedicated on October 30th, 1892.
The red carpet gave it a homey, small church feel, but the size prevented that perspective from taking over. It was the perfect metaphor for the Catholic Church: not only could we walk in there, worshiping the same God, but we could sit in front of the same Sacrament in a busy city, and still feel a "small town" tug.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ramen Noodle Weekends Lead to Happiness

Color me only a little surprised to read the ten happiest jobs involve playing hopscotch with the poverty line.

Forbes contributor, Steve Denning, wrote that these content individuals reported being the most satisfied with their jobs above all others, as surveyed by the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago.

This man is happy.
People of the clergy, firefighters, authors (all of them, not just the J.K. Rowlings of the world), special education teachers, teachers, artists, operating engineers and others say they have the best jobs. Admittedly, I cherry-picked these because they are on the lower end of the pay-scale.

The other three, physical therapists, psychologists, and financial services sales agents, see benefit both on their paycheck and in the faces of those to whom they cater.

Curious, the similarities in the top ten happiest jobs, no?

Look at this in comparison to the ten worst jobs. Director of information technology, director of sales and marketing, product manager, senior web developer, technical specialist, electronics technician, law clerk, technical support analyst, CNC Machinist, and marketing manager -- call me crazy, but these jobs sound like high-paying, high-competition positions.

They're the kind of jobs that have an important image, that play a key role in the way a business, non-profit, or government entity works. Hmmm

Did you see what is right at the top of the ten happiest jobs? It's much like the reports that only .02% of NFP-practicing married couples get a divorce... If you really put faith in numbers and quantitative evidence... follow the yellow brick road (Please refer to this post, if you are a single man and this wonderful lady if you are a single woman).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh no, she's vlogging

That's right, folks. I did it.

I put my dorkiness on camera.

If you want to post your video on the channel, email the Bright Maidens here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Catching water - 7QT, Volume 47

Click here to read the original post at

I did it! The GRE is over, so far, the profuse additions to my vocabulary are still in there. The better to make more cogent arguments, m'dear.

Not only did I feel good about the GRE, but I also surpassed my goal, so thank you for being patient with me! It was not in vain!


Last week, the Bright Maidens joined YouTube! Subscribe to us because a myriad of lovely ladies (gentlemen are also welcome) who will post short videos there!

If you're interested in posting a video, but you don't want to set up your own YouTube channel, email us! This isn't a "Bright Maidens" thing, it's a #Cathsorority (and #Cathdudes) thing. We like the idea of a video hub full of young voices upholding the Magisterium on YouTube!

Also, don't forget to subscribe to our Google Calendar to be in the know for future topics and dates.

Sometimes life feels a little like this:

Hat tip to my wonderful beau for the image that made me smile in the middle of the week. I guess all we can hope for is the patience of this little kid who never gets upset that the water disappears right when he reaches for it.

Of course I'm upset by this post, which explains how a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-made training course targets Catholics with negative stereotype. I also acknowledge that Catholics are not the only ones targeted with negative stereotypes in these kinds of forums.

Consider the volatile hatred that Muslims face in this country. Hate is never right.

But we don't want to let things like this Catholic-stereotype foster or grow. We need to be the lights that show how ridiculously untrue a stereotype like this is. If you read the post, you might agree that the stereotype is far off base. I've never heard a Catholic say anything like that to someone.

Stand up to this.


There are a lot of words in these quick takes....

Facebook ad for a free nun test!

Another fun ad I ran across
Yeah... I'd pay $178.55 for that... who doesn't want to look like they have a glow in the dark butterfly on their chest? Plus, wouldn't that chain tickle your stomach as it hangs?


My contribution this week: "Engage, the other E-word."


This week we covered a topic that I think most women are reticent to say is something with which they struggle. It's a topic that doesn't get much breathing room outside of gaggles of women or out of our own minds.

Thank you to those who posted with us this week! You're brave to put your experiences out in the open so that others may learn. If you're reading this and you have young sisters or daughters, please share these with them.

I wish I knew then what I know now. Heck, I wish I know NOW what I think I know now.

Trista, "Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters"
Julie, "Cootie shots and conundrums"
Mine, "Easy Bake Love Story"

Mary, "Is he wearing a ring?"
Sarah, "What would Miss Austen do?"
Rebecca, "The 'thing,' the 'friend zone,' and becoming who we ought to be"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Engage, the other "E-word"

I'm over at today with a post about a very spooky word.

Evangelizing is a scary word and Catholics don't like it.

I used to date a Baptist and in the spirit of ecumenical harmony, I went to a "megachurch" with him. I was greeted at the door by several smiles, handshakes and an immediate welcome. With the exception of some hateful words from some YoungLife kids in high school, I felt a strong sense of community and Love at Protestant events.

Theology aside, Protestants sure know how to attract souls. When you see someone brimming with joy, you want to know how they found it!

Somewhere along the way, Catholics stopped evangelizing

Maybe it's because we produce so many of our own? No matter the reason, it's time to start engaging again.

Before you run away screaming, here is a list of easy, but active ways YOU can spread Christ's message without worrying about shoving a bunch of words down a stranger's throat:
  • When you're at the store, chat with the cashier like your goal that day was to make them smile. I have a friend who spent a year as a missionary at Covecrest Life Teen camp in Tiger, GA where they did this regularly as an exercise. He is a CHAMPION single-serving chatter. "Single-serving," like Fight Club, and "chatter," despite his introverted characteristics. I've been to the store with him many times and I'm always amazed at his ability to be sincere, speak to the cashier like he or she is his only interest for those few minutes, and eventually bring up the greatness of God in light conversation. It's inspirational. Be that kind of champion!
  • To the business and other frequent travelers: You are #winning, yes oh yes. You know to put your three ounce liquids in a quart-sized baggie and in an easily accessible place, you know how many plastic bins you need in the security queue, you know not to wear shoes with laces, and you know to hold your arms in a wide Y in the security scanner. Instead of letting your frustration with amateur travelers get to you when you're at the airport, smile. Give the cashier an extra five dollars and ask them to subtract that from the bill of the person behind you. Be patient, even if others are outrightly rude to you.
  • Go to the parish picnic and introduce yourself to five people you've never seen before.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Easy Bake Love Story

    Emotional Chastity
    Elizabeth at Startling the Day

    The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

    My parents have the most intimidating Love story.

    They knew each other when they were in elementary school, my dad took my mom out on her first date (refusing to kiss her at the end of the night), they did not date each other throughout high school or college, he drove her from their mutual college alma mater back home several times (refusing to give rides to other friends so he could have her company to himself), and met up again at a party several years later. They married a year to the date of that party.

    It's the kind of story that makes little girls swoon, hope for, and expect for their lives. They make plastic chicken in their miniature kitchens, tend to sick babydolls, and imagine writing and illustrating the World's Greatest Storybook, while their fictitious husbands wait in the ethos.

    At least, that's the way I handled it. It has only been in the last year that I realized this was the bar I had set for my life, many years ago.
    Results NOT TYPICAL

    "But that is an adorable story. One with adolescence, romance, Love, and destiny."

    Yes, thank you, mom and dad, for telling it so many times that I may know where I began and that a romantic Love can overtake you like a wave.

    However, like when I added two packets of Easy Bake Oven cake mix to the three diameter pan, sometimes too much of a good thing makes a cake bubble around a light bulb. Too much of a good thing digs a path labeled "Means to an End."

    Since the beginning of our Bright Maidens journey, we've spent considerable time discussing the clothes we put on our bodies, the way we carry our bodies, and why and why not to keep them to ourselves instead of sharing the intimate details with others. Theology of the Body, in fact, is a misleading term.

    We choose to respect the profound importance of our bodies because we learned the deep appreciation and respect for who we are and what we have to give. So why do we have so many good young women falling victim to the wrong side of emotional, intellectual challenges?

    Because we desire Love. We were created for it and we yearn for it. We just need to flip the patience switch.

    Kids started "going out" in fourth grade at my elementary school, so the yearning started before the boys were even tall enough to be in my line of vision. Even as a kid who walked around with scrapes on her knees from playing soccer at recess, I felt like something must be wrong with me that no ten-year-old boy wanted to sit awkwardly next to me and share my glue stick.

    They got to the serious stuff in middle school, where relationships lasted up to three months and consisted of hand-holding (creating that wide V between the tweens avoiding any contact other than sweaty palms). No "boyfriend" for me, though my parents' story lingered in my mind.

    High school, I thought, that is when I will recognize my clandestine future.

    By the time high school rolled around, the girls became women, the boys became ... grown up boys, and the relationships speckled the gossip mill. The weeks rotated between Valentine's Day or VJ Day, depending, as the young women in my all-girls school taped pictures of their boyfriends on the inside of their lockers.

    My self-preservation tactic was to print out pictures of my favorite celebrities for my binder covers and to add MiracleGro to an absurd number of crushes. He hadn't arrived yet, so every guy within a preset age range might be him. I needed to stay on high-alert, I thought.

    Rather than spending my formative teen years getting to know people as friends who could teach me about life and deepening my faith in God, I took matters into my own emotional hands. It was like I was auctioning off my capacity for Love by investing it in the celebrity photos, in the fantasies featuring my crushes, and in the hope that the guy across the room might be "the one."

    I won't volunteer anyone with similar emotional chastity issues to step forward, but I know I'm not the only one who pretended a Love life for a chunk of time.

    Who can blame us? We are capable of an unfathomable amount of Love and it's exciting to think we might one day share it with someone else in a day culminating that emotion.

    The problem is we expose our hearts to the elements. These are the same hearts we're so eager to give to someone else. If we can't keep a handle on our minds to protect these hearts, we run the risk of having one that looks like it got in a tussle with steel wool to offer to the one for whom we wait.
    Female Kryptonite

    I have to write my examples in past tense because I don't want to admit to which acute degree I still struggle with this topic, but know that is still on my "to fix" list.

    What I have learned is that my increase in happiness is directly correlated to a decrease in romantic presumption. Other people's Love stories do not add to, nor do they take away from yours, so don't speed up the process.

    At no point are we "safe" from our over-thinking or romantic projecting. Our defense is a good offense: keep trust in God and that He has a plan rather than forcing a romantic Love story or fantasizing too far beyond reality.

    It doesn't get more Easy Bake than letting the Big Guy do the work for you. We just have to be open to it.
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