On the Night You Were Born

 

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If you were to have told me a year ago that exactly one year from now I would be a Mom, writing a blog post during one of my sons many midnight feedings, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But…. here I am. Writing this blog as I nurse my son at 12:30AM.

As some of you may recall- the news that my husband and I were expecting came as quite the shock. This was due largely because we knew that this little one was a wedding night baby. If you would like to read that story- click here.

Pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle. At the very earliest stage my little Theo was the size of a poppy seed— a POPPY SEED. That amazes me when I look at his little face and all the features that make it up. He is a m i r a c l e.


I loved being pregnant! Watching the belly grow and feeling my baby move inside of me was something that I will forever cherish and something that is indescribable. Although I loved being pregnant it didn’t mean that it was always easy. There was the lack of energy, nauseousness, and lack of mobility. Near the end of my pregnancy I was waddling so bad- I looked like a duck.

6 weeks before our due date my older sister gave birth to my little nephew, Leo. I had been through the experience before of waiting in the waiting room for my sisters to have their babies but this time felt very different. This time I was imagining myself going through the same experience so every time I saw my sister in pain I knew what was awaiting me in 6 weeks. Although watching my sister go through so much pain wasn’t fun, getting to see the end result and getting to hold my nephew and see his beautiful little face was something so incredibly amazing. I also knew THAT feeling awaited me in 6 weeks which was far more exciting than the pain.

The weeks came and went and same with our due date.

No baby yet.

This is totally normal for first time Mom’s and I was actually preparing myself throughout the entire pregnancy that I would at least be 41 weeks pregnant before I would have this baby.


Much to my surprise only one day after our due date, I went into labor.

The pain was real but I was ready. I truly felt that the Holy Spirit was helping me fight the contractions as much as I could throughout the night and to do it with a smile. With every contraction, I offered up a prayer for a family member or friend with specific intentions. Some contractions I just stared at my flash cards with the names and intentions of those individuals and tried to think of nothing else but gratitude that I was given the opportunity to suffer for them.

Giving birth to Theo was by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

I pushed for 3 1/2 hours before I heard the cry of my sweet boy and he was placed on my chest.


During the Mass there’s a particular part of the consecration that I have grown to appreciate more and more. The moment when the priest repeats the words of Jesus in saying, “this is my body given up for you.”

I love it even more now as I cradle my newborn son.

See, I never understood the kind of love that drew Christ to the cross – until now.

Labor and delivery was beautiful, difficult, and ultimately a little scary. After I had finally given birth to Theo, I needed only to look at my midwifes face to know that something was wrong. I was bleeding…. bad.

I had suffered not only a pretty bad tear but also what is called, “postpartum hemorrhage”. This is when a women suffers an immense amount of blood loss in labor and actually is the primary reason for maternal death (mother dying during labor) now-a-days. I didn’t know the severity of my condition until I saw the look on my family members faces when they saw me.


As I cradle this beautiful- BEAUTIFUL- gift of God (meaning behind the name Theodore), I can’t help but think of the words the Christ says, “this is my body given up for you….”

I always knew that I would give my life for my child but never knew how much my of my body I would have to give up. From the weight gain, stretch marks, and overall occasional discomfort- my child needed every bit of me and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I would do it over and over again.

A mother’s love is unlike anything in the world and in Christ’s words I see a tiny reflection of myself. I would give my body, my everything, up for my child.

To end this post (which has taken me f o r e v e r to write due to the nature of Motherhood) I want to steal a few lines from my favorite book that I read to Theo…

“For never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” (On the Night You Were Born. Nancy Tillman)

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Finding Joy in the Unordinary Life of the First Year Teacher

I am a first year teacher.

I have tried to write this post 7 times. Each time I have tried to sit down and write, I find something that stops me. Some of those reasons could be; copies that need to be made, student conferences or issues, meetings, lesson planning, or grading- to name a few.

My life is consumed with early mornings finalizing lesson plans, constant questions, little answers, and 45 young eyes that watch my every move…. every single day.

I can’t seem to find the words that can perfectly explain what my life has been like for the last 3 months and how drastically it has changed, the only thing that I can think of is a phrase that is taken directly from the catechism…. “Jesus Christ makes man fully alive“. 

I have repeated this phrase many times when asked how my first few months of full time teaching has gone… “I have never felt more exhausted…or fully alive.” 


These last few months have been ones of tremendous change in my life… I moved out of my childhood home, started my career, got engaged (thank you, Jesus!), and am living by myself in Denver. There is so much I have to be thankful for…. However, I have never felt under so much spiritual attack.

Everyday there are 45 kids that come through my classroom who become my responsibility. They rely on me to teach them skills in writing and reading which can help them further their education. Yet, the most daunting task that I have felt is the responsibility of caring for the souls of my 45 students.

The battle has already begun for my students young souls and, in conjunction with the holy spirit, I am charged with the task of helping fill their souls with tools to help in their relationship with Our Lord and the bridegroom, the Church. I have never been so intimated before and on more than one occasion have cried thinking about how inept I feel to lead these young ones.

I am no Saint.

Saint’s are the ones who are supposed to do this, right? The “holy” ones are those who are meant to lead the young and nurture their souls to find Christ. Well, that’s not me… at least not yet.

I know full well what these students are going to face if they choose to follow Christ when they leave our tiny community.

How can I protect them when I myself am still trying to figure out this whole prayer thing?

They are going to face the enemy head on. The world outside the walls of our school and church are a playground for the enemy and it prowls, lurking behind every “pleasure” in the world, and seeking to break the strong.

Well, what I have learned in the past few months is that we are not living out our Christian faith if we don’t offer up every moment, little or big, in witness to Mary’s words at the time of the Annunciation and say “be it done unto me according to Thy word.”

It’s in our little “fiats” that we are truly becoming saints. It is in the everyday and mundane walks of life where we answer ‘yes’ to Christ’s call to us, that we are becoming not just who we are meant to be- but we are becoming fully alive in Christ Jesus.


I have never felt more fully alive than when I am with my students and encountering Christ alongside them. They are showing me Christ’s love in a real and profound way.

My students are teaching me the reality of Sainthood. I may not be totally enough for my them on my own, but I have help. The God that I fell so in love with is there with me each and every single day as I enter my school, as I collaborate with co-teachers, as I pray with my students, and as I fight for their souls. I am not alone.

1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”  

Please pray for me.

 

 

True Love | Mama Edition

As I am doing the consecration to Jesus through Mary I have been growing in my love and curiosity of Mary, Our Mother. In height of that I decided I would like to write a little bit about my own Mama, JoAnn Willis.
In case you all don’t know her…. she’s the bomb.


My Mama has been such a vital role model in my life. She has been with me through it all… I mean IT ALL.
She was there when I lost my first tooth.
She was there when I went through my very first break up.
She was there and continued to call me beautiful even though I was in middle school. And awkward.
She was there when I struggled with friends in middle school.
She was there in high school when I was going through the “difficult teen” stage.
She was there when I went on my first date… and hated it.
She was there to take me out of school to go see a movie… all while telling the school I had a dentist appointment.
She was there when I got my drivers license and drove away for the first time by myself.
She was there during every track meet- no matter the weather.
She was there when I walked on the stage to receive my diploma and graduate high school.
She was there when I packed my bags to head off to college.
She was there when I came home all giddy about a boy named Tim.

She was there when I walked across the stage to receive my college diploma from Colorado State University.

Finally, she was there when the love of my life got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.


You know what? As I have grown up I have realized more and more that I am becoming more like her and wanting to become more like her.Growing up whenever I was with my Mom there would be strangers and family alike who would say, “oh you look exactly your mom”. As I have gotten older the more I realize all that my Mom really does for our family and because of that the more this compliment means to me.
You talk to anyone who knows her they will say that she throws the best parties around, has a deep love for her children and grandchildren, can survive on virtually no sleep, and has a laugh that will make anyone in a room laugh with her. What they don’t know, and what I sometimes forget, is how much she truly gives. My mom’s day does not revolve around herself but rather those around her because she makes sure that they can live with ease and comfort.
I know that each time she see’s us cry, she can see the little girl who just wanted to be picked up and cuddled by her Mom.

More than anything my Mom has taught me to love completely and expect nothing in return. She does this in her faith as she learns to love Christ more even in the midst of tragedy and heart ache. But the most selfless act that my Mom has ever done is when she gave Our Lord her children.
She told us that she realized that we were God’s… Our lives would be used for His glory…
What beauty is that? The true gift of self because my Mom went through pain and discomfort to bring me into this world in order to realize that we weren’t hers to keep… but God’s to use.

Do me a favor.

Hug your Mom. Tight.

If your earthly Mother is no longer with us or she struggles in her role with Motherhood, look to Our Mother in Heaven. She is the model for our Mothers here on earth and begin your relationship with her. She will intercede for you to Christ- and there’s not much Jesus will deny His Mother.

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Gotta give some love to our Heavenly Mama:

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Society’s Waste | You Don’t Have to Join FOCUS to be a Missionary

A few years ago my sister, author of the blog In My Father’s Vineyard, wrote one of my favorite posts about the society’s view on homelessness. The blog post was written shortly after she changed professions and began serving the poor of Northern Colorado, which is neither an easy task nor a desired one. Many put their blinders on to suffering and pass the homeless on the street not even acknowledging their existence. The culmination of the post was a beautiful reflection on the concept of being “pro life” while serving the homeless. She talked about the fact that the right to life isn’t just for the unborn or elderly but for every single human being: old, young, wealthy, poor, loved or unloved. Feel free to read it here. I’ll explain why I mention this a little later.


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These last four weeks marked a big move in my college career, I began student teaching.

The process to actually get placed at a school was an absolute nightmare. From the beginning of my college career I had wanted to student teach at a Catholic School. Only a private Catholic school. The only problem? Every time I came close to that happening it seemed like a huge door was being shut right in front of me. I had almost lost all my hope until I was finally able to get in contact with the principal of a local Catholic Middle School in Fort Collins about my interest in teaching at her school. Only a short 2 weeks later I got an email notification that I was officially placed at that school and would be in communication with my cooperating teacher.

I cannot describe to you the joy of receiving the email “Congratulations! You have been placed!” from CSU. I immediately emailed my teacher.. and then I emailed her again.. and then I emailed her again.

No response.

I called my cooperating teacher the week before I was supposed to take finals and once again got no response from her. After calls and emails I finally went to the only source I could find, the principal of the school. We arranged to meet the following Monday of finals week and I am so thankful that we did. Goodness. If we hadn’t met that Monday I very well could not be student teaching this semester and I would be forced to push my whole college career back one semester.

“I talked to your teacher and she doesn’t want to do it. She won’t have the time or receive the credits she was expecting.”

My heart dropped when Sister Rose Mary said those words. My dream of student teaching at a Catholic school was gone.

Throughout the next few days I had to come to grips with the fact that I had been telling God what I wanted instead of allowing Him to place me where I was needed.

Thankfully, a few days later I got a notification that I had a new placement. I was placed at a public school in Greeley, CO and my first reaction was complete and total relief at finding myself a new place I could finish out my college career, then my second reaction was total and absolute fear.

Shortly after I began sharing with friends and family that I was going to be in Greeley at John Evans middle school, I was met with so much negativity. One friend of ours even looked at my Dad and said, “Is there anyway she could switch?”

My Dad and I both knew why she said this …. the school I would be student teaching at is surrounded by low socioeconomic housing, 70 to 80 percent of the students are Hispanic, a small percentage are refugees and the rest are white, and all of the students are confronted with the very real issue of gang violence.

Is there anyway she could switch?”

That statement came from a place we have all been, a place of fear.

I could have listened. I could have chosen another route. I could have given up.

But a voice deep inside kept repeating to me,”You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7)


I walked into my school two weeks later full of anxiety, fear, and worry.

I had always thought I would be student teaching at a Catholic school in my own safe Catholic bubble. Now that I wasn’t going to be doing that, I was fearful of what God was asking me to do because He was calling me out into the desert and asking that I follow where He leads me…. obediently. How scary! I was afraid that if I taught in a public school I would have to pretend to be somebody I wasn’t. I was afraid that I would have to hide the deep love I have for my Catholic faith and Jesus Christ. Amidst all that fear and anxiety I still had a peace that God had flipped a lot of things around in order to place me here, therefore, He would never abandon me.

The past four weeks God has been allowing me to discover why He placed me at John Evans Middle School

Some of the students that I teach fall under the following criteria:

Over half of them has a parent that is in jail.

Gangs. Some are in them, some are trying to be.

Some are just beginning to understand English and they come from various parts of the world including: Somalia, Thailand, Mexico, and many others.

Some students read at a kindergarten level and others at 5th grade level, what they all have in common is that they don’t read at their own grade level.

Some students are constantly told they won’t amount to anything… by those that should love them the most.

Some students are in between coming out of jail, others have left because they have gone back to jail… And yes…My students are only 11 and 12.

Some students only know how to roll a joint.

Some students are homeless.

To the rest of society, these students are a waste. They will never go anywhere. They’re never going to amount to anything….

At least that’s what they’ve been told.

What the students at John Evans need is hope.

Hope is Jesus Christ.

Just as my sister noticed a need for people to respect the dignity, suffering, and humanity of the homeless… I, too, have noticed a need for people to increase their understanding of the dignity of each one of my students. Many judge John Evans and fear the students that we are teaching without even taking the TIME to hear their stories.

I preach the fact that I am pro-life and the reality is that comes in more forms than just respecting the life of the unborn. It calls out the respect for the hopeless, destitute, lost, and lonely.

Let me tell you… I have no doubt questioned my desire to become a teacher more than once throughout these last 4 weeks, but I also couldn’t be happier where I am. That is where the paradox lies.

I find myself giving all that I am to these students and it is exhausting. I care for them even though they don’t care for themselves. In this exhaustion I also find there’s a peace that at least I am trying and I am fighting for them and I may be one of only a few adults who is actually doing so.  I may not say out loud “you need Jesus, do you know Him?” like your FOCUS missionary would do, but I serve them as best I can.

You don’t need to be a FOCUS missionary to evangelize and bring Christ to others. You can do it wherever you are and in any part of your life. Missionary work isn’t just for college campuses and other countries, it’s for the students that fill the schools marked with the dreaded “Title I” reputation. It is for the students that people believe have already failed. The answer is simple to battle this… we bring Christ to others when we act like Christ to them. We do this through loving even the most hardened of hearts, through serving others in both simple and complex ways, through holding one another accountable, through giving and not counting the cost. I could keep going.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I ask that you pray for my students and all those who are struggling in this life. Please pray for those who find themselves hopeless so that they can indeed find hope in Christ. Finally, pray for all educators and those blessed with the job of supporting these future generations.

Catholic, Single, and Trying to Navigate the Dating World

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Having a young Catholic try to navigate the dating world can be an intimidating thing especially with terms like, “hook-up, courtship, casual dating, chaperones, and casual sex” floating around society. So what’s the big deal? How does a young Catholic date while remaining both physically AND emotionally chaste?

There are two big words that have been coming up recently in the Christian dating world and that is courtship and casual dating.

First thing is first.. Let me explain what both casual dating and courtship is.

Casual dating (from what I understand) is trying to bridge the gap between courtship and the hook up culture. It tells young single men to go ahead and ask out a girl but “don’t worry, it’s not a commitment… It’s just a date!” Girls should be open to these dates but feel free to let the guy down easy if it isn’t “right”. Which could get you in a tailspin of continued dates just because you feel too bad telling the guy that the relationship isn’t going anywhere. I, like many young girls, didn’t know what the heck casual dating was until I started dating my boyfriend. I remember my sisters all anxiously awaiting to hear about my new relationship and I told them exactly what I was told…”We’re casually dating”.

My older sister looked at me with confusion and asked what that meant and the only thing I could reply was the matter of fact… “I don’t know”.

We were all puzzled. Exclusive? Not exclusive? Committed? Not committed?

I was lost.

Finally about 2 months later we decided to leave all the casual stuff behind us and commit to dating exclusively. I’ll explain why this was the best thing that could have happened to us in the end.

Now courtship looks a bit different.

The Duggar family from the hit TLC Show “19 Kids and Counting” includes in their courtship rules not only an emphasis on maintaining a pure relationship, but they do this through chaperones and strict physical boundaries. The young couples are to have chaperones with them at all times in order to keep them accountable for their guidelines in purity, and the physical touch between the couples are kept to occasional side hugs and getting to hold hands while they’re engaged.

Sounds great and dandy and all….

But for those of you that watch 19 Kids & Counting you may have noticed one thing… These courtship relationships move FAST.

They are barely in courtship for it seems like a month and they’re already planning their wedding.

It might be easy to figure out my issues with each but I’ll spell it out anyway…


Casual dating

1. The definition is unknown.

No one really knows what casually dating is. It’s this weird middle ground between the hook up culture and courtship. Due to its lack of definition many people can just kind of make up what it means. Also, there’s a widely known phrase that goes around in our culture known as “casual sex”. Doesn’t that sound kind of close to “casual dating”? Some people may get confused that they’re the same thing. Which might make for a pretty awkward date if those definitions get crisscrossed.

2. Commitment phobe?
You may snag a few of those commitment phobes trying to turn from their old ways and join the dating scene. The whole casual dating stuff would seem like a good step in the right direction! Casual dating sounds like it allows for people to start dating but in no way requires any true commitment. Personally? Dating shouldn’t include writing an official commitment on paper but it also shouldn’t be a hobby someone would rather do than have the usual “date night with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix” sort of thing.

3. “I don’t see myself marrying him, but it’s just a date!”

Casually dating sometimes doesn’t emphasize the idea of ‘dating with the intent to marry’ enough. They stress just going out on casual dates… Yes that’s great and all. But be realistic! If you can’t see yourself with the guy later in life, why continue dating? It is more selfless to let go than to hang on to another woman’s (or man’s) spouse. Now I’m not saying to go crazy and start picking out your wedding colors or anything but acknowledge whether or not you could picture that person in your future. Then either let go or commit to FULLY dating them and leave this “casual” nonsense behind.

Courtship

1. Physical Chastity vs. Emotional Chastity

Setting physical boundaries to help in the battle for purity is awesome! But let’s remember the less understood word of emotional chastity. The heart is sacred… Don’t give it away too quickly but require that the person God set apart for you seek your heart in the sacred heart of Jesus.

2. Too much pressure

From what I know about courtship it can be a process that involves solid commitment right from the get go. The person that you court IS the person that you will marry. Talk about pressure, goodness. This would leave little room for mistakes. I found that while part of me would want to erase the embarrassment of dating some unfortunate fellows, I would never do that because it was through those lessons I was able to learn about the man I would actually want to marry. There was a freedom and new-found-strength by having those learning experiences (notice I didn’t say failure… it isn’t a failure if you learn from it).


So I propose this…. We date with a purpose.

Dating with a purpose allows for young singles to remove the pressure of courtship but also directs “casual dating” to be more purposeful. Don’t date just because it could be a fun past time. Discern the relationship and if it isn’t fulfilling the purpose to which you intended, then be brave enough to end it.

Dating with a purpose can and should include a vow to practice the virtue of chastity. Until that couple says “I do”, nothing is set in stone. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to direct your relationship and either build it or break it in order to lead you to something else far better. Chastity in a relationship is like the boundaries in a river. Those barriers are what keep the river flowing both quickly and naturally to its destination. For the chaste couple the boundaries which they place in their relationship allow for them to naturally flow towards their destination, which is Heaven. Chastity isn’t meant to make the couple miserable. It is meant to be a joyful struggle. Yes. Struggle with it. Chastity was never meant to be easy but always meant to be worth it. Lift up those struggles for the glory of God and He will give you the joy you seek.

My boyfriend and I about one year into our relationship had to have a serious talk about our future. (Personally- I recommend having this 6 months into your relationship). I told him that if at any point he feels that I am not what is best for him, who he could picture in his future, or who could lead him to Heaven then he should absolutely break up with me. 

I wasn’t saying this to be mean or rude, I was saying it because I didn’t want to be selfish with him. We had to both feel the same way or our relationship was going to end in heartbreak. Remember how I said that the best thing that happened to us was leaving the casual dating shenanigans behind? This is the reason! It allowed for raw honesty between the two of us and a careful discernment as to whether or not we should continue our relationship.

Lastly: (& the most important piece of advice)

Pray and discern whether or not to begin dating. A relationship with Our Lord is the most important thing and sometimes we idolize relationships and put them in the place of our relationship with God. To prevent this from happening make sure that your prayer life is heavily intertwined in your dating life or future relationship. Discernment isn’t just for the future Priests or Nuns, it is for every single vocation. And yes, marriage is a vocation to lead you to Heaven and you can attain the same holiness as someone who enters religious life. There are TONS of holy Saints who were married. Look ’em up.

Holiness begins in the earliest stages of your dating life… actually it begins before you even start dating! Dive into your prayer life and Our Lord will ready your heart as you date with a purpose. 

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Veiled: For my Beloved

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As I walk into the sanctuary on a beautiful Sunday I automatically feel the glances and sense the stares. Part of me doesn’t want to look up and awkwardly catch eyes with the person looking at me, so I continue to walk in and make my way to the pew.

Then I see Him.

I kneel down and genuflect in front of the first love of my life. My heart lifts and I forget the people staring. It’s just me and sweet Jesus.

Yes I am one of many young women who are revitalizing an old tradition of wearing a veil (mantilla) in the presence of Our Lord. And yes, you can do this and not be 80 years old. I remember seeing the older generation at my home parish wear the veil and thought to myself, “Wow they STILL do that?” Not even fully realizing how beautiful of a tradition it was. Of course Our Lord brought me to that understanding about a year ago and deepened this calling for veiling. I ignored it. “That would be awkward! Women don’t do that anymore! They would stare at me and judge me!” All of these thoughts were based on fear, not love. Veiling in front of Our Lord is founded purely on love of Him. And boy was I in love! So of course I stepped up and obeyed the calling. Fortunately, haven’t looked back since. 

Now that I have been wearing the veil for a while, I realize the beauty and the depth to this calling and it isn’t just about modesty and obedience in front of my Lord. No.

The veil represents my total gift of self to my beloved.

As I walk down the aisle towards the Eucharist… I am meeting my beloved. I am walking towards the first love of my life and I ready my heart to be one with His. To receive His body, soul, and divinity. When you veil you are recognizing that something beautiful and sacred is in front of you. Women were created as the most beautiful creation, therefore; when we veil, we humble ourselves and point to something even more beautiful… Which is God Himself.

Now…Fast forward a few years….

I walk with my Dad making our way towards the altar in the church.  

I fix my veil, perfecting it to make sure that I feel and look my best.

My nerves rise as I get closer towards the entrance of the sanctuary, everyone is looking at me, everyone is staring….

Then I see him.

My groom standing at the front of the altar. Waiting patiently for me and symbolizing perfectly the patience that came along with living out a chaste relationship so that on my wedding day I could wear white, and mean it.

I am veiled representing my total gift of self to him and Our Lord. I walk down the aisle toward my beloved, the man that I will be united with through the sacraments and who also fulfills what Our Lord says in scripture that, “Then the two shall become one flesh…”

.Let’s come back to today…

When I walk into the sanctuary on a normal Sunday I meet my first Beloved in the tabernacle, one who I walk down the aisle time and time again to receive on my tongue in the Holy Eucharist. I wear the veil symbolizing my gift of self and submission to Our Lord, a gentle reminder of Our Lady and how she modeled this so perfectly. Mary gave herself as a gift to God. We all as women are gifts to humanity! This is what we need to remember! The reason we were created last is because we are the crown of God’s creation!

See, it is no coincidence that brides wear a veil on the day of their wedding. This tradition, much like the tradition of wearing the chapel veil, has now been accustomed to taste. We need to re-educate that the veil isn’t an accessory but rather a symbol of submission, humility, dignity, and the gift of ones self to another. As a bride I will walk down the aisle veiled for the Beloved that God made for me. The man who I will vow to live my life t’ll death to Heaven and all while fulfilling the ultimate goal… “Kileen, let’s be Saints”. 

Although the stares and glances from some of the parishioners may be uncomfortable, the reality I have found is that I don’t wear the veil because of them! No, I wear the veil for my beloved. The veil was never about myself and the parishioners, but rather it is about symbolizing my own dignity, obedience, faithfulness, and total gift of self to not only my beloved Lord but also my beloved [future] husband.

30 Day Modesty Challenge Final Lessons & Favorite Outfits

Here it is! My final week of the challenge.

Here are a few lessons I took from the 30 days:

1. I am not perfect

Sometimes the problem we get ourselves into is thinking that we are supposed to be perfect all the time, but if we continue this thinking it can be dangerous. This extends even to our health, which is what happened to me earlier this year. My body is never going to look as the world will see it “perfect”. But to God? I am a slab of gold which is purified through fire, and has to be continuously purified until the reflection the goldsmith sees in the gold…is Himself. I am imperfect, God is not. That’s the lesson.

2. Prayer, Prayer, then more Prayer

The most important part of the challenge was growing in my prayer life. Those conversations with God, and Him opening up my heart to see what’s truly in there, showed me the reality of why I felt called to join the challenge. It wasn’t because I needed a fashion makeover, although that was definitely needed, but because I needed to remember my own dignity.
“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you- the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This beauty will never disappear, and it is worth very much to God. -1 Peter 3:3
My clothes needed to reflect the dignity that I found in Christ.

3. Modest doesn’t mean frumpy- It never did

Shortly after my blog was shared on Chastity Project’s site, there were numerous articles week after week detailing issues about modesty. This was really awesome to see because by my observation it was the modesty challenge which opened up communication on the subject. One blog talked about their problem with the “M” word. Modesty means frumpy clothes that doesn’t give you any shape, isn’t cute, but outwardly portrays your holiness. The challenge was meant to breakdown these stereotypical walls for modesty! For me, it was to make the clothes I love both modest and fashionable. Guess what? You can totally do it! Modesty doesn’t mean wearing turtlenecks or dresses that make you look like a box. No way! You can wear cute clothes! It just has to be a mindset that “What I’m wearing will honor My Lord.” Or a question of, “Would I wear this in front of My God?”. Our Lord wants you to look beautiful! He created you that way! Don’t be afraid of the “M” word, it doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself in your own fashionable way! Challenge yourself to be creative when it comes to modest outfits! Don’t be afraid to show your beautiful femininity!

4. Modesty strengthens us in Chastity

Modesty and chastity are two sides of the same coin. My desire to live out my promise of purity for my husband means that I want to be representing myself in a dignified way. A quote I really love that speaks to this says, “Dress how you want other women dressing around your husband”. For me? As my prayer life increased, my positivity about chastity increased as well. Modesty isn’t just meant for me to understand that my dignity is from God, and not in the clothes I wear. It is also for my future spouse. I wear clothes that, although still show my femininity, will provide mystery for my husband to unravel. On my wedding day I want to wear white, and mean it. I want to be the gift he has to unwrap.

5. It starts with just ONE

Changing a lifestyle doesn’t happen over night. But all it takes is one person, one day of courage, or one moment of surrender. That’s where it begins. God filled Mary’s heart because of one word… Fiat.

What is your ONE moment going to be? Will you say yes?

My Top 10 Outfits in the 30 Days

1.  Date Night Out

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2. Yes, you can still wear that shorty short dress- just as a shirt.

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3. No more uncomfortable yanking! Strapless dress win.

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4.  Modest at 14,000 Feet

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5. Sunday Best

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6. Can’t go wrong with a jean shirt and maxi skirt

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7. Colors of Summer

Day 3 Modesty Challenge

8. Accessorize & Simple Style

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9. Sunday Best Part II

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10. It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish.

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Thank you for your prayers! I am still praying for all the women participating in the challenge and those who will eventually join!

Although this challenge may be over for me, doesn’t mean my journey is anywhere near over! Another challenge begins for me. Please pray for me and trust I will be praying for you as well!