Thursday, September 10, 2009


For our nature walk today, we walked by a river with a large cliff of shale. I love shale. I think it's because the house I grew up in was across the street from a hillside of the rock, and I spent hours and hours playing fort in the ditches the years of rain made. Or just poking at the ground with a stick, splitting the shale into crumbling slivers. Fond memories. Of course, then the bulldozers came and flattened my playground so a developer could build character-less cookie cutters houses over the sweetness of my youth. But I don't have hard feelings about that...
As I watched Jared and Hilary wade in the cold water, I listened to the sound of pebbles falling from the top of the canyon as the soft rock let loose and tumbled to the water below. This massive tree behind me was a labyrinth of exposed roots. Clinging desperately to the soil which fell away moment by moment. Even in the short time we were there, the landscape was changing. The ground was shifting. Never staying in one place for very long. History in pictures. Time in a late summer morning.
I tried to count the layers of sediment, but I got lost not even halfway up. So many layers. One on top of another. I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes people unique. About the layers. Old pictures, whether in hand or just in memory seem so distant. Like that person doesn't even exist anymore. But that's not true. That part of me, who I was, what I thought, what I felt, what I knew and didn't know, didn't disappear. I just built another layer.

Every time I learn something, it's another layer. The narrow layers are from the experiences that passed by smoothly, without a great deal of pressure. But the thicker layers took much more force to create. Whether it was from my stubbornness, necessity, or circumstance, those layers took time. Pebble upon pebble. Speck upon speck. Built through sorrow and joy. Sometimes more sorrow. Sometimes more joy.
I wonder if I could count my layers. Or get lost halfway up. I wonder if I even realize who I really am. So many layers, but each one dependent on the other. The surface held up by the years of blood, sweat and tears beneath.

I wonder how much more has to fall away, cut by the river. The chill of the water. The sparkle of the sun. I wonder what the next thing will be that God asks me to change. To let loose of the old and watch it tumble down to the river below, so I can make room for the new layer. Deeper, higher, stronger. One layer at a time.

Friday, September 4, 2009


As I mentioned last week, I am determined, determined, determined that Thursday will be nature walk day. Well, this week was definitely a test of that determination.

Multiple things came up, pulling me in multiple directions. We also couldn't find where we were going, which didn't help. I was trying to get to the end of a 2.5 mile trail that runs from the lake area we visited last week. There was supposed to be another wetland preserve at the end of the trail, stuck in the middle of urban/suburban traffic mess. Finally, we found it. We were right on track to get my little carefully crafted plan fulfilled two weeks in a row.

We didn't take the walk then, though. And that event, not taking the walk, represents everything that is wrong with my ability to order my life.

I'm a worker bee. I'm in charge of a long list of things. I'm over children and family activities at church. And the teen group. And the crochet group. And the group that sends cards when people are sick. I'm a reader. I sing in the choir. I bake prosphora. I coordinate our monthly free community meal. Outside of church, I represent our parish on the board of our community's social service program. I run the weekly food pantry for them. That also requires checking the phone messages every day and returning calls. Processing new applicants. Writing checks for utility assistance. Coordinating volunteers. Packing food for the weekly food distribution. I also bake prosphora for one of the monasteries in town. It's a men's monastery, but it's also a homeless shelter. I clean for them and serve food. I also recently became involved with another monastery in town. This one is just one female monastic, serving the inner city with food and other assistance. She needs a lot of help, too.

I don't say that to brag about what I do for other people. To make myself sound so perfect. I say that to point out just how screwed up my priorities are! You see, I will drop everything to help the above people. Anytime, anywhere anyplace. I will do those things whenever and however they ask.

And my own home and family? What does that mean for them? Often I can balance things, but far too often, I can't. My sink is full of dirty dishes. The laundry is sky high. I tell Hilary to wait "just one more minute" a hundred times a day. I leave Jared on his own to plow through his school work so I can make yet another phone call. I'm so exhausted and spent by the end of the day, I have no attention left to devote to my hardworking husband.

As I sat there yesterday in my car, finally at the nature preserve parking lot, the entire weight of all these things crashed down on me. The nun called and needed me to come over immediately to help with a crisis with the monastery newsletter. A newsletter that every member of my family had already devoted a week of our lives to as we assembled and stuffed the mailing. She was literally crying. Have you ever heard a nun cry? Trust's terrible. Do I leave and not take the walk? I knew it would be tough to come back later. I had a meeting to scout out a possible new location for the food pantry. To top it off, the other monastery also called and said they realized they had no prosphora for the next day's Liturgy. Oh, and there was still more school to do with Jared, Hilary's nap, dinner to cook, Lonna to drive to her activities, and another phone call to be made to a woman who is offering me a part-time job...because I have so much free time. It was 2:00 p.m., but it felt like high noon. The moment of decision. Who do I serve? The world or my family? Who do I pick? Strangers and acquaintances or the faces of the ones I gave birth to?

Everything got fuzzy for a minute, as my brain went into official overload. Then, I stared at the dashboard of the car. I have two icons shoved around the gas gauge and the speedometer. St. Mary of Egypt, my patron, and Christ. Christ's eyes pulsed deep into my own. I thought of His words. I thought of His example. I thought of all those things I talked about in my last post. Resolving to love God more. In every way, just to love God more. I thought of Mary, how she fled from the world to the desert. How she sacrificed it all to save her own soul.

Everything slowly began to become clear. Loving God more means I need to get my life in order. God first. Family commitments first. Yes, I can still serve. I'm commanded to do so. But I can't be Martha all the time. I have to be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus. I have to just...sit...peacefully...and listen.

I snapped into action. I pulled out of the parking lot with a new focus and a new commitment. I dropped Jared and Hilary off at the house so he could finish his schoolwork and she could take her nap. I went to the monastery. Handled the crisis. Called the school and had them send Lonna home on the bus so I didn't need to pick her up. Called the other monastery and told them they would just have to get the prosphora for the next day somewhere else (which turned out not to be a problem for them at all). Made all my phone calls while I was on the road. Came home, cooked dinner and drove Lonna to swim practice. That left me one hour. Just one hour before that meeting about the food pantry. One hour I could have definitely spent on the couch or something else brainless and meaningless. But I didn't. I put Jared and Hilary back in the car and retraced our steps to the nature preserve.

We got out of the car and walked down a short path from the parking lot. And as we rounded the bend, this is what we saw:

Oh, I wish I could have captured it in pictures! They just don't come anywhere near what this is. Acres and acres and acres of cattails!!! Does anyone else love cattails like me? I can't even explain what it is about them. I remember playing with the soft, brown tops as a child. Pushing through bunches of them by the creek. Back when I was shorter than they were. That must be what it is. A childhood memory. Always the strongest and sweetest.

The boardwalk snakes through the field. See that tree in the above picture? Maybe that shows how tall and dense the cattails are as they swallow up the tree. The boardwalk was elevated, so we were above the level of the plants, looking down. This is an ocean of tall, dense plants as far as the eye can see. I've never seen anything like it.

The sounds. The insects singing. And the swishing! Music. The rolling swirls of the breeze through the field. You could see the pattern of the wind, funneling from one end of the field to another. Clockwise. Then counterclockwise. Twisting the cattails one direction. Then another. An orchestrated harmony of simplicity. Cattails in the breeze. No obligations. No complications. Just bending with the breeze.
I managed to do it all (almost!) yesterday. I juggled and maneuvered and made everything work for one more day. But I'm not proud of it. I shouldn't have been in that predicament to start with. I have to stop being so rigid. I have to stop "doing" for others, rather than just "being" for God. I have to blow in the breeze like the cattails. Sometimes one way, and sometimes another, but never at my own design. Letting God pick the direction. Adding things to my life when He wants, and taking things away when He wants.
I learned a lot yesterday. About time. About priorities. About love. All from a field of cattails that I almost missed seeing.

Before the things. Before the tasks. Before it all. I'm obligated---to love. I don't fully know yet what exactly will change in my life, but I know there are changes to be made. Lord have mercy on me for not loving you with purity of heart! I believe...forgive my unbelief! Show me, Lord. Show me how to love.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

The beginning of the liturgical year is today, September 1. The day Jesus stood in the synagogue and proclaimed that He was the fulfillment of the prophecies. The One. The Gospel. The Word.

A time to pray for seasonable weather and praise God for the blessings of life and the earth. A time to bless water in case you've used up your supply from Theophany. A time for all things new and fresh.

So, I was thinking. I've always seen New Year's resolutions as a bit pointless. No one keeps them. It's just a reason to feel guilty a week (maybe a month) later, when your good intentions dissolve into reality. Resolving to change my life on January 1, just because it's January 1, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But resolving to change my life because it's a time of thanksgiving and freshness in the Church year...that does make sense to me. The newness of this new year can become more than a shaky promise that fades after the confetti settles. It can be a true renewal.

My New Year's Resolution:

Love God more.

What? No long-winded promises to be bigger, better, richer or thinner? Nope. Just love God more. And if I can do that, everything else is taken care of.

I've been frustrated with people lately. Their actions. Their lack of action. I resolve to love God more, therefore I will see Christ in the people I interact with each day. I will forgive...seventy times seven times. Doesn't mean I will tolerate their sin, but I will love them and work with them for the glory of God (because Jesus came to the world to save sinners...of whom I am first). Time to focus on me and my own sin. I will repent.

I've been eating too much lately. Mindless eating. I've been trying to change what we eat and how we eat this year. We've made major changes and huge strides toward a better relationship with our bodies' fuel. But I still eat too much. I resolve to love God more, so I will remember that my body is not my was bought at a price. I will calm the passions through prayer and fasting. I will not make excuses, and I will not let my flesh dictate my life. I will overcome.

I have not been ordering my days well. I get distracted or lazy or well, um...lazy! I don't get done what needs to get done. I make the rest of my family live on the edge of chaos, and my home is often a source of stress rather than a haven. I resolve to love God more, therefore I will order my day the way God commands. I will put prayer first. I will put the needs of family before my own. I will not over-extend myself. I will not settle for just getting by. I will thrive.

I have not been loving God. Sure, I say the right things and appear to do the right things, but I haven't been loving God like I want to love Him. Like He deserves to be loved. Love is not always warm fuzzies. It's pushing through the tough times and doing what you said you were going to do because that love matters. Loving God is a daily event. An obligation, but more so, an opportunity. Loving God always leads to good. Loving God can never lead you wrong. It's a chance to change my life. To be new. A new year. A new me. With the God that makes all things new.

O Creator and Master of time and eternity, super-substantial God of all, O Merciful One: bless the course of this year, and in your boundless mercy, save all those who worship You our one and only Master and who cry out to You in fear:
"O Saviour, grant a happy year to all mankind!"

Troparion for the New Year

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I officially declare Thursday nature walk day. Despite rain, snow, grumpiness, laziness, or whatever else comes our way, Thursday is the day. In years past, I didn't schedule nature study. I just wrote it on the master plan and told myself that we would go once a week. Whichever day had the best weather or the least other things to do.

Well, that doesn't work for us. Nature study was the first thing to go when the sun wasn't shining or the apathy bug hit the house. So, this year, I'm scheduling it for each and every Thursday. No matter what!

As we left the house this afternoon, it started to rain. Not easily intimidated, I continued on my mission. There is a nature preserve very close by that we had yet to visit. Just as we arrived, the rain stopped...right on cue. This is my new favorite place!

It's woods and a garden all in one. The openness of a meadow of flowers and the density of a forest where the sun never hits the ground. Flowing water and creeping vines. Birds and deer and a multitude of singing insects. All putting on their best late summer show for us. Every living thing drank up the rain from up above, down below, and on all sides. The green was so vibrant. The plants were so thick and rich. The smell of life was so intense, it filled our noses and literally tingled. I felt like I was a thousand miles from the city, even though I was right in the middle of it. Oh, how I treasure our park system! The people who carved out these spaces and protected them from urban sprawl were geniuses. Absolute geniuses.

We watched minnows in the creek. Listened to the birds. Sketched trees in our nature journals. Time flew by, and before we new it, it was well past time to leave and pick Lonna up from school.

And what was Lonna doing on the second day of public school while we were communing with nature? Why learning about jock itch of course! Seems like in 8th grade health they just jump right the male reproductive system. Sigh. I miss her.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Big Year of Learning

My oldest daughter is going back to public school this year. After six years of homeschooling, she has an unquenchable desire to be around middle school girls. Not really a surprise. She never was a homeschool poster child. She never snuggled on the couch in rapturous love of read alouds. She never begged for the next hands on project.

On the contrary, Lonna watched the school bus go by and wished she was on it. She despised field trips and homeschool classes. She turned up her nose at pretty much every attempt I made to accommodate her learning style and interests. Lonna is a good learner, but she doesn't love to learn. She's not an academic. She just wants to be like her perception of everyone else, and she's still young enough to believe that's a goal that can actually be obtained.

So even though it literally goes against what I said I stand for, I'm sending my baby off to 8th grade on Wednesday. And even though we've known it's coming for a long time, it's almost unbelievable.

I've been thinking a lot about the first day of Kindergarten. I remember her so clearly standing in front of our house, posing for a picture with her seemingly giant backpack dwarfing her tiny, lovable cuteness. I remember walking her to her class while holding her hand just a little too firmly. I remember managing to hold back the tears just long enough to get to the parking lot. Then I let it all flow, sniffling and snotting the whole drive to work. I was a mess. This whole growing up thing wasn't at all what it was cracked up to be. I wanted to be the one to teach her things. To watch her grow and to share her life. Instead, we scurried through night after night of crazy busyness after I got home from work. Our lives lived separately. Our experiences individual rather than common. Homeschooling wasn't even in my vocabulary at that time, but my heart knew what I wanted, even though I didn't have the word to name it.

I also remember distinctly two years later when I went to her classroom to pack up her things for the last day. We were pulling her and her brother out of public school to embark on a new journey. Homeschooling. God had made a way in a way that I didn't even realize was a possibility. Just like something He would do! There was much trepidation and confusion, but there was an underlying support of faith and truth. We were doing the right thing. We were living our lives together. Whenever I planned for the future, I never calculated one of the kids going back to public school. Never once was it a possibility. Until it became a reality.

Homeschooling is not an educational choice. It's a lifestyle choice. It's who we are and how we interact. It's the rhythm of our day and the structure of our lives. If you don't live it, that won't make any sense, but if you do, you know how it's so much more than you can quantify or describe. It's an alternative lifestyle. It's against the norm. But it's our normal. It's us. We're homeschoolers. And now, our lives will never be the same. It's not just as simple as sending Lonna to school. It doesn't just change her life. It changes all of our lives.

I'm still trying to process this new dynamic. I look at my schedule and somehow my brain just can't grasp that she will be gone for almost 8 hours a day. I can't believe she won't be reading her History in the recliner with the cat on her lap. I can't fathom that she won't be complaining about those read alouds. I can't imagine that I won't be able to look at her face when I want to, just because I want to. I can't bear the thought of a house without her voice in it five days a week. It literally hurts with a crushing ache when I think about the depth of the level that I will miss her.

But I also know without a doubt that it's the right thing to do. I've always been quick to wax in poetic argument about how wonderful homeschooling is. How it is one of the best things that ever happened to our family. But the flip side of that argument also pertains. If I truly believe what I say, that homeschooling lets each family member reach his or her full potential, I have to also entertain the possibility that it doesn't work for one of my own family members. I've never been anti-public school. Rather, I bill myself as pro-family. What works for some families doesn't work for others. Don't just blindly follow our society's model. You don't HAVE to send your kid to school. Women don't HAVE to be career driven. There is another way. I advocate choosing what's best for your individual family. Not all mothers are built for homeschooling. There's no shame in that. Not all kids are built for homeschooling. There's no shame in that. But realizing that one of those kids is mine??? I did feel shame in that.

I felt like a failure. Like I didn't do enough for her. Like I just wasn't enough for her. But I finally realized it isn't me. Lonna is an individual. Doing what's best for her means saying she needs to go to school. Not because I can't teach her, but because I CAN teach her. I can teach her that I respect her and her choices. Even when they aren't the ones I would make for her.

So, this week, I sacrifice my dream of the idyllic homeschool. I lay aside my own plans. I let Lonna take the lead. She still looks so small to me, like the picture on the first day of Kindergarten. I guarantee I'm going to sniffle and snot my way through this day, too.

We're going to be a different family in many ways, but we're still us. Public school or homeschool. We're us. Nothing changes that. We're continuing to learn together, and as everyone knows, you learn the most from the lessons that are the hardest. My great big year of learning...starting now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back by Popular Demand

I guess I'll blog again. People keep suggesting it. O.K. O.K. Never fear! I'm not getting a big head from the hordes of people seeking after me. There's been about...oh...four people. :) That, and I think about things to write with nowhere to write them. Things to say and nowhere to say them.

I just finished reading back through this blog, and it was eye-opening. It's only been four months since I've written. Not a huge span of time. I feel like an almost completely different person, though.

First off, I had to change the ages of all my children. Summer is birthday season around here. I apparently give birth best in a 6 week span from the end of May to the beginning of July. That, or I conceive best somewhere around September---but we won't go there!

I'm now the mother of a teenager, although the hormone-charged atmosphere has existed in our home for awhile. Now it's just official. And Hilary is four. Does that mean I stop calling her "the baby" now? Doesn't seem at all like that is possible.

I had another angioplasty for Pulmonary Vein Stenosis in June. The fifth one in less than three years. Will the fifth time be the charm??? I don't know. My doctor seems to think so. But of course, she did the third time...and the fourth.

I went for my follow-up appointment the other day. I had a metabolic stress test to see if my exercise tolerance has improved any. I detest that test. It's not just the treadmill. It's the mask that they attach to your head so tight, it feels like your cheeks have become one with the plastic. It's the million and one wires and blood pressure cuffs and the incessant questions. "How are you doing? What number is the level of activity on the chart now? And now? And now?" It's the apparently clueless researcher who decided that you should never, ever hold onto the rails, even when the incline is seemingly straight up. The incline...oh, the incline. Don't they know that's my arch nemesis? Don't they know I can make it through an entire day with careful planning to never face a set of stairs or a sloping hill? I can fake healthy most of the time. Except for the hills. There's no covering up on the hills.

But I did better. I am improved. I'm back to where I was before the veins re-narrowed. Not where I was years ago before this all started, but that's not expected. There is no cure. Just management. It's been a decade now anyway. There's all kinds of things that have changed with my body in a decade. I'm older. And squishier.

This is as good as it gets for me. I can make it through the day without a nap. I can breathe without trying so hard. My lungs only hurt if I overdo things. Life is good. But will it last? That nagging question I face again for the fifth time. Will it last? That's the number one spiritual lesson I've gained from this experience...nothing lasts. We live our entire lives wasting our lives fighting that truth. If we truly believed that nothing lasts, we wouldn't be so materialistic. Vainly trying to hold onto things or acquire new things. Things. Things. Things. They really don't matter if you know nothing lasts. Also, if you truly believe that nothing lasts, the pain and sorrow and suffering shouldn't matter so much. The darkness can never be so black if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But we don't see the light. We feel like the pain will never end. Like the time will never come. That the wait is just too long. So we ride the ride of uncertainity up and down and up and down. Chasing after the job or the income or the place that will finally be the one that makes us happy. Seeking the people and the behavior of those people that will finally meet our standards. Running from the trials and tribulations that could be meaningful learning experiences and refine us with fire, but we don't see the opportunities. All we see are the flames.

So, I'm dealing again with the truth that nothing lasts. Good or bad. Only God remains. Never changing. The one sure thing to look to. The one true thing to turn to. Nothing in this life lasts. But God is so much deeper and wider and higher than anything this life can throw at you. Nothing lasts...but God.

I also find it interesting how much my thought process about headcovering can change in four months. It's been over a year now since I've covered full-time. And you know what? I don't really think about it anymore. It's just me. It's what I do. I don't fret over it. I don't feel awkward or strange. I feel like me. My mind is no longer filled with the focus of the covering itself. How does it feel? Does it match? Is anyone else doing it? I'm over those things. My head and heart are free from that distraction to focus on the real meaning of the covering. The humility. The obedience. The prayer. So then, what exactly is my excuse? Because I'm not there yet. I'm not now on some enlightened path free of battles. No, I've let go of one set of distractions and just replaced them with others. What's my excuse for not praying more? For not being humble? For not being gentle? For not seeing the light? That indeed is something to think about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The weather is in transition, so I've been in a bit of a headcovering transition, too. Plus, I'm taking a walk down memory lane. Jared had his first soccer game of the season last week, and as I walked on the field, I remembered the time last year when I wore a skirt to one of his games. I was testing out this whole feminine, modest dress crazy idea that had been floating around in my head for awhile. "Could I do this? Could I really wear a skirt all the time? Yes...I think I could." The breeze on the sidelines and the smell of the grass made me distinctly remember those thoughts and feelings. The searching. The insecurity. The unknown.

Headcovering came soon after, and I struggled all of that long, hot summer in the house we lived in at the time with no air conditioning. My hair was so short, I couldn't wear many scarf styles at all, since my hair would stick out from under the scarves in frustrating stubbornness. I ended up settling on kerchiefs and knee-length skirts. Slowly adding to my wardrobe over the months. As I unpacked the storage container with my spring and summer clothes last week, I chuckled a bit to myself. Almost all of my skirts of last summer will not be worn this year. Now, my standards are different, and they are far too short. The shirts also are too low-cut or tight. As each day goes by, I cover more and more. Not too long ago, though, I felt like such a rebel, covering up in those skirts and kerchiefs.

I chuckled at perspective. How fluid that concept is in life and spirit. Last year, I was just starting a journey. Now, it's still the same journey, but the scenery is so vastly different. I'm the same person when I look in the mirror. Yes, the hair is much longer, and I delight in my ponytail after a year without a haircut, but I'm basically the same. If I could find a mirror that would give me an image of my heart, though, I hope the difference would be striking.

I settled into a good wardrobe and headcovering groove at the end of this winter. I knew what I felt comfortable in and what was easy. I've been a bit thrown off now, though. The heavy scarves don't seem appealing in the morning, and I've found myself digging out my kerchiefs that have lain unused for months. I struggle with being a bit headcovering obsessed at times. In my mind, there should be the elusive ultimate headcovering...the one I can throw on with any outfit and have it be perfection. Thus, my drawers full of oblong scarves, square scarves, snoods, kerchiefs, etc. Thus, the wide variety in tying styles with each day a completely different scenario.

It came to me near the end of Lent that I had to let that dream die. There is no perfect headcovering for me. There is no one piece of fabric that will make it all click. That won't happen, because it's not about the covering. It's all about me. I'm not ready to be satisfied with my appearance. I'm not ready to truly let my vanity go.

Do I worry about headcovering constantly? No. Does it keep me from living my life? No. Once I decide on a covering for the day, I'm committed, and I go about my business without anymore thought. I just have moments when I'm deciding which scarf matches which skirt that often drag on far too long. I tie and re-tie, checking every angle in the mirror and frowning at the result. I surf the internet searching for more and more coverings or more and more tying styles. I have my moments...

Before I lapse into headcovering despair though, I try to embrace the ebb and flow of perspective. Life is not concrete. It is an ever-changing landscape of point of view. Each moment changes our view on the next moment. Headcovering is not the end all and be all. It is the tool that gives me perspective. As I am not saved in one moment, but am being saved as I work out my salvation, I am also only in the middle of the headcovering process. I know I'm past the beginning, but the end is somewhere I can't even focus. I just live in the jumbled in-between, where I fall down and get back up. Fall down and get back up. I want to gain humility with headcovering. I am not there yet. I want to gain gentleness of action and spirit with headcovering. I am not there yet. I want to have a joyful, obedient spirit with headcovering. I am not there yet.

BUT...I'm working out my issues with headcovering. The issues that are all about me. My vanity. My lust for power. My selfishness. Those passions die slowly, and they don't go down without a fight. Headcovering is a process. It is not a solution.

Yesterday, we went to the beach at the lake for the first time this season. Ridiculously warm and unseasonable weather. Even though the water temps of Lake Erie still register in the 40's, we wanted to sit by the shore, dig in the sand, and pretend it's summer. What on earth was I going to wear? Last year, I used lake visits as an excuse to dump the whole headcovering, modest dress experiment. I wore shorts and and a revealing tank top. No headcovering. I can't do that anymore. That whole perspective thing...

I settled on digging out one of those skirts that are just too short this year and one of my much-neglected kerchiefs. I made sure we didn't need to stop anywhere, even just to get gas, because I didn't want to go into a store that uncovered. I felt lost and confused. What was this all really about anyway? Could I still be me with my knees showing? Who was I if I didn't meet that long list of standards I've worked so hard to create? As I left the house, my choice of dress and covering had absolutely nothing to do with prayer and humility. It was 100% about me and my self-focus.

We arrived at the lake, and I was still wandering. Feeling a bit like a freakish, obsessed fanatic, I traced figures in the sand with my finger by the edge of the water. Suddenly, two young women appeared with their small children. I almost couldn't believe it, but they each had on knee-length denim skirts and kerchiefs covering their heads. I laughed out loud and praised God for His goodness and His sense of humor. I needed a little encouragement, and He knew just how to provide it.

Yes, I'm on a journey, and I have my standards for myself, but I have to keep it all in perspective. Every woman is on a journey. For most, headcovering doesn't even factor into their lives at all. This is my moment. This is where I travel. It's not about how much or how little fabric. It's not about whether my scarf matches my skirt. It's about me. And God. And perspective.

So, my prayer today is that I will cover for God. Not for myself. Knee length or ankle length. Oblong or square. God, help me to plant gentleness. To nurture humility. To cultivate obedience. One moment at a time. your mercy.