A Knight in Shining….blue jeans?

Romance.  Sigh.  Romance.  Its something that no girl can live without.  No. Really.  We can’t.  The need for romance is actually part of us.  It is a deep psychological need that all women have, and it begins to show itself in girls as young as age 4!  Nope, I am not making this up hoping hubby reads it and buys me flowers (although I certainly wouldn’t complain!)  In a presentation given in 2004 Dr. Phillip Mango (www.saintmichael.net) discusses the needs of men and women, and one of the needs of women is Romance.

Think about it.  From a very early age what intrigues most girls?  Princesses.  And what happens to princesses?  Handsome princes come, rescue them, sweep them off their feet, and then marry them to live happily ever after.  Isn’t this what we all want?  Maybe we aren’t in a dungeon or a high castle tower, but we very well could be ‘trapped’ by piles of laundry and domestic chores (hmm Cinderella anyone?)  Maybe the wicked, evil queen isn’t plotting our demise, but our mothers or mothers in law could have an unhealthy or even hurtful relationship with us.  (Snow White, perhaps?)  Maybe we need to be rescued from work, from ourselves, or from a hurtful relationship.  Maybe we feel forgotten, or maybe we are just waiting to be swept off our feet!  There is a reason that these stories are timeless and appeal to us from age 3 until 103 (or older!).  It is because they touch us on deeper level than we realize.  It is because we need Romance.

Sadly many of us feel that we have to make do without.  We may even try to convince ourselves that we don’t need it.  Perhaps it’s because you are single.  Maybe its because you are in one of the “for worse” times of your marriage.  It’s possible that your boyfriend or fiance just doesn’t want to try so hard…whatever the reason, to deny that we need romance is only deluding ourselves and nothing good can come from it. 

So what then are we to do?  Romance afterall can be risky – we risk getting our hearts broken and trampled on by the white horse our prince charming is supposed to be riding.  Thats a pretty scary thought.

And lets face it, none of us are really expecting a tall, dark and handsome prince charming.  I think we’d all settle for a Knight in Shining Blue jeans to rescue us from housework and take us out to a movie – after telling us how beautiful we were of course.  And I’d take the minivan over a white horse if it meant being romanced a little!  But what if even that hope seems a little too unrealistic right now?

Well, I have good news!  God created you with this need (yes, need, I am not overemphasizing here) for romance, and therefore we can safely assume that HE would be able to fill it.

Think about it; it would be awfully cruel for God to create us with a need and then to deny us that very thing we need, wouldn’t it? “But I am single!”  “I am in a rough spot in my marriage.”  “My fiance doesn’t care about romance right now.”  “My boyfriend thinks romance is for girly-men.”  My dear reader, the first thing you can do is communicate your need.  We have to be fair to our men because many of them have never learned how to romance a woman (and some don’t know that we want them to!) – so we must communicate our need with love and be patient.  Then we give it to God.

“Oh, thanks, Laura, that really helped.”   I’m serious.  We have a God who is crazy-go-nuts about us!  He WANTS to Romance us!  I like how Stasi Eldredge explains it in her book Captivating  God is a gentlemen”  and he would therefore never force Himself on us, or force romance on us.  But all we have to do is ask!  Its sounds too simple doesn’t it.  We ask God to Romance us, and He will, but its true.  He is just waiting for you to ask!   You see, sadly its been too many of our experiences that men will fail us, abandon us, hurt us.  Maybe it was a father-figure, maybe a boyfriend, a husband, a brother, regardless of who, thanks to the Fall (in the Garden of Eden…apple……yeah, that Fall)  we women are most likely going to be hurt by a man.  The sad part is that we tend to put this onto God.  We then begin to be fearful of Him, to mistrust Him, or to guard ourselves from Him.  In reality, all he wants to do is show us just how much He truly loves us!

I have personally had this experience.  I didn’t really believe that God would romance me, but I was sorely lacking in the “feeling romanced’ department so I took the bait.  “OK, God, if you really want to romance me, I could use some..so go ahead……and God, I hope this works!”  (really eloquent on my part, don’t you think?)  Well, later on that day I took my kids to the grocery store.  On our way back into the car to go home my daughter, who was 4 at the time, looked at the sky and said, “Look Mommy, God painted the sky – He wanted to show us how much He loves us so He painted it pink and purple for us!”  Sure enough I looked at the sunset and it was absolutely gorgeous.  It made a Kinkade painting look like the work of a toddler.  I just stood there with my mouth hanging  open because in that moment as my eyes drank in God’s beauty, my heart was touched by His love.  I knew He was answering my half-hearted prayer. 

Another time it was near Christmas.  I was burnt out, broke and needed Christmas presents for my children.  I had had it.  My husband was out late at a choir rehearsal and I went into my bedroom and I just lit into God.  “OK God, you are supposed to be romancing me!  I don’t feel romanced.  I feel stressed out, and worried because I don’t have any Christmas presents for the kids and I can’t afford them.  So where is the Romance, God?!  When you romance someone you give them gifts.  Where are my gifts?  (by now I am crying and ‘whisper- screaming’ – the kids were in bed!)  C’mon God, you want to romance me?  Where are my gifts!?  Thats what you do when you romance somebody – and I don’t have any! WHERE ARE MY GIFTS!?”  Ok so I admit it wasn’t the most rational moment of my life, and I am glad my husband wasn’t there to witness my near-hysteria, but thank God He is so patient!  Well, about 20 minutes later my husband came home from choir and he was hauling these two huge – I mean HUGE – garbage bags.  “What are those?”  I asked him.  “I don’t know,” he said “so-and-so from choir told me to come to her car afterwards because she had something for us.  She gave me these and said that the Church decided to give them to us and that I couldn’t open them without you.”   By now I was darned curious so he handed me a bag and said, “Go ahead, open it.”  I opened the bag and looked inside.  I was absolutely speechless.  It was full of gifts.  Gifts.  So was the other one.  From the Church.  For Christmas.  For the kids – and even a few for my husband and I.  I recall my eyes filling up with tears and sitting on the floor muttering, “Gifts…He gave me gifts.   He really did it.  He gave me gifts.”  I think my husband thought I was going crazy.  It turns out that the Church made us the recipients of their giving tree and all the gifts inside for were children our kids’ ages, and for adults in Chris’ and my sizes.   I still get choked up when I think about how profoundly God touched my heart that night – despite my screaming at Him!

You see, God knows what will touch your heart.  Maybe it’s a sunset.  Maybe its a passage from a book that you happen to read.  Maybe its a beautiful rainbow.  Perhaps its something no one else would understand – but you do.  (Like lately God has been sending me frogs.  I know, weird, but I love frogs and lately whenever I have needed a “God-hug”  a little frog will find its way to my feet and I just know its His way of telling me He loves me!)

You see, because knows us so well – He did create us afterall – He can Romance us perfectly.  He knows what will speak to our hearts at any given time.  Be it a Rose blooming in winter (yup, happened), a rainbow at precisely the right time (also happened), or even a frog, He wants to give us beautiful gifts and messages that Romance us and remind us that He is totally in love with our beautiful feminine hearts. 

So until that Knight in Shining blue jeans shows up and sweeps you off your feet, or until he at least gets off the couch and Romances you a little, you can rest assured that God will fill in the gaps – when the romance runs a little low, He is glad to fill you with His beautiful gifts and shower you with His beauty.  Let’s face it, our men are human. How generous of God to pick up the slack when our Prince Charmings are a little less than charming, and to fill our beautiful, feminine need for Romance. 

(and ladies, let’s not give up on our Knights in Shining Blue Jeans…they are out there, and if you are married to one, God will work on him – maybe he just needs a new set of armor…I mean jeans 😉

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Scientifically Female?

 “…The only way to understand persons is by Catholic anthropology, united with indisputable evidence in science, including that of psychiatry and psychology.”  This was said by our late Holy Father, John Paul II.  He was asking that the scientific community direct its efforts towards making some profound advances in our understand of how we are created, male and female.  And you know what?  It has.

PET scans, brain wave,scans; amazing technology that allows doctors and researchers to see inside our brains and minds like never before have allowed these scientists to paint an incredibly clear and detailed picture of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness.’  This is great news for us – it means that there really is something behind this femininity thing, and that you know what, boys and girls really are different!  This is not such great news for those individuals who, for whatever reason ( most deserving of our compassion), would like to believe that they can choose their own gender, or that they could have an operation and – poof –  become the other sex.  You see, what these scientists have discovered is that there is much more than just anatomy that makes us men or women, male or female.  I am looking forward to discussing some of these findings here with you.  I will do my best to support them with citations etc – so you know that I am not just making stuff up, and so you too can become confident in articulating some of the amazing scientific discoveries that help us understand who we are as women, and why we are the way we are!

Just one example: why is it that we can talk and talk and talk, and that we feel less stressed afterwards?  Why is it that we can remember just what we were wearing, what the weather was, and where we were when we got our first kiss, or when we were dumped for the first time.  Up until now the answer would just be, “because we are girls, it’s just what we do.”   But thanks to some dedicated scientists and the foresight of a great and holy Pope, we can now say that the reason for this lies in the size of the Corpus callosum (think of a ‘bridge’ in the brain connects the two halves, or hemispheres, and which is responsible for sending information between the two.)  We now are able to understand that this part of the brain is several times larger in females than in males.   And the talk talk talk until you feel de-stressed?  That is because the stress hormone, cortisol, is lowered in our brains by – you got it – verbalizing our stress! 

Conversely, for men, this is exactly the opposite!  For men, sitting quietly, ‘spacing out,’ idling flipping channels in a trance-like state…all these things LOWER the stress hormone in men.  (Ah!  Light-bulb moment!)  Thats WHY he sits there staring at a screen, or at the wall, or whatever, and doesn’t appear to be engaged at all.  He is not.  He is de-stressing!  And that’s how God made him!  Now, here is the ironic part:  do you know what will instantly send his cortisol through the roof?  Yup, talk talk talk talk talk!  (Ever wonder why guys don’t generally spend a ton of time talking to each other – even when they are close friends?)  Does this mean I am advocating not talking to your man anymore?  Nope.  Absolutely not!  One of the beautiful things about all this new research into our male and female-ness is that it allows us to understand each other better – and to know what the other needs.  It can, in my opinion, lead to greater complementarity of the sexes!

Now, armed with this knowledge, perhaps you won’t get so upset the next time your hubby is ‘zoning’ in front of ESPN.  And if he understand how your brain works, he will respect yourneed to talk and to verbalize.  Now the two of you can work out how to best meet each other’s needs.  “Honey, I know you need some time to zone out, but do you think that I could talk to you about my day (my problem, my shoes…whatever:-) ) in half an hour?  

Presto!  No fight over “You never spend time with me” or “You talk too much”

Hmmm..perhaps there is something to being scientifically female!  We shall explore this some more…….later 🙂

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Back then

Rewind one or two hundred years………….

Its autumn and the women and girls of a small community are all crowded into a big kitchen with pots of water boiling and big baskets of tomatoes waiting to be blanched…its canning day……

A new mother is about to give birth.  Attending her are 2 midwives, her closest neighbor, her sister, mother, and her sister’s teenage daughter….

A group of women sit around a fire each with needle in hand putting the finishing touches on a patchwork quilt while their children play and the older girls help by holding yarn and patches….

Several women and their daughters, all from the same Church, finish placing food on long tables for the Church’s community dinner….

A member of a small rural community is ill.  Several women and their daughters prepare soup and bake bread and then bring it to the sick person….

In a big city the wealthy women are preparing for a ball.  They are all crowded into the large powder room of a mansion getting dressed, putting on make up and adorning themselves with jewels, feathers, and perfume while their daughters and cousins watch with big eyes, wishing they were older…

      These scenarios might sound quaint, and they may conjure images of happy ladies going about the cute, womanly tasks of a bygone era, but they also hold a great truth for us today, and evidence of what it is we are missing in our culture.

Each of these scenarios represents an opportunity for girls to learn and experience what being a woman is all about.  They were opportunities for being immersed in femininity, and it was at times like these that girls could internalize just what being feminine was all about. 

You see, it is very difficult to communicate with words what femininity is and how you know ‘you got it.’  It is not like manhood, which many sociologists and psychologists agree is “Bestowed”  (think of the Native American rituals that involve young boys going out on a hunt all by themselves, and when they return they are declared to be a “Man”…even their own mothers pretend not to know them because they are no longer ‘their little boys.’)  There is no ritualistic passing on of femininity.  Sure, some cultures celebrate the beginning of fertility in a girl, but these rituals are more of an affirmation and a celebration of her blossoming and fulfilling her womanhood, not a bestowing of it.  She isn’t considered to be a “new person”, just a more fulfilled version of the one she was before.

This makes it hard for us to define femininity.  I wish I could sit here and type out, “If you do A and B, then X, Y and Z, with a hop, skip and a jump, presto – welcome to womanhood, you are living out your gift of femininity!”

But no.  Instead we struggle with the idea that we, of course, are female, we are women, and yet we feel a little lost in the femininity department.  “If  I wear pearls and skirts, then will I be feminine?” “Can I be feminine and be a successful businesswoman?”  “What does it mean, this femininity thing?”

Even writing this post I am struggling because femininity is something that is absorbed, its breathed in by little girls as soon as they take their first breathe and snuggle on their mother’s breast.  This breathing in, this absorbtion of femininity continues.  In latter days it wasn’t even thought about because a young girl would almost always be near her mother or another close female relative – until she was married. 

Fast forward to the present. 

Broken homes, day care, afterschool programs, a constant bombardment of messages that all convey the same idea: “You can be JUST LIKE men!”  “You aren’t worth anything if you don’t have a job.”  “You have to be better than a man to get ahead.”  “Its a man’s world, work hard.”  “You can have it all – a career and a family.”   and conversly we are constantly being reminded that in order to a woman worth anything we must  “Be skinny!”  “Be beautiful!”  “Wear the right clothes.”  “Be good in bed.” …need I go on?

What an incredible paradox!  “Be like a man….but be beautiful and skinny too…?”   The problem with all of these messages is that they do not bring us one iota closer to the feminine beings that we really are.  Being Feminine, being a woman is NOT about such superficialities such make- up, earrings, and waist size.  Nor is it about being the CEO in a power skirt-suit.  Womanhood, Femininity is something that exudes from us.  It is mysterious, it is an essence.  It can’t be sprayed on, it can’t be applied.

This is our difficulty.  A few hundred years ago women didn’t even thinkabout trying to define femininity.  It was just who they were.  A girl grew up surrounded by the feminine influence of her mother, her sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, etc.  She absorbed and learned.  She was affirmed and encouraged.  She blossomed.  Nowadays it seems as if we have to fight for our femininity just as much as our neo-feminists fought for the right to act just like men.  ( I say neo-femininsts to refer to those women who today are less concerned with the feminine and preserving womanhood, and the right of equal dignity, and more concerned with besting, beating, and demonizing men).

And so we are back to the question:  What IS Femininity?  How do we know we have it, and why am I so convinced that there is a crisis in our culture that makes it necessary to revive it?

This, dear ladies, is why the Daughters of the Heavenly King exists.  That is why it is structured with the intent of forming a little ‘community’ (the Court) where femininity can be cultivated and experienced and awakened.  As it once was.  Only we are in the year 21st Century and its only fitting that our experiences reflect that.  (C’mon now, you didn’t think I was going to suggest we all stuff ourselves into corsets and spend all day long sewing did you?)

 What is Femininity?  It is your gift.  It is how you were created to be, it is who you are, and it is waiting to be cultivated, and to blossom.  Is there a crisis of femininity?  Yes.  The biggest evidence of that is that I have to even ask the question.  Why is it necessary for us to bring about a revitalization and to reclaim our feminine gift?  For that you must stay tuned 🙂

In the meantime….

Welcome to the Daughters of the Heavenly King!

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A Note to Parents

I would like to address parents who may have children who visit this site.  If I had to give this blog a “rating” I would probably have to rate it PG-13.  This is purely because some of the subject matter is intended for adults.  We are engaging in a discussion of womanhood and femininity and at times this discussion will lead us to exploring themes that deal with our sexuality.  While I shall always endeavor to treat all our subject matter with the utmost respect and reverence that God intended, as a mother I understand that there are themes which you would rather not have your children exposed to before you discuss the subject matter with them first. 

 On the other hand, though, today many 13 year olds have already had more “sex education” than I had in all the years before I was married!  Therefore, they may indeed benefit from a frank, and reverent discussion of their own emerging and blossoming womanhood.  I shall leave that determination to you, the parent. 

~Laura

‘Daughters of the Heavenly King’….huh?

In one word I would say “Movement.”  The Daughters of the Heavenly King” (which we shall sometimes refer to as DOHK or DOK) is a Movement in the Catholic Church that seeks to restore and revive Femininity.

Femininity?  Sounds boring.  Not so!  The problem that so many of us women face is that we have a very skewed vision of what it means to be feminine.  We can try to blame that on anyone we want..feminists, chauvinists, June Cleaver even……but I would lay the blame squarely at the feet of Satan (because thats where it truly belongs).

So, back to the Daughters of the Heavenly King.  What could be more important to our Church and our culture than women who understand what it means to be women??!!  Pope John Paul II says “Our Time in particular awaits the manifestation of that “genius” which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance : because they are human! – and because “the greatest of these is love.”  Wow!  We are created with a genius that, to paraphrase the late Holy Father, our times desperately need us to realize!  Why?  Well, we shall unpack that in later postings…..am I enticing you to read more??  Good, because, Dear Woman, just as the late Holy Father realized that the world needs YOU to be the woman you were created to be, I too believe that you have a beautiful feminine gift.   That is why I created the Daughters of the Heavenly King  (formerly Daughters of the King).

You see, I’ve realized that there are so many of us who want to beautiful, feminine women, but that we don’t know what the really means.  How can we?  Too many of us hail from broken or patchwork families, or had mothers who, God Bless them, pulled double duty – too often pinch- hitting and filling in for an absent or overworked dad.  Some of us come from the generation who created the free love era, when all social norms were broken, and some of us are the offspring of that generation.  Others are of the tech-gen, just coming into our own in a culture that is confused about what it means to be a woman, and what is expected of one.  All of us are bombarded with a false version of beauty and femininity.  Our pornified culture lies to us every day about whether or not we are pretty, and yet one of our deepest desires is to be beautiful and cherished.  What are we to do?  How are we to navigate this age of lies and confusion to arrive at the Truth of who we are as women?

Enter Daughters of the Heavenly King.

To find out more about the Daughters and of the Heavenly King and its Founder, please see the sidebar or visit the “About the Daughters of the Heavenly King” link