The true, beautiful, wide, wise face of motherhood

the true face of motherhood -


I’m still reeling.

Even two days later, I have that buzz of excitement about me. That walking-on-air feeling.

I’ve just come home from Jen and Hallie‘s Edel Gathering in Austin.

Usually, after any fabulous trip or event, there is that feeling of euphoria. The ‘top of the mountain’ high. The “But Lord, it is GOOD to be here.” Coupled with the “Please. Please, don’t make me leave!”

Except, the strange thing is, I don’t mind being back home. I don’t mind one bit. Unlike when I was young and picked up from the Texas Hill Country after several weeks at summer camp, or after a total grown-up, get-away vacation, where we all trudge through the doorway and wish with all our hearts we were still where we were…. It’s not like that now. After these three days, spent with women from all over the country,
I think we all knew, whether we liked it or not, that the whole point was to go home.

Several beautiful women shared messages with us. And they gave us words that I’d like to tattoo to my heart. Words are powerful, ladies, and I thank you for yours:

As Marion shared, we need to remember and remember and remember again that we are not alone. We are able to go home and be free. To go home and love. Love unfailingly. The Church gives us the ultimate place of true, authentic freedom. So, we make our hearts large with thanksgiving for this Church we love so much, with all its vastness and freedom to be who we are as individuals, however our motherhood looks for us. And we have confidence that it is good and well-done.

As Haley shared, her bright red lips and tattoos shining – our motherhood does, in fact, change us. Let’s not pretend it shouldn’t. But it doesn’t wear us away to nothingness. It doesn’t rid us of anything but our worldliness, our sinfulness and selfishness. Our motherhood teaches us to love, and enables us to love outside ourselves in ways we never though possible. After all our worldliness and sinfulness falls away, we are left with our TRUE selves! That “me” the God has always intended us to be. From the very beginning.

As Jen shared, we have to realize and accept that what we do here as mothers is HARD. Freaking hard. That we might feel alone, or weird, or outcast, but we’re not. And even if we were, it is worth it. Because we are building cathedrals. Little solid masterpieces, stone by stone, stack by stack, mortar by mortar. We brush away the dust, we sit on the hard cold floor, alone, often, amidst the rubble of our attempts. But we are not building monuments to ourselves. We know that God sees. And that makes all the difference. We join with Him to make something beautiful for the world. Now we have a place, my sisters – invisible though it might be. We join together, wherever we are “with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.  ‘The Invisible Woman” by Nicole Johnson

So, after years of thinking that maybe I’m the only one, even in a community full of fabulous women, I know that I’m not. I saw so many facets this weekend, and I know there are so many more of us who couldn’t be there. Different women, different paths to motherhood, different ways of living, working, loving, suffering. Women who sat quietly in the back with a soft grin across their lips. Women who rocked babies with that gentle bounce from foot to foot. Women swelling with new life within them, and women suffering infertility. The shy women, whose ideal evening was sitting in an armchair in the lobby making one new friend and the bold women who rocked the mic at karaoke and shredded the dance floor.

And whether you were there or not, it doesn’t really matter. Because the message was for all of us. It is good to be here, as Hallie reminded us when we arrived.Right here, in this hard, beautiful mess of a spot. God wants you right where you are. And He wants YOU, with all your desires and inspiration, your passions and gifts and thoughts. He doesn’t want you to pack way your ‘self’ so that you can be some cookie-cutter woman of the Church. Because in the Church of God’s heart, there are no cookie-cutter anythings. We are each created unique and unrepeatable. As individuals, as women, as mothers, as wives. So, live it up, ladies. You can be you and be holy. They are not at all at odds.

Whether we work or stay home, home school or public school, go organic or go drive-thru, nine children or infertile, aged twenty-one or sixty-one. No matter, this weekend, I think we all saw the true, beautiful, wide, wise face of motherhood in the Church.

And oh, how stunning she is. All the facets. A gem is all but nothing without its facets.

We shine, ladies. We shine.


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  1. says

    Absolutely beautiful capture of the main points of Edel. I’m inspired and I wasn’t there. But all that I’ve read, especially your post, makes me want to make it next time!

  2. says

    What a beautiful recap! Thanks for sharing! wish we could have had more time to chat but I love that even though we may not have, we’re bonded by the experience and being a Catholic mother :)

    • Lauren says

      Yes, Kelli, it was so great to meet you! We’ll be sure to grab a cup of coffee next year, alright?!

  3. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! And especially the cathedrals link – I’ve been so confused by all the very cryptic “building cathedrals” talk from various attendees on social media, and I figured I would have to wait for the Edel talks to be made public, but now I feel like I understand more :)

    • Lauren says

      Very true, Rosie! I was confused at first, too – and I was THERE! Maybe I was just too tired! :) I’ve already ordered the book, ‘The Invisible Woman’ and cannot wait to read it.

  4. says

    I absolutely love this! This is the best reflection on Edel I’ve read yet. And I love how you make the point that the whole purpose is to go home. I really hope I can go to the next Edel if there is one. Thanks for letting me live vicariously.

    • Lauren says

      There were so many that couldn’t make it, for whatever reason. I do hope you have a chance to go someday. But, we can support each other regardless, right?

  5. Megan says

    Sounds wonderful! From all of the recaps I am reading, it seems like it was a gathering just for bloggers. Where there blog-readers there too? If so, were they “in” on everything like the bloggers were? Just wondering as I hope to attend in the future and have no blog, but dont want to feel like an outsider!

    • Lauren says

      Hi Megan,
      No, it wasn’t just a blogger meetup. I guess you’re reading recaps by bloggers, because, well, they’re bloggers… but there are PLENTY of ladies that were there that are not and have no desire to be bloggers. One of the many lovely things at the event was that we were all EQUAL. There was no celebrity status. We were all just ‘Edel ladies’. I’d walk by Jen and say, “hey!” Hallie would walk by and say “good morning”. We were all just there, together, spending time. Honestly, one of my fears was that it would be like one very bad Catholic Sorority Rush. Well, fears denied. It was so much the opposite!

  6. Jena says

    Such a perfect recap, I feel like I can print it out and refer to it when I want to remember what the weekend was all about. I feel like the feeling of the weekend was imprinted on my heart and I could feel the Holy Spirit (or at least that’s what I think was causing me to continually be choked up ;), but I wasn’t able to remember the words to go along with it. Thank you!

    • Lauren says

      Ha! I’d love a book full of everyone’s memories. Now that would be an awesome souvenir! Thank you for reading, Jena!

  7. says

    I was sad that I was unable to attend. I thought that I would feel like an outsider once all the Catholic mom bloggers started writing about Edel when they returned home. I am very happy to say that did not happen. All the posts I have read have included those of us that could not attend in them – making sure we knew that we were part of the group!
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful post, and sharing your weekend with us! And I am happy now to understand the “building cathedrals” comments, too! :)

  8. says

    Hi – I did not go to Edel, in fact, I’m not even Catholic (yet…but possibly soon), but I’ve recently been getting acquainted with a bunch of Catholic mom blogs and learned all about this Edel thing. Hopefully, maybe, someday I’ll attend one, as it sounded amazing.

    Oh, and I’m from Texas as well. Though I live in CA now… Just curious, what camp did you go to as a girl? Not Camp Longhorn, by chance? :)

  9. Melissa says

    Perfect recap Lauren. I’m going to read and reread this when my memory starts to fail me. I love your writing.

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