May 21, 2016

One of the students sent me an article the other day and while I nearly poked my eyes out with the vulgarity of the writing, the article itself contained some valuable insights.  The article was entitled “The Case Against Female Self Esteem” and due to the excessive crudeness not only within the article, but in the combox as well, I am not going to post a link (you keeners can probably easily find it), but I’ll give you the rundown.  In a nutshell the author listed reasons why strong and confident women are repellant and unattractive.  Women should be insecure – down with all this self-esteem-building stuff – because insecurity is integral to femininity, it leads to vulnerability and vulnerability is paramount within relationships.  So ladies, tell your feminist ideals to shove off, you know that all this independence and confidence is not for you.  He concludes with this quote: “There’s no such thing as a strong, independent woman, only shrews pleading for taming.”  Lets just say this dude is a pot-stirrer, but rather than feel anger at his blatant and unflinching stupidity, I was rather intrigued and pondered his arguments for several days. 

I feel as if he is bemoaning a few caricatures of femininity, the first of which I would call the Post-Modern Feminist.  This type of woman is the direct result of the 60’s & 70’s feminist ideology, with 50 years of simmering.  This woman is hard in more ways than one, driven, eschews all things soft or “feminine” and works to foster qualities within herself that are typically found in men, like compartmentalization, detachment or physical strength.  She’s usually very bright, highly educated, and very often the stereotype includes this type of woman (or should I say woMAN) engaged in political protests of one kind or another.  You’ve seen her in movies these days – there’s always one in every chick flick.  She’s well beyond just being tomboyish or merely playing male-dominated sports.  Her behaviour usually points to a deep-seated hatred of both masculinity and femininity and it seems to me that this is the “strong” and “confident” woman that the author forswears, saying she is repellant and unattractive.  I can’t say I blame him.  There is nothing beautiful about hatred - of oneself or of others. 

Somewhat related, but without the excessive hardness, is the caricature I call the Jersey Shore Woman (as in the show, not the geographical location) and I could see shadows of her in his post.  The Jersey Shore Woman claims everything her hardened ‘sister’ claims, yet doesn’t have the wherewithal, the seething hatred or the drive to be it.  She claims that she doesn’t need a man for anything, except sex and admiration, and so life is spent acquiring one or four of them because…she has “needs”.  If she does fancy a man, it’s only as one fancies a diamante-encrusted pair of shoes or a Louis Vuitton handbag because to her, he’s an accoutrement, a fashionable “item” to be used up and discarded when something better comes along.  The relationship is always on her terms, meaning, she is always right and he is always wrong and when he is finally browbeaten into submission exactly as she wants him to be, they can be “happy”.  This type of woman is typically undisciplined, selfish, egotistical, thoughtless, uncharitable and impolite, even though she is much softer and considerably more feminine than her “strong, confident” sister.  But again, it’s also not surprising that the author rails against this type of woman.  Their behaviour, especially towards men, is repellant. 

Being disgusted with the Post-Modern Feminist and the Jersey Shore Woman, the author does what we all do at one time or another: champion the polar opposite of that which has hurt us.   This caricature of femininity I envision as being The Needy Leech.  Fearful, anxious, apprehensive and desperately needy, this type of woman oftentimes has been deeply hurt in the past and isn’t even sure of her own likes/dislikes, but thinks none of it will matter when she finds a man – any man.  When a guy actually steps up and wants a relationship, after her shock subsides the fear and insecurity kicks in and she spends an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to keep him, regardless of whether she likes him or even if he’s good to her.  She is excessively insecure and so she builds her world around her man, unable to “be” without him.  She is vulnerability personified; everything about her is exposed not only to him, but also to the world, and she searches for her worth outside of herself.  Predatorial men tend to target this type of woman because of her insecurities – and because she’s so easy to manipulate, flatten and then, when the boredom sets in, eventually leave without a second thought.  She has no idea what she is capable of, what she was made for, and who she truly is, and no thanks to the men in her life, usually doesn’t ever find out.  No wonder the author thinks this type of woman is the best thing since sliced bread – she would worship the ground her man walks on and is so self-effacing that she would require nothing in return.  What man wouldn’t want that?   

If you’re a lady reading this, and you see a little bit of yourself in each one of these stereotypes, don’t be alarmed.  I see a bit of myself in each of them too and that, as I came to understand, is precisely my point.  All caricatures contain a fragment of reality wrapped within scads of exaggeration.  Real femininity, as God meant it to be, is all of these ideals, but none of them to an extreme.  Women are meant to be hard and soft.  Think of Mother Theresa who was so hunched over she barely stood up past four feet, yet she uncompromisingly challenged presidents and kings to better themselves and their countries, to defend the lowly and the unborn and spent her life pouring herself out to making dying beggars more comfortable by meeting their needs.  We’re supposed to fight fiercely - for our families, for the voiceless and marginalized, yet at the same time foster peace and humility in our homes. Sometimes we must pick up the sword, like Joan of Arc or Judith did, and sometimes we must pick up the broom, just as the Blessed Mother did.  This is what it means to be truly feminine, to be a woman. 

But more importantly, I do believe that women are meant to be vulnerable – but that vulnerability should never, ever be based in fear, self-doubt or insecurity, but rather anchored firmly in the Lord.  When we are utterly sure that we are loved right down to our very DNA, that nothing we say or do will ever dry up the wellspring of God’s unconditional love for us, we are then able to love others while still respecting ourselves.  Yes we are vulnerable, but selectively so; only opening ourselves up totally to God, and then by degrees to our spouse, spiritual director, friends, family, children and then the general populace.   We are meant to be confident in who we are as Daughters of The Father, not in the handbags we own or what we’ve accomplished or who we’re dating, and then, with the Father’s stamp of approval on our being, we can find an honest strength and humble joy within ourselves.  Men can then be understood to be equals in dignity and stature, yet gifted in opposite measures, and a vibrant, life-giving love (with vulnerability being mutual) can be shared not only with each other, but with those around us as well. 

I feel as though the author misses the entire point of a relationship - mutual self-giving - but instinctively knows only that vulnerability is essential to them.  In that much, he was absolutely correct.  For any relationship to work, even a friendship, there must be some amount of vulnerability.  But he couldn’t have been more wrong in just about everything else – or more tasteless in his delivery.  I’m not quite sure if this author would recognize the truly feminine if he saw her, he seems a bit too jaded.  But I am grateful for his post, and others like it, because the off-your-rocker ideals are slowly refining my own ideals of what it means to be a woman.  So Vulgar-Woman-Hating-Dude, thanks a bunch and don’t lose hope.  We’re out there.  

Signed one Intentionally-Vulnerable-Yet-Happily-Secure Woman. 

May 19, 2016
The following is a post written by monthly contributor Alexa.  

Hope is a radical virtue, one which I never thought about before.  But it really takes courage to hope. 

It takes courage to hope that the best things are in future.

It takes courage to hope that God wants the best for you.

It takes courage to hope that God will give you the strength to get through another day. 

It takes hope to believe that the desires in your heart will be fulfilled. 

 This last one is a real struggle to believe - that God will fulfill our desires, whether our hearts desire a religious vocation, to be a wife or husband, to have children, or to find a dream job. Or perhaps we desire the conversion of a loved one, the health of someone we love who is sick, or something of that sort.  Whatever the desire may be, the courage to hope that our longings will be fulfilled is a hard thing. It’s so much easier to give in to depression, to cynicism and bitterness. It’s easier to believe that the desires or dreams we long for will never come to pass. It’s safer to be the cynic than to be the dreamer. We risk nothing by not hoping. We risk nothing by believing chastity is impossible and giving in to the culture of contraception, porn, and abortion. We risk nothing by believing we can’t be better then we are, so why hope? We risk nothing by hating the person who has hurt us, instead of hoping for our conversion of heart as well as theirs. 

 Hope demands us to change, it demands us to be better, it demands we make a better world around us, it asks us to risk what we have for something supremely better. 

Hope is a radical virtue because it takes away all our power, and places it in the hands of a power beyond us. Even if you did not believe in God the virtue of hope is the belief that there is something better, something more beautiful, something absolutely true, something beyond death. Every human heart longs for hope, which is longing for God, even if they don’t know it. Every human heart calls out to a power outside themselves when they hope. Hope answers yes to the question,  "is there something better than the life I am living right now?" 

The most marvelous example of hope is Mother Mary.  She had hope that she would be okay - even when she radically said yes to being an unmarried, pregnant virgin.  She hoped that her Son was okay - even when she lost Him in the temple.  She dared to hope that her Son could somehow make wine appear at a wedding, when it seemed impossible  She had hope even when she held the body of her Son.  With tears in her eyes she dared to hope that death would not have the final say.

Hope places trust in God, it demands that we admit we don’t know what is best. It demands that we hope and trust in God’s will for our lives. It demands living a life that is different - demanding, but oh so joyful, because hope demands that we always believe that there is something better around the corner.  Living in hope scares us - we could look foolish, we could be wrong - and yet living with hope changes our hearts, minds, and the people around us. It is a virtue that is demanding and rewarding, all in one. Hope demands that we wait on God’s timing.  It demands that we believe that tomorrow is not just another day, but it's the day that we live a little bit better, the day that we change a little bit more, the day we grow closer to the person we're meant to be.  It's the day that brings us a bit closer to the desires we long to be fulfilled, and closer to the One who has put this hope in our hearts. 

 I can’t wait for tomorrow - it’s going to be a beautiful day!

May 10, 2016

Recently I sat through the first three movies of the Twilight Saga – the teenybopper dramas based on novels that came out years ago (I know I’m behind) that delve into the lives of heartthrob vampires, their werewolf counterparts and the angst-ridden teenagers who fall in love with them both.  Although on the surface the movies were just as shallow as I expected them to be, for me, they were a fascinating look into the teenage mind. 

The films are dark – in the literal and figurative sense.  Vampires apparently don’t “do” sunlight so much of the movies are filmed with the sun obscured by clouds or in the actual dark.   But not only that, the main vampire, Edward, is portrayed as a typical teenager, but with atypical levels of angst.  He’s a conundrum, really, a vampire in agony himself.  He doesn’t feast on humans, as vampires are wont to do.  He is very much afraid of himself and the darkness he knows is contained within him.  He can’t really have friends – or girlfriends for that matter – he outlives everyone he’s ever known and is very afraid of hurting someone he loves.  He’s broody, moody, never sleeps, rarely smiles and walks around weighted down by the cares of his situation in life and the world around him.  Did I mention this was a love story? The films centre around Edward, who throws caution to the wind (spoiler alert) when he falls in love with a non-vamp teen, Bella, and though he fights himself, and her really, by trying to do right by her (he leaves for a time thinking it would be better for her to love someone else), he is mistaken and they are reunited in a love stronger than it was before.  

I remember reading reviews about the films when they first came out – many in different religious circles were thrilled about one aspect of the storyline in particular.  Edward and Bella do not sleep together before they are married.  Seems as though it was a conscious decision, in the movies at least.  Edward was born and raised in different time period, a more noble time really, where men were chivalrous; protecting women from that which can harm them (including the men, themselves), asking for a woman’s hand in marriage and then appealing to her father, and getting to know a girlfriend/fiancĂ©e well by in-depth communication before marriage and reserving physical intimacy for afterwards.  It’s all there, in the films.

But there was something more to the relationship between Edward and Bella.  I was enthralled with the love story.  I began to not only root for but yearn for them to be together – and considering how dark the movies were I surprised myself by how the storyline drew me in.  I generally don’t watch flicks like this….werewolves, vampires and the darkness contained therein interest me exactly zero.  But there was strength buried somewhere in this love story, a powerful and distinct undercurrent of truth that pervaded the narrative.  I contemplated it for several days afterwards and finally touched down. 

In her book Captivating Staci Eldredge describes her longing to be romanced: she desperately wanted to be the heroine in an adventure, she wanted to be remembered, deeply love and rescued by the hero.  She says, “One of my favourite games growing up was “kidnapped and rescued.”  …To be the beauty, abducted by the bad guys, fought for and rescued by the hero – some version of this had a place in all our dreams.  Like Sleeping Beauty, like Cinderella, like Maid Marian, or like Cora in Last of the Mohicans, I wanted to be the heroine and have my hero come for me.  …I simply loved feeling wanted and fought for.  This desire is set deep in the heart of every little girl – and every woman.  Yet most of us are ashamed of it.  We downplay it.  We pretend that it is less than it is.  We are women of the twenty-first century after all – strong, independent and capable, thank you very much.  Uh-huh…and who is buying all those romance novels?” 

I’ve been married for 12 years (as of last week) and I still long to be romanced, to know that my husband loves me and that he will show up and fight for me just as much as he did when we got married.  Those desires don’t just disappear over time, they only seem to get stronger as we age and end up needing more and more from those around us.   The Twilight Saga brings a woman’s deep longing to be loved and fought for sharply into focus.  In fact Edward’s loyalty and his heightened sense of concern for Bella’s safety is what draws her to Edward in the first place. He goes to great lengths to save her – appearing to her from across the world to warn her of danger and enlisting the help of his mortal enemies to save her from impending death. And every female watching sighs from the romance of it all.  For a generation of young millenials who see themselves as independent, as women who don’t need men, and certainly don’t need to be rescued or fought for, these movies certainly made a killing (grossing over $3 billion dollars worldwide).  What young women are saying is one thing, but where they are putting their money says something altogether different. 

And just why are women ashamed of their deep desire to be loved and fought for?  Perhaps because the pervading ‘wisdom’ of the day says that only the strong, salient hero-types matter, and everything (and everyone) else is rubbish.  It’s unfortunate but true – at some point in the last 50 years, according to Alice von Hildebrand, physical strength became glorified and weakness was looked own upon as proof of inferiority.  Accomplishments, feats, performances and success became overestimated and distorted the hierarchy of values - such that femininity and it’s requisite virtues became despised and the masculine attributes, hyper-valued.  So, in essence, the one being fought for has come to be seen as the weak, helpless and stupid one, unable to save herself and others.  Who in their right mind wants to appear weak and stupid?  Not me.

And yet, the tension remains within us.  Women, at least the majority of us here in North America, are not physically weak, stupid or helpless, yet each of us still desires to have the hero show up and fight for us, to be remembered and loved beyond our imagination. 

And so we are:

“My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
…Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the crannies of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:10-12, 13-14

Striking, isn’t it, that a passage of scripture written at least a thousand years ago can still be as thrilling as that?   The Lord speaks these words into our hearts, every day, in all kinds of ways - even as we watch a wretched angst-filled vampire strive to love his non-vampire girlfriend as perfectly as he is able.  The story never gets old because real and true, unconditional, sacrificial love never gets old.  It’s what makes life sweet and worth living, and it’s a story that draws me in every single time.   

I haven’t seen the last two movies in the Saga, but I’ve heard they’re the ones where Bella and Edward marry and have a baby - a perfect ending (or starting?) to a beautiful love story.  Perhaps I’ll get to see them, perhaps I won’t.  But regardless, these films were just another small reminder that I’m living my own love story – and I’m not talking about the one with my husband.  I’ve had a life full of perfect, unconditional, sacrificial love from start to finish with the God who made me. 

March 21, 2016

Hi Lovelies!

We do not have advertisements here on TFG, and don't plan to in the near future.  But sometimes good things come along and it's important to spread the word.

The New Evangelization Summit is just such a thing.

We Christians cannot live hiding ourselves away, hiding what Christ has done for us!  We cannot find the pearl of great price and cover it up with something.  The Church exists to tell everyone about Jesus Christ and about the good news of what he has done for us - which is truly amazing and awesome.  And the New Evangelization Summit helps us get there.

Last year I was not able to go, but I did hear the talks and was struck to the core by one talk in particular.  Michael Dopp, in his talk, asked everyone in the crowd what they were going to tell their co-workers on Monday when they were asked what they did that weekend?

"Are you going to tell them about the movie you watched on Sunday night?  Are you going to tell them about the restaurant you went to on Friday after the Summit?  Or are you going to tell them you spent the weekend learning about how to talk to everyone about Jesus and open up a conversation about the Lord and his work?"

I have so done that.  I've spent full weekends on retreat and then, when asked, I told the person about the one non-religious thing I did that weekend.  I really have work to do - and I don't think I'm alone in this!

So here's my little advertisement.  There is one main venue in Ottawa, Ontario - but the really cool thing about the New Evangelization Summit is that there are 32 host sites around North America that will have a simultaneous webcast.  So if you're in Lafayette, LA or Vancouver or Saskatoon or Michigan Centre, yay for you because there's a host site nearby!

Check out for more information and to buy tickets.

And happy evangelizing my friends!
March 11, 2016

The following is a post written by monthly contributor Alexa.  
(I was supposed to post this in February - and completely forgot!  Sorry Alexa.)

So it's February, which is a slightly better month than January.  However it is still a chilly month. It also is the month of St. Valentine’s day making it a month that sadly does not celebrate the wonderful martyr St. Valentine, nor does it celebrate what love is all about. It’s mostly an excuse for sentimental hoo haw (you heard me - hoo haw) that has nothing to do with the real and rich nature of sacrificial love. Rather it’s all about buying some ugly stuffed animal and some chocolates - because nothing says I love you like a plush polar bear holding a heart?!  

Anyway I digress, if you're a cynic like me and like to see real romance, try these six films that will renew your hope in real love and ditch the sentimental clap trap.


What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!


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