Building a Catherdal

This past weekend was one of the busiest I’ve ever had. So many great things happening all at once. Milestones, like my oldest daughter’s Junior Prom. Traditions, like my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout Camporee. Opportunities, like a booth for selling my paintings. Volunteering, by helping to chair our largest competition. Any one of these things would have made for a full weekend, but having all of them in one weekend??? 
The Prom. I had visions of days long shopping trips looking for the perfect dress having lunch and going shoe and jewelry shopping.  Was I floored when my daughter, as she’s grabbing her bag to head out to school says, “Mom, I want you to make my prom dress. I texted you some pictures. I want it to be blue.” Now, I have made a million dresses for my girls, including cutting up my wedding dress to make it into a first communion dress for them to wear. But Prom???? Such an big event and one that she should feel confident and beautiful. Could I pull that off in a hand made dress?? Throw in a matching bow tie and handkerchief and full on panic and self doubt set in. But she asked, so I could not say no. I called up a very good friend of mine who is a tailor and asked if she would mentor me so I really didn’t mess this up. She was amazing, altering our pattern to fit perfectly, helping me figure out how to add pockets (you HAVE to have pockets!) and just keeping me sane through the whole process. 
As I finished all but the zipper, I held the dress up and was completely underwhelmed and began REALLY doubting myself. Was it too simple? Was the skirt not full enough? Did the straps look right? Will she hate it but feel like now she has to wear it to appease me? I was literally getting sick thinking about it. I held my breath as she slipped the dress on and looked into the mirror. She did one twirl, realized there were pockets and said, “I love it! Do I have to take it off? Can I get a picture in it?”
She had also mentioned in passing that she may have invited a “few” people over to take pictures in front of our barn pre-prom. In my head, I’m thinking 4 or 5 couples, some heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks and lots of pictures. In reality, it was looking like upwards of 50 – 100 people as word spread. I’m always of the mindset, “ The more the merrier,” but how many again??? It was not lost on me that, though, that she loved this little barn so much that she wanted to share it with everyone she could. So began the yard prep…moving wood piles, cleaning up the flower beds and gardens, even resodding some areas near the front of the barn so it looked lush in the pictures.  If I had 10 weeks to do all of it, I still would not get it all done. And then there was the food…not knowing exactly how many were coming over, I planned a decent spread and hoped for the best!
Girl Scout Camporee is a fun tradition that happens the same weekend every year. Because it’s always the same weekend as the girls competition, I make a deal with my youngest that she can go Friday through Saturday and we would pick her up Saturday night (amidst prom festivities) so she could still get a good night’s sleep and compete on Sunday. It’s usually an easy thing to pack for, but this year, it was supposed to be cold and rainy and they were tent camping. Now, I tuck my girls in every night before I go to sleep to make sure their little feet aren’t hanging out getting cold, or they haven’t twisted themselves in the covers. It’s the very last things I see and do before I lay my head down. So the thought sending her off into the cold, wet dark, night in a tent had me spinning…find dad’s sleeping bag from deployments that has the outer rainproof shell and is sub zero rated, bug spray, sunblock (for the rain?!) extra layers, extra sock, find a raincoat, pack a flashlight. I hope she realizes, as she grabs for that last pair of dry socks, how much I lover her.
Shift gears to our dance school’s BIG competition that we hold every year. Not only did I chair the awards committee, I also signed on for a vendor booth to sell my paintings. That meant I needed to have inventory to sell, which, since most of what I do is custom ordered, I did not yet have. That was many many late nights painting, working on look-books, creating order forms, etc. There’s something very peaceful about the process of painting and normally I love it. But having a list of things needing to be finished and knowing there are no shortcuts or fast ways to paint my signs, I was beginning to panic that I would not have enough to sell. Or maybe I wouldn’t sell a thing. It got to a point that my internal chatter just shut off and I just had to get it all done.
So, as you can imagine, towards the end of the week, as I am staring down this big weekend, I, in my most tired state, began to wonder if anyone really appreciated what I was doing. My life was filled minute by minute getting stuff ready, cleaning, cooking, painting, sewing, tucking little feet in at night. But it’s hard not to feel like I’m doing this all for me, if no one really gets it.
And then I read a post a friend shared on Facebook and I realized why I do what I do. The piece is called “The Invisible Mother” By Nicole Johnson ( and is a must-read for any mother or anyone who loves a mother.
It was profound for me in so many ways. In her article, she wrote of the legend of a rich man who came to visit a cathedral while it was being built. He saw a worker carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.” And the worker replied, “Because God sees.”
Building a cathedral…what a perfect analogy. She writes… 
“1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals—we have no record of their names.

2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.”

It put into clear focus for me that all the details that I fret over ARE important and worthy of my time and attention, even if it is lost on others. I may not realize my greatest work of art, my children and my family’s full potential in my life time, but knowing that I have done my best to foster and teach human beings that will make this world a better place is enough.
“No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no last minute errand is too small for Me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become. But I see.”
The prom was fantastic, The pictures were stunning, Camporee was cold and wet, but fun. The competition went smoothly. I sold some paintings. And another stone or two was added to my cathedral.

1 thought on “Building a Catherdal”

  1. You did it!!….as you usually do….in great fashion! Hopefully, the next time around, everything will not come at one time….but, if it does, you’ll do it again remembering the experience of accomplishing all this time. The other thing to remember is to take care of yourself….take time for yourself….in order to be able to do it again (because you are the “Yes, okay, I’ll do it gal!)). Love ya!


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