7 months ago

Edel 2017 Recap

I’m back home, from a whirlwind weekend in Texas at Jen & Hallie’s Catholic women’s Edel Gathering, eating at my usual v v late mom-breakfast-hour of 10:30 and it is totally fine. 

Every spoon in the house is dirty, Jude presented me with a nice full diaper asap, Emmett has already had a meltdown about a missing T-Rex toy magnet, I discovered someone found my old mascara and painted the upstairs bathroom with it, Collin and Lexington have given me the dl about who came to visit while I was gone and how much blue colored ice cream + donuts they ate for lunch, and I’m in full-fledged panic mode about ordering their school books for the year. 

It’s so good to be home, back in the trenches of motherhood.

I left them on Friday morning at 3:30am burned out, stress tight in my neck, and preoccupied with every possible variable that could make things go wrong: whether or not I would end up sitting on the airplane in between two large men bathed in aftershave 🤢; if my much-struggled-over box of prints and table display set-up actually made it in one piece to the hotel; if people would even want to buy my artwork at all; all the possible ways things could end in death for myself or Craig and the boys while at home, was this entire trip too self-indulgent? Why do I deserve this? This is selfish… etc. etc…. This was to be my first time traveling completely alone, leaving my husband and four children all at home.

Miraculously –and I mean MIRACULOUSLY– for both flights on my way to Austin, even though both planes were completely full, I ended up with the only empty seat on the plane next to me, made it to the beautiful hotel and was greeted by my roomate, Katrina (she’s here + here too, but I have no doubt you already knew that!).

Best advice: eat dinner, breakfast and lunch with people who are also pregnant and give a platter of nachos the same look you give. 😯

Let me tell you something about meeting friends you’ve made online and come to know over the years IN REAL LIFE: it’s wonderful. And those people are much more beautiful inside and out than they let on via their Instagrams, blogs, and Facebook pages.  Profoundly more beautiful. 

With the inside-and-out beautiful Sharon of Baby My Love. Seriously talented and skilled: she sews, knits, and makes baby moccs!

Every single woman I met over the weekend was a balm to my soul.  They all shared their own worries about coming to Edel, their stories at a depth you just can’t pick up from reading a blog, and oh my goodness INTROVERTS UNITE! SEPARATELY!  The blend of sisterhood was amazing to experience: The joy radiating from each woman was truly a feeling I don’t know how to describe here, but I felt it. 


The tag line for the Edel Gathering this year was “You can sit with us” and yes. I got to sit with them. I had the Big Fat Greek Wedding moment where Tula sits for lunch and has her Wonderbread Sandwich with the girls, because I have absolutely been the Katy Heron sitting in the bathroom eating lunch alone, which even for an introvert, stings a bit. I hope I was for these women what they were for me.  I got so caught up in conversation that I missed taking photos with so many ladies, and ended each evening with my cheeks aching from laughter and smiling so much.

And everyone was enormously generous. As a vendor, I was taken aback by every woman’s readiness to support their Catholic sisters’ businesses.  I love that they cried with me as I shared the story behind my “The most beautiful word I’ve ever heard” print. I love that they lingered at my table just to chat and share and enjoy eachother. 

I LOVED getting to actually shop and touch the products I’ve been admiring online for a long time. I loved learning the stories behind each woman there with her hand-made items: women who’ve lost children, women struggling through health issues, women whose shops are supporting her family while her husband goes through career changes… Providential Co. stood at her table, wearing her 7 WEEK OLD, with her husband at her side.  This lady makes beautiful, intoxicating scented soy prayer candles, AND does the art work covering them.  I am grateful I had the chance to be among them. 

The caliber of vendors at Edel was astonishing (I wish I’d thought to take some photos!). The quality of goods these wives and mothers brought with them was so impressive, worth being able to see in person, and way beyond the cheesy stuff you’ll find in your typical local Catholic shop.  I met a few attendees who were just starting out with their own business and I have to shout from the rooftops: DO IT! START IT! Don’t hesitate! Because what I saw at Edel –the work of mothers who somehow produce these beautiful things in the cracks of their day, between diaper changes, dinner, baths, and clean ups– is remarkable and inspiring and so valuable and so needed in our culture. We need you.

I had the privilege, as a vendor and volunteer helper, to have a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work put into making Edel the kind of event that it was. What Jen, Hallie, and their team of family and helpers did was 1) SO MUCH WORK. 2) Generous in every way. The energy it took from them to put this event on was overwhelming and unfathomable to me.

Each table was prayed over before dinner began on Saturday night. EACH TABLE for 300 women. 

The dinner was delicious. Wedding level delicious, or honestly, better than that. The Texas food was a pregnant woman’s dream. 

The speakers were earth shattering. Mary Lenaburg’s talk touched my heart so profoundly that I’m still soaking in her words and sitting with them on my heart. 

And let me tell you this: for as much “babbling and wagging of tongues” and “recited rote, ritualistic prayers” that Catholics are exhaustingly accused of, the power of hearing 300 women pray the exact same words in unison, together, in prayer is so so so far away from “babbling” or “ritual” than I can imagine. Knowing that you can gather a body of people from all over the country who don’t know each other (we even had a few Canadians in attendance!) and on the spot, each one of us can pray the same prayer together, know its meaning, knowing precisely Who we are praying to is just… what’s that word??? CATHOLIC. UNIVERSAL —there’s nothing else like it. Going to Mass, which is the same no matter where you are in the entire world, seeing these women there, worshipping Christ in the way He instructed us to do… it’s heaven on earth. It’s home. It’s the body of Christ’s earthly and Heavenly Church. 

And getting a chance to share that joy, that catholic sisterhood, motherhood joy with them, sharing that joy knowing so many of them are in their own battles, struggles, grief and brokenness: Priceless.  As Jennifer Fulwiler wrote: it’s a party of women who know that despite everything, ultimately, life has a happy ending in Christ.  

Bro tats & Katrina’s baby bump 💙💙💙💛

I am glad I had a few very full days away to give me a chance to miss my boys, to desire to be back wiping butts and breaking apart bickerings over crayons and who gets the top half of the bagel.  I’m grateful for the privilege of attending Edel after the previous three years knowing it was impossible to ever dream of going. I am grateful to each woman who introduced herself to me. I am grateful for the encouragement from the ladies who could not come, but really wanted to, and I truly felt their absence.  

I am grateful for the internet and the bloggy world.  I started blogging in 2004. Eventually, I discovered there was a whole network of Catholic women bloggers out there, and ultimately, through their kindness, friendship, and God’s will, I found myself in Austin this weekend. 



^^^IG story from Hallie ❤️



  1. SO beautifully shared, Carolyn! Also, the part about 300 women praying in unison…totally got me teary. I’m so glad you were able to go! And, also so happy for all who got to meet wonderful you! I love seeing all the good work Holy Spirit is holding and nourishing!


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