Monthly Archives: July, 2014

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 92 and 93

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It seems that I get slammed on Sunday evening about every two weeks. You’d think I’d have balanced this out by, I don’t know, making a template in advance or something. You would be wrong. So here are two outfits for the price of one post (which I will attempt to keep short…ish).

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Dress: Old Navy
Shirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift

I love the abstract pattern of this dress. I also love that it’s purple, so I could wear it with a purple undershirt instead of the white I usually throw on. Still no painted toenails last week. It just was not a priority. I do love that this neckline allows me to wear a necklace. My mom gave me this one as a Confirmation sponsor gift (for my sister). She doesn’t quite understand my religious involvement level, but she definitely supports it. I own a number of random non-Catholic Christian books due to her. I think she just goes into a LifeWay Christian Store and finds something she thinks I’d like. I love the jewelry; the books, not so muchThere are many Catholics back home, but there are not a lot of Catholic bookstores. Sad times.

For the second week in a row, we had Fr. Associate Pastor. He’s fine (as much as my opinion matters), but I missed seeing our new pastor. I also missed hearing the long form of the Gospel. Due to my long delay in posting, I have no particular thoughts about the homily. Perhaps that is better for both the Internet and my ego.

See, that was so concise. On to this week!

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Dress: super old; I don’t even remember!
Blouse: Kohl’s, I think
Belt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: holy medals
Watch: Charming Charlie
Ring: handmade (not by me!)
Nails: New York Color, Promenade Pink Creme

I wore this dress on Easter Sunday, and I wore this exact outfit to my roommate’s wedding rehearsal. Throwback: I also wore this dress when I was Confirmed, back in high school! It was kind of big and shapeless then. I wore it with a too-big tie-front blouse back then. I think it looks much better like this.

I did my toenails this week! As I was getting ready for Mass, I realized that I had about fifteen minutes of wiggle room, twenty if I really stretched. After about thirty seconds of deliberation, I decided that I could not wear the same white lace flats I’ve been wearing for most of the summer, and I whipped out my nail kit. If you don’t look too closely (which is most of the time, because no one is ever that close to my feet), it’s not bad for a rush job.

When I arrived at the church, I was a little late, but not much. I zipped around my usual getting-settled routine for the days I lector. Then I realized that the scheduled first lector was not showing up. At my particular parish, the first lector reads announcements before Mass and then is seated. The second lector carries the Book of the Gospels in the absence of a deacon and reads the Universal Prayer (“Prayers of the Faithful” got rebranded). When there’s only one lector, he or she usually has to read the announcements, beeline to the narthex to join the procession, do both readings, and come back for the Universal Prayer.

So today, that was me. Whew! At least Fr. New Pastor didn’t make me carry the Book of the Gospels. He did ask me to carry the lectionary, though, which was weird. I had to go all the way to the ambo with it instead of just to the altar, and I had to place and open the book, which is always awkward because processional books are enormous. If memory serves, the lectionary is not supposed to be carried in procession, but I’m a big fan of the “comply, then appeal” method. I have a feeling I will be doing that with Fr. New Pastor, and that he will carry on as he likes. He’s brand-new, though. I’ll give him some time.

I was heartbroken by getting the short form of the Gospel yet again. That’s three weeks in a row. I never want to hear a priest talk about how the only Bible some Catholics ever hear is on Sundays. You had the chance to give them some extra Bible, and you didn’t take it. No complaining!

Fr. New Pastor’s homily was centered around joy, though, which is the reason I remain Catholic (for the joy, not for the homilies on it). He spoke about the farmer and gem merchant as being so overcome by the joy of uncovering a great treasure that they were willing to give all they had to get it. I was hoping he would compare that to the joy of discovering Jesus and doing anything to be with him eternally, but not so much. He did speak about how older Catholics often engage with religion out of a sense of obligation and how that is not helpful. I wanted him to address those of us that got the obligation-free, all-opportunity version, but I guess he hasn’t been that kind of priest, so he hasn’t seen it as much. Maybe. I don’t know. St. Augustine got a shout-out, which made my Augustinian heart happy.

I left Mass thinking about joy. What more could I ask for?

7 Quick Takes on Hydration, Solidarity, and Accidental Mustaches

— 1 —

Oh, hello there! I was pretty good about getting this post ready to roll on Thursday evenings, and then I was not so good. I hope to improve on that, though.

Although I have not improved at blogging, I have improved at staying hydrated. I have just been drinking more water. It’s part of a long-term plan to sleep better and feel better. I think I read somewhere last week that staying hydrated is a good way to sleep better, so I’ve been trying it. My sleep hasn’t improved greatly. Yet.

I’m not trying any particular method, although I like the idea of marking a water bottle to time your water intake. My routine goes like this:

  • half a glass before my breakfast beverage (orange juice or milk)
  • a cup of tea at work, between 8:30 and 10 a.m.
  • 3/4 of a glass after tea, but before lunch (I’m slowly increasing this using the lines on my striped bottle!)
  • about one and a half glasses after lunch
  • two glasses before/during dinner
  • a glass between dinner and bed
  • sometimes an extra glass before bed

For me, the important part is to drink more rather than a set amount. I’m noticing that I respond more quickly when I’m thirsty, I feel better, and the, uh, biological results are showing up. So far, so good!

— 2 —

I went on a really fantastic retreat last Saturday hosted by Austin CNM. It was just a day-long retreat, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed. One of the co-founders, Cris Almanza, was the main and only presenter. He posted the schedule in advance for people who couldn’t stay the whole day. I didn’t preview it and had already planned to stay until the end, and that turned out to be the best method.

I was expecting the retreat to focus more on new media (that’s in the group’s name, after all), but it didn’t really. I haven’t reviewed my notes yet, but I don’t remember there being a whole lot of blog, Facebook, and Twitter talk. There was a lot of Holy Spirit talk, and some spiritual engagement talk, and some Austin traffic talk over lunch. I also learned how to sing yet a third melody for the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

My main takeaway, honestly, was that I can still be surprised by God. As much as I wallow in spirituality, I don’t really know it all, and I love when the reminders are sweet (not the kind of reminder that sends me, moping, to Confession).

— 3 —

I wound up at an accidental mustache party a few weeks ago. Well, the theme was intentional, but I had forgotten there would be a birthday celebration with my trivia team, and I only wore my mustache t-shirt because it went well with the skirt I wanted to wear. Does that make me an accidental hipster?

— 4 —

I’m pretty horrified about what’s happening to Christians under the oppression of ISIS. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be told to convert, pay a bribe, or leave my home (maybe forever). I do know one thing: to stick to what you believe in when your life is on the line is a true test of faith. It’s the definition of martyrdom. It’s one of the reasons St. Maria Goretti is my favorite.

I have a policy of not letting my profile photos be anything besides actual photos of me, but I have no such policy for my blog.

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— 5 —

On a lighter note, two of my roommates from undergrad are coming into town next weekend. I’m excited to see them; one I haven’t seen in five years! I am glad to have a house to invite them to, enough cooking skills that we can have dinner here, and a reliable hangout to visit for trivia. Something about old friends is just so comforting. I don’t have to explain myself to them; I can just be. There’s grace in that.

— 6 —

I suffered serious burnout this month. I refused to plan an Independence Day outing for my church group, I put off birthday party planning so long that the party probably won’t be during my actual birth month, and I almost gave up on organizing an outing to the Zilker musical.

The last straw was when I hosted happy hour for the aforementioned church group. I zipped uptown from work, got to the chosen location early, and proceeded to take up a very large table, by myself, for forty-five minutes before a single other person showed up. I was lonely, embarrassed, and frustrated. I felt so awful that I apologized to our server on my receipt for tying up the equivalent of two tables for so long. She was nice and attentive, but I will not have a good reputation there.

— 7 —

I missed the beginning of the novena to St. Anne. I did the last five days on schedule, and I have started over on day one as of yesterday, her feast with St. Joachim. You can guess why I prayed and am praying it. Today was actually promising in terms of the fruit of my prayers. That is all.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: Letters

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What do you think about letters? Do you ever send them anymore? Do you receive them? Do you just do email and texts instead? Do you miss the days when people used to write letters?

I love letters! I used to send more of them than I do these days. I have my closest friends’ birthdays on my calendar. For the last few years, I sent them a real card in the mail with a letter inside. It felt like a good way to reconnect.

After a couple of years, I stopped sending birthday letters and cards except to my absolute best friends. Very few people ever wrote back, and although they’re still my friends, it didn’t seem like it was worth the effort to send letters without ever receiving any. Maybe that’s not the Christian way to give without counting the cost, but it was making me sad.

I also wrote to my friends who were in seminary and barred from using email. That was nice because I knew I was contributing to their contact with the “outside world,” so to speak. That period is over, though. (Come to think of it, one is still in that season of his life. I should write to him!)

For me, email is about long communication that doesn’t need an urgent response. If I need to hear from someone immediately, I’ll call them. If I’m looking for a response in under an hour or so, I’ll text. (Rapid-fire back-and-forth texting just feels wrong.) For email, two or three days to a week is the best timeframe you can hope for. That’s how I manage my work.

PSA: Don’t complain about how much email you receive. Everyone gets email. If you don’t read that newsletter, unsubscribe. (Don’t click spam just because you don’t want it anymore!) If it’s work-related, you’re going to have to read it. If it’s personal, don’t be surprised if you miss out on something because you didn’t read your email; it is your fault.

I still write letters. I don’t write as many as I used to, but I do write them. No one ever heard of a love email, after all.

Booking Through Thursday: Summertime

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I got that summertime, summertime reading… No? This week of parody videos by Weird Al has got me in the mood for making up songs. It’s a rare mood, thankfully.

Do your reading habits change in the summer?

Now that I have a regular grown-up job, I read the same during the summer as I do during the rest of the year. It’s not very exciting.

When I was still in ministry, we had no programming over the summer, so I had huge swaths of time in June, July, and the first week of August. I went to a training camp after my first year, and I took some classes at the Pastoral Center after my second. Around all that, though, I spent my days reading while pacing around my office. The pacing kept me from falling asleep or being too sedentary. I managed to put away Theology of the Body for Beginners, College Apologetics, Caritas in Veritate, and Lumen Gentium. I stuck with Catholic reading since it was for work, but some TOB, some apologetics, and one encyclical and a Vatican II document isn’t bad for four months of reading!

This summer, I’m wrapping up Gaudium et Spes, which is not as practical as Lumen Gentium but is still good stuff. Anyone else focus a particular genre (if “Catholic” is a genre) in the summer?

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 90 & 91

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Time got away from me last week, but I’m a bit more on top of things tonight. Let’s dive right in.

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Dress: Converse
Undershirt: Old Navy
Skinny belt: Target
Shoes: DSW, I think
Necklace: gift

I’ve worn this dress plenty of times before. I used to only wear it with a white undershirt, but I love the way this bright, berry purple looks under it.

wiwsjul6collage

I didn’t do my toenails this weekend. Again. How do ordinary women find the time for that? I can barely find time to trim my fingernails when they get in the way of typing (on my phone, mostly; I can handle regular keyboards). I still wore these sandals, though. I like the way they look with this dress, and I wanted to try the brown skinny belt as an accessory. I think it looks okay, but I’m not sure I’ll do this exact combo again. Wearing my purple skinny belt would probably have been a better call.

I did like that this neckline allows me to wear a necklace. I own a fair number of necklaces with itty-bitty charms like this one. It made for an awkward conversation, though. We go out to eat after church every week, and when I was in line, the cashier complimented my necklace. Yay! Then she asked what it was. Uhh… This is Texas. I know a bunch of Catholics, but we’re not that common. Not like back home. I said, “Um, communion?” I thought “the Eucharist” would probably confuse her. Maybe that was a missed evangelization opportunity, but maybe it was just my awkward moment for the day. (I’ll pretend that I only have one awkward moment per day.)

Dress note: Due to the particular height of our pews’ book racks, the residual presence of Mass response cards, and the hemline of this dress, it felt awkwardly short. But it’s not short! Well, it’s not long, but it’s not too short for me. It is an appropriately church length, and for me with my personal clothing rules and long legs, that is longer than what many women would wear. Do you ever feel like an old faithful outfit has suddenly betrayed you? Am I the only one who ever thinks about clothing that dramatically?

Last Sunday, when I wore this outfit, was our first week with our new pastor and our new associate. It was New Priest Day. It’s been a while, but I recall that the pastor’s homily was about 30% introduction to him, 70% readings, which is not bad. I wish I could remember more, but this is why my new to-do list is serving me well. I have such a bad memory!

This week’s Mass was today, so I remember that! I also have fresh photos of what I wore.

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Skirt: Mossimo
Top: Target
Shoes: Fergie, Famous Footwear
Scarf: Target
Necklace: holy medals

This was an unusual outfit choice. I was so done with all my dresses this afternoon. It felt like a skirt day, and this one is too fancy for Skirt Day Mondays at work. It’s a bit hard to tell from the photo, but the color has a soft sheen to it. The tag called it “wheat,” but I consider it more of a light gold than khaki. I wanted to wear this olive neutral top, and white shoes, but I needed something to give it a little “pop”. Enter the infinity scarf.

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Not my best mirror selfie, but it’ll do.

More like “invading: the infinity scarf.” I’ve worn it in the standard double loop before, and I almost did that today, but I wanted to give the single loop a try. I think the color match was at least decent, but the length took over my outfit in hindsight. Oh, well. Not every outfit can be a win.

Our associate pastor celebrated Mass tonight, and his homily was not a win. It was going quite well at first. He opted for the short version of the Gospel (which made me a little sad), so I expected him to unpack the metaphor in his homily. As it turns out, his homily notebook had been moved between the morning Masses (there are 3) and the evening Mass (just one), so he ended rather abruptly, saving his explanation for later. He said he had a good story. Maybe we’ll get to hear it in three years.

I hope you had a good Sunday, and that you have a great week!

7 Quick Takes on Harry Potter, To-Do Lists, and What I’m Doing With My Life

— 1 —

Well, I managed to have an entire day off from work in which to write my 7QT post and during which I did no such thing. My talents are not all good.

I didn’t see any particularly hilarious images on Buzzfeed this week, but there is a new Harry Potter story, so that was the best thing I saw on the Internet, hands down. It was the first thing that made me log in to Pottermore in ages. I’m not linking to any of the news reports on it because they’re all biased and totally misreading things. That is a part of the fandom I do not miss.

But as for the story? I loved it. It seemed like the perfect way to write new material: it doesn’t change anything, but it fleshes out the snippets we’ve heard since The End. It is just like all the other new material JKR has been posting on Pottermore the whole time. I guess that since this is a new story about a new time, it drew a bigger audience. Hey, it worked on me!

— 2 —

The Year of Many Weddings has become the Year of Many First Anniversaries in addition to the Year of Many Babies. The first of those anniversaries was in May, but now the summer clump has begun. Since their weddings were on Saturdays, their first anniversaries are on Sundays. What a lovely day to pray in thanksgiving for making it through that first year!

Today is also the anniversary of the couple whose wedding was the first I attended as an adult. I was invited to be in my friend Lyzii’s wedding, but I had to miss it entirely due to graduate school commitments. That is among my greatest regrets, so I was especially gung-ho about going to Nick and Mary’s.

Since those days, I have had to decline invitations to a few out-of-town weddings due to finances. I know this wedding-heavy phase in my life will end soon, and that it came later for me than for many others, but do those pangs of regret for missing out ever go away? Or is it just FOMO and my love of dance parties?

— 3 —

Last week was very quiet. I stayed in for Independence Day. I missed seeing fireworks, but I needed a day to just rest and be lazy. So I watched four episodes of Joan of Arcadia in a row, and it was glorious.

Subsequently, my Saturday was unusually busy. I managed to meet with a new young adult at my parish, get groceries, go to Confession, clean most of the house, and go out for trivia all in one day. It was a lot of stimulation for this homebody. I had to finish cleaning after I got home on Sunday evening, but I’m calling that a win.

— 4 —

I’ve started using Wunderlist as a to-do application. I’m still getting used to the kinks, but it seems okay so far. I tried Todoist for a few days, but paying for annual access just to add notes was not okay. Wunderlist doesn’t have email-to-task the way I want it, but I can live without that if I have to, since I have the app on my phone.

The mobile app is kind of lame, though. They didn’t update for iOS 7, so it’s still using the old keyboard. That makes it feel so ancient and out of touch! I was delighted to see the announcement just yesterday that they’re rolling out an update soon, but if it takes a year to get such a crucial update, maybe I should have stuck with Google Tasks.

After having Google Reader killed on me, though, I probably shouldn’t get attached to anything besides Gmail. I think Google forgot about Tasks, so they forgot to kill it.

— 5 —

This week was also pretty quiet. I made a last-minute decision (okay, it was the night before) to go to Theology on Tap. I don’t always have the best experience with that, but this one turned out quite well. I had some solid “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life” panic this week, and the topic was vocations and discernment, so that meshed well. I haven’t had a good Holy Spirit moment like that in a while.

— 6 —

Speaking of vocations, my post at Austin CNM this week was a video review again. This time it was Light of Love, produced by Imagine Sisters. One of my former coworkers at the UCC is part of one of the sponsoring organizations, so I heard about the film a year ago when it premiered. I forgot to watch then, though, and I just got around to watching it last weekend. Oops. It was better late than never, though, as my review indicates.

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— 7 —

One of the things I didn’t write in my review was that I found the film to be missing a spirit of confidence. Thoughtful, wise, confident, committed: I wanted to see those qualities in the featured sisters in huge doses, but I didn’t. That observation comes more from my frame of mind than the film, though. As I said in Take #5, I have been feeling directionless lately. I don’t know what to do with my life. Sisters do.

When I meet new people and tell them what I do (contract administration), I also have to tell them what I used to do (campus ministry), and what I did before that (teaching high school English). As Jen wrote once, when people ask what you “do,” they’re trying to figure out what kind of person you are.

What kind of person does my history make me sound like? I haven’t been able to figure out yet what will give me a sense of lasting peace. Am I ever going to be able to figure out my life? I’m hoping that, as I continue in prayer and growing in holiness, I’ll figure it out, but any direction you can point me in would be much appreciated.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Hope and Joy (Review: “Light of Love”)

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I love sisters. I have one actual, biological sister, and I love her. I also have an ever-growing number of female friends who have entered consecrated religious life, though, and I love them, too. For the record, I also love my friends who have become priests. I tend to hang out with people who follow Jesus pretty seriously, sometimes even into vows with him and his Church.

One of my nun friends, Sr. Dede (who I knew first as a nun, but who became a friend) said once, in a reflection on her vocation, that she sought to “be the stained glass window through which the light of Christ may shine.” I took that to heart, and I offer that phrase in my prayers to this day. It is in that spirit of shining with the light of Christ that I approached Light of Love, a hour-long film by Imagine Sisters. The organization is dedicated to making Jesus loved “by introducing the world to religious sisters in love with Christ through media.” In the film, I got a lamp-lit view of what it means to follow Christ with your whole heart and your whole life. Sisters are a great example of how to love Jesus.


Read the rest of my review at Austin Catholic New Media.

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