Monthly Archives: March, 2015

Biography, Theology, and You (Review: “C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian”)

I like C.S. Lewis a lot. He wasn’t a Catholic, but he was a convert to Anglicanism, and more importantly, he was an incredible writer. I read The Chronicles of Narnia first, but when I entered adulthood, I discovered his apologetics works. I love them so much that I have reviewed most of them here at Austin CNM!

It was with great interest, then, that I read C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian, by Gregory S. Cootsona. Rather than being a simple biography, this reads like a biographical bibliography, taking us through Lewis’s life by way of various existential and spiritual crises. Lewis’s life was far from easy and his theological journey far from straight. Despite having read so much of his writing already, I found much to enjoy in this detailed, insightful, and well-organized presentation.

"If we find the gospel message to be true, we need to surrender to God and change our lives. For that reason—whether or not the [C.S. Lewis] trilemma or some form of it works—many will still never assent that Jesus is God." —Gregory S. Cootsona

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

What I Wore Sunday: Red and Lace, Take Two

whatiworesundaylogo

Palm Sunday is a long Mass by definition. It’s the longest regular Mass of the year due to its inclusion of the entire Passion narrative. I refuse to call Good Friday a Mass (“presanctified” is just trying too hard), and Easter Vigil has two additional parts (the Service of Light with the giant fire and the Liturgy of Baptism plus Confirmation), so it’s left to Palm Sunday to make you glad you wore your comfy shoes to Mass.

wiwsmar29

These pictures are from my brief trip to Blur City, ugh. At least the lace was in focus.

Top: Target
Skirt: random designer from TJ Maxx
Shoes: Old Navy
Necklace: First Communion gift

Sometimes I feel weird talking about myself as a good lector, but I am. I have absolutely zero athletic ability and a good dose of social awkwardness, so I feel like it evens out that I am good at reading things out loud and especially good at proclaiming the Word of God. Our lector coordinator talked me into narrating the Gospel again this year. I had to wear a surplice again (without a cassock, which is wrong), covering my entire carefully selected and liturgically-themed outfit, but you could still see my shoes! As I discovered the first time I wore this skirt, it looks better with bare or nearly-bare legs. I’m trying tucked-in shirts, but I still don’t usually like them. Every week is an experiment.

Fr. Associate Pastor’s homily was short, punchy, and joke-free tonight. I was in a bit of a daze after the Gospel, though, so I don’t remember a thing.

Here’s what went down: Right after reaching the ambo for the Gospel, I quietly panicked because the binder containing my reading was missing. I didn’t put the story together until after Mass, but Music Man (who had not attended the rehearsal) had mistaken my reading’s binder for a Psalm binder and walked away with it. When I noticed it missing and started freaking out, the nearby lector gave me his, suggesting that we share. I wasn’t sure that would work, but I recovered enough to get the reading started. Music Man brought the other binder back right away, and we carried on as usual. Adding up the full rehearsal right before Mass, the panic adrenaline, and the fact that the narrator does the most actual reading, it was a very tiring albeit spiritually enriching Mass.

And I had just been telling the altar servers that, when something happens during Mass and you don’t know what to do, you should move slowly and act like you meant to do it. I didn’t intend to demonstrate that, though!

I did learn something interesting from Fr. Robert Barron’s podcast homily for Palm Sunday, though. Every Gospel story has small details that vary from evangelist to evangelist. I knew someone else had to have noticed the young man that runs away naked after the apostles and disciples flee. As Fr. Barron explains, it’s possible that the young man is an anachronistic representation of a newly baptized person becoming discouraged at the first sign of trouble and running away. Isn’t that a temptation we all face? When things are going well, we are right beside the Lord, having a good time. When things get tough and look hopeless, we scatter.

The Triduum is coming up. I’m looking forward to spending some solid time watching and waiting with the Lord (a benefit of not having children and getting Good Friday off from work). Make your plans now! He’s coming soon!


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

Not Alone Series: Lent Check-in

notaloneseries

We’re over halfway through Lent. How’s it going? What did you decide to give up or take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of this season?

We are almost finished with Lent! It is going by so quickly this year. My commitment to GTD and to posting What I Wore Sunday has made me much more aware of the passage of time than usual. Every week is significant, whereas in Lents past, I would find myself preparing for Holy Week with absolutely no sense of accomplishment.

This year, despite the perception of speeding through the season, I feel like I have done better. Kendra Tierney created this meme, and that helped me recognize that my Lent needed to be a time of pulling up weeds. The results have been surprising and fruitful. I feel comfortable sharing them now.

lentevilorvirtuesheen

One of my Lenten resolutions was to give up the radio and listen only to music I own or to podcasts. My affinity for radio had turned into an attachment to noise. I was playing music almost constantly when I was at home. That was partly because I like music and partly because I am home alone a lot. The noise of the house settling freaks me out. This week, the sudden small thumps of June bugs beating against the door, confused by the porch light, has increased my nighttime disturbances. Music helps fill the silence, but even music can become noise.

Around the same time, I realized that the radio station I listened to in the morning was full of ads and talk that I didn’t like, crowding out the music that I did like. The benefit of traffic updates is not enough; I can get those from Joe Taylor on Twitter. So I turned off the radio and began having much more pleasant mornings. My audio system has an iPhone-specific line in, so I can effortlessly stream albums and songs I own. I even dragged out some real, physical CDs. I had no idea I owned some of the songs on my old WOW Hits CDs! It has been such an edifying experience that I’m reluctant to turn on the radio again.

I also gave up alcohol for Lent, as usual. That’s been going fine. I was, however invited to a w(h)ine party that I couldn’t attend for other reasons. That same friend is hosting another similar party this weekend. I will be bringing Arnold Palmer, the best non-alcoholic mixed drink there is.

I abstain from meat every Friday. For the last couple of years, I have not added anything additional on top of that, and that was a good decision. This year, I could tell that I needed some extra mortification, so I took on an additional Friday penance. I prefer not to say what it is, but I have succeeded so far.

That brings me to my main resolution, my secret resolution. It shall remain a secret. It’s been going badly. (That part is not a secret.) It’s been so bad, in fact, that I brought it up in Confession earlier this month. My confessor gave me some good advice, and I managed a huge leap forward last week, but this week was back to the terrible grind. I refuse to give up, though. I will conquer!


Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.

7 Quick Takes on Bad Links, News Aggregators, and Good Links

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

I think I might owe you an apology. You may have been seeing weird ads or pop-ups here at Lindsay Loves. I promise you that I did not install those on purpose. I do not accept advertising (with the exception of products for review). I am sorry for any ads you saw on my blog.

The story is enough for a separate post, so I wrote one, and I just posted it. It gets into the technical business of running a self-hosted website (which Lindsay Loves is), so if you’re just here to read about my life and opinions, you can safely skip it.

— 2 —

Those (possible) ads were due to bad links. I also got some good links recently, the most surprising of which was to my last review for Austin CNM—from Big Pulpit!

Big Pulpit is a Catholic blog/news aggregator. I don’t usually read Big Pulpit unless someone I follow on Twitter recommends a particular post. One of my Twitterati (Dawn Eden, maybe) alerted me to the post at Big Pulpit, and I was stunned to see it there. I’m glad so many people were referred to my review. The Thrill of the Chaste really is good in its revised form (in both forms, really).

This might be the encouragement I need to finally review and purge my archives, fix the formatting in the comment section, and treat this like the modern-day blog it is. I’ve been at this since 2002, which is ancient in blog terms. I need an upgrade. (I mean a figurative upgrade; I do the technical ones all the time).

— 3 —

On a related note, my archives page is currently broken. Search still works, though, if you’re looking for something specific. I use it a lot myself!

— 4 —

On another related note, if you are interested in Catholic news aggregation, I recommend the Catholic Education Resource Center. It pulls together articles from a variety of topics, but it has a touch more of a focus on the actual field of education, so the teacher in me likes it a lot.

— 5 —

I haven’t been getting email notifications of comments and general feedback like I used to. This week, I finally saw a few messages from people who read my viral Apostleship of Prayer post and expressed concern that I love both Jesus and Harry Potter, as declared in my tagline.

First, rest assured that their concern is unfounded. Like Kendra, I see no problem being authentically Catholic and also a huge Harry Potter fan. I’m an adult. Second, “Harry Potter” is a shorthand for my general love of stories. “Stories” isn’t even as quippy as “books”, so that’s not what I say when I introduce myself. I say “Harry Potter.
What is a tagline but a tiny introduction, after all? Third, I have thought about revising that tagline, but I’ve never thought about de-emphasizing my love of Harry Potter. I stopped doing Top Ten Tuesday partly because I just wrote about Harry Potter every week.

In summary, I’m glad they were concerned, but I’m fine.

— 6 —

For those of you who are on my pro-Harry Potter side, here is a fantastic “Uptown Funk” parody, Voldemort style. I love all the visual cues, and the lyrics are so clever!

— 7 —

Finally, my friend and fellow blogger Geoffrey asked me write a guest post for him on the Apostleship of Prayer. I didn’t just want to rehash my story about joining (see take #5), so instead I broke down why the Morning Offering is a great prayer and you should all be praying it. Lent may be ending soon (!), but it’s always a good time to enrich your spiritual life.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

The End of the SiteMeter Era

SiteMeter hijacked my site, and I think I might owe you an apology.

I’ve had trouble here on the blog from mysterious robots before. First was Semalt, which knocked my referrers (sites that are linking to mine) way out of whack several months ago. I fixed that with an adjustment to my htaccess file and moved on. (It’s okay if that’s Greek to you. It’s much more technical than many bloggers will ever get.) The point is that Semalt was making it appear as though their site was sending a ton of visitors to mine. They somehow monetize this technique. I don’t get it, and I didn’t like it, so I have prevented them from linking to me.

Then came buttons-for-website. I had no idea why that site was referring to mine so heavily, but I made it stop with the same htaccess block. Easy-peasy.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that many of my internal out-clicks (links from posts here at Lindsay Loves to other posts here) were passing through x.vindicosuite.com. Essentially, I was linking to vindicosuite from all over the place: posts, pages, images, everywhere. All the links seemed to be working (i.e. not stopping you from getting to the link target), and it didn’t affect my site statistics, so I wasn’t too concerned.

After a few days of that, the number of intercepted links increased, and I got concerned and did some research.

You may have been seeing weird ads or pop-ups. I promise you that I did not install those on purpose. I do not accept advertising (with the exception of products for review). I am sorry for any ads you saw on my blog.

Other bloggers reported seeing vindicosuite on their sites along with pop-ups, weird iframe ads, or even full-page ads (like on Forbes.com). I visit my blog enough while logged out that I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen here, but just in case it did, I apologize profusely.

A little more research brought me to the answer: The vindicosuite culprit was SiteMeter.

SiteMeter hijacked my links. The memory of the huge traffic spikes from days past will now be added to the memory of using SiteMeter.

I have been blogging since 2002. That is so long that I remember when Google didn’t own Blogger, when blog posts didn’t routinely have titles, and when comment systems needed to be separately and intentionally installed.

Let that sink in. That is how long I have been using SiteMeter. But no more! This is the end of the SiteMeter era.

In 2012, I started using WordPress statistics, and I’ve continued using them since Jetpack was released. I stopped getting my weekly stats email from SiteMeter and generally forgot all about it until I installed new themes. I made sure to put that little code widget in my footer every time. It was cool to have statistics going back over 10 years. That’s a lot of history to lose.

I realized that SiteMeter had been bought out when the home page got weird. It had a small auto-playing video of a random musician. What website statistics business would need that? It only bothered me when I logged into SiteMeter, so I didn’t give it much thought.

When I did my Google research, I discovered that the tiny SiteMeter code was to blame for vindicosuite’s presence. It was re-routing all my internal links through vindicosuite (and maybe other sites that Jetpack Statistics didn’t catch; language warning). I removed it from the footer, and vindicosuite disappeared.

The most chilling part was that somehow, my htaccess file was edited. I had to re-add the blocks for Semalt and buttons-for-website. It wasn’t just a preventative measure, either; I had a few referrals from buttons-for-website in just one day after uninstalling SiteMeter!

Running a website requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE. I fell asleep on the job, and I’ve given SiteMeter the axe because of it. Now I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled out-clicks.

Booking Through Thursday: Carrier

bookingthroughthursday

Do you carry a book around with you? Inside the house? Whenever you go out? Always, everywhere, practically glued to your fingers? (And yes, digital books very much do count as long as you’re spending time reading on your Kindle or iPad and not just loading them with books that you never actually read.)

Most people laud digital books because they take up less physical space and can be acquired almost instantly, but my favorite aspect is their portability. Thanks to e-books, I am never ever without something to read. I read my way through Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes bit by bit through free Kindle books (because they are both in the public domain). Since I signed up with NetGalley, I read a number of advance digital copies of books I might never encounter otherwise.

I think I’ll always love physical books, though. I prefer reading them, and I am often carrying one around even when I’m working through an e-book. I’m doing that right now, actually: I need to finish C.S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian for my next Austin CNM review, but I just got the new edition of Getting Things Done. I’ve been carrying that back and forth to work hoping for a few moments to start it, too.

Finally, although BTT is about books, I use Pocket to keep track of articles I want to read and videos I want to watch. The iOS app downloads all the article for offline access, so I have handpicked articles to read even when I don’t have wi-fi.

Technology is a beautiful thing for the modern reader.


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

7 Steps to Falling in Love with YNAB: Part Three

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series YNAB Love Story.

ynab7steps

The first part of my YNAB love story featured growing in awareness and planning for future cash flow needs. The second part detailed the credit card float and my new approach to balancing my checkbook. Next came one eureka moment and yet another cloud in my financial picture. Read on for the silver lining!

Step Five: Easy Transaction Records

As I mentioned in my very first YNAB post, I had tried to budget using Excel before. When that didn’t work, my Excel “budget” turned into a transaction log. It was an excellent transaction log, though, because I never fell out of the habit of tracking every single penny that went into or out of my life.

I had one problem staying on top of my records, though: I could never remember cash. (That’s probably why I’m not an envelope budgeter.) When I use my debit or credit card to buy something (or even when I pay by check), I have an automatic record of my spending. When I paid with cash, I had to make note of it somehow and get that note into my Excel spreadsheet back at home. (I hadn’t converted to GTD-style ubiquitous capture yet, either.)

Before I had a smartphone, there was a lot of guessing (and even more forgetting) when I spent cash. Even after I got my first iPhone, I didn’t have a system. Sometimes I made a note in the native Notes app, but I rarely remembered to transfer that note to Excel. I emailed myself for a while, but the habit didn’t stick. I needed a way to record cash that was uniform, fast, and easy to get into my transaction log.

YNAB solved that problem. The software comes with a free app (which is also available during the 34-day trial) that syncs mobile with desktop. It was the missing piece to my budgeting life. Now, I spend, I enter the transaction on my phone right away, and my records are updated. Done.

The app, however, is where I have all of my problems with YNAB.

The data sync options aren’t the greatest. We live in a world where security is important and it’s only a matter of when your information will be stolen, not if. (I’m up to one unimportant online account and one set of college records so far, not counting Heartbleed. My dad had a cell phone contract started in his name by someone else.) I won’t go into detail about my problem with YNAB information security here (because volunteering that kind of information is just silly), but it’s less than ideal.

Similarly, I love that the app syncs transactions automatically, but I wish I could change the budget from the app. With the current version of the app, my budget is automatically updated to include scheduled transactions, but when I can’t roll with the punches on the go, I have to brace myself for later. That definitely affects my workflow. It can also throw things off to have my paycheck hit the bank several days before “payday” but not be Available to Budget until the scheduled day.

I have seen the difference in dollars, though, especially since I became Buffered, so I’m sticking with YNAB despite some room for improvement with the app.

Step Six: Acknowledging Interest and My Negative Net Worth

My friend Carly DeFelice runs an Austin-based personal finance business called Cash Money Revolution. She gave a presentation at Spirit & Truth last year about personal finance and Christian stewardship. She spoke some about budgeting, but she also spoke about interest.

I don’t have credit card debt anymore, and I paid off my car loan this year (the agonizingly slow and steady way), but I do have several thousand dollars in student loan debt. I’ve forbidden myself to take on any more non-free education until I pay off my debt. None of it is from graduate school (thanks to ACE and AmeriCorps, that was free), but I still have my undergrad loans. Since I pay toward them every month, they are categories in my budget.

It was YNAB that first made me acknowledge the reality of my student loan interest. YNAB allows you to track accounts off-budget. For me, that’s my student loans (individually, since they have different balances and interest rates) and my retirement accounts from my current and previous jobs. I pay the same amount each month toward my loans: a little principal, a lot of interest. When my loan account statements come, I update the balances in YNAB. I was stunned the first time I realized how much interest my loans accrued every month! Looking at that number convinced me that I needed to pay extra toward my debt. Seeing the numbers made them real.

What was even more real and frightening was my net worth. YNAB generates a number of reports automatically. The one I spend the most time with is the Net Worth tracker. YNAB only knows about the accounts you enter. I track all my accounts in YNAB, so I can see the grand total of my cash, checking account balance, credit card balances, savings account, student loans, and retirement accounts.

Added all together, I faced the truth: I have a negative net worth. I owe more than I have. There’s another truth, though. Slowly but surely, my debt is decreasing (especially with my recent loan payoff), and YNAB shows me exactly how much less I owe and how much more I have, all the time.

Awareness of my baby steps toward being debt-free is awesome.


There’s one more step to my YNAB love story, and then I’ll offer some conclusions about this journey toward financial awareness and freedom from debt. Stay tuned!

Additional Resources

Kristin Wong, writing for Get Rich Slowly, shared her decision to go back to the envelope system even after paying off her debts. Constant awareness is key. I’m not sold on the absolute necessity of actual paper money, but the YNAB app is a virtual envelope system if you’re into that.

© 2002–2017. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.