Sunday Style: Summer in February

It felt like summer last weekend! I don’t care how many fellow Austinites try to tell me that the weather always has dramatic swings; it has never been this warm at this time of year in the seven years I’ve lived here. It is obviously the end of the world.

Sunday Style for February 12

Dress: Marshall’s
Top: Target
Shoes: Old Navy
Earrings: gift
Necklace: holy medals

I’m delighted that this dress is a little bit roomy since I started losing weight through dance. I never stopped wearing it in the interim, but it got rather tight. It’s one of my favorites.

Oh, and for weather reference, yesterday morning never rose above 50. The heat kicked back on last night, and it was in the mid-40s this morning. On Saturday, it was so warm that I wore shorts to do my chores and errands. Shorts! In February! I used to live on a tropical island practically on the equator; this is not that island.

Deacon G started his homily with a brief summary of Gospel’s main points: Jesus came to fulfill the law, marriage is permanent, and even anger violates the law of love.

He told a story about a time when his actual brother (not just Scripture’s figurative “brother”) tried to embarrass him and his family but had to abandon the trick at the last moment. When Deacon G found out, he didn’t speak to his brother for several years. The anger felt justified, but really it just hurt him instead of his brother.

Jesus tells us to seek forgiveness before we approach the altar, he concluded, because we can’t ask rightly God to forgive us when we refuse to forgive others.

Fr. Associate Pastor has a good enough command of English pronunciation to celebrate Mass, but he doesn’t usually stray far from the pre-written prayers. I was, therefore, very encouraged by the special scolding he gave us before the final blessing. It took effort to say!

The topic? Being on time for Mass. There is a clock at the back of the church, so he easily sees when people arrive up to 20 minutes late. In the congregation’s defense, Mass always starts 5 minutes late due to all the announcements, and the people who most needed the scolding had also left early. I took it as a good reminder to continue to be on time for church things even when other people generally turn up late. I’m in charge of me, and I’m only in charge of me.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

Booking Through Thursday: Required Reading

This is a blast from the past! BTT started up again recently, but the topics were pretty lackluster. This one, however, is quite interesting.

What books have you been required to read that you ended up loving?

Like many young women do, I adore Pride and Prejudice. I had never even seen an adaptation before it was assigned for our summer reading before senior year Brit Lit, so I checked out a copy from the library. Then I got hooked, so I went to the bookstore to buy my own paperback.

Let’s take a moment to mourn the process of going to the bookstore to purchase actual books. My book churn rate decreased dramatically when I started college, and then I was a reviewer for years, so I could probably list my last ten physical book purchases from memory.

P&P was a big deal. I even took notes in it! Yes, they were just brackets, written in pencil, but it took a while before I got comfortable writing in books. It also took a while before I started reading books that were complex enough to require extensive marginalia. (I’m looking at you, Orthodoxy.)

I’ve also greatly enjoyed:

And some nonfiction books I think should count because we were basically assigned the whole thing:

What assigned reading have you enjoyed?

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

Sunday Style: Let’s Wear Lace!

This was an interesting church week. I walked out of church unclear about this Gospel and got two much clearer answers from a total of three sources.

Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for February 5

"Mary, mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now."

Top: Target
Skirt: Marshall’s
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: My Daily Grace at Etsy

We no longer have even extended seasons here; they now change day by day. Forty-degree swings within a single day are becoming common this year. I decided to go for almost-bare legs and wear this skirt. Can you see the lace panels? That’s my favorite feature, although it makes the skirt hard to wash. I generally don’t wear lace because I find it itchy, but the lining solves that problem here.

I went to church hoping to hear mostly about the Gospel. I have never understood the “salt of the Earth” part—ever. “He’s a real good guy; salt of the Earth kind of folks.” What? After all my years of churchgoing, I get the point, and I get the “light of the world” part, but I’ve never been able to wrap my head around that particular metaphor.

Mass started with the lector reading a letter from our bishop regarding the president’s executive order on immigration. Was it a good letter? Yes. Was it surprising at all? No. Was it way too long to be read before Mass, especially considering that “read this at Mass” instructions are often ignored? Oh, yes. And then we got the regular too-long group of announcements before Mass could finally begin, ten minutes late.

Fr. Pastor started his homily with the story of St. Blaise. It was not his feast day. He continued on to talk about enjoying the Super Bowl regardless of who wins, not letting your team’s loss get you down, applauding everyone’s effort, etc. That is a good lesson. Then, he described the plans for our parish’s milestone anniversary. That’s nice, but it didn’t have anything to do with the readings. I started struggling at that point.

Finally, he got around to talking about Jesus, but it was so buried that, when I was taking notes after Mass, I couldn’t actually remember what he said! He concluded with a message about Catholic Schools Week (we got one last week, too), followed by a blessing of extraordinary ministers.

Oof. With the delayed start, we had been at Mass for exactly an hour (I checked my watch because I was tired) when we got to the Sign of Peace. We still had to do Communion! If I was restless, anyone who brought little kids was probably ready to run out the door!

Mass ended without a recession. Instead, the priest and deacon started blessing throats individually as we were singing. It was awkward. I opted out, tired from all the extra cruft we’d already had.

But Jesus came, and after weeks of deciding to abstain because I have a lingering cough that I’m pretty sure is just allergies, I received the Blood of Christ again. Mr. Man, Bishop Robert Barron, and Fr. Mike Schmitz helped me understand the salt thing. So all is well.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

Sunday Style: I Only Wear It Like This

Michael has a point. I am at church every Wednesday for Bible study, and it’s an excellent way to stay in a churchy mood between Sundays. Our Protestant and evangelical brethren figured that out a long time ago. So, even though I probably could squeeze in this post on Sundays, I will stick to publishing them mid- and late-week.

Sunday Style for January 29

Dress and blouse: Old Navy
Shoes: Old Navy
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: Charming Charlie

We haven’t had quite the same intense weather swings as last week, but I still have to wear a coat on my drive to work and roll down the window on my way home. We’re keeping Austin weird.

This outfit is also an anomaly. I love the way this sheath dress fits, but it’s ponte knit, so it’s too heavy to wear when it’s warm. (I tried once.) I keep this blouse specifically to wear like this with this dress. The sleeves are too short, so I have to roll them up, and the fit is too tight with all the buttons done, but look at it! It’s an exception to my otherwise remixable wardrobe.

We had Msgr. Old Pastor for Mass again. He started by saying there are over 90 beatitudes in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, but I have no idea what that means because he neglected to define “beatitude.” I only remember those details because it was so strange!

He did, however, make one awesome comment. To be “poor in spirit,” he said, is to “recognize your utter dependence on God.” He said he was quoting someone but didn’t say who. That definitely helps my understanding of what poverty of spirit means. It makes sense. We can only really connect with God when we realize how hopelessly lost we are without him. It’s when we think we can save ourselves that we lose the way.

He ended his homily with the story of Dr. Tom Dooley‘s humanitarian work in Asia. It was a nice story, but I couldn’t connect it to anything else he said.

Bringing this post full circle, my Bible study is covering salvation history, and after 17 weeks in the Old Testament, we finally started the New Testament this week. So I saw the Beatitudes again. Thanks, Holy Spirit.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

Currently: February 2017

Currently at Lindsay Loves

I saw an excellent meme on Facebook that described my feelings about January: “I’m starting my year over in February. January was a free trial month.”

Here’s what I am currently…

Packing: My new YETI bottle for tea at work. My company gives us a logo-branded item as a Christmas gift each year. The committee that’s in charge of recommending what to get has latched onto the YETI brand of coolers. They’re also made in Austin; Austinites love local stuff. This year, we all got YETI Rambler bottles. I was reluctant to use mine at first because it’s all metal and has a screw-on lid (as opposed to the sippy kind), but I tried it anyway. Wow! I’m amazed at how well it holds heat, even with the lid just placed on (to facilitate the aforementioned sipping).

I’ve even had to change the way I drink my tea. I used to use a normal travel mug (last year’s gift). I would leave the lid off at first, to let it cool to a drinkable temperature, because I detest scalded taste buds. Then, I drank at a casual pace until the tea started to get cold, at which point I semi-chugged the rest. I was usually done by about 10:30 a.m., leaving me time to drink water before lunch. (Yes, I have an extremely detailed workday hydration plan. If you know me, that is not surprising.) But the YETI doesn’t let my tea cool off once that lid’s on, so I have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure I drink it before lunch. Even after two hours, my tea is still hot enough to fog up my glasses!

This is not a sponsored post, but if you have the chance, get a YETI.

Jonesing: For pico de gallo. I’m always looking for ways to get more vegetables into my diet without requiring more brainpower than I really want to spend on food. My most recent solution is to go for the pico. When I get a salad at my favorite Mexican restaurant before Bible study each week, I dump some complimentary pico on it. It adds a great kick. I also started buying a snack-size container of pico to go with the quesadilla or two I eat each week. (#Texas) It’s not a ton of tomato, but it’s more than zero. Gotta start somewhere.

Texting: About the same amount as usual, which is not a lot. I am right in that generational sweet spot between T9 texting (when you had to press the physical “7” button on your phone four times to type the letter “S” once) and unlimited texting on smartphones with autocorrect. So I’ve never been a big texter. I also don’t feel the obligation to respond to texts immediately (or emails, for that matter). Make the machines work for you, I say!

Reading: All the things, always. Now that I am no longer reviewing regularly for ATX Catholic, I’m back to reading on my own schedule. Somehow, I let my Pocket get alarmingly full, so I need to clear that out. I reached my goal of reading four non-religious nonfiction books last year, but I forgot to read much fiction, so I’m trying to rebalance that. Not needing to read for my column should help. Any recommendations? I like productivity, personal finance, Christian/Catholic interest, and YA.

Hearting: Mr. Man, same as last year. We’ve been dating for kind of a long time at this point. We’ve been through a lot and have learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and our relationship. We still have so much left to learn and know! I much prefer adult romantic relationships to the younger kind, though. They come with different life baggage (like the need to pay bills in addition to funding dating), but we’re not still waiting for huge life changes like moving out or getting a job.

Recapping: January

  • I made no resolutions, so I kept them all!
  • I went to the Texas Rally for Life.
  • I survived the glaucoma test when I went for my annual eye exam.

So what’s new with you? What are you jonesing for currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Erin of Teal and Polka Dots. Won’t you join us?

Holiness and Horror (Review: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories”)

Everyone loves a happy ending, but the sad ones are way more interesting. That’s the basic premise of every story by the incredibly talented Flannery O’Connor. She was one of the greats of Catholic fiction, so for my last regular review for ATX Catholic, I encourage you to give her a try.

The first of her stories I read was either “Good Country People” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” I read them both for one of my English major classes back in undergrad, and they helped me see that short fiction is not just for fat English textbooks. Those two stories are the standout features of the collection “A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories,” although each story shines and shocks on its own.

a stone angel with a garland of flowers in front of a cross

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Sunday Style: Hints of Winter

I don’t have a whole month to recap this time! I’m making baby steps towards getting back to regular posting. My offline life is taking a variety of twists and turns, but I’m still pursuing love and joy, so I’m still here.

What I Wore Sunday, January 15

Sunday Style for January 15

Dress and shirt: Old Navy
Sweater and leggings: Target
Shoes: Old Navy
Earrings: gift, and too small to really see in those photos, anyway
Necklace: holy medals

It’s Ordinary Time! I love to dress liturgically, but no one owns enough green for 33 or 34 weeks. I have a little bit of green, though, so I broke it out. The shirt also makes this dress appropriate (a) for me to wear, and (b) to wear to church. I went to Academy after lunch still wearing this outfit, and the lovely cashier complimented my modesty. She used that word and everything; I was impressed. Evangelization comes in many forms.

Deacon G gave the homily, with Msgr. Old Pastor celebrating. He went through short descriptions of each reading except the psalm, which I appreciate—even though I consider the psalm a reading and never like when people ignore it. The Great Adventure opened my eyes forever to the power of the responsorial psalm at Mass. The overall message of the day, according to Deacon G, was loving Christ so much that the news of his love must be spread to all nations.

He also mentioned that this Gospel reading falls in the section of John’s Gospel called “the declarations” (I think), in which Jesus is identified as the Messiah multiple times. So, in this case, the Baptist has just been asked if he is the Messiah and said he isn’t. Now, he points out that the real Messiah has finally shown up, the one whose baptism he has been preparing the people for. It’s like a holy version of saying, “No, I’m not the guy you’re looking for, but here he is now!”

What I Wore Sunday, January 22

Sunday Style for January 22

Dress and tights: Target
Tank top: online store that is now out of business, and I probably should have worn a white one anyway
Sweater: Old Navy
Boots: Lauren Conrad
Leg warmers: Target
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: basically invisible

It was almost cold this past Sunday! I celebrated by wearing this dress in its winter formulation. (I also wear it during the summer.) If you’re wondering why I’m celebrating the cold, I will note that we had a record high yesterday afternoon (81 degrees) followed by a dramatic low this morning (41 degrees). Thus, I will continue to break out my boots and sweaters every chance I get. The chances slip by so quickly!

Deacon G again gave a comprehensive homily. He even said explicitly that he would be making three points, one per reading! I like his style.

The first reading highlights that Jesus has come bursting onto the scene and into our lives, like a bright light. Naming the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (the northernmost part of Israel, which was invaded all the time) points Jesus’ light toward a land frequently consumed by darkness and conquering strife. Not only does Jesus come, he comes where he is most needed.

The second reading emphasizes our need to unite in community around Christ. We all have the same savior, despite our personal preferences, how we came to know God, or our politics. This is an especially relevant message after a tough election season and immediately after a tense inauguration.

The Gospel shows that fishermen have the qualities we need to be evangelizing disciples. That threw me for a second; I’ve heard about shepherds being models for listening to and following God, but fishermen is a new one. It takes more than one try to catch a fish, Deacon G said, just like people need to hear the Gospel more than once. Fishing takes time and patience, just like leading people to Christ does. You need the right skills to be a fisherman, just like evangelists do, and they were taught to you, just like fisherman and evangelists learn their craft. It was weird yet memorable.

What have you been learning in church? “My toddler can tear pages out of a hymnal very, very quietly” totally counts.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

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