Monthly Archives: October, 2014

Booking Through Thursday: For a Friend

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If someone you know has just published a book, do you feel obliged to buy a copy, even if it’s not the kind of book you’d normally read?

I don’t actually know anyone who has published a book who’s not (a) one of my past professors, so it was more of a textbook anyway, (b) not even a “friend” before an author, because I got to “know” them through their writing (like Wendy Shalit and Dawn Eden), or (c) not using a vanity press. And the person who used the vanity press was a friend from years and years ago.

A number of my friends and acquaintances have blogs, though, so I read them. I suppose I would at least give a friend’s book a try, but I wouldn’t promise to like it.

This situation is like the times my college roommate, Maura, cooked me something with mushrooms, and then made ratatouille. That is how I discovered that I don’t like mushrooms or eggplant. She felt bad, even though it was the veggies that I disliked, not her, and I felt bad for making her feel bad. No one was happy.

Similarly, I don’t let my friends who are engineers explain to me what they do in detail. I studied engineering in high school, but that was a long time ago. If they insist on explaining, my eyes start to glaze over, and they get disappointed. We can all be happy if they just don’t even try to cross a line I know should not be crossed.

And we can still be friends. Hooray!

What I Wore Sunday: Formal Wear

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A (non-blog) commenter asked if I went to prom when he saw my Sunday look. It was 7:30 p.m. at the time. What kind of terrible prom happens on a Sunday afternoon in mid-October?*

No, I did not go to prom on Sunday. The tardiness of this post is a testament to my busy Sunday, though. I volunteered at the second session of Pure Fashion. For “Dessert with Dad,” we invite each model to bring her father (or father figure, or brother, or one mom) for an elegant, formal dessert reception. We had the table set for a full formal meal so our etiquette and relationships speaker could explain which fork to use and why the knife is tucked slightly under the charger (and what a charger is).

We also gave each girl a wrist corsage and each dad-type-person a boutonniere. Our coordinator ordered extra corsages for us young professional ladies, so I wore mine to church.

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Therefore, when I got to my last two-step lesson, after church, I was still dressed from the event, including the lovely wrist corsage I hadn’t expected at all. This look took me from dessert to church to dance lessons. Hooray for versatility!

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Dress: Kohl’s
Sweater: gift, I think also from Kohl’s (St. John’s Bay)
Shoes: Payless
Jewelry: pearls (bridesmaid gift)

Pardon my squinty eyes. It was a long day. The red gym cushion-walls turned out to be a great accent to all my colors, though, and I asked a classmate to take the photo before we got all sweaty.

I’ve worn this fuchsia shift dress many times before, including the last two Easter Vigils. We were asked to wear “daytime cocktail dresses.” I took “day” to mean “the brightest color I wear.” I don’t wear orange because it makes me look washed out, so this was my result!

I’m not entirely sure that these shoes go with the outfit. Fuchsia is a tough color to accessorize. I originally wore it with black, then twice with white. I don’t have dressy light-neutral shoes (I refuse to call that color “nude”), so this was as close as I could get. Despite the dark color of the shoes perhaps clashing with the dress, they were perfect for two-stepping, so I declare that decision a win.

At Mass, our associate pastor spoke not about stewardship (whoa!) but about the way God uses mysterious methods. Cyrus was a pagan emperor, but his welcoming the Israelites back to the Promised Land was a critical step in salvation history. In the Gospel, Jesus did not tell the Pharisees not to pay the census tax. Although Caesar was not a Christian leader, the Jews were bound to respect his authority on Earth. Ultimately, all authority belongs to God. The minor authorities on Earth do merit our respect and just compliance, though. It was a short, punchy homily. He’s good at those.

How was Mass for you on Sunday? Did your look last the whole day like mine did?

*My inner grammarian requires me to point out that this is an example of actually “begging the question.” Note that it is not the same thing as “raising the question.”

My Thoughts for Pope Francis, Part Three: Marriage and Family Spirituality

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Intro | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

See? I really don’t give up on things I care about, even if it takes me over two weeks to get back to them.

Most of the news I’ve heard about the Synod has been upsetting. I knew it would be, so I’ve tried to sit tight until an official document is released. Besides, this synod is just preparation for the next synod is 2015. This is like the exam review session; finals aren’t until tomorrow, so to speak.

Cardinal Wuerl gave me hope again, though. I’m still subscribed to his e-letters from the Archdiocese of Washington, my home diocese. (I wish we had something similar in Austin.) Cardinal Wuerl sent one out today reflecting on what is actually happening inside the Synod. He’s there. He sits right next to Pope Francis. He even speaks Latin. Cardinal Wuerl knows what’s what.

His letter was so gracious and clear that you should read the whole thing, but here’s the key quotation:

It was pointed out that, in addition to teaching, the Church has to approach marriages today, particularly for those people who were married, divorced and/or remarried, with a sense of healing and find a way to bring people to experience the love and mercy of God.

Here it was pointed out that mercy is not opposed to truth but follows on it. In fact mercy flows from the truth. It is the truth that brings freedom.

Yes. Pray for the work of the Synod. In the meantime, let’s get back to the questions being raised for discussion in those meetings right now.

The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization

What experiences have emerged in recent decades regarding marriage preparation? What efforts are there to stimulate the task of evangelization of the couple and of the family? How can an awareness of the family as the “domestic Church” be promoted?

Longer periods of research-based marriage preparation seem to be working. I used to direct RCIA; when I tried to explain that job responsibility to my mom, she asked if that was “the classes she and Dad had to take so they could get married.” They got married in 1982, but my dad didn’t become a Catholic until 2005, so I’m pretty sure she was talking about a marriage prep program rather than RCIA. Her ability to mix up those very different programs is not a great testament to the curricula of the 80’s, but from what I saw in my own marriage prep work (for other couples, not for myself!), there has been much improvement.

Marriage prep is still seen by many as red tape, but those couples are cutting through it anyway. In particular, Catholic/Catholic couples and Catholic brides with non-Catholic grooms have the bride’s support, however weak, to complete the preparation. Those meetings, classes, and retreats could be teachable moments. I used them that way, but I was already an outlier as a layperson, let alone one with an education degree.

I believed in the work I was doing, and I did my best to get some buy-in from the couples I prepared, but I am not married to any of them. The couples themselves have to realize the gravity of their decision and actions. For the family to be a domestic Church, there must be involvement of the spouses in the larger church. You can’t bring home what you don’t get outside of the home. Despite my best efforts and those of others working in marriage prep, too many couples see a Catholic wedding as more of a pretty celebration than a life-changing sacrament and a Catholic marriage as nothing special.

How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?

I haven’t done any “prayer proposals” in my family because I am not married and have never been, so I don’t have a family of my own. My family of birth is no longer practicing the faith. The only prayers we’ve ever said are before Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. When my dad was in RCIA, he led prayer. When I’m home, I lead. Everyone else awkwardly joins in, and it’s just for show… but I guess it’s better than nothing.

In the current generational crisis, how have Christian families been able to fulfill their vocation of transmitting the faith?

Parish and Catholic school religious education programs take the place of many domestic churches. Designated teachers outside of the family are seen as the ones primarily responsible for teaching religion. Parent involvement is largely only by requirement. These parents see faith the same way they see like math: send the children to school, expect that they will learn it there from those teachers, and never put in any effort at home beyond helping with homework.

In what way have the local Churches and movements on family spirituality been able to create ways of acting which are exemplary?

I wasn’t involved myself, but I know that Couples for Christ and its affiliated groups (Singles for Christ, CFC Youth, and Kids for Christ) are almost the standard for Filipino Catholics. At least that was true for many of the Filipino Catholics I know. I don’t personally know any others that have been particularly strong concerning family spirituality.

What specific contribution can couples and families make to spreading a credible and holistic idea of the couple and the Christian family today?

If parents seek to live out the Church’s teachings as best and honestly as they can, then their children will follow. This is especially true of fathers, who are supposed to be the spiritual heads of their families. Mom will drag the children kicking and screaming to church, but if Dad doesn’t go, church doesn’t seem important. It seems less important than football. If Mom and Dad don’t go to Confession, how can we wonder why the kids don’t want to go? My Catholic friends don’t cohabit and they go to church, so I am encouraged. Iron sharpens iron.

What pastoral care has the Church provided in supporting couples in formation and couples in crisis situations?

Care for couples in crisis seems to be good and improving. The problem is that there is little for couples who are NOT in crisis. Marriage preparation has grown exponentially and seems to be helping. Ongoing support for married couples is almost nonexistent. One of my friends here in Austin just released an advertisement for a local, one-day, low-cost couple enrichment session. That’s a solid start, but it’s an outlier. Parishes would do well to offer ongoing support to couples who are thriving, just surviving, or on the brink of crisis. Prevention is going to be the key.


That’s the third section! As a single woman, I don’t have much to contribute from my own experience. It hasn’t been long since I was a diocese-approved marriage packet filer, though, so I know way more about marriage than any never-married layperson ought to.

How about you? Do you feel like you were prepared well for marriage? What are you looking for in a couple or family enrichment effort in your parish? Pope Francis asked for your opinion, too!

Not Alone Series: Modesty

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I am one day late, which is a little pathetic because the topics are posted in advance, but since I’m a new participant, I am cutting myself a break.

Continuing our reflections about our make-up routines, let’s chat about modesty! What does modesty mean to you? Does it just involve the clothes you wear and how you wear them? What about the things you say or do? In what ways can we improve our overall modesty?

I never did the make-up post, so I will write on that first. I believe in wearing makeup. I do almost every day, even when I’m not planning on leaving the house much. I wear it mainly because I prefer the way I look with makeup on! Since I go to Mass on Sunday evenings and don’t usually go anywhere before that, I spend a considerable amount of time au naturel at least once a week. But once I have my makeup on and my hair straightened, I look in the mirror and see what I “really” look like.

I wear makeup partly to cover and partly to enhance. I have a few blemishes and acne spots left over from my acne-riddled days. I occasionally get a huge zit like I’m still a teenager. (Not long ago, I had one right between my eyebrows, like a third eye! That taught me some humility, fast). Generally speaking, though, my skin did calm down in my twenties. That was of little consolation to teenage Lindsay, but it is quite comforting now. My skin is still blotchy unless I smooth it out with makeup. I recently switched from CoverGirl products to Maybelline—color match technology is amazing, especially for fairer-skinned black women like me!

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2. Morning ritual: My beauty essentials. Up&up lotion from #Target, #CoverGirl powder and eyebrow pencil, Maybelline concealer because my CG color is hard to find, and tweezers. Every day; the only way. #fmsphotoaday #morning #makeup #myroutine

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My favorite makeup items are the ones I never ever go without, not even when I was in Central America on mission trips: my tweezers, my moisturizer, and my lip gloss. Okay, by “moisturizer,” I mean the Target version of Olay with SPF, and by “lip gloss,” I mean $1.89 Lip Smackers in Dr. Pepper, but they still count! I tried not tweezing once. It was not pretty. Those items are all about prevention, though, which is where the desire to primp and polish meets good stewardship of my body and beauty. I could live without concealer and red-tinted lip gloss. I would be a fool to not use moisturizing sunscreen and lip protection. It’s about taking care of myself. I’m not out to impress anyone with more than the basics.

Now for modesty. I am all about this, guys! I started volunteering with Pure Fashion [background music link] precisely because I care so much about modesty. The way I have come to understand it, modesty has two aspects: clothing and behavior.

Modesty in clothing is such an adventure. For me, it’s an adventure where I get to look really cute! I have rules about clothing I will and won’t wear, and techniques for adapting:

  • Some skirts are just too short. I can feel on my body where the line is, and if I’m uncomfortable, I won’t wear it. I have designated a shortest-allowable dress and skirt to help me measure. For my two skirts that are too short for bare legs (one I had before my modest conversion, and one I bought for a costume), I have leggings and opaque tights.
  • Leggings are not pants. I only recently got my first pair, and although they are comfortable and opaque, they’re basically thick, short tights.
  • I keep my shoulders covered in church (and most of the rest of the time). This has meant wearing a shawl with the two sleeveless bridesmaid dresses I have. One was for a Catholic wedding, le sigh.
  • No visible underwear. White and neutral are my friends.
  • No low-cut tops. I layer all the time, and I don’t look good in v-necks, anyway.

Those are my rules; the Pure Fashion guidelines are a great start for setting your own. The point is that, when someone looks at the way I dress, I want them to think I look professional, put together, or adorable, not “hot.” Food is hot. The weather is hot. People are not “hot.”

Modesty in behavior is about the way you speak and behave. No one except your spouse, confessor, and doctor should know the most intimate details of your life. Crude and tasteless jokes are juvenile and unprofessional. (I work with mostly men. I’m encouraging them to rise above.) NFP discussions should be very general or left to groups of close female friends and to spouses. We should never even think of people as just collections of body parts, let alone look at them that way. You are a soul-body, not just a soul trapped in a body or a body without a soul.

In sum, modesty should be about what you put on your body and how you express your self—your personality—using that body.

What do you think? Is modesty about ankle-length plaid jumpers and uncut hair, or is there room for fashion and tasteful trendiness? Can you be covered up but crude of speech and still be modest? There’s more to modesty than meets the eye. (See what I did there?)

tl;dr October 2014

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If I had been paying attention to the calendar or really conquering my feed reader, I would have realized that this was supposed to already be up. Let’s just pretend I wanted to leave you in suspense, shall we?

Here’s what going on in my life:

What’s up with you these days? Read other nutshell life updates at Call Her Happy.

What I Wore Sunday: Boogie Shoes

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This week’s very late WIWS is brought to you by dance lessons!

I love to dance, but I’m not very good at dancing with a partner because I usually don’t have one. Story of my life.

An acquaintance here in Austin invited me to join a new Catholic social dance group for three Sunday night sessions of two-step and three of salsa. I have the basics of salsa down from previous lessons (at my old job and at a salsa club back in undergrad), but I almost never get to practice. I was initially planning to just go for the salsa lessons. When I saw the photos from last week, though, I decided to go tonight for two-step.

I was scheduled as first lector, so I planned to have dinner and go dancing straight from Mass. I am more comfortable dancing in heels, so I started this week’s outfit with the shoes and worked my way up.

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Blouse: Old Navy
Skirt: Deb
Shoes: DSW
Headband: Target

Unfortunately, this outfit will never be seen again. The skirt was fine because Texas hitch two-step doesn’t require much hip movement. The blouse was okay, but those sleeves aren’t quite long enough to fit comfortably past my elbows. Curse you, long arms!

But the shoes. Oh, the shoes. I like these for dancing because they have thick low heels. I didn’t do my toenails at all, so no close-up. I will, however, give you this close-up.

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Yep. These are going in the trash. Of course I noticed those little flaps after I had arrived at church, so there was no opportunity to change. At least I had fun my last time wearing them!

Our pastor was not at Mass tonight. As first lector, I had to read the announcement advertising a Sunday evening activity at his old parish. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t he be spending more time with his current flock than with the old one?

One of our deacons gave the homily. He did a good job elaborating on the parable of the wedding feast and comparing it to the sheep and the goats. I had trouble focusing because I’d been in a rush to leave the house, but I felt nourished. And then I destroyed my shoes. Sounds like a solid Sunday night to me.

7 Quick Takes on Being Not Alone, Trying Not to Judge, and Children

— 1 —

I did a lot of staying at home this week. One of my friends threw a birthday party at her apartment last night, and I invited my roommate who was also home to go with me. It was a good party, but when we left (early), I realized just how much I’d needed party adrenaline to keep me going. (That’s not a euphemism.) After working all week and all day on Friday, I struggle with Friday night parties. I’m getting old, guys.

I was also especially grateful to have the roommates that allow me to live in our house. I enjoy throwing parties here occasionally because we have the space for it. In my old one-bedroom apartment, I barely had even one person over because it felt too small. Without roommates, I could never afford our cute little starter home, and I would still be both lonely and alone.

— 2 —

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I finally got it together on time to join the Not Alone Series this week. My post practically wrote itself since the topic is so directly applicable to my life and easy to talk about. I’m hopeful that the women participating in the series each week will be able to commiserate with me, to confirm that I’m not just thinking myself in circles or in destructive patterns. It should be interesting!

It doesn’t hurt that it was fantastic for my stats, either.

— 3 —

Verily published an article this week venturing into the debate over children. The title is misleading. It capitalizes on the happy news of Kate and Will’s new baby on the way, but it’s not just about judging “women who have multiple children.” Taken along with its comments (which are worth reading on Verily), it’s about judging couples and their children, period.

I must admit that I have a hard time with this issue, but I’m intentionally trying to improve. We live in a world where many Catholics ( by baptism, which is the most basic definition) are using contraception and see no problem with that. That’s a reality, and it’s awful. The knotted part of the situation is that, along with those couples, we also have those who:

  • have zero, one, or two children, but can’t have more (or any) by moral means, although they want them
  • have zero, one, or two children and have used moral means to intentionally not have more, although they probably biologically could
  • have more than two children who were all morally planned
  • have more than two children who were not specifically planned but were joyously welcomed
  • have any number of children conceived through immoral means
  • have any number of children without moral consideration of the effect of each child on the existing family

And there are situations I haven’t even considered.

It is so easy to look at a couple and their children and automatically place them in one of these groups. I find myself doing that more than I’d like to admit. I shouldn’t, though; none of us should. All couples, parents or not, deserve our prayers for their marriage and any children they have now or might have in the future. That is all.

That is hard, too. Anyone have ideas about how to make it easier?

— 4 —

On a lighter note, Verily also posted this image as their Daily Dose. I read them all, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.

verilydailydose10102014

— 5 —

I also read a book proposal of sorts about “how American parenting is killing the American marriage.” I clicked through to read about the authors’ book (on marriage). It sounds like the exact opposite of everything I believe about marriage.

Their parenting versus marriage comments, however, sound spot-on. Life is valuable at every stage, not just when we are cute, cuddly babies. That means spouses have just as much value as children—maybe more, since the children usually come by way of the spouse. We demand a lot more of mothers than of fathers, to the point that a “mama’s boy” is a bad thing, but “daddy’s little girl” is okay.

When I did marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), many couples were surprised at the FOCCUS idea that their future spouses should be more important than their children. I laid it out like this: after you get married, any children you have will also be parented by your spouse. You need to be on the same page with that other parent, 100%. You need to accept that your children might turn out just like your spouse and nothing like you beyond biology (and they might get all of your negative biological traits). When the children grow up, you want them to have the experience of a good marriage—yours—as they prepare for their own vocations. And when they’re out of the house, you will be left alone with only your spouse. Try to make that a peaceful image, not a depressing one.

It’s nice to have some secular support.

— 6 —

I had one more article to share last week. I thought about doing a whole separate post on it, but now it’s going here.

I think I clicked through from Boundless to wind up at Shauna Niequist’s “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.” Her main point is solid, but some of her support veers off base.

We help newlyweds set up households because, until recently, most of them had only lived in the homes they grew up in. They didn’t have furniture, kitchenware, or fine china. These days, not only do we have more unmarried people living away from their parents than ever before (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’m doing it), we also have more cohabitors than ever before (which is a bad thing; I won’t do it). You can make a “moving out on my own” registry, but you can’t throw a shower for yourself, either.

The idea of a coffeemaker as a “basic human right” does not help Shauna’s argument. It’s not a humorous article! I do agree with her, though, that if you can afford the good stuff, you should buy it for yourself instead of waiting for your wedding day.

Except that not everyone will have a wedding day. She doesn’t actually address people who won’t get married. She writes, “Some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended” (emphasis mine). Not everyone will get married, and divorced people are not the same kind of single. Those groups should not be lumped in together.

Furthermore, as Maddie Joy notes in a comment, being single is not just about not having something. It’s also about having someone to be your person. Being single is lonely. And as she also writes, it ought to be okay to be unhappy about being single.

I hear that. I’m burned out on everyone that implies I will get married, or I just need to “get out there,” or I must have so much time/money/energy/freedom because I’m single. I should be able to feel however I want to feel. I’m tired of hearing all those marriage platitudes.

— 7 —

That was a lot, so let’s just make it six takes today, shall we?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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