Monthly Archives: February, 2015

7 Quick Takes on Pure Fashion, Being Sick, and More Lent


— 1 —

Aaaaaand I’m back. I had such a good plan for these last few weeks of blog posting, but then my time and energy limitations hit me, and I was forced to revise. I did everything I had to and most of what I wanted to, though, so I’m calling that a win.

The two big rocks in my week (last week) were my Austin CNM post and the Pure Fashion (auto-play music at the link) Heart & Soul Makeover Retreat.

I had long planned to review the African American Catholic Youth Bible for my Austin CNM post due February 17, but I neglected to realize how long that would actually take. A word to the wise: reviewing a Bible does not go quickly. I grossly underestimated, so I stayed up extra late on Monday night and even later on Tuesday night to get my post up on Wednesday morning. You can check out the resulting review yourself.

— 2 —

My second big rock, the Pure Fashion retreat, was much more pleasant, although no less tiring. I knew it was coming, so I had planned out my time and to-do’s, but I hadn’t counted on the preceding days of exhaustion. Wednesday night was not enough time to catch up on sleep. I left for the retreat straight from work on Friday, so I had to be completely packed and ready to roll before bed on Thursday. You can guess how that went: organized but too quickly.

The retreat itself was delightful. My involvement in Pure Fashion largely consists of showing up, dressing fashionably, and doing whatever Anna tells me to do. I did that, and it went well. Most retreats I’ve been on have been all work or no work for me. This was in between: I was working it, but I wasn’t in charge. I got to serve and participate without having to give everything. It felt right.

The schedule required only one overnight, which was perfect. My biggest challenge was staying awake when the lack of sleep caught up to me. Saturday was tough. Narrowing beating a huge Coke Zero for the drive home, my biggest win of the weekend was managing to sleep at all in the shakiest bed ever. As I mentioned in my AOP post, I am a top bunk girl, but I’ve never slept in any bunk that shakes wildly if I move at all. I was thankful for a bed and heat, and that was about it.

— 3 —

My third big rock was, of course, Ash Wednesday. I followed my plan from last year: eat a regular lunch as my main meal for the day, go to the library straight from work, arrive at Mass early but not too early, and have a snack/small meal for “dinner.” My timing was off, such that I didn’t actually go into the library so much as read in my car in the library parking lot, and I managed to arrive at church right as the previous Mass was ending (worst time ever), but the day overall was quite satisfying. I wrote the most detailed version of my conversion story yet, although it’s not the whole story. Only I know the whole story, and I like it that way for now.

It’s been ten good years. Here’s to a lifetime.

— 4 —

As Elizabeth always says, you really should call your mother. I used the old-calendar celebration of a saint (brought up in my Evangelio Del Dia emails) as a reminder to call my grandma. That has to count double, right?

— 5 —

I was supposed to start my Lenten Bible study on Wednesday. (I’m just going, not running it.) Instead, I came down with an intense cold.

I had a cough on Tuesday, but I’ve had that before without really being sick. This was sick. I was making fajitas and talking to my BFF on the phone on Tuesday night when I got that achy, itchy feeling I always get when illness descends. On Wednesday morning, I coughed myself awake before my alarm. I got out of bed to call in to work (okay, to email in), but everything hurt so badly and immediately that I sat right back down and just emailed from my phone. #21stcenturysickday

Sleeping in until 11 and laying around the house all day was enough to get me back to work yesterday. I can only feel the sickness in my face now, and I think my appetite is back, so my weekend plans are still on. Hooray!

— 6 —


This is what I was trying to say in my Lenten quick takes last week. Thanks, Kendra (and Venerable Fulton Sheen)!

— 7 —

Speaking of Lent, since we’re about a week and half in, now is a great time reassess your plan. It doesn’t matter what the plan is. Just decide whether you are doing well, need to redouble your efforts, or would be better off at Easter if you changed your mind now. Then do it. Today.

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

Not Alone Series: Flying Solo


How do you travel as a single lady? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

How do I travel? With ruthless planning and organization, of course, the same way I handle the rest of my life.

I don’t travel much. Living overseas left me all traveled out, and traveling disrupts the habits and routines I love so dearly. I have thought about what it’s like to travel specifically alone, though, so I’m pleased to see it up as a topic for discussion with the NAS girls.

It starts with getting there. A few years ago, I was in a friend’s wedding in northern Indiana. I had more time than money at that point, so I drove there. From Austin. It was tough. When I told my then-boss I would be driving, he replied, “You’re taking someone with you, right?” Who? Who do you take to the way out-of-state wedding of a middle school friend? Your husband. Maybe your long-term boyfriend. Maybe a very close friend, but only one who was also invited. I don’t have any of those here, so it was just me for two days there and two days back.

Flying causes a similar predicament. I prefer to fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays because they’re cheaper, but not many people are available to drive me to the airport on a weekday morning. You can slip into work late because you had to drop off (and pick up) your spouse, but not just a friend. I’ve been getting cozy with SuperShuttle and off-site airport parking. It’s not cheap, but I don’t have many options.

I must say, the middle of the journey is probably easier solo. I can wait to eat if I’m on the move at a weird time of day (or skip a meal entirely and just snack). I stop for driving breaks only when I’m ready. I only have one person’s stuff to cart around.

On the flip side, I have learned to fly strategically. I’m kind of an expert at navigating airport bathrooms with all my luggage in tow. Every item must have a designated holding place, and that must be inside a bag. If I need a free hand, I’ve got no one to hold something for me, not even just for a second. When I stop at an airport food court, I have to get my food in its own bag—and make sure I have a hand or wrist to hold that bag. You can’t carry a rolling suitcase and a tray at the same time. Once I’m settled in at the gate, I’m not getting up until the group before mine is called to board. The single traveler shuffle is not to be repeated needlessly.

I don’t usually feel lonely as a solo traveler, but the practical aspects of having just two hands (on a plane or in the car) sometimes make me wish I had someone beside me.

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

Booking Through Thursday: Collections


Do you prefer to read collections that are all of works by the same author or collections by different writers? Consistency or variety?

This is last week’s question, but there isn’t one for today yet, so I’m going with this one.

A collection of writing by a single author can still have variety, so I think that’s kind of a weak attempt at a follow-up question. It’s like listening to several songs on an album of music by a single artist. You don’t expect every song to sound the same, but you also don’t want each song to be so discrete that you can’t identify them as being performed by the same artist.

I do enjoy short stories, though. I don’t often read collections, but I have a tiny soft spot for collections of short stories on a single theme.

I did a capstone project in my college honors program that was a collection of short stories with common elements: someone standing on a table and shouting, a character named Anne, and so on. In the process, I read a number of collections on a theme. (Best research ever.) One was out of print but owned by my college library (Mr. Fothergill’s Plot), and another caught my eye but was not in the scope of materials I could access (The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road).

In doing all that reading, I realized that, although I prefer to write short stories because I have trouble with endings, I prefer to read longer formats. Nice, finite series are cool.

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

What I Wore Sunday: Monochromatic & Thematic


Well, that was a long run of no posting! It took me so long to get to this one that the link-up has closed! I will hopefully be able to recap my crazy week in my next 7 Quick Takes Friday, but the short version is that I had much to do and not enough sleep. For future Sundays, any “challenges” I experience that keep me from getting to Mass on time and appropriately dressed are definitely excuses. Despite running on fumes, I put this Lent-themed look together:


Dress: Target
Shirt: Target
Scarf: gift
Belt: Target
Shoes: Old Navy

I think this is my first WIWS with my hair up. As I mentioned, I was in a crunch headed to Mass on Sunday. I wound up with not enough time to finish straightening my hair, so I tossed it into a low side rope-braided bun. (No photo.) I didn’t use hairspray like I usually do for rope braids, so it was flyaway city but good enough for Mass and a Target run.

I originally bought this dress for a friend’s winter wedding. It’s a heavy herringbone fabric, so I save it for dressier Mass days. In Austin, we have been having winter days rather than a consistent season, so I jumped on the opportunity to wear this one since it wasn’t 70 degrees outside. I even needed my winter coat again!

I learned the belt tie from the pin below. It’s almost the Double Classic. This belt is actually too big for me to buckle, but it ties wonderfully. The dress wouldn’t be complete without it.

It’s been so long since Sunday that I can’t remember Fr. Associate Pastor’s main point in his homily! Yikes. Bad Lindsay. I do remember that he ended it by speaking about the Eucharistic fast. He gave a useful reminder that we, you know, have to do it. He also emphasized that you shouldn’t chew gum during Mass for two reasons: (1) it breaks the fast, (2) if you get pieces of the Eucharist stuck in your gum and then throw out the gum, you’re desecrating the Eucharist.

I remember the last piece of gum I chewed. It was about five years ago, at a school assembly. Before that, it had probably been seven or eight years. I forget that gum-chewing is a thing, honestly. But that second point made me shudder a little. I knew gum breaks the fast, but I had never considered that people would chew gum and Jesus at the same time!

Maybe next week he will make a similar point about coffee.

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

Where Culture and Scripture Meet (Review: The African American Catholic Youth Bible)


Image of Our Lady of Czestochowska, a.k.a. the Black Madonna. Public domain.

If I’m going to be honest as a reviewer, I have to say that I didn’t want to like this book. That’s a terrible thing. First of all, I generally prefer not to review books I don’t think I’ll like. I made an exception for Wild at Heart. It seemed like the natural follow-up to Captivating, even though I didn’t like that one very much either, and I felt as though my opinion as a Catholic reviewer would be useful.

So, continuing in honesty, I wasn’t sure I would like the newly-published African American Catholic Youth Bible, from St. Mary’s Press (AACYB). Yet I’m a black Catholic book reviewer. I have years of experience working with youth and young adults (in addition to my own experience being one). Although I do not observe it for reasons much too complex for this blog, it is Black History Month. How could I pass up the opportunity?

Now, having reviewed this particular edition of the Bible, I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I did one thing that would change my life forever.

I went to church.

I had been to church before. I knew how it went. I’ve never been anything other than Catholic, but for a long time, I was nothing, really. My first boyfriend accused me of “paying lip service” to my Catholicism. I had to look that up; he was right, and I was offended because it was true. I prayed (for chastity, actually). I gave up sodas for Lent. That worked. I gave up chocolate another year, and that worked, too. (I now eat chocolate and drink soda.) Beyond that, I knew only enough to check the “Catholic” box. Literally, I checked the box next to “Roman Catholic” on the optional religious preference form during freshman orientation.

That was the extent of it. Up to a few weeks before that day, the last time I had set foot in a church was for my great-grandmother’s funeral. My mom bought me a suit. I did one of the readings. I’m good at reading. Then I went for Christmas, to see my little brother as a king in the children’s pageant. I don’t remember anything more about either of those days. Not the homily. Not what it was like to be in church after being gone for so long. Not whether I felt comfortable or uncomfortable.

I don’t even remember exactly when I made the decision to go back. (How is its own story.) I do know that I picked the day very carefully. Ash Wednesday is not a day of forgiveness. It’s not the Catholic version of Yom Kippur. We don’t really have a Catholic day of forgiveness. Yet Ash Wednesday is the one day when everyone comes out of the woodwork: more than Christmas, more than Easter, even more than Mother’s Day (the highest days of attendance, in order).

Something about Ash Wednesday says, “Come.” So I went.

I was a little afraid to go back that first time. I had never been to the Catholic Student Center. I knew it was within walking distance, and I didn’t have a car anyway, but I could read a map. (This was before I had a smartphone, so it was a real, giant paper campus map that I carried around in my giant purse.) In my fear, I asked a buddy to go with me. She had graduated from Catholic school with a healthy dose of skepticism but not so much that she wouldn’t go to church with me. We walked across campus together and found seats in the packed chapel.

No single homily has stuck with me more than the one I heard that day. Fr. Bill Byrne is a great preacher. Every day is a good day to preach a homily on forgiveness, and I owe my spiritual life to the one he gave to us college kids on Ash Wednesday, February 9, 2005. The central story went like this:

Imagine that, one day, your parents show up and bring you a brand new car. Lexus, Range Rover, whatever your dream car is. They tell you it is a special present just for you. It’s beautiful, and the license plate says “4PRECIOUS.” You love it! You drive it around campus, showing it off. It’s a great car. But one day, you get into a wreck, and the car is totaled. You’re ashamed and sad, and you finally get the courage to tell your parents about it. “No problem,” they say. “We’ll get you a new one.” And before you know it, you have another brand-new car, just like the old one. Same license plate and everything.

This time you’re way more careful, and you do everything you can to protect it, but it gets totaled again. You can’t even believe it, and when you tell your parents, they say, “No problem, sweetie. The new one’s already on the way.”

The love of God is like that. He gives you everything. You screw up. He gives it all back to you. All you have to do is ask. He loves you so much that he will never deny you forgiveness and will give all the grace back to you, every single time.

I needed to hear that. Oh, I’m sure that years of pastoral training and experience had taught Fr. Bill that most people in the pews need to hear Christ’s message of forgiveness. I’m not so arrogant as to think that he actually gave that homily just for me.

But it worked. Four days later, I dragged myself out of bed before noon on Sunday and walked halfway across campus to the larger Memorial Chapel for Mass. I sat toward the back (but not in the back; I was never that kid) and stumbled my way through the Creed. I nailed all the songs from the hymnal, though. I’m a pretty good sight-reader. I’m reasonably certain received Communion that day, and on Ash Wednesday, although I should not have. (I have since repented. Let’s not pretend that doesn’t happen.) And it was okay.

So I went back the next Sunday, and the next.

Soon, I cornered Fr. Bill for an ambush confession. (I don’t recommend the ambush.) It was face-to-face. He didn’t know me from Adam; what did I have to fear? I stuck with the big ones. He gave me four Hail Marys as penance: one for each year I’d been away from the Church.

When I went home for spring break, I went to Mass with my dad, who was preparing for baptism through RCIA. (That is not a coincidence.) I missed one Sunday by oversleeping when I got home for the summer, but that was the only one.

I don’t miss Mass anymore. At the peak, I went to Mass six days a week. You barely have to meet me to know that I’m in it for good.


A solemn face, but a peace-filled one.

It all started that Ash Wednesday. It’s not obligatory, but it sure is popular. It’s not aimed at forgiveness so much as repentance, but sometimes it works.

I’m praying for those “sometimers” because one of them was me.

Not Alone Series: Encouraging Spiritual Reading


What are some of your favorite or go-to books, devotionals, or even blogs that help encourage you in your spiritual life?

Reading! Best NAS topic ever! I could go on for days about what I like to read, but I will focus it on what specifically encourages me in what I hope is just a time of singleness (not a lifetime).

Lent’s coming, so I’ll have a new daily read starting tomorrow. Every year, I read through a Lenten daily devotional booklet with excerpts from the writing of Henri Nouwen. I don’t have a particular affinity for Nouwen, but it resonates with me each time through. The booklet was a gift from my best friend’s mom to our whole household, so it connects me with that season of my life, with all its joys and disasters. (A car crash, a possum in the house, a ceiling cave-in: real disasters.) There’s a peace that comes from revisiting the same readings every year.

On the Liturgy of the Hours front, I pray Night Prayer every night, so I read and pray through specific psalms and Scripture texts in a year-round weekly cycle. I use my hard-copy Christian Prayer supplemented by the free iBreviary app, but is another good resource. I’ve got Night Prayer all but committed to memory, which is deeply comforting as well as useful for the nights I’m half-praying, half-falling asleep. I also find some serious synchronicity in Evening Prayer. My Morning Prayer habit is still new.

The first Catholic book that changed my life was If You Really Loved Me. It made a Jason Evert fan out of me! I’ve outgrown much of that book’s advice, but sometimes I turn to How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul for grown-up encouragement. It helps me as I wait, as I’m waiting to be on the other side of this story. (My full review of How to Find Your Soulmate is at Austin CNM.)

I read a number of relationship blogs. Some are actually about marriage; I like to store up good advice for the future. Arleen Spenceley is delightful. Her writing is hopeful, funny, and incisive. You should also follow her on Twitter, and read her book, Chastity Is for Lovers. (I wrote a review of that one, too.) I found Justin M. Campbell’s blog on one of my many wanderings around the Internet, and I’m so glad I did. He’s not Catholic, but his Christian writing is so down-to-Earth that I don’t care at all. He tells it like it is. He was single into his late thirties, and his perspective as a man gives me perspective.

What do you read for encouragement in your spiritual life? Where do you turn the page when you need a spiritual pick-me-up?

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

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