Monthly Archives: October, 2015

Not Alone Series: Encouraging Advice


How do you give encouragement to other singles (or couples) who are struggling in their journey?

I got really sick last weekend—so sick that I had to call a friend to drive me to urgent care. Waking up with one eye incredibly swollen due to what turned out to be a bacterial infection was scary (because I couldn’t see) and annoying (because I hate being sick and losing so much productivity). I spent all of Saturday morning lying in bed trying to get up enough energy to leave the house and trying to figure out who I was going to call to drive me to the doctor. (Ghostbusters was not an option.)

In the end, I found a fellow single friend to drive me. That friend, coincidentally, is a nurse. She stayed with me while I saw the doctor, we had dinner, and she even made it home before her college football game kickoff. I am so grateful to have her in my life. Even dinner was a needed stop: not only so I could wait for my prescription at Walgreens, but also because I lose my appetite when I’m sick and tend to forget to eat. I’m so needy.

So what does any of that have to do with encouraging singles? Well, as a single woman, I occasionally find myself in situations like that one. Not often, but sometimes. Sometimes I need help, I can’t help myself, and I don’t know who can help me. I moved far away from my family for a new career path. I don’t have a husband, a boyfriend, a helpful older child, or even a handy roommate. (I have two roommates; they were out.) Some of that is my fault, but either way, I felt pretty helpless that day.

What I learned (besides gratefulness for healthcare access) was the importance of building a support system when you don’t have a built-in one such as a spouse or other family. It’s easy to think that we can all go it alone. I’m the oldest child in my family, so I have an independent nature that is usually useful. The downside is that I feel bad when I have to rely on someone else for, well, anything. Community is incredibly important to social life and Christian life, but there’s a difference between the people you go out with for dinner and the people who will come to your rescue when your eye is infected.

So my word of encouragement fits with the very name and theme of this series: you are not alone. Even as your friends keep getting married and having babies and moving away, even as others keep going off into the convent, even when finding work means moving far away from your family, you don’t have to be alone.

Who would you call in a real emergency? Who reminds you that you’re not alone?

Next week’s topic: Single Scriptures

What is your relationship with Scripture? Do you read the Bible every day? What is your favorite translation or edition? Do you use Scripture for prayer (a.k.a. lectio divina)? Do you play Bible roulette (flip to a random verse)? What are some Scripture verses that speak to you as a single woman?

View past and upcoming topics or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real!

The Great Good of Celibacy (A Reponse to “Dismantling the Cross”)

I had a really tough time at Mass last Sunday. Since the readings were so clearly about marriage, I expected to hear a homily on that—and I did. I heard a great homily, actually; I’m thankful for that. Yet as someone who is openly celibate and may well remain so until death, I wasn’t hearing much for myself. That’s not the first time I’ve felt kind of left out by a homily, but it hit me really hard last week for some reason only God knows.

One point of consolation I have, in my life of being single and wishing I weren’t, is this: There is a place for celibacy in the Catholic Church. It’s an honored place, actually. Inconveniently for me, it is a place rarely occupied by people who haven’t taken some sort of vow, but at least our church doesn’t treat celibates like freaks. If it was good enough for Jesus, Mother Theresa, and (eventually) St. Augustine, it can be good enough for me. It was in this frame of mind that I came across Patricia Snow’s beautiful and well-developed essay in First Things, “Dismantling the Cross.” Her central message might not speak directly to me, and I don’t necessarily agree with every word, but it provides rich food for thought.

The Great Good of Celibacy: A Response to "Dismantling the Cross," by Patricia Snow at

My own commentary pales in comparison to the original; I encourage you to read the whole thing. Here are some of my favorite quotations from the essay and my thoughts on Snow’s argument.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

The Art of Preaching and Teaching (Review: “Rebuilding Your Message”)

I used to think I was indecisive. Now I’m not so sure. I can usually come down squarely on one side or the other about my opinions on books. Bumped? Loved it. Wild at Heart? Did not love it. Then I read Rebuilt, and I mostly liked it. I liked its foundational ideas, although I thought it had some flaws. And now I have read one of the follow-up volumes: Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching, again by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. It is definitely practical, but I don’t know if I’m totally on board with these practices.

"Street closed" sign.

This, for example, is not a good message to send. (Public domain image from

In general, I’m ambivalent about this book. Some of the advice is definitely needed. I agree with these authors (and others) that forming disciples is the true mission of the Church. That is where we need to direct our energy. I’m totally behind that. I agree less that focusing on attracting new disciples is the best action plan to fulfill that mission. Forming and strengthening existing disciples should inspire them to make new disciples. I’m all about reclaiming the lost sheep in the new evangelization, and that seems to be the fundamental difference that keeps me from loving books by Fr. White and Corcoran.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

tl;dr October 2015


This is the latest tl;dr I’ve ever posted. I knew this fall would be jam-packed by my own doing, but I didn’t quite anticipate everything that would be crammed into my September and early October:

One distinctly good thing about these last six weeks is that I knew the busy-ness was coming. I have managed to stay on top of my to-do list and my calendar, so I’m busy with things I want to be doing. That makes for a pretty good life. It’s not extraordinary, but it’s good.

Thanks to Jenna for the genesis of tl;dr. Visit her at Call Her Happy.

Not Alone Series: Noble Pursuit


We talk all the time about wanting men to pursue us, but nobody wants to be stalked. What does it mean to pursue and be pursued? Why should men pursue? How would you prefer that a man pursue you? How would you respond to pursuing behavior?

Today’s topic was inspired by Katie’s post about encouraging men and one post in a series by David at Restless Pilgrim. In some way, I guess it’s also inspired by the wildly popular Christian books Wild at Heart and Captivating. I read them both, and I didn’t like them. Overall, I thought they each suffered from the full theology of love taught by St. John Paul II. It’s not supposed to be split into TOB for men and TOB for women. It’s “one flesh” theology.

Despite my distaste for those books, I agree that Katie and David both have valid points. Men have been encouraged, inside and outside of the Church, to back down. Women can do things for themselves, but men are supposed to be chasing adventure and slaying dragons, and so on. So everyone has been sold on the idea of men pursuing women. For better or for worse, I am among them.

The problem is that no one has any idea what “pursuing” supposed to look like. I am not opposed to flirting, and sometimes the situation calls for leaning in a little heavy. (I have this dream of actually saying, “If you ask me out, I’ll say yes,” but I haven’t gotten to that point with anyone in a while. Any male readers want to weigh in on whether that sounds awesome or scary?)

So the men in our lives do try to pursue, despite not knowing what they’re doing. David tells the story of inviting a young woman he knew as friends to spend time with him in progressively smaller groups. She said no every time. He concluded that she wasn’t romantically interested in him, and he moved on. But it turned out that she was interested, and her reason for rebuffing his invitations was that he was “meant to pursue” her.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like some pretty solid pursuit: clear, persistent, based in friendship, admittedly not using the D-word (date) but pretty darn close. (Some of those “smaller groups” would have been just the two of them.) It seems to me like she should have said yes at some point.

“I’m busy” in response to an invitation is ambivalent. It could be either an honest explanation or a gentle let-down, and there’s no way for a well-meaning man to know which is which. Personally, I keep getting booked 3 weeks in advance. (It’s hard being popular.) David offers a helpful alternative to “just say no.” If you’re genuinely interested but also genuinely unavailable, be clear and extra-positive about inviting him to ask again. Drop a handkerchief. Be visibly sad about being busy and obviously happy about being asked at all. (This is harder to do over the phone: another reason for in-person asks.) Reschedule immediately, if possible.

Note that “I’m busy, but maybe some other time” when you really want there to be another time is probably not clear enough. That could be a brush-off, too. I’ve accidentally sent someone away by saying that. (I wanted him to call again. He never did.) Not everyone is as calendar-oriented as I am, but when I have really wanted to go and couldn’t make the initial invitation, I have literally pulled out my phone to check my availability. That’s not pursuing; that’s responding.

My takeaway is that, although I prefer to be asked on dates rather than asking men myself, I intentionally make my “yes” mean yes and my “no” mean no. If he has the courage to ask, I will do everything I can to reward that effort with grace and charity, with encouragement when I’m interested and compassion when I’m not.

Next week’s topic: Fulfillment

How do you give encouragement to other singles (or couples) who are struggling in their journey? (hosted by Rachel)

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Link up below!

What I Wore Sunday: It’s Still Summer During the Day


I had a nice string of actual Sunday posts going for a while, but then I decided to just quit and go to bed while I was ahead. I think that was a good decision. This outfit was also a pretty good decision.

What I Wore Sunday, October 18

Slightly less blurry full-length! Advantage to wearing a shirt underneath is that you can tell I’m wearing clothes in the headshot! Look how long my hair is! Look how white my shoes are!

Skirt/dress (can be worn either way): Target
Shirt: Old Navy
Belt: Target
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Necklace (barely visible): holy medals
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Fall is slowly creeping into Austin, Texas. Midday and early evenings are still in the 80’s, but the morning and evenings drop into the 60’s. It’s like having summer during the day and winter at night. I wore a cardigan to work this morning, and I even let the engine heat through into the car for my commute. Oh, Austin: your food is so tasty, your weather so troublesome.

I’ve been meaning to wear this dress/skirt on a Sunday again for a while. I’ve been wearing it mostly as a maxi skirt through the summer. I also wanted the challenge of making this skinny belt work. The holes give me two options: really too tight although mostly bearable or really too loose but not so much that I have to pull it up all the time. I erred on the side of loose for the sake of my ribs, and it lasted through Mass and a brief Target run. That was all I needed.

I lectored again this week. Eagle-eye reader Dan noticed that I lector a lot; the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass is on a much shorter lector cycle than the others. People seem to think of it as the “youth Mass,” so they’re always looking for teenagers to lector, and we never get the older people. (We also never get the standard song selections, which I now know because the parish organist has a new column in the bulletin. I would prefer those over getting “City of God” once a month and praise & worship music on “song sheets.”)

Anyway, I had the first reading the first time in a long time, and in my haste to get settled, I forgot my offering envelope in the vesting sacristy. Then the second reader left after completing hers to go sit with her kids. Thus, I was distracted again by the purely practical challenges of lectoring when you come to Mass alone. It would be nice to even have a friend who could sit with me and watch my stuff. I guess I could change parishes, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason. I’ve never been into parish-hopping.

As I mentioned, I was distracted during the homily. I was inspired back to paying attention, though, when I remembered that I would be writing this blog post, and I always recap the homily. You, dear readers, held me accountable, so thank you for that. Fr. Associate Pastor spoke about the desire to serve versus being served. He pointed out that businesses often present themselves as offering a “service” and desiring to “serve you better,” but you’re going to be paying for that kind of service. Christian service is distinguished by its desire to act without any reward. In the case of yesterday’s Gospel and the Suffering Servant first reading, the reward for Christian service may well be the glory of others in exchange for your suffering. It’s a uniquely Christian way of looking at suffering, a view which the world does not understand. But it’s the way to heaven. It’s the way of salvation.

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

Booking Through Thursday: Conversations, Round 2


Do you have people you can talk to about books you’ve read (share delight in plot twists, explore how much fun it was, or how badly-written)?

I do! I’m a reviewer for Austin CNM, so I have a built-in audience. Well, at least my stats are more than zero, and people have left comments and mentioned my reviews to my face, so I think I have an audience.

In real life, though, I rarely get to talk about books. Some of my other friends who are readers will occasionally ask what I’m reading. Thanks to my review column and my voracious reading appetite since childhood, I am always reading something. I like being able to share that, especially when I’m reading fiction and am in the middle of a book. I can’t spoil the end when I don’t know how it ends yet!

Not being able to talk and write critically about what I read is one of the things I miss about college. One of the pillars of writing a review is “don’t spoil the ending.” So many books provide rich discussion only when you can speak freely about the end. In school, it was almost impossible for me to develop a solid thesis about literature without referring to the entire work. Unless it ended with a whimper, there was always something about the end that changed how I saw the beginning and the plot-moving actions. Even To Kill a Mockingbird gives away the ending (sort of) without ruining it or using a frame story.

Oh, frame stories and technical terms. That’s something else I miss about college classes and about teaching. Maybe I should prioritize writing critically about what I read and just stick a spoiler alert on those posts. Maybe someday.

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

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