Monthly Archives: July, 2016

Recommended Reads: 28/2016

I have been reading up a storm! I just discovered that Pocket has a bulk edit feature, so I can delete archived-but-not-favorited articles in big chunks instead of one at a time. I had one chunk of 73 items! Today, for you, I will share only seven.

pile of books

— 1 —

Title: 4 Questions People Will Be More Excited to Answer Than “What Do You Do?”
Source: The Muse

I really do try hard not to ask that early in a conversation. My go-to since I’ve lived in Austin has been, “Are you a native Texan?” There is so much Texas pride here! Living here has actually made me significantly more proud to be from Maryland. I want to play the state pride game, too!

— 2 —

Title: Why I Love My Invisible Friend
Source: Word on Fire via CERC

One of the favorite taunts of atheists is that religious people believe in an “invisible friend.” They are implying, of course, that religion is little more than a pathetic exercise in wishful thinking, a reversion to childish patterns of projection and self-protection. It is well past time, they say, for believers to grow up, leave their cherished fantasies behind, and face the real world. In offering this characterization, the New Atheists are showing themselves to be disciples of the old atheists such as Feuerbach, Marx, Comte, and Freud, all of whom made more or less similar observations.

Well, I’m writing here to let atheists know that I think they’re right, at least about God being an invisible friend. Where they’re wrong is in supposing that surrendering to this unseen reality is de-humanizing or infantilizing.

I love Bishop Barron. God is invisible, and he is our friend, and both of those are actually beneficial.

— 3 —

Title: How to Overcome Bad Habits
Source: The Catholic Gentleman

Introspection is necessary in order that we shall isolate the habit and see it clearly as a sin. The surprise we feel when others criticize some fault in us proves that we have not practiced introspection sufficiently to know ourselves. Some people are afraid ever to look into their consciences, for fear of what they might find; they are like the other cowards who dare not open telegrams because they dread bad news.
But introspection is to the soul what diagnosis is to the body—the first necessary step toward health.

More gold from Venerable Fulton Sheen—and it’s more than just avoiding the near occasion of sin (although that is one of his tips).

— 4 —

Title: 10 Clever Time-Saving Hacks (So You Can Spend More Time Doing What You Love)
Source: Verily

This is a listicle worth reading (or at least skimming). I do 3, 7, and as much of 8 and 9 as I can.

— 5 —

Title: Brian Nosek’s Reproducibility Project Finds Many Psychology Studies Unreliable
Source: The Atlantic

Well, that’s not what you want. This isn’t to say that psychology (or any science) isn’t trustworthy, but it sure puts a damper on the rallying cry of people who won’t believe anything unless it appears in a peer-reviewed journal. Blind trust of journals is no better than blind trust of any other authority.

— 6 —

Title: The Cognitive Biases That Lead to Bad Money Decisions
Source: Two Cents at Lifehacker

Two Cents is a great personal finance (sub-)blog. I don’t read everything, but I watch the headlines in Feedly. I was stuck under the status quo bias for my old cell phone carrier for longer than I’d like to admit. My only comfort is that it’s such a common situation that Kristin used it as one of her examples! And because I zero-balance budget, I’m now capturing that 50% cost reduction to use for other purposes.

— 7 —

Title: Kids and Modesty or, How I Got My Kids to Quit Getting Naked in the Yard
Source: Catholic All Year

I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to emphasize to children the idea that our bodies are for our future spouses. While I think that that is partially true, I think that it is MORE true that our bodies are for God whether He intends us to have a spouse or not. And I think that it’s more appropriate to understand that spouses become one rather than that they take ownership of one another’s bodies. So I think it’s more useful to emphasize God’s claim on our bodies rather than a spouse’s.

Kendra is the best. I’ve always found that “ownership” angle a little too close to slavery for my comfort.

For up-to-the minute recommendations from what I read, follow me on Pocket.

Sunday Style: Social Commentary

I was feeling a lot of feelings at Mass yesterday. None of them were “I don’t like this outfit.”

Sunday Style for July 10

Sunday Style details for July 10

Bonus photo because I got a little carried away with photos of my flower clip.

Top and skirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: My Daily Grace at Etsy
Hair clip: tiny accessories store at the Round Rock Outlets
Bracelet: gift from my trivia team founder

The Sunday after laundry day is always a nice day to pick out an outfit. Everything’s clean! These are the same shoes I wore last week. They require that I do my toenails, which is generally a low priority, so I have to take advantage of the opportunity to wear these when I can. I have also been forgetting to wear my hair clips. It’s not actually a flower, but it’s abstract enough to look like a flower when I want it to. Feels summery.

The bracelet is a new everyday accessory, like my watch. My friend went to Europe on vacation. She is a Buddhist, but she knows I actually enjoy this whole “being a Catholic” thing, so Catholic stuff reminds her of me. She picked this out for me at the Abbey of Montserrat in Spain. It has a tiny medal with an image of Our Lady of Montserrat (one of the black Madonnas, which is a completely non-offensive association with me, seriously) on one side and the Sacred Heart on the other. I have never been a charm bracelet kind of girl, so it’s taking some getting used to. I’ve missed having a religious bracelet on my right arm, though, so it feels very good to have that spot filled again.

Yesterday’s homily theme was definitely compassion. Fr. Associate Pastor made an explicit connection of the story of the Good Samaritan to unfortunate current events, which was absolutely the right thing to do. But there’s only so much we can say

We’re in a sad state when people are dying and laws are not enough. There’s an endless debate over whether changing laws will change hearts or changing hearts leads to changed laws. Maybe it’s time to focus on hearts. That’s harder, and it takes longer, but it has to happen. As we’re seeing, laws are not good enough. That is what I have to say about that.

When I read the Gospel before Mass, I struggled with the summary description of the Samaritan’s actions as “merciful.” Maybe it’s a translation problem? As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on understanding the difference between mercy, justice, and forgiveness. Now I have to toss “compassion” into the mix. Fr. AP definitely called the Samaritan “compassionate.” That sounds like just the right word—”suffering with” the man attacked by robbers—but it doesn’t sound merciful. He deserved aid. The simplest definition of mercy I can uncover is getting what you don’t deserve (or not getting the negative consequence you deserve). Is compassion part of mercy, or is it something different?

I was also left wondering by the odd selection of songs. We had a weird opening song about how “we struggle to be human.” I did not sing that part (and a couple of other weird lines) because singing asinine words is like praying asinine words twice (thanks, St. Augustine). And it was set to tune of “The Church’s One Foundation,” so I felt like I was in Bizarro Land until the procession ended. We ended with “In Christ There Is No East or West,” which I actually kind of like. After Communion, the choir sang “Ave Verum Corpus” so beautifully that I felt like I was melting into it.

So, like I said, I had a lot going on in my mind and heart yesterday. It was difficult, but it was so much better than those days when I’m just not feelin’ it.

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

7 Quick Takes on Grammar, My Favorite Saint, and My Favorite Band

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

I have a new grammar pet peeve. It turned up several times on completely different websites I was reading yesterday. It’s the word “as” when used as a correlative conjunction without its other half. Correlative conjunctions are phrases which must use both parts in the same sentence to make a comparison.

I lost not only my wallet but also my whole purse.

You can choose either chicken or fish.

Whether he walks or runs, he’ll be late.

You can’t use one part of a correlative conjunction without the other. This real example was the last straw for me:

*After downloading the app on my iPhone, I simply logged in and immediately had access to download as many pictures at once from my [Pinterest] boards.

“As many” as what? As many as you could? That’s pretty circular. As many as you wanted? That’s great! As many as you had time for? Then how long is a complete download going to take?

This goes right up there with comma splices and then/than in my Contemporary Grammar Hall of Shame.

— 2 —

I am a card-carrying member of the Apostleship of Prayer. I also get the monthly e-newsletter with links to the reflections for each month. I don’t like the new content of the email (there’s basically nothing in it except a link to the actual information, which is on the website), but I did like this month’s reflection questions for the evangelization intention:

What are some ways that “the light of the Gospel” can be brought “into public life, into culture, economics and politics” without being rejected as the imposition of religion on non-believers?

Those are quotations from Pope Benedict from the Aparecida meeting in 2007. It’s an interesting question to consider, and it’s basically the story of my life outside the parish grounds. How do you preach the Gospel at all times? (Don’t attempt to quote St. Francis to me. He was a preacher! He found words pretty necessary.)

— 3 —

My week was pretty quiet. I didn’t get a project done on Monday like I wanted to, but I did get my book finished for this week’s ATX Catholic review, so that was pretty good.

I’ve also been working on finding a diagnosis for a specific health problem I’d rather not discuss now except to ask for your prayers. I don’t take very good care of my physical health, so it’s especially challenging for me to work on something that has not been a quick fix.

— 4 —

The feast of my favorite saint, Maria Goretti, was this week! I almost missed it. I have electronic reminders set up for all kinds of things, but somehow I forgot to set one to start my novena. Even my Weekly Review failed me. Then I missed a day somewhere and wound up really far behind. I prayed all nine days’ worth, though, and it gave me some time for reflection on my spiritual life.

St. Maria Goretti is usually known as a patroness of chastity, but she’s gaining a reputation as a patron of mercy as well, particularly in this Year of Mercy. I am especially drawn to her courage and fortitude. I don’t know if I could forgive the guy who just tried to rape and murder me, whether he was about to succeed in the murdering part or not. I don’t know if I could resist the attack for the sake of his soul. I don’t know if I could actually risk death for what I believe in. Could you?

— 5 —

I read a little bit of the Bible every day by way of Night Prayer and Evangelio del dia. It just occurred to me that the latter absolutely counts as the spiritual reading I feel guilty about never doing. Why didn’t I realize that before? I love it when things double-count! (Well, except for that one time with the Immaculate Conception, I guess.)

— 6 —

Switchfoot’s new album is out today! I know, nobody actually buys music anymore these days, but they’re my favorite band. My blog went viral when I reviewed a concert of theirs, I met Jon Foreman and he said he liked my upcycled shirt, and they are the only band besides *NSync I have ever seen in concert. (And I am not ashamed.) So I bought it. I might even text them to say how much I like it.

Yep. And then:

That is so punk rock.

— 7 —

That’s it for this week. Here’s a picture of a Corgi doing yoga (or maybe pilates?)

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

Currently: July 2016

Currently at Lindsay Loves

I am not ready for it to be July yet. I was also not ready for it to be Thursday. I’m glad it’s not the 6th anymore, though. I write the date on things all day long at work, and I’m one of those people who does all numerals and slashes, so I had serious trouble with 6/6/16 and 7/6/16. So many lines and slashes! Can we get to August already? I don’t think 8’s will be quite as confusing.

Here’s what I am currently…

Toasting: Bagels. Same as always. I eat a bagel for breakfast almost every day. I am a butterer, not a cream cheeser. And these days, I can only have them toasted. For some bizarre reason, our thermostat defaults to 79 or 80 in the summer. I haven’t figured out how to change the default (we rent), so I just override it manually when I get home and before I go to bed. The heat makes the pantry so warm that my bagels kept getting moldy, so I started keeping them in the fridge. No one likes a fridge-cold bagel, so I have to toast them first. No room-temp bagel eating until winter. I do, however, love fridge-cold french fries.

Going: That’s more of a “where” than a “what.” #grammarhammer I am not a “week away” vacation kind of girl. I much prefer using a day here or there for a short road trip (like when I saw my heavenly BFF St. Maria Goretti last fall) or to attend an out-of-town wedding. And since I go home for Christmas, I have to save up days all the way until the end of the year. So I haven’t been going much of anywhere, and I’m okay with that. I do have another visit to Mr. Man scheduled soon, though. That should be pretty delightful.

Smelling: Grossness. We got a new dishwasher, and I hoped that would solve the mysterious dirty dishes problem. Things weren’t really getting clean. Without that essential quality, a dishwasher is just a cabinet with lots of organization and a weird door. I’m also tired of seeing obvious fingerprints and lip prints on our glasses. I wear tinted lip balm, and I reuse my water glass several times, but I’ve never had this problem before. Maybe it is “operator error,” as we say at work. The new dishwasher also seems to have an excellent seal, such that it holds dirty-dish smells exceptionally well. Should we be running it more often? We try to wait until it’s full, which can take a week. (We don’t always eat at home.) That wasn’t a problem when I lived alone and ran my dishwasher probably every 10 days or so. More operator error?

Wearing: Shorts. I gave up shorts completely several years ago. I have unusually long thighs (that’s what makes me so tall), so when trends moved towards 3-inch inseams, I opted out. After several long, hot years, bermudas came back in style, and I was a happy camper again. We had uncharacteristically mild weather in both winter and spring here, so the rush of summer was even more unsettling than usual. Welcome back, A/C, my old friend.

Wishlisting: Didn’t we just have this one? (Yes.) My new computer is fantastic. Now I need a new laptop sleeve. For my previous laptop, I bought one that matched the cute design on the laptop lid itself. The new one is just slate gray, so I have basically limitless possibilities. Any brand recommendations?

Recapping: June

I knew June would be a very full month, but it’s intimidating to look back at it now! So what’s new with you? What are you smelling currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence and Jenna of Gold & Bloom. Won’t you join us?

Sunday Style: Everyone Stood Up!

I was so, so happy to wash my hair in a hot shower this week. It made the whole day better. And then there was Jesus! Here’s what I wore to church:

Sunday Style for July 3

Dress: Old Navy
Shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: Renaissance festival (super old; barely visible [the earrings in the photos, not the actual enormous festival grounds])

I call this my fireworks dress, after a comment my friend Katie made on an Instagram of this outfit from Sundays past. It seemed appropriate for the weekend. You can also sort of see the slightly heather print of this shirt. I don’t think heather white is a color, but I like how this otherwise boring white t-shirt has a little lagniappe.

Guys. I forgot my phone on the way to church! I usually listen to the Christian genre station on Pandora while I do my hair and makeup. This week, I did not remember to put my phone in my purse. I also usually write out my tithe check right before leaving and enter the check number into my YNAB app immediately. I wrote the check several days early, though (uninteresting story), so I didn’t have to do that, and I missed my trigger for “put phone in purse.” I realized my habit failure when I reached in to switch the ringer off before Mass. Conveniently, I still carry one of those pocket notebooks for when I need an actual piece of paper, so, after Mass, I scribbled down my homily notes by hand. I felt like a dinosaur. A well-prepared dinosaur. A Boy Scout dinosaur?

Fr. Associate Pastor was back in town, so he was back in action at the Sunday evening Mass. He started his homily by telling the story behind a South American statue of Christ. Not the one you’re thinking of in Rio, but a different one: Christ holding cross, standing on the border between Argentina and Chile. By legend, it is cast from the melted-down guns of war.

At that point, I wondered, “Why have I never heard of this?” Did you think that, too? Well, now you have. As Fr. AP continued to recount, Argentina and Chile had been preparing to go to war over their border dispute, but the bishops convinced the people to choose peace instead. The statue was erected and positioned on the border as a reminder of the countries’ promise to maintain peace in favor of war. Similarly, Jesus tells the disciples to use peace as the test of whether a new town was ripe territory for evangelization. Peace first, then the war against sin raged in their hearts. It was a unique homily, that’s for sure.

It was also a Mass with some fun times. I might not have my own kids’ Mass behavior to report on, but that doesn’t mean nothing good happens.

Although Fr. AP referenced the saccharine song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” in his homily, we did not actually have to sing it. We did, however, sing “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” which I adore. If I die suddenly, I want that at my funeral. (If I die after a long, slow illness, I still want it.) We also sang “God of Our Fathers,” which was actually written for the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was also, as all church songs ought to be, easy to sing.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, I was happily distracted by a tiny voice singing the ABC song. It’s so cute when the little ones choose the absolute quietest parts of Mass to make a joyful noise. I guess it would be less cute if they shouted “I have to poop!” (I think that’s a Jen Fulwiler True Story.)

Finally, I was reminded how easy it is to go on Mass-inspired autopilot and succumb to positive peer pressure. The choir’s offertory song was unusually short. Usually, the pianist and/or organist will improvise long enough to cover the hand-washing. This time, there was just silence, so Fr. AP proceeded with the “Blessed are you, O Lord” part over the bread. If you go to daily Mass, you hear that part all the time. You know to stay seated, and you know the “blessed be God forever” response. Someone up front must not have known all of that and just stood up, prompting the entire rest of the church to do the same! I looked around, confused, reasonably confident that we were not supposed to stand up yet. “What about the hand-washing?” I thought. As the altar servers moved down to their kneelers near the altar (where they usually go just after we all stand up), I just closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to try not to laugh when the servers realized what had happened.

It all worked out, though. Hands were washed, parishioners stayed standing, Jesus came down, and all was well.

Anything hilarious happen at your church this weekend? Do you get church giggles like I do? Have you ever made the whole church stand or sit at the wrong time? (I have!)

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

Carmelite Spirituality for the Analytical Mind (Review: “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Gerald May)

I have a relatively new interest in the intersection of psychology and spirituality. I have some good friends who are Catholics and counselors, and while I treasure the opportunities I’ve had to walk alongside people on their spiritual journeys, I’ve never wanted to pursue that path myself. I don’t even have much interest in spiritual direction. But I’m always up for a new book.

One of my roommates is aware of this interest of mine and has been recommending books that might help my casual research. Although I’ve never been much into Carmelites, I decided to give her latest recommendation a try. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth, by Gerald G. May, M.D., is perhaps the best resource I’ve encountered for beginning to understand contemplative prayer and its role in the spiritual life.

"Faith darkens and empties the intellect, hope frees the memory, and love liberates the will." Gerald G. May, M.D.

The tricky thing about contemplation is that, if you think you’ve mastered it, you probably haven’t. In that way, it’s like trying to explain the Holy Trinity: the closest analogy you can muster up is probably a heresy. I have always struggled with contemplation and contemplative prayer for that very reason. I’m a very action-oriented person, although I am also quite reflective. This is probably why I can never wrap my head around Carmelite spirituality, but Augustinian principles speak straight to my heart. So I went into this book hoping that I might understand contemplative prayer a little more.

I’ve also struggled with the concept of the “dark night of the soul.” Have I been through it? Am I going through it right now? Is it something I should fear, like a punishment? Is it something I should want, like painful physical therapy that is needed to restore health? Should I fear it despite wanting it? Can I even figure out if I’m in it, or if I have been in it, or if it’s coming?

It’s all very confusing. This book, however, is not.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

7 Quick Takes on Harry Potter, the Relationship Status Retreat, and Our Broken Water Heater

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Our water heater died last Saturday. I have not been home for the last several plumber visits, so I didn’t know until I was chatting with my roommate yesterday that the old one was apparently so old that plumbers routinely expressed surprise that it was still working at all. That would have been nice to know. This is our second appliance replacement this year. Our landlord has always been very quick to fix things. I guess he likes us.

I learned several other things this week. I now have hard evidence that I do not like cold showers. I suffered through bathing and washing my hair in the cold water on Sunday morning and attempting to feel clean at all before work on Monday, but then I gave up. I was able to shower at my friend’s condo every night until yesterday, when the water heater was finally replaced. Thursday night was the time in four days that I did not look at my computer clock and think, “Nine o’clock. Time to drive so I can take a shower.” I don’t think I can find an appropriate expression of gratitude for my feelings about having any backup at all.

I also discovered firsthand that, when one of your basic needs is not being met or becomes suddenly much more difficult to meet, everything else gets significantly worse. All I wanted to do was take a hot shower at home. I did not want to have to carve an extra hour out of my already-precious evenings in order to bathe. It was all I could do not to complain about it every day at work. (My cube neighbors complain all the time.) My poor friends and Mr. Man got the brunt of it.

Finally, I now know that living without hot water is not nearly as bad as living without water. I’ve had spurts of that before. It was much worse. Thanks be to God for water, water heaters, and the end of this challenge.

— 2 —

I am sure that everyone else at the day retreat I went to on Saturday was glad that I’d had a hot shower that morning. The retreat was titled “Relationship Status.” Its logo was this cute and #realtalk image:

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

It was not quite what I expected, but it was absolutely worth going. The location actually helped a lot: it felt like I was actually retreating because I had to drive relatively far to get there. The two young women who organized the retreat each gave talks followed by small group discussion. We had Mass, with an excellent homily. After lunch, the keynote speakers shared their very complicated marriage story and their experiences of marriage. They were each married previously, and I thought they could have put more emphasis on their convalidation (although they did mention it), but my takeaway was how much joy they have now. I genuinely felt like I was experiencing Christ through them.

I have plenty left to unpack from the retreat (metaphorically). I am so glad such a thing was organized and successfully held. I think Pope Francis—and everyone else who wants to see improvement in marriage and the family in the Church—would have liked it, too.

— 3 —

More Twitter love this week!

Scott Stanley favorited me on Twitter!

Dr. Scott Stanley writes an excellent blog about his research into marital success and marriage quality. I try to keep his advice in mind as I make my way, God willing, toward the altar. He even shared his advice directly with me and Beth Anne.

— 4 —

It seems like every big-time blogger (or even the small-time ones that want to be big-time) has a e-book and an e-newsletter these days. I do not like that. A blogger’s “e-book” is usually just a PDF with a compilation of blog posts. Is there that big a desire for repackaging? Am I underestimating the draw of e-books? If I want out-of-browser portability, I can make my own PDFs with PrintFriendly. For my guest posts and my writing at ATX Catholic, I do!

You usually have to trade your email address for the e-book, which often subscribes you to an e-newsletter automatically. I also dislike that. Maybe I don’t want the newsletter. If there’s not exclusive content, why would I want to get yet another email to process?

That said, I realized this week that, if I wanted to start an e-newsletter, Recommended Reads would be a decent content stream for it.

— 5 —

“Frameworks foster freedom.” Mike Vardy said that in a Blab he recorded and released as a podcast episode recently. I might never have heard anything from any productivityist I agree with more.

— 6 —

I love when my favorites collide. This time, the Most Interesting Man in the World meme meets one of my top five 80’s songs:

I don't always leave my friends behind, but when I do it's because my friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine.

— 7 —

NEW HARRY POTTER! Technically, there has been new writing from J.K. Rowling since the old version of Pottermore was still around, and she’s been posting even more on the new Pottermore, and she co-wrote the script book for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that’s coming out at the end of this month.

But still. Reading the story of Ilvermorny’s founding made my inner child giddy. I was pulled in just as I was then. I am impressed that she wrote such a full, compelling story and made it so short! Oh, my heart is happy.

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

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