Monthly Archives: August, 2016

7 Quick Takes Ending My Radio Silence

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

— 1 —

It’s been quiet around the blog lately.

I have had an exceptionally difficult August. My first instinct in times of stress is to turn my usual action-oriented personality way up. I just Get Stuff Done. My second instinct is to flip out and keep my head down, to stay docile and quiet. That first instinct got me pretty far. I even managed my post for ATX Catholic. After that, I just tried to make it through my days as quietly as possible.

Things have eased up a little bit now, so I’m ready to try to regain my regular life.

— 2 —

My grandmother disappeared three weeks ago today. She lives near my parents back home in Maryland. My mom talks to her mom every day, so they are in near-constant contact. My grandma left her senior apartment complex to run a midmorning errand on August 4, and that’s the last time anyone saw her.

About a week later, Mr. Man alerted me to a local news story about my grandmother’s disappearance. I was reluctant to share our crisis at first. I wanted to ask for prayer, but I didn’t want to open up my grief. I still don’t. But I did, and I am, if only to increase our prayer support.

— 3 —

On August 8, I was suddenly slammed at work. I have been in the same role for two years, but I have never had the volume of work I experienced over the last three weeks. All of my energy went toward maintaining my day-to-day outside of work and managing my at-work workload.

— 4 —

Around August 9, I discovered that I had two simultaneous bacterial infections. (I thought it was just one at first, but I also thought it might be bedbugs. It was two. Neither was bedbugs.) They are clearing with the use of antibiotics, but it added insult to injury (or perhaps injury to injury), particularly because they are in the same area as my recently-diagnosed but as-yet-undisclosed-on-the-blog health condition. At least I already had an appointment with my doctor on August 16, and the diagnosis and treatment weren’t difficult. That helped ease the stress a little.

— 5 —

My stress increased, however, when Mr. Man’s family experienced their own tough times. It is not mine to share, but trust me, it’s a big deal.

— 6 —

In comparison to the rest of the month, this past week was excellent. In comparison to my regular life, it was pretty meh. My workload has returned to normal levels. I’m slowly getting back some of the mental space I lost when everything started happening all at once. I took two dance classes last night instead of my usual one, which made me feel invigorated and also tired.

— 7 —

I want to end on a cheerful note. I did some reading aloud at Spirit & Truth this week. One of our members complimented my lectoring skills. I pointed out that I have no athletic talent, so I consider lectoring my make-up skill. “Ah, so you have ath-lectoring talent,” she replied.

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

Peter Kreeft’s “Nineteen Types of Judgment”: An Outline

It’s back-to-school time in the Year of Mercy, so I bring you a learning opportunity. I am a teacher by training (although not currently by profession), so I love learning, and I love helping other people learn. It’s a reflex, an instinct, and the method by which I hope to make a difference in the world. If you thought learning stopped at your graduation (or even at the end of your last job-related training course), you were wrong.

I’ve got a whopper for you: a speech given by Catholic philosopher and professor Peter Kreeft. It’s about justice, and philosophy, and a little bit about mercy. According to Kreeft, there are nineteen different types of judgment. And you thought you were off the hook once you learned a charitable, apologetics-fueled response to “judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1)!

This isn’t school, though, so there’s no test at the end. The only test is your life. As I read Kreeft’s talk, I found myself recognizing principles I knew, learning unfamiliar concepts, and drawing conclusions about both. I hope that you will take the opportunity to do the same.

Peter Kreeft's "Nineteen Types of Judgment," at ATX

Here’s my outline of all nineteen types of judgment. Some words and phrases are the author’s, but many are mine.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Sunday Style: That Escalated Quickly

I had a very challenging weekend, and it has been a likewise challenging week. I’ve survived before, though, so I remain fairly confident that I’ll survive this one, too. Here’s what I wore to church on Sunday:

Sunday Style for August 7

Polo: Aeropostale
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Earrings: craft fair, many years ago

This outfit was mostly about the skirt and the shoes. I am still wearing this skirt many, many years after its original purchase. I’m pretty sure the colors were more vibrant in the past.

Please excuse the weird positioning of my toes in these shoes. They are the tallest heels I own (actually wedges), so they are definitely special occasion shoes. I can’t drive in them, but I can manage Mass. They are the kind of shoes you look really cute in for about an hour before taking them off or just sitting down. When I was teaching, one of my students wore stilettos almost every day. I wondered how her feet could take them until I realized that, as a student, she spent most of the day sitting down. That made more sense.

Fr. Associate Pastor’s homily was business as usual. He said that children follow their parents even though they don’t know where they are going, so their faith is like Abraham’s, following God’s command to leave his homeland even though he didn’t even know where he was going. Children have great trust in their parents. I wonder how much we trust God to lead us toward blessing even when we don’t know what will happen along the journey or even the destination.

He also said that he himself had journeyed from India to the U.S. without knowing where he would be assigned, what our parish was like, what the state looked like, or even how many allergic reactions he would experience! He came by faith. I’m big on hope, which is a form of trust, but that homily made me reflect on how much I really show my hope in the Lord.

After the homily, things escalated quickly. Fr. AP came out from behind the ambo (where both he and our pastor usually give their homilies, a practice I enjoy because I get distracted when they insist on wandering around) to stand in front the altar (where they both usually give the “you are welcome” speech before the offertory). It was the wrong time for that spatial shift, so I knew something was up.

Fr. AP explained that a woman at one of the Masses in the morning had not only brought her small dog to church but carried it with her to Communion. He found this particularly offensive. Service animals are fine, he explained, but pets are not allowed in church. He was very angry, saying that he would rather go back to India than stay in a country where such a thing occurs. It reminded him of inappropriate relationships people might have with their pets, and yes, that is what he meant. His words were clearer than mine here. It was definitely one of the most tense and awkward experiences I have ever had in church, and I go to church a lot.

I’m not a pet person. I definitely think that woman was in the wrong. Yet all I could think was that Fr. AP was preaching to the wrong crowd. I felt like we were being blamed for something we had nothing to do with. I unfortunately had another opportunity this week to bear a wrong patiently. It hurts. I’m not sure it’s worth it; there are six other spiritual works of mercy.

I know I wanted to get in touch with the Year of Mercy, but I didn’t mean it like that.

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: August 2016

Currently at Lindsay Loves

The worst part about adulting is that I’m not on a school year calendar, so summer doesn’t feel any different than the rest of the year. Except that it’s hot. I feel the heat.

Here’s what I am currently…

Hearting: Mr. Man, again and still. ;) Our visit in Houston was delightful. I also remembered how much I heart breakfast. I never have any reason to cook real breakfast food for myself, I almost never go to IHOP despite loving it and living near one, and I am never up and out early enough for brunch on weekends. But we went to brunch at Black Walnut Cafe, and it was delicious.

Watching: The last few episodes of the just-finished season of Bones. I’ve only been watching new episodes since Bones was pregnant the first time, but I’ve been hooked since then. I’m convinced that David Boreanaz has found the fountain of youth. I accidentally saw a spoiler of the finale, and wow! It’s kind of nice because I can see how they set up the plot twist in these last few episodes. I’ll be sad to see it go, but I’m excited to see how they finally, officially wrap it all up.

Exploring: The boundaries of time usage. After settling into GTD, creating my Life Plan, and reading 168 Hours, I have been very focused on the way I spend my time. What can I actually, honestly accomplish in a day? One hour? Fifteen minutes? Am I planning for realistic travel times? How long do I spend scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook? Is it better or worse to underplan my days? If I can’t manage all of this while I am unmarried and have no children, there’s not much hope for the future.

Creating: A solution to temporary contract binding. My job involves a lot of hard-copy contracts of various sizes. One recent batch is so large that even the largest binder clip cannot contain it all. So I dug around in our office supplies for something that might work (besides a rubber band). I settled on an expanding file pocket. It’s not perfect, but it is big enough, with room for expansion.

Eating: Bell peppers! I love the red ones, so I keep an eye on them all year for sales. I once bought them two for a dollar. The yellow and orange ones were on sale, too, so I bought all the colors and made so, so many fajitas. I decided to try out tray freezing with my second batch. It worked; they’re frozen. I haven’t cooked with those yet. In the meantime, I like the way they brighten up my freezer. Fun fact: Green and red bell peppers are the same vegetable. They change colors as they mature! They start green, which is why those are cheaper and more bitter. Then they turn red, which is why some underripe red peppers have patches of green.

Recapping: July

  • As mentioned, I went to Houston to see Mr. Man.
  • I got a diagnosis for a health problem I’ve been ignoring for a long time. It’s not contagious, and I’m not dying. It is kind of a big deal, though, so it deserves more blog focus than just a quick take or a recap. Watch this space.
  • I published another Wunderlist + GTD post. This one was mostly about inbox zero, though.
  • I made my own stereo when the old one died. It’s going okay so far.

So what’s new with you? What are you exploring currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Dana of Something Good. Won’t you join us?

Sunday Style: So Blue

No matter how frequently I am away or how much preparation I do to make the return easier, there is always a mild unsettled feeling when I get back to my regular routines. Sunday’s Mass was no exception.

Sunday Style for July 31

Dress and shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: old bridesmaid gift
Earrings: from middle school, I think?
Headband: Target

Maybe I should stop wearing headbands like this. I can never decide if they make me look younger. I’m not old enough to want to look younger. I did coordinate with the other lector at Mass, though, who was wearing a lovely layered blue skirt and a white top. So that was nice.

Fr. Associate Pastor did not arrive in the sacristy until about ten minutes before Mass was scheduled to begin. Our acolyte (like a cross between an adult altar server and a non-ordained deacon) got nervous and was in the middle of trying to call for help from his smartphone when Fr. AP dashed in. We started on time, though, and Jesus came, so all was well. We had no deacon, so I also read the Universal Prayer, which required a lot of body- and seat-shuffling. I miss our old seating arrangement. The logistics of the new one aren’t working.

Maybe the shuffling shouldn’t have distracted me so much that I couldn’t settle my mind for the homily, but it did. Perhaps that is the single lady version of taking a child to Mass who has a complete meltdown. I do remember that Fr. AP identified St. Francis and St. Clare as role models showing us that greatness does not come from great wealth, as the readings suggested. I think he also said something about being a good steward of spiritual wealth. That, or the spiritual wealth thing just occurred to me as I was listening.

We had a castrated version of “Taste and See” for communion (all male pronouns removed), but we closed with “Sing a New Song to the Lord.” This is not the same as the “Sing a New Song” you are probably thinking of. Having both felt like a nice (although probably unintentional) balance.

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 My High-Tech Radio, NFP Week, and Love Languages

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

— 1 —

My stereo was good to me. It was a gift from my mom. She is a master shopper; sometimes I request things when I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for, and she always delivers. This particular stereo had a radio tuner, a CD player, an iPhone connector (play and charge), and a remote. It was perfect. I even got a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter specifically so I could keep using it after I upgraded my phone to one with the newer connector.

I guess it started dying fairly early on. The first thing to go was the alarm. I switched to using my phone as an alarm clock, which turned out to be nice because then I hear the same sound that means “wake up” even when I’m traveling or napping. (I also hear that sound when it’s time to check my laundry, but still.) The next thing was the remote. It was a pain to have to walk across the room to change the radio station, but I got over it.

Then the radio started to go last week. For some reason, memory station #2 just would not stick. I tried scanning by hand to get back to the right station (96.7, which of course takes forever to reach no matter which end of the range you start from) and resetting the memory, but I failed twice in a row. That was the last straw. I need radio.

— 2 —

My solution deserves its own take. One of my roommates gave me an adorable Bluetooth speaker for Christmas. I don’t usually exchange Christmas gifts with friends, but it’s her love language, so we work it out. I have used the speaker with my current iPhone several times. It’s great for Pandora, but podcasts skip like CDs for reasons beyond my technical knowledge, so I just don’t use it that way.

I also have my old iPhone 4. I dug it out of my tech storage box, charged it (plugging in a 30-pin connector was so bizarre!), and am now using it like an iPod touch. It gets wi-fi, so I can play local radio stations live from their websites. (I guess I could also pick up stations from back home. I’ll have to try that next.) With my old phone paired with the Bluetooth speaker, I have a radio again!

Old stereo meets my new one: old iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker.

Old stereo, meet new stereo.

It’s not as easy to switch stations, but I only ever do that when I have time to spare anyway (i.e. not weekday mornings). It doesn’t play and charge, but Bluetooth allows me to play while charging at a distance. I need to take more advantage of that. It doesn’t play CDs, which encourages me to finally rip all my physical CDs so I can stream them in-house.

Finally, I updated to iOS 7.1 (the last one available for that device) for security purposes and because I couldn’t stand looking at iOS 5 anymore. Can I request that we never go back to keys that don’t visually switch between capitals and lowercase again? How did we live like that? #throwback

— 3 —

On the way back from visiting Mr. Man in Houston, I stopped for gas in Katy. I’ve done cross-country drives before and always done okay choosing a random gas station. (I usually pick one that is also near food so I don’t have to make a separate food stop.)

The random gas station I picked was super sketchy. I’m a little bit paranoid in general, but I felt so uncomfortable there that I just got right back in my car and kept driving down the service road.

The next station (seriously, the very next one I passed) was so much better. It was bigger and cleaner, and I felt much more safe. I went inside, and when I got the register with my soda, a man ran back in from outside to switch his pump number. The cashier looked up and saw me standing there. He was visibly startled and said, “I was not expecting to look up and see such a beautiful woman!” A lovely lagniappe for my day.

— 4 —

Last week was NFP Awareness Week. I have been aware of NFP for a while now (at least since I started going to church; imagine that), so I don’t usually see anything new in the posts and articles that emerge each year. I did notice that this year’s image has a couple at their wedding:

NFP Week 2016

Honestly, promoting NFP by using pictures of women with babies is probably not the smartest marketing move. This is a nice change.

This year, I want to highlight a brilliant post by the lovely Britt Leigh at Proverbial Girlfriend. She is a newlywed expecting her first child. Although that is not what most of the world thinks when they picture “someone who makes this NFP thing sound like a viable alternative to standard birth control,” I encourage you to read her post. She does a great job of linking it with weddings (our Not Alone Series topic for the month of July), sharing the reality and hopefulness of the NFP life, and neither sugarcoating nor sounding bitter or didactic.

I should read more blogs by writers. We are awesome.

— 5 —

Wrapping back around to love languages, Verily posted an article this week about how to speak your man’s love language when it is Physical Touch (besides that). That is not Mr. Man’s love language (we have the same one, Quality Time), but I read it anyway. I was delighted to find that the tips the (male!) writer gives are applicable to learning to speak every love language. Especially if your snuggle bunny’s love language is not the same as yours. Even if your snuggle bunny’s love language is the same as yours.

The same word can have multiple meanings and various connotations in a single language. “I’m fine” means very different things when you (a) have just fallen into a literal deep hole and are physically unhurt but unable to reach the surface, (b) are a woman responding to an inquiry from your main man, and (c) want a store employee to leave you alone. So it’s important to approach speaking someone’s love language with an open mind and a heart ready to learn. The words of affirmation you say are not necessarily the words he wants to hear.

— 6 —

Speaking of women and stores, I heard a profound insight some time ago: Men don’t go shopping. They go hunting.

— 7 —

I was wrong about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: it actually did raise a lot of money, and it actually did make a difference. I maintain that I saw too many videos framing the challenge as “donate or dump ice water over your head,” as if the bucket were a way to get out of donating, but the money came in somehow and was put to good use. I can get behind that.

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

Finding God, Funny Times, and Failing Health (Review: “Operating on Faith”)

I tend not to like vignette-style books. I never did like The House on Mango Street, critical acclaim and racially diverse protagonist notwithstanding. I do, however, enjoy stories of young adults living the Catholic life with joy, not bitterness. It’s refreshing, and it’s my reality. With a lighthearted approach in mind, I read Operating on Faith: A Painfully True Love Story, by Matt Weber, and found much mirth infused by reverence.

A review of "Operating on Faith" at ATX

As I said, this book is a memoir told by way of vignettes through Weber’s first few years of marriage. I knew that the “for better or for worse” of Matt and Nell’s early marriage would come into play, but I still wanted a cohesive character journey to follow. Even with scattered scenes, I like to have the feeling that there is a running theme to a story, a particular meaning. In the author’s own words, the major takeaway is that we should “find the meaning.” I struggled with that. Weber definitely encourages his readers to find meaning in their suffering (physical and spiritual), but he has one critical factor that not everyone does….

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

© 2002–2022. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.