Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neon and Standards

In sunny St. Paul today it got up to 92 degrees, and tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. Thanks August...

tank: h&m, necklace: thrifted, shorts: j. crew, flats: j. crew

It is amazing how the word "modesty" can have so many diverse meanings to so many people, loaded with passion and emotion, anger, disgust, solace and joy. It is also amazing how time, age, experiences and acquaintances can drastically change one's view and definition of a word. I am one such person who has had a change of heart so to speak. 

I was the stereotypical high schooler who thought she knew EVERYTHING. "Man, God has just gifted me with the special knowledge and wisdom to know exactly what modesty means, and anyone who really cares about modesty and their faith will have the exact same way of practicing this 'virtue'." WOW, how naive and ignorant can a person be?!

I just watched the movie "There Be Dragons" which is about St. Josemaria Escriva and the persecution of the Church in Spain. There was a line he said that really spoke to me. Josemaria's brother was asking how a true Catholic would proceed in the persecution of the Church, would he fight back or be a martyr? Josemaria responded that God has given each man reason, intellect and freedom to be able to make moral decisions based on his knowledge, and that he will be responsible for those decisions. How beautiful! There is no cookie cutter way for a woman to live out and practice modesty. She can practice her reason and free will to live out her modesty in the best and most true way she can.

So how do I practice modesty? It will undoubtedly vary from other women, but I have a couple rules I usually like to follow.

1. No butts, guts or coconuts. 'Nuf said.

2. I like to wear straps that are at least 1-inch wide, that way all undergarments are concealed and I know my top or dress will not fall down.

3. If a shirt is so tight that one can see the contours of my not-so-flat abs, no thanks.

4. I don't wear knit pants/shorts/leggings/skirts/spandex. Too clingy.

5. I have found that I like shorts that have a 7in. inseam. They are just most comfortable for me. However, I do own a couple 5in. inseam shorts, they just ride up a little when I sit down.

6. It's hard to have a rule about skirts/dress lengths because lots of things need to be factored in: the flare of the skirt, the fabric of the skirt, if leggings/tights are being worn underneath, and what shoes are being warn. A sure test, however, is if my skirt is shorter than the biking shorts I wear underneath it, it's got to go.

These many factors are going to vary greatly between women because of cultural standards, the way you were raised, personal comfortability, your height (or lack thereof), etc.

Perhaps most important of all, though, is the way a woman carries herself- in speech, conduct, and thought. While the body must not be neglected, neither can the soul.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dating Advice from a Singleton

The irony of a single person offering relationship advice is not lost on me. My older brother passed on this gem of wisdom and it really has proven effective. Often times women on the Christian dating scene, myself included, get frustrated because

Woman- “There are no good single men left, and if there are, they never pursue me.”
Reality- Really? Didn’t Bobby just ask you to coffee the other day?
Woman- Well, yeah, but I’m not really attracted to him.
Reality- Oh, okay, how about Sam who invited you to that concert?
Woman- Well yeah but… he’s too quiet.
Reality- Hmm, and Kevin? Why did you turn down his offer to go dancing?
Woman- Oh Kevin? We’re not right for each other, it just wouldn’t work.

But how do you know?

One of the biggest mistakes we women who want to be pursued make is not accepting the pursuit!

1. It takes a lot of guts for a guy to walk up to a beautiful creation like you and ask you out. And despite the confident fa├žade, guys can and will get discouraged if they are turned down too many times. This can and will cause them to put the brakes on and cease pursuing. Definitely not what we want.
2. There is no way to see what he is like in a one on one setting, which is how the majority of your time will be spent in a relationship,  if you are never one on one. Absolutely you should spend time in groups, and his actions with his friends, your friends, family members and even strangers are very telling about him and his character. But naturally there is a difference between interacting with one person, and interacting with many at once.

Example: Since receiving this advice I have been able to put it in to practice twice. First guy, I would have totally said no to because he just seemed…awkward. I was kind of uncomfortable talking with him…lots of awkward silences. But he was pretty persistent so I gave him a chance. And I was pleasantly surprised! We met, had a really great conversation and he was a perfect gentleman. The second time was very similar. I had been hanging out with this guy in groups for a while and he hardly ever talked to me, sometimes I wondered if he even knew I existed! He asked me out (huge shocker) and my friend had to remind me to take my brother’s advice and give him a shot. Again, I was proven wrong! He was able to carry on good and engaging conversation the entire night, and it seemed as if he was a different person!

3. So often you don’t get to know someone, the real him, until you have spent a good amount of time together, in a variety of situations, exploring a vast array of topics. First impressions…SUCK! Ahem, what I mean is, how many times have you been wrong about someone based on first impressions? Or someone wrong about you because they didn’t give you a chance? It is the same with relationships. Saying hello occasionally to an acquaintance, stalking them on facebook or even having a class with someone does not constitute getting to know someone; therefore you cannot know what he is like until you give him a chance!

“But Catherine, if I am not totally into him, and I accept his invitation, isn’t that leading him on? I don’t want to make him pay for me and spend time with me if I don’t know for sure if it will work out…”

1. Guys aren’t as sensitive to the “leading on” conundrum as women can be. If he is mature and in a healthy place to be pursuing a gal, he will know and understand that this is dinner, it’s not an exchange of vows, and no one is legally bound to anything just because he will open a few doors for you and share a few laughs. He will know and understand that this may be a one-time thing that doesn’t go any further, or it may go well and you’ll see each other again.
2. You are worth everything he spends on dinner and every minute of his time. Whether this is your last first date or your last date ever with him. If he wants the opportunity to get to know you, spend time with you, pursue something with you and the grace of your presence, his time and pocket change is surely worth it.
3. Again, it is certainly possible you are not already head over heels in love with him, or you may have never even considered him as an option romantically. However, now a door has been opened to see where it leads and you can either walk through to an adventure or slam the door in adventure’s face. If nothing else, my brother always reminds me, you get to dress up and get a free meal out of the deal ;)

We women are lovers of the romantic, fantastical world. However, we live in the awkward, ordinary world. Most stories of married couples began as just friends, and the story progresses plainly and unexcitedly. Although there are some instances of love at first sight (my brother-in-law felt this toward my sister), there are also instances where a person is totally not into the other at first (my sister toward my brother-in-law). And yet, by being open, adventurous, and willing to give a little on your idea of your perfect man and romance story, God can show you His perfect plan for you and your unique path to Holiness.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Sunday in Summer

Happy Sunday!

I actually wore this outfit this past Easter, but it also works well for any Sunday in summer!

top: rainbow, belt: kohls, ring: new york and company, skirt: j.crew, flats: kohls

I don't have much to commentate on for this outfit, I feel as though it pretty much speaks for itself! As you will soon find out, I am a very "matchy-matchy" kind of girl. I like everything from head to toe to coordinate. 

It all started back in 2nd grade at my first basketball game. I wore a goldenrod bandana to match my men's extra-large jersey. All throughout my tom-boy years and countless sports teams, my accessories (sweat bands, knee high socks, sliding pants, and even knee pads) coordinated seamlessly. The rest is history.

P.S. A pet peeve of mine is when people say "conversate." For example, my girl Beyonce even has a line in a song "...let's get to conversatin'..." But is commentate a word? If there definitely are "commentators", then they must be "commentating" which must mean to "commentate"... right?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bible in 90 Days

I love Pinterest. You can follow me here. One day I noticed a pin that was not like the usual outfits and recipes I see, it looked like this: 

I was intrigued. I followed the link to see where it went, and I was sold. I signed up with a program to read the Bible in 90 days and I'll tell you has been fantastic! I have never seriously read or studied the Bible before. The extent to which I am familiar with it is readings on Sundays, praying the Rosary and when my mom would curl my hair in high school she made me read out loud from the Bible. But never have I taken it upon myself and seriously read it through. 

My best friend recently left the Catholic Church and has had an extraordinary awakening of her faith that has lead her to cling to the Bible: it's teachings, prayers and stories. Our conversations now always consist of some aspect of the Bible, and I am ashamed at how little I can offer to the discussions. What perfect timing to delve into The Word!

It has been a real Blessing to have a structured schedule, and because I am signed up in a program, the other gals in my group pray for me and hold me accountable.

It is so exciting to read about history, but especially Our Lord, and it is so refreshing to be completely unplugged for at least one hour a day.

Today is day 6. So far I am going strong, but I am sure as time goes on it will get tough. Please keep my group members and I in prayer as we travel this journey together.

Friday, August 24, 2012

State Fair

Today I am heading to the Minnesota State Fair. My favorite thing to do is post up at the milk booth with a cone of Sweet Martha's cookies! This is what I'll be wearing...

shirt: gap pure, necklace and bracelet: gifts, shorts: thrifted, tennies: target

1. Neon and brights are definitely in this season (although I do realize summer is quickly coming to a close). I like to add complimentary colors to an outfit with accessories. Adds a little extra flavor and interest.

2. I am really a fan of the recent "tucking in" trend. I defintely used to make fun of my dad for tucking his t-shirts into his athletic shorts, but it really is a quick way to class up an otherwise casual outfit.

3. I think everyone should have a pair of cute casual tennies. They make all the difference on outings where you want to rock the sporty look and/or you will be doing a lot of walking. I got this keds-inspired pair at Target for $9 and I wear them all the time. I also got a pair of Coach sneakers for Christmas that are great for fall and winter, and I have always wanted a pair of boat shoes. Whatever your price range or style, I recommend you add this staple to your closet :)

4. This summer my go-to store has been Gap. At the beginning of the summer, I went in there and picked out a bunch of things and the cashier asked me if I wanted to open a credit card with them--I could save 30% on all that I had gotten! She totally got me-but it really has paid off. I have already earned $50 in rewards that I can use at Gap, Old Navy and even Gap Outlet! And of course I make sure to pay off my entire balance at the end of the month.

MODEST TIP: Forgive me if you already knew this one, but I just had the revelation: If a top is just a little too low cut, but it would be too hot, too inconvenient, or not cute to wear a bulky cami underneath, wear a longer, chunky necklace- no one will even notice!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grandma Helen

Grandma Helen, December 2011

My grandma is one funny lady. She always seems to bring joy and laughter wherever she goes. Because of her increasingly old age (you will note the '90' candles on the birthday cake above), she has a tendency to only remember very small pieces of what you tell her, and she harps on those tiny bits of information incessantly.

For example, I took John Bosco as my patron saint at confirmation, and she has never forgotten it. Every time she sees me, and multiple times throughout our visits she will call me by my full name, "Catherine Victoria John Bosco." As you can imagine, that would get real old real fast, and somewhat embarrassing depending on the surroundings. Similarly, at one point we told her about our long time parish priest passing away. That evening she mentioned it every ten minutes:
          "I heard Fr. Reiser died!"
          "Did I hear Fr. Reiser died?"
          "How is Fr. Reiser doing?"
          "I think someone died but I can't remember who..."
Finally, four years ago my sister cut my hair for the first and last time. Every time I have seen my grandma since, she asks "Did you get your hair cut? Did Audrey do it?" Even if I hadn't gotten it cut.

Needless to say, dealing with her memory loss takes a lot of patience, patience that I definitely have not always practiced. However, a turn of events occurred yesterday when I visited my grandma in the hospital after she had a stroke on Sunday. She was just lying in her bed, so helpless. I hardly recognized her because she didn't have her teeth in. At first I didn't even know if she recognized us, it just seemed as if she was staring up at us blankly. After we said hello, and introduced ourselves, we talked and asked questions, but her only responses were "yeah" and "okay."

What happened to my grandma? This wasn't her! "Come back! Ask me about Fr. Reiser! Call me by my full name! Ask about my new hair cut!" I found myself wishing she would ask me her repeated questions. I then realized I had totally taken my grandma for granted, and now it was hitting me that she may be close to the end. As we were leaving her room, we said our goodbyes. We told her we would be back soon, and she mumbled her trademark "Okie doke" and blew us a kiss and waved. That's my grandma, alright.

Visiting my grandma in the hospital taught me two hard lessons: 1. We must not take anyone for granted for we know not the day nor the hour. 2. This is not the end for her. Although her jokes, laughter and smile will be greatly missed, I am so excited for her to meet our Maker, the One to whom she has been so faithful for all these years.

Dear Grandma, may our Blessed Mother watch over you and pray for you, now and at the hour of your death.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Red, White and Blue

My first outfit post! PLEASE excuse the amateur photos, my best friend Chelsea tried her best, but what can ya do with a camera phone...

I love the current "sailor trend!"

necklace: thrifted, t-shirt: h&m, pants: old navy, wedges: dsw

1. I think everyone should own a red costume jewelry necklace. I wear it all the time with so many different outfits! Red is so universal, you are sure to get a lot of use out of it.

2. Stripes are pretty classic, they are always in style, depending on the color and width of course.

3. I love me some white pants! Just be careful when (ahem) and where you wear them.

4. Wedges--this is definitely one current trend I was not on board with at first, but after seeing so many cute styles, I hopped on the bandwagon. If you can find a comfortable, neutral colored pair, I think it is worth the investment!

MODEST TIP: Wearing crew neck t-shirts, even when fitted, is certainly modest, but it can get a little...what's the word...boring, frumpy, 8-year-oldish. It really helps if the fitted tee has a bit of a scoop/v-neck or some embellishment around the neckline!


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