Friday, May 25, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no, Door-to-Door

I wish this was my door

I have never liked door-to-door salesmen, evangelists, or folks pandering for donations. It's not that I don't want the product, the religion (but really, you can keep it. I have the Church, thanks), or to help the cause. I just don't want my hyper-sensitive, people-pleasing, over-active empathizing gland to force me to do whatever it is they need me to buy, convert, or donate.

Today, I finally got something back after years of anxiety. One of these brave few taught me a lesson.

A nice guy came by my apartment on his way through my neighborhood, saying he worked to help inner-city, in-trouble kids train for and find jobs. The gentleman was well-dressed and amiable and my roommate and I enjoyed chatting with him, as we all found something in common (ah, gotta love the human condition!).

He threw me off when, after a few fun jovial exchanges between me and my roommate, he pointed down at my leg and said, "Is that real?!"

That was my reaction, too. Do people have fake leg muscles they glue to their quad bone like the chicken cutlets some women put in their bras? Not that I know of.

Is that real? Yes, of course it's real!

"I run a lot," I laughed. He spent at least a minute more talking about how I could probably kick his butt, how I should go to the Olympics, how I probably make boys cry, etc.

Strong woman... oh, never mind.
Throughout the rest of our chat with this man, he kept referencing my legs and let me tell you, I was regretting answering the door in my running shorts. They are about an inch above my fingertip length and, yes, they show off my growing runner legs.

I look like a strong woman in my new runner legs and it reminds me of when I was in competition shape. I love the way that feels.

Until some guy I don't know points them out, continues to look at them, and talking about how I could crush inanimate objects between them.

While I can't control his thoughts and it's not my responsibility to control them, it brought my attention back to the Great Bikini Debate of 2012. Most people don't voice thoughts like his out loud, in fact it was quite uncomfortable when I realized a self-identified 45-year-old man was studying my legs.

I think he had innocent intentions. The man wanted us to donate to his cause, so he needed something about which he could laugh with us. However, he made an awkward decision when he decided to talk about my legs.

We can presume (not EVERY man thinks this way, but there is evidence that most do -- Jason Evert video and Young and Catholic's anecdotal evidence) that men have thoughts about what is under the clothing we wear. Yes, it's their responsibility to stop those thoughts from progressing.

This is a popular topic these days
However, had I chosen a pair of jeans, or even a pair of yoga pants (to address the tankini-covered belly vs. skin-covered belly issue), he would not have seen the distinction in my leg muscle. He would have seen that I was a strong, probable athlete, but not in such obvious detail.

Yoga covered legs wouldn't have been as "in his face" as my bare legs. I doubt it would have occurred to him to mention them as a topic of awkward conversation with the young lady who answered the door on his door-to-door day.

I'd post pictures of my legs in shorts vs. yoga pants, but that would explicitly ignore my point (while potentially proving it).

In conclusion, yes, wear whatever you want to wear. But maybe we could consider what we'd hear if men spoke their thoughts instead of keeping them private. Perhaps we'd sooner want to wear more fabric.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday after Mass, Vol 1

Two little blurbs about my Sabbath Day happenings from yesterday:

I got to go back with the kids during Children's Liturgy of the Word and a girl (who looks EXACTLY like I did as a child) from the CCD class I taught last year ran up to me, put her hand in mine, looked up to me, and said, "I missed you!"
Not my hand, but very sweet
PLUS I went to a second Mass on Sunday afternoon to honor a very *mature* priest who was the campus minister when my parents were in college. He pointed out that everyone needs to stop complaining about the state of their parish and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I LOVE that he was holding all of us accountable.

Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church, Saint Louis, MO
I just like that altar backdrop... What cool things did you witness at Mass yesterday?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow the Breadcrumbs to the Exciting News

Click to visit Conversion Diary.
I'm going to give you some clues for the exciting news I introduced a little while ago.

This is the Internet, of course you can just scroll down to the bottom to see the surprise, but what's the fun in that? Pretend you just received this in a ridiculously long chain email that tells you to avoid scrolling down to the bottom for risk of erasing your happy destiny.

I'll alternate between clues and non-clues.

Non-related, non-clue:

A friend posted this great collection of 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. Among the are some of my worst vices, including: Give up your need to always be right, give up your need for control, give up your self-defeating self-talk, give up the luxury of criticism, and give up living your life to other people’s expectations.

Okay, now to implement...


Non-related, non-clue:

Andrew and Cristina may be my favorite heroes-whom-I've-never-met. They allow the Holy Spirit to RADIATE from them, and all I have to judge that is their blog and a few emails we have exchanged. It is just so clear that God has placed them on an incredible path and they are so willing to let Him guide them through it.

They need our help! Read about it here. All it takes is a few clicks of your mouse and a vote.

Considering they're spending a lot more money than the young couple expected to spend in their first year of marriage due to an intense surgery to correct their in utero daughter's spina bifida, they could also use your donations. If you are able to donate and/or you feel called to donate, please visit here.


Can you guess?

Non-related, non-clue:

The Bikini or Biki-no discussion is heating up. I'm hoping to read a full post or two from the folks who take a more pro-bikini (more accurately, but less succinctly described as "not against bikinis/raising the issue that the modesty talks don't seem to apply to men/to each her own") folks. If you haven't read the contributions thus far, here's your chance to catch up:

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 1 - The intro. Here you learn how the whole discussion began and we get @Palaminko's voice on why he would request (if he could) that women avoid wearing bikinis.

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 2 - Chase chimes in and points out protecting the feminine genius doesn't mean dressing like a nun.

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 3 - I take a whack at it. My opinion shifts often on this topic. Here I take a look at why the bikini option seem so appealing, yet why that also shows me why I should probably avoid them.

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 4 - A Father and Husband's POV - Val wrote an email to me (just as you are welcome to do) and explained his aversion to bikinis on the women in his life, namely his wife and daughters. As my dad said, "He makes good points!"

So far, the non-bikini-wearers have the loudest voice, measured by number of people commenting for this "camp" of opinions. I would really love to hear from someone who sees a lot of good in bikinis or would like to explain, in a post, why bikinis are a good option.

This has been a great discussion thus far. If you're game, I'd like to continue it.

Did you guess?

Will they have nap time in grad school? You know. For practice.
Drum roll...I'm going to grad school! I got accepted into a masters program for elementary education!

In about a year and a half I will be certified to teach elementary schoolers! (note, schooler is not a real word. I suppose I'll have to stop being so colloquial so I can put sum guud learnin' on da kids)

I'm so grateful to my family, my wonderful boyfriend, my elementary school teachers, the first graders I taught last year, and GOD for helping me discover this calling! I can't wait to begin this journey!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Baby Family Needs Our Help!

If you haven't been following the brave saga of Cristina and Andrew (and Maria Isabella), please go catch up. I'll wait...

Savvy? Aren't they incredible?! (While you're thinking about them, notice the "donate" tab at the top of their blog. Please.)

Well right now, this Christ-focused family is staying in a Ronald McDonald House while they await Maria Isabella's birthday after an intense surgery. The Ronald McDonald House is a finalist for Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program. They need our help to win! See instructions below, from the house: 
On JUNE 21st Ronald McDonald House of SNJ needs your VOTE!! We are one of 500 finalist in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program.
We ask you NOW to go to, search for Ronald McDonald House of SNJ, click on our name, click on REMIND ME, click CONFIRM.
That way you will be automatically sent a reminder to VOTE for us on our day, JUNE 21st! Watch our video below to see why our kids need your help….every single vote counts!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 4 - A Father and Husband's POV

I'm so intrigued by the fact that so many faithful men are asking for women to avoid bikinis. As a refresher, read Palaminko's post and Chase's post (and if you want my first attempt, read mine). Val wrote to me after the 3rd post and offered his perspective as a father, husband, and grandfather.
Hello Elizabeth,

I have come to your post to your post simply because I follow Stacy Trasancos, whom I offer as a character reference.

I make no habit of frequenting women’s sites, or bikini posts, however, for what it is worth, I have a beautiful wife and three lovely adult daughters, all young mothers, so needless to say I have engaged in this debate for many years. My wife, at 56, is a size 6 and frankly would still look great in a bikini. She is a water athlete who loves the ocean, so be advised her decision to avoid bikinis and has nothing to do with being bashful about her figure.

Val's lovely family
The first question I would ask is, is there any functional advantage to wearing a bikini for normal swimming activities? Can’t answer that, never wore one, but based on swimwear for competitive water events the answer is basically inarguable.

The second question I would ask is whether any truly Christian woman believes that she has no culpability for provoking lustful thoughts in a man, or if perhaps she may believe more skin does not equal more potential for provoking the very transparent and predictable (in this area) male mind?

The third question, I am prepared to provide an answer for, and that is, why are men so visual in this area? It seems completely unfair that God would create us with this inherent flaw. Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and prayed a lot about it and here, based on scripture, is what I have come up with. Read Genesis 2:18 – 2:25. God made man in His image and likeness. After creating all of the other creatures, He could not find a suitable partner for man so He made woman, from and for man. And therein lies the difference. Everything about a woman’s body has been tailor made by Almighty God SPECIFICALLY to those specifications that the Father knew would please man. A woman’s hair, her eyes, the shape of her face and body, her voice, the way she moves, the way she thinks and reasons, all of these things have been created to please man.

Consequently, a woman’s body to a man is more than just attractive, it is literally awesome. Like a beautiful sunset or a majestic mountain, woman is God’s gift to man. Now, naturally, this inclination, like all other aspects of human nature has been wounded by original sin. Remember, lust, like every other capital vice is the product of a distorted amplification of things that come naturally to us. God created woman to please man. In return, He intends us to be faithful and loving to the extent that we are to be willing to die for our wives.

Satan, as he always does, has ingeniously twisted the phrase, “to please man” into “for man’s pleasure”. Radically different concepts. Man’s natural preoccupation with the fairer sex is his great Achilles' heel for both Satan AND woman to exploit. Unfortunately society has degenerated to the point where, frankly, most men are lustful.
So let’s cut to the chase here, Elizabeth. A woman’s body is a loaded gun for a lustful man and she can slay most with it any time she wants. ALL women know and understand this. God gave your gender that power over ours to make us better men, not animals. It is a power that you should wield prudently as a Godly woman.

Finally, I speak as a man. The mystery of an attractive, fit, woman in a stylish one piece is MUCH more alluring (not lust provoking) than blatant advertising, because a bikini isn’t about what a woman looks like its about what she THINKS like. A little restraint says to a prospective suitor, “Yep, I’m all that you think I am, fit, healthy, desirable, but unless you are that lucky man that will share life with me, “til death do us part” don’t get to find out.

Sincerely, Val (Happily married man saved by the Blood of Christ, 56-year-old father of 10 grandfather of 7 and genuine respectful admirer of the feminine mystique)

PS: If you really want to know what I think of women, read Stacy’s Mother’s Day piece, “We Know
Emphasis added by me, Elizabeth. Again, this discussion will probably never end, but if you'd like to add your voice (either in response to one post, to the whole discussion or anything), email me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 3

It should be a red flag that when reading the afore-posted bikini posts (one and two), our first reaction is:
"Hey! What about the men?!

That was my first reaction when reading this piece on Marcel Lejune's Aggie Catholics blog. I thought, "Wow, I'm annoyed that this girl is hearing men say that they can't help thinking about women in their bras, just because they wore a white shirt. What about men?! What are they doing for us?!"

Oh. Christianity. It doesn't work that way, does it?

When I was swimming year-round, I was at my teenage, hormonal peak, surrounded by perfectly-toned, strong teenage boys in Speedos. Yes, it was nice. But I also got used to it to a point where I could go to the beach and look around as if everyone was walking around in sweatshirts instead of bare skin.

Today, however, after years of being around fully-clothed men, I notice when men are shirtless. I notice and I get a little sheepish about it, I can't lie.

When I considered what Paige and Katie were saying on Twitter a few days ago about how no one is calling for men to be more modest, I thought, "Yeah! Why do the guys get to tell us what to wear when they get to go shirtless and that's not considered immodest?"

I stewed over it and thought about other things that men could change in exchange for me not wearing a bikini.

They could stop looking so darn cute all of the time when they hang out with little kids! Seriously, stop it. Hey, beau! You could stop being so wonderful to me, please. It's ruining my emotional chastity because I want to pin wedding details all day, m'kay?

Then I remembered, again, that I'm a Christian during the annoying times, too.

I'm so drawn to the desire to wear a bikini, partially because I've lost weight in the last few years. In these last two months, I've been convinced by both camps (pro and anti-bikini) over and over again. Some of the pro-bikini points have actually convinced me to be anti-bikini and vice versa.

Why do I want the pro-bikini arguments to win over my mind? Because I want to be desired. It's so easy to say that we're in a different time and it's not a big deal to wear an appropriate bikini in an appropriate setting (i.e., pool or beach). It's so easy to wonder what "the other side" will do for ME if they are expecting me to avoid wearing something that makes me feel beautiful for them.

This isn't marriage, but it's all Pinterest can find.
It's easy to ignore the fact that men are more visually aroused and that yes, what I wear plays a roll in that initial thought of lust that pops into their heads.

True, I can't control if they continue to entertain those lustful thoughts, no matter what I wear. Men, that's on you.

Similarly, and this is something I will expand upon in a future post, there has been a call for men to be more manly. Men, be MEN, we say! We want to expect more of you. We want you to avoid teasing our emotionally-queued brains by flitting around with emotionally-charged language with no consideration for our hearts.

We can't do a virtue exchange.

It's not possible because no woman can truly know what it's like for a man to look up on a scantily-clad women (or for him to hear her speaking romantic to him). Likewise, it's not possible for a man to know what it's like for a woman to hear romantic words from a charming man (or for her to look upon a shirtless male chest). But we can err on the side of visual and emotional modesty, right?

This discussion isn't over. I still don't think my opinion has fully-formed and I may write from a more pro-bikini stance tomorrow. If you wish to formally participate and write a response, I'll post it. Email me here.

Color Your World

Considering some spring cleaning? Maybe you want to paint your home while you're at it!

Did you know green was the color for fertility?

Psychology of Color [Infographic]
Courtesy of NowSourcing, Inc

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crabsolutely crabulous


About two weeks ago, my cousin and her boyfriend (call him Xavier) proposed a commission project that helped me touch paint brush to surface for the first time in months (rag to surface "painting" didn't count).

They wanted to get Xavier's friend a unique wedding gift with an inside joke running through it. When they saw this in a store, they had a goal. When my cousin remembered I enjoy getting my hands dirty with paint, they had a plan.

UPDATE: Apparently, according to the groom, this won the "best gift award." Holler city.


Step by step, let's find out how we went from this:

To Fred, the lucky couple's new home decoration crab mascot.

First step:

Confidence. I spent the entire week planning out the crabtastic process ahead of me. I let the devil slip in a few times, intimidating me and reminding me that I haven't done anything remotely artistic in several months.

Smite you, Devil! Get the crab out of here! You're not welcome here.


Second step:

Commandere boyfriend's coffee table and ask him to put on an educational program about Air Force One and Marine One. Then smile (and thank God) when he sits and watches some of it with me because you've found someone who loves these dorky, fascinating, educational specials.


Pencil it out and just do it. Don't let the devil pinch your confidence again. One bit at a time.


Name him. He doesn't have eyes yet, but he deserves a name.

Crabs have freckles, right?

Now, words.


Perfect it and go all OCD on that block of wood. Fred needs you to make him look good.

AH HA! THERE you are, Fred. Welcome to the world. We knew you were there the whole time, didn't we, readers?

Final step:

Hope you can smile because your readers will stick it out through the crab puns and personification of wooden crustaceans. Savvy? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 2

Much like the one I packed.
This week I traveled to Austin for work and knew my hotel had a pool. This discussion popped up in my head as I was packing my bag because there have been so many great comments thus far.

I packed a swimming practice suit, like the ones I wore when I was competitive swimming, because I knew a bikini would be inappropriate around my co-workers and I didn't want to have to worry about any kind of top-half skin exposure. Does that mean I should wear the same kind of suit every time?

Let's recap:

What responsibility should women have in modesty? Are men just going to imagine our bodies, no matter how much we cover up? Is part of our feminine genius inherent in the beauty of our figures?

Chase chimes in:
I think the important things to remember in modesty are that man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God, and that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The body is beautiful because it's made in God's image. This also means we're attuned to each other's natural beauty and dressing in a way that reveals our natural beauty (bikinis cover little more than the FCC-objectionable parts, after all) seems like a way to make use of our God-given gifts.  
But wait! Doesn't that mean dressing down is a good thing? Well, maybe in a perfect world. We face this little problem called lust, though. Guys especially (though ladies, we see when you oggle stud muffins too) are inclined to see this beauty, then see past that whole "image and likeness of God" bit and allow beauty to be just a pleasure. Whether or not you think objectification is a problem that guys just need to get over is inconsequential to the fact that it is a problem, and widespread at that. Noodle on this: if you enable someone to lust over you, either out of indifference (it's not my problem guys lust over my nice body) or willfully (i.e., a person who uses their looks to "control" someone else), you're becoming his(her) god! Pornography does this; the pornography itself becomes the source of beauty and "nourishment" of unsatisfied feelings for its victim, the viewer. To summarize in a sentence: the God-given gift of beauty comes with great power, and with great power comes great responsibility.  
The other angle I mentioned was the notion that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). Temples are special places; remember that in Judaic law, the temple was so sacred that only the High Priest could enter its inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. Thus, the body is sacred and valuable, immeasurably so. If you owned a Lamborghini (yes, a car analogy, forgive me I'm a guy), would you keep it garaged? Let just anyone drive it? Invite a passenger who would leave Frito crumbs all over? The answers to these questions seem "duh" obvious, because Lamborghinis are very valuable. But human life is infinitely more so. Dressing revealingly poses the same problem as our Lamborghini left outside, unlocked, with keys in the ignition: a temptation to those that see it (you) that could be easily avoided. The tragedy today is young girls who don't know their self-worth, who look to the very things that demean them in search of attention and meaning. All should seek to dress in a way that reflects their self-worth.  
I'm worth infinitely more than a garaged Lamborghini...I suppose you want oppress me into wearing burqas tankinis? Would you put a Lamborghini in a climate-controlled chamber and never drive it to preserve its value and protect it from bad things happening? As I already said, beauty is good because it comes from God, so it isn't necessary to cover ourselves into unattractive blobs. Modesty requires a fair amount of judgment based on your circumstances. For instance, a bikini might be better suited to a private backyard pool than the beach, but it also depends on who is around. And on whether you might end up in photos as Elizabeth pointed out (who knows who'll end up looking at them). Unfortunately, like most things in life, I can't give a straight answer, but I hope you might look at that next outfit critically and ask yourself if those who pass your way will see the immeasurable treasure of God that you are.
Has your opinion changed? Has your opinion become firmer?

Men, if you have been waiting for a forum to share with us your opinion, this is it. Comment and we'll get in touch to add to this series.
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