7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 122)

— 1 —

By the time you read this, I’ll be in Boston! Well, actually, I guess it depends on what time you read it. I might be frantically stuffing my entire maternity wardrobe into a suitcase, speeding to the airport, or sitting on a plane. One thing it is very unlikely that I am doing right now is sleeping. Back when the tickets were booked I thought it would be a great idea to get to Boston early in the day. I’m sure I won’t mind a 5:30 AM DEPARTURE time in order to get there by noon! I thought ominously. Just because I’m six months pregnant, not a morning person, and the airport is 45 minutes away doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy watching the sun rise from an airplane! Long story short, I will be getting up around 3:45, and will spend the next 12 or so hours trying not to break my Lenten profanity fast as I reflect on my decision-making capabilities.

— 2 —

I love this picture. It’s a shot of the women from my table and the table next to me at our diocese’s pro-life gala last weekend. I love it because it really shows the face of the current pro-life movement:

(Elizabeth McClung, the amazing gal I interviewed here, is front and center in the black and white dress. I’m second to right in the back.)

— 3 —

Speaking of which, I just came across the breathtaking story of a girl named Claire Culwell who recently found out that she is an abortion survivor. Her mother had a surgical abortion, but weeks later realized she was still pregnant — Claire was a twin, and the abortion doctor hadn’t seen her. I was particularly moved by the specific message Claire feels called to share when she tells her story:

I also want to be a vessel to offer God’s forgiveness to the men and women who have previously had abortions. I know healing is possible and I have been given the gift of surviving an abortion so that I can tell these men and women that they are forgiven…coming from an aborted child, I hope they know the power of forgiveness and healing through meeting me.

What a great message. You can read the rest here (scroll down).

— 4 —

I was going to write something else here, but then I watched the video on Claire’s site and just had to share it. This is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen:

— 5 —

I’ve been thinking about those initial feelings of disappointment I had when I found out that this baby will be our fourth girl in a row (which I mentioned in #2 here). An analogy I thought of is a social event: when I think of the last few parties I’ve been to, I don’t really recall what the balance of men to women was. I doubt I’d even notice if the group were mostly men or mostly women. It wouldn’t even occur to me to see the door open at another guest’s arrival and think, “Dang, I was hoping it would be a man.” Similarly, when I think of my family in the long-term, imagining our family Christmas party 20 years from now, the specific gender of my kids seems irrelevant. I laugh when I imagine asking my adult daughter Catherine to pass me the gravy while thinking “too bad she wasn’t a boy.” How ridiculous! And so with future kids I think it will help me to detach from my hopes for one gender vs. another when I imagine each new baby as being another attendee at our family “party.” (I know, it’s ridiculous that I even need an analogy and can’t just be grateful. I’m working on that.)

— 6 —

When I spoke at the Behold Conference last month, the kind organizers arranged for my husband and I to stay at the Cornerstone Inn Bed & Breakfast. We had a gorgeous room with tall ceilings that overlooked the town square. Anyway, late last week I was looking for a sweater that goes with my only two dress outfits, and I couldn’t find it. A vague feeling of doom descended upon me as I realized that I left it at the B&B — which is in Washington, IL. These outfits were my only two options for speaking in Boston this weekend, and neither works without the sweater. And I couldn’t just get another one: I normally have to shop at the circus freak store to get anything that fits my weird proportions, and being pregnant makes it all the more difficult, so replacing lost wardrobe items is no small matter.

Long story short, I called the B&B and they happily told me they’d put it in the mail the next day so that it would be here for me to take this weekend. And they wouldn’t even let me reimburse them for their time and shipping costs! Needless to say, I highly recommend the Cornerstone Inn as a place to say if you’re visiting the Washington/Peoria area in Illinois.

— 7 —

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  1. says

    Great to see all you faithful ladies together in the picture! The mom’s day away weekend sounds great–hopefully I can send my wife next year.

  2. says

    Have you picked ‘Catherine’ as the name? I’ve always liked it, especially since it has so many excellent nicknames for the girl and her friends to choose from. (I’m still a little bitter that, as a Leah, I’ve never had a nickname.

  3. says

    Wow, I cannot imagine how that conversation about the abortion survivor would have gone. That is an incredible story!

    Cool! That was a flashback to the days of customer service (now I sound like my grandfather). How kind of them! I can’t say I plan on going north of the Mason-Dixon line anytime soon… but if I do, I know where I’m staying.

  4. Suzanne says

    I can totally relate to the disappointment of the gender of your next baby. I SO wanted girls, yet ended up with boys (tho only 2). After the ultrasound during my 2nd pregnancy revealed it was another boy, I cried all the way home from the appointment. However, I was glad that I knew in advance, as it gave me time to get the disappointment out of my system, prepare for another boy and of course, was delighted when he came. He has been the ABSOLUTE joy of our lives for the past twenty-four years, and he has touched so many other people for good. He works in an emergency room, so has saved the lives of others as well. He is one of the most amazing people I know, and I simply cannot imagine life without him!!

  5. says

    I think you have a great perspective on gender. I secretly want a boy first, but I know just having a baby will be lovely.

  6. says

    It is really normal to have those moments of slight disappointment re gender, don’t be hard on yourself.{{}}

  7. says

    Lovely photo and powerful story of Claire Culwell. Thanks for sharing that! Wish I was there with you all in Boston!

  8. says

    Great 7QTF today Jen! So clearly (if not immediately) the Holy Spirit was working throguh Elizabeth McClung (rereading your interview). Claire Culwell’s story is awesome. Your posts at NCR are wonderful too.

    My entry this week… Students for Life — hope through our youth, respect life at every age, Abby Johnson exposes PP motives, PP tries to hide an ambulance (after a botched abortion), PP claims they do mammograms — really?, “bipolar” baby (scared then laughing) and the unicorns’ memo to Noah on the mix-up.

  9. says

    Have a great weekend.

    You know, my perspective on the gender thing fluctuates so much. I love your take on it today. I had three girls, then a boy and I am pregnant with another boy (due around the same time you are). I remember when I found out my third child was another girl. I had some feelings of disappointment. but then I realized that I knew so many families that were having majority boys and I thought…well, there’s got to be balance somewhere! I also believe that God has a plan for all these beautiful girls being raised by devoted, pro-life mommas and that we have a chance to impact how they view life for their entire life. And what a huge blessing…and a huge responsibility.

    I was moved to tears by Claire’s video. What an incredible story. God bless her for telling her story and God bless her mother. What great work the Holy Spirit can do with such a beautifully humble soul.

  10. Andy says

    In contrast to Claire’s link, as someone who should have been aborted, I’m willing to forgive Catholic pro-lifers.

    • klh57 says

      Andy, I am praying for you! No one should ever feel as though they should have been aborted. Life is precious – YOUR life is precious. No matter what your circumstances (and, believe me, I know how bleak things can look), God does love you and have a plan for you. I’m praying that He helps lead you to someone who can help.

    • Angela says

      If you are reading this blog then despite your comment I believe Jesus is trying to talk to you. I am sorry you feel you should have been aborted ; I had a very difficult childhood but am still glad I am here. Praying for peace for you…

  11. says

    So much to comment on here!

    It’s funny when you talk about hoping for one gender — you’re so right! I guess it’s natural to hope for certain things… but after they’re born, you get attached to the one you have (not only his/her gender, but looks and personality as well) and you can’t imagine it any other way! Our son didn’t show himself on the ultrasound, but we thought he was a girl right up until his birth. Now I can’t imagine having a daughter in his place, or having a kid who looks or thinks or speaks differently than he does.

    Also, I agree with you about the face of the current pro-life movement. I volunteer at my local pregnancy center, and I’m always happily amazed at the young women who sign up to volunteer.

    And thank you for mentioning the other victims of abortion. It’s so important not to forget the women (and men) who have lost children because of it. They need our compassion.

  12. says

    I hope you have a wonderful time in Boston! Sounds like it will be a glorious event. I wish you safe travel.
    Thank you for sharing Claire’s story. What a powerful message! I’m looking forward to watching the video you posted.

  13. says

    I also would like to echo what other commenters said that gender preference is normal and I appreciate you mentioning it here. Last year my best friend became pregnant with her first child. Her long held preference had been for a boy first but her husband had a son from a previous marriage and that combined with the enthusiastic proclamations from her cousins and many friends that she would be having a girl, had a very strong pull on her and she began, long before her anatomy scan, to enjoy the prospect of a daughter. To the point that it became her preference. She had a son last September and after her anatomy scan confessed to my husband and I that she had a brief twinge but after going to the mall later that day and seeing mothers with their sons and cute little boy clothes (there ARE some out there)she became overwhelmed with the good things she had to look forward to.

    What was bad was some of those cousins and friends who declared she was having a girl saying, “I’m sorry” when she announced she was having a boy. I really wonder about people sometime. Really.

    And I’ve become pretty confident after becoming a mother to a girl, then boy, and then another boy that God gives us what we need, no matter what we want in our human foolishness ;0)

  14. Faun says

    Congratulations, the “face of the current pro-life movement” is 100% white young women.

    Awesome job at getting out for diversity.

    • Jessica says

      Faun, perhaps you will be pleased to know that I am strongly pro-life – and one-hundred percent Arabic (in other words, not white. Although I am indeed a woman . . . but hey, my husband is also pro-life!) :-)

      God bless you.

    • Josephene Kealey says

      Faun, please take a closer look at the faces in that photo. They are not all “white”, which I take you to imply Anglo-Saxon? And perhaps white skin does not mean Anglo-Saxon in all circumstances? And finally, this is one picture. It is not representative of the entirety of the general pro-life movement in our world.
      I am of course assuming you only are piqued by the presumed “whiteness” of the pictured persons, and not that they are young and female.

  15. says


    My mother had 1 boy followed by 4 daughters. The story that goes around about my poor brother is he was down the street at a friends house winging just after my mother had my younger sister that mum had had another girl.

    Now we are all in our 40’s and my brother is very close to my sister.

  16. says

    With our twins, babies 2 and 3 — I was pretty sure one of them would be a boy — but with baby #4 — already having 3 little girls — DH and I were both hoping for another girl. They are SUCH a great team, plus, I already have all the clothes and toys!

  17. says

    I’ve sweated the genders of 4 children so far, and they’re still young–so your imaginary family dinner table many years down the road cracked me up! I’ve never thought of it that way. (I think our family gender breakdown is perfect, by the way.)

    Have fun in Boston! Can’t wait to hear about it.

  18. Susan says

    Dear Jen,
    Please don’t be concerned about you feelings about your soon to be born baby girl. Back in the day my father was so convinced that I’d be a boy that when they came out and told him he had a daughter he looked around to see who they were talking to. But no daughter was ever closer to her Daddy than I am. In fact, he’s been in heaven for three years and I still feel close to him, in some ways more than ever.

  19. says

    I want to go to Boston!

    I’m the oldest of six: there are 4 girls and 2 boys. (Plus the baby my parents lost, which my Dad claims is a boy.) I think it worked out for the betters (biased, obviously) because my brothers are a handful! I don’t know if my parents could have taken more testosterone!

    GREAT story about Claire, thank you for sharing!!

  20. says

    I started to feel ill for you when I read about your missing sweater. It’s probably ridiculous, but those kinds of clothing disasters are very stressful.

  21. says

    I have always been impacted by how good looking Christians in general tend to be. It must be the glow of the Holy Spirit or something.
    I am definitely in awe of how much you do! And pregnant to boot. You must eat Grace Flakes for breakfast!

  22. Amy says

    This is so weird, but I used to babysit for Claire and her sister when I was in college. Her parents were on the staff of a college ministry that I belonged to. Wow. Not only is her story incredible, but I also find it incredible that someone I babysat for in college is all grown up. Crazy. Anyway, have fun in Boston!

  23. says

    I had four boys in a row. I can’t even flip heads or tails four times in a row – but I had those four boys. Glad to see another family balancing us out! So let’s look each other up in about 20 years and maybe we can arrange some marriages! LOL!

    oh… and I then had two girls in a row. ; )

  24. says

    I just found out I’m pregnant and I want a girl! I already have one, but I think it would be fun to raise two girls together. (Plus I already have all the stuff!)
    But it would be nice to have a boy just to have the experience of raising both genders, and I certainly won’t be disappointed to have one!

  25. says

    What a beautiful video about Claire’s story! Thanks for sharing!
    Is your new little one going to be Catherine? I love that name (I’m a little biased) but she is a great patron saint too!
    Ours will be Gianna (short for Giovanna) after Gianna Baretta Molla since my many novenas to her paid off with no repeat complications this pregnancy!

  26. says

    I didn’t get to watch the clip because I’m at work but the video looks really intriguing! Now I REALLY can’t wait to get home! :)

  27. says

    How did I miss the interview with Elizabeth before? I guess it doesn’t matter really, I’m going to read it now :)!

    What an amazing story of life and forgiveness in #s 3 and 4.

    Enjoy your visit to Boston.

  28. says

    What a gorgeous picture!!! Yes, it is so perfect – the pro-life movement is YOUNG AND JOYFUL!!! I always love it when the media asks, “where were all the young people at the March for Life?”… and I want to answer – “Uh, were you at the same March that I was, because we were EVERYWHERE!!” Love it.

  29. says

    I just love your 7 Quick Takes feature! Reading yours, posting mine, checking on as many others’ as I can. I returned at 11:00pm from 5 days at the Visitation Monastery in Mobile (beautiful place, btw) with no internet access, and the first thing I did was to finish and post my 7 Quick Takes before Friday was gone!

  30. klh57 says

    Dear Jen,
    Adding my voice, in Boston, you are actually going to meet my #1 daughter (I’m envious – but have fun!). She just might tell you my little “deal” with God: I have hazel eyes that usually look brown (so does my husband) but my Dad had blue eyes so I asked God, when praying for a healthy, happy, intelligent baby, if it was a girl, could she please have blue eyes? And, she did. Baby #2 – another little blue-eyed girl (I was convinced she was going to be the boy!) Then, pregnant with #3, praying again, (for little Johnny or Jennie)and, I laughed and prayed, Oh God, if it’s another girl, I don’t need to have blue eyes….So, I got my little brown-eyed girl!(Recently, they have turned hazel – just like mine did). My three girls are such close friends – what a blessing! As for boys, I took one in when he was 18 and needed a home and, my oldest married such a treasure! God brings you children in so many different ways! I would gladly have adopted several of my children’s friends over the years – or taken in some of my students. Now I see that I will have sons – they will just marry my daughters! (plus the one I took in – and, eventually, he’ll bring me another daughter!) And, if I am brought others, I’ll gladly take them in!