7 Quick Takes about Snoop Dogg concerts, awesome nuns, and almost having the most epic book tour fail in the history of the world

— 1 —

Wow, there were a ton of great responses to the form about the possibility of a book tour! And the notes that people wrote in are pretty much the best.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 11.39.46 AM

But the real excitement came when I mapped the data. I took all the zip codes and input them into a program that plots them on a map, then Joe and I pored over the data.

We were surprised that nobody from Connecticut or Massachusetts was interested in me coming to that area, but we were delighted to find that my blog seems to have a small cult following in Luxembourg! The map showed a heavy concentration of responses near the Belgian border — so much so that Joe and I decided that we should ask Ignatius if they’d send me out there as part of the book tour.

I had a note that said Book tour – Luxembourg? all set for my next call with the marketing team…and then I happened to notice that the Google Drive spreadsheet I was using had automatically shortened zip codes that begin with zero to make them four-digit numbers.

On a hunch I fixed the numbers and re-generated the map, and suddenly saw all sorts of responses from Connecticut and Massachusetts…and none from Luxembourg. Evidently the mapping program had placed all the erroneous four-digit zips in that part of the world.

When I called Joe to give him the update, I was laughing so hard I could barely stammer out the words as I visualized myself sitting in an empty bookstore in Luxembourg, noticing that everyone around me speaks French and German, wondering where on earth all the Conversion Diary readers are.

— 2 —

Earlier this week one of Joe’s friends offered us two free VIP tickets to the Snoop Dogg concert for SXSW, and, of course, Christian charity demanded that we accept them. (Don’t analyze the last part of that sentence — just pretend it makes sense and move on.)


The evening was kind of surreal. Of all the things I could have imagined myself doing on a random Wednesday night, hanging out in the VIP area at a Doggfather concert was barely in the top five.

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Anyway, the salient takeaway here is: See what you miss when you don’t follow me on Twitter? Sometimes I end up live-tweeting Snoop concerts and if you’re not following me YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

— 3 —

One of the opening acts was Phranchyze (pronounced like “Franchise”), a young rapper who specializes in rap battles. I was so excited he was there, because I adore rap battles. I think that they require an incredible amount of talent and raw intelligence.

If you’re not familiar with this form of entertainment, a rap battle is a cross between freestyle rapping (think of it as “extemporaneous poetry” if you prefer) and a roast. Rappers face off with one another and exchange (mostly) good-natured insults in the form of witty rhymes. I never cease to be amazed by how these guys come up with zingers that display an incredible breadth of knowledge and deep understanding of human nature.

So when I saw Phranchyze swagger into the VIP area with his entourage, I went over to talk to him. They were all huddled together, chatting and smoking, and I broke into the group and tapped him on the shoulder to introduce myself. I said that I’m a Catholic speaker and wanted to hear some public speaking secrets from a rap battle master. (Because nobody who knows me is going to believe that I actually did that, here is a picture to prove it:)


Contrary to how my bizarre facial expression might make it seem, I am not actually about to cry while trying to lift Phranchyze.

We ended up having a fascinating conversation where he pointed out that the key is to be curious. He said that he’s always reading and learning, because the more you understand people and the world, the more knowledge you’ll have to draw from.

He was incredibly gracious and generous, and I learned a lot. I’m speaking along with Dr. Scott Hahn at Ignited by Truth in Raleigh later this month, and if he challenges me to a rap battle, won’t he be surprised when I break out the mad skillz!

— 4 —

It seems like I should be able to find a better segue than this, but…my friends the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are having a golf outing and dinner on Monday, March 24 here in Austin, and you should come! You can go to either/or, so if you don’t play golf, you can just go to the dinner. You can get tickets here.

My dad is playing in the golf tournament, so maybe they can get a little agnostic vs. Catholic betting pool going. And of course I wouldn’t miss the dinner.

Hanging out with the Sisters is pretty much my favorite thing in life, so I’m really looking forward to this one!

— 5 —

If there is anyone out there who was at the Snoop concert on Wednesday and will also be at the Dominican Sisters’ event next Monday, please contact me so that we can have our Best Friends Forever t-shirts made IMMEDIATELY.

— 6 —

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ papacy! Last year I snapped this picture as I watched the live coverage, and I’m so glad I have the reminder of that day:


I was slouched on the couch, barely able to breathe, not able to walk more than a few steps without pausing to gasp for air, and feeling really dejected about the state I was in. Benedict XVI was extremely influential in my long conversion from atheism, so I was even more sad that he was no longer pope.

Yet when this new pope with his brand new name and his totally different style walked out onto the balcony, I suddenly felt so filled with hope. I was reminded that God is in charge — both of the Church, and of my crazy life — and that I’m just along for the ride. It was a wonderful little bright spot in a really difficult time.

— 7 —

Speaking of the Dominican Sisters and Pope Francis, one of my favorite Youtube videos is the footage of their reaction to the announcement of the new pope. The Sisters at the Ann Arbor, MI house were in the middle of recording their first album when they heard the news that there was white smoke.

The short video below captures the moment, and I dare you to try to watch it and not smile:

Since watching that news is one of my own favorite memories, I love knowing what they were doing at the exact same moment.

Happy weekend, everyone!


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  1. Paige says

    I’ve been a lurker for a while now, but after positively LOL’ing at the entire Snoop Dogg saga (with “mad skillz” being the cherry on top), I just had to comment. Thank you for that one. :)

    While I’m here, I feel I should also thank you for all that your blog has done for me. I discovered Conversion Diary several months ago when I started to feel drawn back to the Christian faith that I had all but abandoned. At the time, I was pretty skeptical of Catholicism, since it often gets a pretty bad rap from the media and society in general. But I found that the more I read your posts, the more I realized that the popular portrayal of Catholicism was largely inaccurate, and that the *actual* beliefs and traditions of the Church really resonated with me. As you have said many times, these things just felt TRUE.

    So to make a long story short, I have begun a full-fledged exploration of the Catholic faith. I’ve been attending mass, talking with Catholic friends, reading Catholic books, meeting with a friar for spiritual guidance, praying Catholic prayers…I can’t say for sure whether I’ll end up joining the Church or not, but I do know that the more I learn, the more I want to learn, and the deeper I delve, the more deeply the faith resonates with me. So thank you, Jennifer, for inviting me to take a second look at Catholicism. Or, perhaps I should say, thank you for inviting me to take a *first* look at the real thing.

  2. says

    Oh I’m so glad you posted that video of the Sisters first reaction to Pope Francis….I had never seen it before (and I loved briefly seeing Sr. Maria Miguel because she’s now out here with us in Sacramento). I happened to be on campus when Pope Francis was elected (we have 5 of the Dominicans here at the school my daughter attends) and they rushed all the kids to the Church and when his name was announced, the whole school and the Sisters started cheering so loud…I happen to get a video of it too and it’s amazing! It was such a great experience….love those Dominicans :)

  3. says

    Definitely one of your best 7QT’s in a long time. Especially #5. I can’t tell you how delightful it is for me to read about spreadsheet mix-ups, Luxembourg, Snoop Dogg, curiosity, Dominican sisters, and Pope Francis all in one post. And I don’t even like rap. STILL, delightful!

  4. says

    Interesting, no one from CT, (I will be living in CT) so I just may be in the minority of those who would like to meet you. And I love the Dominican Sisters, I know many of them very well due to my godmother was once discerning in their community.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. says

    I took your quiz, but dang, I wanted to go all kinds of fangirl in the comments. No worries, I took the high road.

    I love rap battles! I totally agree about the intelligence it takes to be successful at them. I would NEVER ask someone how their rap battle skills can be translated to my job of being a mom, although when my girls are teenagers, hmmm. I need to meet some rap battle champs and study up for the next three years.

  6. Claire C says

    Hey Jen, I know I answered your survey and I’m from Connecticut. zip: 06111
    In fact I left a comment that if possible I would travel to NY or MA to see you.

  7. says

    Oh, thank you so much for posting the video, even though it brought (joyful) tears. I am a missionary in Germany, about an hour away from Belgium, hint, hint. We were on a Google call with missionaries in Georgia, Haiti, The Netherlands, Texas, just beginning. And then “there’s white smoke on my computer!!!” Massive squeals, all of us exchanging what we were seeing on our continent, cheers, prayers ….so thank you so much for bringing the memories flowing back.

  8. Katie says

    Not only smiled at the video, but due to extreme PMS, became a little weepy. And I love a good rap battle!

  9. elizabethe says

    Jen, surely “10 tips from a rap battle master on public speaking — as given to a Catholic blogger” deserves it’s own post. surely.

  10. says

    So, first, the google story with all the wrong cities was hilarious!
    Next- I think there is something uniquely Catholic about chillin’ in the VIP room of a Snoop concert and then attending the Sisters Benefit. ‘In the world, not of the world’…’don’t be afraid to get messy!’
    Last- I had not watched that video with the sisters. Living close to Ann Arbor, I just adore them…and that video surely made me cry!

  11. TheresaEH says

    1) luv the sisters and would so go to the dinner o if 3000 miles did not stand in the middle 😉
    2) I will believe you about the rap stuff, not my cup of tea ;p
    3) looking forward to receiving your book.

  12. says

    You at a Snoopdog concert…I can die happy now…love it.

    Reminds me of the time I was staying at a hotel after dropping my son off at Franciscan/Steubenville and a guy got on the hotel elevator and said “Are you here for Ozfest?” and I could only think “What about my middle aged-Catholic-Mom exterior says “Ozfest” to you? I know that the Oz is older than me but we have a different vibe.

    So glad you figured out your logistics before you went off to Luxembourg…I hate when that happens. I was recently asked to teach about Perinatal Hospice in Ireland but no one concerned has the cash to fund the trip so the invite is more symbolic than anything.

  13. says

    You should definitely rap battle with Dr. Hahn…he’s very punny, and who knows, that might translate into some dope rhymes. (Plus, you should see the neighborhood he lives in. Straight steubie hood.)

  14. says

    Ok, so that little video did not only make me smile it made me cry! I know I am pregnant and all, but still. Their joy was so beautiful. What an amazing community.

    Dogg, huh? You are one tough chick! I would totally follow you on Twitter… wait, i actually do, but I gave it up for Lent along with Facebook. :)

  15. Andria says

    Ok, so not entirely appropriate but highly entertaining, Epic Rap Battles of History on YouTube. Bob Ross vs Pablo Picasso is probably my favorite. They are fascinating but watch with caution, especially if you are sensitive to strong language.

  16. says

    I definitely just sobbed watching the video of the Sisters. Big ole crocodile tears. And I’m neither Catholic nor pregnant–so, what’s my excuse?? Is there anything more beautiful than those who devote their lives to Christ? How can I be more like them? Thank you so much for sharing…

  17. says

    That video brought tears to my eyes. I was at a friend’s house and my brain slowly registered that the church one block away was ringing bells! I immediately went to the television to see the news. What a nice memory.

  18. says

    I did not smile when watching the video in #7. I cried. In fact, I cry any time I see footage of that day. I couldn’t contain the waterworks last year either. Some sort of raw joy consumes me.

  19. Lianna says

    LOVE.IT. Jennifer, I just have to say that I would have been at the concert AND the sisters benefit! And definitely know about Theology of the Body. Glad I’m not the only Catholic who loves rap and rap battles. I about died laughing when I saw your first takes about the concert.

  20. Monica says

    Good job for approaching Phranchyze and smart of you for taking a picture to prove it. I like his advice about being curious.
    Can you believe I’ve never heard of a rap battle before? I know. I hope we can still be friends! Will definitely be looking one up on youtube soon.
    Glad to hear you really do have a fan base in CT, because that’s where we just moved from and I would’ve been one of those people wondering why you never showed up to our book signing event and why you flew to Luxembourg instead!

  21. says

    You are, without a doubt, one of the funniest people I’ve ever not met but feel like I know.

    Snoop Dogg! HAHA
    I can still wrap the Wrapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang if you want to have a rap off. Oh man – this post made me laugh.

    You’re a dear.

  22. says

    AH! I was mortified to see no one from CT or MA asked you to come. Put 06076 on your list, please! I’m a transplant to CT via marriage. You’d be welcome to our church, I’m sure.

  23. says

    Opps, guess I should have read the rest of #1 before responding. Anyway, add another zip code from CT to your book tour!!

  24. says

    I can not tell you how it made my day to read that you went to a Snoop Dog concert and hung out with a rapper. Love it! Though if you like rap battles, I have to share with you about Epic Rap Battles of History on YouTube. The majority of them are not clean, and I definitely wouldn’t watch them around the kids, but my husband discovered them one day and they are pretty funny. I think Dr. Suess vs Shakespeare was one of the better ones I listened to. And if you and Dr. Hahn do decide to have a rap battle, I would personally send you cash for a recording of it! It could possibly be the best idea I’ve ever heard!

  25. says

    You’re always glowing on your pictures! love it.
    btw, where do you get your pendants/medals? I want to sport one on my next BSB concert. TRUE!

  26. says

    I was laughing out loud at the Luxembourg and Rapping takes! My first reaction when you said that no one from Ct or Ma wanted you was: shock! I know so many people around here who follow your blog! I was ready to email you right away! Glad I read the rest of the post…

    Love the picture of the new Pope Francis looking out over St. Peter’s square. I can’t believe it’s been a year! What a beautiful blessing he is! God is good. :o)

    And again, thank you for your blog!

  27. Tara Sz says

    Agreed, the video made me cry as well. I remember that day so vividly! I had just come home from the hospital with Number Three who was two. weeks. late. (Fun trivia: Who was Pope when D was born? No one!) And because he was late we were all home together, me and the husband and our three boys, and thank you EWTN for the live coverage that allowed us to receive, as a family, Pope Francis’ first official blessing as the Pontiff. LOVE.

  28. says

    Jen, I know you have all of these amazingly insightful posts, and that you do a lot to advance the cause of atheism-to-Catholic conversions and all, but… THIS is my favorite post ever. Evereverever. I’m laughing so hard my kids are shushing me. Anytime someone tries to say something along the lines of “All you Catholics are the same,” I’m just pasting the URL to this.

    On the day Pope Francis was elected, it was 3 a.m. In Korea. I was huddled under the covers watching the white smoke go up, a complete mess of tears and repressed laughter. I went to the other room to wake my sister (who was visiting) and we watched him walk onto the balcony together. My first thought was, “he doesn’t want this.” And I felt nervous, really nervous. But then I

    • says

      Argh. Hit the button too soon.

      But then I thought, hey ,that’s probably good. Don’t want a smooth talker or a power-grabber, not that any of the cardinals are. But if someone isn’t humbled by the job as the successor of Peter, maybe they won’t do the best job. Anyway, I won’t ever forget that night., that’s for sure.

  29. Jamie says

    Can you do another make up post specifically discussing how you cover under eye circles? I remember you doing an I Love Make Up thing a long time ago. Do another make up thing!! Tell me the products! Do your daily make up routine and your “Going to see Snoop Dogg” make up routine.

  30. says

    The Snoop Dogg/Dominican Sisters thing is one of the reasons I know I am finally at home in the Catholic Church. I never really fit in with the folks in my non-denominational background who never seemed to have any fun, or who looked down on folks doing “unchristian” stuff like listening to rap music or enjoying a mixed drink. I am a Shiite Caholic (to use a Jim Gaffigan quote) and an enormous Eminem & Kid Rock fan…and if I can stave off the allergic reactions, a fan of a mixed drink or two! And I think the combination works really well

  31. says

    First: visit Canada!! Specifically New Brunswick. But we’ll travel if need be. :)
    And I watched that video of the sisters and Pope Francis’ announcement and it gave me crazy chills and definitely a big smile: so sweet!

  32. says

    March 13 was a special day for me, too. My son, Nathan, had been sick for a month, eventually landing in the hospital, and I slept in 1/3 of a hospital bed with him from the Friday before until that Wednesday the 13th. It was tough. March 13 was also his third birthday, and Mr. Andi’s 43rd birthday, so it was not shaping up to be a stellar day for the family. Although Nathan didn’t understand it, my heart soared when I saw that smoke and knew he was getting a new pope for this birthday. :)

    Things got even better when my Southern Baptist mother brought Nathan his birthday gift – a garden statue of St. Francis. HUGE.

  33. Margaux says

    I didn’t fill in your form for the book tour, because I thought you would never come all the way over to Belgium (where I live). So imagine my surprise when I read the first lines of this post! And then my disappointment at the next… But rest assured: you would have had at least one faithful reader in the Luxembourg bookstore :-)

  34. says

    I LOVE this post!! Best.one.ever!! Snoop Dogg and Dominican Sisters?? You are all kinds of cool!! And I did see your tweets, loved them. Also, that video teared me up, too. So exciting to see how excited they were.

  35. says

    Ok I know I’m late here, but first of all..Buffalo NY would LOVE to have you here!! Seriously. Make this one of your stops, PLEASE.

    Second, I just hafta say..I love that you were at a Snoop Dogg concert. HAHAHA I used to listen to his music back in the day. I love the way you just went right up to Phranchyse (sp?) and struck up a conversation just being who you are, and I love how cool he was about it and what a great conversation you had. I’ve been thinking about this for days. His advice is really insightful. Thanks for being you, for not locking yourself in a box and for sharing so much of what you learn with the rest of us! It’s seriously inspiring!:):)

  36. says

    You surely have your way around words. The part of pretending the Christian …. makes sense got me cracking. I had to call him to come read it.

    I’m sorry I am not currently in the States and won’t be able to come see you in a nearby city !

  37. Elena says

    My sister is a member of a religious order in Nova Scotia. She told me that one of the priests who says mass for her order is a little old East Indian priest. He likes to offer up his masses for celebrities. Consequently, one day as mass began, she heard him in his sing-song accent, say, “And today’s mass is offered up for Snoop Doggy Dog.” Just take a minute to imagine that!