7 Quick Takes about back to school, veggie choppers, a great DC event, and recording radio spots under dicey circumstances

— 1 —

Happy back to school week! Or, as we know it here at the Fulwiler homeschool, the week where mommy pretends like she has a principled reason to start school after Labor Day and is not just sitting around and surfing Pinterest to see what’s working for everyone else first.

Also, I am particularly excited about the beginning of Fall. The only way to describe the weather in Austin right now is to say that it feels like you’re jumping into a pot of boiling slime every time you step outside. As if the usual heat weren’t bad enough, this new kind of ectoplasm humidity we’re dealing with makes leaving air conditioned spaces unbearable. I know we have a good two months before we’ll see the highs drop into the 80s, but at least the beginning of the school year signals that relief is on its way.

— 2 —

I have a few great events to tell you about during my Washington, DC trip, but I want to start with the Risk Jesus conference on Saturday, 9/27 in Woodbridge, VA.

This is going to be a fantastic conference for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that it encourages people to attend who are in all stages of their spiritual journey. I was just talking to the organizers yesterday, and they were thinking aloud about how they could help people who might not have fully embraced the Catholic faith yet feel welcome, while also making it a fulfilling experience for practicing believers.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is also speaking, and Marie Miller is performing! I’m so excited to be able to see Marie Miller in person. If you’re not familiar with her, this song tells you everything you need to know about her fresh, unique brand of music:

— 3 —

Last week I needed to go down to a radio studio to do a promo spot for a JPII Life Center event at which I’m speaking in the Fall, but I didn’t have babysitting. I dropped the oldest kids with a grandparent, took the youngest ones with me, and hoped for the best.

I knew the ad was only scheduled to run for a minute, but the question was whether I could get it right in one take — if I we had to do it more than once, that would be more than enough time for my children to demolish the studio.

I ended up setting the kids up in the waiting room, which I could see through the glass doors of the studio, and running over to the mic to do the recording. As I spoke the words, I was watching my youngest girls push the baby around the coffee table in the waiting room, occasionally wrinkling my brow as I wondered what game they were playing that involved them standing on his stroller to try to jump over a chair.

It’s funny to listen to the spot now and remember what I was looking at when I recorded it:

(If you’re reading on email, click through to hear it.)


— 4 —

I’m giving a talk to young adult Catholics in a few months. I’m excited, but this isn’t the usual demographic for my talks. Since I’m much more familiar with the lives of married people with families, I wanted to ask: What are young, single, faithful Christians struggling with right now? What are the biggest concerns that are weighing on their minds? What are the areas where they could use some encouragement?

— 5 —

I was going to use this slot to ask for book recommendations, but I know what everyone is going to say, so I’ve decided: I’ll finally read Kristen Lavranfhsrhjsnwifhdshfgatadtter.

When I ask for new book suggestions, fully 40% of the responses go on and on about that one. I figure I can’t lose: either I’ll love it like everyone thinks I will, or I’ll at least be able to say that I read it so I can demand that people recommend something else. I’ll report back in five years after I finish all 6,000 pages of it.

— 6 —

chopperI am on a never-ending quest to find things that amuse the kids that don’t require my time and don’t involve glowing screens, and my latest discovery is this: the VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper. (I only wish that I were the type of blogger who got these kinds of things for free in exchange for a review. Sadly, this is just a personal recommendation of something I found and bought myself.)

I went on Amazon to replace my Chop Wizard, which I originally bought off of an informercial because I am exactly like that person in the pathetic “before the Chop Wizard” black-and-white segment who ends up a sweaty, frustrated, bleeding mess from trying to chop a vegetable with a regular old knife. The Amazon reviewers said that the VeggieChop was better and, sure enough, it’s my new favorite kitchen product.

It’s basically a blender powered by a string — which doesn’t operate unless the lid is closed! — which means that the kids can make smoothies, salsa, and other fun stuff without a bunch of noise and mess. I highly recommend it.

— 7 —

Fun Friday pop quiz: What is the last song you listened to?

(My answer: the acoustic version of Stubborn Love by the Lumineers.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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  1. says

    Umm so how many people are going to say 6’2” for #7? LOL…But no joke I literally was listening to her music before I came to link-up my quick takes! I learned about her back in July and have been listening to her music ever since! Wish I could hear her live..someday!

    #4 – That is awesome! Really young adults (especially us single ones) are just looking for a way to fit in. We’re looking for community and direction to lead a catholic life in the midst of this in between time that is so confusing and foreign to everyone! A lot of us are looking for ways to grow in our faith among a super busy lifestyle that may not allow us to have a ton of time to devote to something super deep or at churches that don’t really have much for us to participate in.

    #6 – I am a kitchen gadget addict!! I once won a similar one in a #kitchengadget twitter party…haha My favorites right now are from Tupperware!

    • says

      Right? I was all, “You post a video of a song, tell us to listen to it, then ask us what song we listened to most recently… hmmm….” ;o)

  2. says

    Even though I’m not single anymore, I’ve been for a long time and I’m still young (and catholic!). What I struggled with most as a single, was that it was regarded as a not-yet-there situation. Though I agree with the idea of preparing for either marriage or consecrated life, being single is much more than just an inbetween stage. It was often hard for me to really focus on the present instead of dreaming or wishing for the next stage to come quickly. Also, a lot of people kept telling me how lucky I was to (have time for myself / be able to sleep / do what I want …). While I realized that and did like it, it was hurtful because I had been dreaming of having a relationship and kids for years, and would gladly give all those perks up for that dream.

    • says

      I’ve been married for 5 years, but I second this! I also was very fearful that I would never find a good, Catholic man. Particularly the older I got. They are few and far between. Before I met my husband, I was preparing for the very likely possibility that my vocation would actually be to the single life, and it broke my heart. But, as a product of divorced parents, I knew that, if I was called to marriage, it was really important to find someone who I was compatible with and who also shared my values and goals (tall order). Plus, we live in such a secular society, and I felt that so strongly when I was single. It really narrowed the pool of men quite a bit. And also female friends. It was isolating. As much as I now sometimes look back and wish for even a small amount of the freedom I used to have (life is tough as a working mom with 3 kids under 5!), the truth is that I would never want to turn back time if it also meant returning to the isolation and uncertainty of that period of my life. Overall, I have a much greater sense of comfort, stability, peace (er, well, most of the time . . .), purpose, and a genuine feeling of “home” that I never had when I was single. Not to say that life is perfect (there are plenty of other worries, fears, and issues galore), but the truth is that there is an abiding sense of “right” that comes with being in my vocation. Like, somehow, no matter what happens and how bad it gets (God willing it never will get truly terrible), I’m still where I’m supposed to be and will figure it out with God. I didn’t have that when I was single. Anyway, I hope that helps a bit!

      #7 – Was just listening to country music, but switched over to the Christian station and heard this gem that I really needed to hear as family/life/balance decisions have been weighing on me later — Bebo Norman’s “Here Goes Nothing” — http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xeovsu_bebo-norman-here-goes-slideshow-wit_music. Funny . . . this is the kind of song that I would have also needed to hear when I was single.

    • Marie says

      I agree with this comment. The uncertainty is very hard. I struggled with it for many years before I got married a couple years ago. It is hard enough to find a good man, but a good *Catholic* man seems like a rare gem.

      As we enter our 30s, my single Catholic friends feel even more discouraged and like everyone around them is moving forward with exciting life changes while they are treading water. They feel called to get married and start a family but can’t find a faithful man to do it with. I’m at a loss of how to support them; they seem to think I don’t understand even though I was single until recently, too.

  3. says

    As a still single young adult Catholic I think the biggest thing for me, and those I’ve talked to, is discouragement. Trying to live faithfully when you are not married and may not have many other single Catholic friends to hang out with and share the struggles of being a Catholic single in this day and age is discouraging.

    Not being married and feeling called to marriage and there being no spouse potential around you is also discouraging. Being a single Catholic woman in your late 20s kind of sucks because it’s a constant feeling of your life not really having started. It would be easier (but less rewarding) to just be a non-Catholic late 20 something single, I think.

    • says

      I agree entirely, and was pretty much going to say the same thing (I’m 19 and was confirmed this year, though I’ve followed the Catholic doctrine for three or four years now, so I fall bang in the middle of young, single and Catholic). As Rebecca aptly puts it: it “kind of sucks because it’s a constant feeling of your life not really having started”. As a young Catholic exposed to a lot of different opinions at uni, I find my trust in God wavering when I feel I’m giving out so much love and energy, but not receiving much back.

  4. Gina says

    One of my biggest worries while being single was the seeming lack of faithful Catholic men in the 15-50 age range.

  5. says

    #1: Have a great school year! We started back another homeschool year on Aug. 11! Man the description you give of the heat/humidity makes our NC heat/humidity not seem so bad. :/

    #2: I love Marie Miller! That’s so awesome you get to see and meet her soon and that conference sounds amazing!

    #3: Your JPII promo sounded perfect, despite the distraction before your eyes! 🙂 You amaze me how you fit in promos, talks, books, conferences, and blogging while juggling family life! Do you have more hours in your day maybe? 🙂

    #4: I’m not single, rather I’m married with 5 kiddos, so I don’t know if I’m really able to answer your question, but I can imagine that maybe single Catholics struggle with how to keep their Catholic faith/identity when they are walking their spiritual journey “alone”. (without a spouse to possibly encourage them)

    #5: I would love to read a book, but I always fall asleep trying :-/

    #6: I’ll have to check out that food chopper..Interesting! If you were an Amazon Affiliate, you could make some money referring people to Amazon products from your affiliate blog link. I’m an affiliate and I’ve made a little change 🙂

    #7: The last song I listened to was whatever was on K-LOVE, a Christian radio station, while in my car.

    Have a blessed weekend Jennifer!

    • says

      As a single young adult, I agree with you! I struggle a lot in walking alone on my spiritual journey, and my faith life has been so much better when I was dating someone because they were encouraging me.

  6. Anon says

    As a young Catholic, one of my concerns is how to be a faithful Catholic and still have gay friends. How to have loving conversations about controversial subjects and still be friends at the end; how
    (and whether) to out yourself to secular friends as someone who believes in the Church’s teaching on marriage; how (and whether) to out yourself to Catholic friends as someone who doesn’t mind if gay marriage is legal, etc. For the most part, the issue doesn’t come up, but when my gay friends inevitably start getting married, I know I’ll wonder about whether my faith will require I not attend their weddings, and other similar questions. I feel like you might be better placed to tackle these questions than a lot of faithful Catholics who don’t necessarily have a large circle of gay friends.

  7. says

    Yay for starting Kristen Lavransdatter. I was scared to start it, but I think you will really like it. Once I got about a third of the way through I couldn’t put it down.

  8. says

    When I was young and single, it was discouragement in the work place. My co-workers would overshare how hard being married is, the affair they were having, what a burden children were, how soon their husband was getting snipped, and so on. When they would find out I was a faithful Catholic trying my best to live a holy life, the reaction was usually disdain and contempt. It just wears on you after a while. If you spend the majority of time with your co-workers, it can be difficult.

  9. Cathy says

    You will love KL. It will not take you 5 years. I read it in less than 2 weeks albeit in the dead of winter in Canada when there wasn’t much else to do besides home school 4 kids,drive 3 boys to 12 hockey games/practices a week and grocery shop to feed the said children. I carried it with me wherever I went and could not put it down. It did take a bit to get into it. Once you are past the first couple of chapters, your good!

  10. Lynne says

    Kristen is the book that has best captured me, in my own life struggles as a wife, mother and daughter of God. I didn’t think it was a page-turner type book, but there were so many moments when I cried and cried because I WAS Kristen. It’s about how God loves us despite our broken humanity. That’s not a bad take-away. I look forward to your opinion, positive or otherwise. The setting reminds me a TON of The Long Ships, so maybe that will be a bonus?

    The chopper thingy: my kids have an obsession with shushies and we’ve gone through several $20 blenders. So this time I researched and found that the Ninja is supposed to be as good as a $500 fancy blender. I’d never even heard of a Ninja (which, it seems, means I’m culturally illiterate). My kids knew all about it and could recite lines from the infomercial. Anyway, I bought the thing. Well, if you think a Ninja is a person in black wielding machetes, then this thing is aptly named, because it’s a black stick with multiple sharp Ninja-type knives protruding in a spiraling pattern from top to bottom. I’m afraid to wash the dang thing, much less my children assemble it and make slushies. So good for you on finding a safe chopper than can be used without fear by all.

    You sound so totally professional on the radio spot!! Your voice is smooth, rich and modulated. It’s like the voice I use when I’m on the phone with the doctor’s office while my kids are climbing on the countertops to reach a pan of frosted cupcakes despite my scowls and menacing gestures. Very calm, very controlled.

  11. says

    Every so often I think if someone finds the right words they will be able to make me understand why people are so passionately devoted to Texas. Then I read things like this… “As if the usual heat weren’t bad enough, this new kind of ectoplasm humidity we’re dealing with makes leaving air conditioned spaces unbearable. …I know we have a good two months before we’ll see the highs drop into the 80s…”

    ….and I know nothing, no nothing, will ever make me understand it. 🙂

  12. Elizabethe says

    Boiling slime! Lol!

    My last song was Taylor swift’s shake it off.
    I was thinking about singles, and it strikes me that faithful single people are very visibly counter cultural in the same way that married people with over 4 or 5 children or homeschoolers are (not saying that married people with fewer children don’t feel isolated or don’t struggle or are any less faithful, just saying that it’s not as obvious to the casual observer that they are ordering their lives to different standards). Even casual conversation will reveal that you are not doing things the way everyone else is and it can make you feel like regular social interactions are a mine field.

    • Tammy says

      Love this observation! Very true. As a single woman I see it that way but it is nice to see it verbalized!
      Let’s look at this as something singles and marrieds have in common.

  13. says

    I really want to have some cool answer, but all I have is honesty: the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (I died a little typing that).

  14. Abby says

    As a single young adult Catholic, it generally seems like our concerns are grouped into three moderately overlapping areas.

    Vocation–What am I doing? Where am I going? What am I called to? Why haven’t I found a spouse/religious order yet? What do I do with this weird sort of single time? And sometimes for women–what do I do about a career now if I’m looking to be a stay at home mom in the future? Etc.

    Community–How do I meet other Catholic young adults? How do I relate to my married friends? How do I approach moral issues with my non-Catholic friends? How do I get involved at my parish without being that weird awkward person no one knows?

    Faith–How do I continue to grow in faith with a work schedule that may or may not allow for daily Mass, extended prayer time, etc? With whom do I discuss my faith issues and where do I go for help? How do I deal with really sticking out all by myself in a culture that’s not always sympathetic to the way I’m trying to live?

  15. says

    #4: Well, I am officially off the market now, but like the women who’ve posted above…single for a very long time. If the crowd is more 25+ and still not entered into a vocation, I feel like the needs are slightly different than for younger people. Pre-25: definitely more encouragement, but also, a pass. I know I would’ve liked for people to stop telling me *I* had to start something or that I was *free* to do so much more when it seemed certain that particular ministries were not my calling or not how I could best serve. Post-25: more encouragement. Also, that somehow someone is going to help young men learn to be more marriageable, because again, the burden should not always be on us (please, someone inspire the young men). Also, look at posts in the Not Alone Series and watch the hostesses’ interview on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” on Friday, Sept. 12!
    #6: I was in the car. “Two to Make it Right”, the rap version. 😛

  16. Lauren says

    I would have to say that singleness is one of the hardest struggles for young adults (that are single). As a young, Christian (not Catholic, sorry), professional woman, there seems to be a great lack of support for those who are single. Though the church is a place where singles and families should be valued equally, for both have gifts and special ways to serve the church and the world, it is clear that they are not. There are consistently people both in and out of the church making comments to me about my being single, as if I was not aware of it already. And there are many opportunities that arise in both my church and workplace that are clearly only for couples or families.

    On the more practical side, though singles are not living life “alone” (because that is a lie from the pit of hell), some parts of life are harder because we’re single. For example, my budget is significantly tighter than it would be if I were married with another income, and therefore, I cannot be as generous as I would like to be. Also, I live in a suburb where I am surrounded by neighbors who are mostly families – it is much more difficult for me to love them and share the gospel when I am a young, single female. Being married would give me a huge advantage in this, not to mention giving me an extra measure of security and safety. And, of course, the sex thing. God created me as a sexual being, and it is not easy in a sexualized culture, to be physically or mentally chaste.

    I hope this is helpful for you as you talk with them! One more thing to note: I think the sin of busyness and lack of rest is another thing that plagues young adults. Though you could also say that is for a lot of people, not just young adults 🙂

  17. says

    I listened to Emmylou Harris’ Roses in the Snow CD on repeat while I did my errands yesterday. Kirsten Lavransdatter was a huge favorite of mine but I haven’t read it since I was at your stage, so I think I might read it again, with the new translation this time.

  18. says

    I started that Kristen book ages and ages ago, but never got very far (though I’ve heard wonderful things). Perhaps I need to try again.

    Have you read Endo’s Silence yet? I think with your love for Shogun, you’d really, really like it. It’s about a Portuguese missionary and is not an easy read. It has probably impacted me more than any other novel, and I read a ton.

  19. Anna says

    “Kristin” is wonderful; just make sure you get the new translation by Tina Nunnally. Makes a *big* difference in readability!

    • Elizabeth says

      Yes, I was going to say the same thing! Tiina Nunnally is a genius. The old translator took some liberties: made the style more flowery and archaic-sounding, and left out some things (including a big scene between Kristin’s parents which I think is crucial–their marriage is such a big part of the story).

      It will break your heart and put it back together again. Hope you love it! I think you will.

  20. says

    Young adults Catholics need help with finances. They are the most in-debt generation in our nation’s history, and they have to navigate all of that while not finding a job. Therefore living with their parents is still an issue for them. We are planning a retreat for young adults in our Diocese with those topics in mind.

    You’re going to love K.Lavransdatter! I look back on those months with fondness. Few novels have the power to transport the reader into an immersive experience of a culture, place, and time like that (and I had a newborn at the time). Enjoy!

    The last song I heard was Te Deum Laudamus, as our new bishop processed through the Cathedral after his ordination, blessing the faithful.

  21. says

    Singles….while I’m far from young or single, since I’ve learned of my son’s battle with addiction, I have learned just how epidemic of a disease that it is. The word addiction means enslavement. I would venture a guess that we are all enslaved to one thing or another, especially young singles who might not have found their way.

    Every addiction is a search for love. Helping young singles to find God within who is love could not be more important. Also, if they don’t have a problem with addiction, then ask them to look around. They probably know someone who does. It is a family disease that few want to talk about. But, there is no topic that needs the light shined it more.

  22. says

    Very excited you are coming to DC… can’t wait to see you at the CIC!

    Last song I listened to was Arrow by Levv… aka Audrey Assad. It’s been on repeat. Here you go – https://soundcloud.com/levvmusic – you’re welcome!

    OK, single, faithful Catholics. I could probably go on for pages and pages about this… maybe it would just be better to email you? Haha.

    My biggest struggle, and I think many others, is finding a place to belong. Especially after college and all that jazz, it’s hard to find your niche when you are alone. Most parishes cater to families and mothers and older people, and so it’s even hard to get involved at a parish as a single, young adult. You don’t “fit” into your family unit anymore because you are an adult out on your own, but you don’t have your own family unit to be a part of. Then there is the struggle with trying to find your vocation – which, let’s face it, is most likely marriage for many of us – and having to deal with waiting for that to come. The waiting… sucks. Yes, I said it! I think the single most annoying thing I hear from my married friends (yes, I know it comes from a good place!) is “It will happen… just enjoy your single years!!!” Of course I love my single years – love the independence, financial freedom, travel freedom! – but at the same time, living with that deep desire to be a wife and a mother and not having that – and not knowing how to find that – is very, very disconcerting and frankly, sad, sometimes.

    So this comment just became SUPER long so I will leave it at that, but please feel free to email me if you want to chat more! I’ve also blogged about it a bit, mostly under these tags, but it is kind of woven throughout all of my posts. http://spiritualworkoutblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Being%20Single

  23. says

    Also, for the single question, the pressure from many to “compromise” on some of our Catholic beliefs so that we can find someone. We get it from all sides – friends, family, even the doctor (if I’m asked one more time if I would like to go on the pill…) – and it can be draining to constantly be on the defense. I was even pressured to compromise my faith in a relationship, and was given an ultimatum to compromise on this one thing (not what you would think, actually…) or it wouldn’t work, and well, I chose God. Because I am still single. Ha.

    • Tara says

      I grew up as a very poorly-catechized secular kind of Catholic, and I remember at age 19 going to my family doctor with a long-term boyfriend to get the pill, and the poor woman looked SO uncomfortable and asked “if abstinence wasn’t an option” but she didn’t know how to say anything more. Sometimes I wish she’d been more explicit – even just about the side-effects of the pill, for goodness sake – but I don’t know if it would have made a difference in the face of all I’d learned about “responsible” physical intimacy… basically “in college and in love” was the resounding consensus. From someone who learned the hard way – you are right, you are right, you are right! Pity their wrongness, but don’t be discouraged.

  24. says

    You are in for a pleasant weather surprise when you hit D.C. I don’t think that we have broken 90 degrees once yet this summer which is TOTALLY unusual for us.

  25. says

    I just emailed a bunch of single ideas to you! But I support the points above about it being a challenging time not knowing what’s coming… hoping that a good spouse is out there… etc etc. Finding a job is also a huge challenge for many, and the low self-esteem of not finding something. I would add that there’s a lot of profound mental illness and pain among our friends that we often are the only ones there to see it, and it can be draining serving as a pseudo-family for people so hurt by our divorce-happy and child-crushing culture. We are a generation feeling the full brunt of the “sexual revolution,” and we and all our friends are living with the emotional and mental fall out of our parents’ decisions.

  26. JaneC Duquette says

    My last song is Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote). One of my sons has been practicing a lip-sync for a drama class. It has become a whole family project.

  27. says

    I’m reading Kristin now too! I’ve made it through Book 1 and 2 and need a wee little break before beginning the last book. The names make my mind go super fuzzy. Worth it, but what I wouldn’t give for a Bill or Charlie.

  28. Mary Hodgdon says

    I just read part I of the Kristen trilogy and recommend that you buy the Penguin version which separates them into three books, it’s much easier to carry around and you may finish it sooner than you think. It’s one of the books in the Well Read Mom book group for women, from two years ago. You should check it ou at http://www.wellreadmom.com. It is a book group to help women make time to read good literature, founded right here in Minnesota by Marcie Stokman.

  29. Kerri says

    I think most young single catholics are actually struggling with the same thing you write about often: loneliness! The idea that Catholic moms are living a counter-culture life which can be terribly lonely is also applicable to young adults, (minus the screaming kids part). Really, at the heart of the issue, it’s the same sense of isolation at times, particularly because there is no spouse to fall back on for support, despite the desire for one. I also gather that sometimes for young adult women there is a “divide” between married and single in parish life – each thinking the other doesn’t understand, or making comments that feel insensitive to the listener (“have you met anyone yet?” or “so you don’t work?”). It seems to me that friendships between people in different walks of life can be really beneficial for everyone (think: adult conversation for the mom, being around people for the single).

  30. Martha says

    I don’t know… I’ve avoided that book (KL) also, just b/c it sounds so damned depressing. Does anyone else have the habit of jumping immediately to the 1 star reviews on Amazon and become jaded? Yeah. Maybe someday…

    You certainly have read some of Chesterton’s fiction by now? You seem to have the right personality to appreciate him. He and Jane Austen are my favorite authors. Strange mix, and yet not so much when you get into their styles. A penchant for the ridiculous in the ordinary.

    ‘Come Rack Come Rope’ by Robert Hugh Benson was a great peek into Catholic persecution during the Elizabethan era.

    Song? ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille. Great drum riffs.

    • Caroline M says

      I tried reading Kristin Lavsomething. Maybe I had the wrong translation – there’s a more modern one apparently – but it was slow going. Also, there was this whole piece where she wonders if she did the wrong thing by not calling out to the Virgin Mary when she was assaulted. A lot of victim blaming. Did anyone else notice this?

      • Anna says

        I read it in high school (the old translation) and hated it. I just didn’t have enough life experience to get all the themes of missed vocations, generational sin, real sin with real redemption, and how God works through even our sinful choices (even as those choices still affect ourselves and others). There really isn’t victim blaming, though Scandinavian culture of several hundred years ago doesn’t sound much like modern ways of speaking. I did find it interesting that along with sin being very much a reality, so is repentance; no one finds it shocking or cause for embarrassment when Kristin is making a pilgrimage to be absolved by her bishop for her role in a death.
        The ending isn’t exactly tidy, what with the plague ravaging the country, but it’s hope-filled from an eternal perspective.

  31. Megan says

    I second this: “Pre-25: definitely more encouragement, but also, a pass. I know I would’ve liked for people to stop telling me *I* had to start something…”

    I spent most of my teens and twenties as the lonely single-young-Catholic among groups of (mostly) middle-aged Catholics, often women religious, and I constantly felt a pressure to do more, more, more, because everyone was always bemoaning the fact that “there are so FEW YOUNG PEOPLE” in that space. So I said “yes” to every ministry, every retreat, every ask, because I felt obligated to represent all my peers who weren’t showing up. So some of your listeners, if they’re older than college-age, will feel like that too. Maybe just remind them that they’re not obligated to represent their ENTIRE generation, to constantly answer the call to speak for the lives/experiences of all OTHER young people in their generation. They’re NOT a generation; they’re just themselves. Let them discern their own way.

    Speaking of discernment, they don’t know anything about how to do it for themselves, and they don’t know that the Church has resources available to help (beyond just discerning a religious vocation).

    If your audience is a bit younger — i.e., college students, then you have a slightly different message to give. They aren’t connected, and between the ages of 18-22 their disaffection with the Church grows dramatically.

    My young Catholic college students say that they struggle with feeling pretty unconnected with a personal or intimate spirituality. Many of them do not have an emotional or spiritual connection with the church; they experience Catholicism primarily as a set of rules to follow.

    They also have zero experience of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which means that when they do “break a Rule” and feel bad about it, or struggled with a point of teaching, the feel like they have no choice but to abandon ship altogether.

    They feel like the Church hierarchy is completely “out of touch” with their lives and doesn’t listen to them, hear them, understand them, or even really want them around. They adore the pope and wish their parish priests were more like him.

    They can spot a whiff of hypocrisy a mile away. They despise the parish priests who drive fancy cars, even while they long for fancy cars of their own, because they know in their hearts that self-indulgent luxury does not fit with the message in the Gospel.

    They need guidance on sexual ethics that is more complex and nuanced than “Don’t do it until you’re married and don’t ever do it if you’re gay.”

    They need to know that they can still be faithful Catholics and also struggle with figuring out how to live the teachings of the Church in their lives (especially re: birth control, sexuality, wealth & money).

    They want desperately to be of service to the world, but have no idea how to do that, and don’t really know that the Church has some wonderful teachings about that and some of history’s most exemplary practitioners of it.

    They know nothing at all about the saints.
    They know next to nothing about Christian history.

    They are both intrigued by, and appalled at, the pomp and circumstance of the more traditional rites of the Church. They secretly want to learn more about it.

    They do not know how to pray the Rosary. They sort of want to learn, but they’re afraid to ask for help learning how because they also think it’s a little weird and cultish.

    They are starved for a deeper and more intelligible understanding of Scripture. They don’t get how to read the Bible but they know they need more than the snippets they get at Sunday Mass. They wonder if they’re supposed to believe, like their vocal fundamentalist friends, that everything in the Bible is 100% factually accurate, and they can’t (obviously) figure out how to wrap their heads around that, and they don’t know that a fundamentalist reading of the Bible is heresy according to Catholic teaching.

    I could go on. But I think that’s enough to start with!!!!!

  32. says

    Songs? Finished my jog this morning with Wide Open Spaces.

    As a current young, single Catholic, loneliness is hard. But for me, I have friends and lots of family so the days I feel lonely don’t happen too often. For me trust is the hardest part. Trusting that even though I feel called to marriage, it might not be God’s plan for me yet . . . or ever. Being able to give up my perfect idea and entrust my life to him? That’s the hardest part.

  33. JaninNoVA says

    I am elated that you are also coming to my parish that DC conference weekend! I missed seeing you in Raleigh in March and really look forward to meeting you, as I have followed your blog since 2006 or so. Deo gratias for your humility and conversion!

    You seemed to have switched to being an extrovert! If not, you act very well! 🙂

    Prayers for you and your family,
    Jan in No. VA

  34. Caroline M says

    I’m not Catholic, but you asked about Christians in general, so…. I was in a long-term engagement as a young adult, which was also long-distance. Churches have no clue what to do with single people, especially if you’re not single but not also not yet married. It’s assumed that you’re either raring at the bit to FIND YOUR MAN or that you’re snuggly married with 2.5 kids. It’s worse in the South, where the pressure starts early. (Maybe it’s worse in Protestant circles because we don’t have the nun option 🙂 Young adults in general, married or not, need community. I think there’s a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) prejudice against young people without kids – you probably don’t have money for the plate, and you don’t have kids to fill up youth programs. May sound cynical, but I think it’s true in practice. There’s a “women’s” group that’s really just the over-50 crowd, and a “young moms” group, and if you’re lucky a “college/career” group that lumps together the 18-year-old freshman with a single woman over 40. Yikes.

    • Caroline M says

      Sorry, meant to give suggestions, not just griping. My suggestion would be to have more adult education options that center on non-age related topics, like theology or liturgy. Theology on Tap is a great resource for this. The more pigeon-holed the ministries are, the more people will fall through the cracks.

    • says

      Yeah, I agree with the ‘don’t know what to do with you’ comment regarding singles. At the parish I attend, I am amazed at the indifference and condescension that I’m met with from parishoners and the priest–and I attend Mass several times a week. It’s kind of cutting to see that these same people welcome married women and divorced women with children and are extremely supportive to them. It seems like the key to being accepted in this parish for a woman is to have been married at one point and to have children. It’s turned me into a bit of a cynic regarding many Catholics, as I don’t see anything in scripture or church teaching that justifies excluding people on the grounds that she’s single. I’ve decided that it’s important to be a Catholic in order to receive the Sacraments, but that for the most part I need to find community and support elsewhere.

  35. says

    Ooh, thanks for the recommendation on that food chopper, I’m in the market for something like that and will have to check it out.

    I’m way past young so I can’t help you there.

    Last song?? I’ve been racking my brain and I have no idea. That is sad, isn’t it? I’ll have to go remedy that.

  36. says

    A lot of people have already touched on what I would say are the main problems we single Christians face: the loneliness and need for support, understanding, and encouragement, and the effort to live counterculturally. The church could help us so much just by being willing to listen, and by trying to make us feel included instead of left out. (Some Christians are really good at this already, but some have a lot to learn!)

  37. says

    I’d echo the comments above about concerns. Vocation is definitely a concern, especially because when you’re single, you know that God has plenty of time left to call you to another vocation. Also, many of our parents’ generation could be less-than-faithful to Church teaching so I wonder a lot about what living a Catholic life as an adult (especially a married adult) is supposed to look like.

  38. Jane M says

    I am so excited that you will be in DC. I’m going to bring your book and get it signed….

    I listened to Nada Te Turbe done with a virtual choir; it was on New Advent.

    I recommend Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by ??Tracy Kidder??? How can you resist that title?

  39. says

    Um, your radio spot sounds AMAZING! Seriously?! Girl… somehow you can just do it all! 🙂

    As far as young (single) Catholics, I am with pretty much everyone who has already written about this! I think one of the big, overall struggles/frustrations is having to constantly remind people that we are MORE than just what our vocation is going to be. We are more than just waiting around for our husbands/wives or realizing the call to the consecrated life. Just as Moms often say they like to be seen as a woman who does x, y, and z along with being a kick-butt mom!

    We singles feel the same way. We are unique individuals that have gifts and talents and voices to be heard to build up the kingdom of God. We feel unseen sometimes, and therefore alone.

    And, since a common theme that I have seen in the comments is loneliness and lack of encouragement, I would like to let all you SINGLE LADIES (and dudes if you would like to see the inter-workings of the ladies) know, there is an awesome group of women who get together each week to discuss a topic related to singleness and living a life of holiness!! If you would like to know more about it… please check this out: http://jumpinginpuddlesisfun.blogspot.com/p/not-alone-series.html or http://follow-and-believe.blogspot.com/p/not-alone.html Join us for the fun!! 🙂 🙂

    Have so much fun in DC, Jen!! I am jealous that you are headed there! Enjoy your talks. Be yourself and the young people will love you!

  40. says

    I’m really glad you asked about young, single Catholics. I turned 30 this summer, and, let me tell you, it is a STRUGGLE. What is the hardest thing is that I think we are largely ignored by the Church. The Church knows what to do with married people and children, but it seems to have no idea what to do with unmarried adults. We say prayers during general intercessions for mothers, fathers, people who are expecting, and vocations to the religious life, but never, EVER for single people. And if there’s anyone who needs prayers it’s single people navigating dating in a secular world. It is really easy to make bad decisions when you have no support (or hope honestly). What is also hard is that I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard things like “you’re lucky you don’t have kids” or “you’ll understand ‘busy’ after you have kids.” Just this week at work, a fellow teacher told me and another single Catholic young teacher that we are so “lucky” we don’t have any children and can get to school so early in the morning. Additionally, I realized the other day that growing up, no one told me how to do this. I always heard “WHEN you get married” but never “IF you get married.” People said “here are things you can’t do till you get married” but they never taught me what to do if that didn’t happen, so I’ve honestly been feeling like I have failed in a lot of ways. You are probably sorry you asked now aren’t you. 🙂 This is just an issue that is near to my heart and I think about all the time.

  41. Julie says

    As a “young adult” (28 – single – all the classic signs):

    One reason why I live your blog and book is because the environment I’m in is one where everyone knows religion is stupid and while some people might have a sentimental attachment, it would be dangerous to let it really dictate your life. That’s the divide I’m dealing with more often than a Protestant-Catholic one or (really) some kind of principled philosophical debate. Evangelizing in that context seems almost impossible but hearing about your journey has helped me think about it more clearly.

    I don’t know if that makes sense or adds up to anything helpful, but I for one would be really excited to come hear you talk for that vague sense of connection I mention above 🙂

  42. says

    A lot of single Christians struggle with being pulled in several directions at once. Many of us work to support ourselves solely–I have a full-time job and a part-time job. I am a cantor for Mass and I sing in the choir, but sometimes I still don’t feel as if I’m “doing enough” or giving the “right amount of service” to the Church. (There’s always that assumption that if you’re single you have ALL THIS TIME to do things. I wish!) And then add workplaces and dating situations that aren’t in line with our faith. . . it just can get really disheartening sometimes. Maybe we just need validation.

  43. Rita @ Open Window says

    So I read Kristen L and I was glad I did…great read, loved a lot about it. But I didn’t like her as a person. I liked her less the more I read. Yet I couldn’t stop reading. I’ll be curious to talk to you in six years when you’re finished. By then I won’t be able to remember it and I’ll have to start reading it again myself….

    As a single Catholic, I really struggled with finding my place in the Church. Even at Mass I didn’t feel particularly included because I didn’t seem to have any particular vocation. I was still searching. In a way it was similar to the challenge for an infertile couple in that you feel all the conversation is about what you should be doing as a Catholic and you want to be doing it, but you can’t, and so you feel a little lost. I also think, based on my work for a university, that young single people today want very much to feel they are contributing, giving of themselves, making the world better and without any cynicism…they truly want to make a difference. I find that inspiring. The conference you’re speaking at sounds amazing! Have I mentioned how excited I am that you’re coming to DC?

  44. Ashley says


    As a single adult (don’t know if I can call myself “young” anymore as I’m approaching 35), I feel that the hardest part of being a single Catholic is knowing your vocation is as a wife and mother but not being able to live it. We’re told growing up that we should all pray for God to show us our vocations in life, but we’re not told what to do when He shows us our vocation but not WHEN we are to live it. At this point I’m wondering if maybe it’s my vocation, but the yearning to live it is giving me the opportunity to do what God really wants me to do instead.

    I’ve done what others have mentioned of putting my life on hold because I’m waiting. Why put my all into my job when I don’t plan on working once I’m married? Why start this multi-year commitment in my hometown when I could soon meet a guy that wants me to move to his hometown? I’ve struggled with making decisions because my choices always have the added caveat of “would this work if I were married with kids?” even when those events aren’t on the immediate horizon.

    I’ve also struggled with feelings of uselessness and unhappiness because I’ve put all my eggs in the basket of “eventual happiness with a spouse and children”. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized I have to begin living my life as it is now and perhaps, through the other vocations God is calling me to live – the other gifts he’s given me to share with others – maybe I’ll find my way to the right person. And perhaps not. But I have to be open to God’s plan for my life in the here and now and not what could be in the future. And I also have to remember that even if I don’t find spousal love on Earth, no one can love me more than my Father in Heaven and He’ll ensure I find happiness with Him there for eternity. Not a bad consolation prize.

    Good luck with your talk. Just being there and focusing on the young, singles of the church can be enough – regardless of what you address. I know just hearing prayers for people in my situation at Church means a lot. Recently my priest prayed for “parents, religious, dedicated singles, and those who aren’t yet able to live their vocations”. Can’t tell you how affected I was to hear it and know others were praying for me.

  45. says

    Sigrid Unset is fabulous! I know you don’t want to hear this, but I don’t think the Kristin series is her best. My husband and I both think The Master of Hestviken is much better. Also, be warned, reading those books always makes us want to fly off to Scandinavia!

  46. "Anonymous" (just this once) says

    Oh, I hope and pray that all the women who posted about the difficulties of being single and Catholic will read this . . .

    I don’t know if God will call you to marriage or not. But hear me well, because I tell you this with my entire heart – please, please, please do not give up on your faith. Do not just date the next man who stumbles across your path because you’re tired of waiting. If a man doesn’t honor Christ, he will not honor your faith.

    I’m not saying that people can’t change (obviously – look whose blog we’re reading.) But I firmly believe that if you find yourself attracted to a man who is not a believer, then you stay friends, at arm’s length. Give him plenty of books to read, and ask often if he wants to learn about Mass – but do not date him and pray that he will change.

    Cautionary tale – my sister began dating an atheist (because she was “tired of being alone.”) She is more alone now than she was before. A year into their relationship, they are no closer to marriage than they were on the first date. They agree on nothing related to religion – not that they discuss it anymore. And she refuses to break up with him despite their differences. She has withdrawn from family and friends. She hasn’t grown in her own faith. She is unhappy, but her pride and the realization of all the time she has invested keep her from moving on with her life.

    (I frequently reach out to her, never pushing her, but being honest when she asks what I think. I am trying to stand by her and letting her know that I am there for her.)

    Be strong. Find someone who will love Christ more than you. And if you don’t – then yes, it is better to be alone.

  47. Munchiemommy says

    Even though I am no longer single, I can’t resist adding my two cents. I think young Catholic adults really need to find a community of like-minded people, and Maybe you can offer some suggestions on how to do it. I was very blessed in my 20s to have found such a community, and I met them through two main places: firstly, in the World youth day choir (WYD was in my city when I was in my early 20s) and second through a college fellowship group that I found when I was in grad school. The people I met in these places are still some of my closest friends today (and I married one of them ;). I
    Think what young single Catholics do NOT need is endless talks about finding God’s call/Vocation for your life. The uncertainty of that time of life is bad enough without people making you also feel like if you are still unsettled, it’s because you are not hearing God’s voice, or pressuring you to join the religious life. (sorry for the rant, I just got some of that sentiment and pressuring in my 20s and it was not helpful).

  48. says

    My recommendation for Kristin Lavransdatter? Stick a big post-it on the inside cover, and jot down a list to help you keep track of the characters. It’s a bit like Russian lit in that characters have multiple names, and I got bogged down because I had to keep saying, “Now, who was that guy again?” I just finished Gatsby, so maybe I should pick that one up again…

  49. Tammy says

    I can’t speak for the young single faithful Catholics, but as a middle aged single, faithful Catholic… I believe the concerns are similar.

    Not only is the struggle as a single dismissed, (oh, your lucky you can sleep and buy shoes) but we’re mocked and misunderstood.
    As the single woman gets older (and older) there are assumptions that she put her career first (sorry, I had to have a job while waiting for my holy spouse) or that we’re sleeping around and contracepting. Ha. If that were the case I’d HAVE a husband!

    The real problem is the lack of church community and fellowship. As an example, all the women my age at my parish are married with children or even divorced with children. When they are huddled up in conversation after Mass or at a church activity, and I’m trying to get to know them, once it’s revealed that I don’t have children, it’s as if the conversation is over. They, like priests, don’t know what to do with me! It’s hurtful. I’m just a human, my life need connections even if I’m dealing with potty training.

    And also, when you CAN make a connection, and suggest that they or their husbands might have a brother or cousin or friend they could introduce me to… Either they “don’t know any single people” (rubbish, there are more single adults today than marrieds, sadly) or worse… “Yes, but no one I would want you to date.” ( oh, so now I’m overqualified!)
    If you know a man who is ready for marriage but “not ready for marriage” you should be bringing him to Mass! Especially if he’s a fallen away catholic!
    If you haven’t noticed, there ARE no single men at church! Let’s start getting them there before they’re engaged!!

    Oh, and stop telling single women over 40 that they could still have kids! I’m not Sarah, or Elizabeth. At this stage, it’s a daily struggle believing God has forgotten about me, or doesn’t love me as much as the women he’s given husbands and children. I’m just praying for the miracle of a husband. I’m not going to be greedy and assume the miracle of a safe, viable pregnancy is possible too! Btw, all those celebrities you’re telling me about who had babies at 40 and beyond? They have millions of dollars, and they didn’t conceive through NFP!

    And realize, eating dinner alone for 20+ years is heartbreaking. You can invite us for dinner, we will entertain your kids and bring you wine! Studies show, that children who keep their faith, have had at least 4 regular adult influences (who are not their parents) in their lives who also share and live the faith. If you know single people who live the faith, your kids should know them too… We are a great influence… Especially with our challenges. It would be so much easier for me to live a secular life, and find a secular husband, but I’m praying for God’s best. Don’t you want your kids to see that?

    • Tammy says

      I should say, I have a good friend who invites me for dinner each week, and it’s the best part of my week! I can see her small children growing and developing new skills, I validate what she is doing as a mom, as a wife…. It doesn’t matter if the house is messy, or if I came sweaty from the gym…. We are there to love each other.
      The best part, when their daughter sees my car pull in the drive, and gets this huge smile because Auntie Tammy is here! That just makes my day, sometimes my week.

    • Caroline M says

      Amen to the inviting people over! Hospitality should be a primary focus for Christians (not Martha Stewart style, just being yourself with other people). I still remember being invited to a family lunch after church along with a few other graduate students, enjoying the home-cooked meal, sitting next to a 10-year-old who was talking about LOTR with his grandfather. These things mean a lot.

      • Jessica says

        SophieEvans, I deeply resent your comment. I am sad to hear of the difficult situations you described below, but my husband and I do NOT treat single Catholics “terribly.”

        We are of a very small parish in a very rural area, and so there are mostly families at our Church – but we extend hospitality as often as we can to our friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners, despite their marital circumstances. Additionally, I am the only one of my siblings who is married, and you can be sure that my husband and I do not treat my siblings poorly.

        So, please do not presume the worst of everyone based on your unfortunate experiences.

        God bless you.

  50. says

    I like to call that young adulthood you referenced in #4 as “post-educational, pre-vocational” In my opinion this can be a difficult time, and young adults in that space really do need help as their isn’t a lot of ministry to them. You’ve grown out of youth ministry, college campus ministry etc. and the childhood role within your family of origin, yet you haven’t entered the “family” of your vocation (whether that is marriage and family, or priesthood/religious life and your religious family) and so in many ways you are a spiritual loner. As Catholics the community of faith is so important to us, and yet for many people in that pre-vocational phase of life there is no community to enrich and support them.

    • says

      Should have added as some others mentioned before, that suggestions on how to find or form that community so many young adults lack would be helpful. I know the suggestion is often get involved at church, participate in young adult ministry etc. but what do you do when there’s no natural choice of a community to begin participating in.

  51. says

    Regarding a theme to address the youth: How to know God’s Will for my life?

    Because all else stems from that and so many young people are thirsting for God. Young people want to be challenged…to seek God in each and every moment…they don’t want faith to be easy, they want it to be real.

  52. SophieEvans says

    First off there’s a HUGE difference between being a Catholic “young adult” and being an older single Catholic. It’s very different once you hit your 30s and still aren’t married but want to live a faithful Catholic life. You don’t always fit in with people your age who are doing the “Sex in the City” lifestyle and married Catholic parents ignore and exclude you because you aren’t married and don’t have kids. That leaves you in a big puddle of loneliness. It’s all well and good to say “build a community” but when there aren’t any people at your parish who are around your age and single then with what do you build it?

    We’re all pretty tired of being told “just have hope and keep praying.” We do and we do but that doesn’t solve all the troubles and heartache of being single. That doesn’t help us find a community where we are welcome. We have heard all the trite sayings and they’re just that, trite and tired and not helpful. People say the church welcomes everyone but like some others have said you never hear single people mentioned in prayers of the faithful. Most parishes don’t have any support systems for single people over 30 or include them. Saying “you have all the extra time to volunteer” is rude because you imply we’re just around to volunteer and take on responsibilities married people are too busy doing their important life stuff to do. Everyone should volunteer and being single means you have to do everything in life yourself: chores, errands and the like.

    My advice for you would be to talk to married Catholics and remind them they weren’t perfect when they got married and they certainly aren’t now, that we all need to be loved and supported and included, not just married people.

    But, really, since you’re the one who decided to name a gathering only for married mothers after a single woman I don’t think you have a leg to stand on. There are plenty of married mother Catholic saints you could have used. I’m just tired of being treated like I don’t exist.

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