7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 20)

February 6, 2009 | 41 comments

— 1 —

I was speechless after reading Michael Dubruiel’s last column, written on Monday, the day before he unexpectedly passed away while working out at the gym. Go read it here: “None of us knows what the future holds…”

— 2 —

Lent is just a couple weeks away. If any of you have blogs and are looking for something tech-related to give up, I recommend considering closing comments and stats but continuing blogging. Though I don’t think I’m going to do it this year, I’ve done it for the past two years and have found it to be extremely fruitful in terms of having a healthy relationship with blogging. The reason I think it helped me more to close comments and continue to write rather than just not blog at all is this:

With comments closed and no Sitemeter stats, with every post I had to ask myself: What is my goal in writing this?

When I first started my little feedback fast it became strikingly clear that too often the real answer was that I wanted comments or links. By the end of Lent I could honestly say that I was just writing what I felt called to write, the main “payoff” just bringing glory to God and hopefully adding something nice to the blogosphere. It really changed my motivation for blogging.

— 3 —

Very, very big news over here: I finally found a fiction book I can read!

For some reason I have this bizarre mental block against fiction. For the past few years I’ve tried to get over it multiple times by picking up “even people who don’t like fiction like this!” books like Harry Potter or This House of Brede. No luck. I just couldn’t get into them.

But I finally found one that I enjoyed so much that I devoured it in four days last week. I’ll leave you hanging and just say that I’ll review it soon. πŸ™‚

— 4 —

This morning I had yet another amazing meeting with my spiritual director. One of the many things that came up that I feel like I need to ponder more in the coming weeks is a passing comment she made after we’d been talking about the subjects of anxiety and then detachment:

“What you’re worried about is what you’re attached to, ” she said.

It was one of those moments of being the exact thing that I needed to hear at just the right time. I thought back on something that had been stressing me out all morning, and realized that the real reason for my stress is that I’m way too attached to having that particular thing in my life. Lots to think and pray about.

— 5 —

Speaking of detachment (or lack thereof), I had to laugh at myself about the Culture 11 Ladyblog Awards a couple weeks ago. I had been trying not to get too hung up on my site’s performance in the Best Religion Blog category. They didn’t publish votes as they came in, so I had no idea how I was doing. I was doing a pretty good job of being detached about it…then, the day before the results were going to be out, I suddenly had this idea that, “I might have won! That would be really cool!” Peaceful ambivalence somehow gave way to “detachment is nice, but winning ROCKS, ” and I anxiously checked the results page multiple times the next day.

Instead of the results, perhaps with a big “Yay! Conversion Diary #1 Bestest Religion Blog EVER!” banner at the top as my egotistical fantasies might have pictured, I see this: Culture 11 went out of business they day after all the votes were in. We’ll never know who won.

Point taken, Lord. Point taken.

— 6 —

I gave up coffee in the most ridiculous way last week: I was too tired to make coffee one morning, so I decided to just quit drinking it altogether.

I had cut down to just one small cup a day during pregnancy and had been toying with the idea as part of the Saint Diet, but it was still a rough transition to undertake on five minute’s notice. I have to say, though, I do feel much better without it.

— 7 —

This weekend I’m excited to be going to a blogger get-together that includes the Darwins, Melanie and Dom Bettinelli, Betty Beguiles and Literacy-Chic. I’ve met quite a few bloggers in person, and I never cease to be amazed at how much people’s true personalities really do come across in their blog. So far I’ve never had a bad experience meeting someone whose blog I enjoy. I’m looking forward to getting together with everyone tomorrow.

Anyone else have any fun weekend plans?


Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. Lerin @ Beautiful Chaos
2. violingirl
3. Venite
4. Kathy@10MinuteWriter
5. puella
6. Gillian @ gilligan\’s island
7. Missy @ Grasp the Love
8. Jennifer @ Here I Stand
9. Kate Wicker @ Momopoly
10. Gillian-Life of a Photographer
11. Hannah
12. Erin@ Seven Little Australians Plus One
13. Laura
14. ~liz@smithical
15. April @ SALT for the Spirit
16. Debbie
17. Aubrey
18. Sarah Reinhard
19. Charlotte
20. Scarlett
21. Aubrey
22. Ordinary Time
23. Dawn
24. Katherine @ The Domestic Church
25. Heather
26. maggie
27. theRosyGardener (Nzie)
28. Chris
29. Diane @ ginosko
30. Heather of the EO
31. TwoSquareMeals
32. Elizabeth Esther
33. Nicole @ As Many As We\’re Given
34. Margaret in Minnesota (Let\’s try that again!)
35. Melanie
36. Sarah
37. Tracy@The Secret of Living
38. So… now what?
39. Elena @ My Domestic Church
40. CheekyPinkGirl
41. Jen
42. Milehimama (Mama Says)
43. Renee
44. KimK
45. lvschant @ vox feminae
46. majellamom
47. Joy Bailey
48. Write From Karen
49. Cara
50. Mrs. B
51. Layla @ NDLawWife
52. Sarah\’s Musings
53. stephanie (LSL/Bold Avenue)
54. Trena @ The Third Prayer
55. Amanda – The Mom Job
56. Christine the Soccer Mom
57. Baroquem
58. Eliz at Tink\’s Mom
59. Semicolon
60. MacyFron
61. Jamie (Oh, Be Careful!)
62. Megan (Half-Pint House)
63. mom.huebert
64. Colleen
65. Pam at BeyondJustMom
66. Annemarie
67. Kate
68. warillever
69. Lisa (Are We There Yet?)
70. Kristy at Prone to Wander
71. Sara
72. Jenny
73. Aussie Therese
74. Tami @ The Next Step
75. Jeff @ The Cross Reference
76. Lady Rather
77. the luxurious life of anna
78. Anne Marie @ East of Eden
79. Christi @ The Journey
80. Becky at miller_schloss
81. Party of Eight
82. Becky
83. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
84. Rachel
85. Simply Catholic

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

photo by javaturtle


  1. beyondhomemaking

    I cut caffeine recently too, though not as suddenly as you did! I feel a million times better without it, and whenever I do have it I’m swiftly reminded of why it’s bad for me. I had a dr. pepper at lunch today- that’s why I’m still up typing after midnight…

  2. Lerin

    I’ve never really been a fan of most fiction either, so I am really interested!

    I have to ask… is there a way to edit my link? I posted to the main page instead of directly to the Quick Takes. I realized it as soon as I hit enter, but didn’t know how to change it.

  3. puellapaschalis

    I like your blog suggestion for Lent πŸ™‚

  4. Kate Wicker

    Detachment is so tough for me. I love what your SD said. She’s so right. I immediately thought of the things I worry about, and they’re definitely things I need to let go of…

    And I’m just thrilled because I’ve found my own SD.

    Have fun at your blogging event!


  5. Cam S

    Wow, I’m the first! I wrote something, then my connection died, SO this post will be shorter….I love this whole blog. I am very inspired and encouraged when I read. I am at the beginning of my atheist to Catholic journey…and I found this blog somehow…must mean something.

  6. Thia

    To whom should the quote about what you’re worried about be attributed to? I have a feeling I will be writing on this. It is striking some chords this morning.

  7. Sarah Reinhard

    Oh! The horror! What work of fiction??? Can’t wait for the review! πŸ™‚

    (Enough !! in that paragraph up there? No? Here are a few more, so you have NO DOUBT about my excitement !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    And can I just say, reading #7, that I’m battling some feelings of jealousy. Just a bit. I’m also happy for you guys that you can all get together. πŸ™‚

  8. Charlotte

    My thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family. Thank you for posting that. Come, Jesus, Come…

    And, you can tell me that you feel better when you don’t eat processed foods, when you eat more fruit and vegetables, etc. But please don’t tell me that not drinking coffee makes you feel better. πŸ™‚ I don’t think I can go there… (And I’m trying to not think about how I could give up coffee for Lent.)

  9. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    You’re a winner in my books, Jen.

    And writing without comments or stats? I couldn’t agree more. A profound, daily, spiritual discipline, all for an audience of One.

    Every blessing, Jen…

  10. Aubrey

    Turning comments and the site meter off on the blog would be a great Lenten sacrifice. I hate to admit it! I don’t know if I would do it; I enjoy the interaction with other blogger-moms too much.

    It’s funny that you mentioned This House of Brede; a friend of mine just recommended it as I was in a reading dry spell. I checked it out from the library but haven’t gotten “into” it yet.

    As always, thanks for hosting Quick Takes! πŸ™‚

  11. Dawn

    7 Quick Takes – Culinary Compulsions

    Thanks for hosting! Love the quote from your sp. director. Perfect.

  12. Nzie (theRosyGardener)

    Oooh, I look forward to hearing what book you like. I’m trying to read a book a week (on average, thank God), and I’m going to need recommendations at some point. πŸ™‚

    Weekend plans.. um.. working. Going to church on Sunday. Hopefully reading and writing, and a bit of extra sleep wouldn’t be remiss, either. πŸ˜€ Have fun meeting all those bloggers!

  13. Heather

    I’m looking forward to the book review! I’m always looking for a good book to read.

  14. TwoSquareMeals

    This is the only post I had time to do this week, six weeks into life with three little ones. I’m not sure how you do it with three kids!

  15. Elizabeth

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about “blogging in the dark” this Lent. In some ways, turning off comments allows me to more freely express what I want to say without worrying about how it will be perceived or whether or not someone will disagree. The real issue is that I love feedback so much that it can be a MAJOR distraction when I should be busy with other things during my day.

    This weekend: well, I have to say I AM SUPER JEALOUS of the blogger get together. Why can’t y’all fly out to CA. and have your bloggy conference? LOL! Or maybe I can catch a plane to Texas next time……?

  16. Margaret in Minnesota

    Okay, I can’t get the “Okay, let’s try that it again!” off my Mr. Linky signature. Perhaps you can?

    Thank you for hosting!

  17. Anonymous

    Jen, those were some meaty quick takes today. I’ve spent the past several Lents fasting from some aspect of the internet, and am trying to think of how to frame this year’s fast. Turning off the statcounter on my little blog is a start.

    It’s very refreshing to read of your personal spiritual growth, whether in a post, a column, or in quick takes.

    Nancy (n.o.e.)

  18. Elena

    Jen that is so interesting that you have met lots of bloggers!

    I tried to meet one lady blogger in my area, but she said she would rather not!! Wow- that hurt.

    Another blogger in my state I have tried to convince to meet a couple of times, but I think he’s shy.

    Of course I could have met Karen Marie Knapp one weekend, but she passed away while she was in town! I have visited her grave though.

    Then the one blogger I actually have met – has become my pastor! Life is funny like that!

  19. Laura

    I have the same problem with fiction, too (unless we’re reading it out loud for school). If I do read fiction for my own enjoyment, it usually still has something to do with God. I will anxiously await your review!
    God Bless!

  20. Lovesgarlic

    With regard to your attachment and anxiety comments:

    There is an excellent study called No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. It is a multi week study on the verses that state “you shall have no other gods before me”. She breaks down the many ways we seek to have other ‘gods’ or ‘idols’ in our life to help us cope with things. A very eye opening read indeed.

    One point in particular really struck me. She discussed how fear (or anxiety as you wrote) often serves as the guard for our entrenched idols. Kind of an interesting mental image. For example, if our idol is an unhealthy seeking for others’ approval, fear would serve to drive us to compromise, dysfunction and general craziness to keep approval coming. As we mentally and emotionally labor over how to keep our idol in place (how to keep people approving of us, etc) we are in fact worshiping that idol. Her point was that when we recognize that anxiety and/or fear are driving us to do something (again, unhealthy fear not a healthy fear of a real danger) we should automatically have a red flag raised.

    Interesting food for thought.

  21. Tina

    I’m guessing the fiction book is by Michael O’Brien.

  22. Ginkgo100

    If your fiction book is Twilight, I’m going to scream. All my friends are obsessed with this book and are trying to lure me into trying it.

    You know there’s something odd about a book when you use the phrase “trying it” instead of “reading it.”

    I don’t really understand your not caring for fiction. I have been an avid fiction reader for decades. (Oh my, I’m so old now I can say “for decades”…) Mostly science fiction, not so much fantasy, but also the occasional mystery, classic, etc. I can’t even fall asleep at night unless I read at least a few pages, and non-fiction just won’t work.

    Writing it is another story (heh, I made a writing joke). I can only write non-fiction, even though I have always wanted to write fiction. I can never get past a couple of paragraphs, and even that takes much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I can write non-fiction all day long without blinking. Go figure.

  23. Stephanie

    Wow! So you were able to cut back, then quit coffee without caffeine headaches? I have to say I’m a little jealous. I get massive headaches if I cut back too fast.

    I have a lot of trouble finding fiction I like as well. I feel like most Christian fiction is sappy, preachy and/or trite. HOWEVER, I’ve really enjoyed Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord books. I don’t know what you like to read, but those might be worth a look if you haven’t checked them out already.

  24. Sarah

    I’ve been doing no caffeine for all of my pregnancy so far, but it is just now that I’m really feeling the need! πŸ™‚ I’ve been drinking what I deem milk and coffee the last few mornings – about 2/3 hot milk and 1/3 coffee in a big mug. It makes me feel “normal” again! πŸ™‚

    I was that way with my last pregnancy too – until I hit my third trimester I was fine without it, cold turkey, but once it hit I became the largely pregnant woman in line at Starbucks every morning for a grande decaf! πŸ™‚ (Somehow it wasn’t the caffeine I craved, it was the taste of coffee).

    Anyway . . . I’m excited to hear about your fiction choice! I’ve always a been a fiction junkie (though a fiction snob, I admit. I am more a fan of actual “literature” than, say, mysteries or romance novels or chick lit. πŸ™‚ and only in the last few years have delved heavily into the non-fiction side of things (and that is mostly religious and parenting stuff!) My favorite, ever, is “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. I just finished re-reading it again this week!

    You might even like it!

    Have a great week!


  25. Eliz

    I, too, can’t enjoy fiction. I can’t wait to hear what your discovery is!

  26. Scarlett

    Fun weekend plans? I just begged off of my “fun weekend plans” (a movie) to go grocery shopping and stay in to do laundry.

    I am going to do so much laundry! Sheets! Towels! Delicates!

    I usually can’t stand laundry, but this has piled up so much that the very thought of getting it out of the way has me thrilled.

  27. Colleen

    Thanks for hosting 7 Quicktakes Friday. I try to participate when I can. I have a hard time reading fiction too!! I used to read ONLY fiction until my conversion then suddenly it was all about spirituality books. I may try your lent idea about blogging. God bless!

  28. K

    That check of “why am I writing” is one I consider often. I’m eager to hear the fiction title. But I’m sure not ready to give up my morning cuppa… πŸ™‚

  29. Courageous Grace

    Your quick take about worry (no. 4) sounds a bit like the latest post on my own blog.

    Peace be with you.

  30. Tami Boesiger

    Oh great. Thanks a lot, Jennifer. Now you’ve made me feel self-absorbed. Instead of taking a break from feedback I ASKED for it today.

    What a funny story about the Culture 11 Ladyblog Awards. Before you beat yourself up about it, remember we’re all human and crave recognition. Since I never have a chance at those award thingys, I pump up my ego by soliciting comments! Oh brother.

    Have a good weekend.

  31. Headless Mom

    Wow, I really needed to hear #4.

    Maybe I should tattoo it on my forehead?

  32. Jeff Pinyan (japhy)

    Ok. I hope I did this right. πŸ™‚

    I like the concept. A weekly review. Short and sweet.

  33. Jess

    I also did not “get” Harry Potter or the newest fiction fad, “Twilight”. I read the first two books in both series and had no desire to read further into the series.

    I have become increasingly dependent on coffee in the last year. I can’t imagine my morning without it now!

  34. Lady Rather

    I cut caffeine suddenly too when I was sick w/ the flu and I just stuck w/ it. I do occasionally drink something, but I am no longer “needing it”.

  35. miller_schloss

    I like your Lent suggestion. As an Evangelical, I’ve never really “done” Lent before, but I feel my heart drawn more toward orthodoxy lately, and I’ve found myself adopting more and more Catholic perspectives and practices.

  36. Anonymous

    Passing of Michael a tough one to take..
    this morning ( Friday) meeting with S.D. he read a long passage from Lucado about the divided mind: worry and God cannot both reside in us

    I devoured fiction ( classics) up to age of 24.. now it is non fiction and spiritual books exclusively.. can’t bear to read fiction now
    Internet fast? It sure does clear a lot of space for prayer. Every Lent I do it, I end up after Easter with a noticeable decrease in surfing.
    That’s a good thing.
    coffee? started drinking one year ago at the age of 58!!
    But..to go along now with proper eating, stopped cold turkey in December. Don’t miss it.
    I doubt your new fiction rave is
    The Shack. It was recommended to me again yesterday. Read the Amazon comments and can’t bring myself to ” take the plunge”
    peace and happy delivery

  37. Charlotte

    just had a thought re: fiction… have you ever read any of wendell berry’s fiction? if not, you should consider it. πŸ™‚ start with hannah coulter.

  38. JimC

    I stopped reading fiction for thirty years. I would finish some highly recommended book and think, β€œIt’s all just made up.” Pretty soon I couldn’t get past the first chapter. After a priest cited a short story by Flannery O’Connor in a homily one Sunday I stopped on the way home and bought a book of her short stories. Fantastic! Then another priest mentioned Willa Cather; I read “My Antonia” and was hooked. There is some fiction which reveals profound truth, written by gifted artists who see the world sacramentally – visible manifestations of grace. It opens the heart to the deeper significance of our daily realities. Sometimes changes the heart. May God bless you with such artistry when your heart needs it as did mine at that time.

  39. Nzie (theRosyGardener)

    I didn’t realise there were so many people who don’t like fiction. My mom never really cared for it, but I always loved it. In a way, I view fiction books as the last bulwark of the difference between truth and fact. But for me, imagination as a quintessential part of just how we’re made in God’s image (he basically imagined us!) is, well, I really like that idea. It’s why Man of La Mancha is my favorite musical (as long as you don’t see the windmill).

    I admit to really liking Harry Potter but I don’t have any inclination to read Twilight (sounds ghastly to me), or chick-lit, etc. And non-fiction is definitely great – esp. histories.

    If you like a bit of a mystery/creepy without being really gross, I liked The Historian quite a lot..

  40. Jodi

    “What you’re worried about is what you’re attached to,” …and this is the central point of Buddhism. We suffer because we are too attached. It’s a wonderful concept when fully understood. You may already be familiar with it, but if not I would recommend finding out more.

  41. kensington plumbers plumbing

    Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo
    News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

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