7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 78)

April 30, 2010 | 41 comments

— 1 —

I just got our tickets in the mail for my husband and I go to the Benedictine monastery Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon for their Art and Wine Festival on June 26! We’ll be staying at their retreat house for a few days for a retreat/vacation to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. Check out some of the pictures of this place — it’s gorgeous! Anyone else planning to be there?

We’re using old frequent flyer miles to get up there, and the retreat house’s daily rate is cheaper than a lot of hotels — and it includes three meals a day. It’s so nice to be able to do a vacation that’s exciting, spiritually fulfilling and doesn’t cost a small fortune.

— 2 —

One of the reasons we chose Mt. Angel is so that I can finally meet my long-lost cousin, Br. Claude Lane. I posted about it back in 2007, but the short version of the story is this:

A couple months before my husband and I were going to enter the Catholic Church, a relative from my dad’s side of the family told me I was related to a Benedictine monk. I was shocked: that side of my family, all Baptist and Methodist country folks who have been in Texas forever, is the last place I would ever expect to encounter a monk! (“We thought it was very exotic to have a Catholic in the family, ” my relative commented in her initial email.) It turns out that he and my dad’s cousins had been in close touch for a long time, but I’d just never heard about him. So our June trip will be not only a vacation, but a mini family reunion as well! You can read about Br. Claude’s amazing work as an iconographer here.

— 3 —

The other day my mom was watching the kids, and when I came home my five-year-old son announced that she had given him some money for cleaning up. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed at what a big boy he was, and asked him how much money Grammy gave him. I expected him to proudly produce a couple of shiny dimes, but instead he whipped out five dollar bills! In typical grandmother fashion, my mom thought it was not extravagant at all. I pointed out that $5 for ten minutes of work (cleaning up his own mess, I might add) comes out to $30 per hour, which is the equivalent of $62, 000 a year. I keep telling her that if we’re going to be paying the big bucks, we should at least stir up some competition for the job to make sure we get the best candidate:

Title: Living Room Cleaner
Duties: Throw toys all over living room, then return them to toy basket while dancing to peppy clean-up song
Experience required: None
Salary: $62, 000/year

I’m turning in my resume today.

— 4 —

A friend of some friends of ours is currently out on the Mercy Ship, a hospital ship that sails around and provides free medical care to the poorest of the poor. I’ve been riveted by the stories she’s been sharing on her blog. What an amazing organization!

— 5 —

I haven’t done an update about the book in a while, so here’s the latest:

  • I work on it almost every day, but I continue to be shocked by how long it’s taking.
  • It’s taking such a long time because I’m trying to make it a fun read, something that even someone who didn’t have a particular interest in Christianity or conversion would enjoy.
  • I’m so glad I scrapped that first draft. I’ve learned an enormous amount about what it takes to write a quality book over the past year. This new version is more like a second book than a second draft of what I originally wrote.
  • Going from essay-writing to narrative-book-writing is like going from juggling two balls to ten. It’s the same basic skill set, but requires practice and patience to get it right.
— 6 —

I had a little “Jen moment” where I blurted out a commitment to my agent that I’d have this draft done by June. Unfortunately, at the rate I’m going, September would be a much more reasonable estimate. Late September. I’m not exactly sure how the word “June” worked its way into my email, or how I’m going to come anywhere close to hitting that deadline. Should be interesting!

— 7 —

The other day I sent out a video of my son playing t-ball in the back yard. My mother-in-law, Yaya, called to ask who that man was who was narrating it. Umm, it was me. The exchange made me reflect on whether or not I think I have a man-voice. I decided that I don’t think I do (you can hear me in #2 here), but I may end up huffing helium before my next radio interview, just to be safe.


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. It Feels Like Chaos
2. Tami @ The Next Step
3. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
4. Caitie @ LadyCaitiePrettyCity
5. Lisa (Are We There Yet?)
6. Shia @ Pursuing Piety, Finding Faith
7. Saila @ Considering the Lilies
8. Kristen @ St Monica’s Bridge
9. michiel@ Landscapes and Portraits
10. Kerrie @ the Forgotten Kitchen
11. DebbieQ @ stop her she’s knitting
12. NCSue
13. Pharmgirl
14. Mary @ Hope Echoes
15. Judy @ A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings
16. Sara @ AShowerOfRoses
17. Brandi
18. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time
19. Joy@ joy in the morning
20. becomewhatyouare
21. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
22. Just a Minute
23. Young Mom
24. Alexis@Texas Twosome
25. Diane
26. Sarah @ Passing for Normal
27. Sarah Reinhard @ SnoringScholar.com
28. Elena @MyDomestic Church
29. Chelsea @ Roots & Rings
30. Milehiama @ Mama Says
31. Tina @ Multiple Mom
32. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond
33. Kim @ Love Letter to my Kids
34. Heather of the EO
35. Jamie
36. Michelle
37. Tracy@The Secret of Living
38. Christine the Soccer Mom
39. Kim @Starry Sky Ranch
40. Bonnie
41. majellamom
42. Teasingly Diverse
43. TeacherMommy
44. Marie
45. Vee at Paper Dali
46. Kim @talklesssaymore
47. byzymom
48. Barbara C. @Box of Chocolates
49. Julie@Hand Me Down Heaven
50. That Married Couple
51. Jordana @ Curmudgeonry
52. violingirl
53. Marie @ Filling My Family
54. Rebecca Bresnahan
55. Mrs. Bubbles
56. Box Full of Blessings
57. Esther @ Cor Ad Cor Loquitur
58. Savvy Stitcher
59. Jen @ The Short Years
60. Mrs K @ The First Four Years
61. Catherine @ Adventures In Domesticity
62. Deanna@Notlukewarm
63. Salome Ellen
64. Karin Katherine @Mommy Matters Blog
65. Jess
66. Maia@Flowers Round the Cross
67. Em @ Average Radical
68. Alice @ Accidental Grad Student
69. Sharon @ Musings of a Catholic Mom
70. Nili
71. a broader mark
72. Christian H @ The Thinking Grounds
73. Elizabeth Mahlou
74. Julia@ Blessed Obscurity
75. TradCats
76. April
77. Gillian – Life of a Photographer

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


  1. It Feels Like Chaos

    I love your help wanted ad! And your honesty in sharing your struggles with writing a book. I think we as Christians sometimes make everything seem like it comes easy for us; your transparency is refreshing!

  2. Jaimie

    Um, you do not have a masculine voice at all. You have a solidly lovely female voice. It's actually quite comforting and motherly. Good grief.

  3. Lady Caitie in the Pretty City

    Hahaha!! Too funny, Jen! Try watching a Marilyn Monroe video before speaking on tape.. No man is that breathy! LOL

  4. Lisa

    I'm always shocked by my voice on recordings, too. Way low! But, authoritative, maybe? A good thing for a mama, yes? (Helium's an idea.)

  5. Jen Rouse

    I have friends who have stayed at the Mt. Angel retreat house and had really good things to say about it. Have fun!

  6. GrandmaK

    Loved the job description!!! We all should have one like that! Have a grand day! Cathy

  7. Kerrie @ TFK

    Can I go with you to the festival? I'll squish into your carry on!

  8. Mary

    I have a deep voice too. LOL

  9. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time

    A whole lot of my dad's family lives in Mt. Angel, OR, and there are ginormous "Sander Summerfest" reunions out there about every five years. It's an interesting history–there were three brothers, and two of them came to America with a lllllooootttt of kids, settling in mid-Missouri. Then both my great-great grandparents died, and the other brother took all the kids (I think there were close to 20 of them) out to Oregon. Eventually a couple of the oldest came back to Missouri, but the huge concentration is out there in Mt. Angel. The last time I went, we made use of the pool at the monastery. I wish I could say I had more memories of the place than that, but cut me some slack; I was only fourteen. 🙂

  10. Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website

    Oh my goodness how I've missed your blog during my time off-line with an awful computer virus!!!
    We had the same "salary" trouble here from the "Tooth Fairy" who dropped a fiver for a single tooth!!!! ("He" claimed he didn't "have anything smaller and didn't want to disappoint his sweet little girl!!!)
    Have a wonderful vacation at the Monastery!

  11. Kristen

    Your retreat to the abbey sounds wonderful! Does anyone know of a similar retreat facility here in Texas? I live about an hour north of Waco and my husband and I could really use a weekend away from the kids this summer. But because we don't have any family available to take care of the kids, we really can only be away for 36-48 hours (the cost of a babysitter gets too outrageous for longer than that). Any ideas would be appreciated!

  12. Young Mom

    Your vacation sounds heavenly!

  13. Bonnie

    From our brief phone converstation months ago I would describe your voice as strong (as in projects well), confident and kind. I never thought you sounded like a man – high, low, whatever.

    I probably remember you that way because of how nervous I was and all the annoying giggling I did. Geesh.

  14. Milehimama

    I don't think you have a man voice! Electronics does something weird to voices a lot. My voice sounds very young and I am constantly asked if the caller can "talk to my mom" or "speak to a grown up."

    We go around and around on allowances at our house – I think we pay too much, husband thinks we don't pay enough. Maybe I'll work it out to a yearly salary and see what the kids are making!

  15. Jamie

    Good luck with the book, Jen! Maybe you just needed a goal. 🙂

    That vacation sounds lovely! I'm cracking up at the man-voice comment.

  16. Kim

    Love your Quick Takes this week!

  17. Kara

    When I first read of your book rewrite I was horrified. I'm sure you worked painstakingly on the first draft. But, in reflection, I cannot help but relate your rewrite to that of Mary of Agreda's Mystical City of God. She spent eight years compiling instruction from our Blessed Mother but was forced to destroy her completed manuscript out of obedience to a misguided priest. Her spiritual director ordered her to redo the whole thing! He guided her in the spiritual journey that would grant her both the desire and energy to do what she had originally been called upon to do. I'm so anxious to read the completed book!

  18. Christine the Soccer Mom

    I ought to show your "scrapped it" post to Big Girl, who sometimes braces that I want her to scrap a piece of writing. I think she might be seeing why it's useful, but so far that's only been with *other people's* work. It's much tougher on her own work.

    Have a lovely weekend!

  19. Anonymous

    I definitely don't think you sound like a man, either. I admit there are some portions of your Giving Tree discussion audio where it's plausible the voice could be that of say an older teenage/college aged male, he would definitely be one of those with a less masculine voice, and the clip audio as a whole reveals you clearly to be female 🙂 Sorry if this is more opinion than you wanted, but I'm kind of fascinated with voice issues, so I took a few extra moments to listen and think.

  20. Marie

    Good job description, very Mary Poppins.

  21. Teacher Mommy

    Oy. I linked the wrong one first. The second one is my current post.

    And as for that resume, I'd love that job! May I apply too?

  22. Peter


    I live an about an hour from there.
    The weather should be good by late June. If you have time, try to get to Silver Falls State Park, it's about 45 minutes away – and is gorgeous.


  23. Michelle

    How wonderful about your vacation!

    And, I LOVE your help-wanted ad. My kids would sure love to apply!

    Have a great Friday!

  24. Julie Cragon

    I'd like to interview for the job. That's great!

  25. That Married Couple

    Five bucks! Wow!

    And great work on the book!

  26. Jordana

    I would love to go on a vacation/retreat like that. I can't wait to hear how it goes for you.

    And I hate hearing my voice on tape. I also hate seeing pictures of myself. I suppose I have unrealistic expectations of how I look and sound to the outside world.

  27. Kris @ WUHS and Eclipsed

    Could you tell me where to send my resume for that living room cleaner job? 😉

    And, you definitely do NOT have a man voice, but I would totally go with the helium for the next radio show, anyway. Just of kicks. lol

  28. Frances

    Enjoy Mt. Angel! I sometimes hiked up the big hill to the Abbey just to dwell in its peace and beauty when I was a Benedictine Lay Volunteer with the Sisters in town. I remember some of Br. Claude's icons on display in their chapel – they are so lovely.

  29. Sara

    I hate hearing my own voice played back. Yuck! Why can't I sound like I do in my head? It's much better up there. Oh well! You definitely don't have a manly voice. Must have been a bad recording…lol!

  30. LizaRose

    I had to laugh about the whole voice episode, because it reminded me of something that happened to me a couple years ago. On two separate occasions in confession (same priest), the priest had to ask if I were "a young gentleman or a young lady!" It was so humiliating! I guess I needed an extra dose of humility that day!

    Oh, and just for the record, you certainly do not have a masculine voice.

  31. deanna

    late today.

  32. Salome Ellen

    HAve a blessed and restful time. All parents need those….

  33. Em.

    I'm tres jealous of this trip you're going on. Sounds amazing!

  34. Iona C.

    I've never heard about Mercy Ships before. Thank you so much for posting about it =)

  35. Nili

    What a wonderful holiday….and I sound like an 8 year old in recordings…I always wonder what people think when I answer the phone…esp when they ask to speak to an adult..ha!..which does come in handy for avoiding pesky unwanted calls.

  36. abroadermark

    I vote no on the man voice question. You definitely sound like a woman.

  37. Maia

    I need to know where to send my resume for the job. Also, would that mean that I could move in? I have mad cockroach killing skills and suspect that they would be quite useful in the War against the scorpions.

    You will be relieved that there will be no scorpions at Mt. Angel. I may be biased, but OR is great in not having many particularly terrible creepy crawlers.

  38. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Thanks for all the comments!!

    Kristen –

    Your retreat to the abbey sounds wonderful! Does anyone know of a similar retreat facility here in Texas?

    You might want to consider the Cedarbrake Retreat Center that's right up there near you guys. It's not a monastery, but they do offer all sorts of retreats, and I hear it's reasonably priced. Hope that helps!

    Have a great weekend, all!

  39. Anonymous

    Five bucks inspires more than a little boy's chores! Your blog is a delight!

  40. Faithemmanuel

    Along with Silver Creek Falls, the Oregon Garden in nearby Silverton is beautiful. Silverton is a small artsy town with some lovely restaurants, O'Brien's being our favorite for lunch. (Portland is a bit difficult to navigate.) Have a wonderful time in Mt. Angel! Br. Claude is a gem- we own many of his prints.

  41. Holly

    Thanks to Barbara M. on EWTN I have discovered your blog and enjoy it! You inspired me to keep writing on my own blog even though I have 3 children (one also born in March). You said after becoming a Christian writing has become much easier. I find that if I am prayerful when I write, the words fly out of my fingers as well.

    I thought I'd also tell you that I know Mt. Angel very well. My husband was a seminarian there for many years. He, in fact, knows Br. Claude and we are both big fans of his inconography! My husband even took a class on iconography, but I'm not sure if Br. Claude was his teacher or not (but I think so). It will be wonderful to have a retreat up there. You will probably run in to many that we know. My husband and I have planned on doing such a thing some day.

    You may want to look at my blog http://www.scatteringagates.blogspot.com if you have the time or are interested.


Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates