7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 120)

March 18, 2011 | 60 comments

— 1 —

Wow, busy blogging week! Some highlights:

Whew! I think I’ll need to step away from my computer this weekend to take a break.

— 2 —

For whatever reason, my husband and some of his friends have become cricket fans. (For my American readers, I’m talking about a sport, not the insects.) Anyway, the other night we were watching a cricket match with our six-year-old son via the online feed of an international TV station. We hadn’t considered that different countries have different standards for broadcast advertising, and were quite startled when a commercial break featured an ad for an erotic European chat line. Suddenly our screen was filled with the image of a woman writhing around, holding a phone and wearing nothing but some extremely skimpy lingerie.

We pretty much just frantically banged on the keyboard until the image went away, but my son had seen it and was obviously thinking about it. I was fumbling around for some kind of explanation, but he interrupted and suggested: “Maybe that’s a phone number you can call if you’ve lost your clothes!”

— 3 —

Matt Swaim’s new book is out! It’s called Prayer in the Digital Age, and I discovered it via the Pulitzer Prize’s prestigious “Best Foreword” award. Or something like that*. Anyway, this is some seriously insightful stuff. If you’re thinking, “Is he just going to tell us to put away our iPhones and pray more?”, the answer is no. Well, I mean, not that he’d be opposed to people praying instead of messing around with gadgets. What I’m trying to say is that the book is packed full of unique insights about how new technology has shaped our relationship to God and one another — for worse and for better — and it offers concrete ideas about what that means for the modern person’s prayer life. Definitely a great read.

* Okay, I wrote the foreword.

— 4 —

If you want to watch a video that is as inspiring as it is well done, check out this nun’s vocation story from My Soul Proclaims, a site that helps people discern their vocations.

(Don’t miss the powerful story she tells starting at 2:50. I’ll admit it: I cried.)

— 5 —

I recently got an interesting tip from a reader who must avoid pregnancy due to a serious medical condition and practices Natural Family Planning. For anyone who is in a similar situation — or for those of us who occasionally need to be on FDA Category X drugs and therefore have to be very careful about pregnancy — this is great info. (I removed identifying details for the sake of privacy):

I had [serious medical condition] after my 5th child, and take [Category X medication] daily. My doctor almost wouldn’t prescribe it for me since I refused sterilization and birth control!! We don’t plan on anymore children due to my condition and we use the Creighton model to avoid pregnancy. The people at Creighton recommended a progesterone test at Peak+3 which can verify with 100% certainty (who else can claim that??!!) that I am post-peak. Has been working like a charm for years now and has given us such peace of mind!!

I’d never heard of that progesterone test. Does anyone have any more info about that? Where can you get it? What does it involve? (And if you have no idea what I’m talking about and wonder about this Natural Family Planning stuff is, here’s some basic info.)

— 6 —

Have I mentioned how great it is having my mother-in-law Yaya live just 10 blocks away? I don’t know who thinks it’s more awesome: her, me, or the kids. Our two-year-old (baby Catherine “Joy”) is especially enamored of the situation. She just loves the cats, the big back yard, and the general level of excitement that comes with being at Yaya’s house. The other day I arrived at the front door to pick the kids up from a visit, and Catherine turned around and ran screaming back into the house as soon as she saw me, as if I were some kind of fun-snatching bogey man. Once we were home, she yelled “back to Yaya house!!” for about thirty minutes. It’s as if she sees the previous two years of living in our home as a well-meaning but ultimately failed experiment, and now she’s ready to take her rightful place among Yaya and the cats.

— 7 —

Summer has arrived here in Austin! It’s that great time of year when the weather is the type of warm that makes you want to take walks and sit on your porch with a cool drink, not the type of warm we will encounter starting in a few weeks, that makes you want to keep 911 on speed dial and get last rites before heading out to check your mail.

On a serious note, though, the nice weather just reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, especially in light of what so many are suffering in Japan right now. I join the rest of you in keeping the people impacted by the earthquake/tsunami catastrophe in my thoughts and prayers.


Below is a 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.


  1. Tami Boesiger

    LOVE your son’s assessment of the commercial! How funny!

  2. Blair

    Interesting about the progesterone test. I’d like to hear more about that and will try to remember to ask on the NFP forum. What a blessing to have both grandmas so close! We have one 25 minutes away and one 50 minutes away, and are so thankful. Looking forward to watching the Sister video! Happy Friday 🙂

    • Dorian Speed

      I said this over on your blog, too, Leah, but I’m going to post it here for anyone who might be reading through the comments – your response to Jen is EXCELLENT.

      • Jessica

        Leah, I’ve re-typed my comment several times; I realize that there’s no way to write this without sounding condescending, so please bear with me. 🙂

        I pray that the Lord blesses you and guides you as you seek His Face. I understand this may not mean much to you at present . . . but He is with you, even if you do not feel it just yet. I fervently hope that He becomes the King of your heart and soul, and that His Truth becomes your law.

        I’m currently struggling through a very difficult time which affects not only myself, but my entire family. I, as many others here, can tell you that even such suffocating darkness is bearable because I know and believe that He loves me. I may not understand my suffering, but He is helping me to accept it and walk through it to emerge triumphant on the other side.

        May He who is our only hope bless you, at every moment. Spiritual hugs coming your way.

        • Leah @ Unequally Yoked

          Thank you for your comment, Jessica, I don’t feel condescended to and I really appreciate your good wishes.

          And many thanks to everyone who’s stopped by the blog and helped clear up some common confusions about Catholicism for me and my merry band of atheists. The big question a lot of us are confused about right now is about how Catholics approach the Bible for interpretation. If you’d like to write a guest post or run something you’ve already written to help clarify, click through the link with this comment and get in touch.

    • Ismael

      Great post 🙂

      I am glad to see that some atheists are trying to understand the Church even if they do not believe in God or do not (always) agree with what the Church teaches.

      Unfortunately the internet nowadays is plagued with both angry atheists (usually fueled by people like Dawkins & co.) and angry believers (usually fueled by some fundamentalist preachers) that go after one another like wild dogs…

      People like you give me hope for a future where people can, if not agree, at least ‘peacefully disagree’.

  3. Maia

    Fascinating about the progesterone test! I have heard about but hadn’t looked into the accuracy claim. What a great way to utilize technology!

  4. Lacey

    Cricket?! Isn’t that supposed to be the one sport that is just completely mystifying for Americans? Doesn’t the score get up to like 900 points at times (I have a bad feeling I am demonstrating shocking cultural ignorance and insensitivity right now)? I have never watched it and only seen brief glimpses of it in British period films (the best kind) so I know very little. My boss watches it, but he’s British, so there you go.

  5. caitie rose

    Thank you for that video!

  6. Dorian Speed

    I was so excited to read your post at ProBlogger! Way to go! And the tips you provided were very concrete and useful, which I really appreciated.

  7. NCSue

    Thanks for hosting, and I hope you can see springtime in evidence where you are!!

  8. MusingOnMotherhood&Ministry

    Was it the Jeeves and Wooster that propelled you into cricket I wonder? Imagine, if you can, people like me in the UK who grew up watching Hugh Laurie on stuff like that and Blackadder, now rediscovering him all over again in House! We do appreciate your anglophilia. And wonder what it must be like to sit on an American southern porch in the sunshine. 🙂

  9. George @ Convert Journal

    #2 made me laugh! It’s funny how we can panic yet the same “content” as seen through the eyes of a child can be harmless. (…or even viewed as a potential public service, as in this case)

    My entry this week… A St. Patrick’s Day flash mob. Walk for “Choice” pro-aborts speak up. Ethicist explains our moral obligation to keep only the smart via IVF. Adoration U. Shining moments in socialized medicine. General Petraeus following Charlie Sheen’s tactics says a US Congressperson.

  10. Theresa in Alberta

    OHMYGOODNESS!!! Thankyou to the kids of Jen for the good laugh this morning!!!!! I have 2 kitty’s that would love to have their tummy’s rubbed by your daughter 🙂

  11. Pam

    Oh dear… I can definitely identify with #2 and #6!

  12. Melissa G.

    Thanks Jen, only you could make me learn something, laugh, and cry, all in one post! Have a great weekend!

    • Elizabeth

      Ditto to this! Also, I LOVE the kind of weather that makes you want to get last rites before going to the mailbox. It makes me feel like the air is hugging me (and squeezing, and perhaps attempting to love me as much as Lenny loves puppies).

  13. Anne

    Always love good book ideas from reliable sources! I’m definitely looking into Prayer in the Digital Age. Thanks!

  14. Michelle

    5 – I know of that test…but not by name. And I had a version of it done back when my doctor (he is trained/certified in Creighton – but understands all NFP methods) was helping to identify a luteal phase defect (we were avoiding at the time and my luteal phases were only 8 days). I had the bloodwork done beginning on Peak + 3, then again on +5, +7, +9 and +11 to show that my progesterone levels were deficient to maintain luteal phase long enough to sustain pregnancy. Ever since then, I try to get in for progesterone monitoring as soon as I get a postive pregnancy test and due to my condition…I taking preg tests about 4 days before I expect my period. As for the avoiding…I supplement progesterone for about 10 days to lengthen my luteal phases and it makes having a sexual relationship with my husband possible during our avoid times.

    This is EXTREMELY helpful information for people who use NFP…so glad you (and your commenter) brought it up!!

  15. Chasing

    I know here! Sr. Liz and I knew each other before she entered (we worked on young adult ministry in Baltimore). She is great, so happy to see she made it into a CD post! Progesterone P+3 is a blood test that is run by a lab. You can contact Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE for more information on it.

  16. Lisa

    The progesterone test is done by the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha and is relatively new. They’ve only been doing it a year or two, but it’s pretty popular for certain couples. I’m pretty sure you have to have your lab ship your sample to their National Hormone Lab. It can be costly, because of that, but effective.

  17. Kara

    First foray into Seven Quick Takes. Thanks for this opportunity. It’s great that you encourage us to get together like this.

    I love hearing about how kids see the world, too. Your little boy sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and a light in his heart.

  18. Julie @ The Corner With A View

    I am really interested in your NCR article, thank you for sharing! It especially helps us cradle Catholics. 🙂 Your son’s reaction was hil-arious, and so perfect. I can’t believe summer has arrived in Austin… spring is just arriving in Cincinnati! 😀

  19. Mary

    Thanks for hosting this. Thanks for the tips on 2 blogs. It helps even with one.

  20. Kara

    I’m really going to have to get more information about the NFP thing. I plan on talking to my doctor more about it once Charlotte is born. I would love more children, but I’d also like to be a little more successful at preventing.

    lol, your son’s comment is too cute.

    I don’t have time to watch the nun’s video yet, but I can’t wait to see it once I get back from dropping Amelia at school. We’re supposed to be out the door right now, but she is such a slow poke, she’s wandering around like she has no clue what shoes are.

  21. Jesse Scharff


    Been following your blog for some time now, and have always enjoyed the Catholic perspective you provide. I don’t know if you’ve read By What Authority by Mark Shea, but it’s the first book I’ve read that has properly explained the sanctity of Church tradition as opposed to the Protestant scripture alone perspective. I’m Protestant, and love learning, so I thought I’d pass it along. You can check me out at yearofdiscernment.blogspot.com.

    Keep up the good and important work. Jess

  22. Jamie Jo

    OK, I cried too. What a story Sister Liz had. Thankful she listened to God’s calling. She had enough grace in her life to hear Him.

    I’m joining in after I post my 7 takes…

  23. Martha

    Re #1 – I’m glad you feel two blogs are working well. But I miss the old posts. Not that I am expecting you to re-structure things for me! I obviously still check here, especially on Fridays. But I have noticed a real, and to me, sad, change in your blog, Simcha’s, Rachel’s, and of course Danielle’s since y’all started a 2nd blog gig. Posts “over there” get the worst comments, and the posts themselves are more “edited” for public consumption. Posts on the original blog are fewer, farther between, and more likely to be “go look at this thing this other person did!” instead of “here are the thoughts I’ve been mulling over.” I have no one irl to discuss spiritual thoughts I’ve been mulling over with, so I used to really enjoy those. But hey, things change, and honestly, if it works well for you, I’m glad.

  24. Christy

    Great post! I’ll definitely have to check out the book.

    And in the words of the great Raphael from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”:

    “You have to know what a crumpet is…to understand cricket!”

  25. Lisa Schmidt

    Rather than quick takes, I was motivated to post about parishes who drain their baptismal fonts during Lent; some even reject holy water for sand, rocks, etc. So that’s my post today; I would be humbled if folks headed over to my site to read it anyway because this incorrect practice is very widespread in America.

    Real quick, re: NFP: I’m very familiar with Creighton and the Pope Paul VI institute as it’s our method of choice. I will ask my Pope Paul VI-trained doctor if she might be willing to provide you with the “medical-voice” on the progesterone test. Just a clarification, taking shots at various peak plus day to sustain potential pregnancy as some women have commented about is different than the test you referenced in your Quick Takes.

  26. amy2boys

    Your son’s take on that commercial is so awesome. This is why it’s good to be around kids, why God tells us to be like them. Once my daughter at about 3 was looking through an art book – masterpieces through history – and coming upon some nudes, she studied them for a moment and then said to me, “I think this was before they learned how to draw clothes.”

    You have to love that!

  27. Jackie

    Can’t believe you already have summer! We’re still waiting on spring.

  28. Young Mom

    Man, all I can think about after reading this post is “summer has arrived”. How is that even possible! We are still under several feet of snow and are hoping for temps above freezing this week to melt some of it. And we still have the flooding stage after the thaw before things start to turn green. 🙁

  29. Suzette

    Just added that book to my Amazon wishlist! I always love your recommendations. That Sister Liz video was amazing. I cried too!

  30. Trista

    How great to have your MIL nearby! As a child, I was so happy to have my grandparents near me.

  31. Kristen @ St Monica's Brdige

    I also greatly enjoyed your son’s take on the commercial. Sometimes our adult brains overthink those things. Around here our public radio station does the BBC overnight and I love early in the morning when my alarm goes off listening to cricket scores. I also am a fan of the NBC show Outsourced and there was an episode where the main character and one of his Indian employees were discussing dating and the baseball “analogy” and the Indian employee said 2nd base was marriage and the boss asked him what third base and home were and he said, “We only have two bases in cricket!”

  32. lethargic

    You are so blessed to have a loving grandma for your children. My mother would be that if she could live near us; alas, circumstances forbid. Yaya sounds like she is just overflowing with love, even though sometimes it may not be exactly in the way we prefer. My mom is like that, too, God luv ’em both.

  33. the cottage child

    Loved the video with Sister Liz – who could help but cry, that is so beautiful. I really appreciate people who can get through the telling of their own very moving stories without tearing up. How – how do they?

    Your NCR pieces have been terrific, looking forward to reading ProBlogger.

    Happy weekend!

  34. Jamie Shover

    I’m off to look at the vocation discernment video! Why did I chuckle at the irony of my “captcha” code containing “FU” today, knowing your lenten sacrifice? LOLOLOL

  35. Mary

    Oh Jen! Was still laughing from number two when I started crying from joy at number 4. Her story is so moving.

    Up here in the Northeast everyone is sipping cool drinks and sitting on the porch because it is…..55 degrees! Whooo whooooo!!! Go summer…however you can get it!!!!

  36. angela

    I didn’t realize ya’ll were in Austin. DH is from Austin! But I have to say that we are enjoying our 80+ degree weather here today in NC!

  37. Anne

    Heehee, I love #2…made me laugh and made my day!
    What a blessing having your mil handy for the kids to have a relationship with her. My kids are blessed to have that with my f&mil living handy to us. My Mom lives in another province, and doesn’t get to see the kids as much as she’d like to.

  38. Serena

    I’m pretty sure my daughter feels the same way towards my mother (‘Baba’) that your daughter feels toward Yaya. Perhaps it’s the age? Our daughters are the same age. Obviously that’s it. It’s not the grandmas and their cats.

  39. Jeanne G. @knowledgehungry

    I HOPE I never need the information in #5. I haven’t had any children yet, and as far as I know, I’m mostly healthy. However, I hope that this news spreads fast (I will share when I can). I read/hear so many cases of women who feel that contraception or sterilization are their only choices when they would be in grave danger from a pregnancy. It may not currently be economical for most people, but if we could only convince the world about NFP, it would be more common, and therefore maybe more affordable.

  40. Maggie

    my first official try!

  41. JoAnna

    Your son’s response was fantastic! Out of the mouths of babes…

  42. Calah

    Jennifer, I’m so sorry I never leave comments, but it’s because I can never read the stupid captcha code! Seriously. It’s incredible.

    Summer is arriving here too. It’s nice, because unlike TX the heat in Vegas disappears at night!

    I’m really interested in this progesterone test thing. Let me know if you find out more about it! How is this pregnancy going? No more scares?

  43. Jeanne G.

    Silly me, I forgot to Link… I remembered now. <3 JG

  44. doctorgianna

    The Family Planning Progesterone Level is used when a couple absolutely needs to avoid pregnancy. A progesterone level is drawn at P+3. If it is above 3.1 ng/ml (levels can vary between labs and this is the level done at the National Horomone Laboratory in Omaha, NE) the woman is infertile until the beginning of her next period. So far, it has been 100% effective for avoiding pregnancy when used according to its instructions (the couple abstains from intercourse from the beginning of a menstrual cycle until the P+3 level comes back, and then if it is above 3.1 they may use any day for intercourse until the beginning of the woman’s next menstrual bleed). The National Horomone Laboratory is able to perform this progesterone level at a reduced cost making it comparable in price to what other forms of birth control would cost per month.

    Dr. Gianna

  45. Stephanie

    Living near family can be so amazing!

    We live next door to my parents, and my brother’s family, and my cousin’s family, and my aunt. My kids love it! And, well, I do too 🙂

    • Jessica

      Wow – what a wonderful situation, Stephanie. You are truly blessed to have the help, support and encouragement that only family can give, right next door.

      (I was going to write, “I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOO JEALOUS, WAHHHHHH!” but that would not have been very Christian of me . . . forgive me, Lord.)

  46. JenniferK

    My 7 year old daughter and I were researching a trip to Virginia Beach. We clicked on a link that took us to a picture of the S&M club with some wild leather get-ups on some strange looking men. DD just looked and said, “That must be the wrestling team”. Awww, youth!

  47. Pauline

    Hi, I was the one who emailed you about the progesterone test. All you need to do to have your progesterone levels tested is to find a Creighton/Napro trained doctor who will follow you. You could probably even use your regular OB if he understands the information. It helps if you have a Fertility Care Consultant as well–mine is amazing–I truly don’t know where I’d be without her. I found a Napro Practitioner where I used to live and since it’s such an unusual situation she has been kind enough to follow me from another state. If you can’t find one in your area, most likely one will follow you by email and phone. To have the progestrone test, all I have to do is visit my local blood draw center (I have to get my coumadin levels checked anyway). They send my doctor the results and then I get an email that evening verifying post peak. My practitioner has told me that anything over 4 is post peak. You don’t have to go through the Pope Paul V Institute, but they are very helpful if you do. As for your local blood draw center, it depends on your insurance as to the cost, but it’s no more costly than any other blood test. Mine ends up being about $4.00 or less a month. It’s really easy.

    I think the word does need to get out the progesterone test option. This is a situation where even the most devout Catholics can start to get confused and waiver. A sister I spoke with at the Pope Paul V Institute said I was only the second person she had spoken with in 20 years that had been in this situation. I think that most people don’t know where to turn and end up on birth control or with a sterilization. I have had to defend my decision with many doctors, one who even refused to give me the prescription to prevent a stroke unless I used birth control–since it causes such severe birth defects. I really would like to prevent others from having to go through this…

    I want to share this information with a caveat. If I had spaced my children, then I might not have been blessed with the five that I have. Before my health problems escalated, we never seriously charted–except before a surgery. You never know how your health or circumstances can change. Overnight. DO NOT take your fertility or health for granted. Have children while you can. I wish we could have more, it absolutely breaks my heart. Please only prayerfully abstain, children are a gift.

  48. mom to 4 boys

    For those looking for a more scientific method of NFP, since you were asking, I have been using the Marquette method, and finding it very helpful because of the identification of the luteinizing hormone and estrogen rise via the test kits, and after that I know we are very safe to enjoy relations. It is quite reliable in pinpointing ovulation, so with that over and the knowledge of how long an egg lives… it is pretty specific. The information is free and the online recording and calculations within that online system are also free. The Clearblue monitor is not cheap, but it’s a one time purchase and once you get proficient in the method you don’t use more than about 8-10 sticks a month. I think that it might appeal to some people who really like the ease of an algorithm which calculates their safe times based on statistics (like how long sperm and eggs live) and how many days to avoid outside of the verifiable LH rise. And no, I don’t work for them. 🙂 I’m fairly new to NFP and a new Catholic. So, it’s been great to have a method that fit our style– which is to overanalyze and look for obvious signs. LOL!

  49. Briana

    Amazon sells Lh strips for $10 for 40 or so strips. I used the Clear blue for awhile, then swithced to the little strips. I can test multiple times a day and keep testing after a positive to get a negative-sometimes it can take awhile to build up to peak level. Then count three days.

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