7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 163)

February 24, 2012 | 41 comments

— 1 —

Hey, I just got an email saying that I’m in the running for the About.com Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Blog. Thanks, guys! Click here if you’d like to vote. It only takes about 10 seconds.

As I type, it occurs to me that a Friday in Lent is not exactly the ideal time to indulge in shameless self promotion, so I assure you that I am only directing you to the About.com awards so that you can vote for the Catholic Spiritual Direction blog.

— 2 —

Lest you think it’s all awards and accolades over here, I assure you it is not. Alas, the atheist population on Youtube is busying itself by providing me with opportunities for humility and forgiveness with their comments on my profile. (To see it you’ll need to click on the Comments tab, but be warned that there is language on there the likes of which you probably haven’t seen since your junior high bathroom wall.) Unfortunately, all the effort they’re putting into crafting their combox theses is kind of wasted, because they’re talking about a video that I myself didn’t think was that great. I uploaded it as a test, and only accidentally made public. Anyway, as soon as I get time I plan to remedy the situation by posting a new video that is at least worth their time to scorn.

— 3 —

I am always shocked by the extent to which Lent acts as a litmus test for how attached I am to the world. There have been years, for example, when I happily embraced fasting and prayer and almsgiving. Sure, it’s always hard to make sacrifices, but whenever I’d feel the pinch I’d turn my eyes heavenward, and say, “Thank you, Lord, for the reminder that the true source of our joy is not to be found on this earth!” (or something like that). This year I have already been acting like I’m dying for making the most minuscule efforts toward detachment, fidgeting resentfully during my efforts to give God five extra minutes in prayer, wondering if life is still worth living if I don’t put a scoop of sugar in my coffee. I can only imagine how bad I would get if I didn’t have Lent to repeatedly slap me upside the head for 40 days each year.

— 4 —

I’ve noticed that how I react to Lent usually corresponds to how well things have been going in my life leading up to it. In the years that I’ve been having a tough time, facing illness or money problems or some other crisis, I am viscerally aware of the fleetingness of worldly pleasures, acutely attuned to the truth that our hope must only reside in one place. And so Lent feels like I’m simply acting out what I already knew. This year, however, things have been going great. For the most part, it’s been a really nice past few months over here…and now, at Lent, I see just how easily I’ve gone from appreciating the good things in my life to depending on them for my daily sense of peace.

It’s a stunning wakeup call, and one that I’m so thankful for, even if it’s not easy. Because the reality is that all of this good stuff could change at any moment. Lent is a time of remembering that, of re-rooting ourselves in the only real Source of lasting happiness.

— 5 —

Speaking of things from which I derive an embarrassing and inappropriate amount of amusement, my entire book project was almost derailed when I discovered the reviews for the RelaxMan on Amazon. It was a moment of realizing that my whole life up until now had been a farce and that my true purpose on this earth was simply to surf Amazon for other products that had similar reviews. This new, improved vision for my existence was only strengthened when I discovered the pages for Uranium Ore (don’t miss the customer images!), the Outlook for Wooden Toilet Seats in Greater China report, as well as a few others I probably shouldn’t link to. Like, say, the top-rated review for the book The Secret. And its comments. Anyway, I spent half of an afternoon sitting in front of my computer, wiping tears out of my eyes as I laughed and gasped for air, my jaw open as if I were beholding the beatific vision. So. Yeah. It’s good that we have Lent to put these things in perspective.

— 6 —

If you’re anywhere near Peoria, IL, and you are a woman, you need to be planning to attend the Behold Conference on March 10. (They swung an incredibly cheap rate at a local hotel if you need a place to crash overnight.) I am particularly excited that more than half of the other women who contributed to the upcoming Style, Sex and Substance book will be there, and that I have no plans other than to just hang out and chat with everyone. (I think this is the part where I’m supposed to use the word “fellowship” as a verb, but I’m still not sure how to do that, so I’m going to stick with “chat.”) So come on by if you can make it! You can register here, and registration closes next Friday, March 1.

— 7 —

To properly celebrate my first week back hosting Quick Takes, let’s start this weekend off right with a video of a German magician with an iPad.



  1. Emily

    I’m so sad that the Behold conference is the same weekend as a golf tournament! and it’s only a few hours drive from where I am now. Sad day.
    Good luck with the award!
    And i read those comments on Youtube.. ignore them. Keep preaching your word 🙂

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Thanks, Leah! Congrats on yours as well!

  2. jen

    Ignore your detractors on YouTube. They need lives.

    So with you on #4. This is the first Lent in three years where there haven’t been life or death issues going on in my life so it’s the first one since then where I’m actively trying.

  3. Beth Anne @ The Catholic Couponer Blog

    That Behold conference sounds awesome but Florida is sooo far away 🙁 maybe another time. I saw on twitter when you posted about Relaxman that was too funny. I died laughing too. Although for $30k I’d be mroe inclined to buy an RV and drive away haha

  4. nancyo

    I read a little meditation in the missalette in the pew at Ash Wednesday Mass that Lent was supposed to be about what we do for others not for improving ourselves. That has helped my focus a bit, but, really, I’ve slipped and slid so much that a little improvement is in order for me this Lent.

  5. Dorian Speed

    It’s weird – every year, I get so antsy and fed up with pretty much everything, and then I realize: Lent is almost here! YES! I really need it!

    A more disciplined person would impose upon herself ritual “mini-Lents” of self-denial and reflection, but then I surely wouldn’t find myself this stoked about mortification and fasting.

  6. sarahlcc

    Okay, this is hilarious : have you checked out the amazon comments on the Twilight novels and the giant sized swiss army knife?

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who appreciates amazon review for a rollicking good time!

  7. cinhosa

    Speaking of nominations on About.com (page 8 of the post above), please click iMissal for best iOS application. This application has definitely helped me grow closer to God because:

    1. Read the Lectionary scripture passages each day (USCCB)
    2. Dozens of useful prayers
    3. Catholic news
    4. Have a person read to you) scripture passages
    5. Verse of the day.
    6. Optional saint of the day

    One last thing: when I suggested an enhancement through the iMissal forums, they changed it!

    If you don’t have it but have an iPad or iPhone, they have released versions for Android and Blackberry.

    Check it out at imissal dot com

  8. Michael

    Love the iPad video! That’s great. And keep at it with the atheists. I studied science and still engage atheist groups on a regular basis. It’s not easy and it takes time, but there are some (like you) who will eventually hear.

  9. Michelle

    I really appreciate #4. I had never thought much about why I embraced lent so easily in the past, but I, too, have been having a better than average start to the new year, so sacrificing and self-denial are coming a bit harder! Strange how that works.

    I will say, though, that with our political landscape the way it is, I still welcomed Lent but mainly for the increased prayer and devotion time…we certainly need more of something around here.

  10. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    I read recently that close to 80% of how people respond to surveys on happiness is attributable to how they feel on the day they were asked. Perhaps the same is true of Lent?

  11. Kate Wicker

    See you in March!!!

  12. Leanne@ Life Happens When

    Even though I’m about 5 hours from Peoria, I think I am coming to Behold! It has been on my heart since I first heard about it back in December. I think it is clear that I am being guided there! I just have to arrange some last minute details!!

    Thank you for your reflections on Lent. It helps to read how others struggle through, but ultimately find healing in the process.

    Glad to have you back!!

  13. Jeanne G.

    I think I need a RelaxMan. I wonder if I can have one of those put in my office…

  14. MrsDarwin

    My brother-in-law, whose last name is Wolf, is particularly attached to the Amazon review of the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt. It’s good for hours of hysterics.

    See you in Peoria!

    • Dorian Speed

      My life has been transformed in unexpected ways by your linking to the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt reviews. I both blame and thank you.

  15. Sarah

    That’s interesting what you said about Lent, because my experience has been the opposite. I find it easier to give things up for Lent or do something extra when things are going well and my life is relatively easy and non-stressful. When my life is difficult or stressful, Lent just feels like one more thing I have to do. When I was in college and life was pretty easy, I would give up several things for Lent, fast once a week, go to daily mass once a week, and so on. Now that I have three kids (including a 6-month-old), a part-time job and a mortgage, I struggle just to give up sweets, and forget about saying any extra prayers! It’s like now I feel like, don’t I have enough self-denial in my life already?!

  16. Maria @ La Dolce Vita

    the you tube was priceless … i loved the look on the woman’s face when the salesman/magician poured walnets (pecans?) out of the ipad. Ha!

  17. Brandon Vogt

    I’m with MrsDarwin. I’ve spent HOURS howling over the Three Wolf Moon Shirt reviews. Ahem, a sampling:

    “I’m just a regular American guy. I’ve got a truck, smoke a little too much, maybe missing a few toes. Nothing too unusual. At my 9-to-5 I’ve gotten by for years on my old Two Wolf Moon T-Shirt. “Bring the loader over to bay 4″ they’d say, and I’d get over there and get it done, my two wolves classy enough for work but also letting the passing ladies know I’m a raging torrent of untamed American spirit yearning to breath free, preferably naked. I’m no Don Juan, but I did ok — mostly with Janice from Accounting, until she got diptheria.

    Most of my income went to the good life, brewed high in the Rockies if you know what I mean. But one day I decided to take some hard earned dough and upgrade. Bigtime. When I got my Three Wolf Moon t-shirt, I knew my life had changed, but I didn’t know how much.

    When I put it on, the effect was immediate. 33% more wolf was almost too much to handle. It was like wearing 1500 ccs of chaps on a 1800 cc motorcycle. The vibrations alone were almost enough to throw me off my stride. And the fact that the third wolf faces backwards while howling, demonstrating individuality at the same time as unity of purpose and nobility of spirit, was a metaphor so powerful Roy, the guy who steals my mail, practically took his own foot off with his weed whacker the moment he saw me.


    After suturing him up with some spare baling twine, I trotted down to the hardware store to stock up. Bad idea. The rippling of my well endowed man curves apparently set the wolves to almost a hypnotic shimmering, trapped and yet freed under the opalescent moon they eternally worship and yet deny. Some guy took one look at me and backed right into a concrete planter. I almost stopped to see if he was ok, but then I remembered that wolves don’t stop for anybody, particularly when howling.

    These days, I’m making $1.15 more an hour, and I keep getting free cable. With the savings, I’m thinking …maybe…just maybe, it’ll be Four Wolf Time soon. But for those of you who have put in your time and training on the One and Two wolf shirts, I highly recommend investing in an upgrade. You’ll never truly soar free without one.”

    Read more reviews if your ribs can handle the rattling.

    • JC

      Yeah, I loved those reviews. I also enjoyed (more recently) the reviews for the book which was written by that Jersey Shore lady:
      “I still pine for the day when Wicket W. Warrick releases his memoirs of the Battle of Endor, but until then, we’ll just have to settle for this excellent translation. It’s one of the cleanest in the English language, where the grunts and vernacular of the vertically challenged and girth enhanced Ewok Snooki come across in all their simplicity. Though demonstrating a remarkable paucity of thought, we’re endeared of this member of the species, and look forward to more as she gains her voice and hopefully develops a slightly higher IQ. Kudos to her translator, but it’s unfortunate that the editor had such a dull source. It’s entertaining, momentarily, to have exposure to the Ewok’s earth culture of drinking, whoring, and tanning, but that wears out quickly and we’re left with a book that is the 2011 version of Jessica Simpson’s wedding planning guide.”

      Or, more bluntly:
      “As a door stop, it lacks heft. As a smoking adjunct, the paper lacks pliability. As bird cage liner material, it doesn’t lay flat. As fish wrappers, it lacks breadth… As compost, it’s toxic. As a weapon, it lacks a reliable grip. As a comedy, it’s too tragic. As a tragedy, it’s too pathetic. As a book, the hardcover edition is 304 pages too long. “

  18. cindykay

    Where do I get that ipad model? 🙂

  19. Daria Sockey

    Great to have you back. I’m just starting with the book process, and appreciated that clip art thing you did the other day.

  20. Stephanie

    I started watching the video, but stopped because I have to watch it with my husband. Seems pretty funny! I like it when the lady says, “I’m a bit confused.” Hahahah.

    Thanks for all the Lent related takes today. It’s really helped me focus. Glad you’re back hosting the quick takes (and back in general).

  21. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond

    Congratulations on your recognition, Jen! It’s well-deserved.

    Lent for me can be the same way. Some years I revel in it. But the better things are in life, it seems the harder Lent is. Doesn’t that sort of describe the vast majority of American Catholics? Lent is hard. True penance is hard because we are SO dependent on the things that make our lives easy. This is when Lent is the most useful!

  22. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    Congrats on the nomination!! And I can’t believe the comments on the channel, but to be honest, people tend to resort to name-calling when they can’t really defend their argument or when they can hide behind a computer. I love how we can all discuss and have discourse but when we dissolve into name calling, I’m done.

    Glad you are back! But things were fun over a Betty Beguiles’ place too! Thanks, Hallie!

  23. Leticia Adams

    Number 5 had me in tears laughing!

    I for one love your posts, and your videos. LOVE the one with the banana man recording you. bwhahahahaha 😀

  24. Pam

    I am right there with you on number 3. In fact, it was one of my quick takes too. I love nancyo’s comment about Lent being for others instead of self-improvement. I think she’s on to something there. Congrats on your nomination. I was nominated in the Homeschooling Blog category. As I have maybe 15 readers (ok, a few more than that, but not many), I was totally floored. I put up my thank you on Ash Wednesday and then realized later it may not have been the best day to do so. Doh! Glad you are back and even more glad that you finished the book.

  25. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    I thought about going to the Behold Conference, but I was having a hard time finding a hotel room, so then thought not to go. It’s about a three-ish hour drive from me.

    Hey — thanks for the heads up on those reviews on Amazon. I was laughing so hard at the uranium ones in particular.

  26. dweej

    OH. EM. GEE. I have never wanted to go to a dang conference before in my life (because I’m uneducated swine and all that) but I want to go to Behold so badly. Or as my 23 month old would say “Soupeeee, soupee bad!”.

    Also, to help you out with verbifying “fellowship”, I suggest you randomly holler out “We be fellowshippin’!” when you’re chatting with all those lovely ladies who I’m dying to meet. I know. Brilliant, right?

  27. Sarah B.

    Hi Jen,

    I have been following your blog for a long time (since I started mine in 2008) and I’m so excited to be attending the Behold conference with a friend. I hope we can meet and maybe chat for a few!

    Congrats on your nomination. Will be voting for you for sure.

  28. Bonnie Way

    Thanks so much for your comments on Lent! I love your sense of humour. 🙂

  29. Veronica

    Thanks a lot, Jen, for those links to the Amazon reviews, they are hysterical. I have to say, though, your life is but a mere shell of an existence until you read the reviews for the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank. I’m even thinking of buying myself one. One word: BOOM!!

  30. Hero G.

    Congratulations for the award you garnered. I hope you’ll receive more awards in the future. How long have you been writing? Keep that talent up!


  31. Elizabeth

    Congratulations!!! What a relief!!

    “I am always shocked by the extent to which Lent acts as a litmus test for how attached I am to the world.” — Great point! I sat down to read in my Lenten reader the other day and I realized how much I LOVED spiritual reading… then I realized how little I do it. Time for a change!

  32. Kara P

    Jen, I cannot believe I’ll be seeing you next weekend at Behold! I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I am so very very excited to get the chance to meet you face to face!

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