7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 167)

March 23, 2012 | 44 comments

— 1 —

The process of my husband and me editing the book is finally drawing to a close. I was going to employ the term word “laborious” to describe what it’s been like, but the word didn’t seem to capture the fullness of the experience. I went to thesaurus.com and found a bunch of synonyms:

arduous, backbreaking, burdensome, effortful, fatiguing, forced, heavy, herculean, labored, onerous, operose, ponderous, rough go, stiff, strained, strenuous, tiresome, toilsome, tough, tough job, wearing, wearisome, wicked

Yes. All that. Especially operose. I’ve never heard that word before, but if it means something tedious and hard, then yes, it was indeed an EXTREMELY OPEROSE process. Anyway, I’m probably going to send the draft to my agent by the end of next week, at which point I’ll shut up about the book for a while.

— 2 —

…Until my agent gets back to me with his feedback. At which time I will churn out one neurotic update after another, clogging my Twitter followers’ feeds with cryptic but ominous-sounding messages, writing a series of posts on my blog whose titles will likely look something like:

  • 5 Tips for Dealing with Abject Despair
  • When You Want to Die
  • Even When You Feel Like a Talentless Fool, God Still Loves You
  • Remember: God Can Bring Good Out of Even the Most Hopeless Situations
  • Sorry I Haven’t Been Updating Lately; I’ve Been Busy Sitting in a Corner, Staring at a Wall While Clutching a Bottle of Wine
I know, I should be more optimistic. Just because the past four years working on this project have made me feel like I’m stuck on a Sisyphean wheel, maybe this time will be different!

— 3 —

My dad told me a crazy story the other day: One time a friend of his named Bob was camping out on a ranch in West Texas. Bob and a buddy had seen a huge rattlesnake while they were out that day, but left it alone. At dusk they found a place to sleep and got in their sleeping bags. The next morning, Bob woke up to realize that there was a very large snake in his sleeping bag, down at his feet. That’s right. I said “WOKE UP TO A SNAKE AT THE BOTTOM OF HIS SLEEPING BAG.”

Let’s pause there for a moment and think about that: You wake up. You feel a huge snake at your feet. You think it could very well be a rattlesnake. You’re not anywhere near a place where you could get medical attention. And you know that if you try to get out of the sleeping bag the snake will likely get spooked and bite you. How do you get out of that situation? Think about what you would do, and I’ll tell you his friend’s clever solution in take #7.

— 4 —

One of the moms in my daughter’s preschool class had a great idea for celebrating the teacher’s birthday: She suggested that each child bring a single flower, which would then be assembled into a bouquet. The result was beautiful:

Each child brought a homemade card as well. It ended up being a lovely, meaningful gift that even those of us on tight budgets could easily swing.

— 5 —

Why didn’t you tell me about Audrey Assad? Well, I guess Marc Barnes did. So maybe the problem is that I’m not a good listener. But I do think that at least one person should have emailed me personally to demand that I stop what I’m doing to go check out Assad’s music. Anyway, I’ve listened to Restless about 20 times since I bought it on iTunes yesterday. It’s got Augustine references, beautiful melody, a voice that makes tone-deaf people like me wonder if this person is the same species that I am. What more could you want in a song?

— 6 —

There was a lot of interest in that Vatican Astronomy Camp I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Some folks asked for the link, and Kayla (who has a great blog) kindly found it for us: Here you go. Thanks, Kayla!

— 7 —

The answer from #3: Bob got his friend’s attention — painstakingly, since he had to avoid, you know, moving or breathing or otherwise doing anything that might upset the snake. He told his friend to build a fire right next to the sleeping bag. Once the fire was going, Bob gently pulled open the top of his sleeping bag and had his friend fan smoke inside (just about suffocating as he tried not to cough). It worked. The snake got irritated by the smoke and came slithering out. And it turned out not to be a rattlesnake after all.

So, the moral of the story is: This is what happens when you leave the house. First you think it’s a good idea to take a walk, then you get adventurous and start riding bikes places, then camping starts to sound fun, and, long story short, you end up trapped in bags with poisonous reptiles. People like me never have to deal with that, because we are smart enough to stay indoors at all times. Next time someone suggests that I get out a little more often, I now have a reply that will render all their arguments invalid: Snake in sleeping bag.

“Jen, do you want to go camping with – ?” SNAKE IN SLEEPING BAG. “But don’t you want to go on the hike to – ?” SNAKE IN SLEEPING BAG. “Shouldn’t you at least go to the grocery store for – ?” SNAKE IN SLEEPING BAG!!!



  1. Grace

    my heart is still pounding reading about the snake/sleeping bag/nightmare.

    –can’t wait till the fruits of your laborious labor are published for allll to enjoy!

  2. Cynthia

    Oh my goodness…I really do love Audrey Assad as well! I’m so glad you found her music 🙂

  3. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    “Restless” is such an amazing song, isn’t it? I think that I first heard about Audrey Assad from following Matt Maher’s Twitter stream. (Do you listen to Matt Maher as well? We got to see him in concert, and it was amazing.)

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Yes, I LOVE Matt Maher. He’s so talented.

  4. Leila

    SNAKE IN A SLEEPING BAG!! (Now can I stay home and not go downtown to the HHS protest with four kids today? Nope? I have to go? Okay….)

  5. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Just got back from midnight showing of Hunger Games (costume pics at my blog) and I can’t help thinking that I’d never make it in the arena because even if I managed to hide from the other Tributes, I couldn’t hide from Nature. Snake in your sleeping bag, indeed!

  6. Kerri

    Audrey Assad has a song called Love is Moving that I think can only be found on Vimeo. So beautiful!


  7. Liesl

    I can’t believe you haven’t heard Audrey Assad before!!!! If I would’ve known, I would’ve said something!!! Her latest album is fabulous too!

    And the snake… *shudder* I HATE snakes. Like can’t even look at/touch a picture of a snake. Yuck. I still go camping though…

  8. Kat L

    My husband was once stung by a scorpion which came from the nest of scorpions in his sleeping bag.

    • JC

      Which brings me to the proper (fear-inducing) response to “SNAKE IN SLEEPING BAG.” That response is: scorpions in house.

  9. Emily Smith

    Audrey Assad is the best thing ever. Not kidding. Buy her CDs right now. If you are like me they will be playing over and over and over in real life and in your head. Love her. Love.

    There I told you.

  10. Laura

    I would have probably just jumped out of my bag and taken my chances so I suppose that is why I don’t camp in places like that! God Bless.

  11. Ellen Gable Hrkach

    Hello Jen! Loved your post today, as always! “This is what happens when you leave the house.” We didn’t have to leave our house to run into snakes. Just after we moved into our house in the country, we discovered a family of 7 garter snakes living in between the concrete and the styrofoam insulation in our basement! Thankfully, my husband was able to get rid of them. We’ve also had mice, squirrels and birds…but we love living in the country! My 7 Quick Takes today is a poignant remembering of my mom through the contents of her special box. And…there is a FREEBIE alert. My first novel, Emily’s Hope (it’s based on the true stories of myself and my great-grandmother and sometimes called NFP Fiction)is available FREE today and tomorrow on Kindle! http://amzn.to/ygMpaZ

  12. Jeanne G.

    Wow! I can’t imagine that thing with the snake. That must be why I’ve only ever camped in the north!

  13. Kathleen Basi

    The snake story? Ayah!

  14. Charlotte (Matilda)

    I’m confused about the Vatican Astronomy Camp. Did Br. Guy say if there were camps for different ages because according to the website, “Students in upper level university classes or in their beginning years of graduate studies who have mastered the fundamentals of astrophysics and are considering the possibility of future careers in astronomy or astrophysics are invited to apply.” ? I wouldn’t exactly call upper level college students or early graduate students “kids”. My son would love to know if there was a high school version. Thanks!

  15. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I’m sorry your book edits have been agonizing for your sake, but only kinda, because your posts about the painful process never fail to crack me up! I was dying at yesterday’s notes from your husband!

    We’ve done the one-flower-per-child bouquet at our preschool too, and I’m always floored by how gorgeous the bouquets turn out. Everybody loves it, too–the parents, the kids, the teachers. I think that’s the best kind of gift.

  16. Mary

    I want to borrow the Snake in Sleeping Bag excuse! Funny!

  17. Louise

    Wow! That snake story gives me goosebumps. Props to him for his cleverness and presence of mind!
    I hope that your agent’s feedback is nothing but wonderful. 🙂
    I agree, Kayla has a great blog!

  18. ceciliamaria

    I wish I could use the “Snake In Sleeping Bag” argument with my father, but he would only remind me that said argument doesn’t apply to snow camping! Ugh!!

  19. Contra

    I wonder if they started a fire before they bedded down or not? I usually try to leave at least a small fire going nearby when sleeping under the stars. It keeps the critters away, at least until it burns out.

  20. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond

    Look up a band called L’Angelus sometime. I heard them last weekend playing with Michael W. Smith and I can’t stop listening to their hymns cd. I’ll give Audrey Assad a try!

  21. Amanda S.

    I’m so excited that I get to see Audrey Assad. She’s touring with JJ Heller who sings the Magnificat and many other wonderful songs (so beautiful). You should look to see if there’s a concert near you!

  22. elizabethe

    It bothers me that the “successful” outcome of “snake in sleeping bag” involved the snake slithering out past Bob, presumably touching him while doing so. That is not a successful outcome to my mind.

    I am never leaving the house. I don’t live where there are scorpions, so there.

  23. Christine

    Snake in sleeping bag…hilarous.

    I thought about it the whole sleeping bag thing and would not have kept my cool. Would have screamed and been bitten.

    I can handle snakes. It is bears and cougars that totally freak me out. Spiders too.

  24. bobbi

    Ohmygosh, snake in the sleeping bag. I could not stop laughing. Talk about scary.

    So nice to see Audrey Assad in your quick takes. I just started listening to her music just recently, although I’ve been following her twitter for awhile.

    Thanks again for another great post. 🙂

  25. Wendy from Zoom

    You can still go out. Just think: Out=snake in sleeping bag. In=scorpion in toilet. Just avoid sleeping bags outside of your house and you’ll be fine! 🙂

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Oof. That’s a GREAT point. I can’t win!!

  26. Kayla @ The alluring world

    I first read that as “snake *on* sleeping bag” which I thought maybe wouldn’t be too terrible. Then I reread it and realized it is “snake *IN* sleeping bag” and just about had a heart attack.

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog, commenting, and then going over and beyond by linking to it. I’m glad I could help locate the VOSS.

  27. Bethany G

    My husband is friends with Audrey Assad! We all converted around the same time, too, for similar reasons (most especially love of the sacraments). I get so excited whenever I see somebody give her a bump. 🙂

  28. Amanda

    How can you not have heard of Audrey Assad!? This book thing is really taking too much time if it stops you from hearing of her music for this long, you poor thing!

    We love her, Audrey Assad and The Swell Season (not Catholic, not even clean necessarily but very good) have been on in the car continuously since I got pregnant with my second…and he’s 16 months. My 3 year old likes her song about “as i carry this cross, you carry me” because we happened to listen to it right before hearing a homily on carrying our crosses. So the song elicits a “this is the song what Father Steve was talking about” every.single.time.

    And snakes in sleeping bags is why we no longer live in the southwest part of the US…or even the south part of the US at all. Less evil critters up here where the winter snows either kill them all or make them sleepy at least.

  29. Donna

    What great presence of mind that man had with the snake. I think my first and only reaction would have been to get the heck out of there!

  30. Jenny Kay

    That snake story made me think of an old Bonanza episode. I had nightmares for months!!!

  31. Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace

    The snake thing would totally freak me out as well. There are some experiences I’d really rather not have with the nature God created. Snakes in my sleeping bag is high on the last very close to scorpions in my slippers. I agree that Audrey Assad is awesome! Our brother in Christ, John, introduced me to her music a while back by giving me her first CD. This week, he came over with her new CD and a great CD/DVD combo of the Rippingtons’ which made my husband smile even in his post-surgery I’ve had to sit around here for a week misery. Thank goodness for good friends, understanding husbands, and good music to help us through!

  32. Marian

    What would I choose to do in the snake situation? Choosing would have nothing to do with it, as I’m certain that my response would be complete, involuntary panic!
    And thank you for adding operose to my vocabulary as well. At least in my mind, with the word “opera” practically right there in one’s face, it’s the only one that hints at the sheer DRAMA involved in such a laborious task! You’ll get there, in God’s perfect timing.

  33. Lisa

    I am never camping again.

  34. Rhonda

    There’s another solution to getting outdoors – move to a nice place in the Western part of the Oregon or Washington State. Ahh, that’s the outdoors ticket!

    I have family in Texas. My parents lived in Texas for awhile. It was the first time in a long, long time that I had seen my dad handle a shotgun. To kill a snake in the driveway, of course.

    And then there are those huge fat wasps. And cockroaches. And, scorpions, as you shared with us last year. 🙂

    Texas creatures. *shudder*

    Texas people. *love*

  35. Teri

    Hi! I love the Audrey Assad song and have already sent it to some friends. I wondered if you’d ever come across Brooke Fraser (a singer songwriter from NZ) whom Audrey reminded me of. She writes beautiful lyrics – you can find her on youtube. Some of my favourites are Shadowfeet and the CS Lewis song.

  36. Gillian

    Yes!!! Better late than never! 4 min to spare 😮

  37. Karen Edmisten

    Love, love Audrey Assad. I’m sorry I didn’t alert you. 🙂 I shall be more responsible in the future.

  38. Lisa V.

    Couldn’t agree more! Camping?! …. pointless. I like the indoors. Same goes for skiing. Why in the world would I want to do this? Isn’t it like freezing cold, I could break my neck, or legs, etc and the likelihood is I’m going to fall… a lot… on snow…get bruises…yeah, fun. Fun…like snakes in sleeping bags!

  39. jen

    When I lived in Montana, they claimed rattlesnakes never crossed US-2 or the railroad tracks. Four years in, they killed one near one of the churches. THEY LIED!!!!!

  40. Lindsay @ Lindsay Loves

    I’ll apologize for not introducing you to Audrey Assad. I snagged her previous CD “The House You’re Building” on Amazon MP3 for about $3, and it is magical. I will further apologize by notifying you of her Christmas song with Chris Tomlin, “Winter Snow,” AND sharing an Amazon MP3 code for $2 in free music: http://amazonmusic.tumblr.com/post/20131091832/hitumblr-heres-2-for-mp3s (only good through April 1)

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