7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 207)

February 15, 2013 | 51 comments

— 1 —

What did you decide to do for Lent? The past two Lents have not been been my strongest (think: realizing it’s a Friday in Lent only after I finished the bacon-smothered cheeseburger…on more than one occasion) so I wanted to step it up a little bit this year. In other years, this liturgical season has been a time of great spiritual growth and closeness to God, so I was hoping to be a little more prayerful this time. Here’s what I decided to do:

  • Give up secular music
  • Pray Lauds and Vespers every day
  • Wear a chapel veil to Mass

— 2 —

I spent a lot of time coming up with this list. One of the problems that led to last year’s Epic Lent Fail was that I was careless about what I chose to give up. I knew I couldn’t handle much, so I spontaneously decided to forgo sugar in my coffee. I only add a small amount, after all, so surely giving it up would be perfectly doable. Alas, I quickly discovered just what a surprisingly large percentage of my will to live on any given day is due to that tablespoon of sugar, and I found myself crying to the heavens in agony, “IT’S JUST TOO HARD!!!!!” two days after Ash Wednesday. And because I have this (bad and immature) habit of throwing my hands up at the entire concept of Lent if I can’t stick to what I committed to, the whole thing went off the rails.

This year I’m feeling much better about my choices. I don’t have the kind of life where I have tons of time to zone out to my iPod anyway, so it’s really not that big of a deal to say that I’ll only listen to religious music (which, for me, will probably be mostly choral pieces from composers like Clemens non Papa, John Taverner, and Thomas Tallis).

— 3 —

Something Lauren Gulde said in her 5 Tips for an Intentional Lent post has stuck with me over the past few days:

Lent is not about YOU: When I was a ‘new’ Catholic, I would attempt to offer up numerous things for Lent. Simple, ill-placed logic told me, “The more I offered up, the better the Lent!” Well, in reality, I just ended up frustrating myself…trying to keep up with all those self-imposed rules. I also later realized that these ‘sacrifices’ made me focus way too much on myself and not nearly enough on Jesus and those around me. In a way, I had allowed my offerings to become a competition — within myself (could I REALLY pull this off for 6 weeks!?) and with others (I wonder what they’re giving up…). Make your Lent about Jesus, not about you. Our offerings, sacrifices, prayers, participation should all be things that turn us away from ourselves and point our minds, hearts and bodies toward Christ.

Though I have had Lents when I felt called to make multiple large sacrifices and it ended up being very fruitful, I love her overall point about not making it about you. I think this is good to remember if you find that you can’t stick with your commitments: it’s not a competition, with yourself or with anyone else. In fact, it’s not about you at all. You haven’t “failed” if you find that you can’t keep all the promises you made on Ash Wednesday. Just place your focus back on Christ, in whatever small way will work for you, and make growing closer to him your only goal. (Preaching to myself as much as anyone here. You know, in case I find that I just cannot go 40 days without a Wu Tang dance remix.)

— 4 —

Joe is doing a one-night camping trip with our son. He asked if I wanted to go, and my reply was something along the lines of:

— 5 —

Did you know that there’s a husband-wife survival show? The premise is that this hardcore Special Forces survivalist and his journalist wife go out to all these insane locations and he teaches her how to live in the wild. This concept is so hilarious to me. Whenever we watch episodes I just marvel at these people’s bottomless stores of patience. They’ll be freezing and starving and trying desperately to craft a fishing line out of a stick and the threads from their clothes, and the wife will mess something up, and the husband will say calmly, “That’s okay, honey, let’s just spend another 45 minutes getting a new string, and we’ll try again.”

I giggle endlessly thinking about how very, very different the Jen and Joe survival show would be. I have a feeling that me + no tent + no indoor plumbing (or toilet paper, for that matter) + extreme temperatures + extreme hunger + extreme fatigue would keep the staffers in the editing room who are responsible for bleeping out profanity very busy. I can already picture a scene where Joe reaches a breaking point and sighs/screams, “Would you PLEASE stop talking about how much you ‘despise’ the Alaskan wilderness and ‘want to see it all paved and replaced with Targets and themed chain restaurants’ and HELP ME THREAD THIS FISHING ROD?”

If we ever want Minor Revisions to become an international sensation, we may want to go for Minor Revisions Season 2: X-TREME SURVIVAL.

— 6 —

How thrilled am I that we have a grocery service that specializes in local, organic food, all delivered to my doorstep with no extra charge? VERY. I can’t afford to do all our shopping through them, but I’ve been buying meat, milk, and eggs from nearby farms through this company, and it’s everything I dreamed it could be. It’s like going to the farmer’s market without all the fighting for parking and having people glare at our family size and chasing down children while wondering angrily why nothing can ever be easy. I mean, it’s not grass-fed beef raised by NUNS (you win, Kira — with bonus points for trying cow tongue), but I’m pretty excited by it.

— 7 —

Here’s something to blow your mind: Taco Cat spelled backwards is…Taco Cat.



  1. dweej {House Unseen}

    Hah! Well. If I can’t be the firs linker, I can be the first comment, dagnabit. Anyway, you already know we’re soul sistahs when it comes to the camping hate (which is a little weird, I know, since I live in the rural tundra and you live in the suburban region of Hades).

    For Lent, we’re doing a read/discuss/prayer session every night as a family. Last night Mass “counted” for it, but tonight we did it for real and it. was. awesome. Oh my gosh. So great. Which means I’ve just jinxed it, of course. Welp. It was nice while it lasted!

  2. Dianna Kennedy

    Camping for me means in a CABIN, with water, kitchen, etc … you know, like a cute little house in the woods.

    Call me nutso, but I’m giving up yelling and cursing for Lent. Which automatically means I’ll be drinking more, right?

  3. Rebecca Fletcher

    I’m going meatless at lunch every day as well as all day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No wine, no beer, no smartphone. Which is going to be interesting because I sell cellphones for a living and people always want to see my phone. Right now, I have a flip phone. I feel like I spend way too much of my time on my phone, though, and it will be good for me to pay attention to what’s going on around me.

    The most important Lenten resolutions I’m making are to say the rosary daily and to increase my Bible study time. Focus on what you’re holding on to and it will be easier to let go of the things you’re cutting out–that’s the principle I’m going on. I think I’m on the right track because as I read through my “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” diy retreat book, that’s outlined as one of the basic principles of the Jesuits!

  4. Claire

    I’ve went off Youtube, random I know, but it’s what God wants me to do. Killing me slowly – haha!! Is it Easter yet???

  5. Laura Pearl

    I gave up Facebook–AAARRRGGGHHH. I have five grown sons and a huge extended family, and they all post lots of great pictures and funnies, so I’m going to miss it!

    I love it that you mentioned Jim Gaffigan and his bit about camping. Have you seen the whole thing? It is so hilarious! (Non-campers of the world, unite!)

    Also, I started wearing a lace mantilla (or sometimes a hat) to Mass about four years ago, and it was really tough for me at first. I hate standing out in any way, so it was a little mortification every week. It took me about five years of thinking about it before I finally had the guts to do it, but it’s become a natural habit now. Wearing a veil is such a beautiful expression of femininity–and humility in the presence of the Lord…but it would be easier to do if everyone was doing it.

  6. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    I’m giving up sighing aloud for Lent. You know which kind I mean: the I-want-you-to-know-I’m-holding-my-tongue sigh.

  7. Barbara

    I Love me some Lent. I even worked it into my Valentine’s day. My survival show would consist of my finding a way to make desserts in the wild. If I couldn’t, people would die. Namely, me.

  8. Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge

    To #1 I am also giving up secular music and it is SO hard! I did a full post and it was one of my quick takes too. Yikes. I wish I had a chapel veil to wear, that would be an awesome thing, but I’m ramping up my Divine Office too. Maybe I will ask for a veil from my husband or parents for Easter…hmmmm…

  9. Amelia

    I love your Lenten reflections. I’m giving up yelling for Lent. It’s not really a Lenten sacrifice…as just something I need to do (and it’s not like i’ll celebrate Easter by letting everyone in my family hear 6 weeks worth of frustration. LOL). What you said about Lent being about others really hit home for me. This way my sacrifice is about others…by not yelling, I can be a better mother and love my children better and discipline then better instead of just resorting to yelling.

  10. Colleen Martin

    Ahhh, I love Jim Gaffigan. And I’m doing the no sweetener in my coffee this year for Lent – so far so good, because I drown it in cream and coconut milk.

  11. Maria

    I’m giving up sugar and even fake sweetener. I keep thinking of it as exorcising my inner sugar demon! Jim Gaffigan is the best!

  12. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    Since you already have so much wild-life and excitement in your house, I’m not sure that life in the wilderness would be more stressful, just a different kind of taxing. Scorpions generally live outside, so you’d be less surprised to come across one. Without a number of little mouths to feed, diapers to change, bottoms to wipe, spills and messes to clean up, you might find that you could be persuaded that fishing and outdoor living when it means time alone with your husband would almost be worth it. Don’t forget about the personal bubble you recently found and included in your quick takes. Surely you could retreat there for solace when your sanity began wavering. There are always options.

  13. Jessica

    Jen, I’m so excited that you’re veiling this Lent, and I am certain you will inspire other ladies to do the same. I began veiling four years ago as a “sacrifice” that I felt called to offer – and now, I would feel strange going into Mass WITHOUT my veil! I don’t think you’ll “go back” after this experience! 🙂

    God bless you.

  14. Carol@simple_catholic

    “Make your Lent about Jesus.” Wow. I am making that my “mantra” this Lent for sure.

    I’m with you on the camping. My son is in cub scouts and I am dreading the time when he starts the camping trips. Chances are, with my husband’s work schedule, I’ll get stuck going with him. Ugh!

  15. Sarah

    Does it get any funnier than Jim Gaffigan? I think not. Happy Friday!

  16. Elizabeth Duffy

    You really did just blow my mind! TACOCAT!

  17. Connie Rossini

    I’m giving up all snacking (taking a chip when I feed the kids, my late-night snack, etc.) and treats, except on the two birthdays we have that fall in Lent this year. For something positive, I’m saying, “Jesus, I trust in You,” every time something happens in the day that is out of my own plans, from the little to the great. And so far I’ve been saying it a lot!

  18. Kris, in New England

    This is only my 3rd Lenten season and I really want it to be meaningful; not that the first 2 weren’t but my conversion was from a nearly-cult-like faith and a return to worship after 15 years in a desert wilderness of my own making. I found the past 2 Lents to be hard – in the sense that I was just so happy all the time.

    And I’m still happy all the time but…rather than give up anything for Lent I decided, with my loving husband, to add something to our routine. We are getting up earlier in the morning (which I guess you could say we are giving up about 30 minutes of precious sleep every morning) so that we can read the daily bible readings and pray on the Lenten Challenge our Parish has going this year. And then on the ride in to work in the morning (we both work at the same company so we get to commute together), rather than listening to secular or Christian music, we are listening to morning Mass broadcast live from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC via Sirius Satellite Radio.

    It is our hope that this will become more than a Lenten Sacrifice but rather a new direction and a deepening of our faith.

  19. Lauren Gulde

    Aw! Thanks for quoting my post! I’m so honored. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about ‘doing’ Lent since my conversion. This year, I’m giving up sweets (yes sweets. It’s hard, it’s a sacrifice and it works for me, even if everyone and their dog gives it up), music in the car and going out to eat. I’m going to read the Pope’s writings and we’ll go to Stations each week at our parish. Looking forward tonight!

  20. Jenn Miller

    Again, we are so alike! I have had the bacon cheeseburger on Lenten Friday experience, too. Like, every.year. *sigh* I am trying “menu planning” this year to try and avoid that. We will see how it goes.

    I’m right there with you with wanting to throw in the towel if I slip on my commitments. But, this year, I have started a new “cleaning” program that encourages you to *not* beat yourself if you miss a task (or a day…), but to just pick yourself up and continue on (NOT attempting to “catch up” — that will just frustrate things). So, I started off making this fantastic, elaborate plan for Lent, scheduling things into my calendar…. And then immediately “screwing up”. It’s only FRIDAY, for Pete’s sake, and still I haven’t been able to do my daily Lectio Divina or blog posting, or ….

    But I’m not going to obsess about that. I’ll just continue with the plan for Friday as if I did everything I planned on doing on Thursday and be content with that. I give my frustration over having my perfect plans messed up to God. My failure becomes part of my penance — I give up the satisfaction of knowing my perfect little list has been perfectly completed.

    And what did I do on Wednesday and Thursday that derailed my Lenten penance plans? I helped a priest finalize his STL thesis. So, I gotta get points for that, right? 🙂

    I also gave up secular music and am praying the Liturgy of the Hours! 🙂

    God Bless and have a peaceful Lent!
    — Jenn

  21. JC

    I gave up soda. Given that I don’t drink coffee and that I often work very late nights, I drink quite a bit of soda normally.

  22. Penny

    It’s actually not Lent for us yet. Lent for the Orthodox starts the third week of March this year. I think this is as far apart as the Eastern and Western Easters ever are. However, fasting for the Orthodox in Lent is so strict — no animal products of any kind including dairy; wine and oil on weekends only, no Sundays off — that I do not feel compelled to do anything else. Nor are we especially encouraged to. It is rather freeing.

  23. regina

    I love this line in your post, “You haven’t “failed” if you find that you can’t keep all the promises you made on Ash Wednesday. Just place your focus back on Christ, in whatever small way will work for you, and make growing closer to him your only goal.”

    This year for Lent I’m committing to praying the Rosary everyday. This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people that already do this, but I made this my New Years REsolution and lasted two days. So, for LENT I know I will keep my commitment since it is for Jesus. But then, like you say, if I miss a day on accident then I haven’t “failed.” I can just get right back on track (and try to say two the next day!)

  24. Kelly

    I also like that you are covering your head. I wish I had the courage! I know it sounds dumb to think I have to have courage to drape a veil or wear a hat on my head.
    I am cutting out almost all TV, as I was wasting a lot of time and feeding my depression watching dumb stuff. I am going to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey, though.
    I replace that time with reading, praying, or cleaning my house. (ie: things I ought to have been doing anyway).
    I want to go to weekly confession as well. Which means much more discipline in examination of conscience-ing. I usually am formulating what I will confess about 5 minutes before. 🙁

  25. Jessica Snell

    Oh, man, I love your #3. Yep. My husband made the point that fasting’s a tool for making room for prayer. I really, really want to remember that this Lent.

  26. Laura

    Great quick takes.
    Taco Cat really does blow my mind, thanks for the laugh!

  27. Francie Escovedo

    I’m doing a 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent. I hope you’ll check out my blog post that I wrote about it.

  28. Kendra

    Fellow camping haters, unite!

  29. Nancy

    Oh boy — I gave up chocolate this year, which has been embarrassingly difficult (and it’s only been 3 days!!). A more productive Lenten practice is that our church is reading all 4 Gospels through Lent. There’s a schedule for reading, and I can’t wait to see how God works in our hearts as we undertake this together.

  30. Kira

    I gave up sugar for Lent one year, and when Easter arrived, and every Ash Wednesday since, my husband mentions that I shouldn’t feel like I need to do THAT again. Ever.
    Which of course makes me aware that I Did It Wrong, and now I want to do it again, but without anyone KNOWING. Sadly, the only real plan I can come up with for making that happen is to take up drinking. And I don’t think that’s in the spirit of the thing.
    I am both ridiculously pleased that you linked to my blog, and horrified that now everyone in the world knows about my tongue-eatin’ ways.

  31. Linda

    Wow, a chapel veil!
    And, what is a Taco Cat anyway?

  32. Jamie

    WOW you are so brave with the veiling…not because of standing out or anything, because of the whole child-wrangling aspect of Mass…I fully expect a follow up post on how this is going/tutorial for n00bs like me…

    HAHAHA taco cat!!!!! Oh my goodness you have made Stephen VERY happy today 🙂

  33. Jolene

    “Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog!” (My favorite palindrome.) But I hadn’t heard of taco cat before! My son got a kick out of that one. Here’s a GREAT Weird Al song, all in palindromes!

    Also, Jen, whenever you are allowed to listen to Weird Al’s secular music again (this can be your Easter treat!) you simply MUST watch this one, called “White and Nerdy”

  34. Christie Martin @ Garden of Holiness

    This year I decided to give up my tough outer shell for Lent, that protective outer layer. I guess that’s another way of saying I’m working on trusting God a whole lot more. It’s the hardest Lent so far. Only 38 more days to go!

  35. Mamabearjd

    Woot! Chapel veil! I started wearing one two Lents ago, and it was really hard. People look at you. You can buy extra wide stretch lace on Etsy as a baby step, looks more like a headband, and you can tie it back to,keep grabby toddlers at bay.

  36. Jenna@CaIllHerHappy

    I love Lauren. She designed my site, and now she is a good friend. It’s awesome seeing her on here!

    And, for Lent? I gave up unnecessary spending. I need to stop filling my life with stuff and focus more on what is true. So, I’m replacing the spending with morning prayer: a habit I have yet to form.

  37. Becky

    I love that insight of “it’s not about you.” That is so true and I am very guilty of making Lent into a competition of “let’s-see-how-much-I-can-suffer-this-Lent-compared-to-last-Lent.”

    I feel like my focus is more on Christ this Lent (however, we’re only 2 days in so I can’t pat myself on the back yet), but I’m definetely going to keep the “it’s not about you” in mind. Heck, I may even write it on my hand to remind myself.

    By the way, #7 made me remember a sign on a store that I passed by not too long ago: “Kassick Motors.”

    Now, I don’t have dyslexia, but I’m thinking that I just might have it afterall, because at first glance, I read it as: “Kick Ass Motors.” Once I got home (being the necrotic person that I am), I wrote the letters down and realized that “Kassick Moters” was in fact, “Kick Ass Motors” for those who could figure it out.

    Unfortunately they went out of business, but for a long time, I was tempted to go into their store to ask if they really meant to do a play-on-words. Now we will never know. Sigh.

  38. Laurie

    If you haven’t been exposed to him before, I highly recommend that you use some of your non-secular-music time take some time to check out Keith Green. Short of the scriptures themselves, he and his wife wrote some inspiring, convicting, and refining lyrics.

  39. Barbara C.

    1. I really hope that your baby is not early, because I don’t know how you’ll make it through labor without your Tupac. 😉

    2. God Bless You…I was looking through some of the comments on one of your posts at the Register, and I pray that you have a thick skin. I don’t think I could handle all of the trolls and the way they twist everything.

  40. Fernando

    Hi Jen, any thoughts on the resignation of Pope Benedict VI? -from an avid fan

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Many! It’s been tough since I’m definitely a BXVI Catholic. I wrote a bit about it here. Thanks for asking! 🙂

  41. Bonnie

    “Lent is not about you.” Well, yes it is. Giving up something for lent is supposed to be penance. Penance is “a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.” Penitence means “regret for one’s wrongdoing or sinning.” Penance during lent is supposed to be undertaken as an ACT of contrition. Our hearts should be focused on our sinfulness, on how far we have fallen short of the glory of God, and our contrition and sorrow for that. The purpose of our penance is to have a (near) constant reminder that we have failed. If we give up sweets for lent, each time we think of something sweet or deprive ourselves of something sweet should remind us we sinned and are sorry for it. It should evoke and provoke in us a sincere contrition and humility before God. The purpose of giving up something for lent is expressed best in Joel 2:13: “And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.” But in doing this penance we are not supposed to feel defeated by our past failures and wallow in our “badness.” Our penance also serves to strengthen our character. The ability not to succumb to the temptation of what we have willingly given up is supposed to strengthen our character and help us become better at resisting sin when it presents itself. Foregoing something during lent is like spiritual sit-ups. It should make us stronger by making us more humble, because we are quickly made aware how easily our flesh is pulled into having its own way. If you’re giving something up as a test of endurance, you’re doing it wrong. It should open your heart in sorrow and humility to God.

  42. Susan

    Um…points very well taken, but is there an exception built in if the baby comes a week early? Or do we need to look for religious rap remixes? (I find the Hallelujah Chorus pretty transcendent, and maybe a version with a lot of percussion…)

  43. lauri

    I’ve started the diy retreat “Consoling the heart of Jesus”. So far so good. Also I have been trying your Saint’s diet, only wholesome foods. Read between the lines – no junk food! Trying to limit my internet reading also. Glad u r doing better jen.

  44. Jeannine

    You had me literally laughing out loud when you linked the spoonful of sugar to your will to live. Oh, that was a classic!

    Vespers and hymns and chapel veils, oh my! You are too holy for me, Jen. I am, pitifully, working on the same Lenten practice as last year: speaking nicely. No kidding. I just wrote about it so it should show up in the comment luv.

  45. Cora

    That’s interesting that you’re doing a chapel veil. I don’t have that kind of courage. Let us know how it goes. I tried doing a bible study with some friends, but it didn’t go well. It is sorta weird, actually. I went to catholic schools my entire life, and met mostly Catholics in college and grad school. However, I still can’t find a single friend to do a serious bible study with me. My church has one, but I have a 6 month old that doesn’t appreciate quiet time. I’d rather annoy friends than random ppl with a fussy baby. Maybe I’ll try giving up wine, instead (like I’d make 40 days w/o wine). Good luck with your list!

  46. Clara

    I’m giving up TV and adding a daily rosary, adding once a week daily mass and trying to get to adoration once a week.

    I love wearing a chapel veil in Mass. It was hard at first. I don’t like sticking out…but my goal was to reverence God and submit to his will. So it is worth looking a little strange sometimes.

  47. Sarah

    A chapel veil? Really? I have to say I am very disapponted. You are such a woman of strength and wisdom and grace…and that is where you chose to put your effort? Read the gospels – “Pray in secret” and “Consider the lilies of the field.” Do some SOLID research about Paul’s line about “covering the head.” THINK. Why would you chose to put that out in public as one of your three lent offerings? Consider the three pillars of this season: Pray, fast, almsgiving. Where does wearing a veil even fit in? A problem I see among so many Catholic mommy bloggers is an unseemly self-focus. Jesus’ great commandment is to love God – and love one another. Can’t you find ways to use your talents to do this? Even on bedrest? I know countless people who need prayers. How about using your bedrest time to pray – instead of surfing the web? Just saying. Really, I’m disappointed. Catholic women must stand as role models for each other – and calling attention to oneself – no matter how “holy” the motive just doesn’t seem appropriate. And, yes, I know all the arguments – and about how wearing a veil is “all about God and nothing about me.” Sorry. I don’t buy it. Mass is a community liturgy…not solely an individual encounter with God. We need to be present and hospitable to our fellow pray-ers…not to be isolated and withdrawn and sitting with heads bowed at all times. Just my opinion.

    • Kelly M.

      Veiling was standard practice in the church for 2000 years. If all women still veiled, those of us who continue to do so wouldn’t stand out. As it is, veiling is standard practice at most Extraordinary Form Masses/parishes. No one seems to be distracted by it. The Blessed Mother and centuries of saints covered their heads so, I think those of us who veil are in good company.

  48. Kelly M.

    So, if you’ve given up popular music, does that mean you’ll listen to un-popular music? What falls into that category? Katy Perry is very unpopular with me and I think a few hours with one of her albums would be very penitential.

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