Wonderful internet-y things for you to check out while I recover

October 30, 2013 | 34 comments

How did the Thirst Conference go? Glad you asked. First, allow me to set the scene for you:

Due to my health issues (and, let’s face it, the fact that I have six young children), I haven’t done an out-of-state speaking engagement in almost a year. Being out of practice combined with hardly getting any sleep the previous week, and the result was that I was a little nervous about my talks. I reminded myself that speaking to a group of just 100 or 200 people in a small room isn’t so bad, since the intimate setting is conducive to a receptive and friendly audience. That helped. I was ready to rock.

Then I got to the convention center. I noticed that the location of my second talk said “Arena, ” which I thought was an interesting name for a room. I wondered if this “Arena Room” was near the huge concert arena at the center of the place.

And then I realized: I was scheduled to speak in the arena.

In front of thousands of people.

And I was following Cardinal Dolan, one of the best orators of our time.


Just after that realization, I ran into fellow speaker Fr. Scott Traynor backstage. I begged him for some words of wisdom, then asked him to pray over me. It made all the difference.



The talk went well — amazingly well. It was 1, 000% more fun and easy than any speech I’ve ever given, and the audience responded very well. It was also the first time I’d sought a priest’s blessing beforehand. Coincidence? I think not.

The entire conference was amazing. I made new friends and feel energized and encouraged to have been around so many people seeking to take their faith to the next level.

While I recover from the awesomeness overdose, here are some great links:

– Megan Tietz wrestles with feelings of guilt about focusing so much on her own household, asking, “What difference did my little family make in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God?”

– I just read The Zero-Budget Christmas by my blogging friend Jason Anderson and I loved it. It’s a must-read if you’re not ready to give up gift-giving altogether but are on a tight budget.

10 amazing science stunts.

– An interactive timeline of the history of St. Nicholas as a Christmas figure.

– Eve Tushnet gets a powerful lesson about sharing the Gospel in the trenches of the real world.

– For families or organizations considering doing garage sales to raise money for adoption, charity, or other needs, these tips will make sure you get the most cash and end up with the least leftovers.

– Need reassurance that you’re not the only one who has a bad habit of getting yourself way overbooked? Maybe some tips for how to scale back, too? Here you go.

This cave is so huge that it has its own weather patterns.

– DarwinCatholic talks about seeing the hand of God in evolution.

– I’ve heard that A Pattern Language is one of those books that fundamentally changes the way you see the world. It’s been on my wish list forever. Anne Bogel has convinced me that it needs to be my next read.

– Check out this short video of Fr. Scott Traynor, the amazing priest I mentioned above, talking about what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. The speed boat / sail boat analogy at 1:40 hit me right between the eyes:

Have a great rest of the week! See you Friday!


  1. the other Becky

    You know that according to an often quoted survey Americans fear public speaking more than anything else, including death? I would say that between your public speaking, and your trials at the hands of your various doctors, you must be the bravest person I know. (I mean, that I virtually know.)

    Scorpions and turbulence are nothing in comparison.

  2. Catherine

    This is interesting as in a prayer time this morning with a friend I received a picture or mental image of Jesus sitting in a sailboat away from the shore. I prayed but I couldn’t seem to understand what the Lord was saying in that image other than the water was a symbol of faith. Father Traynor’s comments have helped me have more clarity regarding that image.

  3. Lynne

    It’s fascinating to learn that nobody tells the speakers that kind of stuff beforehand. I would assume that when they contacted you they’d describe the setup, like “You’ll be following Cardinal Dolan in the main arena.” So that you’d know what to expect. That sounds extremely frightening, so congratulations on getting through it! It was inspired to ask for that prayer beforehand. But what the heck are you wearing from the waist down? Are those flesh-colored skinny jeans or are you nude to the ankle? (Haha–way to distract that crowd from your speaking by showing some leg. 🙂 It reminds me of an Arthur book where he has an irrational fear of forgetting his pants. So now I picture you walking across the arena stage to the podium, blissfully unaware that you have, in fact, forgotten to dress your lower half. Glad it went so well!

    • Tammy

      In the picture above, I see her wearing a black skirt. I own light pink skinny jeans and it never occured to me they were “flesh” colored wore them to Church sunday and my teen daughter said “What are you wearing?!” golly and I thought I looked cute !

      • Lynne

        That is SO ODD! I swear that the skirt wasn’t visible to me before–I only saw the “flesh color” up to her shirt. Strange! But now I see the skirt and am very relieved for all concerned. And will beware of all peach/pink skinny pants.

        • Tammy

          You have me totally rethinking my pants

      • Jennifer Fulwiler

        Yes, it was a black knee-length skirt. No flesh-colored skinny jeans when I talk. 🙂

  4. Tammy

    You are the bravest person I know to follow Cardinal Dolan. Good for you for not letting it throw your game.

    Last week I gave a lecture to 60 physicians and as I walked out, I heard them introducing the guy who followed me and it started with “a graduate of Harvard…” and all I could think was “agh, I suck !!!” I tried my best to sneak out but 2 MDs chased me down…one wanting my help with her Agilent and another who told me she needed my lecture 30 years ago. ( for the record I still don’t want to present in any “arena”)

    • Tammy

      Above that should read that the MD wanted help with her “patient” not her Agilent…drat that spell check anyway

  5. Jason

    Whoa! Look at you! Speaking in front of that huge crowd! So proud. (Wipes away tear) So proud.

  6. Amanda

    Since I attended both of your talks I can confidently say you did great!!! I heard lots of fabulous comments, specifically regarding your presentation on Mothering. My girl friends and I discussed many of your great tips and witty comments later that evening. The whole conference was fabulous and our family was blest to be there. So glad I got to meet you briefly and hear you in person! Happy post- travel recovery! 🙂

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Thank you so much for sharing that, Amanda! I appreciate your kind words!

  7. MrsDarwin

    Girlfriend, I told you to get A Pattern Language months ago! It will revolutionize how you arrange your home and how you interact with buildings, furniture, and space.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I KNOW! I actually thought “That is what I get for not listening to Mrs. Darwin” when I read that post. 🙂

  8. Denise

    Congrats on a great time and great speaking! Yes, those blessings can never go awry…

    Thank you for the internet list – I ended up bookmarking almost every item for myself or someone I know.

  9. Priscilla

    We do one large gift (like a bike or trampoline) for the kids and a few smaller stocking stuffers (books, toys, pjs). This isn’t exactly a no budget Christmas, but I’m trying to raise the kids not to be materialistic and have grandiose expectations. We also participate in the parish Jesse Tree program for poor kids living across the border in Mexico.

  10. Alisha

    I went to both your talks and thought you were great. Thanks for coming back to Bismarck. I live just up the street from Rota Murphy Elementary 🙂

  11. Sister Lynn

    Glad you had a great time… was almost going to go that conference alas didn’t have the time in the schedule.

    Did you get to meet Fr Vince and Sr. Clara of the Apostles of the Interior Life? They are AWESOME!!! A wonderful new religious order…

  12. Anna

    I love Fr. Scott! He’s been friends with the Apostolic Oblates here for a long time and he’s just great! (And he always kind of reminds me of Andy from “The Office.”) And, like you, I would have been fine with “small, intimate talk setting” – but unlike you I would have promptly died when confronted with that arena! I don’t think I would have had the presence of mind to ask for a blessing…

  13. elizabethe

    I’ve never seen you speak in person but in your on-camera interviews that I have watched you are a very compelling speaker, just as you are a compelling writer. It’s very clear to me that you have a real calling to share your experience and to use it to help others make sense of theirs.

    It’s probably best you didn’t find out that you were in THE arena until shortly before your talk or you just would have been freaking out about it for two weeks beforehand. It’s not like you could have actually rehearsed in the venue, which would be a benefit of knowing beforehand. I think this was one of those ignorance is bliss situations. (also it’s a really funny blog post, so win-win!).

    I am so proud of you. I know you did great.

  14. Iris C

    Having watched your reality show I can say you are an excellent speaker!

    Did you get to meet Peter and Debbie Herbeck who went after you? Or listen to them speak?They’re from my area and AMAZING speakers!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Yes, I actually know them from when I was on Peter’s show! LOVE them.

  15. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I’m so glad to hear the Thirst conference went well! But the arena … oh my heart. Glad you didn’t know beforehand and that you were blessed before you were on the Big Screen.

    I loved Megan’s post. And yep, I need reassurance about not getting overextended (even though I’m an introvert).

    (Thanks for the mention! I’d love to hear if you read it.)

  16. Joan @rdgal37

    I was able to attend both of your talks, and they were both so great! I especially liked how you suggested the whole “live in the dark” challenge 🙂

  17. Karen G

    Jen, I didn’t hear your first talk because it was the same time as Father Traynor and I really wanted to hear his talk. I was in the arena for your second talk. You did fabulous. Thanks for coming to Bismarck to share your faith and story. It was inspiring. The whole conference refreshed my soul.

  18. Catholic Dad

    Jen, Thanks for coming to Thirst, greatly enjoyed your talk in the arena. You did a great job! You have inspired me to start replying on a local atheist’s blog. I cannot wait to read your book.

  19. Isabella Rose

    I am so glad that everything went well…and that the blessing helped. 🙂 God bless you!

  20. Colleen

    Jennifer: I was in attendance at THIRST and wanted to let you know how truly inspiring your talk was. It gives us all hope of the loved ones we have that have strayed from The Church. Thank you and God Bless.

  21. Susan

    I got to hear your talk in the arena. As a parent with several adult children who have left the faith I appreciated your story and suggestions on things NOT to do to get them back home. I came away encouraged and hopeful.

  22. Matt Larson

    I was at your talk and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. It was very insightful and I thought that you rocked that arena. Thanks for the wonderful story of your conversion.

  23. Angie


    I didn’t see your speech in the arena, but I was in the front row at the Motherhood talk. I appreciated some of the ideas that you shared. I shared the info with a Facebook group I’m part of with about 20 young mothers and I know there were a couple people at least that were intrigued by your ideas. Congratulations on your successful speeches, and thanks for your witness to your faith.

  24. JaneLee

    You knew full well what “Arena” meant…..

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