November 13, 2013 | 43 comments

My kids walk a trail at this great venue.

My kids walk a trail at this great venue.

When I went to bed on Sunday night after hitting Publish on the post about this conference idea, I’d begun to second-guess the whole thing.

As I tried to fall asleep, I kept thinking: What if there’s no need for an event like this? What if this is just some weird thing that only Hallie and I would want to do and we’re about to be hosting a very expensive two-person party for ourselves? Gah! We never should have put down that deposit. That’s what I get for listening to the Holy Spirit!!! (Pray for my spiritual director. He has his work cut out for him.)

I eventually assured myself that surely at least a few other women would like to come to an event like this, and optimistically thought that I could probably expect to see a handful of encouraging responses to the post.

I honestly never saw it coming when I grabbed my phone the next morning, and it was exploding with texts and emails, all of them containing the word “conference” and a lot of exclamation points. I checked comments to see them pouring in one after another. Hallie called to read the flood of Facebook messages in support of the event.

To sum up what Hallie said in her post today:


Thank you.

This is going to be seriously awesome.

I can't wait to see this place filled with new friends!

I can’t wait to see this place filled with new friends!

Now. A few administrative things:

  • We’ll be ready to make an official announcement with the name, speakers, location details, ticket price and sale dates, and all that good stuff very soon (within the next couple of weeks).
  • We are thrilled by all the kind offers of help. We are currently racking our brains to make use of as much of this wonderful volunteer army as possible, and will get back to you all as soon as we can.
  • The event is targeted to the needs of Catholic mothers, but all women are welcome to join us!
  • Here’s the biggest thing: Seating is not unlimited. In fact, because we waaaaaay underestimated the response we’d get, the venue is quite small. I don’t think we’re going to be able to accommodate even a fraction of the number we want to. We’re exploring all our options for expanding the capacity, but it looks like there’s only going to be so much we can do this time around.

But here’s the good news: Now that we’ve seen how much everyone wants something like this to happen, we are going to get this figured out. Whether it’s through satellite parties and live streaming this year or a much bigger venue next year (or all of the above!), we are determined to find a way to host a super fun event that can hold anyone who is able to attend.

There will probably be some bumps in the road along the way. Right now we are reeling from the response — in a good way! — and are scrambling to keep our heads above water as we take in all this new information. I thank you for your prayers and your patience as we get this all sorted out.

This is going to be so much fun. We cannot wait for you to join us.



  1. Caren MacMurchy

    Titus 2:3-5, advises the older women to teach the younger. I am available.
    Caren MacMurchy
    Watertown, SD

  2. Kelly Kaczmarczyk

    This sounds absolutely wonderful and looks so lovely. I grew up in the Houston area and now I live in Michigan, I really miss Texas trees (of all things). it’s a shame I can’t attend because I would in a heartbeat.

  3. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    Okay, you have seriously just guaranteed that I will have your blog on auto-refresh until I get myself booked, LOL. Seriously, you guys are awesome and I would LOVE to help however I can, too. You have my e-mail, so just let me know!!!

  4. Mandi @ Messy WIfe, Blessed Life

    Oh gosh, I know I’m not the only woman that is sceeeeeeeeeered that you are worried about limited capacity! I would be so heartbroken if my family could make this work out and I couldn’t get a ticket! Are you thinking of making this an annual thing???? (PLEASE DO!)

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      We are definitely leaning toward making this a regular thing so that people who can’t make it this year for any reason can come to another one!

  5. Emily

    I’m not a mom, but I’d LOVE to come….Catholic women up here in my area are few and far between and I’d love some wonderful Catholic Women bonding time!!!

  6. the other Becky

    Now that you are ready to think this might happen more than once, and since it hasn’t happened at all yet, so all options are wide open, I am going to suggest going for more, smaller events, not a great big huge event. Especially since the pictures you have shown us of this venue are really quite appealing.

  7. Lacey

    I realize I may be shooting myself in the foot here, as limiting the size may make it so I can’t come, but I do think it’s actually better to have it in the small-to-mid range, as that makes it so some genuine fellowship and friendship can occur. Once things get big-to-huge I’d worry it might be overwhelming (but the Holy Spirit knows his business, so if He says big, go big I say). So excited for this to take shape!! You guys rock!

  8. Mary Gambill

    The conference seems like am awesome idea! This is only adding to your being taken by surprise, however….PLEASE book someone to talk about adoption and foster care. I know we Catholics are busy giving birth, but we do have a mandate to care for the “orphans”. Catholics however, in the adoption and foster care circles seem to be virtually absent. I have met only two other Catholic families that have adopted. The pool gets even smaller when we start talking about spe kale needs adoption and that we have ado

    • Amanda

      Mary, I’m a Catholic mom who is adopting through foster care! We were placed with our lovely 11 year old daughter this September and couldn’t be more blessed! We have three bio kids (5, 3, and 1) and are open to more through adoption or birth in the future (way in the future because….well….I’m exhausted! lol!) We need to get in touch, I’ve also lamented the lack of Catholic families in the foster-adopt realm. Do you have a blog?

      • Mary gambill

        I do have a pathetic little blog. I will admit that I literally have about 50 posts that I just need to proof read and then publish. You are most welcome to peruse :).

  9. Mary Gambill

    My toddler hit my phone! Spe kale !? That proves I have a bunch of kids! I digress… The pool shrinks and dries up when we start talking special needs adoption and that we have adopted SIX kids. I want some company!! That’s my big peice of advice you didn’t ask for or need from someone who is in no way qualified to give advice to anyone at anytime. Thanks πŸ™‚

  10. Rita @ Open Window

    Should I offer to host a satellite gathering on the East Coast? So exciting that there is such demand! What a wonderful idea!

    • Amanda

      Yes please πŸ™‚ Especially if space is limited at the Texas conference I’d definitely prefer to attend an East Coast meet-up closer to me in Pennsylvania. Or we could just do a general northern conference to include the Ohio folks too?

      • LPatter

        A Northern meet-up would be GREAT! Keep us posted – let Jen know!

        I’m sure there are lots of Northern people with ideas, but for me (selfishly!) anything driveable from upstate NY would be awesome – New England, NYC, DC Metro, etc. DC is great because it’s central to a lot of areas. Not so much on costs…but…anyway. πŸ™‚

        • Anne McD

          NOVA here– an East coast conference would rock!! As it turns out, if all goes well, I’ll have a two week old baby in my arms around the time of the conference, but I guess if you need an excuse to not go, its a good one! (though I’d love to!!)

    • Tiffany

      Alaska contingent, checking in. I think I know how to use a webcam or Adobe connect or something — we’d love to coordinate somehow!

      • Jennifer Fulwiler

        Actually, since it’s going to be in July maybe we should host it up there! πŸ˜‰

  11. Jeni

    I will be heartbroken if I can’t go, but I will survive (maybe) if y’all can figure out how to share the videos of the speakers’ talks.

    <3 Praying for the whole event and everyone involved.

  12. Erin

    It might be a long shot, but I’ll offer myself up as a speaker if you are interested. I do MBTI/Keirsey personality talks with respect to marriage/parenting/faith and I’m working into our diocese’s family programs (pre-cana, teen ministry, marriage retreats) right now. If you have any questions on how I would do it, feel free to email me. I work pretty cheap, too, when it comes to Catholic groups.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      We have our speakers lined up but thank you for the offer! Your talks sound great!

  13. Amy

    This makes me smile so much. Thank you for starting this (and I hope I get to come!!)

    P.S. I totally tried your ten things post the other day… One of the most fun posts I’ve written!

  14. Bonnie

    Oh, by the way Jen, I cannot tell a lie. You ARE crazy!!!! πŸ™‚

    (Actually, I think this is a wonderful idea and I know it’s going to work out and I really believe it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. I’ll keep praying for this whole thing and that everything and everybody comes together to make it what God has intended.)

  15. Jenny

    What a great idea! I hope I can make it…..

  16. Shels

    I wish is was in California!!! I so need something like this!!

  17. Monica Benninghoff

    Satellite events sound so awesome! I’d be certifiably CRAZY if I volunteered to host a satellite event, but if I had the courage it would be totally awesome to figure out the technology to share speakers and coordinate with the fun in Austin! I’m on the space coast of Florida.

    • Jill

      I guess I’ll be one of the ones compulsively checking to see if I can get a ticket! When I read your first post about the conference, I started doing the calculations. If I start now, I can have the gas money saved. My husband is deploying for the 6th time in the Spring, so by next summer this will be just the thing to refresh me! I am planning on driving out from NC and dropping the 5 kiddos with my wonderful in-laws in E. Texas. I have a sweet friend in Austin who has offered me her couch in the past. I think it’s time I took her up on that offer! I don’t anything about planning an event of this size, but if there is something I can do long-distance to help you out, add me to your army of volunteers. This is a brilliant idea!

    • Jill

      I don’t know why I responded to you, Monica! My guess is it has something to do with my trying to get breakfast on the table while my computer keeps asking me if I want to let an unknown site make changes to it while I type. Not having fully allowed my morning coffee to take effect probably doesn’t help either. OR maybe you’re supposed to hosting the satellite event that I’ll be able to get a ticket to! πŸ˜‰

  18. Maggie

    I’m glad people are excited about this, but I must say I’m a little perplexed about the concept. We don’t get together with other women enough, so we have to organize a conference, find childcare, buy a ticket, and go to Texas, just to hang out? How is this easier than just organizing a regular kids-free girls night in our own communities with people we actually know??

  19. Laura @ Mothering Spirit

    Have you looked into the (in)courage Real Life Conference model? It’s run by DaySpring, I believe – the Christian arm of Hallmark Cards – and its model is that there are local meet-ups organized in churches around the country, all on the same day, where women “get off line” and meet up in real life to talk about their shared faith. Again, I’m no expert on it but I follow a few bloggers who were involved in it and it seemed to be a really intriguing model for considering a Catholic version. I think all the meet-ups watched the same live-stream video material and then had their own conversation/fellowship in their local gatherings – so that women could connect with others in their same area.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Hmm, very interesting. We should look into that. Thanks!

  20. Rebecca

    This idea is amazing! For years I have said if I could just take my friends with me to meet new like minded women and add a little relaxation I would be fed, renewed, not in my own bubble. You are brilliant. I would love to help in whatever way needed. Please know my prayers! Seems a path is opening and evolving into something huge! IN the world today this makes me so hopeful and I truly see the Holy Spirit being listened to.. SO AMAZING

  21. Kathy@9peas

    I am truly excited about this! Thank you both for taking the necessary steps and giant leaps to make it happen!

  22. Lynne So I had to first go read the last post that I hadn’t read yet and then I realized I had MISSED the MOST IMPORTANT POST of my lifetime. Yes, yes, yes, everything you said in the “call me crazy” post–YES. But I now see your disclaimer about limited space, so I’m guessing I’ll have to wait until next year. I tell you truly, I just two days ago was thinking that there are exactly TWO online people I reeeealy want to meet up with, and it so happens that they both live in Austin and go to St. Williams. So I think this is my destiny. Watch out though–you’re starting to act like one of those spirit-led people in the books you recommend. Signing a contract before the fact??? Impressive.

  23. Beth Anne

    InCourage/Dayspring hosts a meetup once a year and on Friday it’s all online/sattelite and on Saturday you meet up locally. It’s a really awesome set up you may want to check it out for ideas on “sattelite party”

  24. Catholic Lawyer Mama @ Law-in-Mom

    Jen and Hallie, I know you both are probably getting lots of feedback and advice (solicited and unsolicited, but hopfully mostly supportive) on the logistics/ capacity/ theme/ speakers/ location/ concept/ etc., for this conference; but I just wanted to say that, whatever you do and whatever you ultimately decide, it’s going to be absolutely fabulous for everyone who attends! You both have great ideas and the Holy Spirit is leading you, so how could it not be? Don’t stress! Cheers! πŸ™‚

  25. R Hythloday

    Since you have set such a good example, I am going to organize the corresponding men’s conference. You can register by getting in line at Franklin’s by 9am, July 26th. Registration fee is one cooler of beer plus $17 per pound of brisket consumed. Conference topics will include Baking the Perfect Fruitcake and Advanced Scorpion Removal.

    • Bonnie

      Hee, hee. πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I think your event is going to be more popular than ours!

  26. Veronica

    I think it is a great idea! I have been praying a long time for the spread of fervent Catholicism throughout the world, so this is an answer to prayer! If there is one near PA, I think I can gather a dozen or so women to attend, so keep us posted πŸ™‚

    • Amanda

      I’m in PA too, in Altoona, PA actually so right in the middle πŸ™‚ Hopefully all of us PA, OH, and New England moms can get something arranged as a satellite event!

  27. LeAnna

    satellite hosting or uploading the talks when they were finished or something like that would be awesome. I would love to come but live half a world away. this way people like me could still participate πŸ™‚

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- SubscribeΒ 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