7 Quick Takes about crazy shoe parties, meeting cool authors, and Jen Moments

February 7, 2014 | 38 comments

— 1 —

So the response to this conference…wow. Our inboxes and comboxes and social media feeds have exploded — I mean, EXPLODED — with questions and encouragement and offers of support, many of the responses involving lots of exclamation points. It actually brought tears to my eyes when I realized that so many people agree that so many of us so desperately need an event like this. Ladies, we are going to have a blast!

— 2 —

Who is the patron saint against ice ruining a perfectly awesome day when you live in the type of climate that makes ice ruining things a grave, grave injustice given what you put up with all summer? I need his or her prayers, because I am supposed to have the best lunch ever with Lisa-Jo Baker today before going to the IF Gatheringย with her, and if bad weather delays her flight and/or this lovely conference, I am not going to handle it well. You will either want to follow me or block me on Twitter, because I could be doing some TWEETS-ON-A-PLANE-level venting if this goes awry.

Lisa-Jo and I have memoirs coming out within weeks of one another. Both are our first books, and both of the titles are based on C.S. Lewis quotes. Her book, Surprised by Motherhood, is a truly beautiful and soul-stirring read, and I have a million questions I was dying to ask her over queso at Guero’s (which, as you’ll see when you read my book, is a restaurant that is featured heavily in the story).

Texas weather, do not ruin this for me!!!

— 3 —

At the risk of making it sound like my life is nothing but planning fabulous conferences and hanging out with fabulous authors, I must tell you that I went to Tsh Oxenreider‘s book release party last night.


Back at home I ended up serving one of the kids butter as a side dish because I was so sucked in to chapter one of Notes from a Blue Bikeย that I couldn’t put it down to focus on dinner. Congratulations to Tsh on her new book’s debut!

— 4 —

It’s risky that I’m doing so much socializing, because every hour that I spend outside of my living room drastically increases the odds that I will experience what Joe calls a “Jen Moment.” A Jen Moment is a faux pas that either involves large groups of people or esteemed VIPs, and is particularly known for the acute discomfort it causes to anyone nearby.

Joe coined the term way back in 2001, when we were first dating. This was when he was climbing the corporate ladder at tech startups, and he invited me, his new girlfriend who was not even a year out of college, to go to an exclusive party where a bunch of big-hitters would be in attendance. We were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with a a well-known CEO who was an industry titan.

We talked to this executive in a small group of people where everyone was acting deferential in the presence of such a luminary. After a while he announced that he had to leave, and — for the life of me, I do not know how this happened — somehow my arm was extended in the direction he was heading. I have replayed this a thousand times in my mind and cannot figure out what my arm was doing out there. Maybe I was pointing at something? Anyway, the CEO basically walked into my arm.

Now, obviously, the right decision here would have been to say, “Excuse me, sir, ” and step aside to let him get on to his private jet or wherever he was going. Instead, I made the horrendous mistake of trying to play it smooth, and I wrapped my arm around him to give him a hug. I immediately realized the unfathomable awkwardness of what I had done, but I decided to go big or go home, so I said “it was just REALLY nice to meet you” as I hugged him. If I had a thousand words, I could not describe to you the look of confusion and discomfort that froze on this gentleman’s face, and then on the faces of everyone in the group.

That hug marked the beginning of the phrase, Having a Jen Moment.

— 5 —

Lest you think this kind of thing no longer happens to me:

I had the pleasure of seeing Patrick Madridย speak when he was in Austin a few months ago. He gave a stirring keynote speech that had the audience riveted, and during the standing ovation I ducked out to the restroom. When I came back in, everyone was seated, but I spotted Mr. Madrid at the bar. I’ve had the fortune of getting to know him over the past few years, so I thought I’d swing by to say hello.

I saw that he had asked for a glass of wine, so I said, “Please, it’s on me — as a thank-you for that amazing speech.” I nodded to the bartender to insist that I was paying, and asked for a glass for myself too. The timing, the delivery, everything came off perfectly. I felt like one of the glamorous women from movies like Casablanca.

And then I realized that I didn’t have enough money on me to cover it.

After a long, painful moment of me fumbling through my purse while muttering about needing to get cash more often, Patrick graciously paid for both of our drinks.

— 6 —

I think I might have found the perfect litmus test for finding your charism (i.e. a gift from God that gives you energy when you use it):

At 10:00 PM, everyone else in the house was in bed. For reasons that are too ridiculous to go into, this never happens anymore. Between 8 AM and midnight, there is always a kid awake in this house, therefore I never have true quite time where I can think without being distracted by noise or questions.

So when I found myself with complete free time this evening, it was thrilling. It will probably be weeks, not days, before I’m in this situation again. Then I realized that I needed to write my 7 Quick Takes post, which would take up all my time before I needed to go to bed. I wouldn’t be able to do anything else with this super-rare couple of hours.

My reaction? I was delighted. Because there is nothing else I would rather do with my free time than update my blog.

There are resources like the spiritual gifts inventory and the Called and Gifted CD set, which I highly recommend. But if you want a quick-and-dirty way to get started, ask yourself what you would like to do to share something with other people that you would find fulfilling enough to do if you had only rare moments of down time.

— 7 —

It seems like the biggest buzz related the Edel Gathering is the Friday night Cocktails and Crazy Shoes party we’re hosting. Evidently a lot of people have heard that there will be a prize for the person with the most insane shoes, and they perceive that they will win.

Allow me to set your expectations properly here:

All my adult life, I have suffered from wearing a size 12 shoe. Shoes that look cute in size 5 look like circus props when I order them. Store employees have hushed conversations where they have to convince their managers that their client is indeed a woman. When I am actually able to find feminine items in my size, they are at the kind of stores that offer feather boas and Lady Gaga CDs with purchase.

Let me put it bluntly: Thus far, it has been a cross for me that I have to buy overpriced shoes at stores that cater mostly to drag queens. But now that there is a Crazy Shoe Party on the table, THIS IS MY MOMENT. I know where to get the six-inch platform shoes that have flashing lights and space for a live goldfish in the heel. I have free shipping with a place that claims to make special-order footwear made of bacon.

I know that it would be weird for an event organizer to win her own contest, but that may just be how it needs to be. Because you guys will have to bring some serious A-game to compete with me and my size-12 awesomeness.



  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I sympathize, as another woman with big feet. When I was on cultural exchange in China, one of my host-sister’s mothers was pleased when she saw me. “Even she can get shoes in America,” she said to her taller-than-me daughter, “so you should be ok.”

  2. Meg

    What I’d like to know is where you’re finding these size 5 shoes! Depending on the shoe type, I can be between a size 5 and 6.5, and I have given up on ever buying shoes on sale (or, really, finding shoes in the color I want). By the time they’re discounted at all, they’ve only got sizes 7 to 10. My mother wears 7.5 and will always wonder why everyone doesn’t just waltz into their local discount shoe store and walk out with the perfect pair of shoes for $20.

    Having worked in theatre for a good while : try dance stores or costume (not like Halloween costumes, professional) places. I’ve put classy shoes on some very tall men.

  3. Therese Jacobs

    Stop. It. #7 made me laugh so hard, I think I may have discovered the core muscles I thought I lost in the L&D room years ago. Too much. My son just keeps staring at me as I belly laugh at the kitchen counter. And the Patrick Madrid scene was icing on the cake. Made my day.

  4. Mary wilkerson

    I am so sad that I can’t make this conference. I might need to stop reason blogs to protect my saddened heart. Kidding of course. But, kind of!

    I have lots o mary moments as well! I enjoy the deep sense of embarrassment I can still feel about a few of them

  5. Monica

    Jennifer, I want to tell you how thankful I am that bogging is what gives you energy and pep, because reading these takes has been a pure delight! You are funny, quirky and all I have left to say is I wish I knew you in person. I have some moments similar to your “Jen moments” but not as awesome as yours. And your retelling of your faux pas is what makes them shine all the more. Loving your quirkiness and social awkwardness with all sincerity and admiration from your faithful reader!

  6. Laura Pearl

    Oh my gosh, your “Jen moment” story, about the arm and the hug. I had such a moment at the coffee and donuts gathering in the church hall after Mass one Sunday. I am not a super huggy/kissy person with neighbors and people who are just friendly acquaintances, and I have found that lots of other people go in for the big hug and/or cheek kiss when I’m totally unready for it, and sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. Well, one of my sons and I ran into a neighbor, a guy whose been a friend of our family since our boys were little, and he usually kisses my cheek when we say hello. So he came over to give me a hug, and I went in ready for the kiss but it didn’t come. But I thought it looked so awkward that I did one of those “C’mere you” things and planted a big kiss on his cheek. (It was like I blacked out or something; I really don’t even know what made me do it!) He looked at me awkwardly and said something like, “Well, thanks for that,” and my son looked at me in horror and later asked, “What in the world was that about?” And when I think of that moment, I still CRINGE. It was awful! So actually, I really loved your story. I have plenty of Laura moments; I’m glad to hear other people have them, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Christine

    I feel your pain on the huge feet! I wear size 11, which is bad enough. I’m the only woman I know who never cared about shoes, since my options for shoes are all so ugly/boring/clownish anyways. But size 12! I’m so sorry! You definitely deserve to win your own contest ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    Oh, I feel your crazy Jen moment awkwardness. My moments started in high school and usually have to do with thinking someone is somebody they are not. For instance, I thought I was sneaking up behind a friend to give him a big hug. I was mistaken. Not only was it not my friend, it was not a student – he was, in fact, our new student teacher who I would have for class the next period. Awkward. I know.

    I was disappointed the other night when I looked up airfare to Austin – it seemed that it would be far beyond what we could reasonably afford or try to afford for the gathering. When I went on Southwest’s site, though, I’m thinking maybe we can swing it – so excited, but also wondering…any chance part of it could be live-streamed for people who cannot make the trip? I know many-a-momma in my neck of the woods who are more than a little disappointed to be missing the event. Just curious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. GeekLady

    Jen, sweetie, you’re from Texas. Cowboy boots go with everything and don’t look weird in size 12. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My feet are a pedestrian size 9, but they’re wider than than the E sold in stores. And I have a high instep. I feel your pain.

  10. Catherine Faimon

    A follower of yours for several years now, just wanted to let you know how much I look forward to your 7 QT’s and weekly blog! I’m a (cradle) Catholic, writer (newspaper), avid reader and hold the same level of fear for spiders as you do of scorpions. Looking forward to reading your book and can’t wait to hear more about “The Conference!” Keep up the great (and funny) work.

  11. Lynne

    I’ve come up with an idea for your “little book”. Address the “Euthyphro Dilemma” (and others like it) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma ) and the larger question of whether or not one can adequately “think” their way to God. I know your conversion posts discuss this, but to have it all gathered together would be nice. Maybe your book covers this exact thing. I guess I’m picturing it more as the story of your personal conversion process, whereas this would be a more objective look at a specific kind of individual–one like yourself–who tries to use the intellect to find (or distance himself from) God. How does this person let go of the “need to know” as a first priority? Or how can the need to know and understand be reconciled with the mysterious leap of faith required to discover God? I’m not wording this very well. Maybe it could be “Jen’s Thoughts for Those Who Find it Impossible to Believe”. Acknowledge the usual arguments (as a brief listing) and give your response, not to each argument, but to the overall approach. And if you have any pages left, give advice to people who can’t relate to this intellectual road block, yet who have friends and family that can’t get around it. How are we to help them?

  12. Jamie

    Yes there is a certain indignity to having to shop for a personal item outside of the “regular” section of the store. Many of my bras have peace signs and the word LOVE and multi-colored polka dots because they’re obtained from the little girls section. Whenever I get pissed off about that, I am reminded that I breastfed my three children. They WORK dammit! And they’re small but they’re kind of cute.

  13. Alexis

    Oh my gosh, dying laughing at your “Jen moment.” Totally sounds like something I would do.

    With regards to finding your charism, I agree – and I would add that becoming a mom (my daughter is 6 months old) has made CRYSTAL clear the things that I would most like to spend my time on. Naptime is far to precious to waste on things I don’t really care about.

    • Alexis

      *too precious. Typing too quickly.

  14. Diane

    I loved this and would really enjoy a themed Quick Takes where we all spill the beans about our own Jen moments. Or has this been done already? (I’m new here)

    Diane @ Broody On The Barque

  15. Kathleen Basi

    #7 was hilarious! I will never win any such contest because I am one of those weird women who doesn’t get into shoes. I mean, I’m very into shoes, but into means I’m extremely picky and they are always very versatile, which is the antithesis of crazy shoes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    #4 and 5 are inspiring me for a novel character, Jen. Your life is complete now, right?

  16. Kelly

    My favorite is the Jen moment. I have those too, only we call them something else. Usually including mild profaity.

    So mad my pic didnt take in the link up. ๐Ÿ™ Apparently it doesn’t like things that move. Too bad, it is funny. ANd I can’t go back and put another. :/

  17. Mira

    Dear Jen,

    thank you so much for today’s laughs!

    Reading your 7 Quick Takes is the best way to start my weekend.

    And I’d say that your faux pas’ aren’t really that ‘faux’ – when they make so many of us so happy by just reading about them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Amanda

    Can baking BE a charism – because I totally love to do that for people when I have the time! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for the laughs on a Friday, as usual.

  19. Carolyn Svellinger

    #’s 4 & 5 made my day today and I’ve horse laughed spontaneously throughout the day as the scene from you hugging Mr. CEO kept popping up in my head.

    My sister and I have similar moments- my sister’s best one involves accidentally appearing off drunk at her husband’s work function, fumbling her words and blurting out to a co-worker she’d never met before, “I just love your basement”.

  20. Considerer

    HA! That’s hilarious that you HUGGED the CEO. Brilliant.

    And the spiritual gifts ‘quick way’ sounds good ๐Ÿ™‚ I like that idea and will mull on it. Thanks.

  21. Caroline M.

    Is there a charisma for spending way too much time on the internet? Because I’ve got it covered.

  22. Juliet

    The “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” reference was extremely edifying. Thank you!

  23. Jesabes

    I wondered if you might be at IF! I’m attending one of the local streaming gatherings. It’s always crazy to me when my evangelical circles collide with the Catholic ones. (I’m not Catholic, but I happen to follow a LOT of them online!)

  24. Betsy

    Jen, I think we need to go shopping together. What’s better than one tall lady with big feet? Two tall ladies with big feet. Though to be honest, I prefer the term long feet, as my feet aren’t wide, just long…like my arms and legs. How long are my long feet? If the shoe runs large, I wear a 12. Technically I think I wear a 12.5, but do they make those? No, of course not. I’m stuck wearing a tight 12 or a clownish but wearable 13. So 13 it is. 13. 13! Freakish I tell you.

    Living in a large city, I’m lucky to find have a couple stores that carry this laughably large size, so I’m stuck with the next problem no other woman I know has to prepare herself for: trying to feel normal, feminine and beautiful while shopping shoulder-to-shoulder with a drag queen. If my kids are with me, you can bet I’m screaming silent prayers that they don’t ask questions. …and which one of us is the employee snickering about? Big foot lady, or drag queen guy?

  25. Chari

    Thank you for some great laughs tonight! I definitely lol’d. my twelve year old son felt the need to mimic me…lol-ing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good luck with all!

    oh….and you are right! With what you have to put up with in Summer……you deserve perfect winters.

    That is how I feel about the winters I have to cheerfully put up with her in snow-country…..I want a beautiful and perfect summer for my reward!

  26. Michelle

    I mean, for real, there was no way I could skip through the blog post. I had to go re-read any line I missed earlier. I love your style of writing. So, here is the funniest part: Back at home I ended up serving one of the kids butter as a side dish …. I mean, how could you do that? I’ve also done that several times. Especially, when the kid is making life boring for me that night and I’ve got this fiction book on me.

  27. Christie Martin @ Garden of Holiness

    Oh, thank you for the laughs! We all have those moments. Once, at an anniversary dinner, the photographer kept avoiding me and my own family was avoiding posing with me. I couldn’t get a picture taken to save my life. I was a bit miffed! When I got home I saw in the mirror whyโ€ฆmy hair had come undone. I had tried a new undo and it had slowly sagged into this monstrously waving mass on my head. I still wonder if they think I did it on purpose or if I just went insane for a day.

  28. Lena

    I bet that CEO needed a hug because, I hear, it’s lonely at the top.

    • Laura M


  29. Little Wife

    Shoes made of bacon?!?! I need me some of THOSE!

    But really, maybe I don’t.

  30. LeMizArrabelle

    Of course you’ll win. Tranny shoes always do.

  31. Barbara

    Showing my internet unsavviness here: What happened to the list of links that used to be with 7 Quick Takes? How do I find and read anyone else’s takes? There used to be over a hundred other posts to choose from. Thanks.

  32. Amy

    This made me laugh as always. Sadly, I can relate to the “Jen Moment” from a similar one of my own with my Father-in-Law.

    I’m so excited for the conference!

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