7 Quick Takes that involve book nerdery, visions of nightmarish travel, conference jitters, and the video that made me sob for an hour

— 1 —

The Edel Gathering begins one week from today!

For those of you who don’t know the backstory, this conference came into being suddenly and unexpectedly. In November of last year, I wrote a post telling the story of how Hallie Lord and I took a risk and committed ourselves to this idea somewhat spontaneously. On paper, pretty much nothing about the two of us hosting a conference in this particular season of our lives made sense. Yet we couldn’t escape the sense that we were called to do it, and our husbands even agreed, so we took the first step and trusted that God would work out all the details as we went along.

A big part of me thought that this thing would never materialize. It seemed too crazy, too out of the blue. So it’s surreal when I re-read that post from last year, and consider that that event that seemed so impossible and so distant at the time is actually happening next week.

— 2 —

Here’s a tip for not feeling stressed when you’re trying to pull together a two-day conference that has people flying in from all over the country: Plan something 1,000 times more difficult for the week after your conference. It should be something that has the potential to ruin your life on a level previously unimaginable, so that your conference will seem simple in comparison.

I managed to hook myself up with such a situation: I’m flying with my 15-month-old and two of the other kids less than a week after Edel.

The trip itself will be nice. We’re going to North Carolina because I have two cousins getting married two weekends in a row in Raleigh (coincidentally, at the same venue). For the days in between the weddings, we’ll be staying with my aunt and uncle in Black Mountain, NC, which I hear is lovely.

The problem is getting there. When I tell you that this will be the worst experience of my life, I am being an optimist. If I were a pessimist (or even a realist), I would predict that I would not survive at all.

If you have plans to fly between Austin and Raleigh during the first part of August, cancel them. It’s not enough for me to give you my flight numbers so you can make sure you’re not on them — you should avoid any travel between those two cities during that time just in case our flights get changed. Trust me.

— 3 —

My 15-month-old is not terribly high maintenance in general. That is, of course, a relative statement. His three-year-old sister permanently changed my perspective of what we mean when we use the words “handful” and “strong willed” and “if this child kicks me on the forehead while giggling one more time I am going to lock myself in a closet and scream,” so maybe he’s a difficult baby and I just don’t see it.

There are, however, two types of occasions that lead him to have long, thrashing meltdowns that involve screaming that can only be analogized to a tornado siren:

  • If he’s not allowed to crawl around and explore his surroundings at will.
  • If he misses his nap or bed time because we’re out of the house.

Yes, I did say “crawl.” He’s not walking yet — our kids always walk late — yet hates to be confined to a stroller or be held for too long. This is kind of a problem when you’re in public places with filthy floors, and your baby wants nothing more than to get his hands all over them.

So yes, I am taking this child and two of his siblings from Austin to Raleigh to Black Mountain to Raleigh and back to Austin. There will be layovers at busy airports, elegant rehearsal dinners, weddings, and receptions.

Don’t even try to encourage me. This is going to be a hellish nightmare of unfathomable proportions, and we all know it.

— 4 —

As bad as the travel is going to be, I’m really looking forward to seeing my family, and of course to seeing my cousins get married. (Wait. That sounded weird. Please note that I previously established that we’re talking about two different weddings.)

I’m actually going to see some of those same family members at Edel! My aunt Lisa, aunt Claudia, uncle Kevin, and my mom are all coming as volunteers to help put on the event! They offered to pay their own way to come out here and work hard all weekend just to help us make sure it’s an awesome weekend. How sweet is that? Those of you attending, be sure to find them and say hello — you’ll love meeting them!

— 5 —

(Warning: Extreme book-nerdery in this take. If you are not a book nerd of the highest order, you will want to skip this one.)

I finally finished Shogun, which I began reading in January. In a wonderfully fortuitous turn of events, I just so happened to read The Remains of the Day recently as well.

These two books make a fascinating combination, since one is an Englishman writing about Japan, and the other is a Japanese man writing about England. The books could hardly be more different in terms of content (though I hear there was a cut scene in The Remains of the Day where Stevens orders the scullery maid to commit seppuku), yet they meditate on the same themes. Both stories ponder questions about the meaning of honor, the price of duty, and whether living in a society that asks great sacrifices of its members is ultimately good for the individual.

If I were part of a book club that was up for meeting once a week for the approximately nine years it would take us to get through both books, I would love to get together with folks and nerd out about all the overlapping thematic elements.

— 6 —

I’m putting together a playlist for our Friday night cocktail party at Edel. What are the must-have party songs that need to be on there? (The Humpty Dance, obviously, but what else?)

— 7 —

(Grab a Kleenex. Actually, just get the whole box.)

You know that amazing young man, Zach Sobiech, who found out that he was dying of cancer, and wrote that truly beautiful song, Clouds?

His mother, Laura Sobiech, has written a memoir called Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way. I was looking it up to give it a plug because I hear it’s great, and I stumbled across this video in the process. It’s 5,000 people gathering to remember Zach and sing his song.


I’ve posted a lot of videos on my blog over the years. But this one just might be my favorite.

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7 quick takes sm1  7 Quick Takes that involve book nerdery, visions of nightmarish travel, conference jitters, and the video that made me sob for an hour

The ecstatic joy of knowing you have a soul (and why I loved The Fault in Our Stars)

thefault

A fun and surprisingly intense debate has broken out among my friends over the past few months, and it revolves around this question: The Fault in Our Stars: depressing or uplifting? One of my friends summarized her impression the book by saying, “It’s a sad story where everything is bad and then more bad stuff happens. Why did I need to read that?” She is on Team Depressing, and a lot of people I know are with her. A note my babysitter found in her copy of the book, left by her friend. I, however, am on the other team. I loved... Read More

7 Quick Takes in which I demand beverage service during turbulence, laugh way too much on the radio, and try to decide whether to root for Argentina or Germany

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— 1 — Last week Lino Rulli brought his SiriusXM radio show down here to Austin, and I co-hosted it with him all week. For your listening pleasure, here is a “best of” audio clip: Podcast (catholicguyshow): Play in new window | Download (129.2MB) As you can hear from the multiple moments when I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak, we had a ridiculous amount of fun. (Here is everything you need to know about what you’ll hear if you listen to that audio clip: about two-thirds of the way through, we talk about... Read More

7 Quick Takes – Happy 4th of July!

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Tell me about your theme songs!

I’m co-hosting The Lino Rulli Show on SiriusXM while Lino’s in Austin this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to let you all do the talking! As a special treat for this week, I’ve saved a question I’ve wanted to ask you all forever: What are your theme songs? What I mean by “theme song” is a song that reminds you vividly of a specific time in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a favorite song, or even a song whose lyrics you find perfectly edifying — just a song that you will... Read More

7 Quick Takes about clearing churches out of food, admitting that I can’t figure out podcasts, and moving our couch RIGHT in front of the TV for the World Cup

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— 1 — I had so much fun at yesterday’s talk and book signing at the Cathedral here in Austin. Remember how I made the joke about stuffing food into my purse for the kids? I guess nobody would be surprised to hear that that kind of ended up happening. At the end of the event, the organizer kindly asked me if I’d like to take any of the leftovers. There was a time in my life when I would have politely declined out of pride while covetously eyeing the food. Those days are long gone. This time, I replied immediately, “I... Read More

Austin book signing, DC dates, and co-hosting with Lino Rulli (I can’t say anything else lest my blog explode from awesomeness)

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What I learned from painting a wall

room-before-after

I’m back! My summer break was great. I did a lot of good stuff during my offline time, but the most interesting — and unexpected — endeavor was that I painted a room. It all started with reading The Nester‘s book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, which I picked up just before the break. I expected it to be a coffee table book with some decorating tips I might enjoy looking at over my morning cup of coffee. To my surprise, it turned out to be a more of a kick-in-the-pants manifesto about... Read More

Summer break!

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Looking for 7 QUICK TAKES FRIDAY? Head over to Kathryn’s! When I woke up on Monday morning, I realized that in the past seven days I had… Gone to Connecticut… And then to an extremely packed trip to New York… Then back to Austin… Then to a speaking engagement in San Antonio — with the kids… Mass at the San Jose mission, founded in the 1700s. And back to Austin again. On Monday, Myquillyn Smith, a.k.a. The Nester, wrote a post about being overwhelmed and distracted in which she talked about taking a... Read More

7 Quick Takes about wearing triceratops hats, signing Kindles, and standing in the middle of Times Square wearing an epic selfie t-shirt

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— 1 — I am sitting in the Chicago airport, headed home from the NYC book tour trip, and I promised myself that I will not use the entire post to complain about air travel. I will merely note that I just got off of a flight whose terribleness was at a level that is difficult to describe. I declared to the man on my right, the woman across the aisle (though, sadly, not to Twitter since the plane didn’t have wifi) that this would be the last time I willingly allow myself to be shoved into a metal container that is launched into the... Read More

The Antagonist

Our family in 2004 -- the time period during which I met the antagonist in SOTG.

I’m in NYC doing book tour stuff this week! You can follow along with my adventures on Twitter and Instagram. While I’m out running around, I wanted to re-run an updated version of a post I originally wrote back in March 2012, when I had finished the final big re-write of the book. It’s about Chapter 16 in Something Other than God — the chapter where I encounter my antagonist. . . . When I sat down to write this final draft of my book, I thought I knew a lot about story. My bookshelves jammed with tomes about the craft... Read More

7 Quick Takes about movies on the lawn, my life being a Mensa puzzle for the insane, and why I do NOT recommend peppermint oil for eyeball massages

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— 1 — For those of you who missed it, I posted the details of my NYC / CT schedule for this coming week. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you! — 2 — As I plan this, it occurs to me that, once again, my life has become a living Mensa puzzle. I spend hours each day staring at my computer with Google Maps open in one tab, the NYC subway schedule open in another, Gmail open in another, and I can almost hear a voice narrating a problem from a book with a title like Brain Teasers for People Who Hate Themselves: A... Read More

New York and Connecticut: Here’s what we’re doing!

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Look at these wonderful pictures! (Also: We have contest winners!)

rakstar-drawing

I’ve spent the past week going through the entries to the Something Other than God release party contest, and, along with my esteemed contest review board (read: Joe, Hallie, and the occasional neighbor who wandered by when we were looking at entries while the kids played outside), we have chosen winners! Thank you all so much for joining me in this party. I waited for the release of this book for five long years, and you all made it even more amazing than I could have imagined. Below is the list of winners. Also, scroll down past the winners’... Read More

7 Quick Takes about spicy ebooks, awesome Twitter bios, getting foot-jacked (and other reasons why it’s not “going by so fast”)

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— 1 — We survived end-of-year awards season! My five-year-old daughter had her pre-K graduation today, which was our final awards-type event for May. This one was particularly meaningful because she is our fourth child to go through this Mother’s Day Out program. As I paced the back of the church with the fussy baby, I remembered when she was the fussy I was walking around during my oldest child’s graduation. This is where I’m supposed to wonder where the time has gone, and make wistful remarks about how quickly they... Read More