Jennifer Fulwiler’s first book Something Other Than God detailed her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. As a follower of her blog while she was still in the searching phase, I great enjoyed the fuller story of this, which I reviewed here.
I finally got around to reading her second book One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both.
Now I wish I had read it as soon as it came out. I have always enjoyed her writing style and this books starts out strong and stays there. She details the aftermath of her and her family embracing the Catholic faith and the subsequent decisions they made as a family to live out the faith.
She came from a family where she was a surprise baby, one that was not initially open to having children. Her own thoughts fell along these same lines when she got married. She details how she and her husband came to decide to have a large family and the decisions they would make to prioritize this. The decisions both of them made to focus on their budding family over career aspirations.
This book is warm, funny, full of insights, and struggles. There is much wisdom in it to learn from. Experiential wisdom gained from the joys and trials of everyday family life. She really opens you into her life as she struggled with a growing family and a desire to write a book amidst this. She writes with such immediacy that you feel this situation intensely every step of the way.
One of the things I really loved about this story was the steps along the way that brought others into her life. Her tendencies as a introvert made her hesitant to ask for help or to accept it when offered. Yet this story goes past this into a growing sense of family and community. How her own relatives really stepped up, along with her parish, and others. There was so much I could identify with as a former atheist and still introvert. Especially when she talks about the difficulty taking a faith you intellectually totally accept, and then to move it beyond that.
One thread of this book expounds the backstory behind writing her first book. Not an easy process and one full of frustrations, blocks, doubts, and interruptions. Again her writing style really brings you into the picture and I wanted to stand up and cheer when she relates finally receiving a box full of her first book. Since I am currently at the start of a book writing process myself, there was much that I took in advice wise. Actually more learned wisdom that she gained from others in achieving this goal. The advice she got from one priest was very insightful, putting the context within family life. I was also very impressed with the decisions her husband made and his own wisdom.
There was so much going on in her family life that it was like a cliffhanger – what will happen next? Having followed a number of Catholic families via their blogs, podcasts, books, etc. Sometimes it seems God gives them a lot of drama so they have something to write or talk about. Although the common thread I have seen in watching this is that their trust in God grows in adversity. There is always this amazing thread of God working through others.
So I found this a totally enjoyable read. Thank you Jennifer Fulwiler for inviting us into your family life.