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Wild and Free Book Review

Wow, it has really been such a long time since I have blogged.  Besides posting a few book reviews that is.  Is anyone even still here reading this?  I’ve been thinking about starting a brand new blog.  I started this one in 2005 when Peter and I were still in our first year of marriage and social media didn’t even exist!  I like to read through it as a journal of our family’s journeys, but I’ve kind of been feeling a pull to blog more intentionally to share spiritual encouragements rather than our family’s story.  Hmmm.  We’ll see.

Anyway, this past summer I read a book called Wild & Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan.  I’ve been following Jess Connolly online for a few years now, and Hayley Morgan for a while now too.  They are best friends who both blog and speak and have their own businesses and each have a bunch of kids too.

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I was so excited to find out they wrote this book called Wild & Free.  This book isn’t about being wild, free women who do whatever they want and don’t worry about anything else, it’s all about walking in who God made us to be and resting in what Jesus has done for us.  The book opens with a beautiful description of 100% wild horses that Jess observed near where she lives.  These horses are wild and they live exactly how they were created to be.  And the idea is that we women were created in the image of God (who is wild and free) and we are to be wild and free as well.

“When we live wildly, we are walking in who God made us to be: bold, beautiful, and reflecting Him.”

Jess and Hayley rotate writing each chapter.  In fact, Jess wrote all the wild chapters and Hayley wrote all the free chapters.  I think these women touch on so many relatable topics for women today, and they are so real, honest and approachable.  I really look up to them both.

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I found the message of this book to be so powerful that after some prayer, I decided to form a book club with the women in my church so we could read this book together and discuss it.  I have been following the free leaders guide on the website and also purchased the discussion videos, which have been a nice addition to our book club.

If you are interested in finding out what it really means to be a wild and free woman of God, you should definitely check this book out!

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For the Love – Jen Hatmaker

I’ve been reading/following/loving Jen Hatmaker for quite a while now so obviously I jumped at the chance to read and review her new book “For the Love“.  And if any of you out there love Jen like I do, then this book is classic JH.  It’s humor, truth, wisdom and passion all wrapped up into one great read.  She cracks me up on a daily basis with her posts on social media, and she will do the same for you in certain essays within “For the Love“.  And other essays will rock you and move your deeper in your faith, closer to Jesus.  While Jen is funny, and we all love that about her, she is also passionate about her faith and following Jesus and she lays it out straight within the pages of this book.  I definitely recommend this book, and can’t wait for her next book as well.

Searching for Sunday – Book Review

I was scared to read a Rachel Held Evans book because I follow her on Twitter.  I don’t really read her blog, she’s really smart and likes to debate doctrine and I had to look up complementarian and egalitarian in the dictionary because of her, and I am just not really into being controversial so I kind of just stay away.  But I wanted to read “Searching for Sunday” because it seemed like a really good topic for me — a book basically about losing and finding faith.

Rachel has made the book into 7 parts, each part about the 7 sacraments.  Within each part she shares her own story of growing up in church, wrestling with cynicism and doubt, and ultimately finding herself committed again to her faith and a church family, but also she writes beautifully about the different sacraments, bible stories and about God in general.  My favorite was the one about the Holy Spirit, which was a beautiful word picture of the unseen.

Rachel writes very honestly about her own cynicism, pride, doubts etc. and I just don’t know how I feel about the book as a whole.  While I think ultimately the goal is to uplift the universal church, there is a whole lot of negativity and “shoulds” and finger pointing, and while I think questioning is okay, I get really frustrated when people constantly look for the negative in the church and are quick to point it out and measure it against their ideals.  Rachel fully admits she did this as a defense mechanism for her own heart, and I don’t judge her for that but I just don’t know if I’d recommend this book to just anyone.  After all her wrestling she does come back to church, but I still just kind of feel like the negative parts of the book outweighed all the positive, beautiful, truth about God.

Scary Close – Book Review

  I hadn’t read a Donald Miller book in a long time and I wasn’t sure what to expect since from what I’ve seen on social media, Don has changed a lot.  I was pleasantly surprised by the maturity with which he wrote, as well as the topic about which he wrote.

In “Scary Close” Donald writes about shame and vulnerability and the image we project as a result, as well as the way we manipulate others and how we behave in relationships.  This book really got me thinking again about why I am the way I am, what shames me and makes me feel unlovable, and how I may be living my life as a reaction.  All of Don’s “advice” or wisdom I take as I would from a friend, not a counselor, but it’s still encouraging and inspiring none the less.

Don has always had a way of writing and feeling like a friend, and you feel even closer as he shares vulnerably about who he is and what he has discovered about himself.  It makes me want to be the same way, and be a soft place for people to land.

Savor – Book Review


It’s hard not to be biased when it comes to Shauna because I just already love her so much.  I basically already knew I would love her new daily devotional “Savor” before I even got it.  I love the way that Shauna writes and her emphasis on savoring the details and simple pleasures of life.  And the way she writes about food — I mean, really.  I feel like I can taste it as I read.  While Savor isn’t all about food, Shauna does share some delicious looking recipes and that’s something that I think makes Shauna stand out to me.  She is so true to herself in her writing that she feels just like a friend — she even gives you all her best recipes.  She shares everything she loves in “Savor”, from her love of food right down to the every day sacred moments — and encourages us to do the same.  Each daily there is a brief devotional followed by a question or two for us to apply to our own life.  I received a digital copy to review but after reading through it a bit, I ordered the paper copy for myself — so is that proof enough for you that I recommend this book? (Personally, especially with devotional style books, I really like to have the paper copy if possible.) 

Oh and I’m starting her book “Cold Tangerines” this week too.  So hop on the Shauna train, get “Savor” and check out her other books too!  

April 19, 2015 - 10:07 pm Jen - Hi Chelsey, I feel like I should know you already since I've heard your name so many times in our circle (Kelli and Blair and Melissa...) although we have never met! My Shauna Niequist love is growing as well! I have read Bread and Wine and am just starting Bittersweet. We are also doing a series at church called 'Simplify' lead by her father so she made an appearance in the video today! She has also spoke in a few of our videos at MOPS. Another one of my new favourites is Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike. Looking forward to following a bit of your journey here. :)

Growing One Another

“The pants don’t fit you anymore,” I said. “It’s time for them to move to Isaac’s drawer.”

“Yeah, because I keep growin’,” Ezra says to me, with a certain gleam in his eye, waiting for my reaction.

I turn to look at him with my false-stern look on my face, always with a trace of of a smile.  “That’s right, you keep growing even though I told you not to and now you’re in really big trouble!”

His eyes sparkle and his smile grows wide as I tease him.  “And you’re gonna be so mad at baby when she grows bigger too!”

I placed my hands on my then ripening belly and agreed with him, adding that she was already in trouble because she’s already growing bigger and bigger.


And now she’s here, two months old and growing bigger every day.  They are all here and it’s bittersweet watching them grow, there’s enjoyment and lament with each phase that passes us by; each new box of clothing opened with excitement is always partnered with the tears of packing away the clothes that no longer fit.

They are growing me, too.  They are teaching me how to be mama; they bring out my good and I celebrate, they bring out my terrible and I long for change, for growth. 

I love being mama to these four little ones.  I know I will always be their mama, even when they are grown and gone from the house, even when they have families of their own.  But as difficult of a time as it is, being constantly needed by so many people, it is such a known, familiar place to me now.  At first it was foreign and uncomfortable but now I see how much purpose I find in it, how much of my identity is wrapped up in it.  

I think a part of me doesn’t want them to grow because that means I must grow too, and soon the era of having young babies on the hip or suckling at the breast will be over, and then who will I be?  For over 8 years I have been carrying babies in the womb or on my hip and now I don’t know who I will become; I can’t see the forest from the trees. 

“But I can’t help it!” Ezra says with a smile, “I’m supposed to grow!”

Yes, son, you are supposed to grow.  And so am I.  Let’s grow together, as we always have.

Mar 25 – 31


Grow – NaBloPoMo

I decided I might participate in National Blog Posting Month this month, since I’ve really been wanting to write more again.  I can’t promise I’m going to post perfectly, but the idea is to post one blog a day for the entire month.  This month’s theme is Grow, which seems pretty perfect for me.

I’m going to be thinking about growth this month and hopefully pounding out some okay-ish sentences and paragraphs on the theme.  I feel so inadequate these days, in pretty much every area of my life!  The feelings of inadequacy stop me from doing so many things that I enjoy doing, because I know that someone else can do it better.   I’ve been buying into the lie of perfectionism again.  I’m stronger in this area than I was 10 years ago but still have lots of room for growth.  So here I am, the whole mess of me, pushing myself to do things imperfectly so I can grow in them.  I hope I feel less rusty by the end of this month, in my writing, photography and documenting in general.

Let’s All Be Brave – Book Review


So, even though I can’t really think or write cohesive sentences these days (thanks to the baby brain), I have still been about to read other people’s cohesive sentences!  I recently read “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs, a book about living life with everything you have and embracing the God-given courage that lives inside of you.

Annie writes in such a light and humorous way that it doesn’t take long to feel like you know her and she’s a great friend of yours.  Though she writes light, her chapters are still inspiring and encouraging and explore all the areas in our lives where we have opportunity to live courageously.

You should check out this book if you’ve ever thought that you aren’t very brave — I bet you’ll start to see that you have it in you, and God will help you see it through. 

Eleanor is 2 months old!

Whoosh!  Did you hear that?  That was 2 months passing by.  Two months of this sweet little face, of a little ball of baby resting on my chest, of night feedings and nursing in general, of swaying and walking and rocking to sleep.  Two months of re-learning how to do everything with just one hand.  Two months of closing my eyes and trying to commit Eleanor to memory.

I just looked back through my Instagrams and I can’t believe how much she’s grown in these 2 months!  At her last check-up (6 weeks) she was 12lbs 13oz and 24 inches long.   I get asked all the time how we are adjusting to 4 and whether or not she is a good baby — and the truth is, she just fits right in!  She is a super easy-going baby and I must be really used to chaos and being outnumbered, because so far it doesn’t feel too different than when there were just 3.  I just have to stop to nurse more, which slows my day down quite a bit… in a good way. Her siblings absolutely adore her.  Isaac can’t stop himself from “boop”ing her on the nose and kissing her head 5 times every 12 minutes (mah, mah, mah, mah, mah!).  They love to hold her and watch her, especially when they can get her to smile which she has been doing regularly since about 5 weeks.  She’s also been cooing a bit too, which is really sweet.  Anyway, that’s my little update on Eleanor — and about as cohesive of sentences I can put together.  My brain still feels really mushy, baby brain is a real thing people!  Someday soon I’ll post her birth story.