Book Review of Jen Fulwiler's "One Beautiful Dream"

Jen's excellent storytelling abilities make you feel like your witty friend is on the couch, recapping her life to you in ways that might make you snort with laughter.

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By Katie Curtis

For those who follow Jennifer Fulwiler on Social Media or listen to her on Sirus XM Radio’s Catholic Channel, you know that her newest book, One Beautiful Dream, takes you inside her journey to becoming the Catholic mother of six while publishing the story of her conversion to Catholicism.

At its essence, Jen's book is about the cumbersome process of discerning one’s vocation – or in her case - vocations. While she felt called to be open to adding children to her family, and clearly saw that was a gargantuan task that she might already be failing at, she felt called to add another job on top of that – writing and sharing ideas.

After she met an agent who thought her blog was something that could be turned into a book, her childhood dream of publishing a book was stoked. But in her characteristic humor she recounts the barriers that stood in her way, everything from her own guilt at doing something else while her kids were little, to judgmental babysitters, hysterical toddlers, and grave health issues around her pregnancies.

But along the way, Jen learned some important lessons about what God has given each of us. Our dreams and our passions are signs that point to the work he created us to do. And when we do it and it brings us joy, then we can be very sure we are doing His will. She also shares that we can count on an unseen force labeled ‘resistance’ – coined by another writer, Stephen Pressfield, in his writer’s handbook The War of Art. Resistance is the voice in our heads that says we can’t do it, that there are so many other better people out there who can do it better, so we might as well not even try. It’s personal and it is energy-zapping, and it wants to stop us from doing God’s will or anything creative or good.

In so many of her crossroad moments, it is the sweet voice of her husband, Joe, that reminds her who she is, what her dreams are, and how they can make them happen. The book is ultimately a beautiful portrait of a marriage and a family that sacrifices in order to support each other. Her revelation is that families should chase after their dreams together, as a team. It is an idea that challenges the modern version of individualism that says you first have to be fulfilled before you can give to your family and many other modern notions and false beliefs that women may be wrestling with.

Even though these lessons are ones we might have heard elsewhere, they come alive in the context of Jen’s life, and in her excellent storytelling abilities that make you feel like your witty friend is on the couch, recapping her life to you, in ways that might make you snort with laughter. She inspires by reminding us of the simple truth for our own life that is echoed in so many parables in the Bible: He gave us gifts, and he wants us to use them. Not hide them or bury them or put them under a basket. And that we can find a path to happiness and peace just by listening and looking for the signs God planted in our hearts and in the hearts of the other people in our lives.