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Every holy family looks different

Jennifer Fulwiler reminds us we all have unique families, and gifts we can share with them.

Gangsta rap and Gregorian chant – not a combination you would necessarily consider harmonious, but when it comes to Jennifer Fulwiler’s favorite music, you can’t beat the two.

“It shows how multidimensional people of the faith are,” she says, laughing.

A wordsmith, radio host and mother of six, Jennifer wasn’t raised Catholic. In fact, she was brought up as an atheist, but her father encouraged her to seek truth and question assumptions.

Like many atheists, Jennifer believed in being a good person, but she found she couldn’t defend a morality based on kindness and love objectively. She began questioning the origins of goodness and love when she stumbled upon the book The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, which opened her eyes to the possibility that Jesus might be more than she thought.

“It was clear to me I couldn’t interpret the New Testament for myself,” she says. “I would ask Christians about the Trinity because I didn’t see it spelled out in the Bible. There were as many answers as there were people, but the idea of God instilling a Church with his authority made a lot of natural sense to me.”

In her search for truth, Jennifer and her husband embraced God’s calling to join the Catholic Church and have a big family. Because of their upbringing, she says, “It’s the blind leading the blind when it comes to raising our children as Catholics.”

Upon entering the Church, Jennifer thought being a good Catholic mom meant she should put her gifts and passions on hold until her children were older. But, if she were going to continue to be open to God’s call for a big family, she couldn’t suppress God’s gifts.

“There is absolutely a place for using your gifts in the midst of family life,” she says. “That’s going to look different for everyone. For some people, it’s a paying job. For others, it’s doing something in the home. The key is thinking outside the box and finding creative ways to use your gifts to honor your vocation and keep your priorities in the right place.”

People often ask her how she managed to write her book, One Beautiful Dream, and take care of six kids. The answer is simple: Writing is her “blue flame,” her charism, her gift. It doesn’t feel like work; it fills her with energy.

“That’s how you know you’ve found your blue flame. It might feel like work to others, but it doesn’t feel like that to you,” she says. “I couldn’t have taken on something that felt like work. Writing gave me more energy that I could then turn around and share with my family.

When she’s not homeschooling her children or writing, Jennifer reaches out to Catholics through the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on SiriusXM’s Catholic radio station. Embracing the station’s mission of being a lifestyle channel from the Catholic perspective, Jennifer keeps her show light and entertaining with different guests, including a Christian rapper and a group that promotes incorporating insects into your diet.

“By being honest with my own imperfections through my speaking engagements, my show and my social media outlets, I hope people will be inspired to not beat themselves up about their own imperfections,” she says.

Jennifer uses her blue flame to encourage us to think and pray about the unique family culture we are called to have.

“It’s easy to compare ourselves at church and on social media, but having a holy and thriving family is going to look different to each family,” she says. “The name of the game is to be the people God is calling you to be as a family.”