Freestyle Friday #1

Freestyle Friday // jessconnell.comSo today, I’m starting something new. In my Freestyle Friday posts, I’m going to, in bullet-form, freely share things on my mind & going on in my real life. It may be short, it may be long, and some Fridays, it may be entirely non-existent.

Some readers observed (via the comments of the recent survey– CLICK HERE to take the survey, if you haven’t already) that I don’t share as many personal things here as I did on my old blog, and I think that’s a fair and accurate observation. There are many reasons why I think that is. But for now I’ll just say that I, too, have missed the freedom of sharing life freely with readers.

So… that brings us to our first Freestyle Friday.

Let’s jump in. This one’s going to be full of my favorite things that happened in 2014.

  • We moved to Washington state. AND WE LOVE IT. We love our church. My husband is flourishing as an Associate Pastor, growing as a counselor, and exercising his gifts in one-on-one discipleship relationships with young men in the church. We host a weekly home fellowship, too, which has been a joy. We love it!
  • Connells.w.MoellersAfter 20 years of having one “home church” in Texas, I have been pleasantly surprised at the way God has quickly knit our hearts together with the church Body here. I guess I thought the sort of depth of loving relationships we enjoyed in Texas could only happen over such a long period of knowing… but it’s happening here. Beach camp, weekly dinners with one family in the church, a church camping week, living with two different families for 5-6 weeks each (while we waited for our house to close), a weekly home fellowship, and more, have connected us quickly and deeply with these people. We LOVE our church! Wait. I said that on my first bullet point. Well, here it is on the second one, too. WE LOVE OUR CHURCH FAMILY.
  • PlaytimeGod has given us a neat couple to serve alongside here. Our Senior Pastor is an excellent Bible teacher & preacher, and his wife is a fun & godly lady who I actually first connected with, years ago, BECAUSE of blogging. :) Crazy, huh? They are roughly our same age and have 5 kids 7 and under… which makes it fun for our kids and theirs, to have built-in playmates at church events and times when we get together as “the entire pastoral staff and their families.” (There are just the two pastors, so we all jokingly refer to “the entire pastoral staff.”) They truly are a blessing to us, and we are learning from them and thankful for the way they have welcomed us in and befriended us.
  • PreMaritalDoug & I get to counsel couples together!!! This has been such a special thing for us to get to do together– marriage counseling… and then pre-marital counseling too (just started with our 3rd couple!). We LOVE it. Getting to purposefully pour into marriages has long been a desire of ours, and to have such an outlet to do so (even before vows are spoken) has been a true delight for us.
  • SantaMonicaDoug & I traveled to LA for a biblical counseling conference. Growing in this area has been a rich blessing for us– good for us as disciples, and for life as part of the Body. We are thankful for the ways God is already using, and look forward to seeing more ways that God will use, these deposits of truth and wisdom (from the conference) in our lives. It also happened to be the week of our anniversary, so we snuck in a couple special dates, and enjoyed time away just the two of us for the first time in several years.
  • DJE_weekendWe took our oldest son (12) away for a weekend of hiking and discussion about his growth toward manhood. We went through FamilyLife’s Passport2Purity curriculum and were blown away by how wonderful, deep, biblical, and exactly-on-point it was for this season in our relationship with him. I want to share more about this in my “The On-Going Talk” series about how to talk with your kids about sex, when I revisit it, but let me just say- it was a wonderful time with our son, full of rich and biblical discussion about growing as a young man.


I think that’s it. :)

  • Let me hear from you if any of this sparked interest/questions on your part.
  • Also– Let me know what you think of Freestyle Friday.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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12 Responses

  1. Katie S says:

    Yay! I like Freestyle Friday. I’d missed the more personal stories from the old blog, but figured it was intentional, so I didn’t think to note that in the survey.

    My question: What do you do with your children when you meet to counsel?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Katie, it depends. For our premarital counseling sessions, we so far have been able to schedule them all at 8:30pm, once the kids are in bed. It still gives us a good 60-120 minutes without it being TOO late, but it’s time when we can give undivided attention without having to arrange childcare.

      Another option we’ve discussed is that those getting married have the option to arrange with one of their siblings or an approved-by-us person, to come along with them and watch our children during the session. So far we haven’t used this option.

      When people need emergency (like we’re-in-the-middle-of-a-knock-down-drag-out) counseling, we so far have been able to send our children outside to play or self-entertain (our oldest is approaching 13 & he & the second-oldest can manage putting together a lunch, or whatever, so we’re relatively distraction-free for a couple hours).

      (And yes, it is very VERY weird to me to realize that we are nearing a time when we could actually rely occasionally on our oldest for childcare with us away… hasn’t happened yet, but WOW. BIG changes coming in the Connell household…)

      We also have some older homeschooling families with older daughters who have offered to be a backup childcare for us in case of ministry needs. So those are some of the ways we do/can/could deal with the kiddos during counseling times.

  2. Jess,
    This was such a blessing to read! So thankful for what God has done in bringing ‘yall’ here (check me out getting all Texas!). And so thankful for what He is doing, and excitedly looking forward to what He’s going to do! Makes me excited about the upcoming years…decades…together! Love you guys!

  3. LOVE IT. what a joy to watch you and Doug flourish here and see God use your gifts to the fullest. Such a privilege to serve the Lord together. Thankful for you. Thankful to God for how He worked quickly to make this your new home and how quickly He gave you a heart for the saints here! love you guys.

  4. Amy says:

    This is great, just fun and newsy and quick. Congrats on everything you just mentioned! And thanks for your marriage advice column yesterday, I took heed and my husband spent the rest of the day just happy and fulfilled. It’s so simple sometimes.

  5. Miranda says:

    I love this! I admit too that although I love the new direction of your blog…I miss the more personal side of it.

    I really like the idea of you and your husband going away with your son. I have heard of dads taking their sons for something similar. Brian does have small talks with Carter but they usually end up coming to me because Brian isn’t the best at putting things into words. 😉

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’d like to clarify, there *are* reasons why I pulled back from posting personal things at the start of last year… some of them are summed up by #2 this post:

      Then, life just got busy… and so even as things got to where I *could* be more open, I’d decided to use this website differently than the old one, and didn’t work to find a new place of balance w/ personal/public posts.

      I am trying to reincorporate some of the personal, but I have come to a place of feeling a bit differently toward blogging. When I started, I was blogging solely for me. There was no rhyme or reason. I raised issues I wanted to work through & get feedback from others about.

      Now, I am using this website more to serve others– to offer to younger moms what I wish I would have had… a series of guideposts/trailblazes that offer food for thought & clarity about issues that I feel like I had to fumble my way through. I’m not 60, but I’m also not 22. Even among committed believing young families, there’s a lot of confusion about roles in marriage, what biblical parenting looks like, and what to do in the “gray areas” of personal convictions. My goal here is to provide the helpful “guideposts” that have helped Doug & I to think through these things.

      I want to help younger women clarify the WHATs and their WHYs. Sometimes that will mean that I share personal things… and I want to do that, as I understand that it gives insight about *who* is offering these thoughts… but more than focusing on me, I want to focus on helping younger women to follow Christ in the everyday moments of their marriage, parenting, and homelife.

      Perhaps this will help clarify some of the change of direction that’s happened over the last couple years. It is purposeful, and yet, I don’t want to swing so far away from sharing personal things (which, again, happened initially out of a season of personal hurt) that this becomes some generic impersonal place. My goal is to use this place as a place of ministry… not generic ministry, but the ministry of offering to others, like 2 Cor. 1 talks about, the comforts, counsel, and insights that I myself have received.


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