Chicken Scratch By: Kelly Chripczuk (A Book Review)

14725505_1313635401989049_6036972711710161119_n   What do chickens have in-common with the day-to-day reality of family life, courage, and compassion?  What can these seemingly unintelligent animals really teach us about conviction, love and loss?

In Kelly Chripczuk’s brand new book “Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk, and Poultry” she recounts her experience as an active mother of four, a pastor of a thriving congregation, and a chicken farmer.  These pages are filled with the raw honesty of the ups and downs life throws at us, but are also graced with a sense of pastoral wisdom and humour.

Throughout her book, Chripczuk invites us to journey with her as she makes new discoveries, rekindles old ones, and ultimately falls into a rhythm of life that promotes balance and well-being.  Through her own search for what is right, she encourages her readers to find grace and strength in the sacred and in the secular, in the marvelous and in the mundane.

Chripczuk writes:

This book started as a journal, a commitment to pay attention and write as often as I could during the first thirty days with our new flock. I wrote nearly every day from the first of May to the first of June, 2016. I paid attention to the way life with the birds intersected with my own life and family life. I watched the way I behaved with the birds and how I thought about them. I listened to my life and discovered the questions I would have to answer and decisions I needed to make to be able to embrace a life I love. Not all of my writings made the cut and much in the form of details and explanations were added later.

 I watched the chickens, watched myself and listened for the nudge of God in the intersections of my life. And while I don’t often write directly about God in the pages that follow, I’m convinced that the presence of love, grace and joy on these pages means God is here just as clearly as God is there in the longings, confessions, hopes and angst of the Psalms. I’m still in love with that brown eyed boy and this past spring the world was again blooming fresh and green around us. Sleeping creation woke from its winter slumber and I stood for a while at the crossroads of love and risk where heaven and earth meet, waiting, watching and giving witness.

What is the most completely crazy thing your heart is calling you to do at this particular moment?  It might be an action or a career path that everyone around you discourages you from.  There might be plenty of external (and even a few internal) opinions and viewpoints that are pressuring you to change your focus and direction.  But just like Chripczuk discovers, finding a path that we love and then gaining the courage to continue down that road makes our lives so much more vibrant and interesting.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, funny, easy-to-read book but also one with a lot of depth and that will challenge you gently, I highly recommend “Chicken Scratch”!

Today is the official launch date for Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk, and Poultry By: Kelly Chripczuk (one of my fellow MennoNerds).  I was given the honour and delight of receiving an advanced copy of her writing in exchange for a fair and honest book review.  I was under no obligation to write a favourable review, although I highly enjoyed this autobiographical account.  Any and all opinions herein reflect my own beliefs and are not representative of any of the blogging communities I am affiliated with.  If you are interested in reading more of Chripczuk’s writings, please check out her personal blog at:


Sunday Challenge #3: Hold Your Tongue

2c6768f28a00e3ea624a3f69e0a62bf4   When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire. (James 3:3-6

I once took an online personality test just for fun.  The result: “You are a haughty intellectual.  You think you know everything…and you probably do.”

All joking aside, there is something that really bothers me. Quite a lot, actually.  The fact that I often have this insane thirst to be right.  I recently asked a friend if she thought I had a strong personality.  Her response?  “You give off the appearance of being open-minded…but secretly, I think you’re set on your own opinion.  You may ask others what they think and appear genuinely interested, but inwardly, you’re sort of hoping they will agree with where you’re thoughts lie.”  Wow.  Guilty as charged.

I think we all have a tendency to do this from time to time.  We’ve formed an opinion on something perhaps from our own personal life experience, from our educational background, or perhaps even from a deep study of Scriptures…and when someone else come along and rocks our boat, we’re stuck trying to figure out how this all works out.

It is an incredibly sad reality, but I’ve seen wonderful friendship and beautiful marriages struggle, and sometimes even fall completely apart because the other person felt they had to be right all the time.  Perhaps there were signs along the way.  Gentle hints or suggestions to change the topic and move on to something else, but because of the person’s internal love of debate… they kept at it.  They would rather be right and lose a friend than wrong and keep a marriage.

This week, I’d like to give you a challenge.  For the sake of love, of peace, and of friendship… just for the next 7 days hold your tongue.  Suspend your need to be right.  Avoid pointed questions, uncomfortable stares, or non-inclusive gestures.  Resist your desire to debate and prove the other person wrong.  When your spouse asks you to help in a way you’d rather not, do it cheerfully.  When your friend seems to go around in circles, politely smile and nod.  For one week, resist any urge to participate in judgementalism, legalism, or any form of “know-it-all” behaviour.  You might know more about the topic than your friend does.  Maybe you majored in it.  For this week, pretend that you don’t.  See what a difference this will make in your friendships and in your marriage.  See how it might change how you view or respond to others.  Begin thinking of other people’s opinions as just as valid (if not more so) than your own.  Consider their preferences, their wishes, their hopes, and their dreams…not just where you feel they should be headed or what you feel they should be doing.

I’ve often said I love a good debate.  Being academically inclined, I love reading books from all angles and often try to understand the opposing viewpoint just as much as the one I already hold.  That being said, I have discovered over the years that my “love for debate” is really not a love for a debate at all.  It’s a love for being right.  A love for trying to get other people to side with me.  And the very reason for that love is because of my own insecurity and my own pride.  You can be addicted to being right in the same was as you can be addicted to coke and heroine.  It’s a drug that gives you a high.  But it’s not the kind of drug Jesus wants us to take.  Jesus wasn’t a drug addict, instead He believed in fruit.  Fruits like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. So this week, when you’re tempted to be right and to fly into lawyer mode, take a deep breath.  Practice patience and kindness instead.  I look forward to seeing where this challenge will take you and how it will deepen your relationships with those who are closest to you.