As a wife and mother of two young children, Chelsea Gheesling has countless demands on her time. And yet she continues to be a successful entrepreneur and Catholic ministry leader.
Gheesling’s list of undertakings is impressive:
· She serves on the board of directors for the women’s ministry Choices Detroit.
· With her childhood friend Courtney Taylor, she runs the online company, BundledMI, which sells gift bundles of all Michigan-made products (“We employ adults with disabilities,” Chelsea adds.) The company grew out of the women’s social media effort Chick in the Mitt, which promotes products from their home state.
Recently Gheesling shared her story by phone, in between nap time and swimming lessons for her sons, Miles, age 1, and Desmond, age 2. (She and her husband, Dan Gheesling, live on a lake in the Detroit metro area, and she stressed her sons need to know how to swim.)
“My goal is to try to work while they are sleeping,” she said. “Whether that is morning, nap time or nighttime. I try really hard to be present when they are awake. I’m not perfect at that. I’m always working on it. But I am trying my best. That is my goal, and how I am making it all work.”
What’s New for GGCB?
One of the biggest portions of Gheesling’s time and effort, in addition to her family life, is the Good Girl Comeback ministry, which continues to successfully help teen girls through inspiring workshops, seminars and volunteer opportunities, so they can grow into confident and “kind” young women, assisting them in setting goals and achieving personal fulfillment.
In August of this year, Gheesling is leading a sold-out GGCB mission trip of 32 young people to Guatemala. Past volunteer trips to Haiti became so popular, she opened up the program to young men, as well as young women.
“We started getting requests for boys, so we opened it up, and it was a wonderful experience, so we continued offering volunteer trips as co-ed,” she said.
Another new aspect for her ministry is one-on-one mentoring.
“It’s for the girls who really find what I talk about at seminars and workshops interesting, and have something they really want to focus on applying to their life,” she said. “We talk about whatever it is they are going through. And that’s been really successful, and a nice way to take things deeper.”
Since adding this option, Gheesling has mentored “hundreds” of girls, and currently has about ten in active mentoring.
Mentoring the Mentor
When asked how she balances all her life’s responsibilities, Gheesling admits there is a lot of trial and error.
“Just speaking for myself, I find I am a much more present and passionate mother after I give myself time to do what’s on my heart as a woman,” she said.
“I really lean on a lot of people I look up to. Women who are a couple of steps ahead of me, who are moms, who can show me how to work it out and how to do it.”
One of those women is an old friend and Catholic ministry leader, January Donovan. Donovan now lives with her family in south-central Florida, in the area near the Ave Maria University.
“She’s incredible,” said Gheesling. “I just love her. She’s got six kids (and one on the way), and she started an awesome ministry called ‘The Art of Being a Woman’. She does a lot of online training or courses. She is phenomenal. I definitely turn to her a lot.”
Gheesling stays in contact with Donovan to this day. “She is a great one to show how to do things tactically. If she can do it with six kids, I can do it with two.”
One of the best pieces of advice Donovan ever gave her came when she was expecting her first child. “She told me to look at and structure being a mom like I would a business. You have to take it as seriously as you would your job. Plan, program, and don’t fly by the seat of your pants.”
“A mom is like the CEO of the home, right? I was in the working world for a long time before I had kids. I took everything I learned from that and applied it to running my house, and my kids and my marriage.”
Gheesling finds it best to start her day early.
“I wake up about 5:30 am every day, and I work until 8:00 am. And I get a good chunk of what I need to get done in the morning, because that is when I can actually think. My brain is fresh, and not dragged down with all the minutia of everything.”
It was Donovan who also suggested Gheesling take advantage of her children’s nap time.
“She said to get the kids on a schedule, so you can be on a schedule. Then you can plug in what you need to do and still be with them.”
Making Her Marriage Work
Gheesling not only uses Donovan’s advice to structure her work and childcare routine, but she also applies it to her marriage.
“If it’s important, it is important enough to schedule and make sure that it happens,” she said. “Dan and I have scheduled date nights. We don’t cross our fingers and hope that they happen. Every Thursday we have a sitter who comes over.”
She and her husband have been married since 2011. Dan Gheesling is bit of a modern celebrity after being the winner of the reality television show, Big Brother, in 2007, and appearing on the “All Stars” broadcast of the show in 2012.
Chelsea explained he watched the show when he was younger with his father. “It was something he thought he would be good at and enjoy,” she said. “He applied when he was at (school at) Michigan State, and they were interested in him. So he did it. And he was pretty good at it.”
Dan is also well known locally in the Detroit metro area, having been a teacher and football coach for the all-boys Catholic High School, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. In fact that is how she met him. Her cousins and brother knew him from the school and fixed the two up. They would get engaged after 9 months, and in another 9 months, they would marry.
“He is the most humble guy,” she said. “He always handles everything with so much humility and class.”
When someone recognizes him or wants a picture or autograph, she said he is always open.
“He is just so great about making the conversation about the person who has come up and wanted to talk to him. And he gets to know that person. If there is something in the conversation where they would need something or want something, Dan really goes out of his way to send the person something or really appreciates that someone was supportive of him.”
Staying Grounded in Her Life and Faith
Like her husband, she believes it is important to be humble and remain close to God, who she gives credit to for all she has accomplished. She makes sure to work prayer into her daily schedule.
“In that morning time when I wake up really early, I work my prayer into that time as well.”
She said she tries to focus on God during the mundane tasks of her day. “In those moments of driving, or those things you have to do keep the house going, I try not to make (my attitude) ‘Oh I can’t believe I have to do this! Another load of laundry!’ I try to turn it into time to connect with God. I have Christian music playing a lot when I am doing the dishes and cooking, when I don’t have to think. Honestly, that is where I connect most with God.”
She also said she frequently listens to podcasts about her Catholic faith. “There are so many great ones that are inspiring. I will just turn on one while I am cleaning or taking the boys for a walk.” She recommends podcasts by Leah Darrow , Fr. Mike Schmitz, or the program Among the Lilies. Her favorite music is from Hillsong United. “Anything they put out I love,” she said.
She even includes prayer, podcasts and music in her daily scheduling.
What advice would she give to young people about surviving in the world today?
“I am a big proponent of creating your own reality,” she said. “That is the only thing we have control of – what our personal world looks like. If we focus on everything that is going on out there, we are going to get down and discouraged. Of course we want to do what we can, but immediately what we can change today is what our world looks like.”
“I always tell girls, if you feel overwhelmed by social media and what you see, don’t look at it as often. If you get depressed by watching the news, don’t watch it as much. Whatever it may be, whatever is making you feel that way, cut it out. Tailor your world and life to what you want it to look like.”
She also stresses making an effort to see goodness in one’s self and others.
“There is a fine line in not making it all about you. Sometimes there is an over focus on what makes you happy. It’s all me, me, me, me, me. That can be depressing in itself because there is so much more to live for than just yourself. Take time to give of yourself and focus on others.”
She believes this is why the volunteer mission trips through her GGCB ministry have been so popular. “A lot of our problems kind of work themselves out when we are focusing on other people.”
For more information on Chelsea’s work and ministries, go to the following links: