I just finished reading the book 7. I first stumbled upon this woman, Jen Hatmaker, through some friends on facebook. My friends live in Texas and Jen lives in Austin. She is a Christian writer, pastor's wife, and speaker at Christian Women's conferences. I had never heard of her, but found myself really enjoying her sarcasm and writing style. I, naturally, liked her page on facebook and start to get her status updates regularly.
Here are a few for your sampling:
Oh sure, everyone is laughing at us Texans who utterly cannot handle this snow and freak out and close down everything, but we'll cast the side eye at you northerners who spaz out when the temps go over 88 in August and we are weathering summer LIKE A BOSS.
You know what I love? Teachers who are so fabulous and love your kids so much that when one is acting outside of his mind in class, she tells him: "I'm not writing you up. I'm not sending you to ISS. I'M CALLING YOUR MAMA RIGHT NOW." And then she assures me that he is precious and will be fine by the time he is 24 like her son. Boom. Awesome teachers for the win. We're in this together, man.
With all this "Smart TV" business we have in this house, I KNOW there is some way to make my TV play my music. There is some magical connection and fairies will make my Pandora station come out of my television. I cannot figure it out for the life of me. This is Brandon's territory and he won't answer his phone because he is in "staff meeting" and doesn't seem to understand that I AM HAVING A CRISIS.
I discovered she also has a blog. Her blog is a million times more entertaining than I am, and she updates it more regularly than I do. Plus, I saw her on the Today show where she talked about one of her entries that had gone viral.
My church streamed a Women's Conference recently where Jen was a speaker. I really enjoyed her teaching and was moved by her call to love the least of these. She talked through her experience with submitting to the Lord in this and how her family came to adopt 2 Ethiopian orphans.
The book was on kindle for $2.99 and I have, of course, heard some chatter about this book from friends in Virginia and Texas. I decided to download it and read it later. *Ahem.* We then went on a trip to DC, where I found myself in a car with 2 sleeping kids. Where was the book I was reading?- at home. Where was my Kindle?- in my hands. So I started to read her book.
All this to say, I think Jen is very powerful in how she teaches. But here is the caviat-- to people like me. She is a working/stay at home mom to kids. She is white. She lives in the suburbs. She does not live in poverty. She spends the majority of her time with her family and friends. They do ministry together-- and it is so fun to look into her life and see how the Lord is stirring her. And teaching her. And using her.
I think Jen knows her audience. She knows how women like me, and her, think. She knows daily struggles and things we try to say to ourselves in our flesh. She knows how the power of the Holy Spirit and how it can speak to our hearts.
Her book is not a classic. It is not an Utmost for His Highest or Pilgrim's Progress. She is not a pastor trying to write to a mass of people in today's time. She is not John Piper or Francis Chan who write for different races, stages in life, cultures, and genders.
This book to me read like I was doing a Bible Study with a close friend. A friend who bared her most intimate struggles and faults. A friend who was humbling herself to meet with God right where she was. That is what drew me in.
I went to a thing at my church where all the Pastors were doing a teaching to all the women who are in a leadership role in our church. I was like "Yeah, sign me up! I am ready for some teaching to us women folk!" When I got there, I found that it was basically a Biblical hermeneutics class. It was a good time, but I was hoping for something different. I was hoping for teaching on things like: ideas for doing devotionals with your preschooler, or what does being the wife of a Community Group leader look like, or what are some ideas for counseling the women in your immediate circle of life who are struggling. I know that reading the Bible is how the Lord speaks to us, but because the class was all women, I was hoping for some teaching that was more woman centered and from the Bible.
Jen gave me some teaching that was very centered on what my life is like right now. She took an idea she had and fleshed it out. How much do I have that I don't need? Can I actually live with less? Will that make me understand people who are not like me better? Will it allow me to see my flesh more clearly? Will it draw me nearer to my Lord Jesus?
The book inspired me to live with less. Not because I need to because it is the Christian thing to do and some such that we've all been taught. But she taught it. You know? Like smack you in the face with it. I see the gospel so clearly in it. Jesus has an abundance of divinity and bestowed it on me when He interposed His precious blood. How much has the Lord given to me? I have an entire closet full of clothes. I have a pantry full of food. I have, I have. Do I need all of it? If I were to live more in line with what I need and what I want, I could be a better steward of what God has given me. Offering my excess to help those who really need things. Like food and clothing and shelter. Do I really see them? Or do I see myself and what I want more? It was a convicting book.
I think for me to be so convicted, it took someone writing it that I could relate to. I couldn't just brush it off and say-- that's for them and not me. My life is not like that. Because my life is so like that.
I appreciate this book and what it has taught me about myself. I just pray I have the courage to start living it out. To really love my neighbor like I love myself. Not just love myself and the end.
The thing that is so powerful about this, is that it's not about how much can I do? How much can I give? But it's about having the mind of Jesus in how we consume, why we consume, and how much we consume. It's not about how we do for others and go me, but about how God moves through us and go Him.
I hope you will look into it if you are like me. Don't be scared of what it might do to your life. Welcome the idea of being more like the Good Samaritan who helped his neighbor rather than the Priest who walked right by his neighbor. And by doing so glorify your Father in Heaven by loving your neighbor in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Message (MSG)
25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”