My journey into the world of Jen Hatmaker seems quite random and accidental. A friend of mine was reading Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be and while waiting for the book on the library hold list, I came across the Rachel Hollis podcast on Sticher. As I was listening to a podcast recording of the Rise Conference, I heard Jen Hatmaker speak. Jen immediately attracted my attention and I wanted to learn more about her platform. Thank you Google for directing me to Jen’s podcast, website, and books! I started listening to the “For the Love” podcast, while I waited for my books on the library hold list. (Sorry everybody! I don’t have money for books right now and have to rely on the library. Praise God for Libraries!) I don’t believe in random, accidental, or coincidence. I believe God brought Jen’s platform into my life because it is exactly what I needed right here and now to make it through life. Here are some of the nuggets I gained so far:
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards
For the Love is where I started my reading journey. In the first chapter, I knew this book was going to be filled with what I needed to hear. I am a hopeless over-achiever, people pleaser. I can overfill a plate in 2.3 seconds. In chapter one Jen says, “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”(Hatmaker, p.7) Woah! Do I even know how to be wise? Is that even a possibility in our very full life? I am so busy worrying about what everyone in the universe thinks I should be doing, I have spent very little time trying to figure out what I believe should be on the list. Yes is my default answer. Then I read: “Wise women know what to hold onto and what to release, and how to walk confidently in their choices – no regrets, no apologies, no guilt.”(Hatmaker, p.8-9) I think I owe it to my family and myself to focus more on being wise and less on being awesome.
On to chapter 2, “On Turning 40” made me laugh out loud and nod my head. I turned 40 in December and so began my quest to understand my identity. What is it about this number? It feels like everything changes, but nothing changes at the same time. It was a relief to read that I am not the only one with these insane feelings and thoughts running around my brain. Chapter 5, “Run Your Race”, reminded me that it is okay to have dreams. It is not only okay to have them, but to pursue them. I needed the inspiration and maybe the permission to get to work and make time for my passions. I found pure joy in chapter 23, “If Social Media Were Around”. I tell all the younger folks in my life how grateful I am Social Media was not around in my teens and 20s. We carried actual cameras and wrote notes on dry erase boards on dorm room doors. Much simpler and less permanent – the internet is forever! Reading Jen’s ideas of what she would have written had social media been a thing made me laugh out loud.
Chapter 16, “Porches as Altars”, reminded me of the importance of community. We need to be the church of Christ with everyone in our lives. The Body of Christ needs to support each other in the big things and the small things. Our community is so much larger than the people we sit next to on Sunday in the four walls of our churches. The Body of Christ is everywhere! Taking the time to encourage and enjoy each other is part of our mission as Christians. Jen mentions Jesus was pretty clear on the rules for our lives, Love God and Love People. We all need to prioritize loving the people in our lives and communities.
Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight out of this Wild and Glorious Life
The title alone drew me to this book. The definition of Controlled Chaos could be a “wild and glorious life”. It only took until chapter 2 to find a quote I need to re-read daily.
“I believe we can take a handful of things quite seriously as parents and take the rest less seriously, and it is all going to be okay. You are doing an amazing job. Your children know they are loved and have felt it all these years, deeply, intrinsically. If we get seven out of ten things mostly right, we are winning the majority and the majority wins the race.”(Hatmaker, p.17)
I rarely think I am winning this mom life. I may even go as far as saying I feel like I am failing on a daily basis. I am trying to take a moment to realize no human being can do it all and do it all well. Why do I think perfection is even an option? Only one person who walked this earth was perfect and his name was Jesus. I need to let Him hold that coveted position and play my own game. I love my children with all my heart and I work hard to provide for them. As long as I am giving them my best self, we will all come out better in the end.
On to chapter 10, “Makers and Dreamers” spoke right to my creative heart. It gave permission to be creative, permission to create just because you feel called to do so. God gave us our creative nature for a reason and we should not ignore the call to use our talents. Jen also reminds us, “There is no scarcity in creating.”.(Hatmaker, p.99) There is room at the table for everyone. Your voice is just as important as the person who already said what you are thinking. The world needs all kind of voices, let your light shine.
Finally chapter 15, “Doldrums”, I could have written myself. I struggle against feelings of “nothing is right” and go through long periods of immense overwhelm. It is easy to get sucked in deeper and deeper to the darkness. Jen discussed her tips and tricks for pulling herself out of the darkness. I think it is important to focus on the good things. Choose to see what is good and beautiful instead of what is messy and annoying. It is also important to take things one step at a time. What is overwhelming me right now? Write a list and start crossing things off. Most importantly everyone needs to remember to ask for help if needed. That help could be from a spouse or a friend. The help could also come from a doctor or counselor. We do not need to stay in the doldrums, we can find our way back to the light.
If you are looking for a book to make you laugh, make you think, and bring you joy – check out these two books. What drew me in is the conversational feel. I felt like I was sitting on Jen Hatmaker’s porch drinking coffee and discussing life. Life’s great lessons and amazing bits of knowledge are often found drinking coffee on someone’s porch or having dinner at the kitchen table. If you are not a reader, check out Jen’s “For the Love” Podcast. It is full of amazing conversations with wonderful people. Jen asks all her podcast guests “What is saving your life right now?” Jen Hatmaker, you are saving my life right now. Your words are moving me to ask questions that need to be answered and follow paths that are essential to my journey. Thank You!
Hatmaker, Jen.(2015)For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books
Hatmaker, Jen. (2017)Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life.Nashville, TN: Nelson Books