For the Love: Fighting For Grace In A World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

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Jen Hatmaker is the type of woman who speaks what most people wish they had the courage to speak themselves. With blunt honesty she writes about  family, ministry, church, Motherhood, friends, and grace through it all. She says things in such a refreshing way because she is so honest. I know that she may get flack for such ways but I have such respect for her honest words that are rooted in love of God.

I literally was laughing out loud so much that I had tears rolling down my face only for the next few chapters to hit me in my gut with the truth. I found myself nodding in agreement to her truthful words that too many have struggled to say for fear of “hurting someone else feelings” or “not being politically correct”.  Truth was never meant to be sugar coated and washed down with a juice cocktail of processed man made ingredients. Hatmaker brings truth that is neither sugar coated or watered down.

For the Love will encourage you to be yourself in a world full of hypocrisy, judgment, and a constant battle against God and his truth. We need to foster community and be an encouraging family that offers grace amidst our imperfections. She welcomes people to be more honest and push fear of what others think aside. She welcomes you to cheer each other on. She welcomes you to look at life with a good sense of humor.

Love one another. Offer grace. And at the end of the day, let us affirm and encourage each other. This is the biblical perspective that is written throughout Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love.

I received this book free from booklookbloggers.com and these opinions are my own.

What Do You Choose?

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Life is full of choices. We all know this. Many times we like to blame others for our poor choices and the attitudes we choose to have. Growing up my parents told me from the time that I could remember that I had a choice to be grumpy, and mad. This was such a hard thing for me to grasp because I felt so deeply. It surely could not have originated from my heart. Turns out, it always has.


 

Time and time again, God has placed me in situations where I have had to choose between my feelings or to look past them and see things his way. Through this past year of grieving, I had to constantly choose him over how I was feeling. Grieving takes you through exhaustion, sleepless nights, and bursts of emotions depending on the memories that come flooding into your life again. I have learned that just like love, joy is a choice and it is hardly based on feelings. Yes, there will be times where you feel an immeasurable amount of happiness but joy is always a choice.


 

I would have days where I would wake up, body aching, heart aching, and all I wanted to do was to curl back underneath my covers. But I had a choice to make. Was I going to live life? Was I going to choose to love my husband, my daughter, and those God placed in my life? Was I going to choose joy despite how I was feeling? My answer was always, yes. No matter how hard it was I did not want to get stuck where I was. No matter how much my heart ached, I still chose to embrace God everyday knowing that it was only through him that I could work past the grief.


 

Still to this day, as the grieving process has taken a different turn and a new normal has set in (somewhat… what is normal anyway?), I have a choice to make. Will I choose Love? Will I choose Joy? All of those things come from God. The more time I spend with him, the more of those things I will have in my life. It is not always an easy journey. More often than not, God shows us areas we must be willing to let go of and change. The moment you choose to let go of control and let God have control, your life becomes full of freedom. Misconceptions of who he is get thrown out the window when you spend time with him. Wrong thinking and wrong behaviors sift to the surface and then you have a choice to get rid of those or keep them and rot.


 

When I think of choosing to rot, I think of a video I watched where a six-year-old girl asked her parents to “not let the monster take over them”. I also have heard several songs talking about how sin, the monster, needs to be overcome. How many of us have chosen the monster to take over us simply because we wanted our own way? At one point in our lives, we have allowed this to happen. Our sin nature leans us to do so. But thankfully, when we choose God, to spend time with him daily, hourly, and with the intention to obey his every direction, freedom from the monster is what takes place. Only then, can true love and true joy become a part of daily life. Even when love and joy take root instead of bitterness and sin, we still have the choice to make it for ourselves.


 

God never forces his way with us. But he is in constant pursuit of us when we choose to ignore him. I see people make choices everyday that affect everyone around them more than they realize. And when we do not choose God, unfortunately everyone else suffers and loses out with them. It saddens my heart to see kids be so gravely affected. There are days where my heart aches over the loss that many of these kids suffer because someone in their life chose to rot.


 

Our lives will be the most stable and peaceful place it will ever be when we realize that we must give up our control for Gods ways to dictate every thought and action. Until we allow God to be a part of everything, will we realize that choosing love and choosing joy is a daily discipline, forever to be molded by our Creator.


 

What do you choose?


 

Lord, I want to choose you daily! Help me to choose love and joy and may it permeate everything I say and do.


 

Galatians 5:22-26

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Beauty From the Mess

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It amazes me how the grieving process works. Just the other day I found myself ready to send a message to my Mom. My brain had fully engaged in the thought that I could send her a life update to get an encouraging reply back. It is in those moments when the wave of grief hits you directly in the face, and you stand there soaking wet with the reality that this just cannot happen. Previously, this used to smack me flat on my behind. This time though, the wave was gentler. I am thankful for this.


I will admit that no matter how long someone is gone, that longing for them will always be there. They have been grafted into your being and you are never the same when they are gone. You just have to learn to continue choosing life and joy!


Honesty is also a key component throughout the grieving process, otherwise it can be easy to get stuck right where you are. I got tired of the facade years and years ago. I have never appreciated the facade. Too many people get hurt when we choose to be fake with others. In a natural way to protect ourselves, we have somehow been convinced or told that we must keep the struggle and pain to ourselves. To be blunt, this is the biggest lie that I once believed. I used to be held to this standard as a leader in a previous time of my life. Since I was real and allowed God to use my pain and my story, I was treated as if I had failed as a leader. I needed to not portray brokenness and struggle through some very difficult things in my life. This lie comes straight from the enemy.


God uses everything in your life. He finds joy when you come to him with your pain because one of his favorite things to do is to turn it into something beautiful in time. If we choose to be fake and not be real, keeping the pain and struggles inside, when and where would God get the glory if no one knows anything about it to begin with?


Be real. Be honest. Love deeply. Have compassion for others. Share your story knowing that God can be glorified throughout the messy parts of life. Someone else may need you. Someone may be going through a similar journey and needs to know that they are not alone. Be brave.


God loves to take our mess and turn it into something beautiful. We must be real. We must be honest. We must allow God to use everything in our lives for good. Choose love.

The Journey I Started One Year Ago

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WordPress just announced to me that it is my one-year anniversary since starting to blog on their site. As I reflect on the year where I decided to not allow silence to dictate my life, and instead use the gift of writing God has given me, I see how silence would have been deadly. The enemy tried to steal my voice once. I have the choice to use my voice several different ways. Writing is one of those ways.


When I decided to open myself up and allow others to be a part of my journey of grieving, I never knew the onslaught that would occur. As I wrote it made some people very upset. Still to this day, when I write as God leads, fearlessly writing truth, it upsets and irritates people. I understand that not everyone is going to agree with what I say nor does everyone believe that God works the way that I profess. Despite the venomous words, the attack on my integrity and faith, and the rejection, I have chosen to not be silenced.


I once allowed silence and the fear of not pleasing certain people dictate my every move. That life was horrible. I was caged in. But I was like a songbird longing to sing and take flight. It took several years for God to show me that he had unlocked the cage and it was my choice to get up and walk out of it. He helped me to pick up his sword of truth and take back from the enemy what he had stolen. Ever since that day, God has been bringing me into places of renewed freedom and victory.


By choosing God daily and choosing to use my voice so many other people have been encouraged. Thank you dear readers for letting me know that my journey written out has helped you. Thank you for letting me know that I was not alone. Thank you to those who desired to bless me rather than curse me.


We all have choices to make. I have seen how bitterness causes such destruction. My heart aches for you that have chosen this path. Love will always be waiting with open arms to welcome you back when you so choose it.


In the meantime, be brave dear readers. Do not let fear of what others may think silence you sharing your story. Your story is powerful. Your story is important. You matter so much more than you may ever fully realize.


You can choose to allow God to make something beautiful out of your messy life. After all, the dirty grave did not bother him at all. He is ready to resurrect the dead in your life.


Choose Him. Choose beauty.

Life Is Simply Beautiful With God

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Today is Mom’s birthday.


This year I actually was looking forward to the day because of what the Lord has been doing in my heart. It is hard to describe but the best word I can use is FREEDOM.


With the death of my Mom, God has used it to bring peace and healing to so many different parts of my heart. He still is working amazing healing in me. I know that my Mom is incredibly happy and proud, especially since in Heaven truth comes to light and all things hidden or murky are revealed. I am so thankful she knows and is proud of me!


There is no greater feeling than to have things reconciled within your own heart despite the unreconciled circumstances surrounding you. That is the beautiful thing about God. His peace and healing is unlike anything in the entire world.

There are still days where the void seems much too large and I crawl into the arms of God just to weep. I know this will be a continual process but there is also beauty along the journey.


Life is simply beautiful with God.

When Everything Changes

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 With Jesus, it does not matter what is going on. All that matters is that he is there with you. I am so thankful that he does not leave us. He chooses us every single day. Life is so beautiful with him!


For the past year or more I have been struggling with what family looks like for us. Not that we do not have family that love us because we do. I have yet to hear of any family without some kind of issue or drama. Family is messy. Our family is messy and it is beautiful at the same time. I am sure most of you can relate to this.


My deepest struggle has been with feeling a huge loss of blood family. We live far from my in laws and so the gap often feels rather large. I have prayed for God to show me what family looks like.


When we take our struggles to Jesus, everything changes.


As I have taken my desires for family and placed them on the altar, all my ideas of what family looked like changed. I have to admit that I still have an inner battle when I begin to miss what family used to be. But when I crawl into the arms of Jesus, he reminds me that through his blood, he transformed what family was, and it has nothing to do with having the same bloodlines as the other person, or being married into one. It has everything to do with being a part of Gods family.


As I reflect and battle whether to continue to hold on to my old family ideals, I have come to a decision. I will embrace Gods way of family. I understand that this will look different. I understand that I must learn to let go when God shows me that I am putting my hope in man-made possibilities rather than in his powerful love.


I understand that with the loss of Mom, our family will never be the same. She was the glue, the peacemaker that helped buffer issues so people would gather together. Do we allow God to heal us? Do we allow him to be the glue? Do we allow him to shape what family looks like?


As my heart says yes to God, I know that he is changing my thoughts, my expectations, my ideals and my desires. This is often hard because there is grieving still being done in regards to this. But this is also something so beautiful!


Choosing God every single day and laying everything in his hands; allowing him to change everything to match his own; crying in his arms giving him every part of you; that is when everything changes. When this happens, the beauty cannot be described adequately with human words. My soul sings with gratefulness.


Everything changes in his presence. This is where I belong.