Part of my 2017 goals is reading an average of one book each month. Selfishly proud that I finished the first in 16 days! It also helps when authors make reading their books easy. I started 2017 off with Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love. This is the first actual book of Jen’s I have read. I love her random notes(and thank you’s), hilarious stories, and clear biblical truths in modern and obvious language.
This book is a collection of thoughts and wisdom. She explains that anything of value she has to say comes down to purpose. “For the Love” is why we exist. Loving Jesus, our own souls, family and neighbors- it’s all about love. One of the first things I loved was her explain of her mission in life: to “help to lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.” How timely considering the state of our country right now. She urges us to love our neighbors in a society that wants us to hate them and for them to fear us in return. It was a powerful reminder that genuine Christlike love casts out fear. And without fear, hatred starves.
The importance of presence in ministry and life screamed out story after story as I furiously highlighted points like “We can’t deliver folks from their pits, but we can sure get in there with them until God does.” Jen encourages us to be a friend in difficult situations and not be afraid of the mess that comes along with people. It takes courage to be a good friend. That sounds ridiculous, right? Being a real friend means putting our own fear aside and not abandoning others in their seasons of doubt and despair. She reminds us that the “heroes” of the Bible and the early church were a hot mess and a disaster; so, why are we surprised when we too fall short? She also has a serious wake up call in her section dealing with difficult people and the idea of being compassionate without enabling them in their misconduct of others.
Throughout the book, there were messages to and about the church, especially the inconsistent nature of the western church’s big theology in comparison to the rest of the world. “Theology is true everywhere- or it isn’t true anywhere.” If we claim something about God in America, that same claim must be consistent to our Christian brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia and beyond. If it isn’t, the origin is likely man and not God.
What caught me the most was when she wrote of her experience as a woman in ministry and the stories of the other women she’s encountered. As a woman called to ministry, there’s a kindred spirit of understanding her trials. I don’t think it was meant to be a tearjerker, but there were definite moments in her words. She reminded readers, myself included, that we have so much to offer the Church as a whole. We are smart, capable, strong, and wise. We are also people who were created in God’s image. We are also people who He has empowered with His gifts to serve others. He has plans and purposes for us and work for which we have each been anointed. That looks different for each of us, but it is absent for none of us. There is work for us to do, and we need not wait for permission to live out what we’re called to do. We simply need to get started. Edit: I forced one of my friends to listen to me as I read THIS ENTIRE CHAPTER of the book to her at 1AM. That’s how serious I am about this.
There were way too many excellent points to contain in one post. Don’t take my word for it. Read it!
I originally heard of Winter Jam during my first job as a youth pastor. 10 bands for 10 bucks? #YesPlease! It’s always my silver lining to January AKA the middle of winter(which I hate. Yes. Hate.) Winter Jam usually involves standing in line FOREVER because it is a first come- first serve- fight to the death for those good seats. They at least have an upgraded ticket that has a separate line and early entrance. Although the $10 line last year wasn’t bad, I decided to do the upgraded ticket because- ain’t nobody got time or patience to stand in the cold in the middle of January. It’s just worth it.
I usually end up with teens, but this is the second year in a row, I wasn’t going as an official youth leader. Do I always miss my teens during stuff like this? Of course. HOWEVER, it also means a bit more freedom. I can skip out on a band I’m not really interested in to check out merch. I can also take my time in wandering around/ talking to the random friends you will end up seeing guilt free- no one is waiting on me.
This year was AWESOME! Weather was by far the best I’ve had for Winter Jam.We were third row center- and the people around us were cool. You can easily see us in the photo below!
I had so much fun with our group this year. The speakers were great(Side Note: Sadie Robertson is now one of my favorite people). I really liked every band that was there, which doesn’t always happen for me. Another perk of good seats is some pretty great photos. Below is Tenth Avenue North finishing their set!I’m also excited to have a phone that finally takes decent pictures!
Also, shout out to everyone who went to work/school on time today. I did, but it was ROUGH. I also ended up with TAN’s newest album & the devo, some stickers, and their trading cards- which I’ll talk about in a later post. Overall, it was awesome night! I am so glad I decided to go even though I wasn’t feeling great. It was SO WORTH IT!
Growing up, I was never a talent show kid. I never really had something that was “my thing.” I had things I enjoyed like theater and softball, but I can be honest in saying I wasn’t really great at either of them. I spent a lot of my teenage, and even early college years feeling like I wasn’t really good at anything.Somewhere along the way, people just kind of became “my thing.” I wanted to really get to know them, go beyond small talk, and help them in their struggles.
I spent most of my college career learning how to teach people to do ministry. So many times, I’ve had to justify why it’s important in the first place. (And fighting traditional techniques that can cause more harm than good. Soap box moment: Pre-written curriculum books come straight from the fiery pit because people think all you have to do is show up and read. They don’t put thought or life into what they’re doing. They just read from a script.)I spend 98% of my time with teenagers. People also think I’m crazy for this. So many people don’t understand how vital youth ministry is to the Church today. A few months ago, I saw I quote on Twitter from Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of TWLOHA. He had just returned from Iraq. Our mission fields look very different, but our hearts for them echo the same perspective in priorities.
Jamie spends a lot of time defending and advocating the need of mental health awareness and recovery. So many people just don’t see it for the epidemic it is. Instead of focusing his attention on convincing people it’s important, he wants to spend more time investing in the stories of people who have been affected by those things.
And Just like that, 2016 is over. I haven’t been consistent in blogging since summer of 2014. I’ve had a lot of adventures, and I’m confident that 2017 will bring even more.
As always, a new year brings the haunting tradition of New Year Resolutions. This year, I’ve combined a few resolutions from years past with some other ideas that have been floating around incomplete.
Here they are: the daily, weekly, and monthly ideals for 2017.