I first discovered Jen like so many of you when she wrote this article titled Worst End Of School Mom that went viral in the spring of 2013. And while we are making introductions, I like to just call her Jen because I tend to think we would be besties if ever given the opportunity to hang. She’s totally my people. The way she transparently yet hilariously shares her stories makes me feel as if she was my long big sister. If you’ve ever read any of her work, you know what I’m talking about. Since I feel such a strong connection to her– I spent some time
stalking researching her. When I stumbled upon this in the about section of her website where she addresses her church plant in Austin, it hit me like Miley’s wrecking ball.
“…we decided to stop serving the saved and blessing the blessed”
These words could not have struck my heart at a better time in my life. That spring Michael and I were in the process of changing churches, or ‘church-dating’ as a friend of mine likes to call it. We had been a part of a large church for four years and seen it grow from a small community to a body of a few thousand. It grew outside our comfort limits and seemed to operate on the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Everyone there was always beautiful, well-dressed, and seemingly happy. Worship is amazing, world renowned even. The Pastor is a brilliantly gifted communicator. There was a class, seminar, or conference for everything and everyone under the sun. Our kids loved going to their classrooms decorated like amusement parks. But something didn’t set right in our hearts. To us, there was just something fraudulent about the whole situation.
Michael was growing discontent long before I was. He would mention his grievances to me, but I just didn’t get it. We would go to our Saturday night service (so we didn’t have to be bothered with the inconvenience of getting up on a Sunday) and it got to the point where it was miserable for all of us because the leader of our home was so distraught. His heart was heavy. Both the scowl on his face and the closed off nature of his body language during service let us all know that God was stirring him, and calling us to move on. But not always being the “wives submit to your husband” type gal, I would hear nothing of it. My ‘girls’ were there–my best friends. I loved the feeling I felt when I walked into the shiny glass doors held by a smiling, name tag wearing volunteer. My heart skipped a beat as I dropped off my kiddos and hugged all the familiar necks I adored. It was easy. It was comfortable. I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to, and I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. I liked being a consumer of all that was available to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving everything I thought I knew.
Oh my husband. Bless him. He was patient in the delivery of his opinion and stoic in his prayers. To this day I really have no idea how many times he asked the Holy Spirit to stir my heart the way it was stirring his. All I know is that this was a tough spot in our marriage for well over a year. He would kindly bring up changing churches or his convictions and I would shoot him down. Someway and somehow, exposure to different books, sermons, verses, and so on… the Lord finally began to deal with me. I repented for my contentiousness and allowed my husband to take the reins as the spiritual head. Right about the time I started pursuing my writing, and the Lord told me it was time to go. I can’t say he gave me a peace about it. But He spoke and I listened. Yeah… obedience sucks sometimes.
After church-shopping for a few months, we were exhausted. Occasionally, I would visit our old church with my ‘people’ and feel so emotionally torn. Stepping through those doors that used to bring comfort came to feel like being around an ex-boyfriend you still found attractive. In the spring of 2013, we finally found a place to call home and I never looked back.
God could not have allowed me to discover Jen at a better time in my life. I started soaking up everything I could find attached to her. That fall (this time last year) my friend and I attended a local conference where she was speaking. After examining the book table, I picked out 7 and Interrupted. We stood in line for a photo-op and for her to sign my book! I had bronchitis and no voice, but I managed to bark out “I feel like a twelve-year-old girl meeting One Direction.” [hand to forehead] While meeting my girl crush was pretty amazing, the really good stuff didn’t come until the next week or so when I poured myself into Interrupted. Page after page, story after story, scripture after scripture, it was like finally talking to another woman that ‘got’ me. Interrupted is the story of the Hatmakers journey from being in a comfy church serving the saved to uprooting and planting a church in a rough area to serve the people Jesus called the “least of these”. Idols of comfort, complacency, and pretty shiny things were replaced with the authentically representing Jesus and feeding his sheep. She put to paper all the convictions I had been challenged with over the year before. Interrupted essentially became my instruction manual for navigating through the hardest spiritual experience I had ever walked through. When I saw that she had done it and how she did it– and lived to tell about it, it brought me so much comfort. Leaving your comfort zone is a scary thing for a woman. But the words the Lord gave Jen in Interrupted gave me that encouragement to push through; seeing that someone else who I adored had done it too.
Our stories are not identical. God did not call Michael and I to plant a church for the homeless. God is not calling us to move our home. But God did ‘raise up a passion in me’ just like he did in Jen. The mega-church and everything about it began to sicken me. I was tired of ‘playing church’ and not living it. My mediocrity in my spiritual life gave way to seeking truth and genuinely loving people who need to hear about Jesus. I began to crave a setting that I was not comfortable and I had a deepening desire to represent Jesus well instead of always feeling the need to win people over to my side.
So this ‘review’, if you will, is not about how awesome Jen is (which she totally is no doubt) or how awesome I am because I read a book and God used it to change me. This ‘review’ is about how awesome God is and how he is calling us to step out of what is comfortable. If you are feeling blah in your walk with the Lord and bored with your Christianity, then take the time to read Interrupted. I promise you, it will Interrupt your life in a big way.
I am giving away 3 copies of this book! I did not get them for free for writing about it. I did not win them. I bought them with my own money because I so firmly believe in what it has to say!
To win one read more on this post. Tag your thankful photos #30daysofpraise It’s really that simple!!