The Easter Conundrum: Part 1
by Jen Hatmaker on April 2nd, 2012

It’s Easter.

Between ages 0-32, I celebrated Easter the fun way: with bunnies, baskets, and expensive clothes. What better way to say “Jesus reigns” than dressing my preschooler in a $45 dress to show her off in the church lobby? (You’re welcome, Jesus. Be blessed.)

Now, let’s be clear, if you had asked me what my Easter priorities were as I stood all fancy in the lobby, I’d become grave and mention the resurrection. For crying out loud, I’m a Christian. But truthfully, between the outfit shopping, the Easter baskets, the egg ______ (dying, stuffing, hiding, hunting), the pictures, the lunch menu, and the gift buying, Jesus was flat last. I started thinking about him as the band started at church, and I thought about him for a whole hour.

That’s just true.

But for the last three years, Jesus has messed with me. Frankly, he’s hijacked all my holiday endeavors. I’ve always celebrated holidays with a Cultural Major and a Spiritual Minor. Take Christmas, for example. I endlessly spent on garbage no one needed and worked myself into a December frenzy and oh well. La de da. Now I’m overwhelmed by the poor and the disgusting consumerism cycle and the heinous neglect of Jesus and the appalling nature of it all.

Then we got to Easter, or as God called it, Passover. “Easter” is a little name picked up from the Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess of spring, ‘Eostre’, who saved a frozen bird from the harsh winter by turning it into a magical rabbit who could lay eggs. Hence: ‘Easter’, bunnies, and eggs. Why are elements of a pagan religion associated with the highest holy day of the Christian faith? (Oh bother. Can’t we just carry on and dye our Eostre eggs in peace?)

Assessing the typical American Easter, on one side I see Jesus on the cross, humiliated and mutilated, bearing the failures of every person past and present, rescuing humanity through an astonishing miracle of divine redemption, splitting history in two and transforming the human experience for eternity. On the other side, I see us celebrating this monumental heroism with chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs, with Jesus as an afterthought. It doesn’t make sense. (Insert some of you tossing this book in the garbage. Don’t mess with my Easter fun, you hippie chick.)

Austin New Church decided to rethink “The Traditional Easter Service That Brings In More People Than Any Other Day Of The Year.” It is our church’s two-year anniversary, and certainly we could stand more foot traffic, but I’m not sure Passover is best celebrated by a high-attendance Sunday of people who won’t be back until Christmas Eve.

We literally asked ourselves: What would Jesus do? Would he drop a bunch of cash on fancy clothes? Buy out the chocolate and plastic egg supply? Find the biggest church in town and spend twenty minutes posturing in the lobby?

Who in Austin might want to celebrate the astonishing hope of resurrected Jesus, but might feel uncomfortable surrounded by beautiful people dressed to the nines? Who needs the gospel spoken into their brokenness, but might not be welcomed by the saints in the sanctuaries? It came quickly to us:

The homeless.

If Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives and good news to the poor, then Passover uniquely belongs to the bottom dwellers. So we cancelled service and took church downtown to the corner of 7th and Neches, where our homeless community is concentrated. We grilled 1300 burgers and ate together. Our band led worship, then in a powerful moment of solidarity, we shared communion. It was a beautiful mess of dancing, tears, singing, and sharing. It wasn’t an “us” and “them” moment; it was just the church, remembering the Passover Lamb and celebrating our liberation together.

Now, if we get one repetitive request when serving our homeless friends, it’s this: “Do you have a bag?” (Could also be: Can I have that bag? Can I take that trash bag? Do you have a bag I can put this bag in?) So this was the perfect moment to give away seven of my nine purses, which were nice and roomy, just like the ladies want.

When the gals had a perfect view for maximum impact, I hollered:

“Hey girls! Anyone want one of…these?”

Cranberry red leather.
Green with gold buckles.
Chocolate brown bohemian bag.
Turquoise with short handles.
Burnt orange across-the-shoulder.
Shiny black backpack bag.

And one little purse I debated on bringing. It was a tiny thing, hot pink crocodile by Gianni Bini, functionally useless but fashionably magnificent. Our street girls want the biggest bags possible, since they carry everything they own. A wheelbarrow would be a huge hit. So my little vanity purse was a wildcard, but at the last second with a conspiratorial nudge from the Spirit, I threw it in.

Not surprisingly, it was the last purse left. What self-respecting homeless woman picks a hot pink purse that would barely carry her bus pass? Glamour handbags are only for women who have eight others and a house in which to stash them. So I stood there with my one little purse, when it’s rightful owner, the one for whom I daresay that purse was stitched together, made a beeline for me.

She had on her Easter finest, tights included, though it was ninety degrees. Flouncy dress with – what else? – hot pink flowers. Hair done in sections with matching beads, pink floppy hat on standby. Leather dress shoes polished to a sheen. Dainty ribbon necklace and rings on four fingers.

She was six-years-old. Her name was NeNe.

Never has a purse better matched its owner. She slipped that hot pink number over her arm and never put it down, not even to eat. Her mom looked at me and no words were necessary; mothers speak a silent language. I took her picture and fussed over her beauty and breathed a thank you to Jesus for the nudge.

I serve a Savior who finds a way to get pink purses to homeless six-year-old girls.

Jesus is a redeemer, a restorer in every way. His day on the cross looked like a colossal failure, but it was his finest moment. He launched a kingdom where the least will be the greatest and the last will be first, where the poor will be comforted and the meek will inherit the earth. Jesus brought together the homeless with the privileged and said, “You’re all poor, and you’re all beautiful.” The cross leveled the playing field, and no earthly distinction is valid anymore. There is a new “us” – people rescued by the Passover Lamb, adopted into the family and transformed into saints. It is the most epic miracle in history.

That is why we celebrate. May we never become so enamored by the substitutions of this world that we forget.

“It was just before the Passover Feast.
Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.
Having loved his own who were in the world,
he now showed them the full extent of his love.”
~John 13:1

How do you celebrate Resurrection Sunday? Have you been participating in Lent? What has God shown you? I'd love to hear your Easter story.

(This post is excerpted from "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess")

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Adrian W. - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:54 AM
I didn't make it past the "You're welcome, Jesus. Be blessed." I immediately scrolled to the bottom to confirm my suspicion - this post is from 7. And it's one of my favorite excerpts from the book. =)

Anyway, since I follow Brandon, I really love seeing from a distance how ANC breaks stereotypes, including during Easter. After all, who would want to cancel church on what is likely the most attended day of the year? Don't you want o be able to brag about how awesome you guys are to other church leaders?

Of course, I suspect Jesus would've closed the doors as well, so I think you're on the right track. =)
Carole - April 1st, 2015 at 8:17 PM
Our Bible study did "7" last fall. It was a real eye opener. I love the way Jen presents. She is a keeper. :)

Deb - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:03 AM
Jen - I stumbled on your blog via Shaun Groves a while ago (After the Airport) ... reading you in bits
April - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:17 AM
Thanks for sharing this...I am in the middle of your book (7) and it has really messed with thoughts are already yearning to take action...beginning with Easter. I praise God for setting your book in my a seed for change.

Are you sure you don't want to come to Arkansas and speak to a small MOPS group in the Ozark mountains...or come for a "family vacation" LOL!

Thanks for sharing truth!
Carla - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:30 AM
Yesterday, my 7 year old asked me if she was going to get a new dress for Easter. I just patted her on the head and said, "No, you have dresses in your closet." Now what to do about the baskets, candy and eggs.
Addie - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:42 AM
ok, darn you, Jen Hatmaker and your church... your books and blog, and other books and blogs of Christians and churches at least trying to get it right have ruined me...

on church.

See... I live in the Bible belt, where there is literally a church on every corner (heck, you can visit the Jewish temple, the Baptist church, the Presbyterian church and the YMCA without even making a block)... but - they are all the same.... and its all about who looks good and how many times you came to church this month (after all, there is a Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesay night services along with different Bible studies and small groups and get togethers going all week)

But Ive never been to a local church that really knows what Jesus taught or if they do, their lifestyles (and church services) dont reflect it.

October of last year, I got fed up and quit... quit church altogether.... and my husband soon followed. (I didnt say I quit God, we still love Him, but the church we can do without)

I was done settling for less... God deserved way, way more and I was not going to be accountable on that great and glorious day for just sitting in a church pew and doing nothing... especially when the need is there.

The problem is... weve been visiting different churches since November, and still have yet to find one that reaches out (did I mention we have ~150 churches in our county alone? Not that weve been to every one)... the bigger problem is that you and your church are proving that its actually possible to at least try to live like Christ said to.... so where does that leave us?

Especially since we are soon to start our second adoption (our family/friends and church pretty much deserted us with our first).

What are we supposed to do when there is no place (local) to go?

Thank you (and your church!) for being the example as we keep searching... maybe God will take us to a small hole in the wall where He lives in our town... :)

(ummm, ok, ready for the onslaught of criticizing comments)
jb frost - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Hey Addie! No criticism here! I'm with you on this. And I'm curious where you are...
Here in the Franklin/Nashville area we have at least as many churches as you speak of where you are...and maybe more. And we'd like to be DOING as well...we are tired of the show and the concert and the program for SunAM. I can't even call it 'church' anymore (small c), as it just doesn't even resemble that.
As for the Conundrum, I believe this woman has it right. And what their Church did is an example of what churches all over should be doing. We saw a church sign the other day that was quite large, showing the different things they were involved in, and I have to say it appealed to me....being involved in all portions of a person's life, from childhood through senior assisted living- and we both said "That's what a church should be doing- that's what we need to do"...whether the people in need have homes or families or not- the Church is to be meeting the needs of the people around it, in every aspect.
Monica - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:05 PM
We just moved to the Nashville area from Memphis. Our church in Memphis was "missional" but we are taking a break from little "c" church for all the same reasons. Since making ththat decision, it's been interesting to see how many others are too.

I regularly talk about ANC and so wish we could find a body that functioned like it.
Cindy - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I'm in the Nashville/Franklin area, as well. Would love to find others who want to get out there and do the work of Christ... as a volunteer group. I'm not necessarily looking for a church, but a group of believers to be the hands and feet of Christ whenever possible Sunday-Saturday. Let me know if anyone's interested :).
Addie - April 3rd, 2012 at 8:08 AM
Hey JB, Im in Columbus, MS...Im with you, Im just tired of the show and want to be out doing something - just wish I could find it... :)
michelle - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:17 AM
We're in the same place here in our city too. I'm praying for God to help me find "my people." The ones like you, and Jb frost. I'm praying that somehow he helps us find each other and do church differently here in our community.
Leigh - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:01 PM
I feel the exact same way. We are in East Tennessee. Your comments sound just like my town.

I want to find a place that is all about serving others. . .not about the numbers (how many saved, baptized, etc. . . I'm so over that)
Robyn - April 4th, 2012 at 4:24 PM
I see a lot of people searching for a church in the Nashville area. We moved out of the state 6 months ago, but I would like to recommend the church we went to. You can search Life Community Church. They meet in Shane Elementary right now. We loved the church and the people! The pastor, Jay, is a man with a heart for serving Jesus and others.
Audra van Haaren - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:33 PM
I'm right there w/ you. You are not alone. May God lead us both quickly to that place we are seeking. I'll pray for you Addie and you pray for me. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Sherry - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:38 PM
I would suggest doing a google search "Missional churches in _____________" I live in Salem, Oregon and found several in my area.

Wendy - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:11 PM
And then there's that point in time when you say "I don't see any churches around me that are doing what Jesus would do. Time to start one."
Jen - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Amen Wendy... I'm reading all these posts thinking the same. You don't have to read far into the gospels to see how Jesus spent his holy days. With tax collectors and adulterers, and the unholiest.

So go, if you have communities like that in your area, go and be the "Church" they need.
Don't wait around for anyone to validate what you're doing by calling it a church ministry. Just find the Jesus followers around you and become the Church you want to find.

Gandhi said "be the change you want to see in the world." Well, be the Church you want to see in the world! :)
rachel - April 6th, 2012 at 4:32 PM
or go into a church and be the change it needs!
Leslie - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:34 PM
Not criticizing at all...I just wonder why you don't find a church where you can affirm what they believe (as far as doctrine and beliefs go) and start an outreach ministry there? Why are you looking for something already established, when maybe God's plan for your family is to start something new to shake up your Bible belt city.
Jessica - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:46 PM
My family and I are looking for a "missional" church in the Dallas area. It's tough!
Stephanie - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:06 AM
Trinity Cedar Hill does a lot of outreaches to the least of these. The Pastor's Wife Becky Hennessey is very much wanting to help the poorest in the Dallas area. They have classes where people can go to get help with debt and so on, and they usually give thousands for people to pay off house payments or get a "new" used car to get to work. We just moved from there and we really loved how they always get out of the church and into the community.
Jen Chapman - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:08 AM
Jessica, I'm the pastor of a tiny little missional church in Dallas, Lake Highlands area, Forest and 635. Our church meets at a low income apartment complex, Jackson Branch (formerly Trinity Palms), and we do lots of outreach to the community. We have folks who drive in from nicer areas of Dallas, and slowly we're gaining attendees from the complex. We've been there for about a year now. The church is called Nexus Community (You can find us on Facebook, Our weekly worship gatherings are on Sunday evenings, Kid's Club (outreach ministry to kids in the apartments) at 4pm, Community Worship at 4:45. On Easter we're changing it up - Worship at 9am, Potluck Brunch at 10am, and Community Egg Hunt at 11am (sorry, Jen, I know it has pagan origins, but it's the best we've found to meet our neighbors and share God's love and the good news of Jesus with them! EVERYBODY comes for the egg hunt!) Jessica, we'd love for you and your family to join us on Easter or any Sunday! Feel free to email me, [email protected], for more information!
Jen Hatmaker - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:27 AM
Girl, no apologies to me!!!! Proud of you! Love the vision of your church! We joined forces with an organization just this weekend who put on an egg hunt for the kids in their community...hundreds of kids. We're about to start a church right in the middle of this zip code. Paul said he became all things to all people in order to win them to Christ, and clearly you are doing that. I'll be so glad to pray for Nexus Community this weekend. Much love to you.
Jacki King - April 3rd, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Hey Jessica, My husband is the pastor at Sachses Church. Over in the Plano/Garland/Sachse Area. We have been here almost a year and have loved the opportunity to bring some growth and change into an 'established' church. Would love to have you sometime if you are in the area. Dallas is pretty spread out :)
Nellie - April 6th, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Jessica, not sure where you are in Dallas, but City Church International is a small church in East Dallas just a couple of miles from downtown off of Ross and Carroll Ave. It's a family, really, so get ready to be noticed at 'new' if your family is able to join us! Our body is striving to reach out to judea, samaria, and the ends of the earth....starting in east dallas :)

Are you new to Dallas? I would love to sit with you if you'd ever like to visit.
Shannon - April 8th, 2012 at 1:40 AM
You posed an interesting question "What are we supposed to do when there is no place (local) to go?" You don't have to go anywhere-remember, we are the church. Church is not building or small groups or a pastor. The church is the body of believers. Maybe God has you right where he wants you.
Billie - April 12th, 2012 at 3:55 PM
I've heard it said that if you are frustrated over something it means that you are called to do something about it. It could be that an overwhelmed, stressed out pastor in your area has been praying for passionate people to come to his church. You could be the answer to that pastor's prayer. You could be an agent of change wherever you decide to go. Just a thought.
Amber - April 1st, 2015 at 7:38 AM
No criticism from me, my husband and I did the same thing!! And it took us a year but he led us to an amazing Church!
RLS - April 2nd, 2015 at 9:20 AM
Don't find it. Be it.
Cdtillman - March 25th, 2016 at 9:23 PM
We are military and we move a lot. My only very humbly learned advice? Be the change you want to see. Don't give up. Join in and then start a small movement. This change I see happening in churches all over the country IS possible. It only takes a few to jump in, get their hands dirty, and show the world and ESP our fellow brothers and sisters how to love like Christ did. Just start one. A little project. A tee shirt that supports a good cause instead of the usual get up on Easter. Change is possible, but someone must be willing to get the ball rolling:). Let it be you!
Anna - April 11th, 2017 at 11:51 AM
No judgment here! The most important thing (at least to me) in a church is one that teaches the true gospel of Jesus Christ, along with pastors that uplift and encourage their congregation to be the best version of themselves. It is frustrating when other church members don't conduct themselves in ways that I think Christians should, but I try to remember that although His gospel is perfect, His people aren't. Don't give up and finding a place where you can worship and be uplifted. To me attending church services is one of the most wonderful parts of being Christian. hugs!
Ruthie - April 11th, 2017 at 8:54 PM
You are speaking exactly what I am feeling! I'm also in the Bible Belt. Memphis, TN. Any suggestions as to how to find this elusive church of what I consider real worship with real actions, please let me know!!!
Lauren - April 12th, 2017 at 11:35 AM
Hi Ruthie,

I used to live in Memphis and loved Downtown Church-- let me know if I can help connect you!
Jen G - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:49 AM
I keep trying to avoid you... but God wants me to read what you have to say about excess. I'm at the crossroads... ready to relinquish that which holds me down and not quite knowing how to do it. Your book has been on my kindle for MONTHS and it still hasn't been read.... guess what God is nudging me to do??? Between you and "Kisses from Katie" - I am being convicted!! I know God is in the details... I'm getting there!

Thanks for sharing!!

Jen G.
Aimee A. - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:03 AM
This year I planned to do something a bit different. We have taken all of our extra candy from our first Easter egg hunt (where we do celebrate the real meaning of the Passover first! We race around and have to remember the Bible verses!) and we are going to hand it out to children in our neighborhood. In it will be an invitation to our church events this weekend. Our church will do a walk through of the life of Jesus on Saturday which is always great. I am going to put a loaf of homemade bread, (He's the bread of life!) a dollar coin, (to represent the betrayal), and grape juice (the blood He shed!) in our kids Easter baskets to help them remember! The eggs that they search for are empty and then they receive the sweetness after talking about the empty tomb and the sweetness that came from it. LOVE your blog!! I was sent here by a friend after we started the adoption process. Thanks for your eye opening posts!
Christy - April 3rd, 2012 at 8:28 AM
LOVE the idea of the sacraments being brought into the home celebrations!
Sally - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Humbled. Tears. Thank you for sharing.
Niccole - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Love it!!!

Jacki King - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:31 AM
This is the first year our kids are really old enough to start comprehending what we do and why we celebrate the way that we do. We too has some challenging of cultural practices vs the importance of the message we wanted to make sure our kids got:Jesus!

So this year we started an 'Easter Treasure Box.' You can read about it below. Just wanted to give other moms opportunities to purposefully sit down each day and explain, teach, love your children with the Gospel and message of Jesus.
Wendy - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:46 AM
THis year we are taking that money that would have been spent on new outfits that we don't need and sending to a ministry whose goal is to reach the Jewish people. The kids will be warned that next year will be no baskets, but that money will be given to them to choose a way to give to those whose greatest need is Christ. Thanks for wrecking our holidays :0) Boy does it give me a sense of relief to wipe away the worldly meanings and get to the heart of it!
Kris - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Why are you trying to reach Jewish people? Are they not God's chosen people?
A Completed Jew - September 14th, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Kris, they are God's chosen people, but they do not have some special pathway to God without the blood of Jesus. The Jews were chosen to be a light to the world - to show the world what a nation and a people completely sold out to God look like. When Jesus died on the cross, he made it very clear to his followers that he did it for all people, and so the Acts church allowed gentiles to come into the church without converting to Judaism. (The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 - That is what all that chatter about circumcision is about.) However, being born a Jew was NEVER a guarantee of God's acceptance. In the Old Testament there was a sacrificial system in place to cover the sins of the people. If you didn't accept the system and sacrifice, you were rejected. In the New Testament, there is a new system (or really, a fulfillment of what the old system was trying to do). But still, if you don't accept the sacrifice of Jesus, you cannot become acceptable. The Jews brought the Word to the Gentile nations. Now they need the Gentiles to bring that Word back.
Jenn - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:48 AM
That's it. I'm moving to Austin. :D
Kris - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:13 AM
This was one of my favorite excerpts from "7." Our little book club read it last month. We all decided this was one of the sections that made us cry the most.

I didn't grow up Christian, so my only experience up until six months ago, was as an adult in a megachurch setting. For lots of reasons, we left that scene and find ourselves at a wee Lutheran church that has one simple piano and two clear voices leading us in hymns and praises on Sundays. This church takes Lent seriously (as most Lutherans/Catholics do, I suppose). So I did as well. I prayed about what would make the most room in my life, for Jesus to move in during the season of Lent.

I broke up with my DVR. It was painful at first, but I've stayed away from television, unless it's a movie or a show I'm watching with family. As I've traveled through, God has had me do some interesting things - like go through my address book and start sending cards to the women listed within, no matter how many years its been. I also tried to give up meat on Fridays, but I kept forgetting and well, it felt too ridiculous to me (and highlighted my sad memory).

Palm Sunday service yesterday was amazing. I'm not sure I've ever felt so engaged with Holy week - or the practice of Lent. I've loved it - and I've struggled through it at times. Services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are brand new to us as well - but am looking forward to the purposeful marking of each important day, leading up to the grand celebration.

michelle - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:23 AM
This is the first year our family has observed Lent. We decided to do Chris Seay's A Place at the Table fast. We ate the diet of our Compassion sponsored kids for dinner. And with the extra money saved we've been buying food to give to the hungry in our town. During this time God has been helping us feel ok with our feelings about the local church. Guilt and worry have kept us going to Sunday church but feeling very uncomfortable with the "suburban church" we've been feeling stuck. Through Lent God has been speaking to our hearts telling us it's ok to do things differently. It's ok to seek Him and let the other stuff go. It's ok to allow him to take us on a new path. Thank you for writing your blog and books. They are a comfort for us.
Megan - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Well besides the fact that the "Easter bunny" is off the charts creepy he has zilch to do with the death and resurrection of my savior so I find him offensive as a follower of Christ. My littles are 2, 4 and 6. Here are a few things that we've done to actually remember and celebrate the resurrection.

We memorize a big old passage of scripture with Easter as our goal to recite it. Hearing those littles ones hide God's Word in their hearts and be so proud to speak it is priceless. And we have said the scriptures several hundred times in the weeks leading up to Easter as we memorize. This year we memorized in Matthew 28 starting with "after the sabbath and toward the dawn . . . ".

We save the trunk of our Christmas tree and after removing all the branches we turn it into a cross in our yard. We use this as a visual connector to the idea that even as Christmas when we have a wonderful celebration of Jesus's birth the cross was already there - God's rescue plan was in motion. I love when they look into the tree at Christmas to see the trunk and say "look! There is the cross! We sit around that ugly gnarled cross in our yard and read about how Jesus died. We leave it there to ponder his death over the next two days and then on Easter morning our kids run outside (instead of to baskets of chocolate) with arms full of flowers and decorate our cross. Then we read the story of the resurrection. We have found these visual and ceremonial ideas really make an impact on our kids. They get it.

We also love those resurrection eggs. And use them nightly as we prepare our hearts for Easter. We are throwing around the idea of a Christian Seder to celebrate Passover. We know a lot of people who do that too. It's time for Christians to reject the secular holiday celebrations that are stealing God's glory. Enough is enough.
Jada - April 2nd, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Love the idea of turning the Christmas tree into a cross.
Old Married Lady - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:33 AM
I'm still not over your book "Interrupted" as yet have not purchased "7" for my Kindle. Now is the time. My church feeds the homeless and under-resourced every Monday and I'm blessed to lead the team that allows God to use them to perform a miracle every week. We also have a mini swap meet every Monday--and you are right, bags are a precious commodity. I never thought to raid my closet for the half-dozen cast off purses in there. Bless you.
Ashley - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I love the NeNe story and I think the Easter Bunny is one of the most ridiculous human inventions I am aware of. Even so, I somehow manage to allow Easter Sunday to be just another day.
Hope - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:51 AM
We have been involved with a presentation we call The Passover Lamb for three years. It will take up this entire week as well as parts of the past two months. Last year I lamented that I didn't get to make my Easter Brunch and this year I was doing the same. I am so ashamed that I have been taking an opportunity that the Lord has given me to reach out with a greater purpose and lamenting the absence of a French Toast Casserole on my table.

This year I was asked to play Mary. As a mother, a most heart wrenching and humbling experience to sit at the foot of a cross and gaze upon the bloody body representing the sacrifice made for me, the woman who up until now has been preoccupied with bread, eggs and cream covered with maple syrup.

Thank you for opening my eyes and pressing in on my heart.
Mariah - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I've given up sweets for Lent. Which seems ridiculous, "sacrificing" a luxury in honor of He Who Sacrificed All. To celebrate, I've dreamed up Cake Week, from Easter Sunday to Saturday, where I'll make a cake every day. This is embarrassing to type. Pray to God he shows me a better way between now
Stefanie - April 2nd, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Love this.

I'm not quite where you are, but God has been nudging me in this direction in so many ways...

Now I must go buy the book to read on the plane to China :)
June - April 2nd, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Are you Stephani from the CHI Waiting Children Chat group?

Kassie - April 2nd, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I have read this before. Did you repost this from a couple years ago or get it from another blog?
Jen Hatmaker - April 2nd, 2012 at 12:41 PM
It's excerpted from my book 7. I also posted in on FB two years ago like the day I wrote it. ;0) (I promise you, I'd never, never yank someone else's blog without giving them credit!)

Ellen - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:07 PM
Ok, I'm coming from the opposite background. I grew up not celebrating Easter or Christmas. Those pagan roots? They've been drilled into my head. I'm struggling with making a beginning at celebrating these holidays at all. Lemme tell ya... it's tough. There's constant pressure from the culture around us to integrate everything that has nothing to do with Jesus. But I figure that we're succeeding because I asked my 5-year-old son what we celebrated at Christmas, and he told me we lit candles (Advent Wreath) and celebrated that Baby Jesus was born. I guess that not giving him any presents and having him pick out cows and goats from Jesus to those in need is working a little bit..... Heh heh. Now, what to do about the Easter eggs? We've got resurrection eggs, and I'm making resurrection rolls with them, but I do hate to take away legitimate springtime fun that we might have even if Jesus hadn't risen from the dead in the spring.....
Jen Hatmaker - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Girl, I grew up in church and those pagan roots were STILL drilled into my head! And you are right: it is definitely tough to part ways with the cultural stuff. People tend to go postal. I broke up with Santa in a earlier blog, and half the world nearly came apart at the seams. ;0)
Dana - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:23 PM
I'm about ready to spend Easter weekend in Austin. LOVE THIS.
Julie S - April 2nd, 2012 at 1:42 PM
I fell in love with you and your amazing ideas / beliefs at the Womens Retreat in Nebraska City, NE.....and you continue to amaze me!!! Thank you for making it real.
Nanette - April 2nd, 2012 at 2:11 PM
My 16 year old just finished his month of "7" fasting (what else do you call it). Watching his struggle, and it is a struggle when all you friends are chewing down on Twizzlers at wrestling practice, has made us all so conscious of the far greater struggles of those that are truly hungry and what God expects us to do bout that. So we are. Oh, and the sixteen year old would like to marry "someone just like her (you) only not married and my age."
Jen T. - April 2nd, 2012 at 3:41 PM
One of my faves from the book! And I read 7 on my Nook, so I don't know if you had included any pics in the hard copy, but I didn't have any. Reading it here again, the icing on the cake was seeing NeNe with her purse! "Never has a purse better matched its owner." True story!

Megan Card - April 2nd, 2012 at 3:41 PM
I might as well start carrying a box of Kleenex with me to the computer when I sit down to read your blog posts. Every. Single. Time. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for continually speaking to me through Jen and Brandon.
mary bing - April 2nd, 2012 at 5:14 PM
Hi Jen! Been reading your books for awhile. such a relief to feel I'm not alone. My family will spend easter feeding the Homeless with a secular organization. Church people are too busy. would love to find a new Church but everyone we go to seems the same. I got excited when our church announced it was opening a food pantry but then found out it was only for attenders of our church. Thank you for your encouragement! Mary
Name - April 2nd, 2012 at 6:09 PM
I literally just finished reading 7 last night. Such a fun treat to my completing the book to see a photo of NeNe. She's just as adorable as I imagined!
Molly Shockley - April 2nd, 2012 at 6:28 PM
I gotta read 7. Just have to. As multiple invites to Egg Hunts came rushing in my email inbox this week, I couldn't help but cringe as I realized yet again how off we are. I feel like I just got over how odd I am about Christmas being about Jesus and not Santa, and now we are here with Easter and the frickin bunny. Hello? I look around and see everyone just going along with it. Thank you for sharing and making me feel more normal. Now to get my hands on a copy of that book!
Amanda - April 2nd, 2012 at 6:43 PM
We have never, in 13 years, had the Easter Bunny come to our house. Sure, I'll let them take part in neighborhood egg hunts, but I have always wanted the focus of the day to be on Jesus-not what might be in their baskets. When my middle

Child was 7 she asked me of the Easter Bunny was real. I gave the standard, "what do you think?" answer and she said, "I'm thinking no way bc why would he go to kyra's house and not mine? And what kind of a bunny lays eggs anyway?". We don't give our kids enough credit. They don't need all the pagan stuff...sometimes they like the truth! Great post.
Ida - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:17 PM
See I think what this church is doing great, really great. Remember what Jesus said to not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing? Thats how I feel about it. If you want to go and worship with the homeless, HALLELUJAH! WONDERFUL! I sincerely mean it. But if your brother wants to worship by going to church all dressed up, theres no need to condemn him, point the finger at him, say "I'm worshiping Jesus much better then you"! Humbly and quietly go about your business and worship the Lord however you feel you need too. Don't throw it up in everyones faces! Don't let your right know what your left hand is doing, and you will be truly blessed! I would of loved this story if you would of just told what you were doing without any reference to anyone else. I have to wonder, whats really in your heart if you so quickly want to point the finger at everyone else!
Leslie - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:41 PM
I think the point of blogs is to express a new idea, something different, or a different way to think about something than you ever had before. I did not get a condemning vibe from this post at all, except to see a new point of view, and possibly a new Easter tradition to start in my own family (or church family). Perhaps you're feeling condemned because this post stirred something in you that needs to change??
Jen Hatmaker - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 AM
Glad you stopped by, Ida (and thank you, Leslie, for your comment here). This post was a part of a whole which I excerpted, so some of the content was not contextualized well. But also, I hope you heard my heart up front which was: this was how I used to do Easter, and it fell totally flat since I was barely giving Jesus lip service while I obsessed over matching outfits. This was on me. This was my deal. I'm sure plenty of believers buy new clothes and worship in fancy buildings, and it is fully sincere and genuine, every second of it. Just FOR ME it wasn't. I was faking it. Thus, this story. May your worship this weekend, wherever it is, be meaningful and beautiful.
EJ Phillips - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:23 PM
We have been doing Lent with our littles (5
Anonymous - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Decades ago, I had a Jewish boyfriend that I intended to marry, in order to do that I would have had to convert. When I said I wasn't sure I wanted to do that he asked "what would you be giving up, Santa and the Easter bunny?" Most people are aghast when I tell that story, but truth be told I had no idea what I'd be giving up, I had never even heard of God except when used in a string of cuss words, my objection was that I'd be converting in name only. The relationship ended and I sought finding out what I'd be giving up. Years later, married with kids, I heard the truth and now I know and people laugh when they discover that the first time my kids heard of Santa and the Easter bunny was at school, and that I didn't have Santa paper whatever that is. They are teens now and I must admit I'm running out of ways to keep it real for them, but I have signed them up to join me when you are here in June ;)
JL Gerhardt - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:37 PM
I don't mean this as disagreement in any way, because what you've said is so true. I don't do eggs or baskets either for similar reasons, but I do buy new dresses every year for easter for my two girls and I do it as an act of worship.

The dresses are usually plain, never expensive, but they are new and colorful (or white). Usually this is one of only a handful of outfits I buy my daughters all year, but I save this dress for Easter and they wear it on Easter first.

I do it because I feel like Easter, this yearly celebration of resurrection, is a precursor to The Resurrection, the wedding ceremony of God and His people. When God describes that day through John, we see the Bride clothed in pure white, a garment beautiful, glowing like light. And so I believe that looking "beautiful" on Easter makes sense, even in terms of outer appearance. It's a symbol of something deeper and really, truly beautiful.

Because my girls are very young, their dresses always end up with spots and grass stains, and because I try to be a good steward, we wear those dresses with stains. We wear them for years, eventually transitioning the dresses into tunics with jeans when they're too small for either girl to wear alone. We shop regularly at Goodwill and share clothes with friends and the poor. But on Easter, we all wear something new or something white, occasionally something new and white and while it is luxurious and a little impractical, we do it anyway. Because on Easter we're reminded that we're the bride of Christ and that our groom is coming back to get us.
Angel - April 2nd, 2012 at 8:58 PM
On Friday we (my church that I love, flaws and all) will pass out 120 beautiful gifts to dancers in men's clubs. We will say, "Jesus loves you and here is a pretty gift for you for free." We started eight years ago this Easter. On Sunday, we will meet downtown, play loud worshipful music, eat lunch together, and hopefully, feed some hungry souls and bellies.

Thanks for your continual challenge to think deeply about living out the truth of the gospel, Jen. God uses you to challenge and inspire me!
Nancy - April 11th, 2012 at 1:05 PM
Hey Angel,

It's great to hear about another outreach to women who work as exotic dancers! We've been doing outreach in WI for 7 years, and visit the clubs in our city every other month. At Christmas and Easter, we give out gifts that contain a gospel message written in non-Christianese. :) Keep at it -- so many of these women are survivors of abuse, and are coping with life the best they can.
N. Jones - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:05 PM
Definitely my favorite part of the book "7"! So much so, after I read it, I commissioned my friends and family to help me host an Easter Egg Hunt with traditional candy filled eggs and non-traditional Easter 'Welcome' Baskets. We will be celebrating with the Dallas location of the International Rescue Commission this Saturday!!! (I wanted to do it on Sunday, but it wasn't available. So where God leads, I will follow.)

The women in my family decided to begin reading 7 during Lent and we just finished the last chapter yesterday. Your book has been an exceptional blessing to all 6 of our lives and we are excited about what God has ignited in each of us.

Thank you for being so candid and obedient in your testimony.
Michelle - April 2nd, 2012 at 9:10 PM
Matthew 6:2
Raylea - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I loved this part from 7. Ok, I loved the whole book. So as I was preparing to stand in front of SHBC and share my testimony this Palm Sunday, as part of the invite-everyone-you-know-to-the-Palm-Sunday service, I really wanted to run out and purchase some new outfit to give me confidence
Raylea - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:23 PM
...I wanted to purchase a new outfit to give me confidence
Raylea - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:31 PM
OK...for some reason my whole comment is not posting??
Jen Hatmaker - April 3rd, 2012 at 8:47 AM
I have a glitch on my blog! At least one comment per blog JUST WON'T POST. It's the darndest thing...sorry, Raylea!
Raylea - April 3rd, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I think it was the and sign (Ampersand) I had used instead of typing out the word "and"?? Maybe special characters are the glitch?
Raylea - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I loved this part from 7. Ok, I loved the whole book. So as I was preparing to stand in front of SHBC and share my testimony this Palm Sunday, as part of the invite-everyone-you-know-to-the-Palm-Sunday service, I really wanted to run out and purchase some new outfit to give me confidence and make me feel slimmer than I am. And then I thought, um...Jesus doesn't care if I have a new outfit. (The "You're welcome, Jesus. Be Blessed." line was running through my head") And not-slim is who I am right now. So, I felt great in my comfy black pants and black jacket that I've worn for-EVER. All was well, no one died because I wore clothes that had been seen before. No one led me to the altar at the invitation to pray over my lack of new attire. No one really knows's not a memorable outfit.

However, later that afternoon, I had the horrifying revelation that the pictures that had been on the huge screen behind me of various moments in my life included a photo of me 9 months pregnant, 4 (plus) years ago, in the SAME ol' jacket. It's one thing to wear old clothes, but to actually put it out there on public display, and that I'd worn it while pregnant...well, it's just a new level of humility. Oy.

But, still, I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't care...and I'm probably the only one who noticed (Right?) Surely the words God had me share were more memorable? So, fashion faux-pas aside, thanks for inspiring me to keep the focus in the right place! However, if there is a next time, I will plan the old wardrobe and the slideshow to avoid this travesty. ;)
Adoptive Mama - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:36 PM
This year, we've decided to go and visit my daughter's birth mother for Easter. She's been in a rehabilitation facility, and she's only been allowed visitors recently. This will be the first time she's seen our daughter, E., since she was a month old. Normally, we do the "pretty new dress-pictures by the azaleas-trumpets in church-big meal deal" with the family, and I'm sure we might get a few raised eyebrows for not going to church on Easter. But I'm pretty sure Easter has a few things to do with hope, grace, and love, and my prayer is that we'll be able to share that with E.'s first mom now that she's expressed that she wants contact. Please pray that we can be His hands and feet, moving our own concerns and discomfort out of the way so we can just love.
Amber - April 2nd, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Just wanted to share that we are slowly letting go of some of the cultural norms surrounding holidays. I emphasize Jesus first and foremost, but we still include some of the fun stuff of the world. For years I have been bothered by the stress that eggs and baskets put on Easter morning when our early church service is even earlier than normal. This year I am finally taking a stand and doing that stuff on Saturday so Sunday can be ALL about the Resurrection. I am really stoked about this decision.
susanelizabeth - April 2nd, 2012 at 11:24 PM continue to kick my butt(is that word allowed here?). There.Are. No. Words. Thanks again for reminding me, in your oh so gentle way(NOT!), that at almost 60 yrs of age(in a few days thank you father time) I am finally starting to grow up, to see things more clearly.. What it means to live Radically(another book that loves to kick my butt) . To truly live what scripture teaches about loving the homeless, orphans and "ALL God's People". Growing pains in Lynchburg, Va. I love you girl!
Courtney Laib - April 3rd, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Great post. My favorite part was the story about NeNe. Sitting in my bed at midnight, crying, and picture this little girl walking up (or most likely running) to get the pink purse that apparently was meant just for her. Love it and love when God does stuff like that. Thanks for sharing.
Monica - April 3rd, 2012 at 8:55 AM
We celebrate Easter at a river in Waco Tx with Church Under the Bridge. It is the one Sunday that church takes place in a park setting instead of under 1-35. Over 100 homeless attend along with Baylor students and city professionals. It is the most beautiful picture of God's church. Baptisms take place in the river and are followed by a huge picnic. Every year my children are gifted candy or bunnies by the homeless men that so look foward to our annual visit. I am endlessly humbled and blessed by this community.
Rebecca - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:32 AM
Sunday evening our family meets with two others to fellowship and have Bible study together. I have devotional Bible that leads us with both a Bible verse, a current day story, and follow up questions that are often hard to answer and make you take a hard look at your house. This week I felt called to pull a passage about being a servant and hospitality outside of our church building. It inspired great conversation and an action plan for how our families can truly walk in Jesus' footsteps. I'm so glad I ran across your post since its the exact idea we were yearning for. Closing the church building and opening the church people! Thank you for sharing.
Amy - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Hi Jen! I went to OBU with you, but you probably don't remember me. Anyway, I read your post, and wanted to share an idea I had to do with my 3 boys for Easter; Well, truth be told I was sitting in church last year when the idea divinely popped into my head: We all have black t-shirts that we write our "sins" on with fabric markers and wear our shirts around the week before Easter. I give the boys, (ages 9,8,4), the option to wear their sins under their clothes or on top. My goal isn't to humiliate them - but we've had good chats about how sin is embarrasing. So far they've chose to wear them and tell people what we're doing! I myself cover my sin shirt with a jacket and an excuse that I'm cold. On Good Friday we nail our sins onto our 3 foot make-shift cross we put up in the backyard. The shirts sit there until Sunday morning. When the boys wake up and go outside, the black sin shirts are gone and are replaced by white t-shirts with their names on them.

They like doing it and I hope its a little representation of what Easter is for their little minds. And then we do easter baskets since Jesus took away our sins and all, but He forgot about the chocolate :) Thank you Easter bunny!! Love the idea of hangin' with the homeless on this day too though!


Amy Rodriguez (Metzler)
Deborah - April 3rd, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Praise God! We the Church in all our selfish behavior we are finaly getting the point! Church is Not pretty clothes or Easter's people loving people. Giving if nothing else love,caring,hugging,feeding Gods people. I am Blessed Restoration Church is now becoming a church that our Father has always wanted a church without walls a Church that reaches out to the hungry the poor right here in HEB Texas...I love you Restoration.
Shannon - April 3rd, 2012 at 3:16 PM
No major story from me, however, when my girls were really young (I have twin daughters) I already hated the commercialism that surrounded Resurrection Sunday. Sooooooo, I created Easter Saturday and Resurrection Sunday. The "Easter bunny" comes to our house on Saturday and then we focus on Jesus' death, burial and resurrection on Sunday. I have had many people follow this tradition and some that wish they had heard of it earlier. I'm sure I'm not the only one thay does this, but I do know that our girls "get" the whole celebration on Sunday....well, as best as 11 year old crazy girls can!!! Thank you for fabulous idea on what to do on Resurrection Sunday to bless those who *want* to come to church but *can't* for fear of what people will think! I tried to talk my Pastor into it this year because it's right up his alley, but I think it freaked him out a but! Maybe next year......
Christy - April 3rd, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I love what your church is doing! Awesome! Wondering how we can do something similar...

We try to do some of the fun/silly (secular) things but then discuss how they related to Jesus and resurrection. We discuss new life when we see eggs. But I'm not to the point of fully getting rid of baskets but I try to downplay this part. Resurrection cookies (they sit overnight and crack open, empty inside) are one of my favorite fun things to do with the kids.

As for dresses - we said that there are plenty of pretty dresses and perfectly fine clothes for our children (and us) to wear. I think I'm still wearing my bright orange t-shirt that I wear every Sunday to church that says "Kids Staff" on it b/c everyone who works with the children has to wear it so parents know who is supposed to be with the kids. :) It'll be so pretty! :)
mary bing - April 4th, 2012 at 6:08 AM
One of my new friends from an organization I joined to feed the homeless was speechless when I told her I would be serving food on Easter. she was astounded when I told her I was going to church early that day but wouldn't miss serving- she couldn't believe a Christian would do that. Praise God!! Mary
BetsyD - April 4th, 2012 at 3:44 PM
Really appreciate the perspective that we need to be authentic in worshipping in spirit and truth, Jen. Thank you for the reminder and challenge- as you do in a honest way- to critically think about how and why we celebrate the holidays. This is always a good activity to commit ourselves to as believers who desire to glorify God, not man. So, thank you. Having said that, I continue to be concerned with the backlash against worshipping as a "church" both in what is reflected in your post, but more reflected in the comments above. While there is much to be challenged in the church's worship/response to community/evangelism, etc., it remains a vital component to a believer's growth in Christ, and I believe, Jen, you would absolutely agree with this. If I am reading you correctly, you are simply questionning the way that some churches chose to celebrate in a way that does not reflect the message of Christ. I hope that those who read your blog are encouraged, though, to be instruments of change (appropriately) in their churches to encourage a Christ-centered, evangelistic, sacrificial, Word-based worship of God. Easter, Christmas, and all the Sundays throughout the year should be marked by believers of every tribe, nation, language gathering together for the purpose of growing in Christ through the study of His Word, thanksgiving for His sacrifice, prayer for the nations, etc. Thank you for your ministry to the people of Austin and for your expressed desire to live with heaven, not earth, as our destination!
Jen Hatmaker - April 4th, 2012 at 5:55 PM
Absolutely. Some of my best people on earth will celebrate Sunday in pantyhose and heels! This was mainly on me. No one forced me to miss the point of Easter...this was totally my doing. Jesus will be lifted high in so many different meaningful ways this weekend, and that makes me super happy. This was just our story and the way God has worked stuff out for us during Easter the last few years. Thanks for your comment, Betsy...and may I say THANK YOU for such a gracious tone and kind spirit!
Laura, Outnumbered Mom - April 4th, 2012 at 5:30 PM
Now, THAT'S how to celebrate Easter!
Dayle - April 4th, 2012 at 5:55 PM
One of the best things we can do now CHURCH, is to change our lingo and quit calling the building a "church." It is only brick
Codie-lyn - April 4th, 2012 at 9:00 PM
Your books have really messed with my "comfy christian" lifestyle! You have really made me rethink our holiday celebrations and God has really been working on me. My littles are 3 and 6. This is the 1st yr there will be no Easter bunny. We have decided to adopt a local nursing home near us for each holiday. I was shocked when we went at Christmas and found that no groups ever come to visit with the residents. For Easter we made Easter cards and will be taking them along with an Easter Lily to the nursing home and visiting. We also went to a local Jewish store and got materials to learn about passover. I'd love to find a local shelter to serve at on Easter but I'm not sure I will have time to find one. So far my boys are doing good with the change. Thank you for messing up my mind and getting me out of my comfort zone.
Katie - April 5th, 2012 at 9:45 AM
My family of 8 stays home on both Christmas and Easter to have "home church". It's much more meaningful to us than going to church....which is what we do on most of the other Sundays of the year. I agree with you about the dressing up and all the fuss that is made over going to church on Easter. When we stay home and have church together we really do take the time to focus on what it's about rather than spending time and money on dressing up and (me) worrying over matching shoes and such.
Jill Wondel - April 5th, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Just a suggestion for those looking for a church - you might try volunteering somewhere local: join your Bread for the World chapter, or volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen or resale shop, or with Habitat for Humanity. You'll meet people there who are also volunteering who care about the poor, and then you can find out what church they attend.
Gina at CampClem - April 5th, 2012 at 3:02 PM
"What better way to say 'Jesus reigns' than dressing my preschooler in a $45 dress to show her off in the church lobby? (You’re welcome, Jesus. Be blessed.)"
Alyssa - April 5th, 2012 at 8:39 PM
Okay, now I'm officially putting a link to your blog on mine. More people need to read this stuff and Lord knows I need to hear it. So grateful I stumble on your blog.
Katie - April 5th, 2012 at 8:53 PM
Love! Thank you!
Kara - April 6th, 2012 at 1:08 AM
Amanda - April 6th, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Couldn't have explained it better! Thank you for putting into words the importance of shifting our traditions to return the spotlight to Jesus! I love what your church did!
Melissa - April 6th, 2012 at 1:13 PM
Wow, I'm in tears. Why are more churches not doing this? Why am *I* not doing this? I couldn't agree more about the disgrace and consumerism that our religious holidays have become. But why did we, as the Body of Christ, allow this to happen? Why did *I* allow it to happen? We will be accountable for allowing the world to corrupt times of worship meant to focus us our eyes back on Jesus. I pray that during this Easter season more people would be reminded of this and more of us would rise to a higher calling than bunnies and painted eggs.
Tiffany Schwedland - April 6th, 2012 at 5:29 PM
Thank you.
Sandy Plott - April 6th, 2012 at 9:10 PM
Exactly what my church is teaching..Bring Jesus with you, Be Jesus to those around you. What a great example. I appreciate you sharing your story.
Rachael Robeson - April 9th, 2012 at 4:02 PM
So I read your Easter blogs last night before reading my next chapters in the Steve Jobs biography. He talks about going into church one Sunday with a huge picture (in his hand) of the poor in Africa and says to his Sunday School teacher- "If God exists and what you say is true, why aren't we doing anything to help these people?" The teacher's response was apathy and silenced young Steve Jobs and he never looked back at the "organized church"

....So thankful that we are addressing this central theme of Jesus' nature and essence- Serving and Giving is LOVE....who knows, the next Steve Jobs may come to know the living God through some much needed changed (and Biblical) behavior. Non- the- less- It matters to God!
Adam - April 9th, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Sarah - April 10th, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Okay, so I'm way behind in my blog reading...but thankfully I recently finished 7 so this was a refresher! Just wanted to share what Gods been doing in our life. My kids agreed with me that we should help someone else this year rather than buying more junk that we don't need. So, this year, for the 1st time, THIS pastors wife did not buy new clothes for any of my 4 precious children! My children were just as beautiful in last years duds, and nobody even cared! I know...shocker! Instead of all the candy, goodies, and clothes, my kids (ages 3,5,7,9) chose to buy a bicycle for a pastor in India, so he can travel to multiple villages sharing Jesus with the untouchables. My heart is way ahead of where our actions are as a family, and as a church, but we're on the journey, and I realize its a process. Thank you Jen, for putting my thoughts into such eloquent words.
Diane - April 12th, 2012 at 5:51 PM
I have lived this! I'm so glad to hear this from someone else. We have 2 home grown to 4 adopted. A sibling set who came from foster care 3 with ADHD

3 with FAS, 3 IEP's, 1 ODD, 1 severe EMI, 1 DD, 2 RAAD, 3 sexually abused, 2 mistreated in foster care. We have lost family and friends.

We have also been blessed. We have 2 children who have constantly reminded us that we are not awful parents. That the friends who stayed are better than the family lost. And that God was there all the time. I prayed early on for wisdom on wether we should adopt. The answer I heard was "I will be with you" and he has been. It is the hardest thing I have ever experienced.
Deborah - April 14th, 2012 at 9:08 PM
I am praying for you
Cari - April 14th, 2012 at 9:49 PM
I keep reading bits and pieces of 7 out loud to my husband--whether I'm cackling hysterically or giving thanks for the confirmation that I am not the only crazy person out there--and all along I thought it had something to do with me having lived in Austin that made me weird... I think we're kindred spirits and would be friends...not in a creepy way! Thank God for you and for Barnes and Noble having your book out on display as my husband walked by, picked it up, sifted through it, then brought it to me and said, "Babe, I think you'd like this book." Man, do I. And I haven't even got to the Easter part yet, but have been saying all this since Christmas! God bless you, Jen Hatmaker!
James - April 18th, 2012 at 10:29 AM
I was linked to this blog entry by my wife and I must say, I am thankful. I am a young Christian who has been struggling with putting Jesus on the back burner for most of my life and it wasn't until the last couple of years that He's really taken a hold of me and transformed me into a man living for Him. I connect with your message here so much and it makes my heart glad to hear the candid confessions of another Christian as we strive each day to be the salt and light of the world. Keep glorifying Christ with your heart, mind and soul and I'll keep praying for blessings poured out upon you, your church, your family and the lives you touch.
Nathan - May 11th, 2012 at 4:14 PM
I love what you said: Jesus brought together the homeless with the privileged and said, “You’re all poor, and you’re all beautiful.”

This is so true. The distance between the poor and privileged is so infinitesimal compared to the distance between all of humanity and God. We are all poor. We are all dependent on His grace.

Sheila - April 1st, 2015 at 11:05 AM
My eyes are stinging with tears. All I can say is....this sounds like heaven on earth. The perfect resurrection sunday celebration.
Bonnie - April 1st, 2015 at 11:32 AM
I think I need to read this every year, to be reminded that I get way too comfortable and cavalier with living my faith. Your NeNe reminds me of a little first grader named Cheyenne. It's been a few years now but I work with a ministry & we used to do backpacks every August for our area shelters and housing. There was one year - it was a ROUGH year. The ministry leader's son was on a little league team bound for the world series so I ended up being, almost completely, a one woman show putting together almost 400 backpacks. I had few volunteer helpers to coordinate with the shelters, pack the bags, check the bags or deliver the bags. I spent two weeks working 90 hours a week (I work full time) and on top of that, I was dealing with some health issues (woman stuff, losing a lot of blood) so I was weak and it was August. A particularly hot August for us (90 degree days). There's the set-up last day, last delivery - over 100 backpacks to one apartment complex and the cutest little girl you have EVER seen comes skipping up to my van & asking the lady in charge when backpacks were going to be given out. She was told 4PM that day, so come back. Then she asks if she's getting a pink backpack. I look in my van and if you saw it, it was filled about 4 inches deep & from behind the driver's seat to the back window (Town & Country van) with backpacks & my 9 year old son is in the back handing backpacks out to us & all I can think is, Oh my golly - what are the chances I can find this little one's backpack & it'll be pink? Well...I think I forgot who I was working for and what He's capable of. My son had a backpack in his hand when she asked and he handed it to me and you know what? It was pink. And the name tag on it? Read "Cheyenne - 1st grade" I could hardly hold it up to show it to her, I was fighting so hard not to cry. It STILL brings tears to my eyes. Her eyes got as big as saucers and the smile that lit up her outshone the sun. What a gift. When God reminds us that we serve Him, not us and He does it with the sweetest of His creation - a child... NeNe & Cheyenne - and pink. I will be thinking about both of them for the rest of this week. Thank you for the reminder!!!!!
Elizabeth Morgan - April 2nd, 2015 at 5:47 AM
So I've read a response in which the writer states that she's looking for a church body that is interested in living out what Christ preached, she and her family can find a body local towhere they are right now.
May I humbly suggest that if God placed this desire to live following Christ's example in her heart, that might be the nudge fromthe Holy Spirit saying, "Be the light for those around you." A church body that breaks out of tradition and follows Christ is not going to be perfect. There will be people in the congregation that scoff and ask why we need to change anything. It won't ever happen if someone doesn't start the process.
Maybe God wants us and our families to start this awakening in the local churches. Organize a ministry opportunity and invite your Sunday School class to join you and your family. Then ask a few more classes. Then set one up for the whole church.
We can't sit back and expect someone else to lead us someplace they've never been before.
SG - March 25th, 2016 at 2:47 PM
Beautiful beautiful post. I do have to point out misinformation though. The origins of the English word "Easter" is NOT referencing a fertility goddess. It comes from the German word "Oster". When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German (New Testament in 1522), he chose the word Oster to refer to the Passover references before and after the Resurrection. English is a Germannic language so it makes sense. Nearly all other languages used a form of pascha (for Passover) or resurrection. There are lots of sources for this but here is one
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