The Easter Conundrum (Confession): Part 2
by Jen Hatmaker on April 4th, 2012

For the last few years, God used Easter to mess me up. I’ve mentioned the Easter I gave my boots away and life was forever altered. The next Easter, we launched Austin New Church and my story divided in half: before ANC and after. The following Easter was our church’s one-year anniversary as God delivered on his promise and ANC was legit; a monumental lesson on his faithfulness.

So let me finish the story about this Easter; there was more than NeNe and her little pink purse. When you bring your entire church downtown to feed 800 homeless people including a band, worship, a message, communion, and resource stations, it gets…messy. The sanitized version of church goes out the window. The rules to maintain an organized service simply don’t apply to an outdoor service dominated by the homeless.

So during Brandon’s brief message, one very sad, very lost woman screamed, “Where were all of you when these men were violating me?! Where were you??” There was more, none printable. It was raw and desperate, littered with expletives and sorrow. If we came to proclaim freedom for the oppressed like Jesus said, then we needn’t look further than this broken woman.

What did I do? How did her grief move me? Well, I motioned for Tray to “take care of her.” My instinct was to protect the service, keep everything decent. I mean, a shattered woman screaming during church is just too messy to indulge.

My church family, however, responded with grace befitting the Bride. Brandon spoke gently to her, Christi tried to embrace her, Ryan held out his hand, others interceded for this prodigal daughter. If Jesus really meant the church was a hospital for the sick, not a showcase of the healthy, then we were seriously having church.

Cut to the next day.

I was preparing to be the keynote speaker at an event two weeks away, the Ladies’ Retreat for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, around 3000 women. I was locked into Mark 10, where Jesus engaged blind Bartimaeus a week before he went to the cross. I got down to business studying.

I had so much to teach. Other people.

Ahem.

Bartimaeus: poor, blind, beggar. Probably looked like every homeless person I know. Outcast, shunned from the temple, unclean, discarded in every way – a true societal reject. And here comes Jesus with his entourage, headed to Jerusalem to be “king” (oops, they had a little misunderstanding about what that meant – their bad). Everyone is excited, everyone is cheering. Yay, Jesus! We’re getting our king and we’ll be free!

“As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (vs. 46-47)

Whoa up. Yikes. This is awkward. This is embarrassing actually. There is nothing dignified here. This reeks of desperation. I mean, Bartimaeus? Poor, blind Bartimaeus screaming at Jesus? Sheesh. What a mess, Jesus surrounded by normal, decent followers, forced to deal with this sad, sorry homeless guy screaming bloody murder.

“Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
‘What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (vs. 48-52)


And bam, right in the middle of my important studying to teach others how to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit leveled me. Who was I in this scenario? Not Jesus, mercifully pausing for a blind beggar on his way to the cross, but the embarrassed “Christ followers” who scorned this humiliating interruption during their Christ-following and sanitized this awkward confrontation to get on with their holiness.

I cried for an hour.

I have so far to go.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” Bartimaeus asked for the most basic human need. In biblical times, blindness meant he was considered cursed by God, which made him unclean, which made him an outcast, which made him a beggar. Unlike James and John who nine verses earlier asked to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in glory (predicated by the awesome demand, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask”), Bartimaeus only asked for mercy.

This is like the starving asking for food, the orphan asking for parents, the homeless asking for shelter, the sick asking for medicine; basic human needs – food, shelter, care, love. These aren’t tangled up in power or position, they aren’t born out of entitlement or greed. They are a plea for mercy, the cry of every human heart.

Decorum has no relevance for the mother who prostitutes to feed her children or the nine-year-old who eats trash to survive the streets. The “rules on how to behave” are meaningless for the 66 children infected with HIV in the last hour or the 25,000 people who died today from starvation.

The poor world is begging for mercy like Bartimaus, while the rich world is asking for more favor like James and John.

I taught this mess at the BGCO Ladies’ Retreat, including my dismal failure on Easter. I wondered if the American church was like well-mannered nice-talkers, sitting in a living room sipping coffee, talking about choir practice, while the world burns down outside our windows. While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the window, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering.

It’s just not right.

So I blubbered in front of 3000 women, bawling for the anguish of others and my own heinous disinterest, worried we were missing the point. I told the story about giving away my boots and asked if a similar moment wasn’t in order – not that shoes will change anyone’s life, but there is something spiritual and submissive about offering the shoes on your feet, the sweater off your back. It tells Jesus: I’m in.

It’s the engine behind this month of Seven: giving away is somehow sacred, connecting to the sacrificial heartbeat of Jesus. It’s as transformative for the giver as a blessing to the receiver. When God told us to give, I suspect he had spiritual formation in mind as much as meeting needs.

You might want to sit down.

Before I formalized this or offered any structure, women started pouring down the aisles, pulling their shoes off. They left jackets, Bibles, purses, diamond necklaces, wedding rings, cameras, iPhones, bags – I have never seen anything like it. Eventually, I just turned off my microphone as hundreds of women laid face down, sobbing, barefoot. The stage was covered in their offerings, falling onto the ground and taking over the room.

It filled 70 large moving boxes.

It was the greatest possible giveaway of Month Three.

I learned something: There is much hope for the American church. It’s too soon to declare the Bride hopelessly selfish or irrelevant. The fear my message would be received poorly was so debilitating, I hadn’t slept for a week. When women are accustomed to beauty and happiness messages, discussing a crumbling world caused me no end of anxiety.

I’ll repeat: 70 moving boxes full of offerings; thousands of women going home in the pouring rain, barefooted. The church is not beyond the movement of Jesus. A stirring is happening within the Bride. God is awakening the church from her slumber, initiating a profound advancement of the kingdom.

Please, don’t miss it because the American Dream seems a reasonable substitute, countering the apparent downside to living simply so others can live at all. Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. Like Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live – we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love.

The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self. Paul wrote, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” We want the life part without being united with Jesus in the death part, but that version of Christianity doesn’t exist – that is a false gospel, void of sacrifice.

The fertile soil of death is where the gospel forms roots and actually bears fruit. We have to die to live; we have to die so others can live. It almost sounds like Jesus’ mission. This is the church he was willing to die for, a Bride that inspires and changes the world. This vision is worthy of radical obedience.  Don’t give up on the church.

There is hope for her yet.


This is the week Jesus made all things new and rescued us from ourselves. May worship and obedience and mercy and love reign in our hearts. Struggling with the church and all its mess? You are welcome here and I am glad to walk beside you.


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60 Comments

Jen Hatmaker - April 4th, 2012 at 9:32 AM
THIS WAS ALSO EXCERPTED FROM "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess"...so glad you're here. Thanks for letting me share so much with you.
Millie - April 4th, 2012 at 3:40 PM
jenny - April 4th, 2012 at 9:39 AM
Thank you this part 2. I have to be honest and say I didn't "get" part 1. The work that God has done in my heart for the past year, made it all seem very "so what" as I have lived a frugal life with little indulgence. I also don't feel that I personally need to weed out the little bit of tradition I include in Christmas and Easter. Having Santa bring a modest toy or having my daughter wear a pretty dress on Easter ($7 at a second hand store btw) didn't make me less of a Christian living a missional life. The part 2 finally made it all click. I still hang onto "stuff" no matter how modest, I still need to get into the uncomfortable stuff even after confronting much of it already. We are all a work in progress and thank God He hasn't given up on me yet! Thanks Jen!!!!
lina - April 4th, 2012 at 9:39 AM
love love love this post. thank you.
Kim - April 4th, 2012 at 9:44 AM
You are stretching me...challenging me...and God is messing with my heart! THANK YOU....for speaking HIS truth.....and LIVING it!
Sarah Farish - April 4th, 2012 at 9:47 AM
I read this in 7 a few weeks ago. It was like a punch to my cultural gut. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
Jen M - April 4th, 2012 at 9:55 AM
Living in that in between place- committed and with "buy in", but not really sold

out or ready to sacrifice it all is a tough place I think many of us find ourselves in. Thanks Jen H for still opening the door for the Spirit to probe nd prod a little deeper! Jenny- I'm right where you are! Lord help me to step out and tackle it all!
Stephanie - April 4th, 2012 at 10:01 AM
I have been searching for awhile now to find my purpose (besides being a mama). I think you may be shedding some light on what it is. Thank you Jen for sharing you mess with us. I gives me the courage to let things get messy rather than struggling to keep things "looking clean".
Vicki - April 4th, 2012 at 10:06 AM
So proud to say I was a part of this.
Kami - April 4th, 2012 at 10:14 AM
I was at the BGCO ladies retreat that year. All I can say is, I'm still touched. It was life altering, but I too have so far to go. Thank you for your honesty to open my eyes.
Meliski - April 4th, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Perfect message for this morning. I would argue, perfect message for every time of every day. So sad that we need to be continually reminded of the blessing of giving. As someone who has known this deep in her soul and done it, again and again- physically, emotionally, spiritually- it's amazing that I still need to be reminded. Thank you for having the courage to do so. Thank you for not waiting until you were in your glorified body, standing before the world in all perfection, before biting your lip and saying these words. We are all blessed through them as we focus on the One Who Gave Everything.
Annaka - April 4th, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Great post. Lots to think about. I always get hung up on the next step, what's the best way to give. To help the starving, the poor, the isolated. I've been on mission trips, I work for a domestic violence and sexual assault agency, I give to my church and various missions (Invisible Children, CARE, Women Thrive, etc) but it's hard to really know if those things are making a difference and how to do more to help as effectively as possible.
DL Mayfield - April 4th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
this is the part of the book that made me sob the most, made me write you a blubbering e-mail. i needed that shot of hope, because cynicism can be so easy to wallow in. what a precious, inspiring story.
michelle - April 4th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
I am so grateful that your wrote 7. It is still messing with me months later.
Dana@AdoptionJourney - April 4th, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Posting this to my Facebook. What an amazing story. I first read your blog when someone sent my your "After the Airport" story. After reading your Easter posts - yesterday and today, I'm bookmarking your blog for return visits. Keep writing from your heart!
Penny - April 4th, 2012 at 11:02 AM
I walked the isle at the BGCO womans retreat and was so humbled...there is so much more that we can do...thank you Jesus for woman such as yourself willing to speak to us and thank you Jen
Sara Stottmann - April 4th, 2012 at 11:06 AM
After reading these blogs, I am left in tears and feeling so selfish. I'm going to be very honest with you right now, I did not read the first part of your blog because I was afraid of what I would feel afterwards. I'm not joking when I say that I was beyond stressed this morning trying to rearrange my schedule because I still hadn't bought my 17 month old her Easter dress, and I haven't gotten an Easter basket, nor have I gotten the egg-dye kit or anything else remotely close to 'Easter stuff'. Then I checked FB one more time before I was going to head to the store, and it was like God pulled me to your blog. I'm so glad I read it. I do get caught up in the 'stuff' that goes along with 'holiday'. I guess I try too hard to fulfill for her, what I never got. But what an amazing thing to celebrate! In a way that can show her sacrifice and TRUE love. I want her to understand how to love the broken, more than I want her to be the cutest dressed girl come Sunday. Thanks Jen. God's really using you. :)
Jessica - April 4th, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Jen Hatmaker..... If you only knew how you and God are interrupting our Good Friday
gramjamie - April 4th, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Praise God for giving you the tools to say what we all need. Thank you and Bless you and your wonderful family.


Joani - April 4th, 2012 at 11:19 AM
What a wonderful reminder about perspective and priorities. Love this!
Crystal - April 4th, 2012 at 11:53 AM
I was at that retreat two years ago. It altered my heart forever. MESSED me up. Praise God. Thank you for this, thank you for 7, thank you for doing the thing He called you to do. Gives me the push I need to do the thing He's called me to do. Thank you for having hope for the church, so many do not. So many have discounted her, written her off for good, but I know...I IKNOW too that there is hope for her yet. I see it everyday in my own messy, unsanitized life.
Lynn - April 4th, 2012 at 1:04 PM
Speechless..Follower...Refocused! Even for a time. Thank you for printing TRUTH! He is alive!
Kelley - April 4th, 2012 at 1:08 PM
Thank you for sharing, Jen. I must say, having read 7 not long ago and sobbing during these parts, it's so powerful to see pictures of NeNe, the hurting woman, the women facedown before Jesus, etc. Thank you SO much for including the pictures. I cried just as hard this time as the first time I read it.
Lindsey - April 4th, 2012 at 1:21 PM
This post wrecked me. As a church staff member, I would've rushed to protect the service instead of protecting the lost soul crying out. Unbelievable. I want desperately to be "in the game" in this way but middle class America quickly and subtly lulls me to complacency. Praying for your church , for mine, and an Awakening. (www.dotlessis.blogspot.com)
diane - April 4th, 2012 at 1:44 PM
i appreciate the hope you suggest here. God has been doing a serious dismantle on my core in the last few years and i am only now feeling like perhaps He's thinking rebuilding might be in the near future. returning to the excessiveness of the states after living in almost rural china has been a difficult and struggle-steeped occasion - disgusting as it mostly centered on my conflicted self that was enjoying the excess while being simultaneously ashamed of it. i picture my dear friends in our city in the east that are so comfortable with the less they live in, but only think they need more when they see what the western world presents to them (especially our team of believers, merely by moving in and being americans there). my discouragement has been laced with the blindedness of the church...and how i feel so inept at making a difference in anyone's perspectives here that doesn't wreak of unintentional (hopefully they realize that) self-righteousness. ugh. i've felt icky. so i am thankful here today for this word of "there is hope" that things could change afterall. this was a deep breath. and i needed that. happy resurrection day!
Kara--the NE book table gal - April 4th, 2012 at 2:01 PM
Jen, ever since I met you and heard you speak in NE City a few weeks ago, my mind has been reeling. I am finding myself so challenged and so hungry for more! I am feeling the beginning of my heart truly changing. I am so thankful for you and your ministry. It is changing so many hearts. Thank you for all that you do--and please keep sharing! You are a blessing!
Jen - April 4th, 2012 at 2:15 PM
I really appreciate seeing pictures to go along with the passages I've recently read in the book. Thank you so much for letting God work through you with this book, and for reposting it here. I'm definitely sharing this, as I did the previous part.
sheli - April 4th, 2012 at 5:09 PM
thank you for messing up my easter...forever. thank you.
Kendra - April 4th, 2012 at 6:16 PM
Speechless. Simply speechless. Thank you.
Rachael - April 4th, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Over Christmas I read Kisses for Katie, which outlines complete surrender to God and is a beautiful story. I wasn't sure how this same idea could fit into my life without me moving to Africa, adopting kids and taking in the sick.



I finished 7 about a week ago, and it moved my spirit. God used your words, like the passage above, to help me disentangle from some of the lies of our American culture. It's still a struggle, but I gave up shopping for lent (not quite like you did but shopping for things I wanted and didn't need). I have been Daniel fasting for the past two weeks and gave up facebook for Holy Week. Not there yet, but are we ever?



Thanks for the inspiration, motivation, beautiful writing and assistance in seeing the truth of the Gospel in a culture so far from it.
Stacy W - April 4th, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Absolutely speechless, sobbing yet again. Hatmaker, you have this wonderful gift from Our Father to speak VOLUMES more to me in a few paragraphs that I can so easily comprehend
Name - April 4th, 2012 at 8:21 PM
Thank you for part 2~ should have know part 1 would be followed by a part 2 and wanted to comment! :) You are a gifted writer, Jen, and clearly a gifted speaker that God chose to use.
Penny - April 4th, 2012 at 9:06 PM
Oh Jen~I am so very thankful that God has placed you in my life, and for the spirit He has moving in you! I am just speechless and overwhelmed as a tidal wave of emotions flood over me reading your inspired words! Conviction, grace, love, action, change...and a new found sisterhood with the women whose lives you have touched. How I love you sister!
Victoria - April 4th, 2012 at 9:30 PM
I'll admit I avoided this post all day because I knew it would mess me up. Just like it did when I read 7, but now all the more poignant as Easter is upon us and I work at a church. Thank you for the sweet reminder of what easter is about and how we can be more faithful during this time. Now just worried about how many people come, or how "perfect" the service is. Thank you for your honesty, about the true things and the mistakes, Jen.
Joann Saraceno - April 4th, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Less is more, less is more, less is more.... this has been my mantra for the past 5 or 6 years yet I still see that I have more and more. Thank you for your post.
Angie - April 5th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Thank you - so needed to see hope for the church - praising God!
Michele - April 5th, 2012 at 1:02 PM
A rain falling from my eyes right now. Hard. Thank you.



Picked up what little I had and packed full of His promises and moved all 4'9" of me over to a warzone near the border of Congo in South Sudan 5 and a half years ago. Took in around 100 children and together we trust from week to week, day to day, moment to moment.



A few days ago we "rescued" a woman soldier from the LRA out of prison and brought her fragmented heart and violent wildness home to 100 kids. Not my idea of wisdom. Not even sure it will work. But somehow this week when the echoes of His nailing still resound I have to hope. Love still wins. Always. This dear one reminds me of my new nameless friend. She has one but it was forgotten in years of terror and mayhem. Yes where were we when she was violated? But somehow HE was there. Weeping.



This move of His heart undoes me. And to see it happening in America. Ever so grateful. Thank you again for sharing. Love from this unpaved road in Africa-Michele
Deborah - April 14th, 2012 at 9:15 PM
I am praying for you
Kathryn - April 5th, 2012 at 2:05 PM
So blessed to have been at this conference as witness. Thank you for pouring out your heart!
Jenny - April 5th, 2012 at 2:25 PM
I have read Interrupted and 7 and you have rocked my world. I have been convicted and moved. Everywhere I turn it is about eggs, bunnies, extra services, new Easter clothes, family lunches, etc.. I love what ANC is doing to serve. I love that it isn't about finances, but about closing our doors to GO out and serve and spend time with the 'least'. Easter is truly one the greatest times to celebrate and share with those Jesus would surround himself with. I live in N. TX and have not been able to find one organization, shelter or church serving the least on Easter. I am still praying that if it is God's will, He will provide a way for my family to make it to Austin to serve with ANC. If not, I am praying the He shows me where th opportunity to serve is here. Thank you for letting God use you to open hearts and eyes.

In Him,

Jenny
Kali - April 5th, 2012 at 3:24 PM
I was just wrapping up homeschooling math with my son and happened to glance at this link on someone's facebook. I was almost scared to read it because the Part 1 messed me up some. And gave me hope. This article was even MORE of that. Oh God, may we all die to live and lose to gain!!
kara - April 6th, 2012 at 1:28 AM
Praising God for you and your beautiful writing, which challenges us out of our comfortable lives to truly hearing His voice. Praying for wisdom for us all to listen and obey.
Robin @ Pink Dryer Lint - April 6th, 2012 at 3:58 PM
This is beautifully challenging. I am so glad that I was introduced to your blog.
Hollie - April 6th, 2012 at 8:49 PM
Love this. Such a challenge to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank you.
Casey - April 6th, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Loved it. I have read 7 and shared it with my world of people. We have developed the verb 7, which is to be defined as removing excess from our lives. It has made a difference and I am grateful for the voice you have given this area of our lives.
Susanelizabeth - April 6th, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Dearest Jen. Stop letting God use you to mess me up too! The end.
Angela - April 7th, 2012 at 4:29 AM
I have read this before. For some reason, I did not read part 2 immediately. I read it just now. It's 4 am and I can't sleep. I was laying here thinking about the whole of the Easter celebration and wondering why I feel such dread. This is a celebration right? Why do I feel so flat inside? As I read this I just cried. Again. I mourn for the simplicity or the gospel. The tension between my broken heart and the constant barrage and outflow of want and need of me and my family has me almost paralyzed. How can I stay in that place of brokenness? How can every decision, every word from my mouth, everything I do be about less of me and more of His kingdom? It is when I increase and my wants and desires increase that I am left with this cold, flat emptiness..... Death. It must be complete and utter death to it all and I must end for me to find Him. I find this harder some days than others. The last few weeks have been hard. I want so much more from my life and walk with Christ and the only way to get that, is to have less, want less and be less - and that can only come out of brokenness.

Break me Lord. Over and over. Again and again. Whatever it takes - I am in. I cannot live with anything less than brokenness.
Niki Blake - April 7th, 2012 at 9:48 PM
Ok. I just finished reading 7. Seriously, you are the funniest writer and a girl after my own heart!!! I mean......I do so many things just like you. Is it me? Is it being female? Do we all forget everything? I mean...how can we make a list at the grocery store and STILL forget to buy what is on it? HA! I think that is why I SO enjoyed your book....I could relate to so much of it! Anyway, I suggested your book for our book club, and I think it will make great conversation. No one liked CRAZY LOVE, which I picked too, so I am game for some more "interesting talk ". :) But your book inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me care more, but most of all it made me want to live with less, and live more like Jesus did. Thank you for sharing your gift with so many of us.....so glad I found your blog too. Now i am off to buy something from OPEN ARMS! Hugs and love my sister in Christ!
diana lynn - April 8th, 2012 at 1:22 PM
Hi Jen, I was at that BGCO retreat and it was amazing!!!!!!! What you shared with us changed me.!!!!!! God had been speaking the same thing to my heart, give give give!!!!! I happily laid my favorite sneakers and socks on that stage and walked barefoot back to my cabin, splashing in the puddles all the way!! I prayed God would help and bless the person that would one day wear them. Thank you Jen, I left that retreat a different person. Not with a warm fuzzy feeling, but with a purpose and longing down deep inside to serve our God by helping the hurting!!!
Katrina - April 8th, 2012 at 8:26 PM
Thank you. Thank you for sharing this message, being courageous, using the gift God has given you, and empowering us to throw off the sin (and mountains of materialism) that entangles us and run the race set before us. Thank you. There is so much more I could say, but . . thanks.
Carla - April 9th, 2012 at 1:02 PM
Wow, Jen ... I just have to say WOW! LOL! I stumbled upon your blog through a FB share last night and I was so enthralled I had to read your entire blog ... yep it was a 3am night. But, when I shut it all down I had much to think about and a lot of warm fuzzy feelings to lull me to sleep.



I have often been amazed at the provisions my family has been graced with. My husband and I have worked our tails off our entire lives and it always seems that no matter how much money we make or how much we try to save for the "what ifs" we always end up right back in the same place .... B.R.O.K.E ... it wasn't but a few years ago when lay offs here abounded and my business tanked due to the economic downturn ... "I just threw my hands up and said 'fine I give up, I give it all up and You can worry about it because I'm tired' " so I proceeded to focus my frustrated energy into totally cleaning out 14 years of stuff, at first it was mainly because I needed something to do to keep my mind busy and I was also tired of tripping over stuff so from attic to floor I started sorting, cleaning, donating, posting 'free stuff' on craigslist and throwing out what could not be re-purposed or couldn't be used to help those in need. This little journey of mine calmed my nerves and taught me a little lesson about life and my spirituality ... it made me feel good to care and to be stripped down to just the bear "Me." Okay so here I am standing in my living room realizing that I had stripped us down to the very minimum in furnishings, clothes, linens, kitchen gadgets, electronics ... well I think you get it ... I really think my husband thought I was totally losing my mind and he would have to certify me at some point, but he hung in there like the wonderful husband he is and let me go.



So there I was standing in a totally stripped house and realized ... geeezzz... how long has it been since we painted this place, that wall needs to be fixed, the plumbing under the sink could use some attention ... but I was dismayed as our bank account registered $5.00 .... we were blessed with one of the largest tax refunds we have received since we were married ... and lo and behold ... paint, spackling, plumbing, flooring, tiles and lots and lots of hard work ... my house was "finally cleansed" and so was my soul. From that day forward .... I don't worry I know we will be provided for ... amazingly there is always a check in the mail when you need it most ... we are blessed. We have always been simple people, in fact, when the economy went south we were one of the few who had a very small mortgage (we bought a house within our means), we have no credit card debt (we don't have any credit cards and never will), we always pay cash for our 1 vehicle (as much as I would like 2 cars it never works out for us, I guess because we really don't NEED 2 cars), we have no health insurance (but we make sure to educate ourselves about Real Food, ya know the way God intended as sustenance NOT the way industry has mangled it for profit and control) and the things we value the most have no price tag, ie, love, having the time to actually have quality time, laughter, lots of laughter, family dinners every night, hikes in the mountains and walks on the beach and best friends and family who love us for who we are not judge us for who we are not.



I'm a firm believer ... in "let go, let God" and "enough is enough when you say it is enough" two valuable phrases I learned when during this "cleansing" I was also watching my son, my only child (31 years old) kill himself slowly through drug addiction knowing there was nothing I could do but pray. Thankfully since then my "cleansing" has given me the strength to "let go .. let God" and my son has made the very hard climb to recovery ... no he's not recovered and never will be but he has made it up one day at a time but it wasn't until I just threw my hands up and said "FINE ... then you deal with it" that my life took an axial shift to understanding, patience, and the recognition of provision.



One last note ... we don't celebrate holidays, i.e. Easter, Christmas, etc ... because they have become Hallmarkdays as I call them and reading your blog gave me the best Easter message I could have received. Thank you for that from my heart to yours!


Heather - April 11th, 2012 at 8:35 AM
Oh, Jen, I am so thankful for you and that you listen...
Carla A. - April 11th, 2012 at 1:44 PM
I was there too! What a tremendous moving of the Holy Spirit! My mom gave her Bible and among other things, her coat. She LOVES jackets of all kinds. I KNEW something was happening. Then I felt lead to give my new boots and purse (I'm a purse-a-holic) that I had just gotten for Christmas! At first I thought that was all God wanted me to give....boy was I wrong! I started to leave when God prompted me to walk back down the isle and give my Bible, wallet, money, jewelry, umbrella and gloves and many other items. I'm glad God spoke to me and I obeyed! He's not quit blessing yet!
Melissa Williamson - April 11th, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Reading this had me in tears all over again. I was at that Ladies Retreat and man what an experience God had in store for us. To top it all off, when we left the tabernacle it had started raining, and we all felt like small children walking in the rain barefoot. God's humorous!


KM - April 11th, 2012 at 7:01 PM
I worked at the retreat that year and missed a lot of the services but stood in the back listening as you shared this story and watching as women flowed forward to leave their belongings. Then afterwards I helped pack them up and we were amazed at what we found left there. As a woman who has struggled with the hardness of life here I have stood in church and wanted to be brave enough to scream. To yell, can't you all see my pain, see my needs? That woman was brave and she changed not just your life but many more who are touched by your story. Thanks for sharing yourself so completely.
Beth - April 14th, 2012 at 8:41 AM
"Here's the big question I have about progress: If we can have better and better cell phones, but they are not accompanied by better and better understanding of ourselves and our place in this universe, can we really say that we have progressed? If we are born and then spend our lives moving from one toy to the next, without ever answering the big questions, have we progressed or have we simply been distracted?"

From "No Impact Man" by Colin Beavan



Thanks for helping snap me out of my distraction from Jesus, Jen!
robin - April 16th, 2012 at 12:34 PM
thank you for this powerful message. From the bottom of my heart.
Harold Fields - May 3rd, 2012 at 10:56 AM
The distractions of consumerism is consuming our spiritual consciousness...

It is a siren song sold to [hopelessly] stifle the call of the Spirit to BE Jesus to the hopeless!

Thank You for bringing tears to my eyes and joy to my soul in hearing footsteps of our Saviour...
John - May 4th, 2012 at 2:07 PM
Your insight and your writing not only inspires but also should kick each one of us squarely in the back side. I am happy and blessed to have found your writing and I appreciate your efforts.
Elisha - August 15th, 2012 at 9:09 AM
I'm catching up on your blog. I was a single mom of 5 kids for 4 years, until I met an amazing man who loves Jesus, me, all my kids and his son. We were married on 6/9/12 and have been fervently engaged in this discussion- how are we the church, and more importantly, how do we teach our kids how to be the Bride of the Christ? How do we teach them how to leave selflessly, when their precious hearts want to selfish first? We live in a very affluent area (Franklin, TN), so it's easy to get lost in our bubble of wealth. Thank you for your words, your heart, your honesty. My husband is deploying on Dec 1 to Afghanistan, but we are still urgently seeking God of how to raise our kids and let God live through us, even with our own "interruption".
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