by Jen Hatmaker on July 18th, 2014

It was just a few short years ago that I dipped my pinkie toe into the waters of international community development. (I didn’t know a hill of beans about it at the time…that was back when I was still giving a conference talk entitled, “How To Be A Woman of Confidence,” God bless us each and every one.) But Jesus had sufficiently interrupted my life and there was no going back.
It was then I ripped through a giant mountain of books to help educate my sweet little dumb-dumb mind about issues of systemic oppression, economic empowerment, justice structures, and a whole bunch of other stuff I was happily in the dark about, including Countries Other Than America. Bless my heart.
Among my reading material was “Half the Sky.” For you who’ve read it, you just inhaled a big breath. This was a Pulitzer prize winning book written by journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. The title comes from the Chinese proverb:
Women hold up half the sky.

by Jen Hatmaker on July 17th, 2014

Pull up a chair and grab some coffee. I’m going to tell you a story. It is a story about systems, but please don’t let that stop you from reading, because it is ultimately a story about the dignity of human life. It is an important story and you matter in it.

Because we aren’t trained to appreciate systems, I will bold them when mentioned. It goes without saying that our western systems are terribly imperfect; there are holes, weak spots, gaps, catastrophic failures. People fall through them, absolutely. I know this, dear reader. I realize our structures have failed some of you, and that grieves me. Hear me say that. But this story isn’t the moment to cry foul on our systems (we can have that important conversation later), because though our structures are imperfect, THEY EXIST. Though the following progression is the way our systems are designed, it doesn't mean they always work. Yet...they exist.

by Jen Hatmaker on July 9th, 2014

I have never had an office. I had a desk for awhile, but my children used it as an art table. I've written all of my books in very glamorous places like the corner of the couch, my unmade bed, the kitchen table, and my bathroom floor.

When we moved to the farmhouse, there was this extremely nasty outbuilding off the patio. We used it for a kitchen and Holding Cell For Garbage And Vermin during the renovation (I'm playing fast and loose with the term "kitchen" here). But now that we have a real kitchen inside, I started eyeballing this crappy little room for an office. Apologies to the ants and mice. It looked something like this:

by Jen Hatmaker on July 8th, 2014

Being a part of a global movement is hard work. It is gritty and complicated, exhausting and overwhelming.

by Jen Hatmaker on May 30th, 2014

I wrote earlier this week about enjoying my teens, and before I keep writing, let me say this TO BE SURE: my kids are ordinary and act total fools sometimes. Don’t imagine that we are skipping through the teen years with nary a rebellion, academic catastrophe, or snotty moody fresh mouth. I will not name names to protect the guilty, but we have run-of-the-mill teens that delight and frustrate in equal measure. That is just normal. Parenting teens is hard. So is parenting toddlers and parenting 2nd graders and parenting middle schoolers (sometimes I resort to singing hymns to manage my middles: “HAVE THINE OWN WAY, LORD, HAVE THINE OWN WAY. THOU ART THE POTTER, THESE KIDS ARE SO CRAY.”)
Parenting is hard, zero kids/parents are perfect, not every moment is a pleasure ever – in any stage, for any parent, for any kid, in any context in the history of life. Every person who disagrees with the previous sentence is a liar.
However, even though I am naturally an Older Kid Mom (I recall the Baby Years and get the shakes), I also recognize that my kids thus far – and I do mean thus far – have operated somewhat in the middle of the pack. While they aren’t skipping grades and ending world hunger, neither are they struggling with extreme behaviors, so my experience is fairly ordinary. We are in the middle of the bell curve.
But parents, do you know how many teens are in crisis? In the throes of addiction or self-harm or mental illness or depression? MILLIONS. So do the math: that means millions of parents are suffering alongside teens that are self-destructing.

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