by Jen Hatmaker on October 7th, 2015

In a leader, you really want tenacity. Friends, I want you to know that you can trust my influence because I totally committed to the entire Gilmore Girls series this summer. I see through my vows. I am not a quitter.
 
A lot of you followed “my journey” through GG since June, and the thing about Gilmore is that you want to talk about it with other addicts enthusiasts. Because Brandon refused to join me on my journey (BYE FELICIA), most GG observations have pooled in my brain and need voicing. They need to be heard and understood by other Friends of Gilmore. So can we talk about the quirky, hilarious observations only people who’ve watched 154 consecutive hours of the same show can appreciate? In no particular order:
 
The coffee. This has several subpoints:
 
  • Luke only pours about three swallows of coffee into everyone’s mug.
  • Lorelai and Rory never pay for their coffee, which is only fair (see previous sentence).
  • The to-go cups of coffee are clearly empty. The girls wave them around like the empty Styrofoam containers they are, and they can carry a whole carton of coffees like they weigh nothing at all and will never spill. Which they don’t and won’t.
  • Always black coffee? What is this, Communism?
  • After ordering coffee at Luke’s, Lorelai and Rory take one swallow and then leave in a rush to the inn/Chilton/Yale/town meeting: "Thank you for this huge cheeseburger! Oops. Gotta go." They clearly don’t value their food purchases, which is a wash since they never pay.

I was obsessed with the background activity. I have never seen a show with so much going on. Constant people walking (near and far), cars driving, people fake talking, someone decorating the square (again), people eating, mamas pushing strollers, folks standing in line, people shopping. It was someone’s whole entire job just to coordinate the background activity. I always tried to find repeats. WHICH I FOUND. That same car sure loves to circle the square. 
 
People "eating" at Luke’s. A cousin to the background activity obsession, these people had full plates of food and never, ever ate. They pushed the food around, picked up food with their forks and put it back down, shook a lot of salt, held their (mostly empty) coffee mugs, talked with no actual sound, nodded and smiled, dabbed their mouths with a napkin, cut food with a knife repeatedly, and basically acted like a toddler pretending to eat. Well done, Fakers.
 
Related: in general, I have never seen an empty or even half-empty plate on GG. Every Friday dinner at Emily and Richard’s? They leave full plates. Luke’s? Full plates. The dining room at the inn? Full plates. No one eats in Stars Hollow. It is a town of abundant food and zero consumers. This is why Lorelai and Rory constantly eat like 18-year-old frat boys at a fast food convention and still zip up those size 4 jeans every day. WHATEVER, fake eating skinny girls.
 

Apparently in Stars Hollow it is always and only Fall and Winter. There is a tiny window of spring for one episode and then all major characters take a full summer vacation/summer job/traveling responsibility/distant internship. Summer is dead to Stars Hollow. Spring is hanging on by a thread. The bread and butter of Gilmore is Fall and Winter. The chief mascot of Stars Hollow is the pumpkin, which adorns every home, stoop, business, and town activity in 91% of the series.
 
Sookie’s kitchen looks like a staged fresh produce commercial that is entirely, completely impractical.
Overflowing baskets of fresh bread, a sink full of beautiful washed lettuce, giants bowls of cherries/peppers/oranges/purple onions, perfectly decorated pastries and pies just sitting there (never covered and no pieces ever cut out), pans of tiny, lovely roasted quail, a glass-front refrigerator that looks like an ad for OCD medication. And absolutely zero chopped anything, no mess, no dirty bowls piled up, nothing in the sink (except that beautiful produce), nothing half-prepared, no sloppy utensils, no used pans, no foul-mouthed, sweaty chefs, no signs of actual cooking. I make one average meal for seven people and my kitchen appears ransacked by drunken raccoons.
 
Where is all the nasty crap?

The boyfriend dilemmas. The rotating cast of boyfriends/fiancés/husbands was our cross to bear during Gilmore. I guess Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted us to kind of like each one and kind of hate them. Dean was so kind and considerate…but OH MY GOSH STOP YOUR WHINING. Jess was intelligent and deep (compared to Dean the sweet dumb-dumb)…but if he opened that fresh mouth one more time to Luke, I was prepared to snatch him bald-headed. PRACTICE YOUR MANNERS, YOUNG MAN. I never bought Max for Lorelai. And the Luke/Christopher conundrum drove me to the bottle. The only boyfriend I really liked was Logan. I don’t care what you say! Team Logan! And we all know how that ended. THANKS FOR NOTHING, PLOT SUBVERTERS.
 
Low: my least favorite part of the series was when Lorelai and Rory were in an eight-episode silent standoff. I basically hated that whole season. Are you kidding me? Eight episodes of childish, heartbreaking silence?? I actually googled: “Were Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in a real life fight and Amy couldn’t write them into scenes together?” Because otherwise I guess the writers just hated us. I was so mad at Lorelai and Rory during that fight, I actually prayed for their reconciliation. And God was like, “Get a life, Hatmaker. I have people to help who are not imaginary.”
 
Second low: Rory and Married Dean. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. No. No. No. Hate. Sad. Tears. Despair. Fury. Disappointment. Five stages of grief. Never reached “acceptance.” Terrible. I want to go back and write that part out of the show.
 
Highs: Rory’s high school graduation speech.
This was my actual face during that episode.

I carb loaded to prepare for this episode and it still didn't help.

Other highs: Kirk’s night terrors. LOLZ. The fast-talking babbling. Paris’ hilarious commentary (she really grew on me, that one), Lorelai’s sarcasm (to Rory before her Yale panel presentation: “Good luck, honey! But just remember: if you don’t do well, we will stop loving you.”), Rory’s bangs, Emily’s outrageous elitism made me howl.
 

And I know I am in the minority, but I loved the series finale (minus the absence of beloved Logan; still bitter). I started crying when Lorelai watched Rory sleep and I bawled like a newborn baby until the very end. The tents Luke sewed together, the townspeople, the signs everyone was holding (when they pulled up in the Jeep and saw the signs in the rain, I’m pretty sure I needed a therapist). It tied up the series with a lovely bow and I thought about it for three straight days. (Brandon was just happy it was done. He was like, "Remember that summer all you did was watch Gilmore Girls? That was fun. Good times.")
 
Gilmore made me feel so many feelings! I loved it. Loved, loved, loved. I was devastated it was over! (I heard rumors that Luke and Lorelai didn’t get along in real life, and I CHOOSE COMPLETE DENIAL ON THAT.) I read all the articles (Liza Weil tried out for Rory and was so interesting, Amy wrote the character of Paris for her), clicked on the Gilmore-related Buzzfeeds, listened to the interviews, and watched the reunion taping from earlier this year. I drank all the koolaid and it was delicious.
 
Thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino! Please make us a Gilmore reunion special or, better yet, a Gilmore movie. It must seem obvious at this point that millions of psychotic fans will beat down the doors to every theater in the country. We are incredible weirdos and you made us this way. We used to be normal, but now we are Gilmore lunatics. We miss Stars Hollow and that wacky cast of characters. Please bring them back to us.
 
I would still be in mourning…but I’ve already started Parenthood.
 
 
EDITED: I can't believe I didn't mention Michel! I am hopelessly devoted to him: "People are particularly stupid today. I can't talk to any more of them."

GG Fans, what else did I miss? Funny observations, quirks, best and worst moments, favorite scenes, favorite quotes. We could do this for DAYS.



by Jen Hatmaker on July 10th, 2015

Do you ever wonder how authors feel and think about their readers? I do. Constantly. I always want Anne Lamott to actually know me, and I want Alan Bradley to come over for tea so I can talk to him about his characters, and I want to know if Sue Monk Kidd read the tweets I sent about how much her storylines affected me spiritually. I wonder if they sit at their desks and imagine their readers engrossed in Chapter Eleven at 2:48am.
 
Do they love us as much as we love them?
 
I don’t know if you know this, but I am also an author. Brandon always tells me, “Your people are so good to you.” I KNOW IT, BRO. I know it because you are overtly generous with your words and affection and support and love. And because we’ve banded together for so many good things: we’ve sponsored kids all over the world, built schools, supported sustainable businesses in vulnerable countries, built tiny houses for the homeless, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention the daily camaraderie in the trenches of parenting, marriage, and life.
 
So I want to answer the above question: YES. I LOVE YOU TWICE AS MUCH.
 
For crying out loud, some of you have been with me for ten years. It has been a joy to be your friend. So when my new book was in development, the conversation with my Book People went like this:
 
Me: Let’s give my readers stuff! Rewards! Think rewards!
BP: Okay, let’s brainstorm incentives.
Me: I got it! Let’s give the book away for free. My readers have been so loyal! They deserve it!
BP: No.
Me: Fine. 75% off.
BP: This is why we don’t always invite you to these meetings, Jen.

 

So we thunk and thunk and I begged my friends for things and came up with all this “original bonus stuff” I could write or record or compile for you, and we put together a whole list of freebies for every Preorderer. The list starts at one book, increases for five, and maxes out at ten:
 
  • The coolest one: preorder and get the PDF today even though For the Love doesn’t release until August 18th (this one is time sensitive – expires July 17th)
  • For the Love of Food: ebook of my favorite recipes (you know how I write these)
  • Discount code to Noonday Collection
  • 4 bonus essays – audio version in which I crack my own self up
  • FTL quote poster
  • FTL discussion questions (this book was made for Book Clubs)
  • FTL t-shirt
  • FTL leather cuff from Noonday

I MEAN.
 
Haitian artisans for Noonday are busy making these wrap bracelets,
and I pretty much cannot deal.
They will also be given to
Noonday Trunk Show hosts between August 6-13 and available for individual purchase. $5 of each sale goes to Help One Now's work in Haiti.

A few interesting facts about preordering that I never knew:
 
  • When you preorder, you aren’t charged until the book releases. Did you know that?? So you can preorder now, get all the freebies, and get charged on August 18th when it releases, OR you can just order it when it releases but miss out on the freebies. In other words, if you are ever going to buy it, you should do it now and GET FREE STUFF. Order now, get stuff, pay later…or just pay later.
 
  • If you preorder through Amazon, you get the benefit of the low-price guarantee, meaning if the price decreases anytime between your order date and the end of the day of the release date, you'll receive the lowest price. Well done, Amazon!
   
Question: Why would anyone want to order more than one copy?
 
First, the incentives aren’t shabby. Second, For the Love is a book club selection, fo shizzle. It broaches so many conversations women are having (or want to have), it is like low-hanging fruit for amazing discussions: community, sex and marriage, parenting, career and calling, church, food, struggle, the fear of transparency, loneliness, mean people, fashion. It is literally all in there. Third, gifts. Stick a stack in your closet and give them away to friends, teachers (I write about teachers), neighbors, enemies (I write about enemies), sisters, pastors’ wives, daughters, hairdressers, favorite cashiers, people you sit next to on planes. If I’ve shown you anything, I hope it is that you can trust me with your favorite people. They will only get love and grace and encouragement and laughter with me, no matter who they are or where they are.
 
Question: Who should even buy this book? Well, I’ll tell you:
 

Oh, I really do love you. I really want you to have all this fun stuff. All the preorder goodies are available until August 17th, except for the PDF, which is only good until July 17th, one more week. (You posting your favorite quotes everywhere from your early PDF copies? I AM DYING. My very favorite thing about a book release is seeing which sentences or sections moved someone. Or woke her husband up with laughter at 12:30am. L.O.V.E.)
 
If you haven't already, you can preorder here, then jump over to my For the Love website, click on “Preorder Today!” then click on “How do I get my freebies?” (<--- just click on that if you have already preordered from any site) and follow the directions. Your confirmation email will come within 45 minutes or so, and your PDF will be available after that! (Be just a mite patient as it takes a bit, and also check your spam folder, because lots of girls found their confirmation email in that traphole.)
 
So glad to share this with you. It was such a labor of love.
 
XOXOXOXOXO, sisters. You are so dear to me.
 

by Jen Hatmaker on July 2nd, 2015

If you have followed me for longer than one minute, you already know the do-gooder people I love most:

1. Noonday
2. Help One Now

The only person I am more obsessed with is Ben at the Morning Star Family Home in China for abandoned children with severe heart disease:
(This is exactly how I look at my doctor when she writes down my weight.)
Do not even attempt to deal with Ben's cuteness. If you love yourself, follow me and my friend @meredithtoering on Insta where she steadily feeds me pics for our #Benstagram.
Also,
sponsor one of her heart babies. Kthanksbye.

So if I have, say, a big book launch coming and I am looking for partners to help love the world with it, I make two phone calls: to Jessica at Noonday and Chris at Help One Now. Obvs. What am I going to do? Just let this book go out into the world without raising a little hell for good?? You know that is not my jam.

So mark your calendars for August 6-13, because anyone who hosts a Noonday Trunk Show during those days gets an advanced copy of For the Love and exclusive For the Love bracelet created by artisans in Haiti! AND not only do you help create economic opportunity in vulnerable countries with every Noonday purchase, but $5 of every FTL bracelet sold goes to Help One Now and their work in Haiti.

You get awesome jewelry.

Noonday artisans in ten countries are empowered.

Help One Now is funded for their work in Haiti.

So.Much.Winning.
 
GET ALL THE WAY OUT OF TOWN. Handcrafted with love in Haiti!

Q: What is a Noonday Trunk Show?

A Trunk Show is a party where you invite women in your community to shop for beautiful jewelry and accessories handmade by Artisans around the world. A Noonday Ambassador will share the stories of transformation behind each unique piece. By shopping, you and your friends will create opportunity in vulnerable communities around the world. If that doesn't sound awesome, check for a pulse.

Q: What do I get out of it?

Pretty much everything. You get style (Noonday is so fashion forward), connection between you and the women you invite and then to all the artisans who handcrafted your beautiful pieces, the opportunity to do great good with your dollars, and rewards! Trunk Show hosts earn free and half-off products! Plus MY BOOK, HELLO. Plus THE BRACELET, HELLO.
 
This book contains the words "horsecrappery." I'VE ALREADY SAID TOO MUCH.

Hosting a Trunk Show is basically the shiz. Trust me, you and your friends will drool over the new fall line. It is outstanding. I popped up to the Noonday offices a couple of weeks ago for a sneak peek, and I needed a fainting couch.
This girl.

This could not be easier: click here to sign up to host a Noonday Trunk Show between August 6-13. The end. Ambassadors all over the country are standing by! You'll get all the info you need. As a host, you'll get my new book (a week before it even releases!), a FTL leather wrap bracelet, free and discounted Noonday products, and know this:

Every penny spent at a Trunk Show goes toward economic empowerment for artisans in ten vulnerable countries, $5 of every FTL wrap purchase (available August 6th) goes toward fighting child trafficking in Haiti through Help One Now, and business opportunities are created for Noonday Ambassadors right here in the good ol' US of A. If you are going to spend, SPEND LIKE THIS.

For the love of Haiti!

For the love of artisans!

For the love of empowerment!

For the love of gorgeous leather wraps!

Plus, it will be near the end of summer and let's just stipulate that WE WILL ALL DESERVE A PRIZE BY THEN. Oh my gosh. 



by Jen Hatmaker on July 1st, 2015

Listen, we have this whole thing going on, me and my EFs. "EF" means email friend, and I have to explain this constantly (just this week the sweetest woman emailed my assistant Amanda because the subject line in my weekly email was "LC for my EFs because LYLAS" and she was pretty sure it was profanity...bless all the hearts).

My EFs are my safe place. That's how I feel about them. So I save special correspondence just for them. This is where I tell personal stories I don’t want to share with the whole big internet, send pictures probably not meant for public consumption, talk about my favorite things I’m loving, and give them awesome things. My EFs have received free books, incredible discount codes, free printables, coupons, advance info before the rest of the world (I sent the link for signed copies of my new book to my EFs the day before we went public, and they bought every copy in 30 minutes…sorry, World), ticket specials, advance chapters, and all around general goodies.

They are very dear to me.

And I want you to be one of them.

So guess what? If you sign up for emails, I will send you four bonus essays I wrote just for my EFs! They will automatically land in your inbox one minute from now like magic just for signing up. These are not cast off essays or random pieces that didn't fit anywhere. I wrote them just for my EFs. Want a taste? Here are a couple of excerpts:


From "An Old-Fashioned Idea":

...Sometimes we are so incredibly convinced, we elevate principles over people, forgetting that only a very small handful of human issues are concrete; most are fluid, nuanced, contextual, subjective. Different does not mean against, nor does it mean wrong. There is way more wiggle room than we concede.
 
Paul told us in Romans: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” This would pretty much solve it. If I am devoted to you, if I prefer to honor you than disprove you, then we can preserve loving community in the midst of thousands of differences, even monumental ones. As long as I prefer the sound of my own voice and the affirmation of my choices, then brotherhood and sisterhood is hopeless. Sure, we must love our neighbors as much as ourselves, but as themselves. When a society only loves the neighbors who are like themselves, the natural outcome leads all the way to racism, hatred, fear, and all out war. Uniformity should never supersede community...


From "Vacationing with Children and Other Ways to Sabotage Your Sanity":

...It takes no less than but possibly more than two hours longer to leave than planned. This is a scientific fact. The kids jam every sort of blanket, pillow, handheld device, stuffed animal, book, activity bag, and headphone case into the car. The entire interior smells like feet. Brandon puts the car in reverse and a child suddenly has to go to the bathroom. It is urgent. At this moment, in this fragile state, this is the worst thing that could ever happen. There is an 82% chance we will cancel the whole trip. Once we finally leave, Brandon is not speaking to any of us. All words and sounds are forbidden until further notice. NO I WILL NOT TURN ON THE RADIO, says the dad. Ten minutes later, someone tries a joke. It’s too soon. We soldier on...


From "My Doomed Career as Your Judge":

...Every time I start talking about grace, some people get wonky. I mean, just how far are we going to let this grace thing go?? Sure, we love it for ourselves, but after that, everyone needs to tighten it up, man! When Jesus sent the disciples out on their first mission, he said, “Freely you’ve been given, freely you should give.” No discussion of prerequisites or gatekeeping or scarcity but simply a very large table where everyone gets a seat. The problem is, we tend to receive freely but give conditionally. How quickly we forget that we are sinners saved by grace, not co-judges appointed by our righteousness...


From "A Conversation with My Old Clothes":

...And hello there, Really Low-Waisted Size 6 Jeans puttin’ out the vibe with those heels. I remember you. The upside of having babies in my mid-twenties was that incredible metabolism (R.I.P.) which snapped me back into shape while hardly trying. I didn’t even know how short our adult relationship was going to be, Tiny Jeans. I MISS YOU, 6!!
 
Now, we didn’t have skinnies back then, so I rocked your super long boot cut over those spiky heels. I buttoned you up like a person whose jeans fit, a phenomenon I struggle to recall. You and I hadn’t created our muffin top situation yet. We were just best friends being kind to one another. (The contortion I put my jeans through now counts as denim abuse, and they are certainly no friend to my thigh meat.) I hung on to the last pair of you until five years ago, that one last dusty pair on the bottom of the pile, until I finally admitted our relationship was over and would never be revived. It’s not that you aren’t into me but that I can’t really get into you. Like, physically. I saved you pointlessly, like all those jugs of water for Y2K...
.................................................

So as you can see, there is all kinds of stuff that lives in my brain.

This is so easy: click here to subscribe for emails. You'll be redirected to the page below on my website, and just enter your email address and click subscribe. Literally, five seconds. You'll get one quick email making sure you meant to sign up, a second one confirming your confirmation, then the third with a welcome note from me and the link to the essays.


Join the party! If you've ever paid attention to my consistency, you know that four essays is as much content as you get from two months of blogging from me. Bless it. I mean well. I hope you love them as much as I loved writing them for you.

Can't wait to meet my new EFs! (Then pop back in here and let's talk about those essays, because I HAVE BIG THOUGHTS and I'd love to hear yours.)

Click here to subscribe and be mine forever.

by Jen Hatmaker on June 2nd, 2015

We continue to be incredibly grateful for your concern and follow up on my mom's cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November and moved pretty quickly into surgery and radiation. She now has regular scans, so we live in three-month increments praying for the all-clear each time. We are in Cancer Maintenance.

I've mentioned before that as adult children, when one of your parents gets sick, everyone reverts to their standard roles. You hop into your lane and peddle furiously along familiar paths because you don't have time to innovate; adrenaline only leaves room for you to do what you already know how to do.

In our case, I am the oldest child, so I jumped into procedures and systems obviously. (The middle children constantly monitor everyone's feelings, and the babies are free to get clingy and fall apart. How nice for them.) As the oldest, I immediately started planning to keep this thing on the rails. We couldn't go willy-nilly into Cancer Mode without defining the mode. What was our mode? We needed a mode. (No one ever voted me "Most Fun" in high school.)

So six months ago, five hours before my mom's surgery, some of us prayed, some assembled snacks, some set up a care calendar. I wrote an essay. (I am a first-born, controlling, career writer; I had no alternative.) I penned the following manifesto and sent it to our family. I wonder if it might be helpful to you? I believe these guidelines apply to any family in crisis and those who love them. Obviously, cursing is allowed when your person gets sick, so feel free to use our swears in addition to our rules. (And FYI, readers: the following is simply our family tone, so even if you are less...salty...the approach works across all family brands.)

The King Family Cancer Manifesto

Well, I told cancer our family was off limits, but cancer is an asshole. I already have a death plan for Mom and Dad: they are supposed to die peacefully in their sleep forty years from now on the same night holding hands.
 
We need to get our cancer rules together here on the front end. Mom goes in for surgery in five hours. Obviously, we hope the surgery will be the end of this, and Mom will kick cancer’s tail and we’ll get back to our important issues like Lindsay’s grilled pimento cheese recipe for her new menu and…whatever it is Dad does at the ranch (is it hay? Alfalfa? Are the calves born in the spring or fall? It’s all so unclear).
 
Amy H gave me this idea. It goes like this:
  • We have concentric rings around Mom’s cancer, and she gets to be in the bulls-eye, because well, she has the actual cancer.
  • The second ring is Dad, because he said “in sickness and in health” 45 years ago and so now he is stuck.
  • Us four kids are third, because we are the fruit of their loins (gross).
  • The people we married or “are hanging out with” (side-eye to Drew) or birthed are in the next ring, because Mom is their Grana or mother-in-law or “mom of the guy she is hanging out with” (Drew, land the plane, we like her so much).
  • The fourth ring includes all our best friends. The real ones. The ones we ask to help us move and crap like that. The ones who walk into our houses without knocking.
  • The outer ring includes our work friends and church friends and neighbors who like or even love us, and they will get swept into our cancer vortex by proximity.
  • Everyone else in the world is outside of those rings.
 
The way this works is that stress can always go out but never in. Mom is in the bulls-eye, so she can say and do and feel whatever she wants at all times. She gets to act straight crazy if she's in the mood, but at no time does she have to deal with our psychosis or anyone else’s. No other rings can dump their worry, fear, or burdens on Mom. She is the Cancer Queen and zero drama can reach her on the throne. She can be calm and measured like she normally is, or she can be irrational and hysterical. It doesn’t matter. In the bulls-eye, crazy can go out but no crazy can come in. We have to be strong and steady at all times for Mom. I don’t know how we’ll manage as this is not our skill set. Maybe there is a YouTube tutorial.
 
Dad is next. He can’t give Mom any fuss ever, but he can give it to anyone outside his ring. We have to absorb Dad’s junk too. We know him: this won’t look like fear or panic, it will mostly just sound like a lot of words. Dad gets to say all the words in all the world and everyone outside his ring has to listen patiently, because the only person who gets to shut him down ever is Mom. Gird your loins.
 
The family is next, so none of our crazy can go in toward Mom or Dad, but it can absolutely go out to the other rings. Our outer people have to deal with us without so much as a raised eyebrow. If we want to completely overreact and flail into a quagmire of tortured exaggeration (we are not a stoic people), we get to do that and our outer people will let us. If we decide on a bad day that our doctor is a quackadoo with a degree off the internet, they should confirm our theory and google replacement doctors. Our best friends are the recipients of all melodrama, inflated enthusiasm, and emotional outbursts. They can give us exactly zero of those things. Outer rings can only send in the good. Absolutely no crazy. If an Outer Ring Person consistently makes an Inner Ring Person panic by, for example, telling lots and lots of dead people stories, his or her ring career is over. Crazy-senders get booted from the rings immediately. We police the rings like Martin Riggs.
 

Mom, we have no idea what the doc will find today, but let me tell you this: if it is worse than we think and you are looking at mastectomies, feel free to get a nice new set of knockers when this is over. It will be your silver lining. You’ll look like a 16-year-old cheerleader. While you are under that knife, we can add on any other treatments you want BECAUSE YOU HAD CANCER AND NOW YOU GET ANYTHING YOU WANT FOREVER.
 
If people outside our rings want to help, they can pray. Remember? We believe in God! How lucky for us. And for Mom. You know she has filled, what, a million pages with her Scripture and prayer journaling every morning for forever? Mom doesn’t do a lot of talky-talking about her God feelings (that is Dad’s territory), but she is all filled up with the goods. We know how Dad prays, because he constantly makes us bawl by emailing his prayers for us. We know God loves Mom (the prayer journals alone are a straight ticket to heaven, plus all those times she bailed us out of jail) and if we are not one of His favorite families, then God has no taste at all. He’s got us. I know it.
 
So no matter what comes later today and next week and this whole next year, we can handle this. We have each other and we have God and we have good rings. We can always default to inappropriate humor, and fortunately, Mom’s cancer is in her boobs, so that gives us instant material to work with. We’ll all do what we do: Dad will talk about it, I will make rules, Lindsay will wail, Cortney will diagnose, Drew will gripe at the sisters, and Mom will be the calm Cancer Queen in the middle of this crazy family she created, probably acting like the sanest one of all.

We can do this.
**********************

Six months on this side of the manifesto, I can tell you that the ring system WORKS. If the rings are maintained well, the bulls-eye person gets to sit in a soothing emotional spa of calm and serenity and love. Oh sure, her people have plenty of fear and crazy, but they only send it outward, never inward, so she is shielded. Good outer rings constantly strengthen the inner rings. For my mom, this looked like a stocked refrigerator for weeks, an usually calm family, gifts for every single day of radiation from her staff, a cleaned house, rotating hand-holders on radiation days at the oncology office, anointing her with oil and prayer, baskets of lotion, tons of emails and texts.

For us in the innermost rings, this looked like a billion calls checking in on us, friends meeting us at the doctor's office, a steady supply of patient listeners, well-timed distractions, invites for fun stuff, treatment strategy partners, encouragement galore, helpful research, laughter. Our people absorbed all our fears so we were free to absorb Mom's and Dad's. Our rings served us so well.

God was and still is so ever present, so ever near, so ever good. And we are taking our turn as outer rings for other folks right now, because that is how the community thing works. When someone staffs the outer rings of others, she need not worry when her day in the bulls-eye comes. She'll be surrounded by good people who love her and know the rules:

All the fear and worry can go out, and only strength and goodness can come in.
 
Last day of radiation. Nailed it.


If you are in crisis with your people right now, you have all my love and solidarity. Life is hard, but God and people are good. Set up your rings, explain the out-but-not-in Crazy Policy, and remember that God loves you and is for you. I am for you too, and your pain is always safe here. Consider me an outer ring: I will gladly, patiently absorb it all for you here today.

**Quick update: My friend "Amy H" (mentioned above) who gave me this idea read it from another article! I'm sure she mentioned that but the details completely fail me. This was six months ago and we were in Cancer Crisis. All I can remember is her great idea about "stress out, never in." I would never borrow a concept without crediting the original author intentionally (that has happened to me before and it blows). I am super glad to link you to this one she'd read in the LA Times by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman. I hope the "ring wisdom" is useful to so many of us. May it be a comfort and guide when our people are sick and we are all struggling.









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