by Jen Hatmaker on November 29th, 2014

I'm not a good guide for traditional gift-giving. I'm sure I told you, but I once bought Brandon front row tickets to Jamie Foxx's "stand up comedy show" which turned out to be his "concert." We couldn't hear for three days and it now stands as the monument to my well-intentioned but poorly executed gift-giving skillz. (To add insult to injury, Brandon is like the President of the United States of gift-giving. It is actually embarrassing.)

But listen up, gentle reader, because I may be unable to handle the fine print on a concert website, but I can track down socially conscious vendors and products that are not only INCREDIBLY AWESOME but take good care of the earth, the artisans, the community, and the world. We buy once, give twice here, and in a season where Americans will spend over 500 BILLION dollars in a matter of weeks (for the love), we should make sure some of those dollars go toward more than just filling our homes and closets with more things we don't need. Our dollars can actually be a powerful force for good. Women are famously easier to shop for in this genre, but I tracked down great gifts for men and kids, too. (Be also thinking about teachers, neighbors, friends, etc!)


by Jen Hatmaker on November 12th, 2014

I’m pretty much a Fun Time Girl. Laughter and humor are my go-to staples. Brandon and I have had this conversation 338482 in our marriage:
 
BH:      What movie do you want to rent?
JH:       A funny one.
 
Bless. It is just what I reach for. I just love to laugh. I like funny people and funny things. (My sub-category is sarcasm.) This is both my preference and my style.
 
But sometimes life is really, really hard and I am in the weeds. Sometimes I need sober, thoughtful instruction to lead and comfort me. Sometimes I crave depth in the midst of struggle. As one who thrives in exterior spiritual work, it is innately good for me to learn from someone with a strong interior constitution.
 
Many of you know my mom has cancer. It’s so dumb. We still can’t believe it. She looks so normal and plus we don’t get cancer. Mom is the only calm and stable person in our family. The rest of us are prone to hysteria and drama; you would think we had the cancer to hear us go on. Crisis has found our doorstep, and it is decidedly not funny (even though Dad asked us in the hospital after Mom’s surgery if she was going to make us dinner that night…we are somehow managing Cancer Humor which apparently is a thing).


by Jen Hatmaker on September 16th, 2014

No passing zones
 
This is not a thing here. Every zone is a passing zone. Those double yellow lines? Pure wishful thinking of the ET Transportation Department. Enormous bus coming right at you in the opposite lane? Still a passing zone. The middle of the road, the shoulder, the median, the sidewalk...all passing zones. It is irrelevant how many cars are next to you, in front of you, or coming at you. These are not details that matter. Simply beep your horn and barrel around someone. Everyone else will move. Except the donkeys. The donkeys will not be moved. The donkeys clearly have a death wish.
 


by Jen Hatmaker on September 12th, 2014

Here is what I find easy: describing the best practices of Help One Now, touting the capacity of Aschalew (the local HON leader), explaining the HON priorities of preserving families and empowering the Ethiopian people, specifically the most fragile ones. It is easy to talk about the effects of sponsorship because it is so measurable and obvious.
 
Here is what is harder: helping you GET IT. I can’t duplicate the look on these mothers’ faces as they describe how sponsorship has changed their lives. I can’t translate the smells, the songs, the laughter, the hope. I wish you could be here. It is no secret I love this country. Fine…guilty. I am not objective. Lots of reasons, including these two:
 


by Jen Hatmaker on September 11th, 2014

A couple of years ago, Brandon and I had an illuminating conversation with a local leader in Ethiopia. He led a church and accompanying nonprofit in his community, and a western group caught wind of his work. Eager to do good and chomping at the bit to do that good internationally (so sexy), they enacted a plan to visit his children’s home once a summer. Because they failed to listen, learn, and enter into a foreign culture with humility, not recognizing the local leader’s expertise, cultural intuitiveness, and authority, they visited his community once a summer with their pre-determined mission to paint the children’s home. Again.
 
So one day before they arrived each July, he instructed the children to go into the forest, gather dirt and debris, and rub the pristine walls down with muck so the Americans could paint and feel good about their “helpful yearly trip.”
 
We can do better than this.










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