I need your grace to remind me to find my own

This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.
When I joined the Launch Team for For the Love I had no idea what I was about to come my way.  But I can honestly say now that I needed this.  I needed this community, I needed this encouragement and most of all, I needed this book.
Jen Hatmaker is a best-selling author who finds a way to balance hard hitting truth and laugh out loud humor. In this book she tackles a topic that so many women today struggle with – grace.  Grace for ourselves, grace for those around us and grace for the church.  She finds a way to help us shine a light on the competitive and judgemental habits we all have, whether within ourselves or with others.
We all know that it is hard to be a woman today.  Everywhere we look we see messages of how we are not good enough.  It sows within us insecurities and an edge of judgement and comparison.  We get caught up in the need to be the best at everything.  The best crafter, the best mother, the best wife, the best girlfriend, the most content single person, the best baker, the best cook, the best friend, and the list goes on and on.
I think there’s a lot of reasons why this happens.  Whether it be age old stereotypes and expectations on women, the increase of social media forcing us to display our best lives or even just the complications of the modern age, there is an invented standard of what it means to be a woman.
If you ever looked at your life and wondered if you’re doing it right, wondered if you were enough, wondered if you really had what it takes – this book is for you.  If you’ve ever been told that the key to life is balance but then struggled to find that unicorn known as balance than this book is for you.
Here’s a quote from Jen that further illustrates this:

But maybe if we reject the invented standard, if we stop fearing a “no” will end the world, if we pare our lives down to what is beautiful, essential, life-giving, if we refuse to guilt one another for different choices, and if we celebrate the ordinary accomplishments of Ordinary Good Hard Life, then we’ll discover there wasn’t a beam in the first place, that God’s kingdom never required a balancing act, and Jesus was in the fun foam pit all along. 

Jen helps us to reclaim the grace of God that has been freely given to us.  She gently reminds us that we are more than our current position in life.  She gives tips and encouragement to help us walk this road to rediscovering and fighting for that grace in our lives.  Both for ourselves and for others.
Every section of this book spoke truth into my life, into the life of my ministry as a pastor to families, and into the life of my own family.  It caused me to look deep down into my heart and strive for something better.
It also made me laugh out loud more than once, and more than once in public.  It’s sensible, witty and at times it’s just right.  This book is a way for us to open our eyes and see the beauty in ourselves and in others, the beauty that comes from being completely who God created us to be and not an ounce more or less.
I could go on and on, and in the coming weeks I just might, but for now you can read more about the book at www.forthelovebook.com or watch this video below to hear about it in Jen’s own words:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjyZ91Z0nFs]
I encourage you to find a group of women and crack open this book together.  I promise you won’t be sorry you did.  I sure am not sorry that I found this group of 495 women and 4 men who have helped to launch this book.  I am not sorry I read this book and have found myself more centered and alive because of it.

I've got a lump in my throat cause you're gonna sing the words wrong

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately.  And by that I mean more than usual – I am a pastor after all.  It crosses my mind a lot.
But lately it seems that all of my conversations with friends, colleagues, members of the congregation all seem to wander to what the church is doing about this issue or that issue.  Yes it circles around one main issue that is getting a lot of limelight lately in our denomination but we are also talking about other things.
Or more so we are talking about why we aren’t talking about these things.  Why we are remaining silent on race, sexuality, drug/alcohol abuse, main stream media/culture, war, poverty, the middle east … and the list could go on and on.
The thing is though we don’t want to start the conversation because we don’t want to cause rifts in our communities.  We are afraid because our views are deeply personal and if we find out that someone else’s view is differing from us then that will cause a break in our relationship.
Or… Even worse, we aren’t really interested in what the other person has to say at all.  We just want our opinions to be heard and validated.  We unintentionally bully the opposing side because of a preconceived notion of what it means to hold that other view point.
We’ve set ourselves up into camps. We all think there is a right or wrong opinion.  A black or white answer that works for everyone in every situation within this topic.  But it’s so not true.  Everyone has a story behind what they think and why they think it.  We have to be respectful of each other and each others stories.
The way that the Kingdom wins in these types of conversations is when we look for Christ in one another.  When we listen to each others’ stories and try to understand the other person better.  When our only agenda is to understand the person sitting across from us, rather than try to make them think what we think.
They aren’t singing the words wrong.  They are just singing them differently.  Our job is to try and see what God is doing in the midst of both of our songs.