Monday, October 12, 2015

I Wish Sometimes

I wish sometimes that I could have it all figured out.
I wish I could say that I march forward everyday and that I never doubt.
To be real, if I told you how I feel,
 you just might not like it.
Like, when I've gone astray, 
and then I struggle when I pray
because I think you don't want to hear me say,
"Lord, I need you" one more time.
Beginning, middle, and end of the story, you know how it goes 
like an old nursery rhyme.
I wish sometimes that my life 
was more of a reflection of your face.
I wish I would stop wishing 
and just fall into your grace.
So amazing, this breath in our lungs!
I'd hate to waste it.
These petty disappointments
somehow render me utterly preoccupied,
and if I told you that I'm not that easily distracted, I'm sorry, but I lied.
When the day grows dim 
but the sky lights up,
stop me in my tracks; 
make me halt so abrupt,
so that I can remember 
how you sought after me
while the sun was still shining bright,
and how you fought for me 
in the dark of the night.
When darkness prevailed, you said,
"This is not the end.
Sorrow may linger, 
but your heart I will mend."
For a little while, 
you might stand in the rain.
For a little while, 
you might feel the pain.
This temporal life can leave you 
broken down.
You might reach for a hand up,
and sometimes it feels like a hand 
won't ever be found.
Keep reaching.
 As I repeat the words you say,
"Do not fear, for I am here; do not dismay for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you.
 I will hold you up with my righteous right hand."
Fearless as a tight-rope walker,
but will you throw out a net to catch me wherever I land?
I wish sometimes I could have it all figured out.
Trusting and abiding;
you show me what "walk by faith"
 is all about. 

AEJ 10/14/15

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

When It Seems The World Screams

By what standard shall we abide?
In who's trust can we confide?
When it seems the world screams-
"The sky is falling!", 
do we just avert our eyes, 
completely hypnotized by just another
nightly news segment that flashes on a screen?
Do our hearts yet burn within,
a grievance, something fierce, 
for all to be made right again?
Can we fan the flame to make it bright
as we march into a new day, 
and can we still love in a real way
like you showed us to begin with?
Have we become too absorbed with keeping score
that we've missed what really matters?
Self-indulged, self-satisfied,
I serve my criticism on gold platters.
It takes the form of defense.
It takes the form of fear.
It takes the form of laying low.
Why trod into new territory when it's safe to stay
on the fence with nearly everything I know?
By what standard shall we abide?
When it seems the world screams-
"I just want to feel accepted!",
can we all just agree that we've been down that road?
Under a blanket of truth, can we find some grace
and some common ground?
Will it lighten your load if you quit dragging it around,
because it's hard to reach out when your hands are full.
With fresh eyes, let us deeply abide,
throwing off these heaps of hurt and pride.
When it seems the world screams,
may we look with eyes of grace.

AEJ  9/9/2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For The Love: Review

This is not a poem.
This space usually serves as a place for poetry, so I feel the need to give a disclaimer to my two followers and my Grandma: the following information does not rhyme. It shouldn't leave you confused and left to interpret on your own, questioning-- "What does she really mean by that?", or "Geez, Amanda must be in a dark and twisty place right now..." 
None of that. 
Just an honest review of an excellent book that I would recommend to any living, breathing soul on the planet. Really. There's something for everyone in this book. If you need a laugh, you'll laugh plenty. 
If you need encouragement -slash- a firm "Get going, Pumpkin!"
you'll find it. 

Back in March, Author/Speaker/Blogger/HGTVer, Jen Hatmaker, offered the world of social media a chance to be a part of the "Launch Team" for her newest book- For The Love. Honestly, I've never been one of those girls that has a constant new stack of reading material, much less, one of those girls who can re-read the same book multiple times, but I decided to jump on board and filled out the application. I have read several of Jen's previous books, blogs, witty Facebook posts, and I have admired her authenticity for several years now, 
so I decided it was worth a shot to be a part of the team.

A few days later, I received an email from the publishing company welcoming me to the For The Love Launch Team. A digital unedited version of Jen's manuscript was sent, and a paper copy was mailed out shortly after. There's 500 of us from across the globe, a Facebook group that has grown into a special place of connection and conversation like I've never seen before, real-life meetups with other team members, and some serious "book club" chatter. 
In a nutshell, many of the components of Jen's book have been displayed, practiced, wrestled with, talked about, and lived out through this process of reading and digesting For The Love alongside this group.

"What are some of those components Jen talks about?"
Without needing to insert the words "SPOILER ALERT" in flashy letters, 
I'll do my best to provide a summary that will do this book justice, for the love!
From the introduction, Jen talks about her love of people. This one sentence helps paint a picture of what can be considered a focus point of the entire book:

"I'm hoping to help lead a tribe that does more healing 
and less hurting."

The end.
Just kidding. Jen unpacks that statement for us like it's her job. 
By starting off with an others-oriented focus that encourages the reader to return to more of a "love-your-neighbor" mentality, Jen sets the tone to encourage grace, remove the unreasonable standards that we put on ourselves and on others, and fosters a sense of unity that can only develop when a group of human beings learn that

"This is why we live and breathe: for the love of Jesus, for the love of our own souls, for the love of our families and people, for the love of our neighbors and this world. This is all that will last. 
Honestly, it is all that matters."

This book covers a wide range of topics, digging deep into struggles such as relationships and difficult people, to a serious urging for people everywhere to widen our lens of understanding in terms of the gospel message (Since there's an entire world out there, and the American evangelical version of the gospel and the actual gospel are rarely the same thing). Jen also brings up the search for a "calling" while keeping this broadened view of the gospel and asking questions that reshape the entire outlook on Christian living. She provides a fresh perspective and a new "biblical benchmark" that she now uses 

"for every hard question, big idea, topic, 
assessment of our own obedience, 
every "should" or "should not" and "will" or "will not" 
we ascribe to God, every theological sound bite.
Here it is:
If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true."

This statement has the power to help the reader see the world as a whole, let go of some of the parts of life that we find ourselves arguing and debating over, and removes some of our own cultural ties and preferences that we apply to the gospel- since, clearly, Jesus saves lives across the world and across cultures. His mercy is endless, and we ought to be more aware of the immensity of 
His love for His people. 

This book is oozing with truth, backed by fundamental teachings of Jesus, but also busting with humor and wit in a way that only Jen can produce. To be clear, it's like going to brunch with a long-time friend that you haven't seen in 
a while-- covering topics from the fashion atrocity that is tights as pants, last night's Jimmy Fallon episode, the newest recipes to try, and a giant dose of

Just as women tend to bounce from topic to topic, Jen has laid out the content of this book in a way that just makes sense. Her authenticity is shown, and her understanding of the importance of community is enough to encourage even the most introverted person to share a smile, to share a meal, to share some humanity with anyone they meet. She repeatedly mentions this idea of finding your "tribe". She dedicates a chapter to an organic, filling, and purposeful gathering known as "Supper Club", in which, several friends(who were all strangers at one point in time) meet up for (you guessed it....supper). 
Often, we don't give enough credit to those around us, and something as simple as sharing a meal with others can provide something much richer 
than double chocolate brownies.
 Jen gets this.

The following chapter is devoted to the idea of maintaining community with those in your tribe. She states, "If Jesus is the heart of the church; people are the lifeblood. There is a reason He created community and told us to practice grace and love and camaraderie and presence.           
People soften the edges and fill in the gaps."
She talks about this natural craving that people have to be known, to be loved, and to feel like we belong. If that's what we crave, why not be that for someone else? Jen goes on to say,
"We give and get here. According to Jesus, the love of God and people is the substance of life."

There truly is something for everyone in this book. I am not a wife or a mom, but the topics and discussion points that Jen provides are useful and relevant for any life stage. If you're married, you can find solid advice on keeping that relationship strong, fun, and unified. If you're a parent, you can find permission to not be everything, do everything, and acquire everything. You don't even have to make dolphin shaped sandwiches for your kids. They'll survive. If you're trying to fight off a quarter life crisis, you'll be encouraged to find more meaningful things to exert your time, talents, and attention to. If you've been going to church all of your life, you'll find a fresh perspective on how to get along with your fellow church-goers, how to give your church leaders a break from that pedestal that we put them on, and, essentially, how to not be crappy Christians. If you've been hurt by the church, you'll find a sincere voice saying that you are known, loved, and accepted.

Sometimes people suck, but throughout the book, Jen draws us back to this notion of embracing the grace that has been given to us. In response, may we make a conscious effort to give out grace to our family, friends, neighbors, 
co-workers, and everyone that we encounter in this life.
Jen encourages,
"This is it. This is our one life. Let's go for it together."

If you haven't already ordered For The Love, 
I would definitely recommend that you do!
The book officially releases August 18, 2015.

Order online!

Check out the FTL book trailer on youtube!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Be Where You Are. Feel What You Feel.

Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.
Where you are is not an illusion,
and what you feel is quite real.
Poised and stoic,
it's the face you display
when the onlookers chime in
to say you shouldn't feel that way.
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.
What if we all dropped the act
and embraced the totality of who we are,
instead of exhaustively overcompensating 
for where we have lacked?
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.
What if we embraced 
the totality of who He is,
instead of trying to makes sense of it all?
Would life be but a vapor,
instead of an ongoing up-hill crawl?
Will we ever get that we're in this together?
Can we give ourselves permission
to come inside, out of the bad weather?
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rooted in Fear, the Lies We Hear

How can we be effective in a world that's so infected?
Plagued with the worst case of animosity,
are we too self righteous to see what's right in front of us?
What's causing all the fuss?
Do we hide inside the warm confines of our religiosity,
claiming a solid truth, but too afraid to make a move,
so we just blame it on the youth
and call it a day in the life
of someone just trying to make it?
Rooted in fear, the lies that we hear,
the ones that say "You can't",
"You're not good enough",
and every seemingly compelling thought
that cripples and paralyzes the forward mover.
May we join together to cut the lies
that have tethered and bound.
Maybe, then, we can finally make some ground
and love like we should.
Would you join if you could?
If you could see the whole picture,
would you have faith for the fight,
or would fear, so entangling,
constantly keep strangling
and hushing the very voices
we need so desperately to hear?
May it be a soft whisper.
May it be a loud scream.
Whatever it takes,
awaken a spirit with permission to dream
beyond the day to day routine
and the happenstance interactions.
Imagine a world where the lies are replaced.
Imagine a world where we hand out
grace over grudges
and gratefulness over greed.
Reason with me,
when the lies that we hear,
the ones rooted in fear,
seem to never relent,
"He has not given us a spirit of fearfulness,
but one of power, love,
and sound judgment."

2 Tim. 1:7

AEJ 2/28/15