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!