For the Love of a Good Book

Sometime in the early spring I happened to be online when an invitation went out to be part of a launch team for the latest book by Jen Hatmaker. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a world of impossible standards.

I was introduced to Jen a few years ago and have often been changed by her words. Her blog is full of her humor and wit in the middle of her raw stories of grace.  By her real life examples she has shown me what it really means to touch others the way Jesus touched us.

Jen has also been a keynote speaker for IF:Gathering both years. I’ve listened to her teachings over and over with fresh meaning each time. I would share her teachings with no hesitation whatsoever.

Being part of the For the Love Launch team to me meant getting her book early and I’ll admit, a complimentary copy isn’t a bad carrot to dangle in front of this girl’s face. What I didn’t realize I’d be getting was a new community full of like minded woman who lift up and challenge each other daily.

Five hundred folks were chosen out of the first 5000 applicants so I’m still feeling like the girl who snuck into the party.  I’ve already found some soul sisters in the group who make me laugh at life and relish in the beauty of sisterhood. (There are four men on the team but with 496 women all weighing in they pretty much keep to themselves.)

We all had a chance to write an endorsement. Although mine won’t be inside the book, they generously posted each one on the website. Here’s mine!

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In August you’ll be able to get your hands on For the Love but you don’t have to wait to pre-order it!

 Click here!pre order 2

If you pre-order now you’ll qualify for some bonus goodies as well.  During launch week I’ll be allowed to post my actual book review but for now I’ll just tell you there is something for everyone including freedom, grace and insight!

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The Wonderfully Made Woman

That’s me, highlighted in the center of the photo.

My high school volleyball coach told me my thighs looked like “cottage cheese”. That was her way of encouraging me to go on a diet. It was’t about my playing ability or my health, she only addressed my looks. The fact that I ran around the court in shorts diving after balls and learning to serve turned me more than a little self conscious about playing in front of people. The fact that I had started dieting at 13 wasn’t enough.

That wasn’t the sole comment that played in my mind over the years. There is a whole concert but with sour notes amidst the beautiful symphonic words that have said “You’re value is not contingent on your shape. No dear one, your value is rested firmly in your Creator, the God of the Universe who said you are wonderfully made”.

I’m thankful for the push in recent years for women to stop shaming themselves through idealizing the perfect body. I just feel we need to take it a bit further.

If you haven’t read “Put on the Swimsuit“, you should. The author revisits an old post  and it’s worth reading. I just feel the need to take it further.

Every article I’ve read about “real women” and embracing their bodies has one common denominator, motherhood.

They describe squishy tummies that have brought life and stretch marks that have announced making room for a child. It’s beautiful and true and right. It really is.

But don’t forget the young woman with cottage cheese thighs, a droopy belly and a beautiful heart. Her stretch marks might be from the freshman forty or rapid growth during puberty. Yo yo dieting and surgery have added perceived flaws to her figure.

She too should feel comfortable in shorts or swimwear and bright colors. We all deserve to wear a swimsuit, cute shorts or a skirt that shows our wrinkly knees.

It doesn’t take fertility or the ability to procreate for a woman to earn her worth. Our value is not tied to familial status and working body parts and certainly shouldn’t be held as a standard of worth either.

We need to celebrate every stage of being a woman. Every wonderfully made human has scars. Some of us have as many on the inside as we do outside.

From the lines around our eyes that tell the story of seeing things more clearly to the freckled nose that reflects days in the sun.  In the tiny frame or the sturdy legs we are more than the bodies we wear.

We are more than our gender or education, marital status or parental abilities. Just don’t ever forget, our beauty is wrapped up inside our stories. We are creations of the Creator of the Universe. We all have something to bring to table and no one should be turned away.

No one should ever feel less than or inferior to or not good enough ever.

Yes, this is the one body we were given. We should treat it gently. The intricate parts that move, breathe, smile, laugh and weep are yours.

For us who remember the “cottage cheese” comments? I want to remember the time I was seen as kind or strong or brave or gentle. When I fell down and got back up. When I walked out on an abusive relationship and allowed myself to love again just a few years later.

Every woman from birth to death should feel beautiful. Not because of something they did but because of who they are. Not the flawless complexions, flowing hair or tightened bodies because those won’t last.

It’s your words and deeds that will stick around. Let’s make them lovely because you my friend are lovely.

 

 

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More Than Just One Word for 2015

As so often happens at the beginning of January, we look forward to leaving behind those habits that have haunted us for the past year or often longer.

We focus on our addictions or actions as if the magical date on the calendar will turn us into someone we can stop despising. We focus on what we see on the surface instead of the underlying

We resolve to change. Promising ourselves that this will be the year we shed those pounds, give up smoking, make more money, take more time off or become organized.

Some choose all of the above.

We set more alarms, exorcize more, eat less, budget time, chew more gum, buy file cabinets and clean out email boxes.

In short, we add so many expectations to the new year that we set ourselves up for failure. We rush ahead to crush old lifestyles overnight that didn’t appear overnight. We built them bit by bit and if we taking a wrecking ball to our lives in order to demolish it all at once we forget that we have to rebuild and that takes time.

In the past two years instead of resolutions I’ve chosen words. One word to focus on for the year. Through the months I would go back and visit my words, letting them linger in my mind. Settling in my soul took deliberate steps. I didn’t take on the whole year at once. I took it day by day with just a word.

One Word 365 encourages you to forget the New Year’s resolutions and lists of goals.

The first year I chose Galvanize. Interestingly enough I found that the fruit of that word more in this past year than in the year it was intended.

My word last year was Reconciliation.

It’s the ninth day of a brand new year.

As I thought about what to choose this year I decided to go easy on my self. After all, I already have a phrase I’m working with and it goes along with my belief that moving forward in life shouldn’t be rushed. It plays right into the belief that changing life’s habits can take time as well as effort.

My own saying “Live Gently, Love Passionately” reminds me to take on life with simplicty and unashamed kindness.

We must treat ourselves, others and the world we live in with kindness. We would do well to focus on loving without limits. If we truly bring unconditional love into every situation and regard life as a precious commodity then we find the strength to change what needs to be changed.

Let’s do something really new this year. Let’s take the whole year moment by moment. Treasure the joyous, learn from the painful and move into the freedom that each day holds. We will gently move forward with deliberate steps, trying new ways to conquer old problems.

In those small movements may we all find a new resolve and a new focus as well.

This article originally appeared at NRTODAY.COM

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A Note to My Email Subscribers

Sorry for flood in your inbox this morning. I’m in the middle of trying to move my “private posts” to “public” and it automatically emails them to you.

I’ll be doing this every now and then so I will try to keep them in categories.

This batch was a food fest of sorts.

Thanks for you understanding and please don’t leave me.

Jemelene

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