by Jen Hatmaker on December 14th, 2017

Tracking your history, have you noticed that Christmas produces an inevitable cocktail of unintentional sabotage, overreactions, and meltdowns (or total withdrawal)? Do the best of days ended in tears, yelling, and devastation? Do you end the season curled up in a ball, confused how these lovely moments keep going sideways?
Big Day Sabotage is no joke, man.
For all my friends who parent someone with unrealistic expectations, or you're related (or married) to someone like this, as well as grownups who also sabotage Big Days unwittingly, you're not alone. Maybe you find yourself wrecking Big Days like Christmas, feeling frustrated year after year at your own self. Perhaps this will be helpful for you too, dear one. So many factors contribute to this grief and self-preserving behavior; being abandoned is one contributor, but other circumstances result in the same reaction.
First, the WHY. This is multifaceted and certainly varies from person to person:
WHY: Abandonment, that common old culprit, is a deep shame so entrenched, most affected people don’t even know they are operating out of it. Whether with full memories in hand or not, it doesn’t matter. The narrative is: I wasn’t good enough to keep or to stay with or to stand by or to love well. This may affect children you are parenting, or it could be residual pain from your own childhood - someone left you, walked away, or maybe even lived in your home but was entirely absent. This sense of unworthiness is so deep, it takes a lifetime of intentional work to overcome. What shame says is this: I am not worthy of love, happiness, or goodness. It seems ridiculous to those who love that person, but those affections can’t erase a hard story. When someone doesn’t feel worthy of happiness on Big Days, he or she might sabotage to hasten the disappointment before it gets to them first. Double bonus if that behavior triggers someone else' anger, because then shame is validated.
WHY: Big Days trigger Big Feelings. No matter the extreme (good or bad), it is all INTENSE and triggering. It conjures the most tender emotions, the most volatile responses, kind of like laughing hysterically at a funeral. Of course the reaction seems outrageous, but Big is Big and when a traumatized or sensitive person opens the door to Big, everything is free to spill out. Some folks spend so much energy keeping a lid on their pain and fear and trying to just “act normal,” so when permission is granted to feel all their feels, both ends of the spectrum dump their restrained contents and it is a cluster of hysteria.
WHY: For many people, exiting the safe space of ordinary, regulated, predictable routine and entering the scary space of extraordinary, disregulated, unpredictable practice is very disruptive. When your insides feel out of control, it is incredibly calming to have a schedule you can count on; no big surprises to derail, no left field scenarios to navigate, no uncertain activities to worry about. Big Days not only produce exceptional emotions (not normal), but everyone else places heightened expectations on the impending (not normal) celebration, and the stress is unmanageable.
Or the opposite. Maybe you (or someone you love) place your own unreasonable expectations on Big Days. Someone might imagine a narrative so impossible, so idealistic, so over-the-top, every normal detour is devastating. The desire to craft the Most Perfect Day Ever reaches a fever pitch, and with the slightest wobble to the plan, that person comes unraveled. He or she wants to control the outcome all the way to perfection, but that doesn’t exist and inner shame trumps it anyway. That person falls from an exceptional height of Expectations + “I am unworthy of happiness.”
WHY: Regret and sadness. You know what? It is just sad to remember grief or pain or loss, whether it happened early or just this year. Big Days can be a reminder of what should have been but wasn’t, all that was lost, all that will never be. While others seem to happily skip through every charmed Christmas memory, the sensitive, fragile heart feels lonely and isolated from the merriment, alone in very real feelings of sadness.
So here are some suggestions for Big Days:
If possible, shrink the runway to Big Days. The longer the season (THANKS FOR NOTHING CHRISTMAS SEASON THAT NOW STARTS IN OCTOBER), the greater the stress. It’s just too much to worry about for too long. So if possible, don’t say a word until the day before or day of. On seasons like Christmas, the next suggestion is helpful…
Which is this: lower stimulation all around. The conventional American approach suggests that MORE Christmas is called for. Let’s make so many beautiful memories! We’ll give you all the magic! But it can have the opposite effect. Too much stimulus, too many feelings, too much activity, too many opportunities to fall apart. Keep Big Days (and seasons) simple. Don't overschedule or overhype. The calmer an activity is, the less noise and people, the better. And don’t talk about those activities until they are practically happening. Less is more.
Try to manage expectations. Cast simple, manageable vision for Big Days: this is what we’ll do, this is who will be there, this is what we won’t be doing, this is about how long it will last. If possible, address unrealistic expectations early; better now than someone obsess for weeks then face disappointment times one million. (I had a hard conversation with a kid a couple of years ago because she kept asking for an iPhone. I finally said, “Honey, you are not getting an iPhone. No 3rd grader in this family has ever had an iPhone. Let’s let that go right now so you don’t expect one on Christmas morning.” Once that stressor was gone, she did not worry about it for the next 10 days then despair on Christmas morning.) When someone tips their hand toward unrealistic expectations, manage them then and there. And if the unrealistic expectation is yours, sit your own self down and talk yourself out of the rafters. Paint a realistic picture for your mind and try to untangle from dreamy scenarios that will unlikely happen.
If it is appropriate, lots of touching and pauses for affection. This has a calming effect on my entire family actually. When you see one of your people spiraling, it helps to pull them on your lap, rub their backs, and redirect their attention for a few minutes. It is a physical solution to an emotional problem. It often works like a reset button. If it is you? Talk someone into scratching your back or rubbing your hands or shoulders for five minutes. (One of my best friends likes to have a small touch during Big Moments. I'll reach over and rest my hand on her forearm and tell her, "Who loves you? Me.")
Finally, talk in advance about how Big Feelings might show up. Recall other Big Days and identify emotions. Validate, validate, validate, making sure your Big Day Struggler hears that he or she is NOT a bad person wrecking a perfectly good day. (And you may need to tell this to yourself, dear one.) Talk about fear and sadness and feelings of scarcity and how that shows up, and give them full permission to feel it all. Assure them that whether they get a handle on it or not, they could not possibly make you love them less, and if the worst thing that happens is they have a bad day, then no big deal. Everyone gets to have bad days. It’s not a deal breaker.
Just taking that pressure off is so helpful. Feeling less alone in anxiety, confusion, and shame is so healing. The message is: We are in this together, and just knowing that makes us all less afraid.
For those of us managing a lot of hearts and lives, it helps to take our own expectations out of the stratosphere, and if a Big Day goes beautifully, then HUZZAH!! If it doesn’t, it is just a day and we are looking at the long road with our people, right?
To all parents doing this hard work and to grown-ups with sabotaging behaviors and worries about these Big Days ahead, I just love you. We’ll just keep working, keep trying, keep loving, and keep forgiving ourselves when it all goes sideways. You are not alone, know that. So many of us are right there with you, doing the stuff, having victories and flat-out disasters. But we are trying and we care and we Love Big and that counts.
The merriest of Christmases to you, friends. And if the whole Big Day goes in the gutter, there is always the egg nog.
What is your experience here? What do you see? What do you do? How do you help?

by Jen Hatmaker on May 4th, 2017

Once upon a time, a girl ate whatever she wanted and quit exercising and treated her body like a dumpster fire and then she couldn't fit into any of her pants. The chubby girl cried. Also all her joints cried.

The end. 

I can't possibly imagine what is wrong with a steady diet of goat cheese enhanced dishes, chips and salsa, pizza, and Almond Joy coffee creamer, but somehow it all turned me into an achy, squishy lady with fingers that wouldn't bend in the mornings. With a near constant rotation of friends, dinner parties, events, and celebrations, my world had too much joy in it for sensible ideas. Like my friend Shonna says, "Our lives are too fun to be skinny." You are correct, ma'am. 

But after a lovely round of GOUT (what am I, a 78-year-old man?) following chronic inflammation, fairly unattractive bloating (BRANDON IS A LUCKY GUY - eyes up here, bro), and basically my entire body turning to pudge, I figured it was time to act like an adult and get serious. It occurred to me that a 42-year-old body gets pretty sick to bloody death of being treated like a 16-year-old body, so it throws in the towel and stages a mutiny. My body was having none of this. It was so angry at the bad choices my mouth was making. 

So I asked the internet what to do, and it gave me Whole30

For the uninitiated: W30 means no gluten, grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol. ALSO, no processed food, fake healthy food, soy anything, or basic joy. Essentially, look at everything in your pantry: it is all dead to you. Half your fridge: bye, Felicia. Restaurants: fix it, Jesus.

Me at restaurants this month: "Can you tell me what the chicken is cooked in? Is there sugar in the dressing? Can you leave off the cheese/bread/breading/peanuts/sauce? Can I get that on the side? Can you make that dry? Will you tell me all the ingredients in that soup? Can you just put a plain piece of fish on the plate and bring it to me?"

Waiter: "I hate this job."

Anyway, I did it, y'all. I did the thing. I did the W30 and didn't cheat except for one time I accidentally ate chorizo that had sugar in it but I didn't know that until my sis-in-law told me the next day, so it doesn't count as a cheat if I DIDN'T MEAN TO. Trust me, if I wanted to cheat this month, it sure as crap wouldn't have been on chorizo. I would have gone face down in a trough of chips and queso with a wine chaser. 

I promised you at the beginning of this I wouldn't over-exaggerate the effects of W30 ("I lost my left arm and Whole30 grew it back in eight days!"), because none of us have time for the online evangelists. I can't handle someone who has been a vegetarian for four days telling me how their hair is already growing back from its red-meat-related atrophy. Stop it. You ate a cheeseburger 92 hours ago. 

So in full truth, here were the benefits of W30 for this lazy, undisciplined girl: 

1. Halfway through, my inflammation was for real better. Before, I looked like the Snow White witch every morning with my gnarled fingers, but I could bend them like Beckham at about the 14 day mark. My knuckles were less swollen and I fit back into some rings. Basically, my fingers went on a diet and now they work. 

2. I slept better. I have no idea why, but I did. I also slept more simply because some nights I was so bored and couldn't have any snacks (don't come at me with your snap peas) and didn't want to drink ANOTHER SIP OF HOT TEA and I didn't know how else to pass the time so I just went to bed. 

3. I lost 12 pounds. I know, I know: "It's not a weight loss program." Well, I lost 12 pounds, jokers. It's like unloading a very oversized baby. Thus, back into a few pairs of jeans that I had simply asked too much of 12 pounds ago. They were like, HELP US HELP YOU. PUT DOWN THE HOAGIE. WE'VE DONE ALL WE CAN DO HERE. YOU NEED A NEW CONTAINMENT STRATEGY. 

4. My favorite benefit sounds pretty woowoo, but it was simply a lifting of brain fog. I know I sound like one of the online evangelists here, but I really did think better. I DID. Maybe it is that I could think longer - I normally kiss mental acuity goodbye around 1:00pm. I just lose steam and get mentally garbled; it's hard to hang onto ideas and wrangle them into submission. But I looked at my brain this month and said, "Hello, thoughts. How nice to see you again. Look at all these lovely thoughts you're thinking!" It was probably a function of digesting 8937 pounds of coconut oil, notorious brain food, but my head is operating better and longer.

5. Actually maybe this is the best benefit: the emotional victory of making a healthy decision based on self-discipline and seeing it through. At the onset, I looked at my calendar and thought: There is no way I can pull this off. Too many events, too many social things, too many guests coming over, Easter, Savor Food and Wine Festival, two weekends of out-of-town company, Supper Club, work travel. BUT I DID IT. Like a real life adult. It is possible. (My best hacks and tips are here.) After such a run of unchecked indulgence, showing restraint for 30 straight days felt like an enormous accomplishment. I'm not doomed! I'm not a lost cause! I'm not stuck in bad habits after all! The discipline spilled over into some other areas too, because while I was getting my crap together, I figured I might as well spread it around. 

Like I told you here and here, I for sure had some rough days, but here is some good news: Nobody can actually make you eat or drink anything you don't want to. No one asks you to leave their dinner party if you don't eat the French bread. No one quits talking to you if you are drinking club soda instead of a cocktail. I made my own choices everywhere I went and even as I was hosting, and exactly no one died. 

Furthermore, I didn't miss out on hardly anything, or the best parts of it all at any rate. Still got the great conversation, amazing company, beautiful gatherings, all the fun. Still had the people, the experiences, the celebrations, and the connections. Also, I still ate food. So yay! And the food was good, even if I ended up making whackadoo stuff like cashew creme over squash "pasta." The worst thing is that I was annoying and people had to endure my abuse of the word "compliant" which is W30 vernacular guaranteed to make us all outcasts. 

W30 Happy Hour. This is water. LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. 

​​Maybe this will tell you the best truth: I feel so good and have conquered so much of the mental challenge of W30, I am mostly going to still do it. My goal is maybe 80%. Because listen, I can't worry too much about a smidge of sugar in my ketchup. LET ME LIVE, HUMAN BEINGS. I'm not saying I plan to Cookie Monster a pile of cupcakes, but if my chipotle aioli has some soybean oil in it, I don't even care because I'm a good person and Jesus loves me. 

Finally, I will tell you this: my greatest lament during W30 was coffee. I know: bulletproof coffee and the nutpods and the ghee and the blender and I KNOW, PURISTS. I did that shiz. And then everyone was like, you won't like your old creamer when you go back to it because it will taste like a highchair tray. 

So on W31, I put my Almond Joy creamer into my coffee and I will tell you exactly what it tasted like: 

Unabridged joy and fulfilled dreams. 

80%, suckers. I'LL SPEND MY OTHER 20% HOWEVER I WANT. 

by Jen Hatmaker on April 14th, 2017

I spent a bit of time yesterday reading pieces I’ve written on Good Friday for the last several years. They all have a different tone, a different perspective, a different sense of the day Jesus saved the world. 

This year is different yet again. If you’ll permit me grace to speak absolutely plainly, I'll tell you a bit of how loss and grief and rejection will pulverize your heart and deliver you to Good Friday in pretty bad shape, or in any case, in the throes of recovery. 

Good Friday is about death - even a necessary death - and that makes more sense to me now than maybe ever. It speaks of a dark day and broken hearts, unmet expectations, mob mentality turned brutal. When I consider that day now, in 2017, it all feels insane, blood-thirsty, the punitive result of being on the wrong side of religion. Of course, it was all planned, all intentional; Jesus was out to rescue us. We have the luxury of knowledge; we know about Sunday. We are living in the post-Sunday story, God’s grace to us.

But I get the death part this year, the Good Friday part. All the memes and quips and quotes floating around the internet are falling on a numb heart. This year, I deeply experienced being on the wrong side of religion, and it was soul-crushing. I suffered the rejection, the fury, the distancing, the punishment, and sometimes worst of all, the silence. I experienced betrayal from people I thought loved us. I felt the cold winds of disapproval and the devastating sting of gossip. I received mocking group texts about me, accidentally sent to me; “Oh, we were just laughing WITH you!” they said upon discovery, an empty, fake, cowardly response. It was a tsunami of terror. One hundred things died. Some of them are still dead. Some are struggling for life but I don’t know if they will make it. 

I told you I’d speak plainly.

This year I became painfully aware of the machine, the Christian Machine. I saw with clear eyes the systems and alliances and coded language and brand protection that poison the simple, beautiful body of Christ. I saw how it all works, not as an insider where I’ve enjoyed protection and favor for two decades, but from the outside where I was no longer welcome. The burn of mob mentality scorched my heart into ashes, and it is still struggling to function, no matter how darling and funny I ever appear; the internet makes that charade easy. 

I went to the water as the tsunami crested, and my friend Trina drove out uninvited so I wouldn't be alone. She took this picture and said: "I want you to remember how you felt on this day." I cannot even look at it without sobbing. 

Simultaneously, other things died during the election season. Much ink has been spilled here and I won’t belabor the point, but I know I'm not the only one holding a pile of tattered threads in her hands, wondering what on earth just happened to our supposed holy common ground. The Christian Machine malfunctioned, and we are all still staring at each other, trying our damnedest to figure out how we understand the gospel so differently, unsure if we will ever find our way back to each other. The Christian community has been maligned, mocked, dragged, and dissected publicly, our civil war evident to a watching world. We are a meme. It is truly awful. 

My mind knows the difference between the Christian Machine and Jesus, but this year it feels hard to separate. The whole system seems poisoned, and I struggle to drink any of it. Even as I recognize my cynicism throwing a wet blanket over the credible, sincere declarations of others, I can’t quite stop it. It’s all falling on damaged ears. Every bit of it feels manufactured, brand-building, pretty words that failed me, didn’t show up, joined the chorus that broke my family’s heart. This is plainly unfair, but here I am. 

I think about Good Friday, and somehow I am comforted; typically this day is full of grief for me as a believer living in grace and privilege, unaccustomed to the sting of death and thus struggling to identify with Jesus on his darkest day. Usually, His pain pierces me because I live in such abundance, and the contrast shocks me silent. How could I have this much life when Jesus had to experience that much death? 

But this year, it all makes sense: the death, the anger, the man who never took his place in the machine. This day was lonely for Jesus. It was excruciating, physically and emotionally and spiritually. His people left him, even turned on him. God Himself hid his eyes. The sky went dark and life was extinguished. It was all so sad, so dead, so not yet resurrected. This was a day of tears and shock and loss and fear. It was a day of the cross, not the empty tomb. 

Today, everything falls away and there is only Jesus for me. In His presence, my numb, angry heart gives way and I sob without end. But only with Him. Elsewhere, I have to be careful because I can never be as vulnerable as I was ever again. Everyone else at arm’s length. I’ll be friendly with folks but never again tender. You'll get the strong, varnished version of me but I'll not make the mistake of handing you my true heart. I actually told another person: “I wish you didn’t know as much as you know about me. I wish I could take that knowledge out of your head. I have to trust you with it, and I don’t now.” This is all a clear lie, somewhere between stages two and four of grief, but I'm still in recovery, not through it; I ask your grace. 

I’ve obviously not said any of this to you, dear ones. I like you to see the strong, varnished version as well; it’s better for the brand, I’m told. But I’m tired of being a brand, because it is exhausting and, as it turns out, it tells people I am not a human being who bleeds out. Say anything! Make assumptions! Write a scathing narrative of her faith and faithfulness! After all, she is just a brand. I obviously don’t want you to know how much that stole from me; what I don’t want is more vulnerability right now. But Good Friday compels me to tell the truth about death. Just for a moment, the truth. 

Some of you are simply enduring Good Friday so you can celebrate the victory of Sunday, where your heart lives, and I am so glad for you. I am. That was me last year. Seasons of wholeness and optimism and gratitude are so dear. Cherish it, if that is where you are today. Cherish the abundance of life after the tomb. 

But for those of you hunkered down on Good Friday, identifying with the loss of this day in agonizing ways, ways that you did not want to understand the cross, I am your sister this year. When too many things still feel dead and resurrection feels as unlikely and impossible as it must have on this day all those years ago, I can’t help but believe Jesus has his eye on us specifically. Who can better understand the cross than the man who chose it? Who better to hold us close in our loneliness than the man who was left to suffer all alone? Nobody, not one human being on this earth understands a dark Friday more than Jesus, well before anyone thought to put a “Good” in front of it. 

I believe in the resurrection, so I know it will come. It always does. God wrangles victory out of actual, physical death. The cross taught us that. You can’t have anything more dead than a three-day old dead body, and yet we serve a risen Savior. New life is always possible evidently, well past the moment it makes sense to still hope for it. The empty tomb taught us that. I have enough faith to live a Friday and Saturday existence right now without fear that Sunday won’t come. It will come. I am nearly certain the way it will look will surprise me; I’m watching for the angel on the tombstone. 

by Jen Hatmaker on July 14th, 2016

"I dream it..."

"I work hard..."

"I grind till I own it..."

"Cause I slay."

SLAY ALL DAY. The Ethiopian women above all started their own businesses in Wolaita Sodo this year: a courtyard restaurant, a neighborhood market, a hair salon, a wholesale injera company. These are some things they told us about their lives last year:

"I was caring for my aging parents alone, and we were desperate." ~Estaganet

"My children ate either once a day or none." ~Chaltu

"I had no way to make a living after my husband died." ~Beletech

"I couldn't get work after my husband left me, so I was a daily laborer at constructions sites hauling rocks." ~Genet

There was more, plenty of tragedy and loss and violence. These women and their families have known sorrow, that is for sure. But the short version of their incredible rise is this:

They were all identified as candidates for the Help One Now Family Empowerment Program which they enrolled in around six months back, and every single one is not only financially independent but solidly thriving in the Ethiopian middle class after struggling to feed their children just half a year ago. They have employees, store fronts, vendors, clients, accounting books, equipment, and importantly, honor. Chaltu told us: "People who hated me are now my friends and customers." BOOM.

Let me tell you what the women already had in spades:

Work ethic.

Here is what the Help One Now Family Empowerment Program added:

Business training.
Accounting instruction.
Skills and assets assessment.
In-kind funding.
Materials and equipment.

Together, magic! Magic, I tell you! Each business was tailored to their individual skill set, location, viability, and interests, and they developed a sustainable business plan. After receiving training, business mentoring, and start up funding, they launched.

And they are slaying, y'all.

I told the team while listening to them discuss their stories: "They don't wear any of their sorrow." I'm serious. Having endured what they've endured, I would expect a darkness about them, or at least a dimmed light. But NAH.

The program is one year long. It costs $1000 to send one woman all the way through. That includes all start-up money plus the training, professional development, equipment, and marketing. There is no other way to say this:

It is life changing.

This is not aid, not relief, not a handout. It is not a short-term gap stop. It does not create dependency nor rob women of their dignity. It is an entrepreneurial program that sends capable, smart women into enterprise without debt. It is for Ethiopians, by Ethiopians. We just get to provide the seed money. They graduate from the program financially solvent, never to return to poverty.

And of course, it is orphan prevention as these women can fully provide for their children and their families stay intact. I feel so incredibly tender here, because had this program existed sooner for my favorite Ethiopian Mama, my adopted son would have an entirely different story. It is not right that loving, committed moms have to relinquish their children because of poverty. It's not right. When all they lack is opportunity?? It's not right. (After finding her, we sent Ben's mom, Sentayu, through the program, and she now owns her own tea and coffee shop and has rebuilt her entire life. I am so proud of her but grieve her losses in a way that I can't express. Our reunion with her last week was impossibly sacred.)

All but one of the women we met were single moms except Chaltu whose husband is blind. So don't forget who else the Family Empowerment Program serves:
JD and Aschalew bought lollipops and Cokes from Chaltu's neighborhood market,
passed them out to every kid, raced them,
then sent them home hopped up on sugar and adrenaline.

It's this simple: we want to send 300 new women through the program. If you specialize in math, that amounts to 300K. Think of any vulnerable community. Now imagine that THREE HUNDRED OF ITS COMMUNITY MEMBERS started successful small businesses, emerged from poverty, and began contributing to the local economy.

This doesn't just change individual families; it literally changes the entire community.

THIS IS AN INVESTMENT, not a handout. We have the chance to provide the capital for a slew of motivated, savvy entrepreneurs. They are required to set aside a percentage of their earnings each month, and once they've saved enough to repay their loan...they find out it is a grant and get to reinvest it back into their businesses. (This made me do a Happy Clap.)

Listen, if anyone EVER invested in you - parents, grandparents, aunts, teachers - if you got to go to college or trade school or learn a craft, if anyone ever loaned you start up money or gave you a big break, a second chance, if anyone ever helped you in any way get to where you are now, then you've been exactly where these women are. A small amount becomes a huge tipping point, and their lives will never be the same.

None of us can provide the full 300K, but WHO CAN'T CHIP IN $25? $50? More? Together, we can certainly raise that amount. CERTAINLY. Do not despise the small gift; a bunch of small gifts turns into 300K in a hot minute. (Of course, we don't despise big gifts either!) (*twirls mustache and laughs*) But because we believe in this program so intensely, we want to sweeten the pot for you: You get a bunch of cool, free stuff for joining in. Cause you are the best tribe that ever lived. You really are.

You can donate and find out about your swag here.

When we were leaving Beletech's hair salon, she hollered out: "I AM MY OWN BOSS!!"


Okay ladies, now let's get in formation. Let's show up for our sisters.

by Jen Hatmaker on February 1st, 2016

It's February, which means Valentine's Day is on its way to make some of us feel awesome, some of us feel disappointed, and some of us feel left out. Yay, Invented Holidays!
The internet gave me this, and it has made me laugh for two days.

Anyhow, I couldn't quit thinking about reclaiming V-Day so that everyone wins. I was having a little prayer time with God trying to figure out what I could do to love my people on a day meant for love, and honest to goodness, just like He asked Moses, I had a little soul nudge:

"What do you have in your hand?"

Hmmm. What do I already have? What is in front of me? What do we have together? What am I already holding that might be put to good love use?

Well, I have a book I wrote actually called For the Love, for crying out loud. It is for women, about women, because of women, to empower women, to encourage women, and even to entertain women. I wrote it for the love of God and women.

And we have a big, generous tribe that loves each other well.

So here is what we are going to do:

Hundreds of you have written to me saying how much you would love a copy of For the Love, but you just can't afford it right now. Let me tell you something: NO ONE understands a tight budget more than I do. I am so serious. There were years Brandon and I could barely pay our bills, much less spend money on something as luxurious as a book. (I remember one afternoon when I was holding a newborn and a toddler and had a preschooler hanging on my leg, and Brandon handed me a $20 and said, "This needs to feed us for a week." I sat on the kitchen floor and cried for an hour.)

Maybe that is you.

Or perhaps you know someone who would love a copy but can't afford it. Or won't spend the money on herself. Or doesn't have anyone who will spend it on her. Someone who is precious and deserves to be loved on Valentine's Day but won't have any flowers or beautiful love letters coming her way.

So, today we are opening up a Share the Love site where you can do one of two things:

1. Request a FREE COPY of For the Love. Because you are awesome and I want you to have it.

2. Nominate someone to receive a FREE COPY of For the Love. Because you are awesome and love people well.


We are going to take requests and nominations until this Friday, February 5th.

AT THAT POINT, we will open up a second site for donors and purchasers to send books to all these dear ones, because the one thing I know about our tribe is that we love well. I think we can do this. I think together we can fulfill all the book requests that come in. I believe that we can generously love each other, even with something as simple as a book meant to nurture souls. (Book Givers, it will be a $15 flat fee which includes shipping.) Maybe this is the year you need to request a book, and maybe next year you'll be a book giver. We all take turns needing each other and loving each other.

I have no idea how many requests and nominations we will get. Like, NO IDEA. But I believe in us! I think we can pull it off! Would you join this little V-Day Lovefest with me? Donors can jump in February 5-9, then all books will be shipped on the 10th to land in everyone's mailbox by Valentine's Day!! Isn't that so fun?? (Donors will have the option to include a personal note, so you can love another gal with your words too!)


So. The site is now open! Request a book or nominate someone to receive a book HERE. (If you are nominating someone, you will need their address, so do a little recon to get their details!)

Then watch for my word Friday...I'll let you know how many requests we received which means it is time for the rest of us to get busy!

We are SHARING THE LOVE with each other this year!

(This Love Campaign is only valid for residents of the U.S. and Canada, because SHIPPING ISSUES. I'm so sorry, International Friends!)

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