Show Up. Be Seen. Tell the Truth. Be Free.

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.

So. Have I told you guys about my friend Jen? Years ago, my friend Kim asked me, “Have you heard about this book where a lady gives up seven things over seven months and writes about it?” She did not sell that book well because I said, “Um. No thank you. That sounds boring and stupid.” And then the universe laughed at me because here I am, many years after Kim loaned me a book called 7.

I was a committed Jen Hatmaker fan.

I started following Jen on all three of her main social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. She is hilarious and wise and has a heart for those who are “the least of these.” And when she announced her newest book, set to come out in 2015, I was stoked. At the beginning of 2015, Jen posted about her launch team opportunities. I quickly filled out the form and didn’t think of anything of it, especially not when she shared on social media that 5,000 people applied and only 500 were chosen. I was sure I wasn’t in that group — but I was, and when I found out int he grocery store, I screamed. Out loud. My apologies to those behind me in the express lane at Vons. #awkward

I’ve read this book several times and I’ve been involved in the launch team community for nearly six months now. And every time I reread the book, I am struck by how I see Jen’s words unfolding in my very own reality. That is the heart of this book. It’s a pause in an incredibly stressful world and a reminder that women can show grace to one another. There is so much truth packed in these pages.

I especially love what Jen has to to say about telling the truth. It ties in so nearly to the concept of grace. We don’t show grace to ourselves or others even though we’ve been shown ample grace by a graceful, generous God. As women, I think we so often get trapped in a cycle of shame – something tragic or sad happens to us, and instead of speaking out, we are shamed by others and by ourselves and we let those feelings fester. The same so thoroughly covers the grace that we forget it’s there.

What if we didn’t allow that fear to be the controlling force in our lives? What if, and just go with me, when these awful things happened to us — we spoke up? Certainly we can’t tell all of our truth to every person, but as appropriate we can share some pieces of our hard places with others? Jen writes:

We are watching the light when truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has nowhere to hide. Show up. Be seen. Tell the truth. Be free.

We are watching the light when truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has nowhere to hide. Show up. Be seen. Tell the truth. Be free.

That’s it. We open our mouths and we let the light out. Light burns up darkness. Light always wins when we let it. You know why? Because when we speak the truth, when we let the light win, we steal the power that darkness has over us. When we share, we transition from powerless to powerful.

Simply speaking the truth out loud is healing in and of itself. When people courageously voice a true, hard thing, they've already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it.

Simply speaking the truth out loud is healing in and of itself. When people courageously voice a true, hard thing, they’ve already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it.

In our launch team group, I am seeing this truth lived out. Women who know Jesus and who don’t and who are uncertain have shared it all — marriage problems. alcohol abused. drug abuse. abortion. rape and sexual abuse. infidelity. so much more. And every time someone shares something, another woman says, “… hey, me, too.” We are breaking the power of darkness and shame buy allowing others to know they aren’t alone.

Goodness. A book has started to reveal this avalanche of grace. And the good news it, it’s not our avalanche of grace — it’s God’s. I love how the Gospel is threaded throughout For the Love. We have this grace because of Jesus, not because of ourselves. And I am ever so thankful to read that in these pages. Jen reminds readers of a basic truth: Jesus will never, even fail us.

When people fail you -- and they will -- Jesus is ever faithful. When circumstances tank -- and they will -- Jesus will hold you fast. He is the most trustworthy, dependable Savior, and you will never be alone.

When people fail you — and they will — Jesus is ever faithful. When circumstances tank — and they will — Jesus will hold you fast. He is the most trustworthy, dependable Savior, and you will never be alone.

It’s been an honor to read, reread, and fall in love with Jen’s words. If you haven’t read it, do! It’s available for your e-reader and in all possible book vendors, including Target (which is crazy cool!).

Don’t forget, life is hard. My wise friend Jen says this:

We’ll stumble; that’s part of the course, but we’ll leave no woman behind. Our generation will cross the finish line having loved God and people with all our might.

Maybe we will stumble, but friends — we will finish well.

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And PS — if you’ve made it this far, join me on Instagram tomorrow. I’ll be giving away a copy of For the Love. You can find me under @kristaonpurpose. See you then!

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six and three and one

Dear Charisse,

Today is a weird day. It’s the first day of sixth grade. You’re in a new school and there will be lots of new people around you for the first time in so many years. Recently mama and I were talking about the first day of school plans and as usual I’m taking you, and while we were talking mama said something that made me catch my breath:

“You only have three more times to take her to school on the first day. Then I’ll take her with me.”

I’ve been the luckiest sissy in the whole world because I’ve gotten to be there with you on every first day and every last day. You are my life’s greatest treasure so it’s an honor to be with you on these days, but mama’s right. Just three more left.

One. You are my number one girl. And we’ve got three more years of first days, so let’s get this first day of sixth grade started.

Middle school is hard, sister. Girls get mean and catty and I hope and pray with all of my heart that you will be spared and protected from that hurt, but I know you might not be. This morning as I drop you off, I am praying that your classmates are kind to you, and that if they aren’t, you are still kind to them. As your sister, it’s been a privilege watching you grow up into a tender, kind-hearted, compassionate girl, and I hope that your first day of middle school — and this entire year, in fact — are chances for you to showcase that heart of yours. If you are kind, you will be successful, no matter what happens. And I am so hopeful for you because your ooze genuine kindness.

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Yesterday we took a sister date and had breakfast at IHOP. As we were leaving, we started talking about middle school and I read you the quote below and said it was all I hoped for you in middle school — that you would stand up for those being bullied because you have before. And you told me how you fit in with so many groups in elementary school, the popular kids and the geeks and the nerds and the sporty kids and the boys and the girls. I felt my heart tighten and loosen and I told you, “You have great influence in those groups. You can be a bridge-builder between people. That is such a cool thing to be able to do.” And it’s true. Being able to cross those boundary lines will serve you well as you begin middle school. I can’t wait to watch you create new friend groups and unite people.

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I see you embracing others. I see you giving them your kindness. And I know you’ll get to practice it every day.

imageIf I could just tell you a single thing this morning, on the first day of sixth grade, I would tell you this: Be you, because you are superb. You really, truly are. You laugh at yourself. You possess a confidence I envy. Your smile brightens up every room. You know the words to a billion songs. You kiss your dogs and make goofy voices and you do crafts and you love to read books. You love funky hair colors and you’re a tomboy and Harry Potter crazy. I love you with all of my heart and I wouldn’t want to see you anything but the exact way you are.

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I said it before and I want to say it again — whatever you do today and in the year to come, I ask of you one thing: Be you, because you are superb. I read that in an awesome book and it’s never been more true than when I look in your face. You radiate love and hope and humor and so much more. You have an infectious giggle and you march to your own drumbeat. You’re confident in who you are — you are authentic at an age where authenticity is beginning to fade. Oh sister. I beg you, remain true to yourself.

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That drumbeat is all your own. Don’t let the world slow it down, or stop it all together, or steal it from you and try to make it their own, or change the way it beats. That’s your choice and no one else’s. I love the sound and rhythm you make. So do mama and daddy man. Your drumbeat is the music to our ears. If you sacrificed that special unique and authentic part of you for anything else, I think my heart might explode from sadness.

I will love you for a thousand years, and then a thousand more, and then a thousand more… a thousand thousands, a million millions. On this first day of sixth grade, I pray with my entire being that you know that love.

xoxo
Sissy

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All quotes taken from the “Dear Kids” chapter from the book For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, which releases today (8.18.15). I’ll be posting every day this week about it so please come by to read a more thorough review, and stop by on Friday to win a copy of the book yourself. You can purchase the book today: Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble |   CBD