Do you see this woman above… Did you play her video…Don’t you love her scarf?
Well, this woman has been a catalyst in my life. Some people have been transformed by books, authors, individuals that they run into on their path of life, and God has used this woman, Jen Hatmaker to change me. I am an example of the person she talks about in the clip above.
Let me start at the very beginning… it’s a very good place to start (so they say).
5 years ago I attended the BGCO’s woman’s conference at Falls Creek, America. I sat in a breakout session on “How to Study Your Bible” (or something to that affect) with 50 other women. There I was, sitting next to one of my dearest friends JenN (who will come back up in a minute) and we listened. Jen Hatmaker got straight to the point, and spoke on the importance of God’s word. She debunked any excuses I had for NOT reading through the Old Testament. She expected me to read the names that I couldn’t pronounce, and told me I was to love the law, the genealogies, and the rich history of Israel because God purposefully put it in his WORD! I sat there, probably with my jaw wide open, because I was guilty on all accounts. I skipped the long names, I had never intentionally studied the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), and I was a disciple of bible study authors, NOT THE WORD OF GOD!! I had attended church my entire life and did not know the God whom I served. (This is my story… Yours might be completely different)
She handed out an UGLY 2 page list of questions (Not even 1 piece of clip art for crying out loud!) and resources to aid in studying the BIBLE, and she introduced me to my favorite man EVER, Matthew Henry. It was as if she handed me the map and set me assail on a journey that changed my life. The most important thing she told me in that session was to STUDY the Bible, do not merely read it through. And don’t be ashamed if in that process you are stuck in one chapter for a month, because you are there to understand it, not to read it!
It was the first time in my life a woman looked at me and talked straight. She did not talk about self doubt, worry/anxiety, body image, raising godly kids, or other “typical” woman topics… she basically said, if you do not know what is in here (and she held up the Bible) then you are kidding yourself if you say you are a Christian. (And that is when my head went down and my heart sank, because she was speaking to me)
So… I left that weekend, which was in March 2009 (I believe) and I opened my Bible and began to study. A fire was lit in my heart, I suddenly had a hunger for God’s word that was untamed and unquenched. God began speaking to me. He chipped away the scales from my eyes and showed me that the God I serve is incomprehensible, unpredictable, jealous, loving, sovereign and purposeful.
|My Bible is LITERALLY falling APART!!! This is all because it has been read, reread and read again.|
|The ugly list of questions still reside in my Bible. Along with my own doodles of genealogies, timelines, and family trees.|
Fast forward 2 years… A friend of mine called me up and said that Jen Hatmaker was coming to Laverne, OK… A teensy town in NW Oklahoma. My husband is from a town near Laverne so we made the destination to see the woman who had changed our life. I am pretty sure no more than 30 women showed up to this conference, so we got to meet Jen. I was thrilled. Finally I could meet the woman who had given me the keys to unlocking this thing called “Christianity”… what was I to say? Maybe I should just fall to her feet and cry. I had no words to express how thankful to her I am…
The time came for us to introduce ourselves. My friends and I walk up to the table.
Jen Hatmaker is talking and babbling… random things are the typical subject of conversation like, “I love your necklace”, “Where are you from?”… I over heard she was awaiting to adopt 2 children from Africa…. I kept listening to other women talk and carry on effortless conversation with her. All of them seemed so funny and cute… the line was inching closer to my turn… and still… I had no idea what to say. This woman doesn’t know me. She has no clue that I sat in that room a few years ago and since then my life has been transformed….
Finally it was my turn.
I walk up to the table.
I didn’t have any books for her to “sign” let alone anything to say. I was at a loss for words (which has never happened in my entire life!!)
My mouth opens and out comes, “Hi… ” then an awkward silence sets in. A pause that both Jen Hatmaker and I could tell was just a little too long. The scene almost mimicked a 12 year old girl meeting Justin Beiber for the first time, or when my husband’s friend Taylor comes over and my 2 1/2 daughter hides between my legs because she is just so overcome.
After the awkward pause… we bring up some random topic, talk to a few seconds and I then let the girl behind me take over.
Big. Fat. Meetingmysuperhero. FAIL.
I cried 1 tear, then my friends and I laughed.
And to this day, it is a moment we laugh about ALL.THE.TIME. “Remember when Heather bombed in front of Jen Hatmaker…bahahahhaha”.
Through the major disappointment of my social fail, God still moved…. in the middle of “Nowhere America” God used Jen Hatmaker to change my life…AGAIN. This time. She addressed the verse John 1:17
“For the law was given through Moses; GRACE and TRUTH came through Jesus Christ”.
What a small verse, with such grand meaning. Here, I was studying through the Old Testament, seeing God use Moses in so many ways… And now she hits me with GRACE and TRUTH. Yes. Jesus came to bring truth, to break the curse of sin, to allow us communion with God the Father… oh… but yes, He also brought GRACE… and GRACE must precede TRUTH. Is that how I communicate my friends, family, children… by letting grace precede truth?! (Guilty again!)
Well… because of that encounter and the impact of this verse on my life it has become our household mission. “To live in Grace and Truth” ANNNDDDD my husband wrote a song about Grace and Truth. (And this song was recently put onto a CD that will be distributed through Interlinc and will be in the hands of over 60,000 high school graduates. Who else could use more Grace and Truth than fresh little 18 year olds about to enter the real world!!). Here is a shameless link to my husbands song, please have a listen.
Sooo… again. God used that encounter with Jen to impact so many.
My story is not over.
1 year after my Laverne, OK encounter I was given an opportunity to redeem myself. I volunteer for a non-profit organization in Oklahoma City called The Spero Project. Once a year The Spero Project puts on an event called MARKED. They did a short 3 day seminar following Marked focusing on Women who work with marginalized women. Sadly my son had the flu, so I couldn’t attend the entire event, but I did attend the session that Jen was speaking at. It was by invitation only, and 15-20 women were expected to attend. I called up my friend Jenn, (the one mentioned above) and gloated a bit. And of course she paid me back by sending me texts like, “So are you holding Jen’s hand yet?”, “Are you braiding each other’s hair?” Which just made me laugh and increased my nervousness…by a million.
So after Jen Hatmaker rocked my world yet again with a message on the Sabbath, we had some “socializing” time… I tried to plan my approach a little better than the last one. I had words to say. It was a less formal setting. I could be real… Finally she had made the rounds, and it was my turn to say my spiel.
I took a deep breath, walked up and introduced myself. As I was introducing myself… I kicked over a tall glass of Orange juice, causing a gigantic mess. Ahhhhh…. fooled again!!! Of course we stopped cleaned up the mess, and each went our separate ways. (Doh, Heather!) And. Again. I was a clumsy klutz and missed my opportunity to spill my heart and guts out to the person who helped to refocus my life.
So… 6 months ago 2 different PEOPLE bought me tickets to see Jen Hatmaker when she came to our city… lol. I guess word had spread inside my inner circle that I kinda liked her. My friend Jenn (the one who sent me the funny texts during my last JH encounter) and I let our husbands watch the kiddos and we went to see our lovely lady, expecting to be changed.. yet again.
Jenn (my friend) had recently finished “7” and she wanted Jen Hatmaker to sign her book. I kindly obliged and accompanied her in line whilee she waited. My plan of action this time was to smile and look cute…surely I couldn’t screw that up??? We finally got to the front and Jen Hatmaker looks right in my eyes and says… “Have we met before?”….
|This is me… 3 weeks POST BABY… So don’t mind my swollen face and frumpy clothes. I was just happy to be out of the house AND…. my friend Jenn on the right, ain’t she purty?!|
My friend Jenn and I looked at each other and laughed…. (Oh, if you only knew Jen Hatmaker, if you only knew). Without divulging any details of our encounter(S), I told her I attended last years Post-Marked put on by The Spero Project and then took a picture with her. (ABOVE…AND a picture which my dear friend framed and gave me for Christmas so I could keep it by my bedside. She is just that funny.)
The root of this post is that ONE Person can make a difference. I am forever grateful that Jen Hatmaker has been obedient to her call. (Her other books as equally amazing, but Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study is BY FAR THE BEST and most important book she has ever put an ounce of energy into. You can give your clothes away all day, you can eat spinach for a year, but if you do not know how to study the Bible your are missing out)
Keep being super bold.
Keep uniquely equipping women.
Keep looking injustice in the eye.
Keep building up the bride of Christ.
Keep bringing honesty and truth to the stage.
Keep your humor.
Keep being a Mom, a wife, and a disciple.
(and you are lucky Christine Caine join Women of Faith with you…. I almost had to jump ship) 😉