For the Love of Owning My Own Life

For the Love of Owning My Own Life


Several years ago I sort of set out on a journey to own my own life.

For me it meant embracing the good and facing the ugly in my world.

Dealing with imperfections and coming up with plans to work on them opened my eyes to beauty peeking out of the cracks and breaks in my systems. Layer upon layer of life–the bold goodness, the nuanced depth, the obvious flaws–began calling me to greater risk and steadier faith.






Long before I read the pages of For the Love, I had begun the painful process of figuring out what to show up for, if I wanted to have a life that I loved.

Late one night, while finishing up a long day at a Brighten A Corner project, I scrolled casually down my Facebook feed to see that Jen Hatmaker was creating a launch group for her latest book. 500 everyday folks would get an advanced copy, join a private Facebook page, and help to promote the book upon its release….It sounded like an adventure and an opportunity to learn something new. Plus I have this friend who I believe will publish a book someday soon, so I thought perhaps I could steal get a line on some great ideas for her.

Apparently 4,999 other people thought it would be fun, too. Imagine that.

I was tickled when I got an e-mail a few weeks later saying that I had been picked for the launch group, would be receiving my book in the mail soon, and was added to the For the Love Launch Group on Facebook. I decided not to watch from a distance, but to show up and own the opportunity. In an instant everyone else on Facebook disappeared.

The Launch Girls were my world.

I shared prayer requests. I prayed for others. I had an opinion for everyone about everything. I survived the Supreme Court Decision while disagreeing passionately with people. I learned how to hashtag. I grew as a writer because of the input and support of the team. I found delightful friends. I laughed until I cried. I wept over losses. I shook my head in awe at how wacky life can be.

I lived out the words of the book that brought us all together.

Which is why I can’t recommend it highly enough.



Life is a kick in the pants. Being a Jen Hatmaker fan has been a bi-polar experience for me. I have liked and unliked her page numerous times based on a moment, or a mood, or a half-understood perception.

Sometimes I just don’t get it.

This book, this group, this season of life forced me to figure out if I was looking for agreement or honesty.  I realized if I want a life that profoundly honors God, I was going to have to get used to the tension that comes with differences. Living in that tension is where the love people talk about really exists. It is not waiting for me to surround myself with homogenized versions of me. It is tucked away in community with variety.


The book and the launch team could not have come at a better time. My life is richer, fuller, more on track to my dreams in the Lord than it has been in a long, long time. I so, so, so want that for you. I want you, and me, to own our lives. There is so much room for others when we do….THIS is what I am talking about:

Now fully able to cheer wildly for friends and colleagues, I am free to be me without the constrictive mesh netting around my heart. Everyone else is free to be themselves, and I am thrilled about us all. For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker.



To The Lady Behind Me at Target

I knew it was going to be a long day. I warned my Facebook friends to that effect.

Ryan, my precious little peanut, has a canker sore the size of Texas on her tongue. She chewed the dickens out of her mouth after having a cavity filled. And now the bugger hurts. Bad.

First thing this morning, she was (what my mother would call) caterwauling. Howling and sad, she slammed doors and threw fits.

This is entirely out of character for her.




Add to that, sometime in the last few months she decided she wouldn’t be a good sport about taking medicine. Apparently, roughly 37,000 pleasant doses was her limit. (After one particular surgery she needed medicine 22 times each day.)

So it was a necessary battle to give her something for the pain and rinse her mouth out in an attempt to help her sore heal. You see, next week she and I are boarding a plane to fly across the country to meet with a speech therapist who specializes in oral motor placement therapy. We are investing time and money on the chance someday she might be able to talk, and a wounded mouth is something we desperately don’t need.

For special needs families there is often a tension. The risk of hope is the fear of disappointment. The dreams I have for my daughter make me incredibly vulnerable. That insecurity can follow me around, creating its own place in my world. Today, you stepped into that space, uninvited.

So my daughter poked your bread. Was it so important that you needed to correct her? We were checking out, almost through our shopping adventure. It was Target for goodness sakes, not Mr. Holme’s Bakehouse.

Although my response of, “The next time a friend of yours talks about the difficulty of parenting kids with special needs, I want you to remember how important your bread was to you that day at Target,” was not my finest moment, it was actually proof that I have grown.

Truly, it’s only because Jesus lives that your bread didn’t look like this:


That talk about fits of rage in Galatians? It is aimed at me. And through the grace of God I struggle much less than I used to, yet I still am not perfect. Telling my daughter to stop poking your bread almost made me forget I don’t like to lose my temper.

Now…I am not saying it is good behavior for a child to poke a loaf of bread, but telling someone else’s child what to do is to enter into sacred space. In our world there are many people allowed in that place; staff at school, friends and family, people at church. I don’t believe your loaf of bread gave you that right, with my daughter.

What should you have done? I am so glad you asked.

  • You could have let it go. You’re a mom. You’ve heard the song. It’s good advice. The truth is I am a fairly strict mother. While I was busy swiping my card to pay and didn’t see the infraction, I certainly wouldn’t have let it continue once I noticed, had you just given me the chance. The statistical odds of Ryan having poked your bread more than once or twice without me noticing are slim…In all likelihood the bread was going to survive.
  • You could have moved the bread. Problem solved. Move it away from the curious finger of my daughter without bossing around someone else’s child.
  • You could have distracted her. You say you take care of special needs kids? Then certainly you have learned the art of distractions. Sometimes a pleasant, “How are you?” can interrupt harmless, inconvenient behavior.

There were many choices, but your choice made one thing clear: Your bread was more important to you than my daughter’s feelings or camaraderie with another mom. Seriously, I hope the sandwich is good.

To be clear, I am not a helicopter mother who protects my kids from everything, and ignores the world around me for fear of interfering. That’s not my style at all.

I have stepped in front of stranger’s kids when they were clearly misbehaving and about to run in the street. Once, at the community pool, I heard a mom say, “It’s time to go.” And a boy yell, “No!”

Then that boy, with the body language of naughtiness emanating, walked into the middle of the kiddy pool.

I had my sundress on and was gathering the towels and snacks of my girls when I turned to see his mother. She was in a wheelchair. Without a moment’s hesitation I asked, “Would you like me to go get him?”

“Would you?” She pleaded. I said I’d be happy to.

I walked into the pool, grabbed his hand and returned him to his grateful mother. Solidarity, people. But here’s the gig: I would never interfere with someone else’s child for the sake of my own comfort. Never.

Safety first, always. I don’t even think–it just happens. And if a mom clearly needs a helping hand I can give? No problem. I am happy to have her back.

But to interfere with parenting without allowing the mother time to speak, over something so trivial, is yucky. Your bread was clearly more important to you than I hope any loaf of bread ever will be to me.

I hope tomorrow is a better day for both of us.