As most of you will know, I was lucky enough to be chosen to be one of the #500 - the launch team from around the globe, for Jen Hatmaker's new book. And in the process of doing just that, we, the #496 (women) and the #bandoffour (men) have become living proof of what community can do to people. The support, the laughter, the generosity, the love - just overwhelming. What an enormous blessing it has been. So much fun too.
But today is not about us. The 500 will continue to grow as a community and so help me, if I could, I would be going to the launch party in Texas at Jen's house in September. Unfortunately, Texas has failed to move closer to the middle of England, so I can't be there.
So, people, without further ado, let me introduce you to For The Love - you are going to just love this book. In fact, you are going to read it over and over and you will probably suggest everyone reads it. And possibly use it in a book club as well.
It is that good.
You know, I adore Pinterest. I am totally inspired by all the ideas and the things and the crazy complicated stuff like dolphin shaped sandwiches. How to up-cycle, down cycle, create, decorate, dress, do make up, braid hair - have you TRIED braiding your own hair? Huh? How to holiday, throw parties, decorate the Christmas tree. How to ......................
Well, just about everything.
Weddings. Christenings. Thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes.
I am so full of good intentions.
And add to this divine source of inspiration, the targets we are beset with in every phase of our lives. Work, play, sport, weight, health, schooling, subjects, IT, you name it. We seem to have endless government targets and standards which are so out of touch with reality as to be useless. Targets or levels which never seem to take into account individuality and personal talents. Or the fact that it is perfectly okay to be doing some things well, just well, not outstandingly.
You see, what Jen is doing in this book is providing us with an understanding that it is absolutely fine to kick some things right off our beam.
Things that actually have no worth in a true and honest world. It is not possible to have perfection in life. Our kids are fallible, just as we are. Human. Stuff goes wrong. Grace comes from understanding truth, that our best is good enough, and that He who judges us is beyond reproach and is not looking at attainment targets. He is in the business of Kingdom building. Community building.
This then is worthwhile work, isn't it?
Believe me, you will laugh till you cry - you will cry real ugly tears, and you will wish you had read all the words long ago.
You have permission to rest in the knowledge that you are seen, you are loved and that loving is the best way we can influence the world and its future generations.
It is the stuff of which communities are built. Like the #500.
You. Have. No. Idea.
The hashtags which have emerged have had us rolling around the world. The community is real. Meet ups happen globally. Mug swaps. T-shirts, Armbands, Bookclubs. Writing circles. Healthy eating. And so many more. From 500 people who have banded together. It works. It is entirely possible that a baby will be born into the launch team today. Community is what makes us civilised, after all. And anything we can do to grow or improve our world is just so good.
The book launches today in the US. Here, however, it does not launch until the end of September, the 24th, for some TOTALLY UNKNOWN AND INCONVENIENT REASON. I couldn't even leave an Amazon review on the book. I could on the Kindle, but not on the book.
I will be giving away two copies of the book to my readers, and am happy to open the giveaway now - just leave a comment and I will add you to the list, on the understanding that we will have to wait if you happen to be anywhere which is not the States. The giveaway will stay open until the end of the week. Sunday 23 August.
If you can't wait, it is selling for a really good price on the Kindle, so off you go......
If this is the first time you have heard of Jen Hatmaker, I cannot recommend her more highly. A blogger, pastor, speaker, author, mother and inspiration to so many. Read The Worst End of School Year Mom Ever and you will see what I mean. Her books, Interrupted and Seven, are superb. And now we have For The Love.
(PS: I cannot claim to have made the gorgeous graphics thingamies - nor can I tell you exactly who made what, but I do know that the gymnast one is made by the uber talented Jenny Garwood! They were all made for us to use as we chose - so many!
I will also say that I was sent a pre-publication copy of the book and a pdf as well as part of the #ForTheLove book launch team. )