We all have those special people inspiring us on our personal or professional journeys along the way. It could be spiritual leaders, athletes or overcomers in addictions and struggles we’ve faced, like Joyce Meyer, whose Battlefield of the Mind helped me realize nicknaming myself “black cloud” wasn’t the best way to usher in spirutal blessings. I’m also one of the millions of women who’ve sobbed their way through inner healing workbooks thanks to another great, Beth Moore. But of all the great leaders, writers and thinkers I’ve connected with through the years, Jen Hatmaker has to be my number one fav.
I wish there was some deep spiritual impetus for my devotion, but really it’s her realness and clear disinterest in appearing perfect, that first caught my interest after belly laughing my way through her “worst school mom, ever,” blog years ago. Yes, she’s a great soul and wonderful writer, but when it comes down to it, the woman makes me laugh, which is an unfortunate but blatant rarity in the Christian writing realm. After reading a blog about the horror she felt as an HGTV camera crew arrived a day earlier than expected, canvassing her messy house and opening her empty fridge holding only a Catsup and Heineken bottle, I was sold. I remember thinking: a pastor’s wife is admitting to domestic disasters and unbridled lack of “holiness” like beer in the fridge? Thank you Lord, for this woman.
I think God uses people and experiences to guide and inspire us, and for me, Jen strengthened my resolve to be completely transparent, real (gritty, even) and unconcerned about my holiness rating, if ever I embarked on my dream of writing books. There have always been so many encouraging, Scripture-laded, “self-helpy” books out there in the women’s genre, but I’ve always found such a void of humor and realness because of an unspoken pressure to appear “together” while psychotically displaying a perpetual state of joy and peace. I only wanted to be authentic in sharing my real struggles, thoughts and victories, which have now miraculously morphed into my first new book, Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet. I wanted every word to reflect real life and bring laughter without once censoring for the sake of appearing “church lady” enough. Who knows, maybe Jen would even stumble upon the book.
So it was with great excitement and admitted nervousness that I discovered my unknowing BFF, Jen was going to be signing books at an event I attend for work each year, called Book Expo America last month. This. Is. Destiny. Or at least some sort of divine appointment. Either way, I had to buy a dress. I couldn’t believe I would actually get to meet my inspiration and maybe even ask her to read or share about my book. Maybe I could even score a hug, and some of her social media anointing would rub off on me. I’m not even sure I had a real reason to attend this year, but darn it, I was gonna get some meetings on the books and get my butt to NYC. Two o’clock signing in the Harper Collin’s Thomas Nelson area, here I come.
I must’ve looked like a Red Bull-infused 12 year-old waiting in line at a One Direction concert, staring at her from my tippy toes while questioning my outfit choices- I look so stuffy in this blazer…is this a Bank of America summit, what was I thinking?! And annoying the poor lady behind me…”you think she’ll let me take a picture, right?! She’s so humble, huh?”
I tried to compose myself, but just couldn’t figure out what to say as I inched closer to the autograph counter that surely beheld my fate. Should I tell her I have a book coming out too? No, too cheesy. Tell her which blog of hers I first loved? No, too stalker. My plan was to ever so casually mention my book was coming out, and wouldn’t it be fun if she’d let me sent to her, and from then on we’d be spirit animals. However after the buzz kill called reality mixed with my nerves, I rambled something about how nice she looks in person and asked her to sign the book for my sister. At least I got a stellar pic.
So here’s to you Jen. Thanks for the inspiration, the laughs, and if you read this, thanks for possibly taking a look at my book. Surely, this has frightened, or won your heart. I hope it’s the latter. Yours in fumbles, faith and laughter, always.