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Jen Hatmaker on the Pressure of Having It All

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Reality Star on the new HGTV show My Big Family Renovation (reairs on DIY Network)

Author, For the Love (2015)

Blogger

Mother to 3 biological children and 2 adopted children from Ethiopia

BA in Education, Language Arts Minor, Oklahoma Baptist

Husband: Brandon, 18 years

Jen says when her book began taking shape, she realized the title was instantly clear.  “This is why we live and breathe,” says Jen. “For the love.”  The stories, told her in her trademark insight and humor, cover every relationship.  “It’s about you, your own relationship with God, your family, your kids and your community and neighbors,” says Jen.  She says social media has allowed us to have close-up access to women who excel in different areas of life.  That sets us up for trying to achieve it all: careers, crafts, cooking and Christian ministry. Jen says, “You can’t balance that job description.  The only thing worse than this unattainable standard is the guilt that follows when perfection proves impossible.  It’s destructive.”  She says instead of trying to be awesome, we need to be wise instead.  It’s important to set boundaries.  “Wise women know what to hold onto and what to release and how to walk confidently in their choices – no regrets, no apologies, no guilt.”  She says God wants this freedom for us and reminds us that Scripture instructs us to live presently and joyfully, resisting worry and believing Jesus will set us free for freedom’s sake. 

Jen had been blogging online and an HGTV network executive had been following her blogs.  She emailed Jen asking if the network could develop a show about their family. Jen and Brandon wanted to make sure that they would be cared for and that their family would be viewed in a correct way. The network communicated that they were not out to make them look bad but that they wanted their viewers to care about them and like them. The Hatmakers realized that it is so rare and special for a Christian family to find their way into mainstream media in a healthy and positive way that this was definitely an opportunity.  Filming was a great experience and Brandon even said that the show really saved their family. Jen came out of filming with stricter boundaries so she could be home and not get caught up in busyness.  The show reairs on DIY Network this season and the Hatmakers are currently in negotiations with the network about their future.  “The show worked because it was about completing weekly projects, not our family,” says Jen.  “It’s not sensationalized drama.”

LEAVING A LEGACY

One day Jen, who gave her life to Christ at age 6, was reading John 21:15, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” She felt God ask her if she loved Him more than anything. She was surprised by the question and offended because she was active in ministry, writing and pastoring people. Within the same verse Jesus continued saying, “Then feed my sheep.” She felt God tell her, “My people are dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and serving the saved.” She felt God calling her to the poor.  Jen’s eyes began to be opened to the huge issue of poverty worldwide. The American dream that she had been living and pursuing began to change before her eyes as she saw the excess and ignorance of it. Jen says, “Our perspective is limited, and our church culture is so consumer-oriented that we’re blinded to our responsibility to see God’s kingdom come to ‘all nations,’ as He was so fond of saying in His Word.” Aside from what our nation is doing, Jen was challenged with what she was personally doing about the poor. She was aware that we could only make a tiny ripple of impact but couldn’t be paralyzed by the scope of poverty.  She had to do something.  So Jen and her husband began feeding the hungry downtown, taking homeless people to dinner and sharing holidays with them.

This month, the Hatmakers started a non-profit organization, The Legacy Collective.  It’s a new kind of giving community where people pool their money with others and give ordinary amounts.  They focus on partnering, pioneering and funding sustainable solutions to systemic social issues.  Jen is excited to be giving out their first checks this month.  They are funding: sustainable housing, called microhomes, in Texas for homeless people; helping orphan prevention and economic empowerment in Ethiopia; and child trafficking rescue and prevention in Haiti.

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Jen Hatmaker
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