What the Hatmaker Said When She Interrupted Me

God keeps interrupting me.

It started with this appetizer last week. On top of that, having just moved to a new place and flexing my “get acquainted” muscles, I’m looking for the places to plug into my community where I can have an impact for Christ. Then, I was chosen to be one of 250 bloggers to receive an advanced review copy of Jen Hatmaker’s updated book, Interrupted. I was primed for Jen’s book, pondering and praying about God’s next move in my life.

For the next few weeks here on Predatory Lies, I’m going to plow through Jen’s book with you. By the time we’re done, you’re going to have to read it just to see if you agree with my revelations from it. (But that’s okay because through July 31, you can get a 20% discount on the book here. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a copy on Predatory Lies, too!)

I’m only a few chapters in right now, but let me tell you, Jen Hatmaker kept me up last night. No, not reading. I’m pretty good about turning the lights out at a reasonable hour even when I’m reading a great book. But she got under my skin; she kept me awake pondering whether or not I’ve totally missed God, if all my attempts to follow Him, to work out my salvation, to hone my vocation and use my little life for His glory—whether I’d gotten it all wrong.

Here’s Jen’s first epiphany: “And from the heights of heaven, this is what I heard: ‘You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of my sheep will die to day because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are my youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around.’”

Gut punch.

Jen follows that excerpt from her conversation with Christ with dozens of statistics. It’s heart-rending. Honestly, the statistics have always been available, but most of us have learned to scan over them when we see them in print, or change the channel when the Compassion International commercial comes on, or squirm in our seats when they take a special collection for missionaries in Uganda.

Before you squirm now and bail on me, take heart, I’m going to take a different spin on Jen’s message. Yes, she kept me awake, but it wasn’t God leaning into my heart saying, “You’re not doing enough.”

I wrestled all night, “God what do you want from me? Where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to do? Is all my Christianity filthy to you because I’m not on my knees cleaning a leper’s sores in India?”

No.

(I know I’m kind of all over the board right now, but bear with me.)

Jen’s right and I’m not wrong. I’m not averting my gaze from her statistics and I’m not going to quit reading the book because it makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I’m going to change my prayer life, increase my financial giving and take brutal inventory of my excess. I’m making a commitment today not to buy anything else this year that is not consumable—no new clothes, dishes or decorations. I am committing before God not to live in blissful ignorance of the needs of God’s global, precious image-bearers.

But God hasn’t called everyone to take up Jen Hatmaker’s mission. God hasn’t called every Christian to march under her banner.

A couple years ago, God wouldn’t let me out from under James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

About that time, He opened doors from Brave and I to become a certified pet therapy team and we’ve been visiting the sick, elderly and lonely. I am passionate about this. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s boring or frustrating trying to carry on an encouraging conversation with someone on the brink of senility or trying to appear interested when a lonely child won’t stop talking, or pretending I don’t notice a disfigurement, an ugly wound or the dirty hand gripping mine. But I know that I know this is what God has given me to do—and He’s given me a passion for it as well.

Additionally, God has opened doors wider than I ever thought imaginable to speak hope and healing into the lives of several girls pinned down under the weighty lies of an eating disorder. This is brings me joy, challenges me and affects my heart. This too keeps me on my knees asking God for wisdom, words and grace.

Summation? Jen’s book is going to cost me some sleep. She’s awaking my heart to a deeper level of need that I’ve either been unaware of or not wanted to acknowledge. However, her clarion call will press me deeper into my own calling to serve the least of these, dig my hands deeper into the soil of my own mission field and follow the Servant-Savior wherever He leads.

interrupted_banner_300x250

Foundations of Fitness

logo

Hello Friends! I’m inviting you to join me over at Haven Journal today. Here’s a taste, follow the link to get more!

My dad was a full five bike lengths in front of me, despite the fact that his bike might as well have been made of lead compared to mine, crafted from a lighter alloy. He turned back to search for me in the slowly spreading sea of cyclists. Concern filled his eyes, but he knew better than to admonish me.

We had registered for this 60 mile bike ride in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in May, right after I returned from my first stint at Remuda Ranch, a treatment center for eating disorders. By now, a rainy, chilly, September day, I had shed most of the weight my therapists and dietitians had gently encouraged me to gain.

Malnourished and tired, I hadn’t felt well for three days, but I refused to tell my parents. If they knew I was getting sick there was no way they’d let me ride, and I would rather die than miss a chance to burn 60 miles worth of calories.

Keep reading…

(Image is the property of Haven Journal)

A Book is Born, the very beginning

Here is a naked truth that I did not even know about myself. As I sort old journals, cull memories and query friends and family, I am realizing how little I actually knew about my own battle with an eating disorder. It’s kind of like taking a shower, an effort to cleanse away the day’s dust, and discovering a birthmark you had never seen before.

Obviously, it’s been a part of me forever. Since opening the womb, my “me-ness” has been as God sketched it. My soul has born the same imprint. Surely, culture and family and circumstances ebb and flow across each life and erode some things faster than others while sifting silt and revealing precious stones. But I had hardly seen it.

I was told that in writing my book, I must “bleed on the page and be saved in the process.”
Well, sometimes bleeding hurts. And when you’re being naked, even the smallest prick can make you bleed.
I WANT.
You see, I grew up the oldest of four girls. One of the anthems that I remember echoing through the halls of our home was, “Abby, you’re the oldest, can you please just give in thistime?” –or–
“Be the mature one.” – – or – –
“I expect more out of you.”

And I did, and I was. But denying want does not erase it. In fact, denying want on the surface dug a deep, subversive pit in my heart where I stuffed want and greedily demanded all my desires while on the surface, others observed a starving little girl denying even her need to eat.

Now, I can clearly hear the melody of my heart all those years, the percussion to which I kept time:
I want you to want me. I want you to think I am the smartest, the thinnest, the most beautiful. I want you to want to be me. I want to be enviable. I want to be impervious. I want to need nothing. I want you to know that I am strong. I want to think I am better than everyone else. I want others to think I am self-disicplined. I want, I want, I want. I want all of my parents’ attention. I want to be your favorite. I want you to notice me. I want you to think I am spiritual. I want your sympathy. I want your touch. I want to be able to have everything I want. I want you to tell me I can eat anything I want. I want to be safe. I want to be independent. I want, I want, I want.

It was so sneaky that even I did not recognize my greed. An anorexic appears to be in need. The life of an anorexic is an exercise is asceticism, self denial, ultimate self control. But for me, it was ultimately a ploy to get everyone else to condescend to all my demands.

That’s a pretty ugly naked. Now, lest you think I am unnecessarily berating myself, or attempting to beg pardon, let me tell you the TRUTH.

I was needy. I do want things.
There are a couple differences now, this is not selfishness. I have learned to ask for things – both my needs and wants. Secondly, I am learning to be attentive to the needs and desires of those around me. And lastly, I have stopped looking for others to notice and fulfill my emptiness.

I have found the bottomless source of gifts. I have found the unquenchable fulfillment of all my desires. I have found the solitary source for the satisfaction of all my needs. And He loves for me to come to Him HUNGRY.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Ps. 145:15-19

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Eternally Hungry, My Own Victim

I have been eternally hungry

Deprived of all that I need.

By my own cruel heart

I am starved.

Pangs rip from toe to soul

Claiming body inside and out.

Meaningless courses of

Temptations are served.

In grand display of china.

Swirls of sauce and facades of flavor.

Promising joy, fulfillment, peace.

Exquisite, culinary soul delights.

But with every taste

Hunger lingers.

Laughing at my distress.

How expensive is your beauty?

Tell yourself the truth.   How much do you think you spend on beauty products?  Or should I more accurately call them “self-esteem products?”  I confess that when I buy a new mascara, or spend copious amounts of time trying to determine the right shade of foundation, or agonize over what color of nail polish is the most “me,” or wonder if my new shampoo makes my hair feel limp – every time, I am trying to make myself more impressive to other people.  Why else do I lighten my hair for summer and bury my white shoes in the fall?  Because the world tells me that’s what looks good.

Now, shift your train of thought with me.  When we are feeling more serious, we ponder things like global hunger, poverty and children without clean water.  Did know that the amount of money Americans spend on beautification is almost equivalent to the amount of money it would take to eradicate world hunger?

Constance Rhodes is the founder of Finding Balance and The True Campaign, and True Sisterhood.  I listen to the True Sisterhood podcast frequently.  I just finished the episode called Chaos and Compassion. 

The challenge, and I’m going to echo it here: cut out a few things from your beauty budget and boost a child’s joy and hope, instead of your self-esteem.  Try it.

Compassion International is only one ministry that works to meet the needs of children in third world countries.  I am choosing to sponsor a child through them because they share Jesus, the true hope of the world and the living water, while they are meeting physical needs.

In the next few weeks I will share more about the child my husband and I are sponsoring.  I would love to know if you take my challenge.   Have you already been sponsoring a child or ministering in another way? I would love to hear about it.