Why “Interrupted” Should be the Next Book You Read

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Jen Hatmaker’s re-release of Interrupted.

If you ask Jen (I say like we’re friends and she knows me – ahem, hint, Jen) she will tell you that this is her favorite of the books she’s written. She will tell you to skip 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and read Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. Now I know why.

If you were here, in my house, I would urge you: “Stop what you are doing, right now, and read this book. Or, if you have time, sit there, drink your lemon-mint water and I will read it to you.” Seriously.

But you’re not here. And, because plagiarism is against the law, I will not be reprinting every single word for you, though I am tempted. It’s just that good.

Interrupted ReviewA few things about this book.

It’s an easy read. Not that it won’t leave you thinking or mess with your comfortable life but you will find yourself coming to the end of one section and not wanting to put the book down before you move on to the next. You’re going to want to know what happens… and you’ll stay up way too late to find out. Fair warning.

Jen is intelligent, funny, engaging, inspiring and authentic. Can we be friends, please?

For Christians: Interrupted is going to mess with your come to church, listen to a sermon, attend a Bible Study, go about your business, comfortable, Jesus-loves-me, people will come to church when they’re ready to get their life together Christianity. It messed with mine in the very best way.

Interrupted is like someone throwing open the door to my stuffy, religious closet and declaring, “Look, Girl. When Jesus said to clothe, feed, and attend to the needs of the poor he meant it. And he didn’t mean it for someone else. Get going, there’s work to be done. It’s totally going to wreck your life and you are going to wonder why you waited so long.”

Not a Christian? I don’t know for certain, but I suspect you will find this book refreshing. As if someone in the Christian camp called us out on our need to walk our talk and didn’t just take a seat in the pew afterward.

Jen Hatmaker is talk and action and she does it with style.


I highlighted, made notes, bookmarked, read aloud to my husband and otherwise devoured no less that 50 different sections of Interrupted.  The part I can’t seem to shake? Three simple words.

Belong. Believe. Become.

Even now those words bring tears to my eyes. Maybe you’re like me. You’ve been in church so long you can’t remember the last time your faith felt new, fresh and alive. You’ve been doing stuff for Jesus because you’re a good Christian and good Christians volunteer at church, teach their kids to sing praise songs, post Bible verses on their social media feed and on and on it goes until you’re so exhausted from being a good Christian you forget that you’re here because God loved you first.

God loved you first. He said, “We belong together. Here is all of me given up for you, my everything, so we can be together. I love you. You belong with me. Do you believe it?”

And then, when you believed it, he spoke over your life with love, “I have a whole new story for you. It looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Come with me. I’ll lead the way. Come, become what I’ve called you to be.”

Belong to Believe then Become as opposed to the message we’re really good at sending, “Believe to Behave then Belong.”

Jen says it like this:

“When we lead with doctrine before love, we brutalize the spirit of the doctrine we’re prioritizing.”

She goes on to write:

“Theology very naturally follows belief, but belief rarely follows judgment.”

interrupted_page-132

What I took away, so clearly, from Interrupted was that as believers it is our job to love before anything else. Not to keep our faith hidden, but to allow the love of Jesus we so readily profess and vehemently defend to be the driving force of our lives. Love like Jesus loved.

That love looks like a woman caught in adultery not being condemned. It looks like reaching out to touch the sick. It looks like becoming a servant of all. It looks like heading to the party with the ‘sinners and lawyers tax collectors.’ It looks like loving your enemy. It looks like sending the message, “Come as you are, you belong in my life. If it costs me everything, I want you here.”

And then, when love has been established and judgment is demolished, “Here is the Jesus I love so dearly. You can know him too.”

Belong to Believe then Become.

Are you convinced yet? Do you want to read this book? I hope so.

I have a copy for one of you. Oh yes I do.

Enter to receive a copy of Interrupted by leaving a comment here telling me why you want to read this book. For a second entry become an e-mail subscriber to Intentional Jane and leave a comment telling me you subscribed. Want to enter three times? Share this post on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did. (If you’re reading this via e-mail you’ll have to jump over to the blog to enter.)

I’ll choose the winner at random on August 25.

To sweeten the deal I’ll include a hand drawn picture from Little Jane (and a note from me).

I hope you win, read the book, and pass it on!

Connect with me on Facebook, and Twitter.

Essentials for the 21st Century Abolitionist: New Messages

This post is the second in a series called Essentials for the 21st Century Abolitionist. You can find the first post, on a new perspective, here.

This week my children are at Grammy’s. I have 6 whole days to myself. Oh yes I do. I’m using part of this week to redecorate my son’s room. Poor boy, his space has always been an afterthought. It’s time to make his space feel special.

You know what I really want in his room? A trampoline. The boy needs to bounce like water needs to run downhill. I’ve found several that will work in his room but none, small enough for a bedroom, with any sort of message about fair labor practices.

Confession: I almost decided just to buy the one I want, almost, but I have a new filter for how I purchase. It goes beyond asking what I want and can afford. Now my purchases are filtered through this message: “We will only purchase what we can reasonably believe has done no harm.

In other words, whenever possible we will investigate our purchases for responsible sourcing and make the choice for fairer products. My internal messages about how to shop are different than they were just a few months ago.

New Messages

To be advocates for a world without slavery we will need to change our messages.

Five messages I’ve had to replace:

  1. Buy more. On Sale. Black Friday. We’re consumers. Shopping is the other American pastime. In our home, we’re learning to change the filter on the message of consumerism from buy more, buy often to, “We will only purchase what we can reasonably believe has done no harm.” Even then, we’re learning to get only what we will use, not more. Emphasis on learning.
  2. Death toll rising. War. Famine. Trauma. The more I learn about the hurt in our world the more there seems to be. If I’m not careful about the groups I follow on Facebook, the stories I hear on the news and the books I read I become overwhelmed. I find myself feeling small, unable to effect change. To help combat these feelings I filter my input for messages full of truth (the gritty hard to handle stuff) and hope (how change is happening).
  3. God provided _______ for us… He’s so good and loves us so much. This message rings hollow when I think of believers worshiping on dirt floors or, more recently, people fleeing for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs. Physical blessings are not a reflection of the depth of God’s goodness or His love for us. When He gives us more it is not because He loves us more. I’m learning to remove the filter of physical blessing from the expression of God’s goodness and love. God is good. His faithful love endures forever.
  4. This problem would be solved if they would just…. Slavery and poverty are complex, intertwined issues which will not be solved when those other people decide to act on simplistic solutions. As much as it is in my power to effect change, freedom and the complexities that come with it are my responsibility. 

Have you found your internal messages changing as you learn more about the hurt in our world? What are some of your new messages?

Connect with me on Facebook, and Twitter.

Essential Tools for the 21st Century Abolitionist: New Perspective

If we want to see change happen we need a new perspective.

“The reason why women effect so little and are so shallow is because their aims are low,
marriage is the prize for which they strive; if foiled in that they rarely rise above disappointment…” - Sarah M. Grimke (1792-1873), Abolitionist, advocate for Women’s Rights

Ouch. Has much changed in 150 years? The media and our culture want to paint us as fickle, consumed by beauty and distracted by shiny objects. We’re sold the message that to be whole we need a man, a pill, a diamond, a spa day, and/or a glass of wine. Que the catchy jingle. Go on your merry way.

This message is appealing because wanting something like freedom is a big, scary, overwhelming, audacious goal. And, let’s face it, being a freedom fighter isn’t exactly the lucrative career your mamma wanted you to pursue. It’s just plain easier to have smaller more culturally acceptable goals. And who doesn’t want a diamond and a spa day?

If we are courageous enough to want change, we have to do better. We need to keep our eyes on the goal. It’s essential that we have eyes to see the world through the lens of freedom. We need a new perspective.

Four ways to adjust our view:

  1. Look in the margins. We’re trained to look away and ignore the hurting. To fight for freedom we need to begin looking for the hurt and injustice around us. Look in the shadows and the margins for the ones overlooked and forgotten.
  2. See people, not issues. Most of us know injustice by it’s names in the headlines: prostitution, immigration, poverty, trafficking and the like. What we don’t often see are the people. People with names, families, hopes and desires. People like us. Certainly, be savvy about the issues at hand but always remember the most important element is not the politics or posturing. What’s most important is the people.
  3. Notice connections. Be aware that the product you receive has a story. Clothes don’t grow on racks in the store. They’re connected to a production line, the very bottom of which is highly susceptible to exploitation. Chocolate is made of sugar and cocoa beans two commodities in high demand. Both of which are known for their ties to child and forced labor.
  4. Watch, read, follow, repeat. Educate yourself about the depth of this problem by reading books, watching documentaries and following along with humanitarian agencies. Then do it again. The more I read and see about oppression and exploitation, the stronger my conviction becomes. This problem is ours to tackle. Ours.

Recommended Resources:
Not For Sale – David Batstone
The Hole In Our Gospel – Richard Stearns
Refuse to Do Nothing – Shane Moore & Kimberly McOwen Yim

Information About the Chocolate Industry – The Art of Simple
Photos That Bear Witness to Modern Slavery – Lisa Kristine, TED Talk.

How have you found a new perspective for the hurting and oppressed? In what ways has seeing oppression changed you? Share with me in the comments.

Connect with me on Facebook, and Twitter.

affiliate links

What Roller Skates Taught Me About Making a Difference (and what’s going on around here)

Two years ago my daughter bought her first pair of roller skates for two dollars at a yard sale. She had no idea what she was getting herself into when she boldly strapped those wheels to her tiny 5 year old feet and set off to skate with the neighborhood girls.

Those girls, several years older than my little Jane and more experienced skaters, took her by the hand and helped her along. They encouraged her, gave her tips, let her try it out on her own, and picked her up when she fell.

Learning how to “do” lifestyle justice feels a lot like learning to skate all over again. These comfortable, live-for-yourself, American-dream, Polyanna patterns I’ve been living in for so long are no longer satisfying (perhaps they never were) and finding a new way to travel is proving to be trickier than it looks. I’m a little steadier on this road than some and not nearly as steady as I’d like to be, but here I go and there’s no turning back. Because freedom matters for everyone.Roller Skates

 

From here on out Intentional Jane is a blog where comfortable, apple-pie, macaroni and cheese, grocery shopping, baseball, soccer, baby wipes and diapers, mini-van, ‘can-I-still-make-a-difference’ moms like me find resources for living out a mission to bring hope to the oppressed. (If you’re not a mom you’re welcome here too.) Because freedom matters for everyone.

I want you to know: I don’t have all the right words for this, I’m not very far on this journey, I’m going to make mistakes, and I’m not going to let fear keep me from moving forward.

Come with me as we dive in and use our considerable blessings to effect change. Together we will learn to shop, eat, travel, play, and live so that others can be free. Like William Wilberforce in heels or June Cleaver meets Joan of Arc, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

We only have to decide that we are no longer willing to just be aware that slavery and poverty exist. We must allow awareness to change our behavior.

No matter where you are on this journey, you are welcome here. I’m going to be your neighborhood friend along the way. Your questions, comments, arguments, thoughts and concerns are welcome here. I will encourage you. I will share what I’m learning with you. I will be here when this road gets rough. I will remind you that freedom is always worth the fight. Because freedom matters for everyone.

I’m so glad you’re here. It’s time to lace up and learn to skate.

Connect with me on Facebook, and Twitter.

Where to Shop for Ethical School Clothes (or Part 2)

Can I just tell you I’m so excited about the conversations you’re going to have with your kids about why you’re shopping this way? I love that simply by shopping responsibly we teach our kids about freedom. We show them by our example that it is possible to promote justice by doing everyday tasks in a socially responsible way.

Back To School Part2 pin

Whether you’re shopping for uniforms or school appropriate attire these guidelines can help you find clothes and shoes to feel good about wearing.

Consignment and Thrift Stores
The vast majority of Little Jane’s school uniforms for this year are from the thrift store. They’re in great shape, we saved a bundle, and kept some clothes out of the landfill.

If thrift store hunting isn’t quite your speed consider a consignment shop. Consignment shops have (usually) sifted through clothes to weed out the ones with rips, stains, broken buttons and wonky zippers so you can purchase secondhand clothes in great condition. It’s also not uncommon to find a higher concentration of name brands in these stores.

Use Google to find consignment shops in your area and give them a look. You might be pleasantly surprised.

E-Bay
If you know the sizes you’re looking for E-bay can be a great way to find clothes (especially uniforms) for back to school.

Tops and Bottoms
The following brands are doing an excellent job of sourcing their products responsibly. Shop with confidence.
Tea Collection
            Zara                   PrAna
Fair Indigo        Imagine Goods        Sevenly

Basics
For undergarments, socks, and T-shirts I’m happy to tell you that both Hanes and Fruit of the Loom get an “A-” at Free2Work. The Hanes for Good website is impressive. In Latin America the Hanes progressive education program has helped more than 800 employees earn high school diplomas and over 500 are working toward a college degree. This is just one of the ways Hanes is impacting our world for good.

Shoes
Toms – Toms is a One for One company. For every purchase you make they will help someone in need. Nice!
Keen Footwear – Keen makes a sandal that will protect your child’s toes and they’re oh-so-stylish. What’s more they work to source materials from the waste stream of their own and other shoe companies. They’re up-cycling their own garbage. Way cool!
C9 by Champion – The C9 brand makes a variety of athletic gear including athletic shoes. They earn an “A-” at Free2Work. You can find C9 brand at your local Target.

Everything Else
After we have thrifted, found tops and bottoms, stocked our basics, and taken care of our shoes any gaps will be filled in at a responsible retailer. I use the Free2Work website to help me determine where to shop.

Some brands who earn at least a B (my personal cut-off) from Free2Work are H&M, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Levi’s, Dockers, American Eagle, Reebok, and Adidas.

A word about how much to buy
There is a belief in our society that more is better. It simply isn’t true. More is just more.

Most of us have far more than we actually need or even use. The incessant desire for more only pours fuel on the fires of retailers to produce more at lower costs. When you’re out making back to school choices this year determine what you know you and your children will use and buy only that much. 

Please hear me preaching to myself here. Dear Jane: You do not need more to clutter your closets or your home. You do not want more laundry. Oh no you don’t.

Happy Shopping!

Where do you shop for responsibly sourced clothing?

Read about ethical school supplies here.

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Every Mom’s Guide to Ethical Back to School Shopping: Part 1

My school supply ad arrived in the mail yesterday. It’s so colorful and pretty and almost makes me wish I was going back to school because I kind of have a crush on all things notebook and pencil and pen pouch and binder and someone stop me now. I just want to color.

As I looked through the pages of supplies I was taken in. Those ad people know what they’re doing. Seriously. But I’m not rushing out my door to shop the latest sales, not anymore. Not since I read that book and everything started to change.

Now when I read an ad I think to myself, “Hmm, how were those products made? Is there pain in these pages I can’t see?” And true to my new form I began to research notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and markers looking for companies doing the most good with their products.

Here is my strategy for ethical school supply shopping this year. (In part two we’ll cover shopping for clothes.)

Back To School

Shop your stash. Around here we have colored pencils in colors I didn’t even know existed. We’ll be using the ones we have instead of buying new. What do you already have that you can reuse?

Get thrifty. We always start our hunt for common items at the thrift store. Last week we went to one of our favorites and, I kid you not, a girl walked out carrying an arm-load of binders. She was saving money and giving some castoff school supplies new life. When we got into the store there were still several binders left (read a whole shelf). Check your thrift stores friends. They’re golden.

BuyGreen. BuyGreen.com has an entire section dedicated to school supplies, including the recycled newspaper pencils and crayon sticks I love. The crayons come in sticks as well as fun shapes and are recycled from crayons that would otherwise end up in landfills. You can even arrange for your crayons to be recycled through Crazy Crayons when you’re done with them. Color on!

TerraCycle. For pencil pouches, lunch sacks and more unique gear check out TerraCycle products (available for sale through DwellSmart). They’re taking garbage and remaking it into useful products. Their website even includes tutorials on how to turn your garbage into something useful. Check their site for ways to send your reusable garbage to be made into useful products.

Skilcraft. Skilcraft brand products are manufactured by the AbilityOne Network which “envisions a world where everyone that is blind or has other significant disabilities is able to achieve their maximum employment potential.” Skilcraft products are manufactured in the USA and many, including their notebooks, use recycled materials. Skilcraft products are available at OfficeDepot, on Amazon and through other retailers.

Up&Up School Supplies at Target. Target’s corporate statement about social responsibility is robust. They will tell you where their products are made and how their factories are performing when it comes to worker rights. They’re making strides in environmental responsibility and even working to reduce conflict minerals in their electronics.

This year when you purchase Up&Up school supplies before August 2nd Target will donate supplies to the Kids in Need Foundation at a one-to-one ratio. It’s that easy to do something good with your purchases.

I researched, Googled and emailed several companies this year. The ones listed here stood out to me above the rest for their commitment to recycled products, corporate transparency and desire to offer dignified employment. I’ll keep looking and hopefully next year have a few more options for you. Until part two… Happy Shopping.

Where are you shopping for ethical back to school supplies this year?

Was this post helpful for you? Consider forwarding it to a friend or sharing it on your Facebook page!

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The One Jesus Sees

I wish I knew her story.

Perhaps her husband was a soldier killed too young, leaving her alone at an early age. Perhaps he was ill, outcast and no one but her noticed when his body betrayed him to death. Maybe they lived a long happy life together before the breath went out of him for the last time.

Whatever happened, she’s alone when we meet her. Her clothes are clean but tattered, mended time and again. Her hands and eyes tell the story of a difficult life. She is neither wealthy nor famous but she knows the most Famous One. Today she is in the temple. She walks among the teachers of the law, the money changers, and the crowds of people headed to worship, unnoticed except perhaps by those who wish to keep their distance.

She doesn’t expect to be noticed. She knows her gift is minuscule by the count of men. Still, she makes her way through the crowd to place her coins in the collection box and this is all we know of her.

She came. She gave all she had.

And Jesus noticed her.

In this story Jesus has just finished warning his followers to be wary of the religious elite who are more concerned about their fame in this life than they are about caring for the widows, the poor and the marginalized. Then the scripture cuts to a scene in the temple. The show-offs, the important, the leaders, the elite and the wealthy abound. They fill the collection boxes with pomp and circumstance, vying for position and recognition.

Jesus Sees

And then a widow. A widow enters the temple and with the plink, plink of two small coins she out-gives them all.

And Jesus notices her.

Jesus sees the anonymous. Jesus sees the marginalized. Jesus sees the poor. Jesus sees us.

Be wary of wishing to be recognized for your greatness. It will not satisfy for long.

Jesus asks not for you to be powerful, to be famous, to build success, to gain endless riches, to see the world or to be well liked. Jesus asks for all; all you have to give, no matter how small it may seem and to him that gift holds the greatest value. He measures value by the size of the sacrifice not the commotion stirred in the crowd.

Oh that we would see the widow, the orphan, the anonymous, the poor, the slave, the marginalized and ourselves not as causes to pity but as Jesus sees us — As people of matchless worth.