A Gospel That Matters. Check out this review of A Mile Wide

A Gospel that Matters: A Mile Wide Book Review

A Gospel That Matters

In his new book, A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith, Brandon Hatmaker, uses an age old phrase “mile wide, inch deep”  to challenge all believers, and those exploring their faith, to go a little deeper. Just like the Platte River, from which we get this term, it is easy to get caught up in the expanse of our service as Christians instead of the depth of our relationship with Christ. We should be transformed by the gospel. He says, “We have to spend far more time nurturing what no one ever sees under the surface than worrying about what’s above the soil. Things like Scripture and prayer and community root us so deeply. They are the unglamorous, unfancy work of discipleship.”

Hatmaker fights for the Bride of Christ by calling back the disenfranchised and reminding those camping within the walls of the church of the true purpose of the gospel. The gospel transforms every part of our life. It moves us to live out this transforming experience in every day of the week. “True Christianity is lived along the way, between the church services and Bible studies.”

Community That Means Something

I was so inspired by Hatmaker’s stories and practical ideas for building authentic community. We need community at church, we need community with those we serve alongside, and we need community with those with whom we share common ground. A Mile Wide both inspires and provides practical tips on how to grow these authentic communities.  In addition, there are also discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which are great for a group bible study or for personal reflection.

Whether you are tired of the same old-same old, questioning if community as believers is even possible, or wondering if you should become a believer, I’ll leave you with these final words from Hatmaker: “A shallow religion survives from event to event and program to program. A deeper faith is rooted in trusting relationships where permission is granted to struggle, fail, and take risks. It’s a place where questions are welcomed and everyone is a learner again. Where the scabs of loneliness, emptiness, and false hope are ripped off and replaced with a concern for others, a place to be propped up, and a shared gospel worth living for.”

Let’s go deep together!

A Mile Wide releases September 13th but you can pre-order your copy of A Mile Wide here!

The Fine Print

****I was first introduced to the Hatmaker phenomenon 7 years ago when I participated in a summer women’s Bible study using Jen Hatmaker’s book: Road Trip: Five Adventures You’re Meant to Live.  Since that time, I’ve devoured Seven, Interrupted and most recently For the Love. As an avid fan of all things Hatmaker, I was very excited to review a book by Jen’s husband, Brandon Hatmaker.  Brandon is the pastor of Austin New Church and author of Barefoot Church. I received an advanced pdf version of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

 

 

 

Every Chickfila Needs a Ms Jane

 

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I’ll admit it. We eat at Chickfila way. too. much, Although there are many to pick from, I typically go to the same location. With three small children, I aim for the closest parking space, and sit in the same booth. We order the same thing and I count on the smile of one person to make our visit a little brighter.

I can’t be sure the first time I saw her but I remember vividly the day I truly met her. I was sitting in a booth at Chickila with my oldest son: Dominic. He wasn’t feeling well and we were waiting for a return call from the pediatrician to schedule an appointment. We were mesmerized by the flowers as they reminded us of our current favorite book of the same name: Chrysanthemum! As we talked, a lovely lady who works at CFA approached. She noticed our interest in the flowers and we explained that they were the same flowers as in the book we had been reading all week. As we talked, the lady commented that Dom did not look himself and asked about our other two children. I explained that we were waiting on a phone call from the doctor. She was truly sympathetic. Dom asked her name and so began our friendship with Ms.Jane.

That he is a natural encourager

A week later, we saw Ms Jane again. She commented that Dom was looking better and asked what we had found out at the doctor. I was surprised that she remembered but also thankful for her concern.

Flash forward a few months to a day where I had an exceptionally rough morning with my children. It was after nine and we still hadn’t eaten breakfast. I made it through the doors of Chickfila with my children ages 4,2 and 6 months. I pushed the newborn in the stroller while praying the other two would follow my instructions. We ordered our food and I collapsed in our regular booth facing the playland. I was so very tired and trying to keep all three kids happy seemed a daunting task. Before I knew it we were late for my women’s bible study and I had not eaten at all. I frantically worked on getting everyone out the door only to spill coffee on the stroller and on the floor. I felt so defeated but then Ms.Jane came to the rescue to help. A small gesture with a big impact. “I got it honey” is what she said.

On a particularly stressful day, at Chickfila {again}, my daughter decided that she’d rather stay at the top of the playland than come home and take a nap. After countless attempts of love and logic, idle threats and pleas, I left my 9 month old at the base of the playland with my almost 5 year old to climb the playland that I am way too big to be climbing to retrieve my stubborn 2 ½ year old. She was not happy. I strapped her into the stroller, put my baby on my hip and as I reached for my 5 year old’s hand, cringed at his words, “Mommy, I’m really thirsty.” We exited the playland only to happen upon the busy-ness of the lunch crowd. The line was literally snaking right back to the playland door. I tried to deflect his request with a promise of water when we got home. The humiliation of the playland, the sleep deprivation, the stubborn two year old, the 5 year old’s request for water, the anxiety-inducing crowd. It was all a little much for me. Somehow Ms Jane heard my son’s request, and even in the midst of a very busy time, took the time to bring my son a cup of water. My overwhelmed mind and discouraged heart was so thankful.

Over and over Ms Jane has been the smile or placemat or drink refill or presence that this tired and overwhelmed momma so desperately needed.

I know service with kindness and a smile is the Chickfila way, but Ms Jane does more. She’ll never fully know the impact her kindness has had on me. My children call her by name. She is always so thrilled to see us and in inkind calls her chickfila grandbabies by name.

My children are now a little older and I’m getting better sleep at night as a result. Taking them out into public on my own is not so scary anymore.

When we go to Chickfila, however, I still aim for the closest parking spot and I often strap at least one child in the stroller while carrying another. And I always feel so much better about my adventure when Ms Jane is there. She is not my mom but when I’m at CFA I feel like she looks out for me like my mom would and for a moment taking three high energy kids out to eat by myself is not so bad. Not if Ms. Jane is around.

Socktober: Neighborhood Style

As cooler weather approaches, thoughts of stockings hung with care may go through your mind. For many children throughout the DFW area, however, hopes and dreams of safety in their own home is the only thing on their Christmas list this year.

As a parent of three small children, the thought of my children living in fear in their own home is unthinkable.

But domestic abuse happens. Every Day.

That is why I am so thankful for organizations like Hope’s Door that help women and children flee domestic violence. Since 1986 Hope’s Door has been welcoming women and children into their loving arms in a most critical time in their life.

Inspired by everyone’s favorite Kid President, our little neighborhood will be collecting socks for this organization during the month of October. Many times leaving with only the clothes on their back, basic necessities like socks, underwear, and toiletries are a constant need.

We hope to collect a lot of brand new snug cozy socks for the women and children that will come through the door’s of this phenomenal organization but even if we only inspire one family beyond our own, and clothe the precious feet of just a few, we’ve made a difference.

You can do something similar in your neighborhood. Find an organization in your area. Talk to them. Find out what they need and do a sock drive, blanket drive, toiletries drive, {insert their need} drive. Make a difference! And if this blog doesn’t convince you, check out this adorable pep talk by Kid President and Sesame Street’s very own Grover.

Every. Life. Matters.

 

 

 

 

*Photo credit: Sould Pancake