I am not southern.

The furthest south I have ever lived is in Carlinville, IL. It’s barely south of our state’s capital.

I’ve visited the south occasionally. I’ve benefitted from their southern hospitality (see also: needing someone to help three college girls change a tire on a six-lane highway in Alabama).

I can barely force myself to call it soda (it’s pop, you guys) even though everyone here calls it that. I can’t even BEGIN to grasp the concept of calling it “coke.”

This week though, I have regularly found myself saying the very southern phrase, “For the love!”

And it’s all because of this book:

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And this author:

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Jen Hatmaker is a Jesus-following writer from Austin, TX.

You know, the deep, deep south. She apparently uses phrases like “for the love” and “bless”. She drinks her “coke” and hangs out on her porch year-round (jealous).

She writes a blog and loves the oppressed. She and her husband have planted a very radical church.

I’ve been following along with Jen’s blog and her books since she adopted her kids from Ethiopia in 2011. She has blogged very openly about the struggles of adopting and acclimating her children to a very different culture. I actually shared a couple of her posts here on my blog, right before Nasko came home. (Here and here.)

Her book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, was the first of many things that wrecked my view of the world shortly before we went to Africa for the first time.

I was able to meet Jen at a conference last year. I waited in the “autograph line” and when it was my turn, I said something along the lines of, “I didn’t bring anything for you to sign. I’m really not into that sort of thing. Actually, after reading your book, 7, and then visiting the poorest of the poor in Africa, I got rid of all of my books that I had in print and I now exclusively read digital books. We’re constantly working to simplify and pare down our possessions. So… Not really sure what I’m doing in this line [other than spewing run-on sentence, obviously], but I did want to meet you. Thanks for writing about adoption and loving the oppressed.”

Then, we went on to have a brief conversation about my adopted son Nasko and our work in Africa. We also discussed the sweet, sleeping baby I was wearing on my back.

The conference volunteer who was taking pictures captured this million-dollar shot to memorialize our brief encounter:

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Uh YEAH. That. I was apparently in the middle of my run-on sentence.

She got this one too:

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Jen was kissing Louis’ head. That’s the best picture we got. For the love…

Well, as you can tell though, I have great respect for this southern belle. She is absolutely my favorite female author.

When she announced a couple weeks ago that she was building a “launch team” and looking for ordinary people to write her book endorsements, I quickly filled out the application form. Originally, the team was going to be a first-come, first-serve type of thing, but eventually a launch team of 500 was hand-picked.

From what I understand, one qualifications of being on the team was having a “large social media presence”. So, apparently, all these years of dinking around on the internets has finally paid off, because of more than 5,000 applicants, I was one of the 500 that was chosen for the team!

I’ll write more about the book closer to its release date in August, but so far I’ve really enjoyed interacting with the launch team community and reading the digital copy of the book. I’ve also had the opportunity to interact with Jen some during this process. (And now that I’ve unearthed the very flattering photo of our meeting, I’ll probably need to share that with her and the community as well…)

I feel very honored to have been chosen for this launch team. Now, I must finish reading the book and write up my endorsement…

(You’re going to want to pre-order this book from here or here. Just do it now. For the love…)

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