I’ve mentioned here before that I was blessed to be on the launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. One day, someone on the team threw out the “what if we had a party to celebrate the launch and what if we had it at Jen’s house” idea. And Jen said (not her exact words), “Sure!! Come on over, all 500 of you. Why not?? We’ll get food and margaritas and ice tea and chat for a few hours in my back yard. Oh and we’ll take lots of selfies!” And the party planning began.
Here is a portion of what I wrote after the party on the launch team’s Facebook page.
Last night at the party a few of you kept checking on me to see if I was ok since it’s no secret here that I’m an introvert of all introverts and was fighting everything in me to not want to bail and turn around and go right back home. It was only a 3 hour drive for me to get to Jen’s house. Sitting in the car in the parking lot at Cabela’s waiting for the van to take us to her house, I took several deep breaths and told myself that I could do this. I even messaged AnnieLaurie and told her to tell me I could do this. Which she promptly messaged back and told me “You can do this!”. I would have gone home but since the beginning of this year I have been on a journey of living, inspired by some life situations, this book and this group. I also kept thinking of all those who wanted so desperately to come but couldn’t because of distance, money or time. It didn’t cost me much and took me very little time so I felt like I would be squandering this opportunity if I didn’t go. This was a time to kick vulnerability in the butt. Anyway, several were so kind to check in on me when they saw me and at first I felt so uncomfortable with that. I didn’t want that attention. I wanted to be strong and put on my oh so familiar mask and not show my true self. That’s what I do. Then I thought, that’s not what we’re about here. Not at all! We are about being vulnerable. We are about being true. We are about accepting. We are about caring. We are about not having to be strong. We’re about looking after one another. We’re about not letting anyone stand alone. Last night was a priceless picture of community for me. I’ve lived for a few years or more and have never experienced anything like it before. A group of 200+ individuals that I would normally run from loved me for me, knew my weaknesses and loved me through them. I wish my real world had this kind of community.
First off, meeting and hugging Jen Hatmaker was awesome but to me it was just as awesome as meeting any of my new launch team friends. A special place is held for her, though, for sharing her heart in obedience in writing this book that has taken us on this crazy ride. Kelly was my glass of cold water. Bethany, this girl is pure joy! I wasn’t a leather cuff girl before but my first cuff from Pamela Anne got me hooked and getting to meet her in person was amazing just as I expected. I shed real tears of gratitude and hated to let go of Stacey. The picture I have with Terri shows me practically digging my fingernails into her arm. I could not hold on to her tight enough. The hug from Cheryl was like no other hug I’ve ever experienced in my life. I can’t even put that into words but it was sort of like God Himself was hugging me through her. I loved getting to meet my world-traveling friend, Anna (seriously she flew in from Saudi for this!!) Seeing and hugging my hometown Houston girls, Lori, Erin, Michele and Aline and long-time friend, Amanda who is partially responsible for helping my oldest two kids learn more about living life for God was a priceless gift. And Erin S, goodness… we have a future together somehow, you and I, and I’m excited to see what God has in store. I must have hugged Danielle at least 100 times. I got to savor the moment with Flat Dana. I stood and chatted while my heart leaked through my eyes leaked a little with Angie Dailey and Aundi. Brandy gave me the high five she owed me for choosing the name of her website. There are so many others that I hugged but couldn’t get pictures with. Suzanne, Lauren, Kim, Amanda, Annaliese, Stacey, Michelle, Jill, just to name the ones that my menopausal brain is allowing me to remember right now. I am so sad that I didn’t get to meet and hug some of you. I am, however, so glad I did get to hug the ones I did. I knew if I didn’t come I would regret it. I still left with regrets but only because there wasn’t enough time.
As the party planning took shape and the launch festivities approached, I kept wondering if the dynamics of this group would change once we actually met face to face and didn’t have the safety net of a closed group on the internet. I don’t wonder anymore. I met you. You met me. And you still loved me and I loved you even more. I wondered if the party would be the curtain call but last night it became clear to me that the party was a “to be continued…” When is the next one?
And only three days later, there is already planning underway for Launch Party 2016. Not kidding.
This community that has been being formed behind the walls of a closed FB group since March has developed from an unassuming cocoon into a crazy amazing colorful butterfly. And she is flying with a very wide wingspan. What Jen Hatmaker birthed with her book about love and grace has sent out ripple effects that will be seen all over the globe. Watch for them. They may be small ripples but we are proof that God works out His mighty through our small.
I didn’t plan on standing in any line to take a picture with Jen Hatmaker. I don’t have a fan girl/groupie personality. I somehow found myself in line visiting with other new friends and ended up in the “reception” line. So I thought, “why not?”. This is not a picture of a fan or a celebrity. This is a picture of two writers, moms, wives, hearts whom God saw fit to connect – in such a random way. I hugged her and took pictures with her just like I hugged and took pictures with all the other new friends I have made over this launch experience.
This thing turned into more than any of us, even Jen, could have imagined.
Launch Team Bloggers, click on the blue frog box to link up your party post with me! Be sure to read a few others and leave some comment love.