I finally got to transcribe my interview with Jen Hatmaker. It is NOT word for word and I hope she doesn't mind that. Who knew transcribing from an MP3 would be lengthy and HARD to do. For the entire interview, with lots of additional information and humor, visit this link. My interview does not do her justice. She is really quite funny!
Hey, Jen. My name’s Michelle. I’m really excited about interviewing you today. I actually heard you speak in OK about half a year ago, at a women’s retreat. I heard the boot story then and loved it. I started wearing cheap flip flops everywhere in case God called me to that too. (I'm kidding.) [You'll have to read the book and watch the DVD to know what I'm talking about. For more information, and to see what sold my husband on this Bible study, visit Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of the Faith.]
I have a mommy blog…so if you don’t mind I’m going to start by asking you some fun questions so we can all get to know you a little better.
I loved the story where you mentioned giving back your kids c-mas presents if they were going to be naughty. Seems like you parent a lot like me.
Tell us a little about your kids?
Gavin is our oldest, just started middle school
Sydney is 9
Caleb, our baby, he’s a pistol, he’s 7.
They are hysterical. We have a dry parenting style. We are raising three children who are fluent in sarcasm. They are also very melodramatic, as I passed that gene on. They are really great. They are on this journey with us. This is a Hatmaker family adventure.
Are they pretty obedient? In other words, how many times a day to you have to say, stop kicking him, don’t say that again, and do your homework and chores.
I really couldn’t even count. I’m trying to imagine how many times I have to redirect my kids. It's not quite the insanity it used to be. We had babies so close together. So we are passed that chaos.
Yesterday, I told Gavin, I have told you four times to sit down and finish your homework and this is the last time I’m going to say it.
Do you plan to have more children?
OH NO! Absolutely not. This ship has sailed. We have reached maximum capacity. Although we have left room for something. We may adopt or foster care. We are waiting on the Holy Spirit. We may end up with more Hatmakers but none of them are coming from my body.
Can you tell me a funny story from the past month about your kids so we all can get a good laugh at your expense?
I was on our way to church one Sunday, just talking about how blessed we are. The freedom to love god.
One of the children ask, "Doesn’t everybody?"
I told them, well there are people all over the world who don’t have our freedoms. Some people around the world might even die for their faith in God.
So a few days later, I get an email from Caleb's teacher, who is a believer.
She's asking the students what do you want to be when you grow up.
Caleb raises his hand. "I want to be a missionary and tell people about God. Even though my mom told me all missionaries get murdered."
[Here Jen asks me about my kids. When I tell her I have five with one on the way, she says, "What on earth? Oh my stars!"]
What’s something you have done as a parent recently, that you would be embarrassed if anyone found out? (I wont mention how when one day my older kids were gone camping with grandparents, I forgot to feed my younger children until lunch time.)
My oldest son….he did some little grievance, sassed me. Backtalk is a deal breaker around here. Not an option. He gave me a little lip. I literally told him, go to the garage, get a shovel and dig your grave in the back yard.
Have you read the Twilight series?
Of course. Hasn't everyone? I read all four of them in seven days. That should tell you how much was not getting done. No one was talking to me until I read the whole series. My family comes to me, they are all holding hands, so cute.
I’m sitting on the couch where I have been for six days. They are like, "we are hungry."
I got sucked in like I was a 15 year old girl. All my friends have read them. We’ve already bought our tickets for the midnight premier of the next installment of the movie. [Which is releasing on my birthday.]
What is on your book list right now?
I love to read. Fiction, just for fun, not for edification:
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
The Hole in Our Gospel
Well let’s get to the book. I started reading it and told my husband he should read it too. He wasn’t interested at first. I got a few more chapters in and told him again, mentioning that you said it wasn’t just for women. Wasn’t interested. I told him again that I had an extra copy, and that I thought he should really read it. Then I told him we should do it with the youth and he finally started reading it. He called me the next day and said, do you have the DVD, we gotta do this with the youth. YES! Just what I’d been trying to say. [It has a really nice Bible study that goes with it as well as a CD and DVD.]
We were really touched by this. We quickly learned a different mindset and started praying for ways to reach our community. Thank you for writing this book!
One thing I wondered about is your children in all of this. You said you made a lot of changes in the beginning…including your husband quitting his job. Did this affect the children at all?
We brought them in at the ground level of this whole thing. We would never want to do anything that would harm our children's view of God or church. We began praying with them about what was happening to us. Praying for our job, how we’ll lead, etc. They were in on it.
The uncertainty in the transition was hard but we shielded them from that. We shared the life changes with them though. We just bring them with us. They are as comfortable around homeless, as with their class mates. Our kids weren't going to just be back in their suburban lives being comfortable. They do all our service projects with us.
Our church is set up to include the children…this isn't just the work of adults.
Our kids are down there being kids and just talking to everyone. A man told us how grateful they are. They’ve given up so much. A sacrifice that they've all made is that they don’t have children in their lives any more. Most of them are parents. There is a different safety net for children. He said we miss children. It’s just fun to see the children. Laughing and being silly.
They help out. We tell them their gift is them being there. Just their faces. Be you!
I don’t want them to have an "us and them" mentality. We are so privileged...and responsible for the rest for the world.
At the end of the book you talk more about how MUCH you started putting into the community…inviting people over, etc. What role did your children play in this? Did you ever worry about their safety?
Not really. There are several reasons for that.
We are kind of risk takers. I’m not just a super cautious mom…some is just personality.
One thing we learned really quickly is that the homeless community are very respectful to our children. If someone starts cussing they close ranks really quickly and start telling them…there are children here.
They are really kind and gentle with our children.
A lot of my myths about poverty were dispelled quickly.
That may sound naive because there are dangerous people. But we aren't putting our children in uncontrolled situations.
What is God doing in your church right now?
Our church is such a happy place for us right now. Its growing slowly because we are so missional. It doesn’t attract people from other churches. We are growing by conversion. It’s slow work to bring people to Christ for the first time.
We just moved locations. We were meeting in a high school auditorium. In an impoverished part of town. But the actual building was beautiful. They had a huge Bill Gates scholarship. We met in their theater. It was beautiful. A multi million dollar theater. But it did not match us. We are really a simple and humble church. What you see is what you get. Come as you are.
They come to our fancy, big, awesome church and they were like...oh, okay. It was a mismatch.
So a few weeks ago we decided to move. We are in a lame looking, lesser facility. It’s smaller and intimate and humble. It fits the personality of our church better. It’s a multi purpose room attached to a school, gymnastics, and karate place. So we are at this community hub where 500 families come through a week.
So it was a good move for us. A simple presentation to church that we really love. And a lot of people see it as going backward. This is just who we are. We are a backward church.
We are talking about starting a second service. We meet on Sunday night. So we are trying to decide on a Sunday night service or Sunday morning. We want to open it up to a wider audience.
You mentioned you just finished writing a new book.
Yes, it's a theme devotional for MOPS. It transported me back to that stage of life. It made me weepy and sentimental. It gave me an awareness of time and how quickly everything was going.
I just finished that and its heading into editing and will be out next spring.
Last question. Did you replace your boots?
My husband replaced them for me. He gave me a new pair for Mother's Day. We are so privileged, if God asks us to sacrifice. We are so lucky. I hold them very, very loosely. I have given shoes away, off my fee,t more times than I can count. All of our things have taken on less importance.
We are fighting that consumerism.
Do we go smaller? Do we get rid of this stuff?
This is the basis of our next book project.
We are so privileged. I’m going into the crazy social experiment this fall…I’ll turn it into a book but it’s not about that.
It’s called 7.
For seven months I’m taking an area of excess. For example…month one. Food.
For a month I’m only going to eat seven foods. A complete pairing down.
Clothes: I m going to take out seven items of clothes…not categories. Seven items. I wont cheat or I wont have any integrity.
I’m excited. I need transformation in this area. We are so not where God wants us to be in this department.
I’m going for it. I’m throwing myself into a simplified life. Some will include my husband and children but some will just be me.
One month will be us giving away seven things a day…which will clearly affect everyone.
I hope to raise awareness for global issues…like the food month…how is the rest of the world getting along in this area…what are their struggles.
My family is saying this is going to ruin our lives…I said yes, for the better.
Will you have a blog?
I intend to write the book bloggish, so I wont have it on a blog. I will mention it on facebook for my friends.
I’m excited. I’ve never had to sacrifice in any of these areas.
Thank you so much for putting up with my silly questions and for this great interview. I think my readers will love it!