Jen Hatmaker … Jen Hatmaker … hmm, how do you know the name Jen Hatmaker? Is it from her incredibly funny blogs about her children, most notably her “End of School,” “End of Summer” and “Back to School” topics? Is it from one of her 10 books, the newest one just released on August 18, For the Love? Is it from her participation in the nationwide farewell tour with the Women of Faith? Whatever it may be, once you read her writing or hear her speak, you will never forget her name. She is irreverent while still being reverent. She is both a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife, who knows when to quote inspirational verse, and she intermixes it with a healthy dose of sarcasm and cynicism. She’s just herself, and you can take it or leave it. She is unabashedly a Christian, but her views and her authenticity resonate with women of every religion, race and creed. She’s the “everywoman.”
We caught up with Jen, who lives outside Austin with her husband and five children, at a stop in Louisville for the Women of Faith Tour. The arena was packed, and the autograph line for Jen was hundreds deep. She hugs every person in line and listens intently to them speak. StyleBlueprint readers, here is your hug from Jen Hatmaker.
We are excited that you are in Louisville for the Women of Faith “Loved” Tour. You are surrounded by some pretty heavy hitters. Tell us who you are most excited to hear and whose words resonate most with you (besides your own).
That is like asking me to pick my favorite kid! These women are legendary. I’m walking in high cotton here. I adore each and every one with the intensity of a thousand splendid suns.
For those of us who cannot attend any stops on the tour, what is your message?
As a first-born, rule-following, people pleaser (well, I used to be), I grew up struggling to ever really believe God loved me. I was pretty sure He didn’t even like me. I always felt like a disappointment, and that I could never, ever do enough to earn His affection. He finally taught me through our adoption story [two of her children are adopted] that everything I ever believed about His love was wrong, and He is nuts over me. And you. And all of us. Just a lovesick parent. Plus, I tell a funny story about roadtripping with your kids and the sheer will it takes not to throw yourself out of the moving car.
You have many jobs and many interests, not the least of which is being a mother to five children. How did you end up where you are today?
I have no earthly idea. I have no clue what is happening. I was going to be an elementary teacher with no more than two kids. In my early 20s, I told God what I would and wouldn’t do, and He didn’t listen to any of it.
How do you manage being on the road and running the show back home?
I have a lot of help. That is the short and long of it. Don’t get fooled into thinking some women actually figured out how to do it all. No one can be in four places at once. We’ve developed some pretty tight travel boundaries that work for our family rhythm, but we also have folks who work for us and with us to keep the wheels on.
Tell us about your most recent book. Specifically, how in the world did you find the time to write it?
I love it. It’s my favorite book I’ve ever written. Because I hadn’t written a book in five years, it just poured out of me. I’m just so ready for women to live in freedom and grace. I’m so over guilt. I’m so done with mean-spirited competition. I’m determined to find, live and lead a better way. Women are already amazing, and For the Love celebrates them in all their ordinary glory.
Tell us about your HGTV show, “My Big Family Renovation.” Again, specifically, how in the world did you find the time to do this show?
That crazy show! We loved it! Loved HGTV and our production company and crew. Believe it or not, we loved each other in the middle of a massive renovation (except when we didn’t). Our old farmhouse is such a beauty now. We decided that the show would be a major family adventure, something we would never forget, and it so was. [The series aired in 2014 and is available online.] Also, paint evidently can make me have a nervous breakdown. Good times.
Tell us about Austin New Church and how that is so important in your family’s life.
Brandon and I started Austin New Church almost eight years ago, and basically, it is the church of our dreams: simple, transparent, kind of goofy, everyone is welcome, everyone is in. We meet in a crappy middle school cafeteria, and there is not one fancy thing about us. We love each other, and we love the city, and we love this world and we love God. It’s my favorite place.
I love this quote from you: “It has never been easier to be non-present in real life.” What are some basic words of advice for our readers to combat this?
I love the Internet and I hate it. I mostly love it, but it does give us the opportunity to live on our phones, our laptops, our iPads and in cyberspace. Every time I’m in an airport, I cannot believe how every single head is down, staring at a phone. No one is talking. No one is people watching, which is a cryin’ shame in an airport. We love screen-free days and even screen-free weeks when we get really wonky. So healthy. We never regret it.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
I honestly have no typical week. Our life is so weird. But in general, I work like a maniac while the kids are in school, and I try very, very hard to shut it down when they get home. Because I travel so often on weekends and Brandon is a pastor [of Austin New Church], weekends are work, so we treat our weekdays like most people treat their weekends. Brandon and I are not involved in weekday commitments, and I cook dinner virtually every night. We say no to almost everything during the week so we can be home with the kids. We are so boring during the week, oh my gosh.
Who are your mentors and what advice do you treasure?
I get to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing women who’ve gone before me. What a lucky generation we are. Luci Swindoll tells and texts me this message constantly: “Just be you.” I cannot tell you how liberating it is. I want to tattoo that on my forehead. In a season marked by so much striving, the idea of relaxing into who I am and who I was made to be with no regrets or apologies or guilt or comparison is just the bee’s knees.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my _______.
Eyelashes. Do not judge me for one second. It is my one thing.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Home. Home, home, home. I am such a homebody. Sometimes by Thursday, Brandon will say, “You need to leave the house at least once this week.”
What’s your bucket list travel destination?
Greece! I’ve dropped enough hints that I expect to have this wish fulfilled in the next two years, because my husband lives to give gifts and surprises. I am not even kidding. It’s almost embarrassing.
Favorite thing to do in Austin, or in your hometown of Buda outside Austin?
My favorite thing is to have my friends over on my huge porch and drink wine and laugh and watch football. Outside of my house, South Congress is my favorite stretch of the city. Hotel St. Cecilia is my favorite staycation.
Night owl or early bird? What do you do during that quiet time?
I’m technically an early bird, only because that is when I am clear and focused. But I force myself into being a night owl, because when else would I watch “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix??
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I’m anxiously awaiting Brene Brown’s new book, Rising Strong, which comes out the week after mine. Just read Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg, which was delightful and spunky. But I am launching a book, so I’m basically reading EMAILS. Ugh. Hurry up, September.
Lightning Round! Give us your
Candy or junk food splurge: Sour Patch Kids
Guilty pleasure song: “Apple Bottom Jeans”
Tearjerker movie pick: I hate sad movies.
Standby nail polish color: OPI Cajun Shrimp
Favorite cocktail: Moscow Mule
Cartoon alter-ego: SpongeBob
Thank you Jen, for giving us yet another window into your world and making us feel satisfied with our own.