Rank #1: Best of For the Love: Emily Ley on Simplified Living
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the For the Love team! This week, we’re previewing our brand-new series for the new year, For the Love of Good Change, and bringing back one of our most downloaded episodes (not to mention one of our favorite guests): Emily Ley, author and creator of The Simplified Planner! A busy mom and head of a flourishing company, Emily found that striving for “all the things” left her with no time or energy to enjoy the good stuff. A champion for helping others organize, declutter, and simplify, Emily’s own life was lacking in simple joys because she was striving for an impossible standard of perfection. She shares how she learned to give herself grace, say the dreaded “no“ word, and take some steps back in order to move ahead. She also gives us some GREAT bringing-order-to-chaos hacks, like answering the question Jen posed herself: "Why do I have 17 spatulas??” Emily's newest book is A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living, and her next one comes out this spring—A Standard of Grace: Guided Journal.
Rank #2: “Me? Love Them?” Loving Everybody Always with Bob Goff
We’re 5 episodes into our “For the Love of Exploring Our Faith” Series and the Christian guru of love himself, Bob Goff, joins Jen on the show this week. Bob’s journey has been one of taking risks, defying norms, and living by faith. A self-proclaimed “recovering lawyer,” Bob left his practice after 25 years to embark on a path of love. He wrote a book about his journey to and from that point called Everybody Always which became a staple to Christians (and others) about what it means to put love into action. Bob and his wife Maria have demonstrated that “love in action” to Jen and Brandon’s family over the years, and they discuss what it looks like to be present and sacrificial in our relationship with others (that includes the difficult people in our lives), and how Jesus calls us to love “Everybody Always.”
Rank #3: Small Steps to a Happier Life: Gretchen Rubin
Lawyer-turned-writer Gretchen Rubin fancied herself a happy person. She had a job she liked, a husband and two daughters she loved, a life she enjoyed. But one day she found herself wondering, “Could I be happier?” So she set out to change her life—not in a blow-it-all-up-and-move-across-the-world kind of way, but with small steps over one year. Gretchen documented her experiment to live happier in the blockbuster New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, and has inspired millions to improve their lives and find contentment. As part of our For the Love of Good Change series, Jen and Gretchen talk about why it’s okay to pursue happiness in a world filled with hard things, and the little ways we can reach for a richer, more satisfying life. Gretchen shows how easy it is to work “happiness habits” into our lives (Jen adopted one immediately after this interview!) and how these small steps can yield big, long-term results. We also get a sneak peek at Gretchen’s new book coming out this spring: Outer Order, Inner Calm.
Rank #4: Politics, Faith & Open Hearts with Joshua DuBois
Our powerful series “For the Love of Exploring Our Faith” continues with author, community leader and story-teller Josh DuBois. Josh has had the unique role of being “The President’s Pastor In Chief” during Barack Obama’s early years of presidency. He spearheaded important work on responsible fatherhood, grassroots community partnerships and foreign affairs. From there, he’s dedicated his life to help companies, individuals and communities navigate tough issues related to race and religion. He uses his platform to support dramatic and documentary films that tells stories that bridge the divides around racial issues and religion. He gives an inside view into the Obama administration and the commitment to faith he found from the first family during his tenure with the White House.
Rank #5: Undoing the Shame of Our Body Image Struggles: Hillary McBride
What would our lives be like if we spent less time thinking and talking about the way we look? What If we stopped comparing our bodies and bemoaning our “flaws”? Researchers report 85–95% of women are extremely dissatisfied with their bodies. How can we change this for ourselves? How can we pass down positive messages about female bodies to the next generation of women? Hillary McBride is a therapist and researcher who writes about these questions in her book Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are. According to Hillary, we inherit harmful stories about our bodies, and may even pass them onto our daughters without even knowing it. Hillary points out other ways we come by this language: through systemic misinformation and misogyny that envelop us daily, pushing us toward an unattainable standard of beauty. This conversation has everything to do with dispelling our shame and celebrating our womanhood. It reminds us of the power of legacy and the freedom we gain by owning our stories and our worth. And at the end of those stories, we each get to define what’s beautiful, accepted, and good.
Rank #6: Knowing Where We’ve Been To Get Where We’re Going: Austin Channing Brown
We continue to explore our faith in Eps 4 of this series with writer and speaker AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN. Austin is a practitioner who helps schools, nonprofits, and religious organizations confront racism and practice genuine inclusion. Her writing has appeared in outlets like Christianity Today, Relevant, Sojourners, and The Christian Century. Austin insists that to make significant strides, “We have to know where we've been—before we can figure out where it is we're going." Austin and Jen wrestle through a tough review of America’s history of racial division and discuss meaningful next steps toward repentance, equality, and healing. “We all can do something, and it’s our job to figure out what that something is, and let that lead to more somethings." You won’t want to miss this one.
Rank #7: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church with Rachel Held Evans
This week we’re coming in strong in our For the Love of Exploring our Faith series with New York Times bestselling author, speaker and self-proclaimed “Bible Nerd,” Rachel Held Evans. Rachel’s writings have resonated with many of us who have walked through doubts, questions and concerns about faith and religion. Rachel shows how the Bible can hold up to our fiercest questions, our strongest doubts and the most significant of disagreements. She encourages us that “God is not a God of self-improvement plans and 10 steps. Ours is a God of death and resurrection—and that God can take anything and bring it to life.”
NOTE: This interview was conducted while Rachel, 9 months pregnant, was having contractions at a minute a part—and although we were hoping for an on-air podcast baby arrival, we still claim our part in the process (and Jen lobbied hard for namesake rights). Congratulations, Rachel, from all of us at the For the Love Podcast on the arrival of your baby girl!
Rank #8: Unequally Saved: The Church's Role in Racism with Lisa Sharon Harper
We have a powerful start to a brand-new series: For the Love of Exploring Our Faith. Speaker, writer and activist Lisa Sharon Harper comes from a long line of Americans—African-Americans who have been in America since 1687. Slavery existed in her family. Lisa wrestles with the Good News of the Gospel and how that translates to folks who have been victims of race-motivated atrocities—from people who claimed that Gospel as their truth. She walks us through the history of evangelism and where some things got twisted. Prepare to be schooled and to take in some eye-opening information (pen and paper at the ready!) because Lisa breaks it down for us with the meanings of original Hebrew writings and shows us the truth of what God intended His Kingdom to be--“ALL blessing all.”
Rank #9: Dr. Henry Cloud & John Townsend: Wise Men [and Women] Bring Gifts of Boundaries at the Holidays
It's the most wonderful (and volatile) time of the year and this fourth episode in our "For the Love of Fall & Holidays" series is a can't-miss. If your holiday routine has become a pattern of stretching yourself too thin, tirelessly trying to please relatives and friends, taking care of others at the expense of your own sanity and, thus, turning the holidays into a season of dread, you'll want to carve out some time for this episode. Before the whirlwind of travel, family gatherings and general holiday mayhem begin, come sit in on my chat with the experts behind the blockbuster Boundaries series of books, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. (You've heard so many of my guests mention them in other episodes; it's because these guys are the best in this field.) They'll tackle these all-too-common holiday pitfalls with humor, grace and very practical advice revolving around 3 key ideas you need to hear to keep from going bonkers this season. To a happy and healthy holiday season!
Rank #10: TV (and Real Life) Mom Candace Cameron’s Path to Gracious Parenting
From your mouth to Jen’s headphones, we’re starting a brand-new series you requested: For the Love of Parenting! This series will not only speak to those of us who are in the thick of parenting kids at every stage, but for those of us who are learning to honor our parents as adults and come alongside our friends with kids. Our first guest is actor and author Candace Cameron Buré, who was famously parented in the beloved sitcom Full House and is now the one doing the parenting in Netflix’s Fuller House. She shares about her own experiences growing up in Hollywood and how giving back was modeled to her at an early age by her own mother. Offset, Candace has been a mom for more than two decades and shares the joys and challenges of “surrendering to motherhood” during a season of professional success, and how she chose to instill small acts kindness into her daily life in an effort to positively impact her family and the world around her.
Rank #11: Know Thyself: Faith & The Enneagram with Ian Morgan Cron
The Enneagram has surged back into popular culture the last couple of years. This personality test is marked by its unique (and ancient) principles that help us better understand ourselves. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard “number thumpers” talk in terms of their type; “Oh, that is totally such a ‘seven’ thing to say.’” Therapist, Episcopal priest, speaker and Enneagram expert Ian Morgan Cron joins us for Eps 2 of For the Love of Exploring Our Faith. Ian walks us through this “journey of self” that he says “ups the self-awareness quotient in human beings, which is—particularly in faith communities—a sorely overlooked discipline. Think about what Calvin said; ‘without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.’” The Enneagram helps us relate to others with more compassion as well, as we begin to see how our type interacts with theirs. Ian illustrates this by pointing out; “The loneliness, or the fear, or the sadness in me sees the loneliness, the fear, and the sadness in you." Ian digs in deep with Jen culminating with a “blow your mind” moment that has her re-assessing her personality type as they hone in on ALL the facets that uniquely make up each of our personalities.
Rank #12: Emily Ley: Creating Space for Joy with Simplified Living
Happy New Year and Happy New Series; For the Love of New Beginnings! We’re going to dive into the top of the year with guests who have had to start over, re-invent themselves, embrace new seasons, refresh or reset; and we'll learn first-hand how they navigated it. Episode one’s guest is Emily Ley; author and creator of The Simplified Planner. A busy Mom (3 kids under 6, including toddler twins) and head of a flourishing company, Emily found that striving for “all the things” was leaving her with no time or energy to enjoy the good stuff in her own life. A champion for helping others organize, declutter, and simplify, Emily’s own life was lacking in simple joys due to a difficult-to-live-up-to standard of perfection she strove to attain. She shares how she had to admit her need to give herself some grace, pare down, learn to say the dreaded “no-“word, and take some steps back in order to move ahead. She’ll also give us some GREAT bringing-order-to-chaos hacks, like answering the question Jen posed herself: "Why do I have 17 spatulas??” Emily's new book is A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living.
Rank #13: For the Love of Fall & Holidays: Eps 1 - Dishing with The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummond
What’s more fun than perusing fall recipes from a Pioneer Woman cookbook on a chilly fall day? Actually talking with the Pioneer Woman! Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, joins the show this week! She and Jen dish about fall football, ranch life, kids going off to college (single tear), and the one food item that will never be included in a Pioneer Woman recipe. Ree also shares the joys and challenges of managing all things "Pioneer Woman” (The cookbooks! The restaurant! The TV show! The magazine!) and how she does it without losing her sanity.
Rank #14: Finding The Way to Your True Self: Enneagram Expert Chris Heuertz
Our “For the Love of New Beginnings” series continues strong with Enneagram expert Chris Heuertz. Are you a 2 (The Helper) or perhaps an 8 (The Challenger)? Or maybe a 3 (The Achiever), like Jen? If you don’t know what the heck we’re talking about, we’re here to help. Chris has written a new book called The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth and shares why The Enneagram is one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others. Jen and Chris both share how knowing their Enneagram types has helped them embrace their strengths and their flaws and how it has enhanced understanding and compassion in their key relationships. If you haven’t taken the Enneagram, you are going to want to after you listen to this episode. Visit JenHatmaker.com/podcast for links to Enneagram Institute resources.
Rank #15: Live Yourself into a New Way of Thinking: Richard Rohr
Father Richard Rohr is one of our best teachers, hands down. Whether it’s through his work at the Center for Action and Contemplation (which he founded) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or the many enlightening books he’s written, Fr. Richard is dedicated to helping people realize their best selves, both inwardly and outwardly. A champion for social justice who’s spent decades fighting for equality, he shows us the way to radical compassion by gently leading us to see the world with new eyes through the concept of “voluntary displacement,” i.e. when we willfully move out of our comfort zones and “live” ourselves into new ways of thinking. For such a wise and contemplative guy, his cool factor is off the charts. He calls Bono a good friend, and he was considered the foremost expert on the Enneagram WAY before it was the hot topic of the day. Jen and Fr. Richard discuss the dangers of “individualistic Christianity,” in the context of his new book “The Universal Christ,” and how so many of us have a stingy view of God who doles out His love out to just a certain few. He sums up our spiritual challenges in one masterful concept that, if we truly embraced, it would change the direction of our lives: “nothing can separate us from God, except the thought that we’re separate from God.”
Rank #16: Purposeful Parenting: Two Determined Mamas Talk Fostering, Adoption, and Special Needs
Our Parenting series wraps up with an episode that our tribe has requested overwhelmingly. As parents, we are all doing the best we can to raise great kids. But what about the challenges we didn’t expect? What about the kids who have been left behind? This week, we talked to two mamas who gave us insight into a whole other realm of parenting that requires a special resilience. Jami Amerine and her husband Justin have six kids; four biological, and two adopted. Jami tells us about her beautiful but heart-wrenching experience with foster and adoption, why she refers to her youngest kids as the #vandals, and how God is helping her family write a redemption story through loss. Diane Dokko Kim and her husband Eddie have two sons, Jeremy and Justin. In 2004, two-year-old Jeremy was diagnosed with autism and ADD/ADHD. Diane tells us about her personal and family crises after her son’s diagnosis, how she and her husband have maintained a healthy marriage throughout, and how we can be better friends and neighbors to families with special needs. And lest you think this episode is heavier than most, stay till the end to hear the most hilarious #MomFail we’ve ever heard on the podcast (which happened only an hour before recording!).
Rank #17: You Are Worthy of Great Sex (and so much more): Dr. Celeste Holbrook
*Since this episode contains mature themes, we recommend listening where kids can’t hear.* We forge ahead in For the Love of Health & Wellness with an important facet of our health we don’t address as openly as we may care to admit: sexual health. Jen sits down with sexologist Dr. Celeste Holbrook, who has dedicated her life to helping women achieve soul-centered sex, and they broach topics many of us might be too timid to bring up. Ever wonder how much sex is normal? It’s in here. Want to know what the #1 arousal killer is? Gotcha covered. And (gulp) we even discuss how to talk to our kids about sex (!). Not only does Celeste discuss these important topics, she also relates her own journey with sex—from the anticipation of having a mind-blowing sexual encounter for the first time, to finding that for her, the whole event was . . . less than ideal. For years, sex remained a painful, shame-inducing experience for Celeste that finally drove her to get help, but even then her doctor couldn’t give her the answers she needed to address the physical and emotional issues she had around sex. Celeste decided to take her sexual health into her own hands and got her PhD in sexology. Now Celeste sees one of the biggest ways she can help her clients have better sex is by helping them find their worth. She wants to empower women to know themselves and feel confident in their bodies, so that they are able to ask for what they want inside and outside the bedroom.
Rank #18: Learning to Walk in the Dark with Barbara Brown Taylor
What is saving our life right now? Having the matriarch of our favorite question as part of our “Exploring Our Faith” series this week! Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author, teacher, and Episcopal priest. Her last book, Learning to Walk in the Dark (2014), was featured on the cover of TIME magazine. In 2014. TIME also included her on its annual list of Most Influential People. Long a favorite author of Jen’s, Barbara has a unique way of sharing essential truths about beauty and about God, and shows us that it cannot be contained inside any walls that people build. Her view is that Jesus “placed higher value on human relationships than on religion. He never told his followers to love their religion—just their neighbors, their enemies, and God."
Rank #19: Parenting Through All Stages: When to Hold On & When to Let Go, with Dr. Jim Burns
Parenting is a lifelong job, even after our children have flown the coop and are tending their own broods. Throughout the various stages, from the early “no sleep” baby years to the endless carpool years, we barely have the bandwidth to think about next week, let alone the next few decades. But what happens when our kids grow up and start making their own decisions? How do parents lay the groundwork for happy, healthy relationships with their adult children? And how do we, as daughters and sons, honor our adult parents as we forge our own way in the world? Today’s conversation helps walk us through reframing our parental relationships. Dr. Jim Burns is an author and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Dr. Burns tells us how parents can be a sounding board for their adult kids (without being a clanging bell). He also helps us think through scenarios like what do you do if your child partners up with someone you’re not crazy about, what kinds of boundaries to maintain if your child moves home, how to stay connected to a child who shuns a relationship with their parents, and how you, an adult child yourself, can create a healthy bond with your own parents.
Rank #20: It’s Okay To Laugh: Comedian John Crist
John Crist has a gift for making us laugh at ourselves. John was the middle child in a family of 8 kids and found his comedic sensibilities while growing up in the church. His humor gently pokes fun at some of our religious “sacred cows,” and gives us permission to laugh at our foibles. His videos (which collectively have garnered over 150 million views) around these topics are spot on, including: “Millennial International” and “Church Hunters.” John doesn’t reserve his brand of humor just for the church, however, and has been playing comedy clubs with the likes of Dave Chappelle, Jeff Foxworthy, Trevor Noah and other comedy legends. He was also a finalist in Comedy Central’s “Up Next” Comedy Competition. John and Jen discuss when jokes are amazing and when they are hilariously bad, why comedy is more important than just making people laugh, and why it’s okay—even when our world seems pulled apart at the seams—to find some humor in the midst of it.