Today I am thankful for this book, 7, by Jen Hatmaker.
I’m ranking it right up there with Radical and Crazy Love and Love Does.
And this post will be more than one sentence, if anyone is wondering.
I stumbled upon Jen Hatmakers blog when everyone was passing around her post “Worst End of School Year Mom”. She writes with a snarky and sarcastic sense of humor, both in her blog and her book. It has kept me laughing out loud.
The “sub-title” of her book is ‘an experimental mutiny against excess’, and that is exactly what it is. She chooses 7 things that are excessive in her life and spends a month fasting from each of them. I’ll break it down for you:
Month 1- Food. Jen and her husband pick 7 foods to eat for the month, fasting from the rest. (Don’t worry, they made sure that it was nutritionally balanced)
Month 2- Clothes- Jen and her husband pick only 7 articles of clothing to wear for that month (I was relieved to find that underclothings were not included in this!)
Month 3- Possessions- Jen and her family pick 7 things in their house to give away every day for this month (which after the month of only 7 articles of clothing, they find it beyond easy to give away 7 items a day.)
Month 4- Media- They shut down every screen in the house for the month, including radio and almost all use of cell phones.
Month 5- Waste- Jen and her family chose seven habits of a greener family to implement for a month (Gardening, Composting, Conserving energy and water, Recycling, driving only one car, shopping thrift or second-hand, buying only local)
Month 6- Spending. Jen and her family chose only 7 places where their money could be spent in that month (grocery, gas, school bill, online bills, emergency medical, travel needs, target). They also used all the money that they didn’t spend and gave it away.
Month 7- Stress. Resting on the 7th day and stopping every day to pray 7 times (The Night Watch, The Dawning Hour, The Awakening Hour, The Blessing Hour, The Hour of Illumination, The Wisdom Hour, The Twilight Hour, The Great Silence).
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Sounds pretty hard if you ask me. Some parts of it hurt my feelings. Because I know that I need to take a fast from many things that I have in excess. Conviction. Guilt. I thought some chapters wouldn’t affect me (waste? We don’t even have trash pick-up because we already have a burn pile and a compost. Plus, we already have a garden. Plus, my husband is Mr. Turn-every-light-off-even-if-you-just-left-the-room-for-30-seconds-to-pee. Our electric bill has never exceeded $20. But fair trade? I don’t even have a clue about it, and I waste so much by buying at Wal-mart instead of buying local.)
This books is one of those ones that had me pausing every couple minutes to write something down in my journal or tell Theo what I just read. For example, take a look at these statistics:
Annual US spending on cosmetics: $8 billion
Basic education for ALL global children: $6 billion
Or read and re-read this quote:
“This biblical concept of rest is whispering to me, “You’re ignoring me.” And I am. Not only do I not take God’s commands for rest seriously, but I act like it’s not in the Bible. Ah, Sabbath. How cute and archaic. It’s adorable how the Hebrews obeyed that. Good for them. Clearly I believe my labor is more encompassing than the ancients, what with their little cultivating the land and harvesting their own food and making their supplies and raising gobs of children and traveling to festivals and worshiping at the temple and dodging enemies and getting captured and released and whatnot.”
“God, may we be focused on the least, a people balancing the fasting and the feast.”
That just blew me away.
Starting in January, Theo and I are going to embark on our own fasting journey from excess in our lives. It might not look exactly like 7, in fact, I don’t even think that we will pick 7 things. But this book has opened my eyes for the need for change in our lives. I’m sure I’ll let you know more of what that will look like in the next few weeks. For now, I am TERRIFIED and EXCITED because I know God does great things through our emptiness. And when we fast, it is revealed to us what is filling us up, then and only then can we empty ourselves and let God fill us instead.
I highly recommend that you read this book. (Yes, Mom, I’ll send you one for Christmas– which means that all other Niger missionaries should start making a sign-up list to borrow it!). I tried to check it out from the library, but it had like 7 holds (haha- ironic, huh?) on it and I knew I wouldn’t get my hands on it for months. So I just went ahead and ordered a copy from Amazon. And if you live overseas, please let me know if you want a copy and I’m sure I can work something out so that you can have a copy of this book!
So in review: Today am thankful for this book. It is challenging, convicting, inspiring, a breath of fresh air and hilarious all at the same time.