In November Suzanne wrote a book review on her blog about the book 7 by Jen Hatfield. The book sounded intriguing, and as Suz promised, she sent it to me for Christmas. I don't know if there's been much media hype about the book or not. Thankfully we miss most of that kind of hype being the proud users of some of the slowest internet I've ever used! The reason I say that is, when everybody says you should read something, I usually refuse to read it. It took me forever to get around to reading 1,000 Gifts and I never have read The Shack. I guess it's because I want to form my own opinions and not have people already telling me that I should think it's an amazing book.
So, not having heard anything about the book except what Suz wrote on her blog....which intrigued me....I read the book without any pre-conceived notions. So, if you're like me and you don't like people telling you you have to read a book, you can skip this blog post. If you like to have an idea of what a book is like before you go out and buy the book for yourself, read on.
Jen Hatmaker, author and conference speaker, mom, and pastor's wife, practices what she preaches. Her husband was pastor of a mega-church and they had all they needed, wanted, and more. Then God called them to leave the excess and to get involved in justice and reaching out to the lost, not just ministering to the saved. This book takes place after that change in ministry focus and is a record of God's working in her and her family's life in "an experimental mutiny against excess".
For seven months they fasted from different things. In the fast from clothes, she and her husband chose seven pieces of clothing and wore them all month (underclothes were not counted in the number). In food they chose seven nutritious foods and ate only those foods. In possessions they chose seven things to give away every day. In media they turned off the tv, radio, most internet, and used their phones for only necessary calls and texts. In waste they recycled more, used only one car, and found other ways to cut back on waste. In spending they chose seven places where they would spend money. Included as one was on-line bill paying....so that left six shops and/or restaurants where they would spend money. And in stress they kept the Sabbath and stopped for prayer seven times a day.
It is easy for me to read this and think to myself, "Great. I don't live in excess. How does this apply to me?" In the chapter on clothes, she counted 327 items of clothing in her closet. I think, "Sheesh! You needed to cut back! You should see the size of my closet. I can barely fit in 20 outfits." (This picture actually shows my clothes and John's. We also have a slightly bigger closet now, but not much.) Then the conviction hits and I'm reminded that I have at least 17 outfits more than most of my friends in Tera had. So, yeah, maybe I do live in excess.
In the chapter on possessions, she gave away 202 pieces of clothing. Giving away 7 items a day is 210, so she almost gave it all away with just cleaning out her closet! So I then justify myself with, "If I gave away 210 things in my house, I'd probably have nothing left." But then, is that a bad thing? And I've been looking around at all the stuff I DO have that I never use and think, "Yep, I live in excess. Especially compared to those around me. I could definitely give away some stuff."
I also have questions about the whole fair trade thing. I don't want to say much about something I don't know much about, but I wonder if this is just a trend that those with money can afford to get involved in. Some of us don't have the funds to buy one item that is labeled "fair trade" over an item not labeled "fair trade". We have to buy what is the cheapest and what fits in the budget. It also makes me wonder....what about the people whose livelihood does depend on being involved in the production of non-fair trade items? All I'm saying is, I need to do more research on this before I jump on a band wagon.
Jen Hatfield writes in an intriguing way and I enjoy her sense of humor because she can laugh at herself. But, while writing in her humorous style, every word drives the point and convicts. Words (referring to Luke 11:37-42) like, "What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it? Is there a reason Jesus called the rich blind, deaf, unseeing, unhearing, and foolish? Jesus never utters a positive word about the wealthy, only tons of parables with us as the punch line and this observation: It is terribly hard for us to receive His kingdom, harder than shoving a camel through the eye of a needle. That's really hard. If this is true, then more than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity."
Ouch. "More than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity".
Well, I don't know if I'll fast from something every month or not. Suz and Theo have chosen to do that and I think it's a great idea. I do know I'm a little more aware of what I have compared to what those around me don't have. I think I'm aware of that, and we really try to give generously....but I know there is more we could do.
The chapter that convicted me a lot was the one on media. Again, I could say, "Huh! We live simply. We watch one movie a week, our Friday night treat. We already only make necessary phone calls and texts. We don't stream any movies, videos, or radio. In fact, we don't listen to the radio." But then I think of all the time I spend reading blogs, looking at things on Pinterest, and keeping up with Facebook. And then double that amount of time because of our slow internet. LOL! I can't help but think about all the time I waste just with blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook. So for the month of February, I am fasting from those things. I am going to continue to read Suz's blog and I am going to up-date my blog on a regular basis. I will only do "research" on line when there's no other way to get the information. I have to do email because at least half my work time is spent answering and sending emails. So I'll update you in a day or two on how it's going!