Monday, April 7, 2014

Seven: A Book Review

About The Book:

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

Here is Session 2 from the DVD Study based on the book:

About The Author:

Jen Hatmaker and her family live in Austin, Texas, where the city motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and they work hard to do their part. Jen’s eight previous books include Interrupted and A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study. She and her husband planted Austin New Church in an economically and ethnically diverse, socially unique, urban area of the city in 2008. They are in the great- est adventure of their lives, (thrilled to find out where they have planted is known as the “church planters graveyard”) and have made some incredible new partnerships in ministry. They’ve seen their world turned upside down as they’ve considered what it means to ask God how to live and not just what to do. But it’s a good upside down, as part of that discovery will be the addition of two children from Ethiopia set to join the three they already have. Together they will keep Austin weird and seek to glorify God as they do.

My Review:

Seven is probably going to be the most personal review I do this year! It has truly changed me for the better! 

Back in December 2013, I discovered the blog written by author Jen Hatmaker, and consequently also discovered her book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and I haven't looked back. After contacting the publisher, I was pleased to find out I could review the book. However, I took the review one step further and decided to do my own version of the seven month experiment. I will not provide any spoilers in this review, but want to list the seven areas of the experiment for those not familiar with this book and concept.

The seven areas mentioned in the book are:

1. Food
2. Clothes
3. Possessions
4. Media
5. Waste
6. Spending 
7. Stress

I loved the book! It is written in journal form and so it felt as though as was right in a coffee shop having one-on-one time with the author herself and it was raw, honest and surprising challenging! Not only did she step by step take you on her journey but she meets you were you are and allows you to really examine your life to see where you are living excessively (and we all are!) There were so many amazing quotes from the book, but here are few:

“Teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspires me. I'm at that place where "well done" trumps "well said." When I see kingdom work in the middle of brokenness, when mission transitions from the academic soil of the mind into the sacrificial work of someone's hands, I am utterly affected. Obedience inspires me. Servant leaders inspire me. Humility inspires me. Talking heads dissecting apologetics stopped inspiring me a few years ago.” 

“I suspect God is more glorified in a humble room of earnest worshipers than a massive production designed to sound "relevant" to the listeners but no longer relevant to God. When the worship of God turns into a "worship experience," we have derailed as the body of Christ.” 

“As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live--we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.” 

“Media has changed the way we interact with one another and what we spend our time doing. Our social norms have changed. 

The dangerous part of our social media and technologically saturated world is not its existence but what it distracts us from.” 

“We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful. We’ve been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around.” 

Mind blowing...that is what my first reaction was to reading this book. Simply mind blowing. Then utter disbelief when I realized just how in excess my family (and so many others I know) and I are living. But that has begun to change. 

In February 2014 I began the 7 journey for myself. I chose to follow the same order of the experiment so spent the month eating only seven different foods (chicken, quinoa, avocado, eggs, apples, broccoli and sweet potatoes). While I found a ton of different ways to prepare these foods, I will be the first to admit, that was a very difficult month to be sure! I have a new appreciation for those who have limited foods and have been able to have many teachable moments as a result with my children. 

March was month two: Clothes! Spending the month only wearing seven different pieces of clothing was something I never thought I could do. Being in Canada, mid-winter, I made a few modifications to my list and did not include winter gear like boots, coats, mitts, etc as part of my seven. Instead, I used yoga pants, jeans, t-shirts and a couple pieces of dressier items for church on Sundays. Compared to food, it was WAY easier, but again showed me how much excess I had and actually prepared me for the current month I am in!

During this month, I am participating in Month three: Possessions. Disgarding 7 items per day for the month. Crazy as it sounds its not been difficult to think of seven things to trash, give away or sell. And I know that by the end of the month its going to feel so good to purge all the excess!

As the months continue I will be blogging my experiences but I am grateful that this book came into my life when it did! It has been life changing and I have also thoroughly enjoyed the DVD Study that complements the book. 

If you are looking for a challenge to do on your own, with a group of friends (as Jen did, and me too!) or with your family, Seven is the book for you to read and also experience!

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess online through Amazon. It is also available at your favorite local book retailer from B & H Publishing

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of B & H Publishing, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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