December 12, 2012 by Chris French
Jen Hatmaker is a pastor’s wife, mother, church planter, comedian, gardener, cook and a great writer! I really enjoyed 7. I read several excerpts to my wife and we both laughed. There were other times when I read pages with tears in my eyes. It’s deep, funny and relevant.
It’s written from a journal she kept as she went thru seven months of liquidation. She skips most of the days each month, but you get to watch as she purges from seven different categories in her life: possessions, media, food, clothes, stress, waste and spending. She restricts herself to eating only 7 foods for the first month. The second month sets a moratorium on clothing. She’s only going to wear seven pieces of clothing the entire month. During the third month of her experiment she gives away seven things…every day! It turns into way more than just seven things a day because of her exorbitant amount of clothing realized from the previous month. Month four saw the Hatmakers downsize their media intake. No more t.v., gaming, Facebook/Twitter, iPhone apps, radio, texting and the internet. The caveat for texting and internet was that they could only be used emergencies (no superfluous texting i.e. bad jokes and lol’s) and work since they both use the internet for their jobs. Month five limited their family’s waste production. They started gardening, composting, recycling, buying local, and shopping at thrift stores. Month six meant that they could only shop at seven stores the entire month. Choose carefully! They choose online bill pay, 1 gas station, a local farmer’s market, target, emergency medical, their kids’ school and had a limited travel fund since she travels on speaking engagements so much. The final month was meant to decrease their stress level so they started observing the Sabbath day. The first time their family tried Sabbath out for size it was a complete disaster, but the others that month worked out pretty well. Jen also paused seven times every day during this month to pray. Each pause was an opportunity to pray for something unique. One was a time of intercession for others. Her thoughts on this period of prayer inspired this article yesterday.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m not sure how far we’re going to go with an experiment of our own, but I think it is necessary to pare down our lives so we can stop focusing on things that God could care less about. We’re really excited about things He doesn’t even care about. When His people who are called by His Name are caught up with things that He doesn’t focus on we NEED to change! Plus we’ve got the means to help the needy, read one of the things the Father focuses on, but we’re so driven by our need for more that we neglect them and buy bigger and better things for us.
I enjoyed how honest she is in sharing her faults. She really struggled to get thru some of these months, but that’s normal. We’re not used to this kind of extravagantly simple lifestyle. It’s going to be a rough adjustment and she’s honest about the points when she struggled. It’s not a hard read and it’s not theological although she does make some very good points about several different passages of Scripture. If you’re looking for a book that will help you negotiate your way from your oceans of excess to an ocean of peace this book is for you.