A Painted House

Archive for the ‘I Love Jesus’ Category

Some of you may have seen me reference a book I was reading on Facebook last week, titled 7: An Experimenal Mutiny Against Excess.  I have never reviewed a book on my blog so this is a first.  I do read (though not as much as I’d like, post-children) but rarely (if ever?)  have I read a book that evokes the kind of response that says, “Everyone I know must hear about this.” 

This is one of those books.

I read it in three days and that’s only because I dilly-dallied through the last chapter because I didn’t want it to end. 

The above picture is of a brand new copy of 7, waiting to be gifted to someone.  The picture below is of my copy after just one reading.

Every one of these little pink tabs marks a spot where something struck me so profoundly that I wanted to mark it for easy reference later. This doesn’t include the dozens of additional places I underlined, starred, or circled sentences that *pinged* my heart.   A few sections will be printed out and posted in my home as reminders, for when the initial feelings and thoughts start to fade with time. 

7 was written by one Jen Hatmaker, the author of eight previous books.  This is the only one I’ve read but you can bet it won’t be the last.  The premise of the book is that Jen takes seven months and during each month she drastically reduces her life in an area where she feels she (and we as an American church) lives in excess.  The areas include food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, shopping, and stress.  People, it’s fascinating.  We get to follow along with the ups and downs of this experiment which is presented in a funny, earnest, and most importantly, non-judgemental way.  I was surprised and grateful that while the content of this book may be convicting as you digest and apply it, it’s not one of those books where you walk away thinking you’re the scum of the earth because you own a blowdryer. 

I walked away from this book and lived several days in a state best described as holy shell shock. In the best possible way, it wrecked me.  7 resonated more deeply with me than any book I’ve ever read. And that is probably because a few details notwithstanding, my life looks eerily similar to Jen’s as she describes it in the Introduction, from the devoutly Christian upbringing right down to the (still being saved for) double African adoption. And for some time now I’ve been wrestling with – but mostly mentally shelving – the notion that I’m far too blessed.  Too privileged.  And that giving our tithe plus a little extra to the church just isn’t cutting it. I know Jesus wants more but I just can’t (or won’t, out of fear it might hurt too much) come to any concrete conclusions what to do about that. 

I read.  I cried. I took really long showers while I asked God what I was supposed to do with this change in my heart.  We’ve already instituted some changes around here, things I’m super duper excited about because they are things that challenge me to be more like Jesus, to really DO the things Jesus told us to do while we’re here, not just nod my head in agreement when we talk about them.

And God’s sense of timing never ceases to amaze me.  I had no more finished the chapter on possessions, one which says, “John the Baptist said that if you have two coats, one belongs to the poor” and left my emotions raw and convictions overwhelming my thoughts, when a friend announced a coat drive being conducted for the homeless in our county.  People, I’m no longer too proud to tell you I spent the better part of an hour mentally wrestling with whether I really, REALLY needed to give away my favorite (and only one year old) red pea coat.  “I mean really, does a poor person need a slightly impractical but oh-so-cute red pea coat?  I’ve already given five coats to the pile, including my most versitile black one.  I could keep this one and would still have given away over half of what I have.”  Turns out Jesus really wants that pea coat (and He just wouldn’t ding-dang leave me alone about it) so in the bag it went.  I’m still smarting.  And the Casper household is down about 50% in outerwear.

I tell you that not to make myself feel better, look better, or seem more spiritual….but just because it’s a tiny fraction of the response I feel God calling from me.  I will never be quite the same.  Or at least that’s what I’m praying; that my new thought processes and understanding won’t fade after a season like a post-summer camp slump.  I don’t know when I’ve last felt quite so far from the stagnation that’s plagued my spiritual life, or quite so close to Jesus.

“I’m going to bed tonight grateful for warmth, an advantage so expected it barely registers.  May my privileges continue to drive me downward to my brothers and sisters without.  Great yet, I’m tired of calling the suffering ‘brothers and sisters’ when I’d never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise.  That’s just hypocrisy veiled in altruism.  I won’t defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them.  Until every human receives the dignity I casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension and my belly rumbles for injustice.”  pg 51.

 Friends, get yourself a copy of 7.   I can’t wait to discuss it with you and then let’s DO something we’ve been called to do all along.

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Several months ago we asked for suggestions regarding Christian kids music for James.  LOTS of you suggested the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart CDs by Steve Green and I’m so glad you did.  They’ve been playing in our car pretty much ever since, to the point that James can sing along with most of the songs.  There’s something so pure in hearing your toddler’s sweet little voice singing from memory, the words God gave us to live by.  It makes me feel like we’re doing something right.

So a few mornings ago when I was feeding the baby in our bedroom before coming down for the day.  (Stay with me, I promise my abrupt change in subject does relate.)  Normally I get James setup in his chair with his breakfast before sitting down to nurse Edison, but this morning Edison was the hungrier of the two.  James, finding ways to amuse himself upstairs, opened my nightstand drawer and found two tubes of chapstick.  He can’t get the lids off without my help, so I let him play with them because it beats having to holler at him from my immobile state to TURN OFF THE WATER in the bathroom.  Anyway.

So while he played and I nursed, I asked him if he wanted to sing the Fruits of the Spirit song from the aforementioned CD.  (See?  I told you it would come back around.)  “Umm, ok!” he said and we sang together, “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.  The fruits of the Spirit are faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!”  He knows all the words by heart.  Melt MY heart.

Two days later I was once again feeding Edison before we came downstairs for the morning.  Ever one for repetition, James went to my nightstand looking for the chapsticks.  Only they weren’t there.  Immediately he turned to me and asked, “Where are the Fruits of the Spirit, Mama?   Want the Fruits of the Spirit.”

Umm.

Yep, my two-year-old thinks chapstick is the Fruit of the Spirit.  Maybe we’re not making quite as much progres in his Spiritual Formation as I thought.

Either that or he’s inherited my marketing genes and he’s brilliant.  Coming soon to a Family Christian store near you, the Fruits of the Spirit chapstick line …..Lovely Lemon, Joyful JuJube, Peaceful Peach, Patient Pear, Kindness Kiwi, Goodness Grape, Faithful Fig,  Gentle Guava, and Self-Control Starfruit.

Collect all eight.


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