I spent the morning being angry at the world, angry at my food choices yesterday, angry that I even have to be concerned about food choices.....the list is substantial. Some days I just wake up with a ginormous chip on my shoulder and today is one of those days. I contemplated going to church again this morning even though we went last night, but getting all three kids to church by myself is always far more stressful than it should be, especially with a certain three year old who really loves to run.
Instead we headed out to Babies R Us to get a new carseat for Rory so that we can do the car seat shuffle and make sure everyone is in a seat that is appropriate for them. (I'm glad the boys don't know yet how girly their seats are....but when pink and butterflies are on clearance, that is what you get.) Other than the aforementioned runner, we were in and out fairly quickly so I decided to brave Target and pick up a couple of things. I should have quit while I was ahead, Target on Sunday morning is no place for a stressed mom and three hungry kids. I apologize to the lovely people of Woodbury who got to enjoy tantrums from all three of my lovely babes.
We have successfully made it to nap time and I really thought about joining them, but instead I made myself a cup of coffee, threw on some Secondhand Serenade and decided to finally share my thoughts on the book, 7, by Jen Hatmaker.
I could give you a brief synopsis, but there is already a nifty You Tube video that does just that, so I'll spare you the words and you can watch this
Pretty amazing, right.
This was the first book that I've read by Jen, but I've been enjoying her blog for a while. It is rare that you find a woman who loves God, loves people and is also hilarious, but that is exactly what Jen is. Her 2012 Summer Olympic commentary on Twitter had me laughing hysterically.
7 did not disappoint. I laughed and cried as I read through Jen's commentary on the 7 experiment. I think it is impossible to read the book and not dramatically change the way you think about every day decisions and the downstream impact that they have.
James and I found ourselves at the Mall of America on a date night while I was reading the book and there was a really cute outfit that I knew Rory would love on clearance, I had it in my hand and was headed to the register when this little voice in my head creeped in and said, "But does she really NEED that?". I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and put it back on the shelf and we left. It was cute, she would have loved it, but her drawers are already overflowing with cute clothes, she didn't NEED it.
My poor husband doesn't know what to do with me sometimes because I've had many moments like this since reading the book....but then again, I am the girl that stood in the vitamin isle at Target sobbing as I bought vitamins to send to orphans in Haiti. All I could think about was how there are so many beautiful children out there who don't have a mom or dad to do simple things for them like buying vitamins. My heart is constantly broken for orphans and people living in poverty and this book helps make the connection between the day to day decisions that we make and how they keep us living lives of excess and ignoring the "least of these", the people that God has called us to love and serve.
I would really love to actually do the 7 experiment, but I don't want to do it alone, I'd love to try and talk my small group into it since there is a small group curriculum. (What do you think ladies??) I know it would take a lot of planning for me to make this successfull in our family, but I'd really like to make it happen.
I think the one theme in the book that I kept seeing was how far Christians today have strayed from the life that Jesus called us to.
I think the chapters that had the greatest impact on me were food, spending and stress....all very critical at this phase in my life. There are so many great stories in the book, but I think my favorite was hearing about how the Hatmaker's church took their Easter service to the homeless in Austin, TX. They worshipped alongside people that, if we are really honest about, would probably not be welcomed into many of our churches because it might make someone uncomfortable.
There are so many great stories and a lot of though provoking thoughts, but here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"We are far from Jesus' original vision: the whole enterprise would be unrecognizable to our early church fathers. The earth is groaning, and we're putting coffee bars in our thirty-five million dollar sanctuaries. Just because we can have it doesn't mean we should. I marvel at how out of place simple, humble Jesus would be in today's American churches." (Pg 157)
"I think the early church would cover their heads with ashes and grieve over the dilution of Jesus' beautiful church vision. We've taken his Plan A for mercy to an injured lost planet and neutered it to clever sermon series and stitch-and-chat in the Fellowship Hall, serving the saved. If the modern church held to its biblical definition, we would become the answer to all that ails society. We wouldn't have to baby-talk and cajole and coax people into our sanctuaries through witty mailers and strategic adds; they'd be running to us. The local church would be the heartbeat of the city, undeniable by our staunchest critics." (Pg 174)
"The church was patterned after a savior who had no place to lay his head and voluntarily died a brutal death, even knowing we would reduce the gospel to a self-serving personal improvement program where people were encouraged to make a truce with their maker and stop sinning and join the church, when in fact the gospel does not call for a truce but a complete surrender." (Pg 174)
"I'm guessing you've cried over orphans or refugees or starvation or child prostitutes, heartbroken by the depravity of this world. It's not okay that your kids get school and birthday parties while third world children get abandoned and trafficked, but you don't know how to fix that." (Pg 220)
In case you can't tell by the portions of the book that made a big impact on me, I struggle a lot with my thoughts on the church and what we could be doing vs what we are actually doing. God has been working on me in a big way in this area and I'm praying and reading my way through it, trying to watch for what he is trying to teach me.
Our church does A LOT for people locally and globally, but I think we could do so much more if we didn't try so hard to make following Jesus glamorous. We try to fit Jesus into the world's definition of fun and exciting and call it relevance instead of simply loving and humbly serving others. Yes, there are thousands of people hearing about Jesus each weekend, but I fear that when you come to know this glamorous Jesus, you can get stuck waiting to see what God can do for you rather than what God can do through you...I should know, I was stuck there for a long time myself.
So I guess I'll end this with a plea for you to read the book if you haven't already and start thinking about the areas in your life that are excessive. What resources do you have that could be freed up from feeding your desires and shifted into furthering God's kingdom? Do you have an empty room that could be a home for a child who longs for a family? Do you have time to spend serving the homeless and underprivileged? Can you spare $35 a month to sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International? How about giving a one time donation to help improve the quality of care for women in Haiti? There are so many ways that you can make a difference.
I struggle so much with wanting to do more at a time in my life where I really don't have a lot of extra time to give. We give financially to a few organizations, but know that we could do a lot more if we cut back in certain areas. I just keep praying that God will use me and help me find ways to make a difference even if it isn't as grand as I feel it has to be.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you read 7? Have you done the experiment? What kinds of things are you doing to make a difference?