Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Thoughts After Reading Jen Hatmaker's
7:: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I wish I could think of some extremely clever way to begin this post but the honest truth is that if I don't write this review at this very moment, it will not get written. It is not that I do not want to write anything, in fact, quite the opposite is true. It is just that I have put off posting this for over a month. I have had so many thoughts reeling since I closed page 221 of Jen Hatmaker's 7. Writing this post would mean I would have to face the harsh reality that heart change is not satisfied until outward change shows its face. The Lord did so much in my heart as I loomed over the pages of 7 but speaking about said changes, well, writing them rather, makes it feel that much closer to actual, real, life change. I think the pop phrase for this is accountability :: if I say something out loud, people can hold me to it. Call it what you want, if change just stays in your heart or in your head, I would contend it is not actual change....I digress.

I read Jen's previous book, Interrupted, and quickly placed it in my top 10 books to recommend. I loved it. It was such an honest, raw, beautiful picture of the Lord doing something in a lady's heart and The Lord bring that something to fruition. It was superb. Knowing my love for Interrupted I got wonderfully excited when I heard the news that Jen would soon be releasing a new book. When the idea behind 7 began to circulate, I got even more excited. But friends, my excitement was not because I thought 7 would be a challenge to MY heart but rather, my excitement was for what I envisioned God doing in so many OTHER people's hearts. Ahem.

***if you have a lofty, angelic view of me that you would like to maintain, please excuse yourself here, its about to get ugly as I bare my prideful heart to the world***

You see, I heard that 7 was going to be about a 7 month experiment against excess. Excess of Clothes, Shopping, Waste, Food, Possessions, Media and lastly, Stress. I literally thought to myself, "I wear the same thing everyday (jeans and a v neck), I LOATH shopping, I am the only person I know in my city who recycles, we regularly eat organic/non-processed foods, we don't have enough money to have a lot of extra possessions, we have no TV and I am not easily stressed. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check and Check." I know, sickening, but welcome to my heart. I got excited about 7 knowing that Jen was hilarious and fun loving, yet still willing to tackle the hard issues. I mean, that IS the best type of book to recommend nicely to a friend...ahem (wink). Little did I know that it would be my heart's issue being addressed...not my friend's....ouch.

As I plunged into the pages of 7 I found a beautiful picture of heart change leading to outward, life altering change. Change that moves beyond personality and preference to God honoring worship.

For me, thinking of having only 7 items of clothes to wear for a month is somewhat of a relief. I am a simpleton. I hate clutter. I was raised to reuse and not waste. I sometimes have to remind myself that certain situations should arise a since of stress, because I am often way too laid back even in the times that stress would be appropriate. ALL of these things are just part of me, Amber Burger, my personality, my preference. What I learned from 7 was that, while these things might be considered "good, wholesome and healthy" ways to live, they have cost me nothing. It is normal to me to purge our home of excess clothes and clutter 2 to 3 times a year. Loading up our excess and hauling off to Goodwill is rather therapeutic to me. On the other hand, collecting our excess (and even harder:: things we are currently using), keeping them separated and nice while asking God where He wants them used in His Kingdom to spread His name...that is an entirely different song. The first is personal preference, the second is worship. 7 taught me that my personal leaning toward the simple life is not of great gain in the Kingdom of God with out personal sacrifice that leads to beautiful communion with Christ.

Throughout 7 Jen tells stories of God using the excess they relinquished to further His Kingdom and how she got to come face to face with the people God provided for. There is a big difference between 1) taking a trash bag full of extra house hold items & clothing to Salvation Army because they are annoying me and 2) walking around our house, perusing our closets asking the Lord what to give away and to whom to give it. The heart:: that is the difference. Communion with God:: that is the blessing.

With all of that said, I would like to highly recommend to you (not out of haughty, vein heart but out of an honest, changed heart) Jen Hatmaker's 7:: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It is hilarious, honest, straight-forward, practical and full of insight. You will laugh and cry and you will come face to face with honest facts about what our excess is doing globally.

HERE is a link to check it out.

And if you would like to win a copy of 7 :: leave a comment and check back on Saturday to see if you won!


Sarah Dale said...

This is challenging to me! I am going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow to buy this book! But I would really like to know what your top ten list of books you recommend!!!

gregandkim said...

Reading Interrpted now! Thank you for your honesty and thoughts on 7! Excited to read it! Love, KV

rachel said...

Wow, if you, the great simpleton found it heart changing, then I have to admit, I am nervous to read it! I already know I live with excess excess excess...so I know God is already trying to say something to me, by my reading this post...I guess I need to prepare my heart and life for some change...bring it on!!!!

Renee said...

What a lovely review! I, too, lean toward the frugal and simple, and I had never really thought about the lack of sacrifice involved when it's just the way I am. I've had this book on my to-read list for a little while now. I'm thinking I need to bump it up on the list - of course "winning" a copy wouldn't hurt my feelings, ha!

Corey said...

Amber, I have read other reviews on this book and was not moved to read it. I, like you, love to purge, love simplicity, and don't see this as a big "growth" area in my life. Communion with God, however, is always an area that I want to grow...so thanks for the insight into this book! I will add it to my list. I second what Sarah Dale wrote, too...what is your top 10 list of books?

Keri C said...

Sounds like the perfect read for us. We are currently reading Interrupted and loving it. I am assuming we would love 7 as well:) Thank you, for your beautiful, honest heart. Love you!

Allenians said...

Amber, this is me to a "t". I've always assumed that I have victory over mammon...until moving to Vancouver and living as simple as I've ever had to live. The biggest difference I can see is that before our move, I had the opportunity to consume and at present I do not. I've idolized things and money more in our time here than I ever have in my life simply because we don't and cannot have! Jason has had a fellow student prophecy over him saying that one of the reasons we are here is so that God can give us victory over mammon...wow! What an awakening for myself and others. I'd love to read this book.

Joanna said...

I guess I will be buying Interrupted. My heart has been preparing for change and your post is reaffirming in me the change that needs to begin.
Thank you for your open heart.

Kristina Butler said...

Yes! Great post! I am like that too! Let me get that book for so and so...they really need it. Lord forgive me.. I am the one who needs it! Yikes!

Robin Oas Designs said...

I'm now even more convinced I need to read the entire book! I'm thrilled I got to read a couple chapters outloud to a friend (who will rename nameless but whose blog I may or may not be currently posting on ;) ) because it stuck with me... Let the heart change begin!

t said...

what a wonderful review and great giveaway!

Amber said...

And the winner is...... SARAH ALLEN! send me your address and Ill get it in the mail :) Thanks to all who commented!