So, a midst the craziness of my current life, I'm choosing to add more. Actually, God had this planned all along. I chose way back in August to go through a book in January with some of my favorite ladies...
For several years now, I've been meeting with other Whitefield mamas every Tuesday morning at Panera. Our kids go to school together and we love Jesus and each other. But that's where our similarities stop with most of us. We attend different churches, live in different areas of the city, and think different thoughts (imagine). But we OWN that Panera with our own table and staff who endue our laughter and birthday celebrations, complete with banners, balloons, and candles. After meeting weekly with these women, we know a lot about each other. We know each others strengths and hurts and sensitive spots. We know whose kiddos are struggling in math and whose husband is going through medical testing. I have laughed and cried with them and shared dozens of mugs of coffee.
All of this to say we decided months ago that this would be the month we dive into Jen Hatmaker's 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and I don't think any of us knew what we were in for. If you're not familiar with Jen Hatmaker, check out her blog. I have determined to get HGTV just to catch their reality show coming soon (and also that we would be bffs if she were in the KC area)...
This book is hard. core. In it, Hatmaker writes about her experiment in boiling down each of these categories (food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress) to the number 7. Wear just 7 items of clothing for a month. Eat only 7 foods for a month. Get rid of 7 media outlets for a month. You get the picture. It's a book that challenges a Christ-like simplicity and generosity; living a deeply reduced life to discover a greatly increased God. A fast to create margin for God to move.
You should have seen the women's faces when I suggested we do it too. Not just read the book, but live it out.
Before you think we're as hard core as Jen Hatmaker, we're not. We're only doing it for a week at a time. And thankfully, we're pushing each other with a mix of grace and challenge that allows for each of us to create our own individual fast. The way God has uniquely called each of us to make space for him.
Ultimately, it comes down to this prayer: "Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom."
Two weeks ago we went through the first chapter and I was a mess. Food.
So I gave up (among other things): coffee *gasp*, soda, eating lunch, and grocery shopping. (Before you think I'm feeding my children scraps from my cupboards, I'm still shopping for fresh foods and just using what we have in our pantry that could honestly feed a small African village for more days than I will confess to here.)
Also, we have a private Facebook group that serves a little bit like an AA support group during this time.
YOU GUYS. I am currently eating burritos without Diet Coke. (Def pushing me towards Jesus...)
Which of these were the hardest to give up? Other than Diet Coke with Mexican and pizza? (If you've known me longer than 24 hours you already know the answer). Coffee. It is near and dear and close to my heart. Two things I discovered. 1.) I am not physically addicted to coffee. Win. 2.) However, my heart is. Coffee happens to be my go to comfort.
And that was just week one. Coffee is a comfort. But what else is holding me back from finding Jesus as sufficient? Clothing and the importance of how people perceive me? Possessions and what I cling to rather than Jesus? Spending my time lost in media rather than something of eternal significance? The list goes on...
We're now smack dab in the midst of week two: clothing.
I have always been the girl standing in my closet bemoaning the fact that I have nothing to wear each morning. This week I was proven wrong. Way wrong. I challenged myself to get rid of 100 clothing items. I assumed it would be painful to find that many to purge and thought I would need to count a holey sock or two to top it off. It turns out I easily got rid of 150+ items of clothing. Now before you get all judgy, much of this was stuff that was years old (even including basketball shorts from 6th grade - I kid not). And my gracious friend Gretchen stifled her laughter as I tried on my "this-isn't-too-bad-right?" pile for her and was lovingly told "yes-it-is-soooo-bad-get-rid-of-it" (or took the good ones that no longer fit for herself). True friendship, ya'll.
And I haven't just been purging this week. I've relegated myself to one pair of jeans and tops that I haven't worn in over a year. I've been reminded this week that my clothes shouldn't be about pride and position and prestige. They should reflect a simple heart that longs for His glory. "When the jars of clay remember they are jars of clay, the treasure wintin gets all the glory, which seems somehow more fitting."
My mantra these past weeks: less of me, more of you.
It turns out, this is a good season for me to be getting rid of excess in my life. To position my heart for God to break through. To soften myself to what He has for me.
Because, in the end, my prayer is Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom. Amen and amen.