Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Every once in awhile it sneaks back into my consciousness.  Mostly the idea lies dormant in my mind.  I feel a prick of conscience when I hear about orphans and homeless folks and refugees.  But then things go back to normal.

It's this idea that I'm greedy.  Rich, and greedy.

I've never missed a meal, been without health insurance, or been denied education.  We have two cars, and a house for those cars (also known as a garage ).  We have a large house for people too and the ability to heat and cool it and even decorate.  And it's filled with a whole bunch of stuff.

Our income is in the top 1% in the world.

And we still struggle to live within our means.  We're still hoping for that day when things don't feel so tight.  Why?  Because we want even more money.  And let's be honest, we want more money to spend on ourselves a lot of the time.

Over and over, I've been feeling it.  From church.  In conversations with friends.  When I look at our checkbook.  That God-led nudge (call it conviction) that something in my life isn't right and needs to change.  Where is my true hope and security?  Am truly grateful for all that I have?  And am I actually willing to give of myself, my stuff (the good stuff, not just the cast-off stuff), and my ability to buy more stuff?  Not because God needs it, or because I'm trying to "be a better Christian," but because these things are heart issues.  You know, that place I've invited Jesus into.  And because stuff and prosperity and the desire to buy Caroline something cute that she doesn't need have a tendency to distract me from Him and what He's all about.

Enter 7.   It's a book called "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess."

Here's Amazon's description:
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
The seven areas she focused on?  Clothes.  Shopping.  Waste.  Food.  Possessions.  Media.  Stress.

My bloggy friend Marla is hosting a read-along on this book.  Since A) it dovetails nicely with what I think God is trying to teach me and B) MAN do I need some accountability and C) Josh and I chose this book (and reading it together) as a small way to open up some space for God during Lent, I'm participating.  Oh, and we're starting a fast of our own here soon that's eerily similar to one of Jen's.

Per the day's read-along instructions, here is some of my (rambling!) commentary about a few key quotes:

“The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change.” (pg 3)

Yup.  That's me. I have nothing to really say about this beyond the fact that it stings.

“7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.” (pg 4)

I think that's what fasting is all about.  It's not brownie points with God or earning favor.  It's just clearing away some of the rubble of life to experience a little more of God.  I know the clearing away part can be/will be painful and inconvenient.  But it's in those spaces that I have the opportunity to stop and invite God into my day that much more often.  

“My children are young… It is not too late to untether them from the lie of ‘more.’” (pg 5) 

I SO want to teach Caroline that stuff isn't actually connected to true joy.  That it really is more blessed to give than to receive.  And yet how there's a season for receiving gracefully.  I want to teach her how to model her life on the life of Jesus - true love, sacrifice, service, grace.  And how will I best teach her these things?  Starting right now with me, and us.  Like, even before she has lasting memories.

So, here we go.  Rambling thoughts for the day?  Check.  A stirring in my heart?  Yes.  Next steps?  Not really sure.


Marla Taviano said...

Um, so I love the way you write. This post was pure joy to read. I think my favorite part is this: "because these things are heart issues. You know, that place I've invited Jesus into." Wow. And ow. Glad you're on this journey, my bloggy (and real-life, if only briefly!) friend.

Anonymous said...

will keep your blog open. have had similar thoughts. perhaps I should open that book ;)
Marcia Van Drunen

Ali said...

I am already seeing so much of this American dream consumption crap in my kids and it is SCARY. Oh heavens, I'm in trouble. Praying I can start to turn this ship around. It's going to be an uphill battle, but with Jesus at the center, I am confident that we can win this war.

Sharon Wang said...

That's awesome that you are reading the book together. I hope my husband will read it with me after I do the original read through.