read Part 1 here
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker
Last week I waded casually into the deep pool of thoughts I had about the Food, Clothes, Possessions and Media sections of this book. I could have (and probably should have) created an entire post about each section of the book. I might still do that someday, but for now, I’m just going to wade in the shallow end by lightly discussing Jen’s Waste, Spending and Stress challenges.
During month five, Jen’s challenge was to successfully adopt seven habits for a greener life. It was “a fast from assuming I am not part of an integrated earth,” as Jen put it (page 119). Specifically, Jen was going to begin gardening and composting; conserve energy and water; recycle everything possible; drive only one car; shop thrift, second hand and locally. This challenge really spoke to me, or maybe it was Jen when she wrote,
This comes at a time when I was pondering a similar thought. God made the world for us; isn’t it our responsibility to lovingly maintain and care for it? Aren’t we doing the exact opposite? Nature has always been a place where I’ve felt most connected to God. After all, it was His creation. I’ve become much more focused on the earth, and I’m doing my best, little by little, to be a better steward of the environment. I’ve spent time thinking about some of the areas where I can become greener, including household cleaning and maintenance products. I’ve put countless chemicals into the local water because I’ve used commercial cleaning products, but not anymore. As I use up these products, I’m researching green (and often homemade) alternatives, and I’m switching to them.
One other interesting aspect of Jen’s waste month was the introduction (to me) of the Karpophoreō Project, whose mission is “To bear good fruit in every good deed.” The KP is an organization that teaches homeless people how to tend a garden and pairs them up with homeowners who have space for a backyard garden. The homeowner gets a portion of the harvest, with the remaining harvest being sold at the local farmers’ market by the formerly homeless person. It sounds like such an amazing project.
(If you get a hold of this book, check out Jen’s list on pages 130 to 132 of reasons to buy local.)
As the Hatmaker family’s fortune increased (both literally and figuratively), so did their spending. They were a normal, growing American family. Jen challenged her family to only spend money at seven places: Sunset Valley Farmer’s market, HEB gas station, online bill pay (various vendors, such as utility providers still need to be paid), kids’ school, limited travel fund (Jen travels for work), emergency medical and Target.
This was an interesting challenge. It runs so counter to our consumerist society. I don’t think it would be hard for my family to only spend money at seven places for one month if we don’t count Nick’s business visits for work. (He often buys things when he’s visiting the businesses. It’s a sign of goodwill.)
Don’t we all have too much stress? To work on handling her stress. Jen decided to follow the The Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr. This was an interesting challenge in which Jen paused seven times throughout the day (including at midnight!) to pray. The book guided her through the appropriate prayers and intentions at each hour. The most profound statement in this section was
Seriously, this was such a lovely and inspiring book. “Challenge” books are so popular these days: from spending a year trying to find happiness to traveling the world to “find” oneself (Where did your inner self go if you have to travel the world to find it?). I’ve never been interested in reading the others, but the premise of this book sounded so intriguing that I had to pick it up, and I’m very glad I did. All of the challenges really inspired me to live with more intention, which is always a good thing in my opinion.
Have you read Jen Hatmaker’s book or anything similar? What do you think? Would living with less be good for you?
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(Quotes from pages 118 and 189)