Archives For 7 by Jen Hatmaker

It’s time for my third month of fasting, and that means I am going to be having withdrawals from coffee, ice cream and chocolate. Yes that’s right, you guessed it, I am going to be doing a food fast. There are so many ways to do this month but since I was inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7, to even do these seven months of fasting I plan to do a similar fast as hers. What this will look like is only have seven different items that I am allowed to eat. No that does not mean that I only get to eat seven times. What it means is just that I am picking seven ingredients (excluding salt/pepper and extra virgin olive oil) and those are the things that I will have to make my meals with. So what are my choices?

  1. Baby spinach

    My favorite chocolate bar we will meet again soon!

    My favorite chocolate bar we will meet again soon!

  2. Sweet potato
  3. Broccoli
  4. Eggs
  5. Apple
  6. Avocado
  7. Pinto beans

Sounds yummy, right? I will go ahead and answer the lurking question, no I will not be using all ingredients for every meal. That would be a disaster! Could you imagine what kind of meal that would be with pinto beans and apples mixed together, along with eggs… bluh! I don’t know what each meal will look like, probably not very exciting and a lot of the same thing. I have no doubt that this will be a challenging month for me. You see I love the three items I listed in my first sentence… coffee, ice cream and chocolate! Oh do I love those three things and I will certainly miss them! But, that is not what this is about. The point in all these fasts is to grow closer to God, learn to appreciate all that I have, fasting from all the excess and open my eyes to what I don’t need to be happy (and that means coffee, ice cream and chocolate this month!) So while I know that this next month will have its own set of challenges I am also looking forward to all that it will bring!

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Just a few of my daily alarms

Month two is coming to a close and I am about to wrap up my stress fast. For the past four weeks I have had my alarm set for seven different times during the day/night reminding me it was time to pray. I will be completely honest as I say that the 6 AM and midnight prayers were not exactly on schedule. I attempted to do these but after I realized that I was just repeating myself for about half an hour because I continued to fall asleep I decided to change the times a little. My 6 AM prayer was done after I was up and dressed and moving around so that my mind had some time to wake up. The midnight prayer was just when I was getting ready for bed. I decided that it didn’t really matter what times the prayers were just so long as I took those seven pauses in the day to pray.

Here is what I realized during this month. First, it is way easier to actually do all seven pauses when you are home! When you are out and about it doesn’t matter if you try to find a quiet place, somehow they always seemed to be interrupted. Second, I realized how little time I actually spend before God talking to him about something other than a request. The seven prayers each had something different to pray about, so yes there were times when I would make a “request.” However, looking at the themes of the prayers: thankfulness, love toward others, servant’s heart, praying for my husband, praying for my son, praying for protection and praying for healing (for those I do and do not know) I began to spend more time praying for these things and less time being selfish. It is so easy to fall into a routine with our prayer life, and so easy to become selfish in our prayers. Once I began to recognize this I started to focus a little less on the things that I wanted God to answer and more on what else I could pray for during these seven pauses.

Now the question you might be asking yourself is how well did this fast carry out my original goal of tackling stress? Rather beautifully! I can’t tell you how many times I would begin to get stressed out and then guess what would happen? My alarm would go off. Oh, it’s time to pray! So I would take the time to pause and pray and by the time I was done praying my stress level had lowered AND I wasn’t even praying about what was stressing me out! Taking those few moments to pray about a non-related subject was all it took! It’s all because I took the time to be in God’s presence, and wow does that make a difference when you come back to whatever was previously stressing you out!

So will I keep this up now that the month is coming to an end? Probably not to the same extent, I mean I wasn’t even perfect during this month. Yes, I messed up and missed a few prayers during the day. But, my view is forever changed. There is something to be said about being intentional about how we handle stress, our prayer lives and not always coming to God with the “I want” kind of attitude. I will definitely take what I have learned from this fast to heart!

December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield

Have you ever read a book and when you were done you put it down and thought, wow, that totally just wrecked my life! Well that just happened to me! Recently my friend Michelle Clark wrote a post, One of those Christians, about her journey of reading and fasting through the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. After hearing all that she learned from this book and how highly she talked about it I decided I should check it out. All that I have to say is WOW! I finished the book in a week and realized this was one of those life changing books! We all have our share of clutter, excess and stress. Boy does this book really make you take a look at these areas and realize that you can do something about it. I knew when I put the book down that there was no way I would be able to simply read this book and just walk away, l was inspired! I decided to take Jen’s book to heart and follow in her example. I am on a seven month journey to seek simplicity, growth and change. I call it Searching for Simplicity.

Jen’s book focused on seven areas of excess. She picked one area of focus a month and then fasted from seven things in that area. Her seven focuses were food, clothing, waste, media, possessions, spending and stress. So as of November 1st I started month one of the seven month-long fast. Which area did I pick to focus on first? Clothing. Why is it that I have a closet full of clothes and there are mornings where I will complain of nothing to wear? Why is it that I can pick out a shirt only to change saying that I wore it recently, assuming that people truly pay that much attention to my clothes. How often can I so easily walk by a shirt in a store and see that it is on sale for only $5 and think, oh, that’s a good price, and it’s cute! I can honestly say that sometimes I will walk away without buying and other times I find the deal just good enough to buy, as if I need anymore shirts. The sad thing is how many items of clothing I keep in my closet for the “just in case.” I’m sure you know what I am talking about, it’s that shirt that you wore only once or twice but maybe if you find the right pair of pants you’ll wear it again. Or, that pair of jeans that doesn’t really fit right anymore but you stash it away in case you find yourself able to wear them. The kicker are the shirts that I have and I know have been in my closest unworn for more than year, why am I still keeping these?! 

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My seven articles of clothing

Thus begins month one of seven. In doing this clothing fast this means that I can only pick seven articles of clothing to wear for the next four weeks, SEVEN! This was not easy! That means seven articles to wear for the next four weeks, whether I’m awake, asleep, out and about or at home… SEVEN, that’s it! I have picked my articles, and yes I have swapped and switched a couple of times until the final decision was made. So here it is people, my seven articles of clothing that you will see me wear time and time again this November:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • Green LifeChurch.tv Financial Operations t-shirt
  • Grey blouse
  • Orange t-shirt
  • Pink long sleeve shirt
  • Multi-color cardigan

Here is what I am not counting against my seven articles. Shoes, I have picked two pairs of shoes to wear during this month, a pair of Vans and a pair of winter boots. Also, undergarments are excluded from this number because that’s just an essential. The last and final item that I do not count is a coat. Jen did not wear a coat, however I am making this exception in regards to my Lupus. One of my struggles I have is my fingers turning white and numb when I am cold and the doctor told me it is important to keep my core warm to help with this issue. So, I tossed in a cardigan to wear for the chilly days but if it gets cold I will wear a coat while outside. I have approved this with the “council” which is my two friends who are like accountability partners during this journey, which Jen also had. I don’t think that a coat on a small occasion will keep me from growing, but also I will only be using the coat if I honestly need it.

So yes, you will be seeing me repeat my outfits on a pretty regular basis this month. And yes, I will probably be more aware of how often I wear a shirt than everybody else. But, I am excited to hear all that God has to teach me during these next seven months. Sometimes the greatest lessons happen during those moments when we are the most uncomfortable, and that is what I intend to do during my search for simplicity!