By Misty Umholtz
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is the true story of how Jen Hatmaker (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. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.
Sounds serious, doesn’t it? There are many thought-provoking moments in the book, but at the same time, Jen Hatmaker is one of the funniest authors I have ever read. Her book offered many laugh-out-loud moments that had my husband asking, “What is so funny?”
Jen, a pastor’s wife, did her due diligence for this project. She took seven months and fasted from one thing each month. She did a lot of prep work in advance to make this all work successfully. She had a husband who was on board plus her three kids all go to school, which in my opinion, makes it all more doable. She also did it with seven of her closest friends by her side, who she calls “The Council.” Even when you’re fasting, friends make anything way more fun.
Month 1- Food. Jen and her husband ate only 7 items for 31 days. Chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and apples.
Month 2-Clothes. Jen wore 7 pieces of articles of clothing for a whole month. Underwear did not count, (she got to change those, thank God). Not 7 outfits but one pair of plain jeans, one long-sleeve shirt, two short sleeved shirts, one pair of capri pants, one long dress shirt and cowboy boots or tennis shoes.
Month 3-Possessions. Every day, their family gave away 7 items that they owned and used in their home. Yes, 7 items each day. And they did not just drop it off at a Goodwill but hand delivered it to the homeless and people in need in their church and schools.
Month 4-Media. Their whole family shut it all off. No TV, gaming systems, facebook/twitter, iphone apps, radio, texting, and internet (except for business and school purposes).
Month 5-Waste. Their family started gardening their own produce, composting, conserving water and energy, recycling (everything), driving only one car, shopping only at thrift and second-hand stores, buying only at local stores (for everything).
Month 6-Spending. The Hatmaker’s picked only 7 vendors they could spend money at all month. The Farmer’s Market, the gas station, online bill pay, the kid’s school, limited travel fund, emergency medical, and Target. No restaurants!
Month 7-Stress. Jen practiced the Seven Sacred Pauses a day, which is to stop and offer designated, specific prayers seven times a day. Their family also practiced observing rest on the Sabbath for 24 hours from sundown Saturday night to sundown Sunday night.
Throughout this book, I laughed, I cried, I was convicted and I prayed that I would never be the same. The spiritual truths that the author uncovered and explained were of earthquake magnitude that shook me to the core. This book never made me feel condemned, judged or guilty but inspired me to be more like Jesus in every way possible.
It might not be feasible to do a full blown 7 month fast like Jen, but maybe it is possible is to get a group of friends together and try to do a condensed, modified version for 7 weeks or even 7 days.
Where am I as a reader going to begin? A major overhaul to my closet, household items, budget, thought processes and the motivations of my heart.
At the very least, it might bring some much welcomed balance and order to my life.
Here’s a video preview of the book.
Misty Umholtz loves being a wife and mom of two small children. She enjoys ministry and she also likes football, which should win her an award for “dream wife.” But on the other hand, her love for shopping might disqualify her from that possibility. You can read more about Misty on her blog, Finding Meaning in the Mayhem.