Note to Reader:
This one is long. It is raw. Pretty darn authentic. I'm nervous for you to read it.
You see, Jen did this "little" social experiment to help her get out of the "machine". You know that machine don't you? The one that keeps going and going and going. More and more and more and more. The one that tells you that you don't have enough. You aren't enough. You "need" in order to continue. In order to keep it all going. So you feed the machine and feed the machine and feed the machine. Not ever stopping to see the irony of it all. While we feed the machine we are never full. We are always still hungry. And the machine never stops. So you never stop. I mean.....no one else around you is stopping so why should you, right? But Jen knew she needed to get out of the machine. Shut it down. The machine may not stop.....but she knew that she could stop. She could shut herself down and step away from the freakin machine!
The last few weeks, if you have been reading here, you know that I am adding a little intention to my life. While Dave and I were in Colorado we talked about how we wanted to be intentional. In our personal lives. In our marriage. With our kids. With our family. Our friends. Our church. Work. Community. City. World. Big right? It was! And talking about it all while sitting on top of a mountain (literally), away from every distraction. Every stress. Every detail of life. It was exciting. It was invigorating. For a long while, we have been feeling the Lord tugging us. Towards something. And we are on the search for that something. And while on that mountain it felt so simple. Then we drove back. And every mile closer to Kansas City, we knew it was just around the corner. It was just down the block. It was waiting there for us. The Machine. We entered back into it all. Life. Work. Stress. Schedules. Getting here. Going there. And on Monday, I knew that I had gotten stuck back in the machine. And I didn't like it. I am WAY too comfortable. I am not relying on Jesus. I am not making time for Jesus (don't worry, I can get up every morning to work out though). I check my facebook all the time in case I miss some big news or to see if someone "liked" my latest status (insert a rolling of the eyes). Our dishwasher broke--so we bought a new one--that day. I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some pictures for work and left spending $50 ($1.41 was the cost of the pictures). Dave and I sit in front of the TV each night.....and we wonder why the other doesn't understand what is happening in our hearts. I cook dinner and the kids don't like it, so I throw it away and grab something out of our stocked pantry for them of the boxed variety. Or from a freezer. From the frozen pizza variety.
I pass by Jen's book "7"....you remember that one. The one that wrecked me. I pick it up and read the introduction again. And I read, "The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change". Oh my. Yes. I am unaware. I am unmoved. I want so many things deeply in my life. Yet, I am unaware of the things that are probably keeping me from having them. I want change, but I am stuck---unmovable towards that change.
Did you know that if you make $35,000 you live in the top 4% of wealth in the world? If you make $50,000 then you are in the top 1%?? Can you believe this? Are we too focused on seeing the rungs above us that we forget just how high up we actually do live? And what about the rungs below? Do I notice them?
After Jen saw the machine she was stuck in, and her unawareness--the social experiment of 7 was birthed. It was her ticket out. She wanted what God wanted. She wanted to be moved closer to His agenda for her life and further away from her own agenda. And man....this is me too. I long to want what God wants. I long to be moved closer to His agenda and way far away from mine. I genuinely want this. But I think at times I get so suffocated by the comforts of my life that it is easy for me to miss God in my life. It is easy for me to not make time for him. It is easy for me to not need Him or depend on Him. And I want that. I want that so bad! And there are times when you need to jump in and do something big. I am not good at doing a little of this and a little of that. I am an all or nothin kind of girl. So for me....this is just right! But I didn't want to go it alone.
I asked Dave if he would join me on this journey. I wanted this to be something that we did together. He was reluctant. From his perspective we really don't live extravagantly. And really, he is right. We don't live outside of our means. We hardly eat out. We don't go on shopping sprees. We purge all the time. But after we talked about it and he read the introduction of the book he saw it. He is unaware. The machine---he saw it. And we know---it is time to step away from the freakin machine!
So....seven months ahead of us. Seven areas to tackle. Seven simple choices to commit to making. Purging. Paring down. And I am having the same goal as Jen, "To create space for God's kingdom to break through".
"I approach this project in the spirit of a fast: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in my life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves."
Jen had two goals for the project. And I wish I had two of my own---but hers really are mine.
"'Even now', declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." (Joel 2:12-13)
This is what Dave and I desire. A return to the Lord through fasting. With expectation that He will reveal things to us we will need to repent. In this verse it says to "rend your hearts not your garments". To rend means to tear apart. You might recall in scripture people would tear their garments to show they were mourning. It was a sign of grief. Of distress over a disaster. It was also a sign of holy anger against sin and the things that are contrary to God's Word. The Lord tells us that we need to rend our hearts....not our garments. We are to tear apart our hearts for the Lord. To grieve over the parts of our heart that are contrary to God's Word, in order for His graciousness, compassion, slowness to anger, and abounding love to breathe life back into our sinful hearts. We need to grieve this disaster that is happening in our own home. Complacency. Selfishness. Disobediance. Do you still like me? :)
Goal #1: Render my heart. Repentance.
"7 will be a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility. It's time to admit I'm trapped in the machine, held by my own selfishness.....So many areas out of control, so much need for transformation. What have we been eating? What are we doing? What have we been buying? What are we wasting? What are we missing? These questions grieve me, as well they should. I'm ready for deconstruction"
**So are we, Jen!
As I said earlier, Dave and I have been sensing a tug towards something but we don't know what it is. We sense change on the horizon but we don't know what that is. We want to make ourselves ready. To be available for God to show us.
Goal #2: Preparation
"Most of my life is in front of me yet. I'm thirty-five and only six years into my assignment as a writer and Bible teacher. The bulk of my work lies ahead. My children are young--still entirely impressionable. It is not too late to untether them from the lie of 'more'. Our church vision is new, and our mission is really just beginning. I'm hungry for the reconstruction."
**Yes Lord! Bring on the reconstruction!
So here is the breakdown for me and Dave. We are using the same 7 areas as Jen outlined in her book. But we have set some of our own boundaries. And we are doing a different order. Not for any special reason, but that the Lord pretty much let me know that I needed to start with Media.
So here it is. The 7 areas:
Jen did not do the experiment in literal months but weeks. We are doing the same. We are also taking a week in between each in order for us to reflect and prepare for the next month.
"I'm ready to adopt Jesus' version of rich, blessed, and generous. He had plenty to say on the subject. I look forward to what God will accomplish in the next seven months. He will meet me, I'm certain. I'm anxious about turning the soil, but I'm so eager for liberation that I'm still willing to become weird and eccentric for the next seven months. It's the means to the harvest. Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Here we go."
JEN AND BRANDON MEETING THEIR ETHIOPIAN KIDS FOR THE FIRST TIME:
Are you wanting to join us? If you have made it this far---I am impressed. I will write more a little later about how we will embark on Month 1: Media. Our boundaries and game plan!