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Round two of 7 {and a winner of the Origami Owl}

There’s always a tension in my heart this time of year.  I bet you feel it, too.
As a believer in Christ, I want to honor him and his birth and what it means to the world.
I want to be mindful of how we give into the culture around us in this season of excess.
I don’t want to let the busy{ness} & the commercialism of Christmas overwhelm our hearts & minds. 
But, I also really, really, really don’t want to ever become the Christian that is miserable to be around.
…the one who judges that we give gifts to our kids.
…the one who is mortified that I have two Christmas trees up.
…the one who thinks hosting ornament parties is a little bit ridiculous.
Maybe all this tension is why I chose to pick up a book this week that I started but never finished.
I started reading the book 7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess  late summer, early fall.
Jenn Hatmaker wrote it, and it’s basically her journey with giving up some of the excess in her life.
She writes candidly {and hilariously} about her genuine struggles & joys in the process.
food. clothes. possessions. media. waste. spending. stress
Those are the 7 areas she chose to focus on…one month at a time.
She reminded us that fasting isn’t about putting on a religious yoke of self-denial but about putting off
a yoke of oppression.
I love how she put it.  “God’s idea of a fast is less about what we’re against and more about what we are for.”
Are you wondering why I only read two chapters before laying it down?
These kind of books are dangerous, or at least for me they are.
 I thought I’d try to do what Jenn Hatmaker did in her journey.  Clearly, that was my first mistake.
I read her first chapter on food, then I went and picked 7 foods that I planned to eat for an entire month.
You’ll be impressed to know that I made it two days before I had an epic fail that involved a big jelly donut.
Case closed.
 I laid the book down because what should have been a challenging personal inventory 
became a bandwagon that I could jump on to feel good about myself.  Sick, i know.
Self-denial keeps us feeling good about ourselves, as long as we can keep up with it.
Sounds a lot like the Pharisees and their law.
The problem is…the law is weak, useless and imperfect. {Hebrews 7:18}  We were never meant to be able to keep it.
The law was meant to show us our great need for Christ. {Galatians 3:24}
Here’s something amazing.  God has been doing a personal inventory in my heart with this book,
 even though I only read one chapter and got two days into my month of 7 foods.

He has shown me another layer behind the motivations of my heart.  
I don’t want to live under the law, yet I so easily linger back under it in a lame attempt to prove my worth.
He’s reminded me through my epic fail with that dang jelly donut that his grace is perfect.
I’m going to finish this book.
My goal isn’t to do what Jenn Hatmaker did this go around.
My goal is to ask the Lord to show me the areas of excess in my life that grip my heart and compete for His glory.
I don’t want to wear a religious yoke that is wrapped in self-denial for the sake of feeling good about me.
I want Him to take off the yoke of oppression that enslaves me so I can love and serve the marginalized.
{thankful for}
624. the law that leads me to Christ.
625. His grace that is deeper and wider and longer than I can imagine.
626. the end of this very busy week.
627. a winner of the Origami Owl give away…Congrats Glenda Childers!  I’ll email you!!

Eleanor - Oh, complete the book. You will be so glad that you did. I read the book with the idea that it was descriptive of Jen’s journey rather than prescriptive for my journey. The last chapter is the best chapter as far as I was concerned because she talks about how she drew closer to God.

slip4 - Tara, as usual, you have said it better than I ever could. I was nodding my head all through this post. I also feel the pull between the sacred meaning of Christmas and all the consumer jangle that is, let’s face it, fun to indulge in. Funny, I have 7 sitting by my bed, read through Chapter 2, where I decided that it’s a book to be nibbled, not gobbled. I have (sort of) asked the Lord to point out my areas of excess so I can address them. I say “sort of” because I am pretty sure one of them is computer time (and I don’t have a blog – but loooove reading them) and that is a hard one for me to whittle down. Thanks as always for the honest sharing, and for the good that your blog does my soul :)

Empty Nest Full Life - You said it all too well. Those types of books are dangerous for me as well. I have allowed them in the past to heap condemnation on me. I will never forget reading Radical. I am doing just what you are doing. I want to be joyful in sharing all that God has blessed me with, and God gave me just that opportunity this week.
You can read about it here: I want to do what is pleasing to the God who loves me as opposed to “trying to keep the law” Have a blessed weekend.

The Avery House - Tara, I just love the following that you wrote, “My goal is to ask the Lord to show me the areas of excess in my life that grip my heart and compete for His glory.
I don’t want to wear a religious yoke that is wrapped in self-denial for the sake of feeling good about me.I want Him to take off the yoke of oppression that enslaves me so I can love and serve the marginalized.”
I have been slowly coming to an understanding of the exact same goals for my own life. It is not about making myself worthy, it is about listening to what God wants to do through me so as to shine his light to the oppressed. We are worthy because God says we are even in all of our ugly imperfectness. Tara, you have gleaned a very important truth about God’s love for you and for each of us. By expressing these thoughts here, you are serving him in the way he planned for you and thus allowing his light to shine. You are a blessing!

paige - louie preached a couple weeks ago on the tension between living way on the law end of the spectrum and living way on the ‘oh he’ll forgive me anyway, it’s all about grace” end.
definite tension for sure.
i’ve been very curious to read her book. i’m curious to hear what she has to say & i’m curious to hear what the lord will lay on my heart too.
you’re awesome my friend. always doing a heart inventory!
merry christmas

Christy - Yes, oh yes. Very well said. Thank you.

Christy - p.s. I LOVE ornament exchanges. :)

Megan - You know, I have been staying away from that book for that very reason…I knew that I would feel compelled to measure up my sacrifices. So interesting to hear your take on it.

theelizabethhighsmith - thank you for this sweetest friend, sometimes he lets us hear what our own hearts can’t quite tell us in the words of others. may it be His work, His love His glory, His grace…

WhiteWhispers2u - Tis the Season Right! Hard not to get over indulged and overwhelmed.Though it’s nice to see that some of our department stores have toned it down but some way down a shocker for me.

I have the same Book and read it I didn’t follow suit as of yet but I did reevaluate what was excess in my life as well.There were sections I struggled to get through but in the end I enjoyed it and well worth the read.My best to you!

We must still Live and Enjoy life as we serve I don’t judge as it isn’t my job to do so.We are all broken in some way or another.We live in a broken world as we have seen this last week with the shootings.Christmas time is heavy on the heart for most and hard to get through as many struggle with their own brokenness.

Thanks for the reminder.

~Blessings Kim

thistlewoodfarm - Amazing post, tara! There is nothing we can do (as hard as we try) to earn His love! It is such a wonderful gift….so freely given. :)

Merry Christmas and thank you so much for the reminder of the reason for the season.


Jackie at Roots and Wings - “I don’t want to wear a religious yoke that is wrapped in self-denial for the sake of feeling good about me.
I want Him to take off the yoke of oppression that enslaves me so I can love and serve the marginalized.” TL

To that I say a big, fat AMEN! I’m so with you.

Mrs. Pedersen - What a gorgeous tree!

Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista - Yes, I get it too. It’s a hard time of year. To balance the joy and stress as well as the true meaning of Christmas. I picked up 7 earlier this year but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. Looking forward to getting into it soon! Sounds like an amazing book!

Kelli - Wonderful post. I have been wanting to read this but just have not been in the right place…maybe in the new year.

GLENDA CHILDERS - What a sweet lovely surprise to win this lovely giveaway. Thank you so much, Tara. I will have fun putting the necklace together.

Your discussion here is an important one …


Beth - i am so in the same boat. I distract myself by turning it all on me, which in turns points out to me how ineffectual i am at trying to be “good”. But on the other on when i realize that maybe God did some growing (to which i was unaware of–the only way it happens!)) then i find myself expecting the others around to be growing in the same area and the same rate of speed as I am. pitiful, I am pitiful. Praise Jesus for His grace and patience with have encouraged me to get teh book and lay it at His feet and pray for my excess to be shown to me and removed. Because i want to do it for His glory not my own, not for anyone else.
so here goes, I guess I should move it from my wish list to the cart on amazon.

Tiffini - I would love to read the book…i have heard so much about it.
since i most likely won’t though .. in the near future anyway I have
been praying about the new year and i know we are de-cluttering and clearing all
unnecessary stuff.
getting my budget ready..making clear goals..saving more – stuff like that.
I remember you sharing about it awhile back. Maybe now is the right time?:)
can you believe 7 days until Christmas?

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh my word how convicting… areas of excess? Yeah I don’t struggle with that… said nobody EVER! Ha! I feel like it’s a never ending battle and I don’t want it to be… I want to be grateful and giving and appreciative of what I dO have and help those that don’t and on and on it goes. Guess it begins in the heart like so many other things. Love waling along side you on this journey. You are a gem and I adore ya. I really do.

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