Thursday, January 26, 2012


This morning for some reason I decided to take a leaf out of Jen Hatmaker's book 7, and count some of the items in our house. We have:

more than 300 hundred food items in the kitchen and that was without counting what is in the freezer and all the different herbs and spices. We also have three different types of hot chocolate and eight different cheese packets - all opened and not necessarily different types of cheese - in the fridge! Eight! There's only two of us living in this home. That's four different cheeses each!

I have more than 262 clothing items spread over two closets. Yep, two closets. And a chest of drawers. Out of that I probably only wear half regularly.

we also have (in our home with just two people) two TV's, four laptop computers, one desktop computer,two iPhones, two iPods, a Wii and a PS2. Are you kidding me?! That's almost six pieces of media each!

Oh. my. goodness. What is wrong with us?! When I actually took the time to count these I realised just how ridiculous it is to stand at the fridge and say we have nothing to eat, or stand in front of my wardrobe and say I have nothing to wear.

I also think it might be time for a good clean out of the cupboards in this house. Anyone else got a stuff explosion at their place? Does anyone else feel the need to clear a little out, perhaps donate it to someone in need or have a garage/yard sale?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jen Hatmaker Part 2

(Go here for part one)

I love Jen Hatmaker. How can you not love Jen Hatmaker? Hilariously self-deprecating, sarcastic (so, so sarcastic) and deeply passionate. Her parenting style is so fabulous that I want to move in with her (just kidding. not.) and I think that needs to be the topic of her next book.

I have just finished Jen Hatmaker's latest book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess."

I talked about the first four chapters/months in my first post, so I'm going to dive in with month five, waste. This month involved seven habits for a greener life: gardening (growing their own vegetables); composting; conserving energy and water; recycling; driving only one car; shopping thrift and handmade; buying only local. I love how Jen talked about our responsibility to the earth. God charged man with looking after His creation, the earth and everything in it, that He called "good."

Month six, spending. They cut their spending to only seven locations. This is down from their usual monthly average number of spending locations of 66. This was spending on themselves though, I should add, charitable spending was an exemption. They continued to tithe, and support their sponsor children. Best quote from this month, "just because I can have it, doesn't mean I should." Ouch.

In month seven Jen and the rest of the Hatmaker clan were all about reducing stress. She did so many fabulous things in this month to find rest in each day, to observe the sabbath, and to reduce stress in their lives. I cannot wait to get a hold of a copy of Seven Sacred Pauses. Yowser! And don't even get me started on the idea of observing a traditional Shabbat. I did always want to be Jewish.

What I loved about this book is that it wasn't just a social experiment to get rid of stuff from her family's life. It was a fast, with the intent being that excess was removed in order that there be more room for God in their life.

"A fast is not something we offer to God, but it is assists us in offering ourselves."

I sensed that month number 3, possessions, was a real turning point in this experiment. There just seemed to be a shift in Jen's writing, in the way she became intensely passionate about how she (or we) had been putting her "needs" (read: wants) ahead of the real needs of others, others that God clearly calls us to take care of. That chapter really took the experiment up a notch for me. I identified so easily with the overabundance of stuff, and the ridiculousness of it all. So much stuff that just junks up and clutters my home, my mind and my life. Stuff that crowds out what is really important, stuff that crowds out God's still, small voice.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the questions she asked, which resulted in me asking myself a lot of questions, and continuing too.

"If we ignored the current framework of the church and instead opened the Bible for a definition, we find Christ followers adopting the fast simultaneously with the feast. We don't see the New Testament church hoarding the feast for themselves, gorging, getting fatter and fatter and asking for more; more Bible studies, more sermons, more programs, classes, training, conferences, information, more feasting for us.
At some point, the church stopped living the Bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts. We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming. The feast is supposed to maintain the fast, but we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths, stuffed to the brim and fat with inactivity. All this is for me. My goodness, my blessing, my privileges, my happiness, my success. Just one more plate.
Not so with the early church who stunned their Roman neighbours and leaders with generosity, curbing their own appetites for the mission of Jesus.
What would the early church think if they walked into some of our building today, looked through our church Web sites, talked to an average attender? Would they be so confused? Would they wonder why we all had empty bedrooms and uneaten food in our trash cans? Would they regard our hoarded wealth with shock? Would they observe orphan statistics with disbelief since Christians outnumber orphans 7 to 1? Would they be stunned most of us don't feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, care for the sick, or protect the widow? Would they see the spending on church buildings and ourselves as extravagantly wasteful while twenty-five thousand people die every day from starvation?"

What would they think of me?

What does Jesus think of me?

I know that I closed the final pages of "7" with a changed perspective and a whole lot of ideas to get me started and motivated to make some changes in my life. I'm looking forward to doing my own experiment against excess. Anyone else been inspired by this book? Anyone been inspired to get this book and see for yourself what the fuss is all about? Get on it! Let's change the world!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jen Hatmaker

I started reading Jen Hatmaker's latest book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" yesterday.

I love Jen Hatmaker. So much in fact that I Facebook stalked her and can now say we are friends (on Facebook only, but who really cares when today she said on my status update I was, and I quote, "hilarious.")

I only really discovered her and her books at the end of last year. It all started when I picked up her first book "A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study." Let me tell you, if you need some help boosting your Bible study time, this is your book. So good.

I then devoured "Interrupted," and then "Ms Understood," while in Queensland, and then had a very anxious wait for a whole week before "7" arrived on my doorstep.

Then, as I said, I dove headfirst into it yesterday. So far I have gotten throught the first 4 months of the experiment and let me tell you, wow.

If you haven't heard anything about "7" (are you living under a rock?!) let me enlighten you.

"7" is Jen's seven month journey of how she identified seven areas of excess in her, and her family's, life and made (you guessed it) seven choices to fight back against them. The book is really written as Jen's daily journal throughout the process and is broken down into seven chapters, one for each of the areas of excess she identified - food, clothing, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress.

Month one was hilarious to read as Jen shared about her 30 days of eating only seven foods: chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados and apples. She was hating on the poor, innocent chicken breasts.

Month two was an interesting read. Only seven clothing items (underwear not included) was she allowed to choose from. For 30 days. Jen stated at one point that she quite enjoyed having such a limited selection of clothing to choose from, that it was slightly freeing. I totally get this. I loved living out of a suitcase for the 7 weeks we were in America. I nearly flipped my brain when I stood in front of my closet trying to choose an outfit for my first day back at work from the more than adequate supply of options.

No clothing options - no problem. At least not for me. Or Jen Hatmaker apparently.

Month three is where I really started to get into this book. Possessions. Oh man. I have been thinking about cleaning out all the closets in our house for months. I just cannot get over how much stuff (read, junk) we have accumulated in only three years of marriage. Ridiculous. So in month three Jen aimed to purge 7 items every day from her home. According to her maths that was 210 items. She did it easily. "Giving away is somehow sacred, connecting to the sacrificial heartbeat of Jesus. It's as transformative for the giver as a blessing for the receiver when God told us to give, I suspect He had spiritual formation in mind as much as meeting needs."

Month four was all about reducing the amount of time the Hatmaker family (three kids included) spent utilisng media. TV, computers, game consoles, the internet, Facebook etc. Her kids really, really loved this. So did her husband. Actually I think that they did by the end of it. They spent more time doing things together as a family, taking walks, playing games and cooking together. "The dangerous part of our social media and technologically saturated world is not it's existance but what it distracts us from." So true.

I have only just made a start on month five, so I will be back with more later in the week!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A 2011 Recap

I know we are now halfway through January (what?!) but I am in a pensive mood and I have seen this questionnaire done here and here, so I thought it might be good to write some stuff down and look back on in another 12 months time!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
So many things. Went to Disneyland, saw NYC, the Grand Canyon, Washington DC. Drank Pepto-bismal! Spent all-day-every-day with Dave for 7 weeks, and we loved every minute of it! Set foot in the Atlantic Ocean and swam in the Gulf of Mexico. Walked along Santa Monica beach. Went to a NASCAR race.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?I don't think I made any New Year's resolutions last year, and I haven't again this year. I do want to simplify my life and be more intentional this year, but that is more of a lifestyle change prompted by the Holy Spirit than a resolution.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?One of my very closest friends Jess gave birth to her first baby, a daughter, Layla!

4. Did anyone close to you die?Dave's boss tragically passed away around Easter.

5. What countries did you visit?The USA!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?The opportunity to live overseas. Find a new job, something I'm passionate about and love to do.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?29th of June - the day we flew out to America
4th of July - sitting on the balcony in Florida watching the fireworks
17th of July - met Katie Dunlap and family!

10th of August - seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time

8. What was your biggest achievement for the year?
Finally being able to go to America after years of talking and dreaming about it.

9. What was your biggest failure?Losing 200 videos (and thus 2 weeks of footage) from our America trip.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thank goodness, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?KitchenAid mixer - brought it home from America in one of my suitcases! Although the car we bought (and then sold) for out trip around America was pretty good too!

12. Where did most of your money go?The America trip

13. What did you get really excited about?
The America trip!

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?Dirt Road Anthem - Jason Aldean. The Anthem for our road trip

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
-Happier or sadder?

-Thinner or fatter?
About the same

-Richer or poorer?Poorer financially, richer spiritually.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?Taken more photos of everyday life.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watching TV.

18. How did you spend Christmas?Christmas day was spent at Aunty Glenda and Uncle Peter's house in Brisbane, Queensland

19. What was your favorite TV program?Friday Night Lights. Oh. My. Gosh!

20. What were your favorite books of the year?Barefoot Church - Brandon Hatmaker
The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns
Radical - David Platt
A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study - Jen Hatmaker
Interrupted - Jen Hatmaker

21. What was your favorite music this year?Country music - The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Thompson Square, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and a whole lot more.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?Couple Retreat, Captain America (saw it at a drive in on Route 66!), Fast and Furious 5

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?I turned 26 on the 8th of August. We were still in America so I declared that I got two days of birthday - Australia birthday and America birthday! We were driving Route 66 on both days. On Australia birthday (the 7th in the US) we were driving from Amarillo, TX to Albuquerque, NM. On America birthday we were driving from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, AZ. Dave found us beautiful hotels for both nights and the scenery we drove through was amazing.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having a job that I truly love to do.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?Well, I didn't buy any clothes before we went to America, so I spent 6 months or more wearing only what was already in my closet. I guess cute casual would be my style - I brought back 7 pairs of jeans from the States, and a whole lot of cute tops and a couple of very nice blazer style jackets!

26. What kept you sane?
Holidays. Knowing that I only work for 10 week chunks at a time and then have 2 weeks off. It's a pure relief.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The start of the new year signals the start (and often the end!) of resolutions. I tend not to make resolutions (I don't like to fail) but I find that I definitely do a lot of dreaming about the year ahead - what we might do, where we might serve, places we might go, that my house might be a lot cleaner this year than last (who am I kidding, it probably wont), that I might grow in my spiritual maturity.

This time last year Dave and I were waking up each morning and one of the first things we would say to each other was "we're going to America THIS year!!!" (This year I'm trying to figure out if I can handle eating just beans and rice for every meal so we can afford to go again)

We all carry dreams in our hearts and I wonder how many people are like me and keep most of the dreams they have hidden where they are the only ones who know about them?

There are lots of reasons I keep mine hidden, I don't think I'm good enough to do them, other people will think I'm not good enough, people will think they are silly, I will fail and never achieve them. I question whether they are the plans God has for me or if they are just my own dilusions. I question if God has big plans for me.

As much as I feel guilty for saying that it really is true. I doubt far too often that God will allow my dreams to come to fruition.

I have absolutely no trouble believeing that God would send His Son to die on the cross for me. I don't doubt the miracles He performed. I have no trouble believeing in a God that is triune even though my puny little brain can't figure out how exactly it all works. I do, however,have trouble believeing that my dreams are on His radar.

Yet one of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

So it would seem that when things are going my way (or have the appearance of going my way) or my plans and dreams seems to be going along nicly, I believe God. But when things arent happening the way I want them to or when I want them to, I take over.  "Sorry God, I can do it better," is really what I'm saying.

As I was reading Jen Hatmaker's book A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study (which I can't reccomend highly enough) I came across this quote:

We must cross the threshold from faith to trust. Faith says, "I believe You can do it." Trust says, "I believe You can do it better than I can."

Honestly, I need to cross that threshold. Faith. I've got that one down. Trust? Not so much.

Our dreams can sometimes be fickle. God's plans, however, they stand the test of time. He sees the big picture I can't see. While right now I have some dreams, they might change. Some might not. Some may in fact line up perfectly with God's bigger picture plans. That is what I need to keep in mind. God see the whole story, I only see the moment I am in now. I need to hold losely to my dreams and be prepared for Him to mould them and perhaps even move them on.

And to remember that His plans are so much better then mine!

Friday, January 6, 2012


This is what I have been doing since Christmas:

We spent the week from Boxing day through to New Years day in an apartment with my family here in Caloundra and then Dave returned home and I have stayed on.

We did a lot of nothing.

I'm still doing a lot of nothing. Poor Dave had to go back to work. I miss my husband.

While it has been so nice to have the chance to relax and do lots of reading I'm itching to go home and see Dave. Luckily in just a few days I will be!

Back home to my own bed, and some plans for the new year. Plans to minimise and simplify and figure out how we are going to live more intentionally and healthy in 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Eve 2011

New Years Eve in Caloundra.

I know that we are now a few days into 2012, but I have been doing too much nothing to get around to putting these photos up! Just down the road from our apartment in Caloundra, on the foreshore of King's beach they had a small carnival, kids entertainment and food. There were of course fireworks to end the night.

Happy New Year!