Well, I started this post on my phone ages ago (probably about a month ago), and now it's gone. Oops. It was really a lot (a lot) of babble - which is why I didn't post it then. But I think it's important enough - just for my own memory - to post a little bit here about what 7, 5, 1 means. The definition, and also why it's important to me.
This number is more symbolic than an actual definition, and it represents a large group study that I started earlier in the fall. We are reading The Story, and this study will take us through the spring (we meet every other week, taking a longer break for Christmas). It was important for me to participate in this study because I've never read the Bible all the way through, and at times it is difficult for me to understand passages without having all of that background. The Story is a chronological, novel-type version of the Bible - still with much of the text of the Bible, though some parts are summarized.
Our church has been studying The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (by Robert Schnase) - both in small groups and with church-wide devotions. As part of an ad hoc group that meets to specifically explore the Passionate Worship aspect of the five practices, I also wanted to participate in a small group study to learn more about what other members of the congregation thought about the five practices. My small group has exactly two people - myself and the leader. Not a popular time, I suppose, but she is still faithful to lead our very small study even though I would certainly give her the "out."
This book (7: A Experimental Mutiny of Excess by Jen Hatmaker) makes me want to pretty much toss out everything we own. I think the only reason that I haven't (so far) is that I want to sell what I can to raise money for our adoption* and I have a long-standing (genetic?) history with clutter and "stuff." I'm studying this book with a group of ladies meeting every other week in the home of a friend. Some of the ladies I already know, some are new - as an introvert, this is the perfect setting for me to get to know new people. But back to the book... I couldn't really get into Chapter 1 - it was about Food. I can't really put a finger on why I wasn't into it, except that I was chomping at the bit to get into the chapters about clothing, spending, media, and waste. We started Chapter 2 this evening - Clothing. I couldn't help myself, I cleared out about 1/3 of my closet over the weekend. Decent, wearable stuff that I'm just not wearing (Hello, Goodwill!). I could probably eliminate about 1/2 of what's left, but I haven't decided exactly what this chapter will look like for me. (We are each deciding what significant, meaningful actions we will take during the time period we study each chapter/topic - typically, three to four weeks.)
Why three studies at once? Hmmm... They all sounded good, and since I read Five Practices over the summer, I was already prepared. I've always wanted to read the Bible, but that's a bit of a daunting task - so The Story seemed like the perfect way to get the background I have desired and that would be helpful in other studies. This doesn't mean I won't ever read the Bible, but this makes it accessible to me now. And 7, well, I've been trying to conquer the excess for about two years now. I've got plenty of reasons to be motivated, but Jen just adds another layer to it all that kind of rocks my world.
Y'all, three studies at once is kind of crazy, but it is a beautiful kind of crazy. Even cooler? The three studies and the Sunday school class I taught last month all included the same part of the Bible - and my favorite part of the Bible at that!**
All of these studies are groups of women, though Five Practices was open to everyone. I am really enjoying the opportunity to meet new women and get to know acquaintances even better. As we discussed in our study this evening (7 - small group), women tend to judge each other - and we judge ourselves, too. But once we get past that, we can be genuine with each other - and that is when our true beauty shows through. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be genuine with these women, and my courage grows each time we meet.
*things are progressing slowly, because we have needed to put things on hold for a bit. We are returning our focus to the process, though, and hope to have it officially in motion very soon.
**from what I've read so far - I did read the actual Bible to about 2 Kings