7 by Jen Hatmaker {Book Review}

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (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.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

My Thoughts:
Simplifying is a thing these days. There are loads of books and magazine articles showing ways to cut down and live with less. Jen Hatmaker decides to take it one step further and live with SEVEN. Each month she and her family pick a theme {food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress} which all revolve around the number “7“. 
Gathering some friends and her family, she embarks on a journey of fasts. “Seven will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.” (from Intro of ebook) After introducing her project and friends “the council”, you get a month to month diary account of her experiment. Her goal is to be changed and transformed to follow Jesus more authentically. It seems to work.
I liked Jen’s writing. She is funny, open, engaging, and you feel like you could be sitting at a coffee shop chatting with her when you read. You meander through her months learning about the topic but also about her upcoming adoption (which I certainly enjoyed), her daily life, and some of the pop culture things she enjoys. Her failures and reality are also present, she lets you know where she falls short and what she is doing to work on these issues. I don’t know about you but that inspires me. It feels like a conversation too in that I wondered if a few sentences of what she relates would have been better left unsaid.
I was reading the chapter on giving away stuff right before we had to go through all of our stateside storage and get rid of about half. Perfect timing as I felt prepared to be less sentimental and more brutal. 
The idea of 7 is catchy. It caused me to at least ponder the possibility of following in her footsteps and it has spurred on others like this blog which my friend, Janine, (who had not read 7 and did not know I was) shared with me. I think Jen Hatmaker may have caused a little revolution here. 
I enjoyed reading 7 and would recommend it.  Do keep in mind this is her, her life, and her revelations and not a “how to” guide to living with less. Your take away may be different then mine, but you will be challenged.
This book was given to me by NetGalley and B & H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren {Book Review}

As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others…even the seemingly unlovable.
“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

In a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime, God Gave Us You assures each child that he or she truly is a treasured gift from the Lord.

My Thoughts:
We have the book God Gave Us You also by Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant.  It has been enjoyed and well loved especially by the youngest as he flew through his toddler years.

Not surprising, my family enjoyed this new addition to the “God Gave Us…” Collection.  The beautiful illustrations make the story come alive and allow for some delightful observations and questions. The story shares the theme of loving as God is love in various ways and situations with the gospel (“…we know God loves us because he sent his Son to save us…”) presented simply as well.
This little board book can begin some important conversations with your children. Besides learning about love, there are side themes developed like the joy of family spending time together and praying to ask God help us love. God Gave Us Love can be a helpful tool in developing character in young hearts!  I recommend it!
I was given a copy of this book by WaterBrook Multinomah Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Accidental Bride {Book Review}


When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay finds she’s an accidental bride.

Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.

Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders’ Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.

Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.

Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

*Description from Tomas Nelson where you can also purchase the book.

My Thoughts:

When a book is published where a man and woman have to get married, finds themselves married, or the marriage is arranged; I am compelled to read it. Despite the inconceivable premise and usually because of it, I’m in. In fact, sometimes the crazier story makes a better read which is why I chose The Accidental Bride.

Just a few pages in, Shay finds herself accidently married to Travis who had left her at the alter many years before. After some debate, she decides to stay married for a time to save her ranch. Thus the story goes until the inevitable, agreeable ending which, by the way, I liked. Just so we are clear; however, I would never counsel someone to be married (fake or real or whatever) because it will be a financial help. (Sanctity of marriage, anyone?)

That said the story was an enjoyable travel companion. A light, easy read that was interesting enough. There is some romance (obviously), some inspiration, and Travis seems like a good guy. Here is your summer beach read, just don’t use it as a marriage manual!

This book was given as an e-book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review.