Saturday, July 27, 2013

Year of Starting: A Response to Jon Acuff and Jen Hatmaker

Although the calendar may say that a new year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31, I know better. See, I'm a teacher. I measure my years from August to August. And in the last few years, the measurements have been very distinct and informative. 

In August of 2011, I attended Jesus Culture Awakening in Chicago. That sparked what I now call the Year of Fire. I was solely focused on learning about the Holy Spirit and teaching others to enter into His presence. The year was exciting and scary and new and amazing. 

In August of 2012, I was returning from a missions trip to Belize that taught me about depending on Jesus when I had no one else. I would call this past year a Year of Discipleship. I went through an intense time of letting God uncover my hurts, fears, insecurities, and sins. It was hard and scary and awful and sad and good, ending with my miscarriage and a sweet time of closeness with my Savior.

As August of 2013 approaches, I already know what the label will be. This is a Year of Starting. Because of the Start Experiment, God has already been showing me ways that I can "punch fear in the face" and embark on different journeys in which He has called me. 

I've already STARTed a project with a friend, one that we hope will continue for many, many years. God has been helping us network and has opened many doors for this dream to be realized. But I believe that this is just the beginning. 

Along with Jon Acuff's book, Start, I recently read Jen Hatmaker's book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  

Best friends already!
You guys. I cannot stress to you how lovely Jen Hatmaker is. She's witty and poignant and sincere and inspiring. I honestly believe that she and I could be besties, and based on the fact that she tweeted me back the other day, I think she probably believes it, too. 

Ironically, I've met Jen's husband Brandon. In February of 2011, Brandon spoke at a young adult conference for the Free Methodist Church's Gateway Conference. Much of what he discusses was about reaching out, helping the poor, and taking the Jesus of the gospels seriously. Jesus said to feed the poor? Let's go do that. Jesus said to give out water in His name? Let's go do that. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself? Let's go do that. 

Brandon & Jen Hatmaker
I have to be honest. For me at that time, it wasn't the most appealing of talks. It didn't seem like anything that could become me-focused. And I wasn't ready to care about others like that. See, I hadn't yet experienced the Year of Fire or the Year of Discipleship, so I wasn't ready to embark on the Year of Starting. But now, Jen and Brandon have a heart for others that is speaking to me. This book, 7, screamed my heart. 

A quick summary from Barnes and Noble, so that you can track with me: 
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.
Not only is Jen hilarious throughout (ex: "I'm not an accomplished thrift shopper, meaning I never thrift shop. I'm easily overwhelmed in a regular store organized by genre, color, and price point, so throw a little chaos and fifty crammed racks together, and I might start maniacally humming and hitting myself in the head"), but she seamlessly weaves her faith and convictions in this journal. 
And what happens when you combine Start with 7 at the beginning of a school year? A new goal. A hunger to be awesome in helping others. There are so many ideas running through my head: setting up a storage for old clothes in my school so that we can help families in need; planting a community garden on my school grounds that my students will cultivate; partnering my students with a missions organization to raise money and send aid. 
I can't wait to see what God tells me to START next. 
It's gonna be a good year.


  1. Great Post Megan :) Awesome to see the DREAM taking shape from where you were at even a few weeks ago. Keep at it and keep moving forward!

  2. Loving your blog, Megan - you inspire me!