In 2008, when Jen Hatmaker and her family hosted 12 hurricane refugees for a week, one of the children who arrived for shelter walked into their house, looked around, and yelled, "Dad! This white dude is rich!"
Jen says this child's innocent observation brought deep conviction. Compared with a majority of the world, the Hatmakers were rich—and trapped beneath the reigns of American excess. Shortly after this epiphany, Jen began the Seven experiment. She asked God to show her specifically, as she says, "What in [her] life … [was] just too stinking much?"
God's answer? He showed her seven areas of excess. That knowledge led her and her family to fast from one specific area per month, for seven months:
• Food (eating limited to seven foods)
• Clothes (only allowed to wear seven items of clothing)
• Possessions (giving away seven material possessions daily to someone in need)
• Media (nothing allowed outside of necessary texting, emails, and phone calls)
• Waste (recycling, compost, cutting out disposables)
• Spending (money can be spent only at seven specific stores)
• Stress (a month of practicing the Sabbath each week, trimming out extra activities, and spending time in intensive prayer)
As the family fasted, Jen journaled her insights, and approached each new month with a spirit of repentance. She was expectant that God would use the space to prepare her for whatever the next season would bring—including adopting two Ethiopian children. Jen calls this time "an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in [her] life."1