Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Mutiny Against Excess for 2013

We are just a few days away from clicking on over to the year 2013.


That sounds so sci-fi.  So high-tech.  So modernistic, futuristic.  But now 2013 is "hoy en día"... today.

And of course, as we (speaking of general society) do when a new year rolls around, we consider our accomplishments (or, perhaps, failures) of the past year and make new goals for the year (or, if you are like me, repeat the SAME goals-you know, the ones I didn't succeed at achieving-from the past year).

This tradition of 'New Year's Resolutions' is made fun of by modern media and society.  And with good reason.  As statistics and studies have shown, most goals are abandoned by mid-January...mid-February at the latest.  Some die-hards may even continue to make progress on their goals until May or June...but hardly any finish the year having met or exceeded their resolutions.

But regardless of the statistics and my own lackluster history when it comes to goals, I still like the process of assessing the past and making goals for the future.  And I am already planning my 2013 goals now.  Actually, with my 38th birthday at the beginning of the month of December, I started mentally considering 2 year goals - goals I'd like to achieve or make significant progress towards before my 40th birthday.  My 2013 goals and my 'before-my-40th-birthday' goals will be wrapped together.

I'm all for being specific when planning something.  A boss I had for many years that I greatly respect had a penchant for being specific with goals.  Whenever I would turn in my quarterly employment goals, no matter how specific I thought I had been, he would find ways to make those goals even more specific.  Being specific help makes goals achievable too.

But there is also beauty in simplicity.  

Sometimes being too specific destines us to failure.  For many years I have set the goal to lose weight...but specifically to lose as much weight as quickly as possible.  Goals of losing 2 pounds or more a week.  Some weeks I'd lose 5!  But then when week after week of only losing a half a pound, or worse, ZERO, I would lose hope and realize I was so far off my goals that I might as well just give up.

This year a friend posted on Facebook about seeking her 'word' for 2013.  She posted a link to this blog post to give further insight on what she was talking about.  I was intrigued.  I like the idea of the simplicity of one word.  For example, this friend explained that in a previous year her word for the new year was 'patience'.  There are many ways that patience could be exercised and developed during the course of the year.  Patience with our children.  Patience with our spouse.  Patience with the Lord when a prayer request we've been persistently praying for seems to continue to go unanswered.  Patience with ourselves.  Etc. and so on.

As I read through the above linked blog post a thought began to percolate in my head.  Being the verbose woman that I am, one word wouldn't suffice.  But I think I can manage to get by with a short phrase.

I picked up one of the books I got for my birthday earlier this month...the book I'll start the new year reading.  It is a book by Jen Hatmaker (check out her blog here) called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  It is about her family's experience battling back against "the machine of excess".  For seven months Jen and her family chose seven different areas of excess in their lives and made a plan to fight back against that excess and overindulgence.  Though I haven't yet read the book, the sentiment of it strikes a chord with me.  I don't think our family lives a particularly indulgent life.  As missionaries our income falls below the U.S. poverty line for a family of five.  We did handmade gifts for several of our children's gifts this Christmas, and re-gifted others.  But we still have plenty and live much better than the majority of the world.  There are areas of excess in my life.  Perhaps not so much monetary or material excess, but excess nonetheless.

So my phrase for 2013?  I actually stole it off the cover of Jen Hatmaker's 7 book.  I want 2013 to the year of my...

"mutiny against excess"

Immediately a related Scripture comes to mind--you probably know it, it goes like this:

"25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."   (Matthew 6:25-34)

The Bible talks here about battling excess...excess worry, materialism, selfishness, stress, etc.  And in 2013 I will battling against the excess in my life.  As people who live pretty simply to begin with, what sort of excess could I be talking about?  Well here are a few thoughts to start with...

A mutiny against the excess of...

*negative thoughts

Several of these are categories addressed by the book, and others are ones that are specific to me and/or my family.  I want to spend the next several days fleshing out a few specifics in regards to this new phrase for 2013 and how I hope to see it play out in my life.  I'll update here - hopefully frequently - about my experience during my 'mutiny against excess' experience of 2013.



  1. I can think of two words that would encompass my goals for 2013. Organize and persevere. Prayers for your family and their goals!

  2. Love that book by Jen Hatmaker, very thought provoking, and something that could easily be a life theme, especially for kingdom people. I'm pretty certain my word for the coming year (and likely a few years after that) is going to be consistency. I am great at casting a vision, making the plan, getting started and even pushing through when motivation lags. It is my consistency that lacks, I just kind of poke along extending myself way too much grace! Thus in many areas of life I don't have much to show for my efforts. It's like 2 steps forward, 3 steps back kind of living. I'm so done with that. I used to think that I needed goals that were next to impossible to reach so that I would be motivated to work really hard, but I too get overwhelmed when I get "behind schedule". I would now rather take just one step forward and hold my ground, then another step. I look forward to following your mutiny against excess in 2013!

  3. So thought-provoking, and I should probably read that scripture every day! This is one of my favorite books: Living More With Less by Doris Janzen Longacre. Christians (Mennonites) from around the world (many missionaries) give their practical suggestions for living more simply. Another one is Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin. I have a second copy somewhere that I could lend you (if I can find it). Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Hi all, sorry I didn't get to reply to your messages sooner! La Mama Loca - those two words will definitely be wrapped up in my theme for 2013! Cheryl, I'm the QUEEN of allowing myself grace! Consistency is a quality for me to learn as well. Kathy - thanks for that insight! We just met a Mennonite missionary family that lives in Añasco and I'm SO inspired by them. I would love to borrow a copy of the book you mentioned - hopefully we can connect soon!