Review: Year of Plenty

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“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”  Romans 8:22-23

I was reading the Fuller Focus magazine a few months ago and came across an article about a Fuller alum who had written a rather intriguing book.  I was so fascinated by that article, that I immediately got online and ordered the book.  Basically, Pastors Craig and Nancy Goodwin one day got a harebrained idea.  They were experiencing a post-holiday hangover and that feeling that something was not quite right about the whole thing.  (I’ve been there myself.)  They were so burnt out from all the mad consumerism and blind consumption that they could hardly take it another minute.  I’ve felt that way before, as I’m sure you have as well.  While you and I might grumble, rant to our spouse or make an empty threat to cancel Christmas altogether next year, they did something completely unheard of.  They decided to dedicate one year in the radical pursuit of incarnational Christian living.  They would take drastically seriously the whole “what would Jesus do?” thing.  Only rather than being abstract and obtuse they would get down and dirty with it.  What would Jesus buy?  What would Jesus eat?  How would Jesus really live?

They didn’t take months planning this.  They just jumped in with both feet!  Talk about a faith moment!  The Goodwins along with their two daughters settled on four shopping rules they would live by for one year:

1.  Local.  They actively sought out local producers, growers, artisans.  They did all they could to put a face and a name to their products.

2. Used.  Rather than going out and buying new stuff every time there was a need or a want they sought something used–trading stuff with friends and neighbors, shopping on Craigslist, eBay, and second-hand stores.

3. Homegrown.  Here is one area where I had to repent for breaking the 1oth commandment.  They call themselves novice gardeners, but their yard became a thing of beauty.  They didn’t just plant some vegetables, they designed it into a labyrinth!  They also built a greenhouse and tried to maximize the growing season in Washington.

4. Homemade.  They tried their hands at everything from their daughter’s birthday pinata to home churned butter!

A fifth rule they tacked on was they would buy responsibly from Thailand–a place where they were sowing seeds for missions.  At the end of their adventure year they even took a trip there as a family to continue putting names and faces to the things they consumed.

Along the way they had to wrestle with many things, among them: Is it possible to apply the Christian faith to the tiniest details of our lives?  Does Jesus really care where our coffee, zucchini or birthday gifts come from?  Does the Christian in our globalized post-modern world have any responsibility for knowing where our stuff comes from, how it is produced and under what conditions it made its way to us?

Intriguing, right?

So, I got the book and devoured it.  Honestly, I’m skeptical of Christian Living books.  I’ve read a lot of them.  A lot of them do not live up to expectations or potential.  This book, however, was an adventure to read.  It convicted me left and right.  It challenged me to do better.  It opened my eyes to what was really possible in joining together intentional living, stewardship of the earth, and being a living witness of Christ.  The Goodwins show a lovely and powerful example of how one can care for the earth without worshiping it.  This book is a breath of fresh air in the discussion of environmentalism, sustainable food, and the relevant church.   It’s a perspective that really needs to be heard.

We affirm that God created all things and upon completing the work, proclaimed it all “good.”  We are the ones who inherit Adam and Eve’s commission to take care of the garden.  We passionately sing with the psalmist, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Ps. 24:1).  We stand in the tradition of Israel in the Promised Land, where they are told by God, “The land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers” (Lev. 25:23).  We know all too well our tendencies to abuse and exploit God’s good gifts.  As Paul says, because of sin, “the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22).  We are the ones who try to get our heads on straight in this mixed-up world by following Jesus’ instructions to look at the birds of the air and consider the lilies of the field.  We are the ones who carry today the present hope that in Christ things are held together and the future promise that God is redeeming all things, “making everything new” (Rev. 21:5).  We have a special commission as God’s people to care and advocate for the poor…We can’t love our neighbors without also caring for the creation that sustains our neighbors with work and food and health.  p. 162

Pastor Craig asks some really important questions in his book, questions that I am still answering and working on.  “What does the incarnation of Jesus look like in today’s world?”  “How do we follow the example of the disciples and dwell among the people, proclaiming the kingdom of God at hand?”  Part of answering these questions is The Provision Room.  We are learning to live a life of plenty–not by consuming more, but by being intentional, aware, and prepared.  We are learning to live a life of plenty not just so we can get fat and lazy, but so we have enough to share with others and meet the needs of our communities.

So, are you wondering how the Goodwin’s year with the four rules went?  I dare you to get the book!  I guarantee you’ll laugh, you may cry, you’ll relate to them and it’ll make you think.

You can learn more about the Goodwins on their blog: Year of Plenty.   You can order the book through our Christianbook.com affiliate link:

400748: Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in the Pursuit of Christian Living Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in the Pursuit of Christian LivingBy Craig L Goodwin / Sparkhouse Press

Or you just might win a copy!  Click here for contest rules and to enter.


  1. I’ve put this on my wish list. 🙂

  2. Raquel Soto - March 10, 2012

    ordered my book 🙂 can’t wait to read it and make some changes. YES!

  3. Keena G. - March 6, 2012

    Fabulous review. I am sold. This sounds like an excellent evening read-aloud for our family as we embark on another year of planting! I would order it tonight, but I think I will wait until after the contest is over!

  4. Daja,
    Thanks for the wonderful review? The book should arrive any day now.

    Blessings to you on your journey of plenty.

    Craig

    • Daja - March 2, 2012

      I was just about to send you the link! You found it first! 🙂 Thanks for writing the book and for sharing it with us!

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