I read something the other day which made me think about these times we're living in...these past three years actually. The writer was contemplating her own life and that of her family, and came to the decision that while the outside world is getting busier and seeming to promote (or instigate) a state of almost constant mental anxiety, that she would make their own lives slower...simpler...inside.
She chose to stop and turn away from the almost endless flow of media alarm, to make her home a place of beauty, calm, warmth and safety. Some of her motivation was spurred on by having small children around and choosing to create a slow, simple, secure environment for them, but I thought this is really how we all need to live, no matter our age or family situation.
Inside our homes we can choose to be separate from the madness of a hustle and bustle world gone mad, especially at this time of the year when Christmas fever (and Thanksgiving for those in the USA) have taken over.
Within the confines of our own home borders, we can tend to what matters, pottering around and doing little tasks here and there, tackling bigger tasks on set days, gently keeping house as we follow daily or weekly rhythms and routines, and crafting ways to create a beautiful and welcoming environment for all who dwell within or cross our doorways to visit.
I find myself drawn to 'real' books of lives lived with careful consideration and godly intent, usually having two or three titles on the go at once. One book is read at night before lights go out, usually just a single entry, and another is read after the morning chores are done and I settle down for a quarter hour or so of rest with a cup of tea or cool drink and a small sweet treat.
Reading only short passages at a time (imagine the length of my own blog posts entries for example) and highlighting some sections, or turning over the corner of a page, allows me to ponder the ideas or experiences shared by the author as I go about my day or drift off to sleep. Often I'll pray over them, seeking the Lord's guidance on how to apply a certain task or idea to my life - for I am always looking for help in cultivating a life of gentle domesticity.
Still managing the ongoing issues with my knee, and having almost come through a bout of nasty head cold, I am resting far more than usual. This enforced rest has allowed my mind to be active in a fresh way (for my body has been restricted somewhat) and given me far more time than usual to read, pray, ponder and write. Considering what really matters at this time of life - with regards to our dwelling, finances, health, abilities, and family - has helped to narrow my vision and path going forward, removing many needless distractions.
I think for us in our 60's this is wise, as walking that wider path simply meant too many obligations, too much energy required, and the added pressure to keep up. Accepting that we're getting older and most tasks take longer than they used to, requiring more of our physical reserves that even five years ago, is helping my husband and I to slow down, though to be honest he does find physical limitations quite frustrating, and I believe that's probably normal for men who were once very active.
I would love to 'be there' every day for Blossom and the children, but what I have come to appreciate during this past year when we've sometimes gone two to three weeks with only phone contact (whether due to injuries or illness in their household or ours) is how well she manages her home and family, despite the numerous challenges and sicknesses she faces on a day to day basis. Just the other day she said to me, "Mum, I will be so glad when this year is over. I am praying that we don't have another year with so much sickness, that God will be gracious and keep us well." I am praying this for her as well, for indeed their whole family have struggled all year with one illness after another.
But this year has opened my eyes to see the competency, faith, and love with which my 28yo youngest daughter, a mother of three little ones, lives her life day by day. I'm so very proud of Blossom.
More reading has come from Grandma Donna's blog (here) where the wealth of godly wisdom overflows. She has a Youtube channel now, short thoughtful videos, and in one of them she made the point that she and her husband Charles, both in their 70's, are conscious that their lives are drawing closer to the end, so they have decided to make memories.
Donna said "We know time is getting shorter for us so we keep making memories. We choose to make life interesting because that makes memories." They are adventurous in their endeavours, but also know when to stop, wait, slow down. If you'd like to watch that video I'll link it below.
Learning from the real lives of others helps us to fashion our own lives, whether they be still early on, in the middling season, or moving into the autumn and winter years. Each of us have a story which is being written out by the living of it, and some chapters we may be grateful to never live through again. I have many such chapters, but rather than beating myself up about them, or being bitter or weepy or inconsolable, I choose to let them go and draw now from those chapters which brought life, wonderful lessons, wisdom, hope and goodness.
I am learning that no matter the troubles which come our way, in my own strength I am rarely able to do anything, but giving it over to the Father my heart knows the situation is in the care of One who is able, always able. And knowing this has taught me that it is fine to feel okay. It is good to turn my attention from worldly anxieties and darkness, to the beauty and gentleness within my own domestic orders.
We cannot close the door on all the anxieties in this world, but we can filter most of it out whilst still praying for those in need, and then moving on with our day, in the simple, quiet world inside.
Give yourself time to breathe, my friends. Take a rest when things are too much, or when your reserves are low. Don't compare your life to someone else's, and never allow the expectations of another to push you off the path God has laid before you. In can be overwhelming to read of the amount others can achieve in a given day, because you and I cannot possibly do the same. Your life circumstances, health, finances, family dynamics, home, employment, faith and responsibilities are unique to YOU.
Be who God made you to be; trust Him to walk with you along this unique path; take your eyes off the world and close your ears to those who speak nothing but fear and anxiety.
Set your mind on things above, and create your sanctuary right within your own borders.
Love and blessings,