Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The quiet world inside...

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,

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Lin said...

Lovely post Jennifer - thank you. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Margriet Sitskoorn was just talking about this and her book " Tijd te koort / tijd genoeg " = not enough time / enough time yesterday on tv. It's about your own personal time and rythm. Today you are writing and posting lovely photos ! I will be rereading later with a cup of coffee:)
take care,

Two Patchwork Bunnies said...

Thankyou Jenny for such an encouraging blog post. It is so easy to get bogged down in all the worries of the world. Add to that ageing and physical/emotional limitations and things begin to look a little gloomy. But you have written with such wisdom and honesty that it is like a breath of fresh air. Thankyou, Sarah

Barwitzki said...

Thanks. I can totally go with you Jennifer... make the most of every day and enjoy what you do for yourself and for others.
A big hug to you.

Diana Hyman said...

I have recently become the daytime caregiver to our new 7 week old grandson and it requires getting up at 5 to have things done and then leave at 7 to get him and then back to his home to help with the older three as they return from school. Tired at almost 71 but blessed to be able to keep them and my goodness the daycare cost would’ve been horrid. I do appreciate your encouraging posts and live Grandma Donna.πŸ™❤️😊☀️

Janni Harlick said...

Thank you Jennifer for sharing your thoughts today. They definitely resonated with me. I often beat myself up about the past, which I know I can’t change, but wonder if there was more I could do to stop the painful experiences in my life. I know God loves me for it is He who holds my hand and leads me through whatever painful memories emerge. Thank goodness for His grace! Slowing down and making my home a quiet gentle haven is something I aim for. Life is short so we must live it so it is pleasing to God and ourselves. Bless you dear Jennifer.

Mary-LouπŸ’•πŸ˜Š said...

Dear Jennifer thank you, what a lovely letter, and one I have forwarded onto Daphne. I really wish I could insert a wee photo in the circle! But I don't know how to do it! I have also subscribed to the u tube channel! I am recovering from this chesty sinuses bout, now into its second week, antibiotics changed! I love your snap dragons! I grew mine from seed and they are still blooming!!

Allie said...

Such a breath of fresh air - every time I read a post by you. You are a very calming writer, dear heart!

Lori said...

Thank you so much for this post. Living in today’s world with all the sad and horrific news it is very hard to stay grounded and simple. My prayers to my Father,God, is what keeps me sane. Simplicity is what I am striving for and to be content with all I have been blessed with. Your posts help me to do that. Thank you😊

Tammy said...

Jenny this is why I do not watch television hardly at all. I quit doing that many years ago when my son and daughter were quiet young. This was during 911 As the news just upset my nerves so because it was a terrorist attack in our country . My husband was in the Navy and it I knw I couldn't handle watching all the current horrors in the world unfold daily on The news television sites. My family all know to call me and let me know if we have a hurricane or tropical storm headed our way. So I can prepare properly. I just try to live each day for today and worry about tomorrow's troubles on tomorrow. My Moma has a saying don't borrow trouble on today when it's coming on tomorrow.

Susan said...

Your advice is so wise, Jennifer. Just reading your blog and seeing your plants calms my soul. Thank you for sharing YOUR wisdom and insights along this path. I've had to slow down, put the brakes on with a screech, and it bothered me, at first, and still some days now, when I want to do more than I have strength to do. Still, I'm coming to accept the wisdom of the very things you say. Accept what is, do what I can, hold God's hand through the tough times, and share my peace with others. It's a frenetic world outside, but it doesn't have to be inside. Thank you.

Rosie said...

Wise words regarding the slowing down and cutting out a lot of the media hype. I have gone back to reading more books now and am really enjoying taking the time to sit with a cuppa and have some quiet time.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
If your blog was in paper form it would have turned down corners, worn edges, notes and pen marks ! The spine would have to be coil bound to stay open as I follow the tutorials :)
Hope you have an enjoyable weekend !
hugs, take care,

Clara said...

Love your blog, Jenny and love this post. I read it two times because it made me think about so many things... Enjoy your days.

Little Penpen said...

Another wonderful and thoughtful post. I totally agree and I search for real and "home type" books, too.

Tracy said...

Like Clara, I have just read this post twice. Such beautiful words and so true. Thank you. X

Anonymous said...

Sorry this says Anonymous..I don't know how to change itπŸ’I love your 68 with 25 grandchildren..we love thankful for you..Shirley πŸ’

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

Dear Jennifer,
I've come visiting from over at Grandma Donna's place. You have made me stop and think. I'm not far behind at 57. Cancer started my slow down at 51. Sometimes I feel guilty that I cannot do all that is expected of me. I do wonder if it's others or more myself that us expecting?

You've shared wisdom.
Be blessed,
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

Kim said...

I thoroughly agree with you and am striving (in a gentle, restful way) to make home a haven of beauty and calmness and encouragement to trust in God no matter what. Your posts and embroideries are such a help in that endeavor. Carry on, sister.

loulee said...

Beautiful roses.

Anonymous said...

I feel the peace emanating from your post & I'm trying to grasp it...but I feel that some of us are called to speak out & pray specifically for people & situations. I feel I must speak out & pray...battle in the Spirit against the evil that is trying to steal, kill & destroy.. Please pray for those of us who feel called to fight. Thank you so much for all you do. May God bless you & your sweet family.
Anita in N.C.