The more I ponder this month's theme of stillness, the more I observe the different ways stillness can become a part of our life.
Today I'm sharing with you a simple, sweet design to stitch. I intentionally chose to encase it inside a circle as displaying your completed stitchery inside a hoop would make a lovely way to display your handiwork.
Do you remember as a child being told to sit still? Or telling your own offspring that very same thing? Or the relief when a restless baby or young child finally succumbed to sleep with one last sigh of surrender? My memories include all of these things, many times over.
But when we are grown up, who is there to remind us to be still? For as this world has progressed, especially in the 21st century, the idea of stillness has been replaced by a great majority, for busyness, for achieving more, for ticking the boxes on all we have accomplished in a given time frame, for applauding the over-achiever and the award winner more than the humble woman her tends her home quietly and faithfully year after year with no public recognition.
How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking we need to do more, work faster, expand our list of to-dos, and set our sights on being more than we already are. And how exhausting it is to live with that mindset, always seeking more of ourselves so that we can feel accomplished or valuable.
Dear one, you are fine as you are.
Regardless of how much you do or how often your name is associated with achievement, there will always be a voice somewhere, often many voices, speaking words of discouragement and failure that will only lead you to push harder, work more, be more, in the endless pursuit of reaching a pinnacle nobody can attain in this life.
The dictionary defines stillness as the absence of movement or sound, but I believe we can be still even when quietly going about the day with it's gentle rhythms.
My stillness can be standing by the clothesline, listening to the birds in the tree overhead, who being oblivious to the housewife tasks throughout my day, touch my heart with a delightful moment of rest and joy, and sometimes laughter.
As I stand at the kitchen sink with apron tied, and long pink gloves resting in the soapy suds after washing dishes, I am still. It is one of my favourite places to be. The gentle, unrushed rhythm of cleaning a bowl, is automatic, and so my mind rests on thoughts of beauty, thoughts of God, prayers of thankfulness.
Reading a book or my Bible, and a verse or phrase stands out as quite profound. I mark the page with a piece of cotton crochet lace, my most used bookmarking system, and close my eyes. It may be only a few minutes, it may be longer, but I rest in the stillness of pondering the author's thoughts, and allow the words to impart new wisdom. In the stillness we hear and see what we otherwise may have missed.
Recently, I was going about my usual Wednesday cleaning tasks - this is the day when some big chores are done, such as cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming and mopping the floors, and washing couch covers, cushion covers and curtains (not every week, but rotating rooms). It was a dreadfully hot and humid day, even for the tropics, and I wearied quickly. I spoke out loud to the Lord, "Father, I am exhausted. I have reached my limit." And I sat down, too tired to say another word, or wipe another surface.
Then that still small voice, His still small voice, spoke into my own weary stillness. "Jennifer, you must never push to your limit. You must be wise enough to stop before you reach it. Then you will not empty yourself from exhaustion."
That idea had never before occurred to me. Throughout life I had heard the phrase "I know my limit" probably thousands of times - I had said it myself time and time again! Pushing to the limit is seen as a sign of perseverance and strength I suppose, an affirmation of personal awareness...and yet, it's not worth the badge of honour we thought it would bestow. Pushing oneself to the limit can be dangerous, and over time it can bring about health problems. It can be egotistical, and create in our minds a bar, which as the years go by is set higher and higher and higher, because we're wanting to lengthen/enlarge our personal limit.
What a burden we can make for ourselves, when really, it's not beneficial in the long term, and for me, it is not beneficial in my day to day simple life.
Perhaps you need to be reminded to be still, or to slow down, or to recognise your limits and stop before you reach them. Dear ones, life is not a race, not to be rushed through, it is a day to day gift, an experience to be lived out one sunrise to the next. It is a precious thing to have breath, and to have loved ones around us with whom we can embrace and interact 'today'.
Be still in this day, even for a little while. Go and smell the flowers in your garden, watch the birds, brew a soothing cuppa and sit in your favourite spot for a while - and don't think about what is left to do this day. Just embrace the stillness for now, and breathe. God has given you this day, not as a burden, even though you will face seasons of great responsibility, illness or hardships, but as a gift of life - for if the Father has given you breath today, He still has a purpose for your precious life.
Today I am going to Blossom's to help her clean house for a couple of hours. My task is the kitchen because it's the place I love to clean. But we have both agreed that when we feel we are approaching our limit, we shall stop. We shall sit quietly together, drink cool water from the fridge, and rest in stillness (with a nice bit of chocolate) before I return home.
I shall be 65 later this month, and what a privilege it is to be gifted all these years. But I have a choice if I want to be here for another year, a choice to slow down more than I have previously, to let my 'limit' stay ahead of me and never meet up with it, and to embrace the moments of stillness as a dear friend when it visits.
I shall leave you with a lovely video, one which when shared with my family members of various ages, quieted and inspired their hearts, as it did mine.
God bless you lovely ladies. I am so very grateful for your visits to my blog, which is really a journal of life and a place to share different things with each of you...how blessed I am.
Use the link below to download the free Be Still pattern. xxx