Thursday, February 8, 2024

Stillness, and a free pattern...

 


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 For as this world has progressed, especially in the 21st century, the idea of stillness has been replaced by a great majority, for busyness, for achieving more, for ticking the boxes on all we have accomplished in a given time frame, for applauding the over-achiever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

DOWNLOAD Be Still

Hugs


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25 comments:

Anonymous said...

“I want to keep going until I drop. I don’t want to fade away. Life is for living.” So true. To appreciate each day and make the most of it as the Lord allows.
Your post spoke to my heart and I plan to read it again slowly before bed. I think it’s what I needed to hear. Thank you, sweet Jennifer!
~ Michelle

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
In our weekly TV guide " Max magazine " there are great articles. One is " Bode Houdt Huis".
Every week he gives handy house and garden tips from readers and himself. One witer wites that she only does the Spring cleaning only in the morning. The rest of the day she rests, takes a stroll or reads. It's a great feeling when it's Spring ! She can enjoy it. Don't over think, just do it. She' 84 !
I also learned that if you fall a sleep right away when you go to bed you're too worn out. It should take about 20 minutes to unwind and fall a sleep.
Recovering should include sitting when you are not tired. Wise words from the physiotherapist :)
Thanks for the stitchery today :)
hugs, take care,
Joanne

Donna P. said...

What a wonderful video! Thank you for sharing it with us.
With my Alzheimer's, I have a daily list I go through - I used to be upset or angry that I hadn't accomplished everything on it. Not anymore.
I love the idea of being still - I don't accomplish it every day. Especially in the afternoon when I'm getting dinner ready and I'm rushing around, trying to get it ready for when dh comes home from a long day at work. I'm trying very hard to slowly get it ready so when he gets home, we can both relax and he can tell me how his day went without me having to rush while listening.
Thank you for your post. So much appreciated.
Blessings to you and yours

Allie said...

Bless you, I needed this today. After two days of my aunt being in hospital an hour away, every dish is dirty, laundry has piled up, the boys have tracked mud everywhere. Plus I'm on the phone with Medicare, and trying to think of everything that needs done. I thought I would take a moment between tasks and read your blog, and I'm so glad I did!
One lovely thing about this new art journey I'm on, is that it forces me to really look at things I want to draw. It's a form of stillness, observing with my whole attention, that calms me. I think it needs to be a daily thing I do -not as something else on my to do list, but as a way to slow down and really SEE the things around me. Pairing what I draw with a bible verse, picking out the right verse, also gets me praying. How good is our God!

Another thing - when my family remembers me after I'm gone, I don't want them to remember how I rushed around accomplishing so very much, I want them to remember how I loved to laugh and how I received so much peace from the Lord. I want them to remember me as being content, fruitful but not frantic. How I took time to listen, really listen, and how calm was the hallmark of my days. I'm working on it, with the Lord's help. Love you, girl!

Kristy said...

Jennifer-

How much Jesus uses you in my life! How much I needed to hear these words of affirmation and encouragement today. Being still is so hard for me at times yet so much what I long to do! Thanks for the reminder to do just that. Also for the feeling of worth you give in serving the Lord through homemaking. There are few these days who seem to value that. You are a blessing indeed. May your time with Blossom be a fruitful and joyful time as you clean and have that stillness time too. K- lkw2x6-apq@yahoo.com

gail said...

Thank you, Jennifer. Maybe your most beautiful post yet. Just thank you. Blessings Gail.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing what's in your heart. I've recently started slowing down and have found true joy and happiness in not being so busy. I also have found that I get more done. Your post comes at such a perfect time for me and where I'm at in my life. Also, thank you for the lovely embroidery pattern. I used to embroider and haven't done it in years. I recently picked it up again after seeing your lovely patterns. May God bless you and your family!
Hugs!
Mary

Julie said...

You always time your posts so perfectly dear friend ... just when they are needed it seems! I smiled all the way through that video - what an amazing lady & I adore her. I wish she was my neighbor! Thank you for the pattern ... bless you dear Jennifer. I am going off to be still for the afternoon x0x

Karen said...

What a cute simple reminder. Thank you for the free pattern! I am doing the block of the month and purchased Tilda fabric for it. I am enjoying your emails and blog.
God Bless,
Karen

Judith said...

I cannot tell you the times when I am becoming depressed or just stressed with things in my daily life and your email post shows up and I feel like God is speaking through you. I know he speaks to others also as I read the other comments, I know that God is using you for His good works. Thank you

Lin said...

Thank you Jennifer. xx

Tammy said...

My Dearest Jennifer. Thank you so much for this much needed post. MY doctor told me this week that he wants me to lay down and rest for 2 hours each and every day. To help me relax and help my stress levels. That I do way too much. So now I have to make this 2 hours of laziness. So I have decided to read for 2 hours a day. And I am really enjoying those 2 hours of bliss. A much needed break for sure. Don't over do it at Blossoms on the cleaning day Dear.
love Always
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny, I am trying to purchase your patterns but it wont add snythingbto the cart. Please help

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Dear Anonymous,
Not sure why you can't add anything to your Etsy cart. Do you have an Etsy account? Are you logged in? If you don't have one you may need to join Etsy (it is free).
Please message me via Etsy if you continue to have a problem.
Jennifer

Unknown said...

Jenny thank you so much for this pattern.
I have a friend whose 2 year old grandson is going through liver cancer treatment at the moment and I am going to do this for her.
Again thank you so much
You are a blessing
Julie

Kim @ Purring Cottage said...

At 63 years old, I'm finally also learning to rest in between homesteading and homemaking jobs and not feel guilty. Your post helps confirm the wisdom of this. The Youtube video was very inspiring and also strengthens my resolve to really notice the many blessings our loving Father grants us all throughout our lives. Thank you for your words of wisdom and for so generously sharing the pattern, again!

Ondrea said...

Another wonderful post and lovely apt stitchery. I do rest but do not have much uninterrupted rest. Lack of sleep and pain have left me feeling totally uninspired with craft lately but I really want to stitch this lovely one in the same colours. Thankyou my lovely. X

KingsailK said...

Mary-Louise

Jafphil said...

Jennifer, thank you for the beauty you share in your designs. I look forward to each one. I especially appreciate your reflection in your blog this month. We are created to do but are also created to "be" and it's so important, as you shared, for us to remember that. Thank you for your generosity in sharing with all of us your gift of creativity and beauty and your wisdom. You make the world a better and more beautiful place. God bless you! Judi

Milena said...

Thank you, Sister Jennifer, for taking the time to share such inspirational thoughts in this blog. Now that I was reading about stillness and hearing the lovely audio, it came to my mind the last day of January. It was Wednesday January 31st when I went looking for some fabric in a little store in town and when I was about 2 blocks away from the store, and I was going to step down from the sidewalk to the street something happened and I lost control of my feet, and I suddenly felt down my face hitting the ground. The paramedics came and took me to the hospital for a check up and for the glory of God, although a lot of blood was falling from my nose, nothing was broken. But that day, the last day of January I took the decision of not getting to my limits any more, to slow down. It can be very dangerous to try to complete a long list of to do’s in one day. When I was young (now I’m 71) I usually asked my self at night before falling asleep: Did I accomplish everything I planned? But that question doesn’t work for me now. Thank you, Jennifer, for writing with the same thought. I’m trying in February to see the richness in the small things at home every hour, as you said, at the kitchen, or cleaning the bathrooms, and being still. God bless you.

Carlie said...

This truly spoke to me. I have a problem of always doing something and not just enjoying the moment. I need to learn to be still and listen to that still small voice. I appreciate your blog and the way you share your sweet spirit with us. Thanks for this sweet piece of embroidery.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for the heartfelt comments you leave for us all, the beautiful stitcheries you make and share with us and the simple lessons in life you share. The video was wonderful! I am nearly 68 and the insights shared are so valuable to me. It's interesting that the older I get the more I look back on my life & realize that I was so busy living that life that I didn't realize that I should have made changes as I went. Lots of things I would have done differently. I don't beat myself up as it's all part of life, isn't it? Lots of lessons learned, though. But that is what life is all about. I'm most thankful that the Lord was with me as I went, and when I finally listened it was always amazing how quickly the "U-turn" came about so I was once again going in the right direction. Long ago I began living my life after prayer and consultation with Him and haven't wavered since -- and it's a beautiful, simple life which I'm forever grateful for! Bless you for all you share with us. Deb

Anonymous said...

Your timing is on point. I run myself to beyond from providing care to my husband, house, cooking, errands and on and on! Today, I stopped after lunch and took a much-needed nap. I don't nap, I find it a waste of time. I'm refreshed. I must and will start to schedule a REST! I'm 70 and starting to get tired more often! Blessings to you and everyone on your post!

Sandy said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful video. “4 years from 90”, and still loving life!

Susan said...

The talk of stillness is very timely. I was asked to start a kids handbell choir at my church. The song I am teaching them which we will play next month is, "Be Still and Know that I Am God." I find myself humming or singing that little song many times throughout the day. I am still thankful to God for the day I discovered your blog several years ago. It has been and continues to be a blessing to me.