Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Therefore, choose life... Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV
I've been thinking a lot this week about life as it is compared to life as I'd like it to be... and in a roundabout way my ponderings drifted into the subject of... managing our expectations... and then onto... choices.  I have been pondering about how we can choose our attitudes and actions regardless of our circumstances.

Here are some of my thoughts put to paper computer screen...

Choose Peace... This is not always easy for me although I do prefer living in a peaceful environment.  Sometimes it is difficult to bite my tongue and not say what I am thinking.  There are instances where it is much better to let what others have said or actions taken just go along their own way without responding.

Not about important things, of course.  There are times one must respond and stand up for what is right... but reminding your husband that he is slurping his soup for the hundredth time is not one of them.

Choose Forgiveness... My sister Bonnie and I were sipping coffee and chatting recently when the subject of a family member who had wronged others came up.  This has been so upsetting to her, she had to take sleeping pills for awhile to get to sleep.  I reminded her that as long as she was letting this upset her, the person in question continued to have control over her life.

I shared a story about my own battles with forgiving others and I think we came away with the realization one must forgive.  If only forgetting were easy... I have found one forgives long before they forget.  However, if it were impossible, He would not tell us we need to forgive before our prayers can be answered.

Choose Thankfulness...  A friend of mine once commented that she has never known anyone who has had more miracles in their life than I have.  I reminded her that... unfortunately... I have needed lots of miracles.

There are miracles such as our house not catching on fire this summer (with two opportunities) that I truly believe are Divine and our angels are watching over us.  But once in awhile answered prayer is a result of human compassion and kindness, as God whispers my name and my needs and another responds. 

Regardless of which... each day I offer thanks... throughout the day.  It is difficult for bitterness and thankfulness to live in the same heart.  This same long time friend is the one who told me, "Bren Fren (her own pet name for me), I believe God lets you go through tribulation to teach others how to go through their own Tribulation".  Hmmm... something worth pondering.

Choose Expectations... This is something I have learned over many, many years.  I was not taught to manage my expectations by parents, schools, businesses, or even the church.  But it was through years of trials and prayers and seeking to be closer to Him that I learned what is not part of the society in which we live... that over the top expectations are not a sign of success in life but instead a symptom of "Affluenza" (love that term).

I think quite often of the lovely Christmas scene in the Little House book in which the girls "open" their stockings and are thrilled with little gifts, mostly quite practical... and a small amount of candy.  Set that scene aside the typical Western Christmas morning with gifts piled high around a tree and when those are open there is a wild scramble to see if there is... more.

How much better it has become to realize more is not necessarily better.  To learn the difference between need and a few godly desires as compared to a life of excess... well, it has been a learning process and I'm still working on that with some collections.  But I think you understand the difference as you learn to find joy in less.  Which brings me to...

Choose Simplicity...  Which in many ways is about managing expectations... ours and our children as they grow up in our home.  To teach a child the joys of simple living is an heirloom more valuable than any jewels or gold or mansion.

A person who has learned to live simply is already rich.  It is not easy in the society we live in today.  It takes more thought and prayer and standing firm on convictions to simplify our life than it does to become part of the flow of society.

I think true simplicity can be different with each person and within each family.  But we all know... if we truly stop and ponder... what a simpler life means to each of us.

Choose Reality...  What?  Choose reality... where did that come from?  Well, it's kind of a part of my ponderings about simplicity.  My first choice would be to live on a small farm and grow all my own veggies and raise chickens and perhaps even live off the grid.  Simple does not always equate easy!

My reality is my small garden - less than an acre - place in the country with a naughty kitty to keep in line is all I can handle.  I suppose there is a fine line between asking in faith and accepting our present reality.  But I think most of us tend to know what reality we find ourselves in... but never stop praying for miracles.  :)

Choose Beauty...  Mankind was born in a garden and our hearts have longed for Perfection since Eden.  We need that which is beautiful as much as we need oxygen but few truly understand... except the artists and poets and musicians... and saints... those whose very lives brings them close to God.

There is no circumstance in which we live that cannot be made better by surrounding ourselves with what we find beautiful... not expensive... beautiful.

Living a beautiful life is nothing short of an adventure as we think of ways to bring that which is lovely into our home and garden and surroundings within our budget. To have something beautiful to look at... to hear... to eat... to smell... to read... to watch... to touch... what more can we ask for?

When we lived in a very ugly neighborhood after a huge financial reversal (brought about by my husband's extended illness), I put an old bench under the kitchen window and placed inexpensive flowers on it.

There was a wreath at the door and when one entered our small townhouse there were often delicious aromas coming out of the kitchen.  Our very humble environment was filled with our favorite inherited furniture and our pictures and the stuff that said... home.

Circumstances were far from perfect... not quite what I would even call good... but when we walked into our home from the outside world there was an environment in which to hope and to pray and to believe in miracles... and indeed the miracles arrived.

Choose Order... It is difficult for me to see beauty or find peace when there is no order.  I don't mean the lovely lived in look of a home filled with creative people (I keep piles in baskets to hide my creativity, hehehe).

I mean a house filled with too much unneeded stuff and tripping over the same clothes on the floor for days and dishes not done in the sink kind of clutter (all of which has happened in my own home!).

With Christopher's room all nice and orderly and mine... I turned my attention to our garage this past week.  I am sorry to say it has looked like an episode of Hoarders as I awaited my husband to begin working on it as he had promised.

However, the realization came to me that it was going to continue to be low on his priority list and to be honest... I think it was overwhelming to the ADHD side of his mind (Christopher also has to have help when his room gets too messy... it has something to do with a lack of sorting skills).  Especially as this year's high mold counts have affected both the guys adversely.

So... I decided I would at least get started and within three or four days I now have half the garage cleaned up... most of what I can do alone.  It was hard and uncomfortable and hot and sweaty and I felt miserable and there were spiders and spider webs and did I mention I felt MISERABLE?  But there came that moment after a day or two when I could see the results and that energized me to keep going.

Order is not always easy in a world which leans toward becoming unorderly but it is possible. Of course, it is also more difficult with little children around as one who has stepped on their share of Lego's knows.  ;)

Choose Life...  Life truly is a choice.  We are constantly choosing between life and death as we choose how we act and think and react and what we DO.  There is usually a choice available.  If we choose the emotions and actions which bring anger and bitterness and unhappiness and bad feelings... then we should not be surprised when what we receive in return is any less.

But if we choose life giving actions and words and reactions... we will, in turn... receive life.  Joy may not be immediate but joy follows life giving actions.  We choose our words.  We choose what we think upon.  We choose the books we read, media we watch and listen to, friends we surround ourselves with, experts we trust, and generally all that makes up our life.

We even choose our reactions to what we did not choose... our parents, our siblings, our health, etc.  I am convinced God places us in the families where He wants us... and the towns he wants us... and around the people in which we are to interact... to mold us and shape us into the person He wants us to be and... to pray for, and take care of, and influence those in our own little world.

Choose Hope... as Churchill so famously said, "Never, Never, Never, Never give up".  You never know if you are just five minutes away from a miracle.  I said that part, not Churchill.

Choose Jesus... Peace is not a feeling... Peace is a Person.  I am trying each day to make choosing Jesus the most important part of my day but I admit to failure quite often as the urgent overtakes the important in my days.

I have favorite devotional books, my Bible, etc. where they are easily available in the midst of busy days.  There are a few favorite radio and TV Bible teachers I listen to from time to time.

But most of all I talk to Him throughout the day... quite often in the form of HELP!


Rebecca said...

Brenda, this is a profound post. One that ought to be revisited frequently. You are SO right about our choices -- and that final one is what makes all the others easier.

eyelandgirl said...

enjoyed how you put this post together because it is so true. We have little choice about the things that happen to us in this life, but we have the freedom to choose our response to those things. I know you'll agree it is the choices we make that create our lives. We can glorify God, or glorify ourselves. Through your trials this summer, you gave Him the glory and He blessed you for it, then you blessed all of us readers by sharing it with us.

Monica said...

Wonderful post! I agree totally on every point... Funny thing, my husband slurping his soup get to me as well! Have a wonderful week! I enjoy your Sunday Afternoon Tea each week!

Cath said...

Thank you for this beautiful, inspiring post. It encouraged me greatly.

mamatigerj said...

This is just so very good. Thank you for sharing what God has brought to your mind and laid on your heart. As usual, it is very timely for me. I think I will be meditating on each of these choices during my quiet times this week.


Amish Stories said...

Id like to invite you folks to come to Amish Stories for a recipe for "Famous Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Cinnamon Buns" along with a book signing schedule for Amish fiction writer Wanda Brunstetter for Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as a contest to meet her. I hope everyone so far is having a great weekend. Thanks everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.

jAne said...

(*(*( hug )*)*)

i hope it's all right that i print this post and read it again later today while i curl up on the couch for prayer and a nap. it's so right, for right now. thank you.

Ann said...

Amen ... you covered it all. Blessings, Ann

Anonymous said...

Wow! One of your best posts ever.
At the High school where I work there are a lot of troubled teenagers and we often talk to them about making 'good choices.'(ie. To do their work, to not do drugs etc.)
Someday they will learn that all of life is about making good choices.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda. This was lovely and thought provoking (and a little bit convicting)...exactly what I needed to read this afternoon.

Have a Blessed day!


matty said...

Terrific words of wisdom! Well said, my friend!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Amazing, Brenda. So many ideas here, but all ring true.

Vicki in UT said...

Thank you for this sweet post. I find it difficult some days to make good choices. We have been unemployed for 19 months now, and life is sometimes difficult. But my favorite time of the day is when I have finished picking the garden, and I sit there thankful for what I have just picked, and drink in the peace that thankfulness brings me. Thank you for the reminder that the choices we make, make us into better people, people more like Him, which is our ultimate goal.

Anonymous said...

Good words, thank you. I am trying so hard this year to "think on these things" and your post fits right in there. As I was reading each header, I kept thinking "choose life" and I'm glad you included that. It's amazing how often we don't or what we choose that leads away from the Life & the Truth.
Connie in San Diego

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Profound and inspiring. And to God be the glory. I just wrote a LENGTHY email to my closest friend -- detailing how God had just worked out ALL the details about something in my life. I am still in amazement. And I am ashamed of being a doubting Thomas. Slowly realizing that ALL of His promises are meant for someone like me. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Nina Pundarik-Dossin said...


I love your blog! I just found it and I can't wait to return. :)


Paula said...

You are such an encouragement to me! Thanks for sharing from your heart. Right now, my family and I live in an area that is culturally very different from where we grew up and we are all struggling. But in it all we are finding that we do have the choice to make the best of it!

jackie said...

A beautiful and encouraging post. Thanks for sharing!

freetobeme - Anita said...

Thanks for the reminder that life is made up of choices. God created us with the right to make our own choices. Sometimes that's hard to accept when we see a loved one making bad choices. You wrote this in a lovely manner. Thanks for sharing.

Vee said...

I so enjoyed this Sunday Afternoon Tea. It felt like coming home...

Inngedanken said...

Thank you for this beautiful and encouraging post. I sure will come back to it, it's truly one of your most inspiring posts. You are so right - we have the choice! Thanks for reminding. (And, off-topic: I like your new little room a lot! Many inspired writing lessons at your desk there!)
Love, Martina