Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Life lived slowly and with focus

Close up of a beautiful flower arrangement in South Haven last Summer.

Focus... you may recall that is my "Word" for the year 2015.  I have found choosing one word for each year rather than a list of resolutions has been quite successful.  I pray about the upcoming year months before each ends and every year the "Word" has meant something special.  Often only God would know what it would mean to me.

So I've been attempting to remain more focused this year.  Focusing on living life in such a way that I really truly notice the important things.  The little things that make up my days, which become my years... which turn into a lifetime lived one moment at a time.

I've been thinking about the difference of what life was like a few generations ago to what it is like now.  How living slowly was, well... necessary. The last time my husband and I were at Old Sturbridge Village (a very favorite place of ours) in Massachusetts, we spent more time than usual inside the Sawmill reading the information provided in various parts of the building.

We were surprised to learn (and my husband has a graduate degree in Wood Science) that the work in each sawmill at that time was seasonal. The saw work that had to be done was scheduled by nature alone as the water flowed through the mill when the river was high each year. 

With summer pretty much arriving where I live, a new season has begun.  My life is slow and my borders small.  I came to accept this fact of life long ago as illness progressed (developing the auto immune diseases Type 1 Diabetes and Hashimoto's disease).

Life lived each year.  Every season.  Smaller.  Slower.

I've accepted the fact that it takes weeks to finally get the garden all repaired and the soil ready and the seeds planted and then the veggie starts planted and then weeded... you get the idea.  But it is worth it, even if it is gardening done imperfectly. 

It has all come together to remind me that life can be good even when lived within smaller borders and on a slower schedule than before.  In many ways, it is a blessing.  Once I accepted the limitations at least.  For it forced me to slow down and smell the roses... or in my case, the herb garden.

Instead of flying through dinner preparations as I did when arriving home from work, I enjoy the slicing and chopping of veggies.  I think of cooking as an art and the French chef's knife as much an instrument for making Art as a painter's brush.  Slow living and slow cooking allows such creativity.

A limited income can be frustrating, especially when one must put a bucket in the kitchen where the roof is leaking in heavy storms (we have had storms a lot this spring).  But then again, it forces one to stay home a lot and much like the homemakers before the automobile came along... the making of a home becomes one's canvas for creating.

I am still trying to focus more often, choosing carefully what I allow to fill the time.  I need to be more thoughtful as how I go about my days for they pass so quickly.  Life is, indeed, a vapor as the Word tells us.

Yesterday, I finally got around to updating the address book in my study with addresses from the family address book we keep in the small home office.  After I finished, my husband gave me the two older address books we have used throughout forty years of marriage (I didn't know we still had them!) that were stuffed with old envelopes and notes on paper as well as the names and addresses within.

It isn't often one has their entire married life in their hands, all the relationships that were important enough to write down in one's address book for forty years.  I went through it all and what struck me was how many of these people were no longer with us.  (Which happens when a couple is older and both were born to older parents!).

Not only have so many passed on but there were names of couples no longer married to each other, once close friends we don't know where they now live, and some names I hadn't a clue as to who they were.  A vapor!  Forty years of people and you know how many pages I saved from the books and all the papers?  One. Single. Page.

As I threw the Past into the waste basket, I was more determined to live in the moment more often.  
  • To take time to enjoy people when I am with them.  
  • To write a real letter.  
  • To make a celebration cake and serve it for no reason at all but that it is Today.  
  • To enjoy the process of making a meal instead of throwing it all together as quickly as possible.  
  • To make my time with God a priority instead of squeezing it in between unimportant tasks.
  • To Focus on what is important for Eternity.
  • To enjoy each season as it comes. 
  • To be amazed at how a tiny seed planted in the ground grows into something so big!
  • To pack a picnic and eat by the pond in the park my mother loved so much.

My prayer for you, whether you are entering the heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter... take the time to look for all the good God has provided.  Live as slowly as your circumstances allow.  Don't fall for the world's deceit that busy is better. 

This life may be the dress rehearsal for Heaven... but it is the only one you get.  So slow down and live.  Enjoy the season.  Even if it is hot and there are mosquitoes.  Think of those things you can only do by living slowly within this particular season... then do it.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.

For before you know, it will be too late and another season will be upon us.  The opportunity that comes with this season will have vanished and I'm certain there are things you wish you took the time to do.  Before you can't.


Lee Ann said...


Unknown said...

Thank you for the reminder about staying focused. It all resonates!
Have a blessed Lord's Day.
Psalm 37

Anonymous said...

Hello my friend, I was just thinking about this the other day. I dread summer because my hubs gets so busy farming I see him so little and I find the heat hard to take. But I decided this summer I need to enjoy each and every day. Each! and! every! day! �� They are gifts that I need to enjoy and be thankful for. BTW, I love the picture of the flowers. Since we have had rain the flowers around my house are riotous. Thanks for the post reminder. You do a great job. Pam (SD)

Mrs.T said...

So well said. Thanks so much for sharing this. Some very important thoughts here.

Rebecca said...

Good thoughts - much for me to "chew on" as my days seem to be passing more rapidly every day!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post Brenda - you are so blessed with your way of writing!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish I could slow down and better enjoy life! I keep thinking life will change if I ever make it to retirement! Days off are just for catching up with what cannot be squeezed into days that are too long and I come home exhausted both physically and mentally from work. I really enjoy reading your insightful postings and hope to some day appreciate things as you do. Thank you. Karen

Deb J. in Utah said...

I love this and totally agree with you. Wise thoughts indeed. Slow down and stay focused. Time does pass so quickly. Thank you for this lovely post!

Anonymous said...

Love your Sunday posts! (All your posts, actually!) this was So good! And just what I needed to hear! I love sitting on our back deck, watching the birds at the bird feeders and the squirrels frolicking about this time of year. It becomes my favorite "room" of the house in summer. Being a bit of a introvert, it's my place to "regroup" and find peace after a busy day or being out with a lot of people. Maybe because I'm getting older, but I'm all for living a slower-paced life! However, I think we all need time out to refocus on what is important because, like you said, life is a vapor!
Laura C.(WA)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful post. Something to really think about. Time passes so quickly!
Best wishes,

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Oh I agree! I work hard these days to be in the moment and to be involved with those the Lord brings our way.

I have been wanting to start writing 'real' letters again, as well. My sister in law gave me a book called "Snail Mail," and it was exactly what I had been leaning toward.


Annabel said...

I love snail mail and write a lot of letters. A go slow thing I think of was at my Nans helping her shell peas. Back in the day before peas came shelled! It was enjoyable and we would chat and shell peas. It was lovely. We need more go slow and enjoy things. Many more! xxx

Rachel Hughes said...

Your words ring true for me as well. I have had to slow down due to illness, and I am facing two knee replacements. So slowing down even more! Believing in Romans 8:28!

Anonymous said...

This was an encouraging post to me. I do find myself waiting for the next thing I'm looking forward to instead of enjoying each moment. I don't want to waste my days. Recently I went through the adresses we've had since we were married, 30 years worth. I was amazed, too, how many were no longer with us and how many we had lost track of. I learn so much from you.
Dianne L

Ann said...

Always I enjoy your insight and perspective on life. My life is rather small at the moment and I've been thinking I should be doing more and be more involved with others. But since my oldest son passed (two years ago today) God seems to have kept me in a small, quiet place (except for family emergencies!) and I have come to accept that this is what He wants for me at this time. I trust that He knows best and wait to see what door He opens for me in the future.

Kathy said...

Love this post...Thank you!

Keri said...

Such insightful words, Brenda! Thank you for your reflections on this topic. Wisdom that is coming from someone like you, who has the of one whose life has changed in unexpected and unwelcome ways, should be heeded more carefully than that from someone who has floated through life like a breeze.