Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Life on Purpose Reflections

My literary mentor, Edith Schaeffer.

September was the reset month when there was schoolwork in the midst of our years.  These days, with both kids long ago graduated from college, it is once again January which clears the air.  January gives me a fresh calendar (a few, actually), and lets me hit the reset button on what is commonly viewed as... a life.

God created planets and a sun and a moon and stars and He threw in Time and Space and mixed them all together to form a calendar... that was absolutely brilliant.  God will continue to amaze me throughout Eternity.  How well He understands His creation.  We need to know where we are in our journey on this planet and a calendar can focus our attention to lots of Truths.  Not the least of which is how fast that thing we call Time flies by.

I usually take birthdays with grace, just being glad for another year on the planet.  However, turning sixty really shook me.  While the birthday weekend spent in Western Michigan... one of my favorite places on the planet, with my very favorite people on the planet... was lovely and filled with joy, I was in a bit of a fog thinking about reaching that decade.  Sixty.  Where did forty and fifty go?

I remember my mother's sixtieth birthday.  I remember reading a book by Edith Schaeffer when I was a bride and thinking how old she was when she wrote about turning sixty that year.  Sixty is not the new forty.  One still lives a lot of years to reach sixty... and it can be rather strange when we can't remember many of those days, much less entire years.

I think I was in my late teens, it had to be as I wasn't married, attending a rather large meeting filled with mostly older Christians.  I was half listening to a conversation going on beside me when I realized the subject was quite interesting.  Even to one so young.  They were talking about how the older they get, the more they realize this life is a schoolroom for the next... our very preparation for Eternity.

That was hard to take in when you are still a teenager and a new Christian.  Now I understand what they were saying... and why I have to continue to draw close to the Lord while... giving my younger self a lot of grace.

I know I don't have to repent over and over when I've asked God's forgiveness.  But I still cringe when I think of things from the past, especially when I said something or judged someone or acted in an ungodly manner.  However, when I talk to Him about these things, He always asks me the same question.  Every. Single. Time.

Did you learn from the experience?

For you see, He doesn't expect us to walk through this life always doing the perfect thing.  Only Jesus lived that life.  However, as we grow in wisdom and knowledge of His Word, He does expect us over the years to learn from past mistakes... and trials... and blessings.  Life is indeed a learning experience.  His goal is for us to become more like Jesus and a lifetime is only the beginning.  We are to grow every year, learning what He teaches through people, circumstances, and His Word.

I've been thinking a lot about the basics the past few weeks, going back to the people who mentored me when I was young... some in real life but a lot in books.  I was very blessed in those early years to be surrounded by excellent teachers who introduced me to my literary mentors, especially Edith Schaeffer.

She had the greatest influence on the way my life would be shaped.  Others, of course, through the years were important... but she was my role model of what a Christian woman should look like.  Never perfect, for she was the first to admit she and Francis were far from perfect.  But having said that... still a role model that has proven wise in my now 60+ years.

Which is why, in my new-to-me-thrifted cabinet, the bottom shelf contains all my Edith books.  I have gone back to the beginning and I'm now re-reading some titles that I haven't picked up in years.  Back to what started it all.  Back to the time I've forgotten. I want to return to the beginning in a literary sense and reread some of the books now, from the same age she was when she wrote them. 

Of course, there is the usual beginning of the year cleaning and decluttering going on.  All of the drawers in the Study have been cleaned and reorganized.  The drawers in the hutch have had a very good cleaning and tweaking, with the cloth napkins getting a washing this year.  Last year it was the vintage tablecloths which were sent through the washer and dryer.

Two sacks of stuff I don't need (including half the cloth napkins) are in sacks waiting for the next time I'm driving past the Mission's thrift store.  That's another part of life's changes.  What we needed (or at least we thought we needed) at one time is not important now so let's give it to charity for someone else to use and clear our own clutter.

So... besides reading Hidden Art this week (aka: The Hidden Art of Homemaking in paperback), what else is on the agenda?  I need to make a few lists to sort out the jumble of thinking going on, to take pen to paper and organize... not a drawer... but my brain.  There was a time I could type a letter and answer the phone and talk to a kid at the same time but these days... if I don't write something down it tends to go... poof!

This week I will make lists. January is the perfect time for the making of lists... and the pondering of life.  Which often results in the making of lists... and blog posts.


Maria (viola33) said...

Thank you for this beautiful and thoughtful post!

rebecca said...

Edith, pondering, list-making, and more reading...
Though a few years older than you, I can SO relate
to most everything you've communicated in this post.
Let us NEVER quit growing, my friend!

Anonymous said...

This post is such a blessings to me. Time does seem to be going by so fast. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was in my 40's and here I am knocking on 70. Wow, I can't believe it. I, too, love lists. I especially love being able to cross things off knowing that it is done. That is the best part--having it done. Blessings to you in this new year. May all your lists be accomplsihed. Sharon

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling the need lately also, at 55, of going back to the beginning. I need a reset button for my faith. I'd like to know which other of Edith's books you will be rereading. Excellent post. Thanks Brenda. Joanna :)

Vee said...

I may have shed a tear when you said that entire years have been forgotten. It is true. Entire years, perhaps decades. Not sure that, at that rate, I'm learning much because if one does not remember... It is comforting to realize all over again that this life is not up to me and that God is doing the work.

Susan Humeston said...

I may not remember whole years, or just parts of them, but I remember the concepts learned. The actual events are a blur in many cases. Now that I am 61, having just passed another birthday, I really am slowing down - not to look behind me - but to look ahead and make the best of what is left.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Time does go by so much faster as we get older, my grandma always said so and I have seen that to be true!

I have Hidden Art and am collecting it to give to my daughters. Edith is a mentor, as well as Emilie Barnes, and Sally, and you too, my friend.

I've been clearing out drawers and bookshelves, and cupboards. It feels good and I am in the mood to let things go.

Anonymous said...

I love Hidden Art. Must look out my copy and read it again. Dont think it's available on Kindle but wish it was.

Sherry said...

Yes. So much wisdom both from you and from Mrs. Schaeffer.