“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I shared this favorite photo and the quote on my personal Facebook page recently. It reminds me that God has placed us here... in this time and in the places we live... for His purpose.
I often end a blog post reminding all of us... you and me... that if we have breath within us, God still has a plan for us here in this age. We cannot look at it from the world's viewpoint for the world worships youth and a strong body. God looks at the real person and the value each of us has for His plan in this age.
The theme of a couple cooking shows this week was recipes that their mothers and grandmothers made and how each woman showed their love through their cooking. A Christian Bible teacher this week reminded people that their prayers for their children and grandchildren are before God even when they leave this world to live with Him.
What we do in our homes can be a ministry, even if it is "just" for our families. Of course, they are our most important ministry God has given us. We must never neglect our family for time outside the home "doing ministry" for there is no difference in God's eyes between baking a birthday cake for a family member or neighbor and passing out tracts on a street corner.
One of the important Truths I learned from studying Francis and Edith Schaeffer's writings as a young Christian is that in God, there is no separation between what He calls a man/woman to do physically (ie: occupation) and a spiritual calling. For everything is a spiritual calling if it is what God has ordained us to do... whether making a lovely dinner, teaching our child to look both ways before crossing a road, or leading an army such as Deborah.
I have read and reread our friend Sarah Clarkson's latest newsletter about their soon move back to Oxford and the lovely old vicarage they will live in and minister from. Her husband will be the "priest in charge" of two small churches and she sees the vicarage as her central place of ministry. (Sarah's husband is an Anglican priest.)
I happened to know about this lovely answer to prayer before the newsletter because Stephanie had been to Europe recently (it is a long story). It took some planning but she took a train from France to London to meet with Sarah and Lucy. Sarah took a train to London from the town where she lives in England.
They had a brief but delightful time together with tea time and perusing beautiful works of art and the nearby highlights of London. I later asked my daughter what Sarah's news was, for Sarah had mentioned in a letter that she had exciting news and she would explain it to Stephanie when they met in person. Their soon return to Oxford was very welcomed news, indeed!
Much like me, both Sarah and my daughter hold Edith Schaeffer as a role model for using her home for ministry. While most of us will never have a ministry on the level of L'Abri, all of us can show God's love through their home. The vicarage will offer many opportunities to show hospitality.
In her newsletter, Sarah said some of her goals for the Vicarage are to provide for her family and those who are shown hospitality there: Livable Beauty, Rest, Baking (she wants the aromas of baking to welcome those around her), Prayer, Books, Refuge, Art, Conversation... and Quiet.
Of course, we do not need a large home to be our canvas to share Beauty and hospitality. Emilie Barnes often wrote about her mother teaching her how to minister through her home and on an extremely tight budget, first in the back of the store where they lived when she was young and later in the tiny "apartment" where her mother lived in a Senior Living Facility.
There was a time that I felt apologetic that I had such a need to be surrounded by Beauty. Not expensive things. Not having everything perfect. But to have in my home those things that I found beautiful and by their beauty... they brought peace.
For me it is as you would expect, shelves filled with books. Most were purchased at library sales, some were gifts, quite a few came from the years that I reviewed books, and a few here and there were saved up for and purchased for the value they provided through the years.
I need lots of the color green and living surrounded by a forest certainly helps that as I look through the window in June. However, I also am the curator of house plants... mostly real but some realistic looking silk plants.
One cannot tell the difference, sometimes even close up as my husband found out last week when he almost tipped over a beautiful vine thinking it was fake and he did not have to be careful. It was not and he indeed did need to be careful.
I enjoy having one colorful room and the yellow, reds, and vintage items in those colors in my kitchen provide a cheerful combination. I love walking into the kitchen early morning, half-asleep, pushing the on-button of the Keurig as at this time of year, the sun is providing a light-filled room trying to coax me awake.
My house contains collections of brown transferware, English teacups and saucers, and inexpensive pewter and silver plate serving pieces. These items made even more cherished as many remind me of the joy in finding them for very little money in my search for Beauty.
There are geraniums on the front porch and on a deck table I can see from the kitchen window. There are other flowers surrounding each pot of geraniums but there must be at least one pot of red geraniums to make me happy each summer.
There are more items such as Dutch lace curtains, brocade pillows, framed thrift store oil paintings, etc. that add to the Beauty in the house and everything comes together to welcome me as I walk through the front door each day. No house on earth is more welcoming for it was curated through the decades for the purpose of bringing peace and joy.
I believe everything in my home reflects what I have loved to do for my family and others as part of God's calling and His giving of talents. My love of reading and writing, my love of cooking and baking, my previous enjoyment in creating and making things of beauty, all came together to be tools of serving the Creator.
I am certain if you have been a keeper of your own home, whether a small apartment or a mansion, you can see how your own God-given desires, talents, and the people you love reflected in the way your home has come together through the years.
There is one Truth I always remember as I appreciate what God has provided and that is this... it all belongs to Him. He is the giver of all good gifts and I must never love them more than I do Him. I have lost just about everything before, including a house that was just what I wanted at the time. However, life goes on and as He did with Job, he restored everything. Some of them many times over.
The house we own now is much, much smaller than the house we had to "let go". But it is the perfect size for this time of life. He provides everything we need no matter what the economy brings or what the events in the world are saying. His ability to use us and provide for us will never change.
You are uniquely qualified to show His love to those around you. No one in this world has the combination of your family, your friends, your neighbors, your experiences. No one has learned exactly what you have been taught by the Lord. He has kept you here for a purpose, even if it is to bake cookies and pray for those close to you... or those on the other side of the world.
I was asked last week what some of my favorite "slow living" channels on YouTube are and I thought of a few. I am certain there are more I will think of later and add to the list. Of course, some of homestead channels I follow have to do with slow living but from a different perspective.
They are: Our Little House on the Mountain, Calico Girl, The Cottage Fairy, and Forgotten Way Farms. I think all of them have their IG links in their information on YouTube. All are from a Christian perspective except The Cottage Fairy but she is G-rated. She lived in a very small cottage for a long time and has recently married.
Image: The Lord of the Rings