Sunday, March 03, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould,
but let God re-mould your minds from within,
so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good..."
Romans 12:2 Phillips version

I found myself gazing at the photos as I read the blog, one seldom visited these days.  However, a link had sent me there that morning and it truly was enjoyable to view a glimpse into the blogger's lifestyle.  The pictures showed her farm animals and knitting projects and children playing happily in their home.

Then... as if Someone was standing next to me and whispering in my ear... I found myself thinking "What is the life you want?".  The circumstances of the question and the words themselves made me smile and think back to another such time and the exact same question.

I was quite pregnant for Christopher, in those last months of an extremely high risk pregnancy which demanded bed sofa rest.  Many days I would see my neighbor... a young, single career woman... leave for work looking as if she stepped out of the pages of a magazine.  I was rather jealous of her life.

One morning as I saw her through the large living room window, I felt the Lord asking me that very question.  It startled me and brought about much pondering and then a surprising discovery.  No, I had no inclination towards being a single career woman!  What was it that made me long for her lifestyle?

As I prayed, He gave me wisdom.   I missed looking all "put together" and having someplace to go.   I was thrilled with the soon birth of another child after a nearly twelve year wait but with it came a very large weight gain, maternity clothes in the shape of a tent, and the reminder I was "no longer young" at each doctor's visit.  I knew in my heart I much preferred where I was in life even if I felt rather frumpy.  ;)

Sooo... I did the same thing this time.  I looked through the pictures in that post and the archives, wondering what was the attraction I saw in the blogger's lifestyle.  Did I really want to move deeper in the country and homestead?  Ummm.. no.   Could I handle five or six small children these days?  Definitely not!   What was the draw her lifestyle held, then?

I realized her lifestyle included those things I enjoy doing but on a much larger scale.  The life I wanted included much I already had but... different:  working the land (my small garden), reading books (I have plenty), cooking from scratch (which I do), living in the country (but not as far out, I have neighbors), children (whom I now enjoy as adults), working with her hands... working with her hands... Eureka!

I think I almost heard the laughter of God and Him saying "She gets it!".  

For one area I've been neglecting is my longing for "working with my hands".  Whether relearning to crochet, taking up quilting again, embroidery, tapestry, etc.... there was a longed for empty space in the twenty-four hours of my day which showed up on the other woman's blog.  A desire which has once again been placed on the radar of my To Do list.

For you see... perhaps the real lesson learned from these two examples is that life is not "all or nothing".  We are a finite people with infinite (or so it seems) interests, wanting to cram within the allotted twenty four hours of each day all that we'd like to do... which is impossible this side of Eternity.

These ponderings... as most do... sent me down another mental rabbit trail.  That being the importance of not trying to do "all or nothing".

For instance, my favorite reading materials which help me relax are gorgeous eye candy decorating books, equally beautiful cookbooks, books about showing hospitality, books that share wonderful ideas for parties and celebrations, and books about going "back to the land" that share lovely pictures and ideas.

Even a person with an unlimited budget and health could not do all that is suggested from their reading.  However, what I have learned... wisdom from Him... is that I can still enjoy these books and choose one recipe at a time, or one idea for showing hospitality, or perhaps see an idea for using vintage items I already own in a different display.

My days may be such that I cannot hold weekly tea parties but that doesn't mean I shouldn't read lovely tea time books which offer multiple ideas for recipes and beautiful decorations.  Nor does it stop me from the excitement of finding a gorgeous teacup or teapot at a thrift store.

Life is not about "all or nothing".

I may read an article or a book written by one who has plowed up their lawn to create a garden and has a chicken coop in their backyard for fresh eggs, something I may never do.  But there is joy in reading their story and always something to learn regarding my own raised bed garden.

There is no need to feel overwhelmed when reading a book such as An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace just because I can't do everything she suggests!   I can't tell you how many times since reading through the book the first time that something she suggests has come to mind, making little changes here and there.

Why take enjoyment in decorating the house for Christmas when I no longer hold Holiday parties, or set a beautiful table once in awhile when it is just two of us, or putting together a lovely tea tray when I'm alone, or even making the front porch pretty when we don't have company all that often?

I do it because it fulfills the way God made me, the life He has given, the joy it brings in the doing. 

The same Truth holds true spiritually.

One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth George (the Christian nonfiction writer) but I must admit after reading one of her books, I can feel like a spiritual sloth.  For her suggestions seem to require doing something all day.

I'm currently finishing The Heart of a Woman Who Prays; where she talks about her prayer lists, Scripture memory, and keeping a journal... all during her prayer time.  I am at home a lot and I find it hard at times to spend fifteen minutes at a time just in prayer. (I do pray all day long as if He is standing next to me, fortunately I'm married to someone who knows I'm not going loopy.  At least for that reason.)

Life is not "all or nothing"!

So... I will continue to read the books, cut out articles, scrapbook ideas, and learn from Christian writers.  But my doing of my reading and learning and watching will be just a little at a time.  :)

Picture: Grandma's Garden by Robert Duncan


Anonymous said...

Absolutely! Thank you so much for saying so.

Regarding doing crafts-some women do knitting or crocheting for charity, like blankets for the Linus project or hats for premature infants.
And of course you have some cute grandchildren to make things for.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. Did you happen to be on Soulemama? ;o) Dee

Terra said...

Your insights are spot on, and I agree with you. I enjoy reading about all kinds of things, but don't need to duplicate them by doing them. This is a great post. Oh, and I too pray and talk to our Heavenly Father throughout the day.

Connie said...

I enjoyed your post today. Made me ponder about my own life and what I want to accomplish in my later years of life. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, You really hit it with this post just where I needed it, I am wondering now the same questions. Thank you for helping me to clarify things. One question. What is a Phillips version? I see it after the bible quote and am not familiar with this. Is it one of the modern interpretation of the Bible? I use the Amplified for that at times. What is different with the Phillips? Sarah

Vee said...

I'm so sorry that you have been dealing with that issue. How annoying. I'm so glad that we are not called to be like this one or that one. I'd never make it!

W V works better for me when I'm on the iPad as I can increase the size easily. I do hate it, but I understand.

Kim Stewart said...

Phillips refers to J.B. Phillips translation. It was completed late 50's or early 60's.My favorite New Testament translation.

Judy said...

"I do it because it fulfills the way God made me."

As you pick up a crochet hook, or needle and thread, or...enjoy the work of your hands and know His pleasure.