Thursday, January 27, 2011

Living The Wonderful Life


It occurred to me this week, while I was away from my computer much of the time, how delightful it was to be disconnected from it. I love my computer, my iPhone and all the other tech gadgets I have, but I also enjoy being away from them from time to time. Not being connected is kinda freeing. I certainly feel that I have accomplished a lot more in the past week, since my time was less tied to checking email and facebook.
Cold mornings I enjoyed the task of getting the stove going in the morning and sitting on the floor in front of it, just enjoying its warmth, watching the flames dance and listening to the winter winds howl. I had time to sit with pencil and paper and plan the spring garden. I found joy in doing it the old fashioned way, instead of on the computer. Don't get me wrong here, I love the computer, but it was nice to be away from it for a while and even now I am not running crazy trying to get it working. But rather have found it suitable to just use Emery's laptop from time to time for things that are pressing.
I have had more time to walk under the trees and see the birds hard at work finding food. I have had more time to watch the clouds drift by and watch the chickens in the yard. I have had more time to focus on simply living and living simply, discovering how close the two phrases are related for me.
I also had the time to take the plunge into eating Raw, which is something that has been in my mind to do for a long time now. Not committing to it as a forever lifestyle, but as a "medical" treatment so to speak. To cleanse, to loose weight in a healthy way. I used to talk rather negatively about folks that ate raw. . .extreme. But after half a week of eating only raw foods, I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel. Emery said this morning that he feels five years younger. I do too and I am never hungry, never. I certainly have no food cravings, which for me is amazing. I have had a major sweet tooth my entire life. In two days I have lost 3 1/2 lbs. My energy level is already improving, which if you know me, you know I am kinda hyper anyway. Never like to sit still very long and if I am sitting down, my hands are most likely busy with a craft of some sort.
I have committed to 30 days of eating raw, but honestly at this point I feel like I could go on for much longer. Its made that much of a positive difference in how I feel after just a couple of days.
In many ways, eating raw foods matches my desire to live more simply, to step more lightly on this earth and to feel more grounded. To me, it seems like living more of the whole package. Emery and I work at living more green, and this is certainly a life filled with more greens !
On a deeper sense, I feel happier and content and that's what my goal has been since I was a small child. Life is good and getting better every day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Seeking Gentleness, Seeking Simplicity


Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
We all want to be happy, we all want to have peace in our lives and most of us, if we were really honest, would wish to be known as kind and gentle. Oh sure there are plenty who embrace some sort of false bravado, that spouts off, "don't tread on me" sort of personality, but in many cases, its clearly seen by others that this is a wall set up to protect from being hurt and nothing more and if the wall was removed we would find deep down, they just wish they could feel safe enough to be kind and gentle. There are moments in my life when I have felt the need to build a wall that takes away the confidence to be gentle. Gentleness requires great strength and a willingness to not hold on to past hurts. There is nothing gentle about holding a grudge or picking at past hurts so they never heal. I think being anxious hinders a gentle and kind heart, worry eats at folks and makes them assume bad things are going to happen, thus making us too weak to be kind hearted to everyone. Yet, further along the road, this worry can oddly enough, turn us into people pleasers.
Having us do and say things that are motivated only by some kind of inner fear, that anxiousness that robs us of peace.
I want to be a gentle person. I search for the how to of being gentle and kind. I am a work in progress. I am learning that gentleness and simple living are interconnected on so many levels.
It takes faith to not worry, to put aside the need to hold on to things so tight. It takes faith to live simply, walking away from all the things the world tells you you need to have in order to be successful and "with it". It takes faith to be kind and gentle and to walk the road less travelled.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Lesson in Felting

Mei-Ling is visiting this morning and I decided it would be fun to show her how to felt wool.
I first needle felted a little green snake and then we felted it with hot soapy water. What fun she had rolling and squeezing the wool. Now she has to be patient, waiting for her new toy to dry !

Plastic toys are just not as much fun as the ones you can make : )

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vacation Time....well, that was the plan

Change in plans ! Gods plans are not always our plans. Woke up with a miserable sore throat this morning, guess I have not kicked this "whatever it is that is going around" stuff after all.
So, plans are on hold. Being flexible is good : )

Foggy Morning

Woke to a foggy morning today which is fine with me. I love the fog, its as though the world around me is veiled in thin gray silk, turning all that is around me into a Monet of sorts. The straight lines seem to become the lines of impressionism. I love how the wonders of nature, the beauty of Gods creation is ever changing, never stagnant.
As soon as I could, I grabbed the camera and headed off to the local duck pond. As soon as my feet touched the grass, a gaggle of geese came to welcome me, loudly I might add. To their disappointment, I didn't have food for them, so they went on their merry way, leaving me to marvel at the colors of land, water and sky, dotted with seagulls, ducks, and even a great blue heron. The damp, cold air felt so good on my face, as if I was having some sort of spa treatment.

It was the perfect time and place to take with God, share with him how thankful I am that he has given us such beauty each and every day.

Admitting I have been wrong


Never easy to say those 5 words, but important to say them if they are true. For me, its a bit earthshaking in a way what I discovered, or began to feel, or led to see....which ever way it happened. And yes, its not earthshaking for anyone else perhaps, just me. Shakes what I have been thinking for the past couple of years, which in turn had taken me down some side roads of life that perhaps I didn't really need to go.
Its about this whole motivational mindset that has filled just about every corner of society. Its preached from pulpits, spouted from every television talk show, in every magazine, even in religious book stores and certainly in a huge percentage of calenders sold or given away each year. I bought into this mentality but there was always a little corner of it that didn't lay right, but I excused it as being negative thinking, some kind of emotional baggage eating at me, doubt is bad, the books say. Believe, grasp and enjoy was the mantra of the day. God let me have my time, but He was poking me ever so gently to look in the right down a different path. I didn't listen. So finally He just showed me in black and white what that little corner that never lay right was about. The truth was there for me to see. I felt ashamed for falling prey to such a mighty distraction. The motivational mindset was deteriorating the very foundation of my belief system and I was seemingly OK. with that.
I read this one small paragraph on the Internet that put it all in perspective for me. "Stop using self projected goals to generate motivation. Put all goals at the foot of the cross. . . then rest.
Let Jesus be your goal setter, motivator and planner... His success for you might look a lot like failure to those without spiritual eyes." Dean VanDruff
I read this little bit on the Internet, have no idea who this person is, or anything about them, but what I read, I saw to be truth
The Motivational Genre
My eyes were opened and I know now, the road I had travelled was not the right one. Since I have written about such things on my blog, I felt it only right to share what I know now. Yes, I know many of you already know this and for this I am grateful, but to those that don't, well I can say, been there, done that, and now I know its not the road for a Christian to be on.
God is working on me. I am a work in progress. Just like simple living, its a journey, not an all at once arrived at spot. We have been living simply for about 2 decades now and still learning more. I have been a Christian for many decades and still stubborn in wanting some things my way. May I live long enough to fully surrender my all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Won

Jenny over at Aunt Jenny's World had a giveaway for some hand knit socks a little while back and I entered and WON !
At this very moment I am wearing a wonderfully knit, pair of wool socks. They fit perfectly, they are warm, they are gorgeous and I am so excited that I actually won something ! The colors are beautiful.
Thanks Jenny !

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter is here



The cold winter winds have been blowing. This morning I woke to a very cold house. It was in the 50's in the living room, making getting a fire going in the stove, the first order of business.
Even the sunrise looked cold this morning.
I saw on the news today that the record low for this day in our area was 1 F in 1912. I could not help but think back to the family that lived in our house then. It was just a simple batt and board structure, no insulation. A 3 room house, rooms in a row. Living room, bedroom and then the kitchen. I figure they had a parlor stove, and a wood cook stove in the kitchen, with both those going, perhaps the bedroom, sandwiched between those two rooms with stoves, stayed a little warm while the fires burned.
Emery brought in a lot of wood this morning, which most of which I have burned.
I spent the morning working on some little needle felted birds for Mei-Ling to play with. She is a real bird watcher. Loves birds and imitates the songs of her favorites and is learning how to use my crow caller. A child's love of nature should be encouraged at every turn.
After working on a shawl I am crocheting for some of the morning, I set about to make a needle felted cardinal and snowy owl for Mei-Ling to play with.
Sitting by the fire, in my cozy warm house on this cold winter day, I feel so blessed for all that I have in my life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Birds







It seems I have a nasty head cold which has turned me into a rather lazy human today. I haven't even done any knitting today. I did manage to make a loaf of Swedish cardamon bread and that is the full extent of my days activity, aside from bringing in some fire wood in order to keep the house warm on this very chilly day.
However, the birds have been busy at the feeders and on the berries around our place.
As I was sitting on the sofa, right on the other side of the window, this little finch was busy having a snack.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Treading Gently Through The Day


It's one of those days when all of God's creation seems to unfold moment by moment into deeper beauty...and we have chosen to tread gently as we go about on this day, discovering and capturing it with the camera.
How thankful we are for a good stack of wood to help keep us warm this winter.

A Restful Sunday


A quiet day, fire blazing in the wood stove, hot tea beside me. Emery reading. Snow falling softly outside. Music playing that suits the mood perfectly. 10 Grain hot cereal for breakfast and now Chocolate tofu pie for lunch. Life is good.

Yen Turns One


Yesterday we celebrated Yen's 1st birthday yesterday and he thoroughly enjoyed himself as you can see from the photos. Amazing how fast this past year has flown by. Thanking God for the wonder of this little boy and how sweet he is.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Day In Picture


A Quiet Winter Morning on the Homestead


sharing a bit of my morning with you

Contentment


First order of the day, chase the chill away with a good fire in the wood stove, then make coffee, it in my favorite corner, read the Bible for a bit, sip Green Mountain Spiced Eggnog coffee that my sweet Melissa sent to me, and glance out the window from time to time, watching the birds at the feeder. My contentment, felt tangible. It seemed as if you could breathe in the solace of the moment. Hold it in my hands and cherish it, gain a warmth that went right to my soul.
This is what living without chaos is like, living simply, without being pulled in two directions like Taffy. My spinning wheel soon humming along as the soft Shetland wool slipped through my fingers and onto the spindle. A steady rhythm, making music of the morning. The sunshine dancing on the wall in morning shadows.
No noise from a television or radio...no traffic noise. Just this simple sound of the spinning wheel humming and the treadle clicking in a quiet sort of way.
The phone rings, I answer it with a smile, pretty sure of who it would be on the other end of the line. The wood man saying he was on his way with a cord of wood for us. Cold temps in the forecast, lots of wood will be burned to keep the house cozy. Our second load this season. We have plenty now. This load, well seasoned, but needing the expert touch of Emery with his new axe to split some of the bigger logs. This afternoon when the sun shines in its fullness I will stack some of it and enjoy the physical labor that clears your head and gives you time to think while the wind blows at my back and the birds sing all around me.
I read this morning a text in Psalm that I had underlined years ago..."Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Ps 37:4
I had underlined it when we were hoping and praying for more children, but it never happened the way we had hoped. Now, this morning as I read those words, I see that this verse, that I had claimed so many times, had come true. I have the desires of my heart. A loving husband, amazing children and now, grand-blessings. I get to live the life that was a dream even when I was a young girl of 14. It may not be in the log cabin I had envisioned, but it is the same kind of home I wanted. Simple, on land, with animals, with a wood stove, filled with love and contentment. The kind of home I clipped pictures from magazines so many decades ago. A room with a rocking chair, a braided rug, kerosene lamps, a wood stove, complete with that old fashioned feeling that warms you to your very core.
Ahhh, contentment is far greater than gold.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Confusion


"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching. . ."
Ephesians 4: 14

The new year is a good time to take stock in how we have lived our lives in the past 12 months and to envision what we hope to be in the next 12 months. As I age, I am much more comfortable admitting my faults and weaknesses, seeing them more as lessons to help me move past them, think for a short moment about why they happen over and over, but move beyond that to a conscious effort to rid myself of them. To be aware of bad attitudes, or unkind thoughts and seek actively to change them, not just make excuses for behaving that way or blame it on some childhood truth that no longer is a truth for me. I heard it said that after age 35 you can no longer blame your parents or upbringing for your actions. So no excuses to be found in blaming others for what you are as an adult.
What I have noticed in myself is that I often feel unsettled, unsure of the direction to go, for me its been a long battle that has arisen from a love of reading and learning all that there is to learn out there. With the world so much smaller, thanks to the Internet and modern technology that puts us in touch with whatever our interest of the moment is, we can fill our heads with so many different teachings. As good as that can be, it can also do a lot of that tossing back and forth action.
And even if you are not interested in much beyond cooking and cleaning, that too can become a battle of trying to keep your balance. There are a million sites out there telling us how to cook this way or just as many telling us just the opposite, with many millions somewhere in between. You can find yourself stocking your pantry with 12 different food plans in one year, and leaving your brain in a state of constant confusion. Same thing with lifestyles. Budget crunching to excessive living are all right before us in the latest issue of some magazine at the check-out stand.
So whats the cure for all this confusion....well, I can look back to my mothers generation and see that they cooked what they cooked. Maybe a new recipe here and there but not to extremes like we see. Raw foods, vegan diets, low carb, high carbs, and on and on. Not just a new recipe, a new way of eating all together. Clean foods vs dirty foods ? First time I heard that I thought, "well just wash them good !" Coupon shopping vs no coupons. Frugal cooking vs gourmet cooking.
Natural vs man made. So many conflicting ideas just bombarding us on the TV, the Internet, magazines and from your friends !
Oh yes, back to the solution to all this. One method that just keeps coming back to me, probably because we lived it, is to just limit what you watch, what you buy for books and magazines and to find like minded friends. There are very few Amish and conservative Mennonites that are being tossed about by every wave out there, simply because they don't even know those waves exist. They have chose to ban all sorts of chaos from their lives and you know what, there is more peace in their lives from it. My rebellious spirit just hates even admitting that. So here is the thing...if you don't know whats out there, you might seem a bit less sophisticated and less worldly for sure but at least you are not having to restock your pantry every month with a whole new way of eating, and you sure don't know that purple is out and orange is in for fashion. No concept whatsoever of what the phrase "high end " means so no need to shop for it, and no need to seek ways of being frugal, you have always been frugal. No need to de-clutter, you never had clutter anyway since you don't shop on a whim or even know what the commercial told you you HAD TO HAVE !
Maybe my point is this, we are allowing ourselves to be so influenced these days that we are like infants being tossed about, not grounded. No solid foundation because we keep introducing more stuff into our lives that just simply confused us.
Will you die if you stop watching TV, no. Will you die if you stop reading a zillion different books, no. Will you suffer if you simply cook good food, the kind with ingredients you can read with no radical approaches, No. We have lost our way with so many roads leading us no where.
Live simply, avoiding the glossy magazines that make us think our home is not habitable because we don't have granite counter tops or matching appliances in the kitchen. Its a lie. We can even cook wonderful meals on a gold tone electric range that is 35 years old !
We will survive if we don't have our nails done or wear 3" heels . We will make it just fine if we are not "well read" by modern standards. Our children will do fine without being "gammers" or Internet access 24/7 in their rooms.
We will find peace in our hearts and contentment when we make a choice to not be lead astray by all sorts of information that does not serve us well.

I am making changes this year to limit what I subject myself to. Limiting myself so I can be more solid in my thinking. Tunnel vision that leads us to the right place in the end is not a bad thing at all.

And frankly, I miss my closet of 5 weekday dresses and 2 special occasion dresses. It sure was easy to care for.

Sunday Blessings

Soft music, the gentle kind of music that makes you feel content with life... the view from the window as I sit and spin at the wheel makes ...