Keeping it simple.

Noise, hurry and crowds…it almost seems impossible in this modern, high speed world to keep life simple while staying on top of eveything. If you are anything like me, you sometimes have a sinking feeling, as though everything you are meant to be on top of is on top of you instead! There are some things however, that I am finding quite helpful in keeping me from that ‘overwhelmed’ feeling, which range from the physical to the spiritual. So here are my random reflections on ‘keeping it simple’…

First up… Walking.  It doesn’t get more simple than that.  I have to admit to having had a life long aversion to the subjects of diet and exercise.  Counting calories takes all the pleasure out of the meal in front of me and the idea of enjoying a run was totally lost on me….but I can walk!  I was thrilled when a fitness instructor friend told Simon and I that an hour long, brisk walk is one of the most effective fat burning exercises that doesn’t damage joints, is completely free and doesn’t even necessitate dieting. Whoop whoop!!!… An all round winner!  And guess what…it’s working!  We try as much as possible to start the day with an hours ‘power walk’ and I feel great.  I have loads more energy (which was seriously lacking) and am eating  (a bit)  less than usual just because I feel better and have shed some pounds. Even the dog is calmer now that she is getting enough exercise! I wish we had done this years ago.

So what is next on my list of ‘how to keep things simple’?

A couple of years ago we were starting to feel, as most people do at times, the ‘financial squeeze’. While looking at our options of how to plug the gaps, some interesting possibilities came our way.  One involved starting up a business requiring a rather hefty loan.  The thought was quite exciting to begin with but in reality would have taken all our time and energy and quite possibly failed, leaving us in a worse position than before. So we scrapped that rather complicated plan and instead opted for something much simpler, ‘Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can’. It also involved that special ingredient that transforms the ordinary into something extra-ordinary…Faith.  So, in obedience to what I believed to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I started at home, using what I had, which was a few old T-shirts, and did what I could ….and it looked like this:

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Now, don’t fall off your chair in amazement!  I mean, I know it is astounding!!! 😉

But, hey, that is how our Etsy shop started. It has moved on a lot since then and morphed in a hundred ways that I couldn’t have imagined but how much pleasure I have had in doing it.  It will help with the finances, leaves us with time for the real reasons for being here and can all be done from home which allows me to be here for the kids. It’s pretty simple and yet I could never have come up with the idea myself. It started with, the word of God, faith and a headband.

Now, going back to the subject of walking, I watched for the umpteenth time a DVD called ‘The Cross’ about the life of a man called Arthur Blessit.  This man has walked on foot through every country and island group in the world carrying a large wooden cross, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. I am not here to discuss the life and ministry of this man but the facts of what he has done are pretty astounding.  So what does a man that has taken approximately 76 million steps, met every nationality under the sun, walked through war zones and jungles, over mountains and through wildernesses, meeting the most powerful leaders in the world and the poorest of all, have to tell us about keeping life simple while fulfilling a huge vision.  Here are a couple of his astounding insights ….

wait for it…..

‘Take one step at a time’….hardly earth shattering is it!? Yet coming to think of it, that was the way the walls of Jericho came tumbling to the ground. A million feet in unison taking one step at a time, persistently, day in day out until the earth shook under their feet and the previously unthinkable happened. So keep going forward one step at a time, one day at a time, in faith, being obedient to the word of God…do the next thing. Amazing things can happen if we persist.

well if that didn’t do it for you, try this one from Arthur….

‘Let your vision be no bigger than the next person you meet.’

So simple…and yet so difficult when all I want to do is rush past that person and ‘get on with the job in hand.’ Yet, that person is important and I might never have a chance to share the love of God with them again. Every smile, every thank you, every hello and goodbye counts, especially how it’s done…I am talking to myself here. It is certainly food for thought.

So these are the beginnings of my thoughts on keeping it simple and I could say a lot more but I guess I had better stop here before it gets too long and complicated.

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getting creative

I never considered myself as being a particularly creative person.  My sister is the artist in the family doing everything from making gorgeous handbags to painting and photography, able to make the most dull object look like a masterpiece through the lens of her camera.  I on the other hand have always been the plain, scientific one, focusing all my attention at school on biology, chemistry and physics.  I have, however, had a minor revolution in my life in the last few years of living in Estonia…

When I grew up in the UK, crochet, knitting and gardening were definitely relegated to the retired and elderly.  It may be that I have aged a little but I am definitely not in that department yet!  I am however, surrounded by incredibly down to earth and gifted people to whom knitting and gardening are life skills needed for getting through harsh winters.  Their skills are passed on to their children and grandchildren as a matter of course and are still taught in school.  I know plenty of young mums who crochet and knit with such skill that I have often been asked if their items are machine made as they are so consistent.

I never thought I would be party to this kind of activity but then two things happened,

1) I miraculously produced a daughter who is incredibly creative and loves working with her hands! When I first realised her skill I have to admit to being dismayed that I was simply not,  ‘that kind of mum’ and wouldn’t be able to help or inspire her.  She has been so desperate to learn…. so I have had to learn too!  We have both been learning to crochet side by side and have been experimenting with knitting looms and sewing machines. It has been quite fun learning how to recycle old t- shirts and jeans to make all sorts of useful accessories. The possibilities are endless! She was so delighted when for her ninth birthday she received her very own pink polka dot sewing machine and made her very own cath Kidston hand bag! (See the photo below)

2) secondly, during the sad time of my mum’s passing away I discovered that working with my hands and with yarn was incredibly therapeutic.  It uses a different part of your brain to that used for critical thought and it definitely worked for me, bringing a moment of soothing and calm during a stressful and sad time. Funnily enough my mum was an incredibley gifted and creative person, able to sew beautifully, knit, crochet, create beautiful flower arrangements as well as create a beautiful garden from nothing. It seems my daughter has inherited her skill.

Whether anyone is from a particularly creative family or not, I believe there is something inherently creative in every one of us. You might not think so, but maybe you haven’t found, ‘your thing’ and need to try something new, whether it be baking, gardening, painting, woodwork or writing a book…there are so many forms of creativity.

My sister and daughter have inherited their skills from various creative lines in our family tree but ultimately you can trace these things back to the very one who created us — in who’s image every one of us is made. As I am writing this, my son is absorbed together with his dad, in a nature programme displaying the most wonderful images of the natural world. The variety and imagination used in creating these is beyond our comprehension….From the majestic eagle soaring in the skies to the whales of the deepest parts of the ocean feeding on tiny krill. Man’s creativity and imagination can be impressive — but God’s is awesome! I look at a star lit sky and think how twinkly and tiny they are, only to find that they are hundreds and thousands of times bigger than our planet with incredible individual beauty….and then I look through the lens of a microscope to discover a world of beauty that I wouldn’t know existed with my naked eye….speechless.

We are creative because He is. It is the genetic blue print of our Father written into our being.

I am going to leave you with a beautiful video clip from the BBC. Oddly enough the man who narrates it, who’s voice we all know and love, has failed to see the signature of The Creator on every masterpiece, but I still think it is pretty neat
what a wonderful world…enjoy 🙂

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