The Simplification of Life…

May 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

All along I have been discussing the simplification of life.  I’ve been talking about getting rid of our stuff, and clearing out room for the family, etc.  This morning I was reading Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch, and he was talking about the shema, which the Israelites adhered to:  “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

And then it hit me.  When we come under the lordship of Jesus Christ, we experience true simplicity.  The Israelites, as Hirsch explained, were living in a culture that was deeply spiritual – under the influence of many different gods.  Offering sacrifices to different gods and tree nymphs was normal.  And it was tyranny.  The call of the One True God, Yahweh was the call to come out from the tyranny of multiple gods and to come under the lordship of the One True God.

This is freedom and simplification of life at it’s best.  We walk out from under the tyranny of pleasing all the people around us, from the haunting guilts of past wrongs, from the expectations of others, from the demands of this culture, and we simply live for the One True God.  It’s not just about cleaning the house.  Praise the Lord!

If life gives you sour tangerines, make marmalade!

April 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of my favorite things is making use of all our food.  It’s the worst when we end up not eating some veggie or fruit, which goes bad and has to be composted.

In our awesome organic fruit box (thanks G & Ekik!) recently, we got a whole pile of tangerines.  Mmmmm.  But after just a bite, we realized they were quite sour.  Boo.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  It would be a horrible waste to compost them, but eating them made us wince.  Looked it up on google, and the most popular response was to use them to make marmalade!  Last year, we learned a bit about canning when making some pickles (which we are still enjoying).  Also, the site I found made the whole process look very doable!  Here’s where I got the recipe:

http://dorisandjillycook.com/2009/12/16/tangerine-marmalade/

I was nervous about how it would come out, but as J said, “How can you go wrong with fruit and lots of sugar?”

Here’s a photo of my jars of marmalade.

Tangerine Marmalade!

Often in those other sour tangerine moments in my life, I just want to give up.  But my heart seems more and more to delight in taking something that was formerly considered unappealing, and transforming it into something wonderful.  Reminds me of what God has done and continues to do with me!

Wanting life to converge

March 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was recently talking with a mom I met this past year at the park.  She and her family are planning on moving back to the East Coast, where they will be near extended family.  She’s going to be working at the church she grew up in, and told me she’s looking forward to life being less segmented.  In that small town, the church is the center of the community.  She said it’ll be nice to have family, spirituality, and work all in the same place.  She longs for convergence.  Maybe it’s something we all long for.

I told her that this is what I want as well, but here, in this city, in my neighborhood.  I don’t know if I made any sense.  But I, too, want to stop separating everything into different compartments.  I want community and spirituality, and life all in the same place.  I’m starting to dream that it is possible.

Walking alongside…

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, m and I had a wonderful morning at the park.  I packed her in her stroller, and we headed for home, ready for some lunch.

In the street in front of our place, we saw a college girl trying to hitchhike, with no success.  She was visibly disappointed that cars were not stopping for her, and had tears on her cheeks.  She said, “Where I come from, people stop and give people rides.”  She had fallen jumping off the bus, and was late for her astronomy exam, which was taking place three blocks up our steep street.   Her knee was hurt, and she wasn’t sure she would make it. I couldn’t offer her a ride, so instead I told her that we would walk with her to provide encouragement.  She seemed to brighten and we headed slowly up the hill.  Little m happily obliged, loudly announcing, “BIRD” as we walked along.

From our walk, I learned about this girl – where she is from, what classes she doesn’t like, what she wants to do after graduation, and a little about her family.  We finally made it to the top of the hill, and she said, “Thanks for walking with me.  I guess I made it after all!”  We waved and parted ways.

The encounter left me smiling – I couldn’t offer her the ride she needed, nor anything to help with her pain.  And yet, there’s something to walking alongside someone.

Real Simplifying…

February 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

I have been a subscriber of the magazine Real Simple.

A couple of years ago I purchased a book called Clutter Be Gone.

I devour these kinds of publications – ones that talk about cleaning up and clearing out and making space for life.  Once I met Google reader, I started digging up and subscribing to these sorts of blogs also.

Lately I’ve realized that simplifying isn’t just about organizing – it’s also about making life less complicated, and about getting back to the things that matter – God and people.

A couple of things that have helped with this as of late:

1.  J has been passionately selling off/clearing out extraneous books, camera gear, games, etc.  Instead of trying to re-Tetris storage spaces to fit more, we are now feeling that things can be put away without a lot of drama.

2.  We unplugged our TV antenna.  (Although we’re still watching dvds)

3.  Making space to read the Bible and to converse with God.

4.  I’m trying to make more efforts to connect with and listen to those who are willing to talk.  Mostly mamas and nannies at this point.

5.  I decided to donate Clutter Be Gone and to let my Real Simple subscription run out.  It’ll just be nice to live simply instead of reading so much about living simply.  I remember Kenneth mentioning that the book about clutter actually seemed rather visually cluttered.  Haha!

Lord, may I experience more of You and the freedom You want for me during this whole process!  AMEN!

Learning to rest.

December 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Recently I had a revelation about myself.  I am truly terrible at resting.

Something deep in me loves to be incredibly productive.  I am a frantic multi-tasker, and have encouraged this in J as well.  When we have downtime, we turn to our ever-expanding checklists for some grand scheme.  Even as a kid, I would always have a project to work on while watching television, such as drawing.  Now the projects are knitting, folding laundry, or cleaning.

This past week I brought the little m out to visit my family.  As soon as I arrived, I announced to my brother that we would be cleaning up my old room a bit.  He groaned and pleaded that we not do this, but I would not be swayed.  I had been dreaming about this for days.  Being a good brother, he reluctantly joined me while m happily played with her grandparents.  We sorted and recycled and threw out and packed the closet.  It was so satisfying.  This love for productivity seems to have come from my mom.  She headed outside to quickly wash and wax my car.

I don’t think this trait is bad, but there also needs to be a time for rest.  More and more I am learning that I make myself busy – creating loads of little tasks that “must” get done.  There is a reason the Lord asks us to be still and also to honor the Sabbath.  We were made to work, but also to rest.  To remember the important things.  To remember Him.

J and I sat down and discussed all of this, and figured out what activities are truly restful for us.  We are going to try to build these into our lives – to live at a more sustainable pace for our family.  The other day that involved 20 minutes of sitting in the kitchen reading and sipping hot water.  Ahhhhhh.  Just those 20 minutes seemed to go a long way in affecting the rest of my night.  Thank You, Lord for making us this way.

Living life…

October 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

I just finished reading Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben.  I found it to be powerful and paradigm-shifting.  We’ll see if these new thoughts are lasting.  The book also encouraged me to press on with little changes in my life.  Here are some small changes going on in our household:

We’re making our own bread.  We made these two loaves of bread, recipe courtesy of The Cheese Board Collective Works.  The recipe is for “plain and simple bread,” which is easy to make and tasty.  J also was pretty funny during the kneading process, throwing the dough in the air and doing various tricks.

JK4_2280We’ll see if we can keep up the making of our own bread for normal use.

I also was encouraged by a friend to sew some produce and bulk bags out of cotton, and to use those instead of the plastic ones.  I got the pattern from the book Sewing Green, by Betz White.

JK4_2302I may end up embroidering them or doing something creative, but for now, I like them plain.  We took them to Rainbow Grocery, and filled one with some flour, and one with some polenta, and another with a fresh bunch of kale.

I feel really blessed to have the space and time to do these things, and to enjoy spending time with my little one.  So much to think about.

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