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I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that I’m a closet Joyce Meyer fan. I ‘found’ her during the early years of my faith walk, the ‘non-denominational’ years if you like. I have to confess that I’m not all that keen on the heavy approach of a lot of the American evangelical preachers but Joyce is something apart. She is a woman who exudes enthusiasm for Christ and shares a simple but loving message.
Anyway, I’m digressing here, so the point of this post is that each year Joyce issues her ‘3030 Challenge’. This is where she invites people to read the bible for thirty minutes each day for thirty days. Easy huh? You’d think so but if you’re anything like me you’re great at starting, but not so great at seeing things through to the end. You can sign up to receive various resources and have access to teaching videos. The best of all is that it’s completely FREE. Here is a LINK to the 3030 Challenge page and ANOTHER to Joyce’s website. If you look in the top right corner of her homepage you can opt for the English [as opposed to American] version of the site which does make a difference.
I just thought I’d share this, it really helped me last year when I was struggling to find time to read my bible or pray at all. My work life had totally taken over. This simple little challenge really made a difference and proved to me that you don’t actually need hours and hours, you just need a few minutes and the desire to spend time with God, the rest will just happen.
” But of course I care!!” I can remember people saying this to me in my misunderstood teen years when I felt no one cared. I’ve even said it to my children in the same way. But saying it and showing it are two different things.
What is caring? Is it an emotion? Is it a physical act? Maybe it’s both? I would describe myself as a caring person, but does that mean I actually am?
I care about my family, my wonderful husband and children. They know I care through the things that I do for them; cooking, cleaning, nursing them when they’re poorly, making sure they have what they need when they need it. I also care for them emotionally through the things I say and by just being there to hug them and listen when all seems rubbish. These are ‘symptoms’ of caring. It’s almost impossible NOT to care for them, I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing when there are things that they need. With family though, caring is intrinsically linked to love. It’s my love for them that drives me to care for them.
What about other people though, those outside of our family? Friends and neighbours, strangers in the street? Should we care for these people too? I find my desire to care for people overwhelming at times regardless of whether I know them or not, especially if I’m aware of suffering, unhappiness, distress or illness. Some of my jobs have historically been based on caring for ‘strangers’ ~ Nursing, Teaching Assistant. It’s actually really easy to care for people who are vulnerable and obviously in need. But what about the people we don’t like or who don’t appear to ‘deserve’ our care? Should we still care for them? Well yes, I think we should, if they’re receptive to that. I remember nursing people with quite severe dementia, they really don’t want your care most of the time and can make that very clear in quite an aggressive way. It doesn’t stop you caring for them though, you just have to be sneaky about it. I wonder if caring for those outside of our family is still linked to love. For me it is, however it’s not so much my love but the love of Christ working through me. It’s simple, God loves me and I share that love around.
Caring is what makes the day tick really, I care about my house and appreciate what I have so I like to look after it and keep it nice. The same goes for our planet, it’s caring that makes us recycle, reuse and reduce. In fact, if we didn’t care we’d never get out of bed in the mornings, well I probably wouldn’t. It’s caring about the day ahead and the people in it that motivates us to face the day.
Do I care about God? Hmmm that’s a biggie and does He really need me to care about Him? I suspect He probably doesn’t. What He needs me to do is to love Him and to show His love to others through the things that I do and say. What God needs from me are my faith, my fidelity, my thanksgiving and my worship/prayers, He doesn’t need me to look after Him. All that said, I do care very deeply about my faith [my relationship with God], about how it shapes and defines me, and what it says about me. It’s very important that what people see reflects that side of me and shows God in a positive light. This is becoming increasingly important in a time when religion per se is getting a pretty bad rap.
The one amazing thing about caring for others is that anyone can do it. As the image above says, you don’t have to be rich or talented you just have to want to. It’s a daily choice and it’s one I make willingly.
A quick update on my Cosy Crofter Throw for Ethan’s new bedroom, made using Sirdar Crofter DK in Seagrass. It began a while back, see THIS post. As you can see it has grown quite considerably now and the end is in sight. In fact I’m so near finishing, I’ve bought some yarn for the border, 100g ball of Stylecraft Special DK in Duck Egg. There is a duck egg colour running through the Crofter DK [tricky to see it with the rubbish lighting in my photo’s]. I’m not sure what sort of border I’m going to put on it but, given that it’s for a ten year old boy, I’m thinking nothing too lacy or faffy.
I’ll be sure to update again soon. All my other projects are on-hold as I’m determined to finish this within the next week or so. What I really need is a self-cleaning house and some self-washing clothes. Oh and a family who’d be happy to live on cereal for a week or so… lol xx
Just a very quick share to say that, in a fit of pique, I frogged my Cosy Patchwork Granny blanket made using the Attic 24 Cosy colourway pack!! I know you’re all shouting at the screen but I just wasn’t happy with it, not the huge blocks of colour nor the twisting of the squares. I now know how to make granny squares that don’t twist but too late for the Cosy Patchwork sadly. I could have remade them all using my newly learned technique [flip the block over for each new row] but I think the damage was already done for me. You know what it’s like, when you’re just not happy with something all you can see are the imperfections.
So, I couldn’t waste all that beautiful yarn in those delicious colours so I’ve started an Autumn Hexagon Blanket. The pattern is courtesy of Kathryn Senior from, ‘Crafternoon Treats’ . She has included a plethora of tips and guidelines and some lovely, and very useful, photo’s to guide even those very new to crochet. As you can see from the photo’s above the Cosy colours lend themselves very nicely to Kathryn’s design. I’m obviously making mine in Stylecraft Special DK [Kathryn used Stylecraft Chunky] but I’m using a 4.5mm hook. Usually you’d use a 4mm with DK but the blocks just look better defined with the slightly larger hook. Also makes a slightly larger hexi so it’s a win, win.
I’ll post some updates as I go but I’m loving the hexies and the pattern is a dream to work. It’s a ‘join as you go’ which I’ve never done before but it really is quite simple [Kathryn’s great photo’s help] and also saves the massive [and potentially tedious] joining session at the end. My only tip would be to weave in those ends as you go!!! I know, but you just have to do as you’re told occasionally or you’ll only hate yourself at the end 😆 xx
Posted in Daily Life, Faith, Family, Frugal Living, Ignatian Spirituality, Private Vows, Uncategorized, tagged Faith, Family, Ignatian, Lent, Private Vows, Real life on Saturday, March 12, 2016| 6 Comments »
I like to think I live a simple life but in reality what does that really mean? This is something that I’ve been pondering extensively during Lent this year.
I’ve said before that we, as a family, try to be frugal in what we buy, the things we use, while looking closely at our needs versus wants. We very rarely buy clothes, we wear what we have until it falls apart. We grow a few fruits and veggies in our little garden and we try to only buy things that we really need, things that we’ll actually use [so not taking advantage of a bogof offer just because it’s there]. This avoids wasting resources and money. We have this beautiful planet to care for so we each need to try to do our bit, and I suspect that very few of us actually do all that we can. Surely it’s all relative though right? What I see as frugal, someone else might view as actually quite extravagant. It’s also dependent on where you live, here in the UK my life is relatively simple and non materialistic; drop my lifestyle and my little house into the slums of Calcutta however and I’d be living like a queen in comparison. There is a selfish element to our frugality too, the less money we need the less pressure there is on us to earn huge amounts so we can take simple jobs and work to live, not live to work.
Does living out a life of simplicity just stop at what we buy though? My lifestyle would probably seem really boring to those looking in, however we view it as simple, not boring and we live this way through choice. We rarely go out socially except very occasionally with immediate family. We neither of us smoke and I don’t drink except for a cheeky cider on special days. Our idea of heaven is to be at home together, so going out is not all that enjoyable for us. We are both real home birds and although not anti-social by any means, we tend to keep to ourselves.
As a couple, our whole approach to life is quite simple; slow down, enjoy the moment, appreciate what’s around you even if it’s howling wind and teeming rain. I love listening to the wind howling and the rain lashing the windows, especially if I’m just drifting off to sleep. If you’re busy rushing around [which is unavoidable sometimes] then it’s really easy to miss those simple beauties.
What about simplicity of thought? From a faith perspective I have also found it really useful to keep that simple to. After all God simply asks us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and [very importantly] love ALL others as ourselves. I’ve noticed that this only becomes tricky when I allow other stuff to get in the way. Things from my past, things that are man-made and not God given, expectations of society etc. All of these can create a very negative thought process in me which takes up way too much head space. While I’m busy doing the, ‘I’m not worthy’ number on myself I’m not being the woman that God wants me to be. So, I’ve learnt to keep it simple; to remember God loves me, that He sent His son to save me[us] and that His mercy and grace are freely given through faith and love. It really is that simple. People want to make it more complicated but seriously, it really isn’t.
I’m a bit of an Ignatian woman at heart, and I love the simplicity of their charism, primarily to, ‘Find God in all things’. He’s there in the beauty of the Mass, he’s there in the amazing sunrise, but he’s also there while you’re washing the dishes or sorting the laundry. It’s simple, you walk with God, He walks with you….all the time and everywhere, not just on Sunday and not just in church. That fits nicely with my other favourite saying by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Let’s be honest, that’s most of us. We’re not all going to be doing earth shattering deeds each day, not all going to be saving lives or finding a cure for cancer. However, we can all do those simple small things, smile at someone in the street, chat to the person next to you in the queue, hold open a door, hold a friend’s hand while they share a sadness or a worry. These are not big things on the face of it, but to the old lady who sees no one all day your smile or friendly word is everything, your friend will never forget that time you spent listening to them with love and concern. These are HUGE things to them but they’re simple to us.
On the face of it, living a life of simplicity probably doesn’t seem very exciting or worthwhile until you look closely at who benefits from it. If we slow down, lift our faces to God and give our hearts freely to all those around us then everyone we meet benefits. We benefit too from the lack of stress and self-imposed pressure. The planet benefits because, hopefully, we give back more than we take. I love this way of living. In this fast-paced materialistic world I need to be reminded of who I am, where I’m going and why I’m going there. Simplicity in life and faith is the perfect foundation for that.
There was a discussion on the dreaded Facebook yesterday about banning the wearing of the burka [not sure if the niqab comes under that ban as well] in the UK. As many of you will know it has been banned in France already. Now, I have to say at this point that I totally understand the security based reasons behind this school of thought. However, looking at the bigger picture from a different angle, I am worried that we are picking away at our freedom of choice that we are so famous for as a nation. If we start dictating what people can wear then where will it end?
Historically, I can remember a nurse and a British Airway’s clerk both of whom were banned from wearing a christian cross at work. I wear my crucifix all the time, in fact I rarely take it off. Although wearing a cross or similar is not a security issue, I can see similarities here, and feel an equal amount of injustice at both situations. Again, removing our freedom of choice, and this is supposed to be a christian country first and foremost!!
I know that for those muslim women who choose to wear the burka for the right reasons [i.e. based in faith as an informed choice, not through fear or oppression] being told they can’t wear it in public would cause, at the very least, feelings of distress, anxiety and frustration. They would feel they are compromising their beliefs. Interestingly, part of the discussion produced the comment that ‘they should go to a country that shares their religious views’. Fair point, but that could be tricky if they’re white british. White british muslim converts are often the most devout and passionate about their faith, which has lead to some of them choosing to take the veil. These women belong in the UK regardless of their religion, their lives and families are here. We have a huge, and still growing, muslim convert community here in MK and I think that’s something to celebrate.
So, going back to my initial fears, how free to choose are we really? I’m starting to wonder in this rapidly developing ‘Nanny State’. I used to celebrate and feel lucky at being British and living here. At times now I feel suffocated by, and disappointed at the country I live in and some of the people I have to share it with. I am obviously aware of the terrible extremist based crimes taking place, but in my opinion they have nothing to do with real faith or religion. God/Allah pbuh, does not sanction genocide or terrorism, so no religious label or scripture will ever make that right, no matter how hard they try to justify their crimes under that banner.
I found these quotes last night and they really made me think:~
“Not enough people know or understand just how little freedom we have left.” Korban Blake
“As free as you allow others to be, such freedom you create for yourself.” Bryant McGill
Finally, I found this in an article in The Guardian by Andrew Brown and I wonder if maybe he’s right:~
“The burka debate is not so much about religious obligation, as about the public rejection of the surrounding society, and society’s tolerance for that.”
Below are a few photo’s of my latest venture. I intend to start a little online business [when I’ve got enough stock worth starting with] selling various handmade items that I’ve crocheted and sewn. Nothing major but it’s nice to have a reason to make things rather than just for the sake of it. Here are a few of the first things.
There are lots more things in my head, it’s just finding the time to actually make them into a reality..
Hope you like!!??
It only takes one single act of kindness to change the whole world.
“He who saves one life saves the entire world.”
Who knows how many lives you could touch or change for the better just by doing one kind deed for someone else??!!
Go on, try it!!
[Quote from the Talmud]
….it’s amazing to think that I live about 300 metres from the M1 and about five minutes drive from the city centre of Milton Keynes when you realise that this……
….is the view from my kitchen window. There in the distance you can just make out a tunnel shaped opening hidden in the trees [top of picture, right of the middle] which is the bridge under the M1. Yep, it’s THAT close. We live by Newport Pagnell services, not that you can see them at all. You can hear the hum of the traffic [when it’s not at a stand still ;)] but you kind of get used to it and we don’t notice it anymore. Triple glazing sure helps 😆 .
The photo below shows the proximity of the M1 much better. In fact there’s a white lorry on the bridge [southbound] which has conveniently been caught in the shot to help illustrate the point. This picture is taken from Ethan’s bedroom window ~ he’s a lucky boy to be able to watch and hear the horses when he’s in bed.