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And a simpler time

Sweet William and I went on a little jaunt the first sunny day of our week.  We needed to get out of the house and on the road.

Our destination was a small historic town about an hour away, an easy drive on the interstate or a nice wander on the back roads less traveled.  Today we choose the interstate.  We will save the back roads for spring when yard sales will pop up along the way.

One of our favorite stops is the store run by the Amish community there.  It is organized, clean and neat as a pin.  Today it’s a flurry of activity with a variety of customers and the Amish women workers, dressed in typical plain dress.

They converse easily with one another in their own Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, but speak to the “Englishers” in English. Of course.

One of the best things about this store is the bakery all the way in the back.  The fresh backed smells greet us before we get to the busy area where donuts, bread, cookies, and other delicacies are on display.  The women are busy preparing the goods as we peruse the choices.

I pick a caramel topped cream-filled donut and Sweet William chooses a chocolate one.  Bar none, these are the best donuts in the world as far as I am concerned.  And yes, I’ve been to New Orleans and sampled their beignets.

There’s a carafe of coffee, free for the taking, so we each get a cup, find a bench close by and sit to enjoy the taste and texture of these wonderful confections.  Shopping in the store will come later.  Right now it’s all about the donuts.

As we leave the store with the trunk of the little black Honda full of deli meat and cheese, fresh farm eggs, herbs at ridiculously low prices, plus a myriad of other things, we see two young Amish women walking home.

Amish country

{Photo from The Amish, PBS documentary}

And we wonder what their lives are like in the simplicity in which they live.  They are not encumbered with multiple digital devices beeping and pinging.  No hundreds of cable channels to choose from with programs and advertisements that intend to influence and persuade.

Their lives are regimented with work and worship, family and fun, learning and honing skills that sometimes seem almost forsaken.

Our world has become complicated.  We have made it so.  We are not self sustaining any longer.  We depend on so many others for our daily needs.  If we should loose electrical service or, heaven forbid, the entire computer network should crash, life would cease as we know it.

But on the Amish farm, their lives would proceed as usual.

I’m not saying I want to be Amish or go back to a life like that.  Personally I like indoor pluming and hot water at the turn of the faucet.  I’m glad to flip the switch and suddenly there is light.  I enjoy the convenience of the internet and quick messaging.

But sometimes I feel this life style has controlled us.

There is something appealing about the simple way in which the Amish conduct their lives. “Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free.

There is a freedom in a less encumbered life.  And perhaps there is a way to simplify my own.

In my Season of Lent this year, of living in the moment, being present and trying to really experience this one wonderful life I’ve been given, leaning into simplicity beckons me.

Maybe I need to examine the many commitments I make so quickly without much thought and decide if all of them are really necessary, really for my best.

Do I need more clothes, more shoes, more books, more canned goods, more stuff?  Can I regard what I already have and discover it again?

I could pursue the simple pleasures found where I am rather than lust after what is out of my reach and be dissatisfied.

There is a place where I can be at rest, be at peace in the simplicity of the life I have today, this very minute.

And I think it is here that will I learn a little more of contentment.

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A simple year

I don’t have a themed Christmas tree nor is there one in every room.

There are still boxes (yes boxes!) of decorations upstairs that are completely full.  This year, I just didn’t want to overdo and be overdone with the whole decorating process.

There are enough reds and greens at the Wright House.  Nativity sets sit on table tops to remind us, and any who enter, why we do this thing called Christmas.

But this year, it’s simpler.  And I’m OK with it.  Actually, I’m really good with it.

I like driving at night and looking at houses with lights on roof lines, trees and bushes in the yards.  I remember a year when I was a child, and my uncle, who lived next door, completely outlined his house in colored lights.  From a distance, it looked like it was glowing in the sky.  It was wonderful!

We’ve never done anything so elaborate.  I put simple lights in my windows because they take me back to my childhood home.  I recall decorating with my mother when I was a small girl, sweet memories.

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It seems I see a trend toward simplifying our lives and learning to live on less.  Maybe we are trying to learn contentment?  Perhaps the pendulum is swinging in the other direction after our “more is better” kind of lifestyle.

The Nativity StoryI watched an old movie this week, The Nativity, and noticed the drab clothing of the community where young Mary lived while Joseph planed his proposal.  There were no bright colors or extravagances in their lives.  They were doing what was needed to survive.

And within the simplicity of their existence, the most glorious event took place, the promised Messiah came to an ordinary young girl, engaged to be married to an ordinary working-class man.

And then it all begins to get interestingly complicated.  Glory is splashed all around.  Angels appear with unbelievable messages.  Dreams direct the next move.  Magnificent light shines around.  Brilliant signs appear in the heavens.  Foreign dignitaries bring rich gifts.  Plain people proclaim prophetic words.  And Mary ponders it all in her heart.

Suddenly the simple life became wondrous.  Grand.  Splendorous!

Perhaps that can happen to us.  In our simplier celebrations this year, perhaps we will see His glory, the glory of only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

 

Ending October simply

If you have been reading this month, you know by now that I used the thought of simplicity for my October posts.  I usually go with a theme in December leading up to Christmas and during the Lenten season before Resurrection Sunday (Easter).  But I’ve enjoyed writing about simple things this month and am considering a theme for November.  Stay tuned.

Here are some simple thoughts that are randomly running through my mind as October winds down and comes to a simple ending.

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  • As kiddos are dressing up tonight as some sort of favorite character or applying fake blood to look creepy, I remember when our one and only son was a Webelo in the Boy Scout troupe he joined.  There was a costume party, and boys and parents dressed up.  I donned a dark cape and flowing skirt, applied darkly shaded makeup and fake fangs to portray myself as a vampire of sorts.  When I looked in the mirror, I scared myself.  No seriously, I looked evil.  It’s the last time I ever did that.

And I wonder what happens to all that candy gathered tonight?

  • In our culture, the next couple of months will be anything but simple.  Christmas decorations have been in the stores for weeks.  The potential is there for us to overdo, overdecorate, overspend, overcommit, overeat, and before you know it Christmas is over, and will we have enjoyed it or just endured it?

I’ve looked at my list of gifts to buy for some folk who already have what they need.  Adults with enough sweaters and scarves.  Kids with enough gadgets and toys.  Friends who don’t want something else to sit on the shelf. And what would happen if I gave my Christmas money to those who really are in need and spent my time and energy on people and experiences and worshiping the newborn King?

  • I just discovered that tonight is “fall back,” the better part of the daylight’s savings plan.  And let me tell you I don’t like anything about the plan.  Just when my bodily system had adjusted to “spring forward,” time moves again.
  • I did my very first book review in October, Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I’m glad I did.  It has opened up another avenue of creativity for me and I look forward to doing another review.

The winner of the free copy of the book has been notified.  I appreciate all those who left their comments.  Your words matter to me, more than you know.  Sometimes I write and post and then wonder where my words go and is anyone out there.  Your comments let me know that, yes, you are out there.

  • October has been less frantic than September.  I am going to do my very best to move into the coming holiday season with the same determination to spend my time well, to be intentional about making commitments, to choose the best over the good, to seek God’s will where He wants me to use my gifts rather than giving in to every other choice that calls to me.

October ends simply.  November promises piano recitals, celebrations and memories, family gatherings with favorite food, time with friends, and sitting by the fire with Sweet William.

God gives good gifts.  I will take time to see them, receive them, and find pleasure in them.  I will walk into November with joy.

Simple grace

My September was a little too busy.

My October awaits.  I long for simple grace, the ability to sit awhile and let my hair blow in the breeze, let my mind wander.  I want to take in the beauty of the changing colors, hear the rhythm of the trees blowing, and watch the graceful fall of a leaf.  I want to taste my morning coffee and the sweetness of God’s Word.  I want to listen better, not being distracted by multi-tasking.

I need to walk in my little woods at my leisure and experience the whispers of nature beginning its journey toward rest.  And I need to rest.

I am a worker with a list of to-do’s ever before me.  I have commitments on my October calendar.  I want to be a faithful steward of my time and my promises.  But I also long for margins in my days.

Rest is a gift.  The Sabbath command was for man’s good.  I want to honor that.  I must honor that.

I am looking for Simple Grace during the coming month. The grace of nature, of well-loved faces, of simple pleasures, of a job well done, of projects completed, of time spent well.

It’s a challenge.  And I am ready for it.

Sunday grace, friends.

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