Monthly Archives: May 2013

God Hunting – Simplicity (3)

This last week I have been looking at contentment as part of the simplicity chapter in God Hunting.  On the whole I would say that I am content.  I certainly don’t dwell on having the latest gadget, a huge house or tons of money.  I have always had a dream of owning a house by the sea – a holiday retreat but we all need dreams as long as they don’t become obsessions.  I’d also like a bigger kitchen and wish we had two rooms downstairs instead of the one (which was two rooms knocked into one before we moved in) but we get by and yes we could probably have a kitchen extension – we must be the only one in our road without one – but it only bugs me when two many people are in there at the same time (two is crowd!), Christmas (juggling plates and dishes) or we need an appliance fixed (if the washing machine goes wrong the repair man won’t have room to pull it out to get to the back and don’t think about turning it!  When we installed it we had to take all the drawers out of the units and the nobs off the cooker to squeeze it through – I was nearly in tears.  Next time it will have to be a slimline one – standards are too big).  Still at least I have a home and a washing machine and when you think about it I am so much better off than many in the world who have no home, little food and unclean water. Even here in the UK there are many sleeping on the streets and families struggling to get by each day.

We don’t tend to buy new things just for the sake of it – we wait for the old ones to break.  I watch house programmes on TV where they go and say ‘this kitchen needs a complete overhaul’ and I think why?  It looks perfectly okay and is bigger than my kitchen!  We have become pulled into the fashionable house  syndrome changing everything every few years.  The only thing I envy is how tidy some people’s homes are and no one here seems to realise how the ‘mess’ upsets me.  When things are tidy I feel more relaxed and that’s part of my personality, that it does affect me, but no one else understands and that gets to me at times and so my discontent is really down to the untidiness of those I live with and sometimes I long for a room to escape to which is totally mine and has no one else’s junk in it.  I don’t see how I can change that so I just live with it and I’m not sure that this comes into the discontent category but where else do I put it?

We did once consider moving but when we looked at properties we realised the third bedrooms, which is very small in ours, were actually smaller than what we already had!  We couldn’t afford much anyhow so we decided to stay where we are.  We shall probably be here forever as I have no real desire to move elsewhere.  If the kids EVER move out I might even get a room for myself!




God Hunting – Simplicity (2)

Time Management – ah now there’s a good one.  How do you spend your day?  The conclusion I came to doing this exercise is that it was much easier when I was working because my day was structured and time tabled.  Now I am at home things tend to drift.  I have perhaps two fixed activities (apart from church) during the week that I attend but even they can be flexible if something else comes along!

So my week plays out like this – I look in my diary for the coming week to see what I have on and everything else fits around that.  Sounds good but often things still don’t get done.  I do have (baring interruptions and holidays etc) my quiet time first thing in the morning.  This can be anything from five minutes to half an hour or more depending on time/circumstances.  Then usually there are chores to do but I often leave them to the last moment.  Take last week, my brother was coming for the day – I was still hoovering when he arrived!  This week, tomorrow night actually, I have a meeting here and the lounge looks like a bomb has hit it again!

Then there is my writing – I don’t have a structure to that (apart from regular blogging).  It’s all too random.  I start good – pick a day – great it works.  But this schedule slips AGAIN.  I find excuses not to do it even to the point that housework comes top of the list (I must be desperate!).  So the whole time management things is a mess.  I once tried organising menus for dinner each night.  Great, again it worked but again it slipped to the stare in the fridge and pray for guidance strategy.  (Actually the meal plan would not work now with everyone on different time schedules in this house).

So I need help.  I need to pray about this one.  Lists – that a good idea.  Tried it…..for a while.  All these work but I don’t keep them up.  I wonder if it’s because my personality baulks against things that pin me down to times and schedules.

On the other hand, and to the other extreme, I can be well organised.  I run a church group and the programme is sorted and out in advance.  All plans for trips and holidays are sorted to the fine detail and I rarely arrive anywhere late even when I do leave it a bit late starting out, that’s because I hate to be early and have to hang around.  I hate waiting!  I’ve overcome that one now by taking a book to read.  My patience was stretched once when I turned up to the van Gogh exhibition without booking a ticket in advance and had to wait two hours in a queue to get in.  I knew if I left I would not return so I had to stick it out and I had no book and no music to listen to!

People say I am patient but I don’t see it because I don’t think I am.  Or maybe I hide my impatience well!  Anyway, I suppose I am organised in the important things in life, the keeping of everyone’s doctors and dentist appointments, kids school stuff and my own paperwork while looking messy is reasonably in order.  When I worked my desk would always be tidy by the end of the day and I hated it when I came back from holiday and found the drawer in a mess where some temp had been misusing my stationery!  First job – tidy!

Even though my kids are now officially adults I still seem to be organising them – reminding them of appointments, checking what time they leave and most annoyingly (my Mum used to do it so I’m just passing it on) saying things like ‘aren’t you taking a coat?’

Simplifying my day would be good – to plan everything down to the last detail would make it all so easy, but no, where is the spontaneity in that?  Okay, I would like to be a little better at getting jobs done in the house.  I guess I know one of reasons I let things slip in this regard – I don’t like doing them!  I sometimes try a ‘do and reward’ strategy.  If I clean the bathroom, wash up and go shopping I’ll reward myself with ……whatever it is that I want to do!  This also works, but guess what…..that idea slides too.  There is no hope for me.  God has his work cut out sorting this one out for me but nothing is impossible with God.  Now do I wash up or surf the net?  Answers on a postcard please!

The result of some de-cluttering and a conversation

Art work which came out of a meditation on John 17:20-26

Art work which came out of a meditation on John 17:20-26

You cannot re-clutter a house in one week!  Ours would take months.  If it was just me I could do it in a few days but there are four of us living in this house and I’m the only female!

Still, I did, over two days, clear out the bottom double cupboard and the three drawers in the kitchen that have been on my to-do list for over a year!  It all looks neat and tidy.  I did throw a few items away (though hubby may have rescued some and I may well yet find them elsewhere) and I’m pleased it’s done.  I am not sure what this really has to do with living simply but it made me feel good!

However, living simply is something I aspire to and is a life choice.  We don’t own a car although I do drive.  I used to share my dad’s when I lived at home and borrowed it a few times when the kids were young.  But when he was too ill to drive he offered it to me but I turned it down because it needed lots of work and I really don’t enjoy driving that much anywhere – I find it very stressful.  I don’t miss having a car because I love travelling by train and bus.  We are lucky to be close to good transport links which are regular (mostly!) and frequent.  I certainly don’t miss the cost of running one and if we did I’d probably have to get paid employment to afford it.  We only bought a microwave three years ago and I have to say that has been useful since one of my sons has been at University but still living at home.  He comes home all hours and rarely eats with us so it has been worthwhile buying just for him.

I find it interesting when I go shopping with friends.  One friend is much like me we both shop in the same chain-stores.  Another friend takes me places I’ve never been before like White Stuff and Gap and she spends far more on clothes than me.   Some shops I avoid because of the ethics (the Bangladesh tragedy springs to mind) and that goes for toiletries/cosmetics – I only buy them if they have not been tested on animals.  We have choices to opt out of those things that don’t sit well with us.  Everyone will be different and have slightly different values.  I can’t say these are based on my faith because these values were there long before I became a Christian.  These things just always mattered to me.  This earth and all that lives on it has a right to a decent life and not be exploited by others, whether they are human beings or animals.  Fairtrade is also important to me.

Anyway I am about to move on to the second week of this Simplicity chapter of God Hunting and will report back next week.  Meanwhile I wanted to share something with you which came out of a meditation – a conversation.  Now because I am a ‘doubting Thomas’ most of the time and I’m sure God must lose his patience with me, I don’t know who’s voice this is but even so this is basically how it went (notes written quickly afterwards):

Concentrating on a door I described it and as I entered God asked two questions (these were stated from the book – the rest is what happened) What are you searching for? What do you want? I replied ‘reassurance as to who you are, that you exist, that it is all worth it, that there’s a purpose’.

You are talking about signs?

I suppose so (me)

How many do you need?

Ah! you are talking about that one when my dad died.  I know I’m like all those doubters in the Bible.  Coincidences, that sort of thing.

It is not all about you!

But I help people too in various ways, charity, service.

They are already saved.

But they still need help from other people.  You created  people.

No, they created themselves.  I gave them freewill.  I can guide them but not everyone wants to listen.  They want to do it alone so often it goes wrong.

This is just me talking to me isn’t it?

Because it’s not logical?  You don’t think this is real?

Oh! you are real alright .

You’ve answered your own question!

I think I’ll go now.

Do come again.

I might do.


Was it me having a two-way conversation with myself.  Or was it God?  I certainly didn’t think about the questions or answers.  I didn ‘t ponder, this  was rapid fire stuff.  I quite enjoyed it too!


God Hunting – Simplicity (1)

551I’ve just returned from holiday in Italy, staying in Sorrento and doing all the usual touristy things by visiting Pompeii, Amalfi, Capri, Herculaneum and I even looked into the crater of Vesuvius.  I am still so full of it all and it wasn’t until a visit to a church in Sorrento and I sat down that I realised that I hadn’t thought about God.  I felt guilty and prayed.  This was the last week of the ‘solitude’ exercise but of course being on holiday time was taken up with tours, tour guides and being alone was usually the hotel balcony but I have to admit I just read and enjoyed the view.

I still feel rather far away from God right now.  Maybe it is the break in routine.  I did go to a short communion service at church last night.  The quiet did help to still me but I still don’t feel in the real world yet!

I have moved on, nevertheless, to the last chapter of God Hunting which is all about simplicity and this week’s exercise is decluttering.  Well, I actually did declutter my wardrobe not long ago and filled two bags but we do possess a lot of ‘stuff’.  We all collect and we find it hard to throw things away.  My hubby is a collector of paper, files and will go through stuff to be thrown and claim it as ‘might be useful or to sell on Ebay’!  He hoards in a BIG way!  I do go through stuff every so often but one of the things I’ve been promising myself to do for over a year now is to clear out the kitchen drawers.  I can never find anything!  So now the weather has turned to rain and I can’t sit in the garden I might actually accomplish this.

It amazing how we do get attached to things – which we can’t take with us and our kids probably wouldn’t want them.  I have some scrapbooks from the ’70’s which I don’t look at much but can’t part with.  I guess if I had to save just a couple of thing, the things that mean the most to me it would be my record/tape/CD collection and photos.  Everything is replaceable but photos aren’t.  Even so, we are all reluctant to part with stuff.  Having said that once I’m in the mood I enjoy clearing out, going through stuff I’ve not seen in ages but the decision to part with these things is still hard.  And why is it that even when I do throw loads out I never seem to have any extra space?  How did all that fit in there in the first place?