This past summer was a time of intense creativity for me, it was crazy really. I found I had different, new ideas every day, so my shop became a mod podge of all my favorite hobbies. Finally, in the late autumn, I had room to breathe again, and began to assess things. First thing I decided was that the handmade cards had to come out of my shop. I was virtually making nothing on them (maybe a dollar when everyone got their piece), and they demanded large amounts of time. It was time to move on.( The great thing now though, I have tons and tons of cards left, and am never short when I need to send out birthday greetings!) So, I systematically went through my shop and settled on the things that carried the most importance to me. I went from 9 pages to about 4. My Inspiration Earth products were at the very top of my list, because that is how I can affect change in this lifetime. It is a passion. A very close second were my personalized clipboards, they may have even tied for first. I simply LOVE to make them. To sit down and create them brings me great joy, and I always look forward to a chunk of time when I can work on them. So, I went with that, earth friendly products and clipboards. I renewed something(s) everyday, listed new items often, and watched as the sales began to trickle in. I'm not bombarded with sales, but at this point, I know I couldn't handle that. I am still homeschooling my girls, doing massive amounts of cooking, caring for way too many animals... but, steady business is what I'm aiming for. I haven't had a sale in about a week, but then sold 6 clipboards to a lovely woman in California 2 days ago. So, I was happy. :) I know that the only way I want to move through this life is doing things that bring me joy. It doesn't always mesh with what others desire of me, but I can't live my life based on the expectations of others. I've also discovered that when I follow my spirit voice, I am joyful, which spreads joy to those around me. It may seem selfish and self centered, but it in no way feels that way. It feels connected, balanced, peaceful. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and it is a very good place to be.
As you may have heard, Everett has left the building after declaring Minimalism dead. This may leave some wondering if he is correct. In order to reach the widest audience possible with the answer to this question I placed it on Associated Content by Yahoo. The link is below:
Now that Rachel’s vegan-bound,
We’re looking for some common ground.
In browsing through our family tree,
Here is what pops out at me.
Veggies are a vegan “yes,”
Which sounds OK, nevertheless
They can’t be touching Rachel’s fork
If they are cooked with ham or pork.
My son-in-law enjoys the sweets
Hard to live without his treats.
Not so fond of tofu dishes;
Tasty food is what he wishes.
My son’s disgust with greens is true,
Lettuce trauma through and through.
Black-eyed peas at New Year’s fling?
Nope - brings his lunch from Burger King!
The veggies he can do without,
The meat is what he’s all about.
Sarah’s got her diet plans,
I’m not sure what she eats or bans.
Her regimen's not so off-beat,
Except she doesn’t like thick meat.
Ed and I are different, too.
We have some things that we eschew.
Avoiding carbs is our big goal,
Omit the pasta from our bowl.
Each of us is on a plan
Of which the other’s not a fan.
What will thus our menu be
The next meal for our family?
This is so hard! This is so new!
What will we cook? What will we do?
On second thought, there’s never been
A time, to my bemused chagrin,
When our illustrious varied brood
Ate every dish and every food.
We’ve always had our little quirks,
And compromised to learn what works.
I can’t predict at this point whether
Our next big meal we eat together
Will appease our every taste,
Or look to some like toxic waste.
But then, who cares? To each his own!
We eat together, not alone.
We may have more from which to choose,
Finding out whose dish is whose.
But what’s the thing we ne’er debate?
Love is served with every plate!
For me, it started with Nonna Jennifer-Anne on Facebook, posting links and asking us, “Have you heard of this book?”
She meant this book. It came out on January 17th - that's eleven days ago. It's in Amazon's top ten best seller list. If you get as far as typing "One..." in the search box on Amazon, "One Thousand Gifts" is their second suggestion! Today it has 170 reviews on Amazon - eleven more than yesterday!! Whoa!!!
As the days went by I was coming across more and more instances of people talking about Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. They were not saying, “Jolly good book,” they were saying they will never be the same again because it has transformed them, turned their lives upside down. They couldn’t stop reading, they are buying as many copies as they can afford to give away.
Here's one review, by Katherine Mary Johnson. Does anyone else get reviews like that??
I must get this book I thought (naturally). It’s published by Zondervan and only just out, so it’s not yet available at a sensible price on UK Amazon. Obviously the thing to do would be to buy it at US Amazon, but while I was just pondering this an email came in from my good friend Julie F. She’s really Julie B, but to me she’s Julie F for Julie Faraway. And she’d written to say: “I am reading a book right now that is literally rocking my world . . . I'm about 1/3 of the way through her One Thousand Gifts and I hope I never recover. Like your books, I will want to read this over and over, and I am not someone who reads books again very often.” And she was offering to send me a copy as a gift! YAY!! So I said “Yes, please!” :0D (I left that bit in about my books – thanks Julie!)
But Julie also asked had I seen Ann Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience? I had seen it briefly because I read a post on it about Christmas, in December; but I went across and had a proper look at is as a blog rather than just reading a post, if you see what I mean. Oh, my! I am so impressed. Friends, if there are any writers among you reading this and wondering how to navigate your way across the seas of blogging – take this as your compass. Ann Voskamp has everything! Not only are her promotional and design ideas clever – seriously savvy – but the soul behind them is authentic; honest and wise and interesting and beautiful and luminous. You can promote until you’re blue in the face but if all you are is a storefront and the goods are second-rate, people will spot that sooner or later. But Ann Voskamp is the real deal. Her creativity is amazing, her talent is stunning, her way with words is superb. And there’s something else too that what I’ve said so far hasn’t covered – something in my description that leaves her sounding a bit less than she is. There’s Holy Spirit in what she’s doing; it has the touch of grace (one of her favourite words, I think).
And now I have to confess something. I am also a writer – and I work hard at what I do: and boy, when I saw what she is and what she has achieved, did I feel jealous!! Quakers, as you know, never doffed their hats to anybody. In the case of Ann Voskamp, I make an exception. Go, lady! What a phenomenon. And guess what? She’s beautiful as well !
Get that book in the post, Julie F! I am so looking forward to reading it!
Just the oddest thing happened today.
Grace playing, Alice standing, Hebe crouching on the floor to stop the hymn book falling off the piano, me making masterly video:
If you want to sing along, these are the words:
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o'er and o'er again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Come, and He will give you rest;
Trust Him for His word is plain;
He will take the sinfulest;
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot,
Satisfied its last demand.
Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Glory I shall enter in.
If you like this hymn and want to learn it, you can find it here at a more sedate speed, words with music to sing along to :0O :0D
And then we sang another hymn. This time Hebe, even more masterly than I am, made the film. To get us all in shot she held the camera the other way. She forgot to turn it off at the end, so it went sideways in the last bit. We all thought this was hilarious and decided not to edit it out. Now, unfortunately, when Grace loaded it to YouTube, it proved impossible to get it to load both the right way up and with the music in sync with the film. She had to choose. So she loaded it in sync - sideways. Those of you with laptops, you can turn your puters sideays to watch it. Those of you with desktop puters will have to turn your heads sideways! Or... I suppose you may decide to give it a miss...
It's only more Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary. Anyway, here we are! :0)
If you're wondering why Grace has a pair of underpants on the front of her top (!), well that's her "say pants to poverty" t-shirt...
Anyway, Quaker First Day meeting; that’s where I’ve been.
Back in the early 80’s I belonged to a group called the Ashburnham Stable Family, started by John Bickersteth, who was 150% God’s man – a privilege to have known him. I won’t tell thee much about that except only this one thing: there was a rule about coming to meeting. The rule was this: every person who came participated; no bystanders, no observers, no sitting on the fence. During the week each of us was to listen to God with an expectant heart, waiting to hear what God’s word was for us regarding the Stable Family Thursday meeting. We had to have heard by Tuesday, so we could phone Joe or Susie or Edmund or Tim and say, “I believe we should be singing this song,” or “We’ve practiced a dance,” or “I think the Lord wants me to bring a prophecy, so I’ve put it in the post for you to check,” or “I’ve composed a saxophone piece to play,” or “I think I will be required to bring an interpretation for a prayer in tongues;” and so on and so on.
After studying the chapters on public worship in 1 Corinthians, our teachers had reached the understanding that the meeting should be ordered – not a spontaneous free-for-all, but ordered; but each one should come prepared, as the apostle teaches in chapter 14. So we came with hearts and minds prepared, and sometimes what we were prepared to bring was simply our presence and our silence – and that was ministry too.
So from those days I got used to the idea that if something is tugging at my soul all week and won’t go away, it’s probably meant for ministry for the meeting. And that happened to me this week. ALL WEEK I have had this song on my mind, but insistently!
When I came into meeting this morning, I’d forgotten about it. And then it started up again. Now, because it had been in my mind all week and I’d been singing it over and over, by the time I got to meeting, I actually knew the words (well two verses anyway, which was the most I could manage without passing out from sheer terror anyway). At the beginning of the week I knew only the tune.
I had a sense that it was for people who were labouring, people oppressed with sorrow and care. Otherwise I might have ignored it. Our meeting seems to me to be a liberal meeting, with what you might call a broad theology, and I felt not at all sure they would receive so evangelical a ditty with thanksgiving. But if the Lord had sent it for people struggling and in sorrow, I couldn’t sit on it, could I? So I sang it to them. And like the good Quakers they are, they received it with humility and kindness.
We also had a few other ministries, delightful – one in particular being an understanding of the transfiguration as Jesus’s meeting for clearness, Moses and Elijah supporting him [in choosing the revolutionary direction of suffering and self-sacrifice that altered beyond recognition the understanding of the Messiah]. The bit in square brackets is my own gloss.
I was rather scared of bringing that song, and prefaced the singing of it by explaining how times when we are in darkest sorrow and struggle, we are walking, sometimes unawares, shoulder to shoulder with the divine principle of suffering love that takes upon itself the sum of human sorrow and even redeems the world. I guess I thought that sounded a bit more Quakerly than just smacking folk between the eyes with an evangelical hymn, even if at the prompting of the Spirit. And I said that I thought it might not sit right well with the theology of the meeting, so begged the people, if it was not their idiom, to receive it in the spirit of diversity not controversy. And so they did, God bless them.
But this thing of ministry, of ‘I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says sing, and obey the Spirit of the Lord,’ well it feels a bit at times like I’m walking right along there but then I discover that keeping company with the living God is somewhat like getting the hem of my coat caught in the door of a moving vehicle – “Uh-oh! Whoa! Here we go!!” He doesn’t always travel at my speed.
I’ve come to terms with headcovering and Plain dress – which did take some doing and determination – but NOW I can feel the tug-tug-tug all over again: this time with regard to Quaker Plain speech. You know? “Thee” and “Thy”.
I have two problems with this.
1) It’s one more thing that’s weird, eccentric, non-mainstream – and frankly I don’t need any help in that direction.
2) The Quaker application of it is – I don’t know why; why did they do that? – non-grammatical. They don’t say “thou think’st”, they say “thee thinks” WHICH IS WRONG!!!! But Quakerly.
So I have to grit my teeth and get over English language structures and the purgatory of Sounding Weird, if I am to go with this leading – which of course I am. “Thee gonna look stupid when the Spirit says look stupid, and obey the Spirit of the Lord.”
These leadings, they hardly even admit of any discussion. It feels like the calm flowing river along which one was peacefully punting suddenly gathered speed as all unsuspecting one found oneself sucked towards the weir. Uh-oh, here we go – Daaaaahn the plug’ole!
I have finally done it: today I made my very first video tutorial. This video gives step by step instructions how to make a single gallon of liquid laundry soap.
The reason I chose this subject is that while there are several recipes for enormous batches of liquid laundry soap, you rarely find any for smaller batches.
This recipe makes a single gallon of cleaner, perfect for those who don’t have space for a larger batch, or for minimalists who do not wish to make up more than they can use in a reasonable amount of time.
Update: There is a 25% off coupon on that book good until the end of January 2011: Just use the code MV35U at the checkout.
I am cautiously excited about this book. It comes out around now, in the UK, and in a few weeks overseas. It's on pre-order at the US Amazon, where they also have a search-inside function so you can have a riffle through and see if you like it. It's on (presumably quicker) pre-order at UK Amazon, where they haven't yet got the search-inside set up (though my publisher has chivvied them, so it should be coming soon.
I was brought up in the Christian faith, and went to church in my childhood. I have always not only believed in God but felt close to me the presence of the Holy in everyday life. Even so, I do believe that when Jesus says "Behold, I stand at the door and knock", the idea is to open it and invite Him in, not leave it and hope if it's really Him he will materialise through it somehow.
So, when I was fifteen I made the believer's prayer for myself, asking Jesus to be the Lord of my life; and I became His property that day, to dispose of as He wishes - though I have to say He does need to remind me of that at times, because you wouldn't all the time know from what I am and choose and do and say that I belong to Him.
I will be fifty-four next birthday. That means I will have walked with Him for nearly forty years. During that time, the main focus of my life has been to learn about what I have come to call 'the road of blessing', by which I mean finding the path of holiness. I made a new friend on Facebook yesterday who says on her profile that an activity she enjoys is 'walking in a good way'. That's the kind of thing I mean. Making life choices and creating habits that flow with the current of God's grace, and can attract His blessing.
In the forty years (nearly) I've been doing this, I may not have learned a lot, but I've learned enough about a few things to be sure of them. I have practiced some principles of living to the extent that I know I can rely on them. No doubt I can be shaken, but I am sure beyond doubting that the things I have written about in this book cannot be shaken.
The Road of Blessing sets out the principles I have learned from the Bible that I have lived for almost forty years and can promise you can trust.
If you enjoy reading this blog, well then I guess you'll enjoy the book too.
Margery was a person of deep faith. Her whole life was founded on prayer and lived in the flow and current of the movement of the Holy Spirit. I loved her very much, and she was a dear friend. She died about seven years ago, in her mid 80s.
I have various things that belonged to her. It is not my practice to hold on to possessions, even when they have special associations, otherwise before I know it the possessions start holding onto me, and you get the Sorcerer's Apprentice effect going on. I don't like my life and options to be dictated by the proliferation and requirements of inanimate objects! "Problems arise where things accumulate" (Toinette Lippe).
I have two stained glass panels that Margery made. They are really beautiful works of art. I have not yet found the right home for them, because they are spiritual work not worldly, and they are wonderfully wrought, not shoddy work. For now I keep them with me, and one day I will find the right place for them. I don't hang then in my own windows because I have such a hunger for light that I want all the light all the time from all the windows. But they are beautiful. I had a nude that she painted - which she stipulated must never be hung in a living room where men might see it, it must always be hung in a bedroom. It is such a graceful, lovely picture. That has gone to my friend Rosanna. I have a portrait of a dignified old lady that Margery painted. That fits in any room really well, so it hangs in our living room over the fireplace.
Then I also have these spoons. Margery used them for measuring out glazes and powder paints when she was teaching art. They are old and battered (which I personally feels adds to their delightfulness), because they are very vintage! Now, I don't really measure anything. My cooking is of the 'some of this, some of that' school, and I just heave in a bit from a jar, no spoon comes ito it.
I am clearing out things at home at the present time, going through streamlining and sorting and house-calming. We have several large bags to go to the charity shop, but I don't want to send these spoons to a charity shop, because they would be thought worthless as they are old and battered. But they aren't worthless, they would be really excellent for anyone who needs to measure out powders or drizzle liquids carefully. And they belonged to Margery, so for decades they were the tools of hands dedicated to prayer and praise and healing ministry.
What I want to know is, would one of you like these spoons?
If so, check the comments section to make sure no-one else has already put up their hand for them, and I wll send them to you. You are safe to send me your address in a comment, because it will come to me by email for moderation. I will not publish it with your address it, I will publish a comment saying 'The spoons have been claimed by Sister (or Brother!) X', instead, and send the spoons off to you.
If you have them, please treasure them. Margery and I spent countless hours together, talking about life and the things of God, praying and laughing and drinking Lapsang Souchong tea. She was a woman of pure heart, a soul of real integrity; and, though her income was tiny, her wants were so few that she always had money to put by so that she could respond to the nudgings of the Lord Jesus and help people who were in need. She liked to give to people and situations that didn't come under the wing of any charity or welfare benefit. She used to send money to a black African pastor who lived in a South African township in the days before apartheid ended, to keep him and his family going and his work for God as well. She used to listen quietly and notice when young couples were struggling and hadn't enough for rent and food or special projects, and she'd help them. Every time she gave, she asked God a) whether to give and b) how much. Margery believed that money is a very potent force that can do as much harm as good, and that it must be used strictly under God's direction to bring blessing. Out of God's direction it becomes a curse.
Here is a picture of the spoons so you can see their form and size. You will see they are very ordinary and shabby looking - wabi-sabi spoons! Their specialness is that they carry with them women chatting and prayig quietly in the afternoon sunlight, drinking tea together, and art students learning under the tutelage of a person of pure soul and unusual grace. They bring with them a murmur of something beautiful, a memory of friendship.
It may be that nobody here wants them at all! If that's the case, I shan't mind. I'll just keep them until the right person comes along.
While I no longer add to this blog regularly, I wanted to update you on what has been going on with my life since I opened Annienygma.com.
For a while I didn’t pare down as much as I used to; part if it has been winter blues, while part has been the fact that I reached a plateau.
With the end of the year nigh, I did eliminate some stained shirts, old books and software, and a lot more digital clutter with the unexpected death of my big hard drive. My closet actually has room to shift items around now, I am wearing my better quality clothes (that had been buried behind my worn out casual ones), and I think that soon I may be able to transfer my pants to hangers and free up two drawers in my bedroom!
Spending Money to Save Time
I have decided that sometimes you need to spend some money to save time and make things easier; my computers now are all running Windows 7 with Microsoft Office as a result. Having the same operating system on all of my computers will make maintenance easier, and Microsoft Office has saved me hours already when I go to create and submit articles online. Something about OpenOffice forces me to spend a lot of time fixing strange errors whenever I upload articles, so that alone has saved me a lot of time. Also, I am now reading all of my emails in Outlook now instead of visiting the individual websites; the use of IMAP enables me to keep my emails synchronized online, so I still have the ability to read my emails anywhere, but now instead of going from site to site to check all of those accounts Outlook takes care of it in the background. It even handles Twitter, enabling me to send and receive my tweets while I’m checking email, saving me from having to visit yet another site.
All of my blogging is now done in Windows Live, meaning that I can blog to any of my accounts at will with just a few clicks; as a result I will try to update this and my other blogs more often.
I feel like a traitor to Linux by switching so completely to Microsoft products, but the current round of software does everything I need and does it well, so for the sake of simplifying my life I am switching entirely over to Windows, at least for a few years. I’m not giving up on Linux entirely; I still plan to play with it, just not use it in a production setting.
I’m sorry Linux, but you don’t have the integration capabilities or the ease of use that I require at this point in my life.
For a detailed summary of 2010, please visit this post on my main site. I tried to cover everything that I could think of in there.
Well, I’m off to explore more of 2011. I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful year in store!