“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
~ Joshua 24:15
This verse has had layers of meaning added to it over recent weeks. It has popped up often in my quiet times, in conversation and at a conference I went to recently.
It reminds me that no matter what I may do and say, no matter what priorities push to the fore and no matter what stage of life I am at, there is one thing that remains the same: I serve the Lord. Regardless of the goals I have for myself, for us as a couple or for our future family, we serve the One who made us.
It is a declaration over my household and to all who enter that we are made to live for God and it is a challenge to me to make time in my daily schedule to spend time with my Father to bring my perspective in line with His. When I do that, the definition of a life well lived is realigned and falls according to how willingly I’m bringing God into my every day.
Joshua knew where his allegiance lay. He was speaking to God’s chosen people and even they had forgotten the great I Am and all that He had done for them. There was no shame in Joshua’s declaration. For me, it is a promise not only for myself but for my family, that those who live under our roof serve the Lord and as such, our relationship with Him becomes our priority.
A lot of things that I read or hear or see, inspire me. A lot of people I know inspire me. I tend to get very excited when I learn something new or when something is shown to me in a new light. I love the process of discovery and I love having a chance to use what I’ve learned to change something about myself or my life. I love continuous growth.
The downside of being such an eager student of life is that I have a tendency to be over-inspired. I don’t give myself the opportunity to put one life lesson into practice before I learn something new that I find equally as awesome (in the literal sense of the word: worthy of awe). This naturally leads down a path of static living – learning so much but never giving any of it the chance to make an impact.
So, as I often do, I’m using this blog quietly to resolve that, at the very least, I want to record what I’ve learned so that I have the option of returning to it later. I want to make a note of the things that inspire me before moving on to the next class in life’s school. I want to take a moment to meditate on what has caused me to wonder and I want to take the time to absorb it carefully so that it takes root. I want to build foundations for those who inspire me to add bricks to and for the thoughts that take hold to pour cement on.
That said, there are so many things that have inspired me recently that I can’t recall a single one to record as a beginning. Case in point I suppose.
I could have sworn I had already made a bucket list on this little blog but I can’t seem to find it. When searching through some of my old blogs, I found some past iterations and was surprised at just how many things I’ve done. I’ve been to Israel, created a scrapbook I’m 100% proud of, got married, read the Bible from cover to cover, been on multiple holidays with groups of friends, made an item of clothing and been on a cookery (Yo Sushi) course.
I’m seeing this as a good thing as I wrote most of those ambitions in 2010 and they were clearly all achievable within 5 years so I hope this list will also see me ticking off some hopes. Given that this blog has never seen a version of my Bucket List, I may as well start from scratch:
- Look through a telescope at planets and constellations
- Be part of a film production (behind the scenes, not on screen), however small my part
- Visit Australia and New Zealand
- See the Northern Lights
- Hold a baby hedgehog
- Feed a lamb
- Spend 4th July and Thanksgiving in America
- Go on the Trans Siberian railway
- Read the whole of the Koran
- Have a wardrobe I’m completely happy with (the contents, not the actual structure…)
I’m not sure any of these goals are particularly ambitious, but they’re a start and that’s where bucket lists usually begin…
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:9-12
These verses were read at our wedding over four years ago. We chose our passages carefully, intentionally staying clear of very traditional marriage readings and instead looking for where our hearts lay. They came to rest on practicing hospitality and it is something that has been important to us ever since. As I approach the end of my 20s, there are many other thoughts, activities and hobbies that have become important to me. I’m understanding more about who I am and what makes me feel content. What better place than a blog to record them so I can remind myself every now and then.
What I know
- “God doesn’t say ‘I have a plan for your life’ he asks ‘can I have your life for my plan?’” One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that God is not a puppeteer who masterminds our every move. He is in relationship with us. He walks alongside us. He will guide and direct when we ask and my word if we give Him our lives for His plan, He will do amazing things.
- There are way more important things in life than achieving my agenda and having my own way.
- Competition is energy wasted. Every life has its ups and downs so comparing yours with someone of the same age or at the same life stage is pointless. Achievement can only be measured by who you are.
What I enjoy
- Life is about detail: having chocolates in a pretty tin to serve guests with their coffee, having frozen lemons and limes in the freezer ready to spruce up a G&T, having flowers in rooms that not everybody sees – it’s the small things.
- Discipling younger women at Church. It makes me happy. Simples.
- Baking. Or more accurately, baking for other people and taking photographs of what I bake.
- Quiet. I am quite content without noise; without music, without the radio, just with the sounds of nature (without meaning to be overly tree-hugging, I do genuinely enjoy the ‘silence’ of the dawn chorus).
- Reading. Anything that isn’t a screen. I’m sad that my kindle broke but pondering getting a new one so long as I can turn any backlights off. That said, good ‘old-fashioned’ books are still much loved necessities in this household.
- Blogging/journalling. I’m not very good at keeping lots of thoughts in my head at one time. I don’t want to forget what I learn and I don’t want to allow good things to pass me by. Writing things down is my way of saving ideas, lessons, ambitions and random thoughts for posterity. Case in point with this blog.
- Flexibility. Not having every free moment filled with pre-planned activity. I love interspersing work and seeing people with time to potter around in my own space, think, be productive or just chill as my heart pleases.
- Being creative. Whether it’s drawing, painting, scrapbooking or playing music.
- Movies at the cinema. They’re an escape from the world but there’s such skill in their production. They are a great art form and at their best they bring together clever scripts, breathtaking music and captivating moving image. There is something even more wonderful about seeing them on the big screen and there are so many movies I’d like to see in the coming months!
- Baths – especially if I have a magazine or book to read that I won’t mind getting wet.
- Getting rid of stuff, decluttering, giving things away, creating space – all variations on a theme and they all have the same affect of detox for my soul.
- Writing postcards. They’re quick, they’re pretty cheap and they show someone you’ve taken the time to handwrite a note to make sure they know they’re loved, appreciated and thought of. So easy and the joy of their response is so worth it!
- Brunch. Hands down, best meal of the day and totally makes a weekend
- Kaffee und Kuchen. There are two reasons I love this. Firstly, because it reminds me of my German roots and of my grandparents – two of the wisest, most humble and most admirable people I have ever met. Secondly because cake and coffee go so perfectly together, who wouldn’t want this combination on a summer’s afternoon in the sun or on a cosy winter evening when it’s raining outside? It works all year round!
What makes me content and healthy
- Not eating too much sugar – ironic for someone who is a self-confessed chocoholic but especially in recent months, my sweeter tooth is making me feel rough.
- Most obvious answer? Exercise. I’ve flipped between classes, badminton, walking, running (the latter for six months last year, never again) and Tae Bo. They all have their advantages and disadvantages so I’ve opted simply to rotate them as and when I get bored and need new motivation.
- Having my favourite Bible verses of the moment around our home where I can be regularly reminded of them.
- When my husband is content. His happiness genuinely impacts my outlook and when he’s happy, I’m a much better version of myself.
- Eating more fish, more vegetables, not eating when I’m bored… there’s a whole host of eating habits that make me feel healthier.
- Spending a little time on myself – painting my nails, moisturising, getting a haircut. Simple things that show my body that it’s worth taking care of.
- Daily time reading the Bible and praying. It shouldn’t surprise me that spending time with God quenches a thirst that nothing else can.
I’m sure I’ll continue adding to this list as life goes on. I’m sure some things on this list will change. I’m also sure that there will be many more lessons for me to learn and lessons that I will need to learn time and time again. It’s all part of the process of understanding me.
It’s about time I set some goals again. The last time I set myself any semblance of an aim was in May 2014 followed by some reflections in June and a hope that I would be able to enjoy summer and see where it led. Summer didn’t lead anywhere good in 2014 and neither did the months that followed but it’s been exactly one year since then. How fitting that now is the time when I’m ready to get back into the business of looking forward.
Stargaze. We’ve recently bought a GoPro and my husband is experimenting with slow motion, time lapse and short clips. One evening he set a short time lapse and I watched as the stars emerged from behind clouds and rose in the sky as the sun set. I want to do more of this while the evenings are still warm enough to enjoy being outside. If there’s any chance of me looking through a telescope, even better!
Read the Bible in German more. I’ve mentioned many times how important my German heritage is to me because of my grandparents and how their faith and character inspired me. Reading my Bible in German connects me even more to the meaning of the words as I associate them with the man who used to read them to me and lived them until his last breath. I realise ‘more’ is vague as even once would be more than I am reading it in German now but I hope it will be the start of a habit of reading the Bible in this lovely language.
Re-visit my 2015 year aims. It’s half way through the year. About time I checked in to see where I’m at compared to where I set out to be at the start of January.
Go to the cinema twice. Shouldn’t be hard, there are enough movies I want to see at the moment!
Go to a National Trust site. Our membership runs out in September so we want to make the most of it before then!
>6 month ambitions<
Why not look a little further ahead? We’re six months through twelve, a perfect time to reassess and challenge myself to something new. The one thing I’d really like to try is to make a meal every month from now until Christmas, without a recipe. My husband is great at this so I intend to make it a joint goal and I’m already looking forward to it. We shop, we find ingredients we enjoy and we make something that is ours. Fun for a date night activity and a great kitchen venture as soon as our new kitchen arrives in two weeks!