Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Simple-Minded – Part One

… Mary … sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42
Life gets so busy, so hectic, and so rushed. Like Martha, we may be anxious and troubled about many things. As a result we may feel that we missed what mattered. Ironically, the secret to more joy may be found in letting go of much and doing fewer things with a sharper focus.
For example, for many years I have developed and collected all kinds of printed items in my office. The bulk and magnitude became too much. So for some time now I have pursued a process that is making my life much less complicated. I will pull out a file folder – just one – that contains past sermon notes, illustrations, letters, Greek or Hebrew studies, etc. If I already have an item in that folder in digital, computerized form, I throw the paper copy away. If I need to add my scribbled notes to a Word document, I open it, edit it, and save it before tossing the paper. I scan handwritten pieces, letters from other people, and so forth, in pdf format. I save all the files on my thumb drive and back them up. Then I dispose of the papers.
My goal is to be virtually paperless by the time I turn 60 later this year. I have found such peace and relief from having all my materials with me at all times and being able to access them almost instantly and print them as needed. There are added bonuses. When I see something that I think a friend or classmate would like to have, I can easily email it to that person and share great memories. In addition, when I am gone, all my life’s work will be collected to leave behind.
Here is another “simple-minded” step that many have taken. In our garage at home I have hung a string from the ceiling on each side with a nut on the end. When we pull a car in, and the windshield hits the nut, we stop. We know we have cleared the garage door behind us without hitting the shelves in front of us. No machinery to service, no complexity to untangle.
Tanya and I have learned to enjoy owning less, maintaining less, and storing less. We are committed to giving away, selling, or throwing away what we no longer use or need. The more we let go of, the more we enjoy the experience! And the more content we are with what we have. We hesitate to buy more “stuff” that we will have to store in the space we just emptied.
Of course as Christians we are taught to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,” to trust our Father rather than be distracted by anxiety (Matt 6:25-34). It is so easy to allow the cares of the world to preoccupy us (Matt 13:22).
The simple life begins by simply following Jesus.
Included in this first “simple-minded” post are the following steps to simplify one’s life that have come to my attention. Perhaps at least one of these suggestions will be helpful to you. If you have an idea to add, please note it in the comments section below.
15 Ways to Simplify Your Life (Edited)
By Pamela Lister, Redbook Magazine
1. Embrace your insignificance.
Even if you’re a CEO, you’re still only one spoke in the big wheel. Quit thinking everything depends on you.
2. Let go.
Something’s got to give if you want to be serene. What’s it gonna be? “Coming of age has a lot to do with letting go of what you were told were the right things and finding out what are the right things for you,” says Judy, a first-grade teacher in Vermont who’s also an accomplished artist.
The author of Keeping Life Simple suggests making two master lists, one of your responsibilities at work, the other of those at home, starting with the most important tasks at the top. (Just make one if you don’t go out to work.) Now draw a horizontal line through the middle of each list. Rarely, if ever, do the things beneath that line. Do not waver. “The thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that people know they’ve got you -- there’s nowhere to run when they call asking for something,” says Alison, a mother of two children, ages 7 and 9, in Connecticut. “So I only say yes to the people who need me most. For example, I’m more inclined to volunteer at my son’s school because most of the kids’ mothers are working moms. At my daughter’s school, where the PTA is being run by a bunch of former executives, I ask myself when they call for help, ‘Do they need me or just want me?’”
3. Do nothing -- alone.
Ask your husband to take the kids out for the afternoon, you don’t care where. Then stay home and do nothing -- nothing planned, scheduled or productive. If you end up asleep in front of the fire, great. Maybe you’ll read old love letters. Maybe you’ll paint your nails red. Whatever. Savor the rich pleasure of a timeless day.
4. Do nothing -- with your family.
Memories are spun of minutiae -- the marshmallows in the hot cocoa, the shared blanket on the couch in front of the TV. So you weren't productive. Ask the kids if they care.
5. Follow the money trail.
We have to keep the job because we have to make the money because we have to pay for the car, the clothes, the restaurants, the vacation, the new hot-water heater, the new roof and ... yah, yah, yah. No wonder we dream of chucking it all and escaping. “When I realized I was making tons of money and still didn’t have a lot in the bank, I knew I had to take a look at where I was spending it: You want to go out to dinner? Go. You want to take a cab? No problem,” says Christie, a former Wall Street broker. “Here I was with a big salary but no money and no time. So I started to think, Less money, more time. It became like a mantra.” Four years ago Christie quit her job and went to school to train in another field. Now she works in her hometown and makes about one-fifth what she did in New York, but she also has proportionately fewer expenses.
6. Keep an old quilt in the car trunk.
In case you want to stop and smell the roses along the way to wherever you’re going.
7. Buy same-colored socks.
If you buy only one color, there’s no hassle of chasing orphans. Plus, in a pinch, the kids can all share.
8. Eat the feast in your refrigerator.
The cook can find pleasure in making the most sumptuous meal possible out of whatever ingredients are available -- using what he has rather than complaining about what he doesn’t have. The spiritual allegory is hard to miss, but there’s a useful literal bit here, too: Instead of thinking about dinner in terms of what you want to eat, think in terms of what you’ve got and work with it, so you don’t have to run to the store every night.
9. Practice gratitude.
When you’re grateful you’re less impatient -- you’re not constantly thinking you should be doing or getting something else. It’s all about being in the moment -- being happy with what you have.
10. Grow things.
You will learn patience, peace and awe.
11. Express beauty.
Through your music, needlepoint, the cake you make, the flowers you arrange. Simplicity, beauty, comfort and harmony flow in and through one another.
12. Focus on your real friends.
Before you turn all guilt-ridden about pruning your social circle, remember, we’re talking about your sanity. “I had to learn that it’s okay to not keep in touch with everyone,” says Judy. “At first, I thought to myself, I have no loyalty. I’m not social. But I can’t accommodate that many people and still have a life. I had to realize that having less contact with some friends didn’t make me a bad person.”
13. Spoil your husband.
“We’ve made it a rule that Saturday night is adult time -- that’s when my husband gets my undivided attention, and I get his. But when we’re all together as a family, neither of us can expect that attention so we don’t get frustrated wanting it,” says Betts, a 36-year-old mother of two, ages 5 and 2, in San Francisco.
14. Paint one room.
Call it a sneak attack on clutter: “When I repainted my living room, all the books had to come down from the shelves, which forced me to go through them and throw out those I no longer wanted,” says Judy. “Then, when I was done with that room, I saw that the room next to it looked shabby in comparison, so I had to clean it out, too. It’s like a pebble in water: The rings keep moving outward until I run out of steam or things become acceptable.”
15. Make pillows.
The solution to a full life isn't to run from it, but to embrace it -- one pillow at a time.
Well, to put it "simply," that’s it for now! More later. God bless.


Cory Collins said...

From Richard in South Africa: Thank you for the profound thoughts. It is much appreciated. As a Christian , we sometimes are faced with a lot of challenges and even regard it as hurdles we cannot master or overcome. Allow me to share some thoughts with you that has also made me pensive.
1. Firstly our lives revolve around norms , values and ethics.
2. We tend to want to satisfy all three instead of just keeping it simple
3. We serve a GOD who is practical- there is a body of scripture that can confirm this
4. We will not be able to do big things if we cannot do the small things properly
5. Let us trust God who has infinite wisdom – we must pray and be content.
May God bless you even as you consider these few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

From time to time free shredding is provided in our city. This is a safe and efficient way to get rid of old papers and documents. Then we can clear out those file cabinets no longer needed.
Don Harriman