Summer’s end has come where I live at the edge of a forest, reminding me there is more of the year behind me than ahead. When I was much younger, I would have become depressed… thinking of all the goals still unmet and desires set aside.
Somewhere along the journey of life I learned it is not “all or nothing”. If I found joy only when all my goals were achieved and desires met, then I’d be waiting a long time to know true joy.
For instance, in a perfect world I would live on a small homestead, raise chickens, grow all my own organic food, have my grandchildren over each day for lemonade sipped from quaint Ball jars, and host Sunday afternoon meals for family and friends on the long farmhouse table sitting at the edge of the freshly cut field of corn.
Circumstances will not allow that to happen. One could stomp their feet, threaten to hold their breath until they pass out, and whine to God that the life they have is not what they asked for. Don’t bother… I’ve tried. Doesn’t work. Especially the holding your breath part.
Instead when I finally listened… really listened to Him… He gave the wisdom I needed. It was when I began to keep a scrapbook journal that He was able to show me the Truth. Perhaps because I learn best when I can see what is being taught.
My first such journal was simply made up of beautiful pictures from favorite magazines such as Victoria (the old one and the new), Country Living, British Country Living, etc. This was the “book” I picked up to unwind, created totally with what I enjoyed seeing. Later I began to add prose to the pictures but originally it was simply made up of magazine cutouts.
But something happened over the years… more wonderful than tucking away images into a scrapbook. I began to see what kind of life attracted me, the life I wanted. In His “still small voice” I knew… it dawned on me… I didn’t have to have it all to find joy. But I could choose to have some of it.
What did I learn about my true desires when I looked at those images?
I knew I desired simplicity, a return to old values and vintage ways. I wanted to reconnect with food the way my grandmother had long ago. I wanted to make beautiful objects with my hands.
I wanted to put together words to help people know Beauty and Peace and God in the midst of a broken world. I wanted flowers and good coffee and homemade bread. Ball jars symbolized country and red gingham took me back long ago to memories of my mother and aprons worn while cooking.
The pictures I chose for my scrapbook journals helped me understand what was attainable in my own life circumstances.
When we set out to purchase a home this last time, we knew we wanted to live in the country even if we could not handle a homestead as was once our goal. So we chose a small-ish home at the edge of a forest with a few neighbors but plenty of space for a garden… and across the gravel road is a farm with a red barn which I can enjoy looking at while sitting on my front porch.
We built a small raised bed garden for growing organic vegetables and try to add to it each year. I only grow various herbs, lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, and green beans. But it is far better than doing nothing while wishing for a real farm.
I have ground wheat for bread since the mid-90s for health reasons. However, now that there is only two of us at home, I start it on the dough cycle of my bread machine and finish it in the oven. When one admires the lovely loaf of bread on the kitchen counter, they need not tell anyone how easy it was to bake.
A treasure hunt for vintage objects at flea markets and thrift stores began long ago, the pictures in the scrapbook journal providing inspiration for the search.
For you see, the lesson learned through the years is that I do not have to have the complete lifestyle I desire from books read and articles perused. I can take from these longings bits and pieces to add to my life that are manageable and affordable in current circumstances.
Real life is made up of achieving a lot of little goals, one after another. Some people will reach for the stars and seem to touch them as they do amazing work for God. However, for others He dangled the stars within our vision to set us on a destination… and the true goal was on the journey itself.
Having it all and doing it all is not possible in this finite world in which we live, made up of living twenty-four hours, seven days, fifty-two weeks at a time. If we choose to be happy only when we have achieved the goals we desire, we will lose the breathtaking beauty of life’s journey on the way… and that is most often where our true treasure is found.
Lessons learned because I love to look at pretty pictures.