Posted by: Jim E | December 28, 2016

Little Things…Simple Things…And What We Can’t Change…

It all started, I guess, with something I read…from Our Daily Bread, a devotional reading I use most everyday…with the happenings around the world and even here in America…we worry about what can happen…Oh, I know the old bromide: “What you worry about hardly ever happens.”…but there is a palpable fear in many, concerning terrorists killing innocents…it’s easy to become overly concerned about the criminal acts over which we have no control…Psalm 37:1 says: “Do not fret because of those who are evil.”…Our Daily Bread

So that’s where it started…instead of worrying over such large and uncontrollable possible happenings…maybe we should lower our concerns to things we can control…that will bring us comfort, peace and calm…starting with Psalm 37:1, is a good start…

I heard a story on the radio the other morning about an 84 year old black lady in Mississippi, who had wanted to go to college when she was young but couldn’t afford it…she worked all her life cleaning houses, took in ironing and did other household duties…she lived very frugally and when she was 84…she gave tens of thousands of dollars to a college for a scholarship to be given to black students who would otherwise not be able to go to college…she was asked by a reporter why she had not spent some of that money on herself…her answer, “I did spend it on myself.”…it was a simple thing…a simple gift…couldn’t give to everyone, but someone every year would benefit…it brought her fulfillment, contentment…so I guess she did spend it on herself…

Yesterday, the idea of little things popped up again…I took my vehicle in for some service and was sitting in the waiting room…they just added a whole front to their dealership, so the area I was in is brand new…the waiting room is large, well-lit and has a few cubicles for people to use their laptops as they wait…as I sat in a chair looking in that direction…I noticed that someone had spilled coffee while they were working at the cubicle, the desk was cleaned off but I noticed it had run down the wall, and over the baseboard…it was an old spill, cleaned off the desk but whoever cleaned it up didn’t check further, to see if they got it all…I reported it to someone with the thought…small things make a business flourish…as it is with business, so it is with a life…small things make us flourish…simple things, things we can do something about…

Simple Things in LifeIts been on my desk for a few days, the topic of simple gifts, little things, and what we can’t change…I guess I have always been a simple man, not wanting too much…wanting to be like my Grandfather, who was a simple man, but a great man in my mind…and like him, not trying to be something I was not…taking care of my family, loving those around me…trying to take care of those things which I could do something about, at home, work and out and about…being a good man…and “…not fret because of those who are evil”, but take care of the simple things in life…the things I can do something about…instead of turning myself in knots about things I can’t control…

“Simple Gifts”, it is a Shaker hymn and dance…you may have heard the melody in “Lord of the Dance”, written relatively recently…but let’s stay with “Simple Gifts”, which was written by Shakers over a hundred years ago…let’s see if I can give you a taste…

No doubt this is purely American music, a hymn written by a religious group established here in America during the 1800’s…their group though certainly uncommon in some of its tennets, they where certainly part of American history…basically believing that living simply is living godly…I’m not so sure they didn’t have something there…rising during the 19th century at the time of the Great Awakening…when there was soul-searching in this county…we live in a time where a good soul-searching would do us some good…but it must start with simple things, simple gifts lived out by simple people who know who they are in God’s eyes and decide to live that out…like the woman in Mississippi did…she lived her whole life to give that simple gift…

Aaron Copland, a composer of what I call “American Music”…certainly different from European composers of past centuries…and though I love much of that music, I really love what Copland wrote…and one of the best and most well known is his “Appalachian Spring”…according to Copland himself, the music had nothing to do with Appalachia or Spring…it was just a name suggested, there is a little more to the story but let’s leave it there…regardless, he used the Shaker “Simple Gifts” in his “Appalachian Spring”…you will immediately hear the melody…I will add it here and you will enjoy it all…powerful and emotional…and I’m sure you will say, with me, the name “Appalachian Spring” fits his music…simple, powerful, emotional…just wonderful…we need, today, to find those things which lift us up and give us hope… 

This is the Christmas season…a simple story really, with such power, the power of the Almighty God, sending His Son to this earth as a babe…a Nativity scenesimple gift but a gift of hope for a people who are certainly needy…I am one of those needy who claimed that simple gift for my own…I have tried to pass on the gift to those around me…that Jesus came to save this sinful world…a simple thing, this simple message…a simple gift, to give hope in a time of things we can’t control…but we know with Him, in the end, things will “come ’round right”…

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Responses

  1. thanks Jim. Just love Simple Gifts and the whole idea of this post! Meaningful! Happy New Year and best to you and yours for the Christmas season!

    • Thanks Pete…We watched “Prancer” the other night…it’s a 1989 Christmas movie…I have never watched it before…Sam Elliot is a lead, and other good actors…a young girl and a reindeer…I have heard of it before but just never wanted to see it…but this Christmas we ordered it for Jeremy…he has about all the Christmas movies there are, so I added this one…so finally he was going to watch it, I said I would too…it is an unusual one, but full of good meaningful lessons…though a bit dark, at least as I watched it for the first time…lots of good stuff in it but the magic came in the last scene…but the more “real” stuff came during the first part of the movie…I will have to watch it again to really enjoy it…

      But all that to say, the music “Simple Gifts” or “Appalachian Spring”…was in the movie…another reason to see it again…I wanted to see how the music was used…but it made me think of Simple gifts, simple things…so decided to send it out on my blog…and that same day we watched the movie, well the next day, December 27th…I read two other things that referred to simple things…to just be real with people, or as one of the sources put it, when a friend visited someone in the hospital…”It was a simple testimony from an old friend living a simple life, reminding me again that simple isn’t naive or stupid; it’s direct and unpretentious.”

      Sometimes, it feels like God is speaking to me…Duh…when three or four things from different sources, “pile” one upon another, about the same theme, at about the same time, making the same point…Simple, Jim…Simple…Keep it simple stupid, “KISS”, as I used to call it…I saw that idea used by my Grandfather and Grandmother, my Mom…and when I was working, I used it most of the time, it was revolutionary to my staff…but so reaffirming…only got in trouble when I tried to make it complicated…most things are simple, we make them difficult…sorry so long…but good to get that down on paper, so to speak…

      Thanks for the comment…hope you had a great Christmas…and hope you have a wonderful New Year…Jim E

  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Jim! Your posts are as good as ever!

    • Thanks WS…comments always welcome…hope you had a great Christmas…and hope for a good New Year…we have been busy this year with changes in our son…he has has a series of strokes…so it has kept us busy with doctors, hospital and trying to help him deal with his new situation…but in all that, we have peace and joy with everyday…as he is dealing with it well…us?, us too…life is still precious and complete…comfort comes with everyday…

      I notice you have moved…but took your love of birds and nature with you…it is a wonderful gift that God has given all of us…we too, here in Little Rock, we have been here almost 10 years, coming from Minnesota…we find our feeders, which are Jeremy’s “thing”, are filled with the same sort of birds that we had in Minnesota…our dark-eyed juncos are here again…I always had to laugh, that they came down from Canada to winter in Minnesota…I thought, as they were out in our yard, -20 below zero, wind at 20 mph and snow…I thought, maybe they should have flew further South…they do of course, but up there, they stayed with us the whole winter…huddled in a Colorado Spruce, trying to keep warm…we had flocks of them…here in Little Rock, not so many, but our back yard is smaller…and still have 5 or 6 at a time…well, this is getting too long, I know…but so nice to hear from you…I will keep up on you a little better…got a new computer and not all my “favorites” came with me…thanks again…Jim E


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