Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rachael Jamieson Newton

Rachael Jamieson Newton

'Instead of deciding all the things that are right and wrong with the world and what everybody else should be doing, the Lord spoke to me about going deeper in the simple things.' - Rachael  

Meet Rachael - a valuable member of The Simply Living Challenge Facebook page community.

Welcome Rachael. It is just lovely to have you here. Let's get straight into it. How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Loyal, Open-minded, Funny, Bossy and Visionary 

Please introduce us to your family.

My husband is Ben - he is a wonderful and interesting man. We've been married for 12 years in September. We have two utterly fabulous children. William, who has just turned 6, is kind and clever and curious and soft-hearted. Scarlett is 3, and is a fascinating little person. Determined yet soft, savvy, hilarious and strong. I see both Ben and I in both of them. I'm also one of 5 daughters (the second eldest, like Elizabeth Bennett!) and I've married into a wonderful extended family.

What do you see as your priorities? How does that play out in your life?

I definitely feel grounded in my conviction that my life is a gift from God, and that His purposes should be mine. I've always felt tension by having both an incredible maternal desire and a sense of calling and ambition about my career (teaching, and educational leadership). I have no desire to combine these as a home-schooler, so God has very kindly given me great peace about the seasons in life! Right now, my focus is on raising our children. I don't want this time of having young children to be spent wishing I could be somewhere else. I want to see this "simply" - to be present, to deal with the things that come up today, to teach them as they ask specific questions, to use moments in time like tiny building blocks. Some part-time teaching (and an inspired list of ideas to do when I have my own class again someday) keep my priorities clear. Over the last few years God has really taught me that when I am faithful with what's in my hands, He provides great opportunities to serve Him. It's been an exciting, and simplifying mindset!

Would you call yourself a simple liver? How does your life reflect that?

I would call myself a "dabbler," someone still very much learning about Simple Living. The idea appeals very much to my husband, who is naturally frugal and not at all materialistic. It's harder for me. I have a strong conviction of stewardship over the environment as a Christian (it staggers me that for many Christians this seems like a foreign idea), and I am being challenged very much about the notion of things I "need". Ben and I are very mindful of the message that having loads of "stuff" sends to our children. We have a veggie garden, and we're looking for our next home with top priorities being room for vegies, an orchard and chooks (though I confess hens terrify me.) I've found myself making small changes and there's a new voice in the back of my head which says "Do you really need that?"

I have that same voice speaking to me Rachael. It is all too easy to get needs and wants confused. 

Who inspires you? Perhaps you could share with us who set you off on this path.

This path started spiritually for me. I have been dwelling very much on the notion that Christians spend a lot of wasted head space bothering ourselves with doctrine and theology I refer to as "God's Business". Instead of deciding all the things that are right and wrong with the world and what everybody else should be doing, the Lord spoke to me about going deeper in the simple things. At the moment I'm meditating on "Love Thy Neighbour". If I spend a lifetime getting that entrenched in my heart, I think I will be a "good and faithful servant". So that spiritual walk has of course affected the natural, and so I am challenged to see that outworked. 

This on-line community is inspiring (though family toilet towels will NEVER be a part of my life - we'll stick to recycled paper). I recently made a jewellery hangers from an array of sticks I found, instead of buying the pretty French-inspired manaquin I wanted. Ben is very proud of that, although worried he'll lose an eye on the way to the loo in the middle of the night. I've also started shopping at a farm shop in our area, with local fruits and vegetables. I've also ventured more into op shops, not writing them off as comical places to find costumes for 70's parties (I saw some great stuff last time). Small steps.....

That's wise Rachael. I have the feeling that if we start with small steps whatever we do is more likely to be sustainable. 
Would you say you have a tribe who support you in your choice of life style? Who are they?

My closest friends would definitely share in some of these ideals and support all I do. My church community may think I'm slightly mild or left-of-centre (most would support some version of prosperity doctrine), but I'm sure others would share some of these ideas. I've always wanted a patchwork experience of Christianity - a broad blanket which connects with all kinds of believers who live a life for Christ the best way they know how. My husband and I very deliberately want this for our children too. This online community is an important patch on that quilt.

Oh I like that!

August's challenge is speech/ words. Last week I touched on honesty. Could you comment on the saying ‘Honesty is the best policy’?

Surely the opposite of simple is complicated. Being honest usually simplifies things. We all know how we can end in a tangled and complicated mess when lies are told. Having said that, "Honesty is the best policy" doesn't mean saying whatever is in your head, true or not. Surely the best policy is to love your neighbour as yourself - I would want the truth told to me when it will help or enlighten or challenge me, and I would want people to quietly say nothing and love me anyway when their "honest" view would cause me hurt or harm.

Do you have some favourite books you could share with us? 

Favourite books of all-time are the Anne of Green Gables series. I have read the whole series every year since I was about 13. They have changed my life. I generally prefer fiction and some favourites are the Diana Gabaldon books, "The God of Small Things", anything by Jodi Picoult, "The Eagle and the Raven" and "The Long Ships" (thanks Dad for those) and a good splash of classics.  

What are you reading right now?

Anne of Avonlea (my run started late this year) and a fascinating novel called "Day for Night" by Frederick Reiken. I've also read "Jac of Hearts", a novel for young people that a teacher friend of mine wrote. I'm also stuck in 1 Corinthians 13 - going deep in the 'love' chapter.

What are you passionate about?

My family - I think of my children and my heart skips a beat. My friends. Traveling - I combined Italy and my best friend earlier this year and it was food for the soul (and belly). I am absolutely passionate about children - seeing them learn and develop a life-long love of learning, and find their own personal walk with God. All things education. Art. Living my life with an undoubted sense of purpose. Seeing others find this too.

What do you hope for? Dream of?

I hope that my children walk with God. I hope that the children I teach do this too. I hope that my mother finds peace in her life, and my sisters too. I dream of children growing up (especially mine) and telling me that I helped them find God and to walk a purposeful path in life. I hope that in all the busyness of life (which I like) I truly do learn to go deeper in the simple things, and live a life that gives rather than takes away from others. 

What can we learn from you? (or if you prefer – what have you learnt?)

Apart from some handy literacy tips? How to tackle long multiplication? As far as Simply Living goes, I am an absolute beginner. I guess across my lifetime though, I've learned through many (often difficult times) to be content. Surely that's at the heart of Simply Living. 

Yes Rachael, I think you have touched on something important there. 
What is one of your biggest simple living challenges?

Retrieving eggs from hens will be a biggy! Also changing entrenched ideas about "needs and wants". 

You are a valuable contributor on The Simply Living Challenge. What appeals to you about the page? How can we support you?

It is so encouraging to see and hear how people live. How people have taken on a sense of conviction, and are faithfully going about living out that conviction in their own day to day lives. I love the focus each month. In small ways, sometimes just in my spirit and my head, I am challenged and changing. Thank you for that. 

Anything else you want to share?

Just again - thank you. Oh, and tips on keeping chooks without having to go near them much? 

Okay Community - any ideas on the hen problem?

 Thanks Rachael for taking the time to do the interview and for sharing something about your version of simple living. Personally I am going to spend some time today thinking about what you had to say about 'needs'. - Asta x

As always comments are encouraged. I just love to see the conversation continue. 


  1. Hi Rachael, I think I went to uni with you...
    Thanks for sharing your story. I resonated with so much that you shared but especially the paragraph about your dreams. In fact I might have to quote you on my facebook page with that this week. :)

  2. There is a reason you are my bestest friend in the whole world and that I love you ridiculously - and this interview shows exactly why xxx

  3. What a wonderful interview! Rach, as always, you are so articulate,thoughtful and wise. I am a better person for having you in my life. I've already told you that, but wanted to put it here for posterity. By the way, totally with you on the hens thing. I eat eggs, but not if I know the hens who laid them. Yes,I know its ridiculous.

  4. You are the funniest woman I know Rach! Love this interview! You have inspired me more than you realise. Love you with my heart my friend! :)x

  5. What lovely comments Penny, Emma, Bloss and Jodi. I am sure Rachael is really encouraged by them. It is lovely to read the way she has impacted your lives for good. Thank you for taking the time to leave her messages. - Asta