Last year many of you stitched along each month to the gently domestic melody of my BOM.
Every one of the 12 designs shared throughout 2016 had a special meaning behind it, something that mattered to me, and mattered especially to my homemaker heart.
But it was the May design, this one block alone, which held all the heartfelt threads of each individual story the other eleven blocks had told.
Housework is the lot in life of most women, whether they are stay-at-home mums, full time homemakers, retired, temporarily unemployed or work outside the home. It's an inescapable occupation which never takes a holiday and does not receive a wage at the end of the week.
For some women there may barely be an acknowledgment from those within the family walls that this vocation has merit and requires great skills of organisation, scheduling, budgeting, cooking, home management, counselling...I could go on, but where would the list end?
And I wonder, is that why so many of us have struggled with viewing our domestic life as joyful, purposeful, enriching, honorable or satisfying?
My daughter Blossom and I chatted about this recently, about how difficult it can be when the husband comes home with a paycheck, evidence that he is the provider, and yet no 'tangible pat on the back' is given to the wife (who also provides) acknowledging that she too has laboured long hours - and often times much longer hours.
I'm not writing this to cast negativity on the traditional roles with the home, but rather to highlight the feelings a homemaker could foster in her heart when she thinks of her role at home as 'less than' her husband's, or less than those she perceives to have an easier lot in life.
A big turning point for me a few years back was understanding that the importance of my homemaker position within the family, was not, and was never meant to be, in competition with my husband.
Standing back and acknowledging we each had important roles to fulfil in our family, our marriage and our home, helped me grasp what had long eluded me. My beloved husband could not do what I was doing - and more important to me personally, I did not want to do what he did.
I did not want the responsibility of having to financially carry us until retirement age or beyond.
I did not want to work outside the home and march to the beat of another's drum.
I did not want to live with the burden of daily leaving home for employment in a place where I was not happy, not treated respectfully, yet could not leave because we needed the income to live.
Now, understand that I am a born homemaker, it's something I love to do! Making a home for my loved ones and those who cross our threshold brings me such gladness of heart and always has...but that joy occasionally evaporated, and usually when I allowed myself to listen to those who proposed that the domestic life was worthless, a drudgery, of no personal gain and obsolete. I would doubt my role at home, and I would let small green threads of envy appear in my character.
There were seasons when I simply 'wanted it all'.
Over time and by the grace of God I made a habit of snipping those small green threads of envy and disposing of them as they appeared, and it began when I noticed there was something missing from my life.
You see I'd spent time chasing a career near the end of our homeschooling journey and it 'almost' took over. Busyness and the business was fun at first, for years actually. My husband encouraged what I did, yet he could see what I could not - that his role as provider was primary, and it was not going to change. My wearing of two hats (homemaker and businesswoman), both of which I wanted to wear with excellence, slowly began to drain my 'joy' cup until the mix of responsibilities I faced each day overwhelmed and did not bless.
When the children all left home and we became an empty-nest couple, a time of personal evaluation settled upon my heart. I assessed what was missing, what I longed for, what I needed to fill once again my JOY cup.
The answer was a simple one.
Homemaking, the gentle and ordinary domestic vocation of a homemaker.
If something had to go, it needed to be my pride and some aspects of my business.
I knew that my homemaker heart soared with delight when I (for example) baked, ironed, tidied and re-arranged rooms seasonally, that I felt a sense of satisfaction, nourishment and accomplishment in my home which I rarely felt as a designer.
Filling my cup with JOY was not hard to do, it just required me to step back and really assess who I am and what brings me the greatest pleasure in day to day life.
For me this so obviously was the ordinary, gentle domestic life. In fact, it is the water which quenches my thirsty heart and keeps filling my cup of joy.
What I've just shared with you is my story, my pilgrimage to find something that went missing, a sense of purpose and personal nourishment which I'd once had but began to lose.
Once found again I do not plan on letting it go, but every one's story and journey of life is different.
We're made unique by the hand of God, no two of us the same in thought or purpose.
Perhaps your JOY cup is running low, maybe empty and in need of a refill?
What have you lost along the way which caused this joy dehydration?
Take some time to stand back and look over your life for clues, and don't disregard the ordinary things in life.
Sure, we all have stars we want to reach for and there's nothing wrong with that, but that deep abiding sense of goodness, joy and purpose is usually found in the everyday, in the wonderful ordinary moments of life.
My ordinary is homemaking, an art form and vocation which brings me great delight each and every day. Home is my canvas, love is my brush.
Designing was and is a bonus, but it's not the big thing I once imagined it to be.
Over the Christmas break my "Joy in the Ordinary" block became a cushion for our bed.
Over the next year it will be a morning reminder as I smooth sheets, spread the quilt and fluff pillows, that the joy I'm seeking as a homemaker can be simply appreciating the every-day ordinary for the gift it truly is.
I've listed the pattern for "Joy in the Ordinary" as free through the month of January - just in case you need to stitch it.
Our little Cully May is five months old today, wearing ponytails, sitting up by herself, and beginning to teeth.
Nothing ordinary about our young granddaughter but my, oh my, there is abundant joy!
May your day be blessed.