Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Joy in the ordinary...

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 a permanently free gift. Just use the link below:

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.


Deborah said...

I love being a homemaker but because of illness in our family I have had to be the one who goes to work outside the home. This has been very difficult as my favourite place is at home. God's ways are beyond me but I keep trusting.

Sherri said...

What could be more deeply satisfying then standing back and surveying a lovely, clean an tidy room? My husband retired last year and I am bringing home the bacon, but we build up our home together. He can clean, cook and bake bread as well as I can, and he is faster at it too. I am better at planning and organising though. We are both homebodies and homemakers, and of course I would love to spend more time at home marching to the beat of my own drum, but one has to cut ones coat according to ones cloth. Jenny may you always delight in the joys of being a homemaker every day. God's blessings to you.

Jacqueline said...

Wonderful, insiteful post.

TerriSue said...

Oh Jenny, Sometimes I think you are writing just for me. I have been having problems this last year envying Jim. Not that I want to go out and work outside the home. I have never wanted that and Jim has allowed me to stay home being a homemaker since 3 months after we were married. The problem I have had this last year was mainly his vacation times. He would be off from work and BE OFF FROM WORK. When does that happen for a homemaker when we have only gone on one vacation since 2003. He gets off and I continue doing what I do 365. When he is sick he gets to stay home and be sick. When I am sick I still have to do the laundry and cooking and taking care of the house. Sometimes I have just wanted to say I need a rest. Even after my surgery last year I was up and back at things in less than a month, as they were not getting done and no one else was going to do them. I don't see a solution but I do need to change my attitude. I must tell you though, I rejoice that you do get away from it. I am always so happy to see you say you are going off with Mr. E. Thank you for your post.

Libby said...

Wow! There it is in a nutshell, explained and understood. I have spent 30 years at home, being unhappy with my lot. I have never been a 'true' homemaker, always yearning for something else, what I have no idea. But what you said about being the 'financial earner' of the family, really struck home. Thank you for your insight x

Shortbread and Ginger said...

Beautiful post.

Guida said...

Wonderful post, thanks Jenny. Your beautiful little Cully May is growing so quickly, what a little treasure. Take care, Guida.

Meg said...

What a lovely stitching, Jenny, that says so much. I find a lot of joy in the ordinary. I love being in my home pottering around inside and out in the garden. When it's peaceful and quiet here, when it's tidy and clean, when everyone's got a packed lunch and the clothes are smelling of sunshine, when the dog's asleep at my feet...I feel much happiness. A lovely post, thankyou! Meg:)

Carol said...

That baby is SOOO cute!!

Winifred said...

Cully May is absolutely gorgeous and so advanced for her age. What a little treasure.

That was a lovely post Jenny and shows we are all so different. Like Libby I don't really enjoy housework. I suppose I used to get a lot of satisfaction from my career which I have now retired from. Like TerriSue I do everything in the house apart from some of the cooking and if I'm ill nothing gets done until I'm better. It's the way things are.

You get pleasure out of making the bed, for me it's just another chore even though it looks nice when I've done it. I think I need to make one of your beautiful cushions to remind me to take pleasure from it.

Thanks for your post it does help you reflect on things. It reminds me of the saying which I try to keep in mind:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

pat demharter said...

I am happy to know there are women who are just happy finding the magic in ordinary days. Really, the day to dayliving is what life is about. I too am a woman that enjoys the simple things in life. This is my lot in life, my fate. If we could only tune into what God has given us to work with, we would be content with our lives.

Maria said...

Cully May is just soooooooo cute....XX

newsurfiegirl said...

Thank you so much for the beautiful post and the beautiful pattern it is such a beautiful reminder for finding joy in the ordinary things something that is so easily forgotten in these busy days we live in.

quakerhillfarm said...

Beautifully written! As one who worked outside of the home but now AT home I love this! There is absolutely nothing more satisfying to my soul as keeping my home! Blessings to you and so glad I found your site!


Dear Jenny-- my word for his year is JOY--and I was trying to explain on my blog site how I wanted to be more joyful in the coming year by just seeing 'moments' here and there through the day with joy--and I knew there was another word that I needed to describe what I meant and I found it here--'Ordinary" that is it--finding joy in just the simple ordinary daily things that happen to us--taking a moment and just smiling for simple little things--
thanks for helping me find the right word--
Joy to you--di

sam said...

Thank you for this beautiful pattern and an equally as beautiful post. This year brings me to a time in my life where retooling is this year's journey. Thank you for giving me a start.

Mrs. A said...

Dear Jenny--thank you for this post! I'm in the ending years of the children at home--all are teenagers now. Each has autism spectrum disorder among other diagnosis, so it gets intense at times, and a wee stressful. I stay at home currently, as I'm needed here to cook, clean, make sure phone is answered (we also tend to needs of hubby's aging parents), and so on. I quilt and sew and so on and occasionally try to earn money, but have noticed my ventures into the business world fall flat each time. So, I use my skills for ministry. The days of doing the same tasks over and over, they can get tedious, and it seems there's always dust somewhere, a cobweb forgotten, a dirty dish living in the sink that creeps in when I'm not looking, or laundry that gave birth in the night and double the population. In a few years we will be empty nesters as well, and the days of doing the ordinary tasks will slow down--instead of 3 loads of dishes by hand, maybe 1, instead of 2-4 loads of laundry a day, maybe 1 every other day.

In the winter here (Kansas), it is so much easier to wrap up in a blanket and hibernate, but the baking and cooking and cleaning must go on. It is a peaceful thing to sit with the family at night, with them doing their own thing in the living room, and quilt and stitch. They are accustomed to it and find it unusual if there's not a needle/thread in hand. :) Those are memories I want them to have, of mom being there...

Anonymous said...

So many people, men and women, don't realize that each gender has a role, and both are needed in a family, even if the family is only two. =) David O. McKay said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home." He was talking about both parents! Thanks for this thoughtful post that gives ALL homemakers credit for contributing something absolutely vital to any home. Thanks for the pictures of Cully May, too. She is growing so fast! The pony tails are adorable.

Sharm said...

Oh my goodness, is she 5 months old already?? Wow how that time seems to have flown by! I'm sure hoping we can make the trip to Townsville this year so we can see our 3 grandchildren who live there - they are growing so quickly and it's been 2 years since we have been able to make the trip up there with all that drama that was going on down here! As for homemaking - well it's my joy and love and all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother - unfortunately I also have had to work outside the home for many years to help cover bills. I don't enjoy going to work, but it is what it is and I relish the days I have at home - currently I work 7 days/fortnight, with a 45 minute drive each way on work days which makes for an absence of 10-11 hrs on those days. I'm trusting that God will get this house here sold for us so we can move to Maryborough in Qld (you may have read my blog and know about this), in which case life will take on the more simpler life I long for. Thankyou for the free designs, they are a blessing. Sharm, xoxox

A Joyful Cottage said...

A well-written, thoughtful post, Jenny. I enjoyed every word. I'm a homemaker at heart who spent most of her adult life in a career outside the home. Some of those years I had no choice because of my husband's health, but I always longed to be home. Now that I'm retired I am right where I want to be, enjoying what I like doing the most. . .caring for our home. Thanks for a great post and the free block. Hugs, Nancy

Julie said...

Hello Jenny, your post was timely today & a good reminder to us all. Like you I very much enjoy my homemaker role but sometimes we need reminding of all that we do. Your cushion is beautiful - looks like some Tilda perhaps? Speaking of beautiful ... look at dear Cully May growing up so fast & bringing so much joy. Happy New Year my friend x x x heres to a creative year ahead x x

Mary Ann said...

Thank you for the many patterns you have gracefully shared. I am sorry I don't take the time to say that often enough. Your grand daughter is absolutely beautiful. I love the little pigtails. :)
You have succeeded very well creating a calm place to visit. I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for the time you put into it and for sharing some very meaningful insights.

Winifred said...

I keep coming back & looking at that cushion, t's gorgeous. I love it. Think it's because it's blue.

Which fabrics did you use for the cushion sections? If I can get good fabrics I'd love to make it even though I have mountains of lace wool to knit before I pop my clogs!

Wendyb said...

our hearts must be in Sync dear Jen! It's a long road we travel, but wow, is it insightful. xoxox :o)

lvkwilt said...

We have a saying here in the States "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" So true! We can teach our children to look for the good or to dwell on the negative. It truly is a tremendous responsibility "to train up a child in the way he should go." Such rewards but easy to get "burdened" with the daily work that seems unappreciated. Thank you for your gentle spirit and reminding us to cherish each moment we are given!

Createology said...

I have always worked along with being wife, mother and provider and therefore never enjoyed domestic "chores". Now that I am no longer working outside the home (read retired) I am trying to embrace my domestic role. I very much appreciate your sharing and views as they help me understand what I have been missing all these years. I adore your Simple Joys pillow. Thank you very much Jenny Dear...You are such a Wonderful inspiration and I wish for you a Wonderful 2017.

Águeda said...

Dear Jenny,
Your words come out of your heart and come right to my heart.
The thoughts "Why am I not satisfied as a housewife?" They are in every woman ever in their lives.
I found my personal response. That made me happy. But there are harder days than others: Days when I strive to be happy, I strive to be happy.
And then, I found your blog. Thanks to you, today, I am proud of my work as a housewife. A job with his good days, and his bad days. Same as all the works. The money that my husband brings is the most important: if there are no bricks, there is no house. But my job makes those bricks a strong wall. If there are no strong walls, there is no house either.
This I learned on your blog.
And always thanks to you for it.

Águeda said...

I almost forgot to write for Cully, which is the most beautiful and important in the world !!!! That's what happens when I look at my own navel !! What a shame!

Cully's pigtails are the sweetest thing !!! She is so pretty, and every day more. Of course your granddaughter has something special: It's YOUR granddaughter. And there is nothing that surpasses his smile =)

China Ali said...

My favorite prayer. I have been a homemaker fir 11+ years. The last two were the hardest years. I feel down my basement stairs and shattered my left leg. As I laid in a hisputal bed in our living room with a nurse, physical therapists and a central libe fighting off a serioys bo e infection I was okay at first and ficused on getting better. Little did I know a total of 5 surgeries, infection and the possobility of dying was real as I looked at my two children,husband I started to go into a dark place. I fought hard having to surrender the childrens care to dad, grand parents even a horrible camp during summer. Also, the house work and pet care. It was horrible. My son ignored me because it was too painful and my daughter tried to be stronge, but not one of us was happy. We list our home, DH list job and we had to file ch 7. Life was horrific and my beautiful hone was now a shell. Well, DH found a job, I started walking and getting better and we found an apartment where we could still kept our two dogs and the kids could remain in the same school. I got my son back to being my perfect, happy and very smart boy and my daughter didn't have to pretend. Niw I am still in pain and my injury still causing problems, but I can say I AM BACK. Maybe not 100%, but I can take care of my home fir mist part, my kids and try to move forward. I hope this year brings more good. I also suffered the lose of my older sister she was 50 and that is hard because she died March 2016, but I pray and talk to her. I ask her to help guide me and more. I never was so invested in prayer as I am these days. Jenny thanks for this post. Time to stand back and evaluate. I need some direction and this year I hope I continue to move forward. Homemaking was my choice to raise my kids, care for my home and all in between. Yes, I just wish my husband would see how hard it is and so repetative because even when he had to take over he never did what I did in the sense of caring for house, but ge did great with kuds, helped me with everything from sitting up to showers, and using rest room. I had no choice but to just let it all just happen, but I realized how much I actually did before I was hurt. Now I do the sane things but nit so easy any more, but I am trying. I wish it was noticed or appreciated, but I know they need me and I am happy at this moment I have survived, but I know its not over. I still may need an ankle replacement, but we'll see were God leads me.

China Ali said...

Sorry for typos. My cell is horrible for writing comments.

http://thankfullga447 said...

I love the phrase "born homemaker" I will sacrifice lots of things to be able to stay home. Waking up in the morning not having to be in traffic and enjoying my coffee/tea and reflecting on nature, words, beauty is such a blessing. Great topic.

Sew Useful Designs said...

Beautifully said, Jen, and I would say I totally 'hear' you - but in truth, I totally 'feel' what you're saying! There is such beauty and bliss in the ordinary! Enjoy your ordinary, sweetie! Much love! Little sis xoxoxoxo

Maria said...

Jenny - I originally read this a little while ago via my phone and meant to comment but got distracted with life...and instagram!! I just wanted to say amen, amen, amen to this post as being a homemaker is really what I love too and I believe that it is a gift from God - and one that the world would rather we think not so well of. It can be a real battle of the mind as we wrestle with the call to go out to paid employment. I too homeschooled and I think there is a real transition time for us when the homeschooling journey ends and we wonder 'what now Lord". I am still there wondering but trusting Him to guide and lead me accordingly to His perfect timing - and that requires time with Him; like your new year resolution says. Thank you Jenny for yet another lovely encouragement. Blessings in abundance through Christ our Lord. XX