Friday, February 9, 2018

Working with purpose and a grateful heart...

One of our neighbours came for a visit recently to 'talk school' with Mr E (they're both teachers, but at different schools) and during the course of the conversation he said something that caught me off guard.

In a world where all I hear is how much more people want to be paid, how much money someone wants to win, have, spend, inherit (you name it), our neighbour spoke of gratitude for his income, and not just gratitude, but contentment and a desire to be a good teacher and worthy of his wage.

Seriously, I don't think I heard anything else that night, our neighbour's words just replayed over and over in my mind.

He valued his work, valued the contribution he makes to the school and his students, and desired to do a job worthy of his skills and remuneration. 

That attitude just isn't heard in my world any more, not by folk who work outside the home, folk who bring in a working wage. Gratitude for having a job is one thing, but contentment with the fruit of your labour (your income)? 

The voice of the world today tells us to climb higher, go further, earn more, buy what makes your heart happy. The striving in those messages is exhausting, and with little encouragement to be content the consumer mindset too often takes over. 

I think God is teaching me something about this, or perhaps fine tuning my understanding so I can apply it to our life here at home, because He's used a few sources recently to direct my thoughts in the direction of gratitude and contentment.

First there was our neighbour, then I found this framed print at the op shop with a message I couldn't miss...

Then there was Annabel's recent 'World Within Our Walls' blog post followed by the February chapter of Rhonda's book and her accompanying blog post this week.

I should clarify that I'm a fairly contented person, and I'm not speaking out of turn to say my husband is not - he'd happily tell you that himself. His lack of contentment comes from wanting the best for me, bless him, but he's never truly accepted that I already have the best. 

But my being fairly contented is not my being truly contented. I have bought into the culture of wanting more many times over the years and wasted our hard earned money on countless things I did not need or wear or use. That 'poverty' mentality of my upbringing is partially to blame for those spending sprees and it took me a LONG time to figure out that because something is cheap or on sale is no reason to buy it. It took decades to acknowledge that I had enough and could walk past a sale item without a second glance. 

Not to say I don't have lapses, because I do, but mostly I've conquered the need to spend.

What I do now is write down what IS needed and before buying new I check the local op-shops and  roam the Saturday morning garage sales once or twice a month with Mr E. Most times I find what I'm after, but if not I shop for quality at a reasonable price. 
And I give thanks. Always give thanks. 

Something else God has been putting before me lately is the need to attend to my home each day.
My morning always begins the same with Bible/coffee/breakfast, then I do necessary housework before getting on with Elefantz business or sewing. 

But as I walked through our home last week I noticed things which I'd previously missed - like fingerprints all over the sliding glass doors and the window above the servery. We've been in this house 4 1/2 months now and you know, I've not once cleaned them. 

This is just one example of a few things which have been ignored, but the point God is making with me is that my first 'work' is to attend to my home and care for it with love and gratitude. As much as I embrace a gentle domestic life there are aspects of it which are not lining up with what I believe about it...gasp.

So getting back to our neighbour and his appreciation for work and wage, Mr E and I subsequently discussed the ways of old. God's ways.
Six days shall we labour and on the seventh day we rest. 

It seems most of us these days want to work less for more.

When I was growing up my Pop worked to provide a roof over our head, to buy ingredients for simple home-cooked meals, to provide clothing when it was necessary and to pay utiltities, bus fares and a small treat for Nana and myself.

When Nana and Pop needed a new table for the kitchen they saved for six months, just as they did for any big item. 

(On a side note - Pop's wage was hard-earned and he was it's master because it served him, but I think many people today are the servants and their money is the master.)

Nana worked hard in our little 3 room flat (apartment). Every day she'd sweep, mop, dust, wash, polish, cook and iron. When I woke in the morning she was already in her apron and breakfast was  prepared and waiting for us...her day had a rhythm of doing, a meandering from one task to the next, and her laughter was music to my ears. 

She was a good homemaker, and a proud one. Her home may have been very small and in the poor part of town, but it sparkled and I loved coming through the front door after school and being wrapped in her plump arms with a hug so tight and welcoming that I never doubted how much she cherished me.

It was only in my mid teens that I felt bad about being poor, and that message came loud and clear through my middle class school friends. Sigh.

I grew up, moved away and lived in slightly larger flats. Then marriage, babies, and bigger houses came to pass.
The more children the bigger the home, the harder it was to stay on top of things, but I kept trying, remembering Nana's example. 

But then came the 'business', success and busyness. Some of my natural desires for homemaking waned in the process. After all, something had to give because it wasn't possible to balance home, work, wiving and motherhood 'perfectly'.

I won't repeat stuff I've written about before, just to say God is gracious and allowed me to figure out over a period of a few years that I wasn't perfect, never could be this side of heaven, and that I needed to choose what was most important and let that be the main focus on my life.

I chose the gentle domestic life.
In my heart this truly is my most important calling, the role which brings the most satisfaction and pleasure to every day. 

And knowing this, choosing this, I still need to fine tune my day to day responsibilities so that I walk in the ways best suited to me and let the other things fall in place where they fit.

Gosh, did all of this makes sense?? 
Nana meandered from task to task and I meander from thought to thought. LOL!!
You're very sweet to read along. 

Two other things confirmed where my heart should be this week.

I've been making myself some new tea towels (kitchen towels) and pulled this fabric off the shelf to trim one of them -  "live simply" stared me in the face.

Then the title of this book I found at the op-shop when dropping off a bag of donations yesterday...

You understand why I believe God is catching my attention, right?
It's been everywhere!
So I'm paying attention, praying and responding.

I actually found two books at the op-shop which look great and at only $1 each I was happy to bring them home as I'm building up a Homemaker's Library for reference and learning this year, hopefully with ideas to share here on the blog. 
Over the weekend I'll take time to read through and begin taking notes.

The reason I'm making a new set of trimmed tea towels is that it's my habit each January to do so and this year I was late. 

The towels were purchased before Christmas and they are good sturdy ones which will last a while. I spent a few hours last night while Mr E was writing lesson plans sewing them up. One has a redwork design from last year featured on the trim and another has an appliqued tulip. The rest are simply trimmed with strips of fabric. There's still three towels to trim but I'll get to them over the weekend.
My kitchen drawers will then be re-organised and the old towels given to my husband for use as rags in the auto workshop at school. 

Would you like to use the tulip applique on your own tea towel?
It's free and HERE in my shop waiting for you.

If you need help trimming tea towels I have a tutorial here. 

As I said the other day, there are so many conversations in my mind to have with you about living a gentle domestic life, about embracing who YOU are and letting the essence of your unique self shine, about taking care of home and not neglecting ourselves either. 
In time, all in good time.

Right now I have to do some dinner prep and then sit down to write a few patterns before Mr E comes home. Balanced. 

May the Lord BLESS you so much this weekend!



april dawn said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. I believe God is using you to speak to me deeply. I read every single post. I'm working to be content in my home. I decided that this year everything I make will be made with what I already own, which is A LOT!!! I have bought bits of fabric here and there to fill in where needed but it's not much. I'm also donating at least half of my fabric and I've already had a woman offer to take it the quilting guild she belongs to.

I just wanted to thank you for letting God speak through you. I'm listening.

gracie said...

I so enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice. I love the tulip pattern.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this honest post. Something I too have been thinking about.

Jitka said...

Thank you for your blog, for your thoughts. Every visit to you makes me think about my life and be at least a little better person.

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
It s always a joy and inspiring to read your blog!
Thanks for staying true to your blog!


Cheryl B. said...

What a beautiful essay. I have only been a homemaker since 7/8/16 after working for 38 years while raising 3 girls. I love being home and am doing my best, but need to rely on the Lord more when I am feeling overwhelmed. Thank you!

Diana Stitching said...

Thank you Jenny. I needed this at this moment, and it's helped me a lot xx

LyndaTreen said...

Love all your ideas and love this blog post. My Dad used to always say he wanted just enough money to buy what was needed plus $1.00. I have always lived by that and have always had what I have needed. So has my family. I tried to teach my boys the same thing. But, of course, in this world today, that is a hard rule to live by. It just really shows us that the true riches are our family and homes. Thank you for living the Gentle Life!!

Anonymous said...

I believe if we could bring this gratitude for what we have and find a renewed sense of doing a job well done into our homes the world would change. Thank you for always taking time to bring sunshine into our days.

Little Penpen said...

What a truthful post. God is definitely talking to you throughout your days and I love that you share with us. I agree that He is using you to talk to us, too. I really like the little pic you found at the thrift store about needing just enough.

Gretchen Weaver said...

Thank you Jenny for the reminder to be contented with what I have. It's is so easy to be discontented. Thank you also for the applique Tulip pattern.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yay, I can comment again! =) I read every single word, and every one spoke to my hart. I'm not much for housekeeping, probably never will be, but I've been cleaning and sorting and straightening things that were way out of hand. A lot still to go, but I've chosen to do about an hour a day on this task. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you stand back from a mess that is no longer a mess! I learned that from you, though my aunt tried desperately to teach me to be a good housekeeper. I think she emphasized the cleaning work too much, and you emphasize the joy of it, and that's made all the difference. Thank you so much for the positive influence you are in my life, and in the world. I love the quote you started with, it's always been one of my favorites!

Farm Quilter said...

Well, "enough" is definitely being pushed into my world this year too!! I have enough stuff (to the point where it is starting to own me instead of me owning it), enough financial security, it is time to figure out what I don't have enough of and make sure I have enough! Time with the Lord, time with my dad, children, grandchildren, friends...finding and maintaining that perfect balance your nana had!

allthingzsewn said...

You always bring me peace Jenny, and give good direction. Little blessings can go a long way.

Nancy said...

Again such a beautiful, inspiring post. Thank you for bringing such insight and joy to us all! Reading these words makes my heart happy and grateful.....

mOm (Peggy) said...

Bless you Jenny for sharing with us! Beautiful!!

Julie said...

Thanks for this post dear Jenny - your timing was perfect! I love your op shop picture & your new-to-you books. Every time you make new teatowels for your kitchen, I am always inspired to make some for myself. Briscoes here in New Zealand have 60% off all kitchen accesssories this weekend so I may treat myself to some new ones to decorate as you have. Happy Weekend to you my friend Xxx

Createology said...

Jenny Dear your wise words are simply what I need to read and put into action for my home and husband. I become overwhelmed with all that constantly needs to be done and therefore I often accomplish nothing at all. With listing our home once again for the third time, I am busy sorting and decluttering each and every room and now cupboards and drawers. I have waaaay toooo much stuff! Onward I work towards the Gentle Domestic and Simpler Way of Living. My time for creativity and stitching will come later...Blessings Dear xo

Ondrea said...

I smiled when I read how you kept receiving messages as this happens to me a lot from my angels. It brings a sense of contentment knowing that we are being listened to. As for realising that you missed a couple of household chores , don't be hard on yourself. You are an amazing domestic goddess and I am sure a couple of overlooked things can wait. If I worried about all the things that need doing around here I would be a wreck lol. Having said that, I spent the morning cleaning the shower, washing the kitchen floor , mopping the floors etc and I have just baked your rock cakes.I feel surprisingly happy about achieving that for the day. Now for some stitching.

Helen L said...

I read your whole post, and feel we do need to want what we have, but so hard with so many people sending advertisements, wanting us to buy their products!! :-) The first quote caught my attention, as it was said by the president of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) 20 or 30 years ago. It is often quoted to us, as we "Mormons" feel our families are the most important things in our lives, that these family relationships will continue into eternity if we try to live up to Christ's admonition to us to do what is right and try and follow him. So happy to see you liking that quote enough to use it!! Have a wonderful weekend!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

Winifred said...

Some of the things you said about your early life reminds me of mine. Growing up in the late forties & fifties in quite a poor household my Mam had to be so careful with money.
She had very little money to spare so she knitted & sewed our clothes. Both she & my Nana taught us to sew & knit from a very early age and I have to say I am still careful with money I still mend when many people throw things away.
It was lovely that your neighbours appreciate your husband's dedication to his vocation. For so may people work is not a vocation just a way to earn cash. As a careers adviser I always asked young people why they wanted to do a particular job & so many said for the money. I was probably wasting mine & their time asking them to consider whether they wanted to be happy in their work as money doesn't always satisfy you.
I chose my career for the job satisfaction I got from it certainly not for the money! However for me it was a career I took up later in life, when I had more sense!

Allie-oops Designs said...

Every time you write about your Nana it brings memories of my own grandma. The old ways are the best ways - well, except for dishwashers and such. I do like those. But still - being worthy of your wage? Being frugal, taking delight in small tasks, yes they're the best ways.
Your towels are beautiful, and I love the tulip, thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Jenny, Thankyou for this thought prvoking and inspiring post.I have been working on contentment for some time now and get a little frusterated at myself when I get caught up in the world's messages. My family and I recently moved and we needed to find a new Doctor. We were blessed to find a lovely, kind one, who when my husband asked if he had children answered, that no he does not as he has dedicated his life to his craft and patients. We were really surprised as we havent heard anyone - like your neighbor express this before. Thankyou again, Clare

Mary in Peoria Handmade said...

Now that I am retired and struggling along with day to day worries-I needed this inspiring post! The Harold Lee poster and framed print are perfect reminders. Thanks so much for sharing. mary in Az.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your blog today and to thank you for everything you do for us. Love your bee hive tea towel. Thanks again for everything.

Carol O

C Reeder PhxAz said...

You have summed it up well. Nothing like 13 months of unemployment with zero income (I did not qualify for unemployment assistance) to truly open your eyes as to what is needed. God provided this time in my life and hubbys life to adjust our sails. When we had our attitudes in line with Gods word, the job appeared overnight and it’s just enough to cover what we truly need. Sow down, breathe, re-assess. It’s all good. Thank you for this post. Perfect timing once again a god thing.

Tammy said...

I also grew up in a dirt poor home. We grew our own food and harvested and sold excess at the a farmers market. My mother worked in sewing (textile) factory by day. My mother made the majority of our own clothes as she had grown up in an even poorer home. Everything was very simple in our home. I grew up helping older ladies do their chores , learning to garden, cook and can (or preserve)or freeze our harvest. Learning to sew as a child. I have had good times and bad times poor times and what some might have even called rich times. When it comes down to it I yearn for the simple life. I thrive in that environment. My life is a balancing act. I depend on God so much. I could not do it with out him. He has sent me so much peace and happiness as I struggle with my cancer and trying to balance my life. Which is usually a balancing act. Trying to care for so many and help so many out. I take from myself and give to others. Have all ways done so. It really bothers me that I can no longer give and do as much as I used to be able to. I pray to God to be able to continue helping others. He gives me so much strength. And Jenny I read your posts as often as I can. I depend on you and your blog posts Jenny. You are a breath of fresh air. You make me want to be a better person. You make me want to be closer to God. Thank you for your wonderful posts .