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!