Monday, December 20, 2021

Last post until New Year...

What a year it has been. And how quickly it flew past. 

It would be easy to expand on the continuing impact of Covid in our countries and inquire how you managed, but I'd rather ask you this...

How did you grow as a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a friend and a neighbour, through these past twelve months?

What did you learn through 2021 that you did not know before? What improvements did you make in your health, home routines, relationships and habits? Did you deepen your walk with Christ?

These are questions I'm currently pondering and reflecting on, because I know I've grown in many ways from the woman I was a year ago, and mostly for the better. 

I mean, honestly, I still have a long way to go in character growth and habits, in becoming a wiser homemaker, a better friend, and a few more aspects of life - but there've been some wonderful character and skillset improvements made in 2021 that will keep me in good stead moving forward, and it's important to celebrate those achievements because they inspire me to keep growing, learning and changing as I approach the next season of life.

I'm inspired to be refined even more through the coming year so that my life will increasingly reflect the character God desires in me and how I conduct myself through the various aspects of my day to day life and relationships.

(adding the borders to my "Home Sweet Home" stitchery)

Throughout 2015 my blog theme was "A Year of Gentle Domesticity". It resonated with tens of thousands of readers and over time I came to realise that it had become for me a kind of banner over my heart, a banner which has changed now to "Living a Life of Gentle Domesticity".

More and more I'm drawn to homemaking, learning the old ways, appreciating simplicity, fighting the urge to consume more than I need, and taking unhurried time to make decisions about the things which affect my life. 

("Home Sweet Home" completed and hanging in the kitchen)

But there's one attitude which needs adjustment, and after chatting with others recently, it may be something you've struggled with too.


In a world where it can be increasingly hard to look at what is right before us today and be content -

we are bombarded with advertisements for this, that and the other, which we apparently cannot be happy or complete without owning; 

we see and hear so many things which make us feel less than; 

the commitments we have taken on weigh heavy on our time, patience, finances and energy;

we long to be like 'her' and have our homes look like the photos she shares on social media;

we read of the endless accomplishments of certain home bloggers and feel like we just haven't stepped up enough;

we look and read and hear and perhaps weep that we can't get our lives together the way 'they' have...

Now add your own thoughts because my list could just keep growing.

(removing sunflower seeds to dry and store for next season)

I said in my last post that there was a subject which I wanted to write about, and CONTENTMENT is that topic. It's something which has been on my mind and in my heart for at least six months, and was birthed after a conversation at my home with Rosie. 
Lamenting (hey, let's be honest here - I was complaining) the boring brown of my kitchen, the still bare concrete floor in our bedroom, the dismal colour scheme of the walls and doors, lack of storage space...I could go on but I won't. You get the point. Mostly that day I was whining about the kitchen, for it felt like a heavy burden which could never be lifted unless we ripped the whole thing out and (expensively) made it over to my 'dream' ideal. 

Rosie looked with fresh eyes, common sense, and kindness. I was glad of the kindness, so like her, even when giving me a gentle prod to be appreciative of the fact this kitchen was not very old and still had a lot of useful years in it. When we bought this home three years ago, the kitchen had only been installed two years prior to that, so yes, it's relatively new. The previous owners liked brown, beige and very plain decor, colours I would never choose.

(a new planner for 2022)

We don't have the finances to pull out a very well put together kitchen just because of the colour, but my own heart could not see past the brown, as hard as I tried.
Having a good friend who speaks the truth in kindness is a gift and after she pointed out all the benefits of my kitchen a new appreciation began to grow within me. And that led me, in the ensuing months, to contemplate in just how many areas of life I felt a measure of discontent.

(reading list for the next couple of months - most already started)

So, back to the beginning of this post and my desire to grow and hone my character in the year ahead. I've chosen a new theme for the blog in 2022, one which I am aware will be challenging, but one which is needful because without it, life might occasionally feel a bit disappointing.

I hope you'll join me in the journey towards a contented life. I plan to have one Year of Contentment post each week, and scatterings of other posts around it. 

As a Christian, I am content in my choice of faith, and my decision to follow Jesus day by day. However that's a different kind of contentment, that's contentment in having made a choice and following through with no regrets (like my marriage, 30 years on December 28th).

Next year's desire to grow in contentment will be focused on all the aspects of life where I find it difficult to live with a genuine and lasting attitude of being content. 

We have very low-key and simple Christmas Day celebrations each year because for us every day is the day to glorify God and give thanks for the gift of Jesus...just as every day is the right day to consider the reason He came to us and what it cost Him. 
Blossom, Ross and the children will be here, and we've all decided a cold spread for lunch, followed by frolicking in the pool, plus some Trivial Pursuit with coffee later in the afternoon, will be the perfect day for us.

Until sometime around New Year, I shall sign off now and wish you all a very blessed, holy and joy-filled Christmas. Thanks for being here this year, you always bless me, so I pray we get to know each other even better in 2022...



LadyGrey said...

Dear Jenny, thank you for your post.
I do enjoy reading your thoughts on domestic life and our relationship with Jesus.
I to struggle with contentment and will look forward to your posts on the subject. Praying that you and your family have a blessed Christmas. :)

Lorrie said...

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your lovely posts throughout the year. I don't comment often, but I almost always read. I am always encouraged when I read Paul's words in Philippians 4 that he learned to be content. It's a process and a journey towards something attainable and learnable. I am so thankful that the Lord teaches me contentment when I am willing to learn, and that He helps me along the way.
Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.

Lin said...

Lovely post Jennifer and I look forward to following along with your year of contentment. Struggling with the difference between contentment and complacency at the moment though - having been 'content' with the kitchen in this house that was put in when the house was built around 45 years ago, now that I am emptying out the cupboards I can see how ghastly and difficult to keep clean that they really are! Should have been changed years ago! Have a lovely, simple Christmas. We have had 10 days of frosty mornings and beautiful clear blue skies all day which I had hoped would continue until Christmas so that I could at least say I had sat outside on our last Christmas Day here but it looks like it is not to be. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
A year of contentment :) Great choice !
Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas !
hugs, take care, and see you in 2022 !

Magda said...

Thank you for the lovely post. I am looking forward to your musings and teachings on contentment something that is a struggle for me too. I have a similar kitchen and like you I dislike the brown however without rebuilding the whole kitchen as it is still in good knick like yours I am going to pain the doors/drawers next year. There is a product you can get which can be tinted to any colour you want that you can use. I will save up for a few months and then get started. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
In Christ, Magda

Donna P. said...

Oh Jenny - thank you for this post. I too have been struggling with contentment ( and I see many of us have). I won't go into details but suffice to say I need help in this area also. You always have such wise words and I am looking forward to reading your thoughts next year.
May you ad your family be blessed this Christmas and always.

crafty_cristy said...

I rarely post, but today I wanted to post in relation not to the theme of contentment, but in relation to the questions you asked at the first of this post.

I have had a really hard year, and I have struggled with resenting why I had to go through so much at the hands of fri-enemies. But if I change the questions to the ones you ask, a different picture emerges. Thank you for helping me change perspective.

Robin in New Jersey said...

Thank you for writing this post. I am excited to follow along with you here and see what the Lord has planned for us in 2022.

Merry Christmas, Jennifer! You are a blessing!

Farm Quilter said...

Have a blessed Christmas with Blossom and her family - sounds perfect! Snow is expected at my location, so that will be lovely to watch from within a warm house! It does make travel difficult, so I won't be doing any of that! Another year, where have they gone? Contentment...I'm looking forward to walking that road with you. Definitely a state of being to strive for and live in! May God richly bless you and yours in the coming year! At the moment, I'll be content when the house warms up - it is currently 21 (F) foggy degrees outside, so it is taking a bit for the house to get warm (I would have made a lousy pioneer!)!

Hardin County Keepsakes said...

I have followed you through this past year and have found inspiration. Thank you.
Your new word ,contentment, is a good one for me as I am alone now at 75, lost my Tom in 2016.
My word for the past year was patience.
You write about your kitchen. I have lived in this home for since 1970. Tom and I redid this 112 year old house through all those years. He told me he would make it the home of my dreams and he did just that.
The last of 3 kitchen remodels was in 2007. Basic colors including brown are my go to through out.I did finally do a treatment, to lighten, my oak cupboards and love them still.
Then I add color with all things I love.
I am very content in my home. With all my things.
Making dolls. Sewing and creating.
My love of plants and of course my girls(dogs).
All this is and has been a blessing for all these years.
Happy Christmas to you.
Judith Jaques Iowa USA.

Dots said...

Merry Christmas, Jennifer. May the coming New Year be so much more than you ever dreamed of. God bless you, and your family with good health, and every good and perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights!
A very happy New Year 2022.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the warmth you give us all year. I think a year of contentment is a lovely thought. If I remember to feel gratitude for all that I've already been given, contentment follows. Who knows how much debt those with the "perfect" lives hold in order to achieve them? I hope that your Christmas celebration with family is lovely, I know we are looking forward to seeing our grown children after last years empty house. A very merry Christmas to you and yours Jennifer! Love, Donna

Susan said...

Merry Christmas, Jennifer. I pray for your heart and eyes to be open to all the opportunities for contentment that surround you. I am a content person, most of the time. I don't need more or better or different or newer. Right now, the area that is causing me problems is this disease. I have a hard time waiting on the Lord with that, and I'm praying and working on it. Your prayers mean so much to me, too. You have done so many things to make a beautiful home for your DH, and I do hope I can find more ways to do that for my boys in the coming year. It will require a major clean out and overhaul with limited energy, but I hope anyway.

Winifred said...

I always think your whole house looks lovely, it's so light and bright. In your photos the kitchen looks very pale and more beige than brown. Mine is mahogany which isn't fashionable and it's over 25 years old but I really like it and it's in good condition so no point in getting another, too wasteful. My daughter keeps suggesting we have it painted a light grey which lots of people do nowadays. There are lots of videos on Youtube about how to do this so if you really want a change of colour you could try that.

Like Susan I'm quite content with things, probably too content when I should be decorating or improving the garden. I too am praying that this virus will just go away.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Christmas Jennifer and God willing a healthy year in 2022 which is full of contentment. x

Ondrea said...

Contentment is the key to being happy. Your Christmas will be lovely. Relax, breathe, and enjoy your family.

Deborah said...

Merry Christmas. In many ways it has been a difficult year for us but I was blessed to me able to retire this year and so I am home more which I love. I am endeavouring to be grateful for enough and to replace fear with faith.

Lee said...

Lovely post as always. Wishing you and your family a blessed and Merry Christmas and New Year!

terricheney said...

Honestly, I've been struggling with this myself. Life is not how I expected it to be at this time. All my plans that were meant to fall into place this year did NOT. I'm not doing anything even vaguely resembling what I wanted this year to be. But I am determined to find contentment in this place. I'm with you for this journey!

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny just popping In To wish you and your beautiful family a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.
See you soon sending lots of love xx

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your message of contentment. I look forward to reading your posts and walking through 2022 with you and your readers. Grief has caused me to forget many things in life including contentment. I cried while reading your thoughful post today.Thank you for your honest and kind posts and the pieces of yourself you share with us.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.

cheesesmouse said...

Dear Jennifer, thank you again for this post. Did you ever think about painting your kitchen cabinets? In my kitchen I even painted the tiles. Have a very blessed time. Heike from Germany

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer what a lovely and thought provoking post today. I used to never be content nor happy as a wife and mother. But when I found out I had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to my bones I started praying to God and repenting of my sins and trying to live a much simpler life. I quit wanting things I didn't have . And quit feeling like poor me. I looked around and saw how truly Blessed I was and from that day fourth I have grown in my faith and I am truly happy with my life. I know God has a purpose and a plan for me as here I am5 years later still alive and still helping others as much as I can and it brings me so very much happiness. Thank you for being a part of my journey Dear friend. The Pandemic has brought all of our family closer together and their for each other. We focus on the big things and ignore the little things as best we can. Wishing you and your family a Happy Christmas season. Filled with Christ and looking forward to Contentment in the new year with you and the other wonderful followers you have here.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny,
I have enjoyed your comments and walk with God for many years.
This past year I became a hospice nurse. I have learned what contentment is, patience, and have walked many roads with my patients to God's forever home for us. The blessings I have received from them so far outweigh what I was able to provide. I have witnessed unending love for our Lord, fear and finally acceptance of the journey home and what awaits us. Death is not the end, but our beginning of life eternal and the life we have here on earth is the journey we must travel to get there. Trust in his love, and knowing he holds us frequently along our path keeps us forever in his loving grace. Often i pray with my patients. I don't rehearse of have a special prayer, each is provided by the Lord and the words just flow from my lips for each individual as to what they need. it is beautiful how he provides the comfort that is needed.
As the new year approaches, I ask him to continue putting me where he needs me most so i may continue to provide the comfort people need for their journey home.
Thank you for continuing to be an encouragement in my life, the love you give each day. Have a blessed and joyful new year.
Faith Ft. worth, TX USA

Peg said...

Thx for your post and happy upcoming anniversary!

Judy1522 said...

I love to read your posts as they are always interesting and thoughtful. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Angie in SoCal said...

Contentment - that is a good and powerful choice for the coming year, Jennifer. I've found I'm more content than I thought - the pandemic has taught me that home is a wonderful place to be. But as with all things, I have more to learn as the Lord leads me closer to Him. Your Christmas celebration sounds perfect. I wish you a Merry Christmas and God's blessing in the coming New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hola Jennifer, leo tus publicaciones desde hace tiempo y siempre siento tranquilidad, tus palabras siempre ayudan.Esperaba el 2021 ,desde hacía tiempo, con muchos nuevos planes; es el año en el que me he jubilado y, por lo tanto, tengo mucho más tiempo para dedicar a mi casa y mi família, pero... perdí a mi marido en junio del 2020 y nuestros planes dejaron de existir; la pena, la tristeza, la soledad que siento no me dejan disfrutarlo.
Estos últimos días del año tengo decidido dedicarme a planificar cómo cambiar. Espero ser capaz de conseguirlo. Esto sería mi gran satisfacción.
Felices fiestas para toda la família.

Unknown said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you be blessed in the New Year!

Miriam said...

Thank you for your posts, your pictures, your handmade embroidered and for everything you share here.
Big, big hugs and cuddles to the lovely babies and a lot of cuddles for them. My best wishes of joy and peace.
Merry Christmas,

Palkó said...

Dear Jennifer,
I wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Palkó from Hungary

Anonymous said...

We have a home with poor insulation (uninsulated walls), creating constant struggles with different kinds of mould. This messes up the paintwork each time. Various items are not fixed by the landlord and many of the carpets are at least 20 yrs old and not in great condition. Our sofas are broken and the beds are near breaking too. Fridge is rusty and the whole sink unit mouldy. I don't invite anyone around because of how bad it is. Can't afford anything better. Sometimes it makes me cry that my children have to grow up in such a place and I can only trust that God will bring something beautiful out of our situation. These are by no means the least of our challenges. But we have a home and much to be thankful for in every way. There is always someone who is in a worse situation than us. The last 2 years have been challenging for most people, but at least it isn't war, that would be worse by far. The things that help me if I am struggling with contentment are: 1)Veggietales Madam Blueberry and the Stuffmart 2)Doing something, however small to help others who are in a worse situation 3) Keeping a grattitude journal and filling a whole page with thanksgiving on a regular basis. According to Paul, he learnt to be content. There are some situations in which that must be extremely challenging, but learning is something that is ongoing and involves practice, so I figure we can all learn it to. Every blessing sweet sister. I love seeing your pretty posts and reading your uplifting emails.

Cindy A. said...

Oh, my. Contentment is a great choice for your focus in 2022. It might be more challenging than we want it to be, but since all things are possible (Mark 10:27) we'll do a great job of learning to be content with you to guide us. One thing I've learned over my lifetime is that contentment rarely has anything to do with what we possess in the physical sense. Contentment is spiritual, comes from above, and is felt within our being. I've always thought that if Paul could be content sitting in a dark, dank cell after being beaten half to death then finding contentment should be much easier for us in this day and time.
Happy New Year!

Janice said...

Dear Jennifer, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all your family. Contentment is a wonderful aspiration for the coming year. Surprisingly, we have been rather content with our lot this last year, despite, or maybe because, of the restrictions placed on us. It made us realise we can be quite content at home. As of mid 2022 we will both be retired. This major change in our lives will be exciting, but also a huge adjustment. We will have to aim for contentment as our lives progress. I look forward to reading of your thoughts and actions.

Christine M said...

I hope you had a lovely Christmas Jennifer. I look forward to another year of friendship in 2022. xxx

Carla said...

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
mmm Contentment. This is weird but I think I'm 95% content with my life and things in it. Of course that 5% includes my weight and my bone on bone knee that needs to be replaced. I won't throw politics into the pot. I hope to fix the weight and the knee this year.