Sunday, October 22, 2023

Counting the cost...

Dear friends, Thank you for the prayers many of you have offered on our family's behalf, prayers for employment for both my husband and our son in law Ross. I want to assure you that Blossom and I have complete trust in the Lord to provide what is needed at the right time. My husband knows this too, but being the head of the home and our main provider, there's more pressure on him (in his own mind) to gain work soon. Ross is not a Christian so he's feeling more pressure with each week that we keep praying, and as my beloved Nana would say all the time, "God willing it (whatever the need or plan was) will come to pass." 

Homemaking in my experience, is like the seasons, a rhythmic change of circumstances. We have the season of noisy growing children filling the rooms, and then the season of  quiet when they have left the nest. There are the seasons of plenty, times when we have comfortably enough, and the times when every penny counts. A season of excellent health may be followed by a serious illness, and vice versa. Our home garden might be abundant one year, and swallowed up by flood or drought the next, and of course there may be a season of being ably employed, followed by a season of no work at all. 

As a homemaker first and foremost, I find myself challenged in various ways when a certain season arrives or leaves. For example, I knew in advance that my husband would be unemployed by early October, so I did what I immediately thought should be done, and began a new Stitchery Club to at least help us pay the mortgage each week...but I was wrong to do that. 

Hubby used to work six days a week, and when he would have holidays I'd consciously pull back a bit with my regular chores so that we could spend more time together, especially in the garden as that's a pastime we really enjoy. But a week or two later he was back at work and after playing catch-up with deep cleaning for a few days, I'd settle back to the normal routines and rhythms of keeping home.

Having him home now for an unknown period of time, and adding a new Stitchery Club to my list of to-dos (working on the club requires hours every day) on top of my regular and important responsibilities around home, he has noticed that I am run off my feet trying to keep up, and this has put a real damper on our days. My beloved is the head of our home, and through God, he is our income provider. When we married the plan was always that I'd raise the children and keep house, and he would be the breadwinner. Admittedly, when the children were younger (as was I) and he was retraining at University, he was happy that I was able to earn a little extra by doing things like Avon, cleaning a large local church (hubby helped) or selling used rare books online which I'd found at op-shops - these all helped fund our homeschooling expenses over the years...but they never replaced his wage, nor became a necessity.  If it was getting too much I simply stopped with his blessing and gave my full attention to home and family. 

When the children were at the end of their homeschooling education, I had begun to design stitcheries and offered a free block of the month on my blog every year (still do). Soon various craft magazines were asking me to design for them on a monthly basis, and I did that for about five or six years before choosing to offer my patterns through my own site. It's been a wonderful journey doing this, and because of the income we were finally able to save enough for a deposit on a home of our own late in 2018. Buying our home was a long held dream and we give thanks daily to the Lord for making this possible. 

As I reflect on the changes having a home of our own made in our lives as we neared 60, we were simply not prepared for the energy it would take to turn a home in the tropics which was surrounded by concrete, into a green, shady, edible garden. On top of that were the internal changes, a flood in 2019, so many home repairs and flood pumps installed as we fought rising water every wet season, and each year getting older and both of us having auto-immune diseases to manage.  We do not regret a thing, and we know this home was a gift from God so that we'd not have to rent anymore, but could create our own home sanctuary to last through the latter years of life, and ultimately be passed on one day if the Lord tarries His return. 

But jumping in to start a new club, even though my intentions were good, did not make them right for this season of life. One day I was so exhausted and with my body a mass of pain, another migraine beginning to brew, all I wanted was to fall into bed. Later that night when bedtime finally came around I prayed and asked the Lord for help. Do you know what He said?

"You didn't count the cost first." Every time I woke in the night I pondered those words and next morning re-read Jesus' words on that very subject. (Luke 14:28,29) He was describing how a builder would not build a tower without first sitting down and counting the cost, to make sure he had enough supplies before he began. Then I read chapters before and after that one, because I am very much a contextualist when it comes to studying Scripture, and discovered more examples of counting the cost.

Cost can be anything which will be required of you to pursue a certain task, relationship or belief. It's not just about money. The cost I had not factored in was time, energy, age, health and priorities. As the past few months have come and gone, it's clear that not much was lain aside, apart from blogging,  because I take my homemaking very seriously, but in order to keep up I had to fill more and more hours each week with precious time which should not have been surrendered so rashly. No wonder I was exhausted and in so much pain. If only I had counted the cost before making that decision. 

When I eventually fell on my knees before our Lord, He was so very gracious, and in the past week or so I have become more aware of the cost that must be paid for any decision I will make now and in the future. Counting the cost is marvellous for putting things into perspective, for alerting me to a pot-hole in the road ahead, for reminding me of what I have in my hand and what I can do without. 

I even got inspiration for a new design, with words of life to keep me steady and grounded in the simple life I love so much, and which recently began to slip away.

I do not have to design anymore. But I can when I have time, when inspiration from the Lord is present, and when I am enjoying it. The project above was lovely to create, and because it came from my heart, overflowing with gratitude to the Lord (and my husband), I relaxed and did something I'd only attempted once before...cotton crochet edging. It took time, but it wasn't rushed. It simply brought me joy. 

So, no more new Stitchery Club, but yes to the occasional new pattern which I'll just pop in my Etsy Shop. I do have a few already, which I made for the club, but now they'll just be single patterns in the shop. Maybe later in the week the patterns will be added there, but right now, hubby and I have a garden to work in, a Bible to study, some bread to bake, and time with each other to enjoy. Oh, and our Molly-dog too. She's become the sweetest addition to our home and puts a smile on our faces all the time. 

If you've become overwhelmed this year, perhaps you have taken on too much? Step back a bit and pray for the Father to show you what needs to go. 

Perhaps you are facing a decision? Count the cost first, dear one. Count the cost. You might be paying more than it's worth.

Bless you heaps,

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Angela said...

God bless you Jenny. Let Proverbs 3 v 5 & 6 by your guiding verses. When I was going through a tough time at university, my dear Dad sent me a little piece of card on which he had written "refer continually to James 1 verse 5". That advice has stayed with me for half a century 🙏❤️☺️

Lin said...

I think we all find it difficult as we grow older, to realise that we need to slow down and that looking after our own health first should be a priority otherwise we become in need of being looked after ourselves, and unable to care for those who need us. Love and prayers. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
So happy you made the decision to stop with the monthly deadlines and all the administration time needed of the stitchery club. Don't forget about this blog post the next time an idea comes along :)
Hoping you have time for a swim relax and cool off :)
hugs, take care,

Annabel said...

Dear Jenny, I am just catching up, thanks to Mum who arrived and said Have you read Jennys blog! She updated me. Now I have caught up for myself. I am so sorry about the men both losing their jobs. Your post last time was so spot on about the deeper meanings of looking after our households. The work of looking after our household and being prepared is very full time. I have thrown to the wind a lot of things I once did because the cost is too great. I need to be here. Also I feel there are important things and other things seem frivolous in the current climate. Saying that I try to fully enjoy my family, garden, animals, nature and blessings. I pray for both your households, with love

Mrs. White said...

This is excellent advice and much needed. Your experience and testimony in counting the cost is beautifully written.

I am praying for the job situations for your family. The Lord will provide. God bless you all!

Traveling Oltmans said...

A lovely topic for your writing and it really made me stop and think about my life and priorities. Thank you.

Diana said...

How wise to see you had taken on too much and to admit it. Sometimes our pride won’t let us be truthful. Praying for joy and peace.

Annette said...

I’ve returned to work after retiring 18 months ago to support my 96 yo mother while we found a suitable aged care home for her & help my hubby through bowel cancer, I’m 72 yo & get tired but need to provide for us. Life was never meant to be easy. Wishing your dear hubby & Ross well while searching for employment. Take care Jenny x

Allie said...

So, so beautifully written - you know, every time we get an idea it doesn't mean it's from the Lord, and I think we forget that. And you being humble and admitting to that makes it SO much easier to relate to, and take in this lesson. How wonderfully you bring life's lessons to life, dear heart! Love you so very much! And praying always!

Joan G said...

Please take care of yourself and your family. While I enjoy stitching your beautiful patterns, one of the things I enjoy most about your blog is reading about what you are up to. You write so beautifully and with a full heart, it does my own heart good. Sending you hugs and prayers for you and your family.❤️

Scarlet said...

Your words really resonated with me. After having Covid, and losing one of our precious fur babies my normal home making routine has disappeared. My husband and I are involved with our local historic museum which has become so much more than planned. He recently was voted as Board President. I have been concerned about how to get back on track. Understanding the cost of my choices and involvement was not considered. Bless you for your insight.

Anonymous said...

Your words certainly struck a chord. I have been pulled in too many directions, some of my own choosing, some family needs. I too have autoimmune disorders and have been suffering more due to my hectic schedule. I will be scaling back with my husbands urging to take care of family- and me. I pray your men find jobs that are well suited.

Malibu1125 said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for sharing yourself and your faith with us. I have really enjoyed and looked forward to hearing from you.

May God continue to bless you and your family. I believe God has many blessings coming for you and your family. I am glad you are taking time for your health and your family. Keeping you and your family in prayer.

Mary-Louise Parker said...

Dear Jennifer, thank you as always. God will Bless your decisions, God first Always, so important to take time with your lovely Husband. God always has a reason for everything. My Plans are not your plans, says the prophet Jeremiah. It's ao much harder when we are older also to do things, God wants us to enjoy being in His Presence. Much love. Mary-Lou

Jafphil said...

Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability, Jennifer. I greatly appreciate your beautiful words of wisdom in "counting the cost." I appreciate how the Lord spoke to you and find guidance and a lesson for myself in your experience. Thank you for the beauty you bring to the world. It is greatly appreciated in your designing, in your words, in the person you are. Blessings to you and your family, Judi Phillips

Susan said...

Very timely advice. I just had some decisions that had to be made, and I prepared for them, prayed over them, and looked one possible outcome right in the eye. I believe the Lord endorsed the plan I made when I presented it to him. I'm also prepared to face consequences if I'm wrong. The Lord doesn't talk to me in words like He does to some, but He has ways of letting me know His mind. I so appreciated your post today, partly because it seems another affirmation of my decisions last week.

I know that God is looking out for you, and that something good has been prepared for you two, and for Blossom's family. You are all still in my prayers, as are many from last February. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

Donna P. said...

Dearest Jennifer - I don't know how you do it - obviously following Jesus's leading but I sure needed to hear/read this. Thank you for your honesty and in turn, teaching us to Count the Cost. Our season of life is very much like yours right now - dd, who was looking for work, now cleans the sister church of her home church. Dh is still looking and we pray for God's Will and leading in this. God bless you and your entire family.
Blessings, Love, and Prayers.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer,
You are so right about counting the cost. As you know I took on way too much last spring with the big garden and ended up with health problems galore from not being able to fit it all in every single day and am still having issues.
Prying for you and your family Dear.

Love Always

Anonymous said...

At church on Sunday I was questioning the direction the Lord was taking my life. Your statement about counting the cost may be the step I’ve missed. Thank you for sharing. I need to go spend some time with Jesus. Hugs

terricheney said...

A timely word for me in my time of life as well, Jennifer, thank you so very much for sharing! I rashly joined THREE read along groups/two of them study classes and realized quickly that I'd put far too much on my plate. As a mid-60's woman who finds herself with a retired husband, full time care of a 3-year-old boy and the necessity to add gardening, creating more and more food from scratch, etc. to my busy days, I quickly fell into overwhelm...

I've stepped back and acknowledged that while I can read a book and make notes on it with a book club, I cannot by any means delve into deep study at this time and read two more books all due dates that allow me no room at all to do the necessary things. I quickly cut back.

As it happens, I'll have some free time coming up in the next two months, but I will take time to PRAY first and ask God where I should direct my time.

I shall put your family on my prayer list. We too got news this week that my son's job had been terminated. The signs were there and there was some preparation, but you never realize what a shock it will be, even so, until it's right there to be dealt with. Please pray for him to find direction. He's got a lot going on in his personal life and had only just begun attending church once more.

Miriam said...

It’s always uplifting reading you. God bless you and your family.
(I like the first picture of this post.)
Big, big hug,

P.S.: yes I use to keep in mind Luke 14...

Farm Quilter said...

Praying the Lord will guide your husband and Ross to the perfect employment soon as well as bring ease for their concerns. Always praying for your health.

learn with miss hillbilly said...

I understand. I cannot find time to sew anything ever since I lost my husband and became a single mom. Just bringing in the income, I have to find the best ways to do that and still find time to homeschool the one left at home.

I love your BOM (and have for years), so I hope you do continue to do that but if you can't you cant. I watch your etsy shop closely.

I have not been doing this year's BOM. I just could not get into it. Being a widow..I just couldn't.
So I am looking forward to watching your etsy shop and watching to see what BOM's you have up your sleeve.
I work 3 jobs now so I rely heavily on your newsletter to keep me updated. Thank you for sending them out.

Anonymous said...

I don't keep up with your blogs on a regular basis so I wasn't aware that your husband was out of work. It is difficult finding jobs these days. My daughter's company shut down and she was unemployed for five months. She just started a new job this past week. Is he able to retire at this point? It's often more difficult for older people to find work. Hopefully your family has the resources to help you get by while he looks for another job. Sorry that Blossom did not marry a believer. Being 'unequally yoked' can be very difficult as you cannot share the same faith and beliefs together. Maybe she wasn't a believer herself when she married. Don't envy her. Happy crafting and baking while you wait. Dee

Moira said...

such good thoughts that I know I need to think about with all that is going on in my life. Thank you for sharing what you've learned.

Susan said...

So sorry to here about the double income loss. Makes me realize how privileged we are Thanks to The Lord. We have just sold our home and downsized to a townhouse. We can't do all the maintenance around the house that is needed because of aging. We are now packing up and moving end November. Being so thankful The Lord got a buyer within the first day it was put on the internet. Also within the week He got us the townhouse. It was the first one we looked at. Our daughter whom is in the property market did a lot of work to get our house sold and also with the buy of our townhouse. Arranged everything. She is also relocating to the same city. The townhouse is hers anyway when The Lord decides to take us home! Anyway l will keep you in my prayers and we His children have the trust in Him to take care of everything in His time which he will do for youall! Huge hugs