Monday, September 5, 2022

The September Re-Set

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."

ZECHARIAH 4:10

We moved into our house on July 1 and almost every day since has been packed to the brim from sun up to sun down.  We painted, removed a propane gas fireplace from the 60's, added a pergola to the back patio, built raised beds in preparation for our garden next spring, replaced a microwave, washing machine and dishwasher (they were all on their last lest!), not to mention unpacking, organizing, living in the space and re-organizing, and it's been grand! We are absolutely IN LOVE with this space and are still a little in awe at the goodness of God and His provision. This house and land is so much more than we ever dreamed possible, and every time I walk through and realize this is OURS, I almost have to pinch myself to believe it!

I can not wait to share pictures of the updates we've done, but since I'm a little OCD you'll have to be patient.  I don't want to post them here until everything is JUST right, and I still have some things I want to tweak. But, if you follow me on Instagram you can get a little sneak peek here and there.

In the evenings, when my body couldn't take another step, and my mind couldn't handle the thought of making one more decision, I cross stitched, as you can see in the picture above. This week I'm going to start making curtains for our kitchen and dining area, and this weekend I'm going to put out all of our autumn decorations.  I've got a few little seasonal projects in the works that I hope to get finished by then, but if not, it doesn't officially begin until the 22nd.  Our first autumn in our new home and we are literally surrounded by trees, so it should be beautiful!

Today began my Sepember Reset, which is something I've done in years past, but this year has felt especially needed. I actually do this every quarter, but there is something about September that is a little different because in reviewing my yearly goals, this is the point where I have to seriously evaluate and determine what I think I can actually complete by the end of the year, especially in light of the busy holiday season quickly coming up. To be honest, since I literally would have never dreamed we would buy a house and acreage this year, most of my goals were small by comparison. But a lot of them also got put on the back burner because as you know, buying a house and moving is a major life event! It has taken every bit of my time and energy for several months now, and probably will for the remainder of the year. Not that I'm complaining. But I was ready to be at a place where things were settled enough that I could get back to my weekly routines and seasonal rituals and actually live in my house. So I made it my goal to start today and I'm happy to say, that while I didn't get to everything I did get about 75% of my to-do list checked off! I was little disappointed that I wasn’t able to accomplish more, but I was encouraged by the verse above that the Lord is pleased with my "small beginnings”!

One of the weekly rituals that we re-instated today was OLD MOVIE MONDAY, and we kicked it off with a selection that we hadn't watched together in years,  Follow Me Boys with Fred MacMurray.
It's one of those wonderful feel good stories about a man who settles down in a small town, volunteers to become the local scout master (to impress the girl who becomes his wife), and ends up making a lasting impression on several generations of young boys. I love just about anything with Fred MacMurray in it! I grew up watching My Three Sons and I was happy to discover that you can catch an episode of it here and there on MeTV, which we get through our Frndly TV subscription, and that, my friends, is the best $8.99 I spend every month! If you're  a classic TV and sitcom fan, like me, then I can't recommend Frdnly TV enough! No kickbacks for me here, just sharing something I love!

If you've never watched Follow Me Boys, you can rent it for $3.99 through Amazon, here, but you can actually buy it on DVD for just a dollar more, here, and I personally believe its a good one to have in your family movie collection. (Links are non-affiliate!)

And now my friends, I'm going to do a little reading before I turn in for the night, and tomorrow is a full day of errands!  But I'll be back soon with more updates, and I hope you'll join me right here!


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

THE AUTUMN DAY KEEPER - NOW AVAILABLE!


Good evening, friends! It's been awhile, and as you know with good reason, we bought a house!

Since July 1, when we closed, it's been non-stop painting, renovating and moving and while there are still a number of "finishing touches" to work on, I finally feel ready to resume posting here on a more regular basis. I've missed you, and this space and I'm feels good to be back!

As nothing about this summer has been normal or routine, I'm also ready to establish some routines and resume life as normal here in our new home, and I've resurrected a few tools to aide me in the process that I thought I'd share with you, as well.

The AUTUMN DAY KEEPER has been updated and is ready to use! I've also included the Goal Planning Sheets and Phenology Wheels which covers September-November 2022.  So if you've used this resource in the past or if you're new to my blog and want to try it out, just click on the links below to be directed to the FREE downloads!

ORDINARY DAYS OF SMALL THING AUTUMN DAY KEEPER

AUTUMN GOAL PLANNING WORKSHEETS

(*NOTE* I noticed a small error on the last page of each month of the goal planning sheets today that I have now corrected.  If you downloaded and printed them before today (8/31), you can follow the link above  to the corrected version and re-print the last past of each month.  Sorry for the inconvenience!)

AUTUMN PHENOLOGY WHEELS

I'm also working with another resource I've adapted THE SEPTEMBER RESET which I'll be sharing more about in the coming days.

Our house is in the country, located within the boundaries of The George Washington National Forest, and at present, reliable wi-fi is a little hard to come by. But that's the trade off for a peaceful, rural setting like this and to be honest, I don't mind nearly as much as I thought I would! We have service, but all it takes is a sprinkle and we're down for several hours at a time, which I view as an invitation to slow down a litle! That being said, I think between the good days and trips into the city from time to time I'll be able to post here with a bit more regularity that I have over the past few months, and I hope you'll join me!

If you do download and use the AUTUMN DAY KEEPER I hope you'll be sure to let me know how you liked it! It's been a wonderful tool for living seasonally and with intention for myself and others over the years, and I hope you'll find it helpful, as well!

Until then, friends!


“The true way to live is to enjoy every minute as it passes, 

and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.” 


- LAURA INGALLS WILDER


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

For Such A Time As This

When I was in the first grade, my teacher used to hand out pieces of manila art paper for us to draw pictures on. Some times what was drawn was specific to a lesson, but very often we were given the freedom to draw anything we wanted.

My pictures often included many of the same things, my family, pets, my friends, flowers, our home. But there was one element that was almost always included that puzzled my teacher and my mother alike, snow capped mountains. They stood majestic in the background of almost every picture I drew, so often that my teacher once asked how long I had lived in Texas (I was born there and at the time, had never lived anywhere else), or if I had family that lived in the mountains (I did not). She was so puzzled by the frequency of my including them that I recall her even pointing them out and asking my mom about it when we went for open house that year. My mother explained she was just as perflexed as she was, as at six years of age the furthest I had been from home was Oklahoma, and there were certainly no mountains between our home and there.  After that my mom would frequently comment asking why I kept drawing mountains. I’m not sure what my answer was, why I drew them or where I had even seen them, all I remember is that I loved them and longed for them even then.

Fast forward a few years to a Saturday afternoon when I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. My dad was watching The Wide World of Sports, as he did most Saturdays, and I can vividy recall sitting on the floor in the same room doing homework. I looked up at a commercial for a car, which I am now convinced was filmed driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was in the fall, and when the car passed down the road the leaves danced behind it. I was mesmorized and remember looking up at my dad and saying, “Some day I’m going to live where the leaves dance behind your car.” My mother tried to explain it away, telling me there was probably someone on the side of the road with a bag full of leaves that they threw behind the car, but I wasn’t convinced. Thirty years later I would take a drive on the parkway myself, as I have many times now, and I can attest to the fact that the leaves do often dance behind your car. No props needed.

The first time I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia deep inside me I knew that I was home. All those tender young years before when for no apparent reason I wanted to include mountains in my drawings, and to live where the leaves danced behind your car, I see now as the hand of God, instilling those dreams and desires into my heart to lead me here. 

A few years ago I traced my father’s family back to Germany, where their last name was spelled Hutzel. Johann George Hutzel, immigrated from Germany and settled in Frederick, Maryland in 1739. His son, Ludwig Lewis Hutzel, later settled in Wythe County, VA. Ludwig was my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather. So my moving back to Virginia in 2001, was, in a way, returning to our family’s roots.

On Friday, July 1, we closed on a house on 1.84 acres located in Big Island, VA. Big Island is a “Census Designated Area” located within the boundaries of the George Washington National Forest, it is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though we don’t see as much snow as some mountain regions, the higher elevations are often coated at the top with snow that you can see from the valley below. They look very much like the mountains I drew and dreamed of as a child. And the Blue Ridge Parkway with its dancing leaves? It's less than 10 minutes from our house. 

Everything in my life from the time I was six years old has brought me to and prepared me for this moment. I’ve come full circle, and have never felt more secure, blessed or intentionally placed. The divine hand of God has gently guided me here all these many years, “for such a time as this”, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I rest secure knowing that same gentle hand will continue to guide me, as He has always so faithfully done.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Small Things - 6.25.22

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old-fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."

GLADYS TABER

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

I absolutely love this and plan on typing it up (and personalizing it) and posting it on my refrigerator door. I also signed up for their free 20 day devotional, Making Your Home Glorious.  You can find it at the top of the page.


I've followed The Cottage Fairy on You Tube for smoe time now, but I think her latest video is one of my favorites.

4. I've really enjoying perusing the contents available at The Thankful Homemaker, and I particularly enjoyed this episode ofher podcast, EP 79: Homemaking Matters: A Good God Working Out His Purposes in the Midst of Our Ordinary Days

5. Emily P. Freeman (one of my favorite people!), is doing a Psalm Summer series. She just did Psalm 91 (my life Psalm!), and it's wonderful!

6. This article took me back, to Cox's Department Store in downtown Fort Worth, and the one time I ate there with my then mother-in-law.  Before that day I somehow never knew the restaurant existed, but to be honest I never recall my mom shopping at Cox's.  But I do remember their elaborte window displays at Christmas time and they had the best Santa Claus! I think my first three pictures with Santa were taken there, before the mall opened near us, and the stores downtown slowly faded away. Department Stores hold such a special place in my memories from childhood. Did you ever eat lunch in a department store restaurant? 

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Gentle Arts

“For the gentle arts are just that, gentle.  They do no demand to be practiced. No one is obliged to pursue them. They have not been taken up by any government department and regulated and repackaged with health and safety messages and warnings. They are a matter of individual and personal choice. They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a color or wield a pair of scissors. They don’t require complicated skills, qualifications, training or equipment. They don’t take up much space, create dirt and mess (although you may find yourself leaving the house covered in little threads or fibers) or impinge on others’ lives.

What they do require, though, is a conscious choice to do something “old-fashioned’ and “quaint”, to choose not to buy and consume endlessly, but to make and create for a change.

The gentle arts are not all-or-nothing decisions though. Fortunately, there are no legal guidelines about how much is good for you. So you can consider yourself a practioner whether you decide to bake a cake or knit a sock once in a while, or live a life packed with quilting and stitching. It’s the awareness of the worth of the gentle arts that counts, the ability to see that the feminists of the 1970’s were misguided when they thought that teaching young girls to devalue domesticity constituted progress.

Just as its possible to combine the gentle arts with all sorts of lifestyles - full time work, part-time work, unpaid work - so it’s possible to combine a range of skills. Many how-to craft books catergorize readers as knitters or quilters or embroiderers, without considering the possibility that they may be all of these, and more. Anyone who likes knitting may enjoy crochet, those who work with a needle may love hand-quilting  or embroidering, an embroiderer may want to bake cakes as a subject for a textile piece. And so the connections go on to create a world of colorful tactile possibilites that are limited only by your reluctance to try something new.”

- JANE BROCKET
The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art and the Comforts of Home

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Four Scriptural Images of Home

Making a home involves constructing and maintaining an environment in which people can flourish in ways in which God desires for people to flourish. Four images, each of them rooted in Christian scripture and tradition, suggest themselves as ways in which Christians can picture what home is for and thus some of what might be involved in making a home.

❈ AN INN
"In the first place, a home is an inn. An inn is a place where a traveler can find a meal and shelter for the night, usually in the company of other travelers. It is a modest sort of place, offering simple accomodations to people of modest means, and with normal, forseeable human needs. Joseph and Mary sought refuge at an inn when Mary's time of delivery drew near. The Good Samaritan took the man who had fallen among theives to an inn, where he cared for the man. So also should a home be a place where it is safe to be if you are hungry or tired, or sick, or a new parent, or newly born yourself, for that matter, because meals and beds and the care that goes with them are available there as a matter of course.

❈ A SANCTUARY
A home is also a sanctuary. A santuary is a place to set apart for encounter, whose separateness exists for the sake of relationship. When God led the people of Israel out of Egypt, he commanded them to build him a sanctuary so that he could dwell in their midst. The psalmist sings of entering the sanctuary of God and having his despair turn to confidence as he encounters God and God's renewing comfort. A sanctuary, in other words, is not a cocoon whose inhabitants dwell in splendid, inpenetrable isolation. A sanctuary has boundaries that are meant to be crossed. A home, likewise, should be a place with a door that can be opened and closed. A place whose very separateness serves to foster relationship both within and across its boundaries. 

 A CITY
A home is a city. Again and again in scripture we find God's desire for human flourishing expressed in terms of a city, from the earthly Jerusalem of the prophet and psalmist, to the heavenly Jerusalem of Revelation. A city is an active place, there are a lot of people there, and they are busy with a lot of things. A city is very different from a suburb, the central notion of which involves getting away from other people and the everyday commotion of urban life. Often we can be surprised when running a household involves more or less continuous activity. We shouldn't be. The life of a city ebbs and flows with the hour and the season, but it never ceases altogether; so it is with the life of a home.

❈ A CASTLE
And finally, a home is a castle. When scripture describes the dwelling place that God designs for himself and for humans, it does so in terms that call to mind the rich ceremonious beauty of a castle with all its pomp and pageantry; the tabernacle, with all its rich fabrics and woods, the jewel-encrusted New Jerusalem. This kind of labor-intensive richness is out of fashion nowadays; and we want everything to be quick and easy, or we think we do. But there is something in the human soul that longs for beauty beyond necessity. Of course, it is easier not to make the bed. But there is a substantial difference between turning down a neatly made bed in the evening and lying down in a mess of sheets left from the night before. To be beautiful, a home need not be luxurious in size or in contents. The beauty of a well-kept home may arise simply from structure and ritual and attention to detail, things that can be present even in the most modest of homes.



- MARGARET KIM PETERSON
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A Longing For The Comforts Of Home

"One of the most fundamental of human longings is the longing for home. We long for a place that feels like the right place, where we belong,  where we ourselves are longed for and welcomed.  And for all its spiritual and psychological dimensions, this longing is physical and material as well.  We want there to be a place where waiting for us is a room, a bed, a chair, a meal - the things that meet the basic needs of embodied things like ourselves.  We want “the comforts of home”, not just somewhere away from home - a fancy hotel, say - but at home, where, we sense, they are supposed to be.” 

- MARGARET KIM PETERSON
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life

Life is busy right now, and about to become even busier for a season.  I'm still not at liberty to be more specific, but keep checking back, especially around the first of July!  I'll be able to share more then.

In the mean time, I've immersed myself in all things homekeeping, especially vintage housekeeping, which still resonates so deeply with me. I can't get enough of images like these, the sweet scenes of home and a wife and mother tending to the needs of her family.  Don't get me wrong, I don't judge or begrudge any woman the right to pursue a career, that's just not at the heart of who I am and feel called to be, and as such, its what you'll always find this reflected here in this space.

Growing up, I was blessed to have a mother in the home. My mother didn't go to work until I was in high school  and it was a great comfort to me.  Regardless of what may have been happening in my life, knowing my mother was home and available to me at any moment grounded me, I suppose you could say. I liked knowing she was there and would be there to greet me any time I returned. Though our relationship wasn't perfect, her choice to be a stay-at-home mom is a gift I will always treasure, and it greatly influenced my life as a young girl.

Something I enjoy is perusing the plethora of vintage housekeeping books that are available on the Internet Archives. While nothing replaces the real deal of holding a book in your hand, since there is no way I could or should own every book that catches my eye, the archives serves as a useful tool.

A few favorites I've come across are the Mrs. Beeton's Books. Her first book, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, published in 1836, was an instant success. There are actually what look to be a number of updated and revised versions at the archives, including;


and this one looks interesting,


I just love perusing these old texts, which are often filled with practical, as well as a lot of out-dated but still fun ideas. If you enjoy vintage housekeeping, too, I encourage you to spend some time searching them out on the archives.  I often do an initial search on Pinterest, which usually provides me with a number of images of covers and titles and then seek them out on the archives. I find them quite fun, like stepping back to a time when life seemed simpler.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Happy Summer Solstice!

"In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible."

SARAH DESSEN


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Small Things - 06.18.22

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old-fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."

GLADYS TABER


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week;

A new to me blog that I discovered recently.  Pop over and say hi!

2. This instrumental rendition of Oceans.  I had this on repeat for hours one day.

3. Anyone else old enough to remember The CBS Children's Film Festival? Growing up, Saturday Mornings meant hours of cartoons, until around 1:00 p.m. when the Film Festival aired.  It was basically foreign films for kids, but I loved it!  Originally hosted by Kukla, Fran and Ollie, it aired from 1967 to 1984 (I had no idea!). I've been able to find a few episodes on You Tube, as well as the theme song, which I can still hum like I just watched it yesterday.

4. Really enjoyed reading this article,  Let Us Be Lost, Always. In fact, Dappled Things is a treasure trove!


6.  I received this book as a gift for Mother's Day this year, *A Lovely Life: Saving Simple Joys In Every Season by Melissa Michaels and I am really enjoying it.

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

From My Reading - Sacred Time: Embracing An Intentional Way of Life

Tucked quietly behind an office building on a busy city street, is a quiet little park surrounded by stone walls. 
Lush with vines and a variety of ground coverings that thrive in the shade of a giant pine tree, a single picnic table
invites you to enjoy a moment of respite amidst the bustle of the busy world. It is an invitation to sacred time.

LEXINGTON, VA

"We live in a breathless world.  Everything around us seems to move at faster and faster speeds, summoning us to keep up. We multitask, we organize, we simplify; we do all that we can to keep on top of the many demands on our time. We yearn for a day with more hours in it so we can complete all that we long to do. This rushed and frenzied existance is not sacred time.

Sacred time is time governed by the rhythms of creation, rhythms that incorporate times of rest as essential to our own unfolding. Sacred time is time spent being present to the moments of eternity available to us whenever we choose to pause and breathe.

In sacred time, we step out of the madness of our lives and chose to reflect, linger, savor and slow down. We gain new perspective here. We have all had those moments of time outside of time when we felt as if we were touching eternity, bathed in a different kind of rhythm.  Touching eternity brings cohesion to our lives and reminds us of the goodness and surplus of living because it honors the rhythms of the soul.

The clock with its forced march is not the only marker of time. Our calendars with their five and ten year strategic plans rob us of our future as we desperately try to cram things in. Each slow, mindful breath, the rising and setting of the sun, the expansion and contraction of the moon, the ripening and releasing of the seasons - these mark a different quality of time and invite us into a deepened and renewed way of being."

- CHRISTINE VALTERS PAINTNER, from Sacred Time: Embracing An Intentional Way of Life


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Blessings From Unlikely, Everyday Places


“It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation.  We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things in starting where we are . . . we must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places.”

- KATHLEEN NORRIS

Monday, June 13, 2022

Beautiful Things In Humble Places


The goal is never perfection, and maybe its because I’m a bit of a dirty, repurposed vessel myself. 

I really should have posted a before and after so you could appreciate the work that went into cleaning these up (there are actually 4 total). I picked them up for $1 each. Bill might have had that familar, “What in the world are you going to do with those?, look on his face. But soon shiny red apples will nest beautifully in one, freshly gathered eggs in another, fresh herbs from the garden? The possibilities are endless, and these old chipped and stained beauties still have so much life and service to offer!

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”

- CAMILLE PISSARE

 - Porcelain bowls picked up at an estate sale this weekend.
A friend suggested I could purchase porcelain touch up paint to hide the imperfections,
but I tend to be a lover of imperfect things. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Home

“Home. How much is expressed in this one word.  No other word brings to the mind so many delightful memories. The strong and sweet attachments of home never leave us. They cling to us in youth and in age, in prosperity and adversity, at all times and in all climes.” 

- ORIGEN

Photo from a recent tour of Birdsong Pleasure Garden

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Origins of Housework - Part 2

"Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven, for beginners."

- CHARLES HENRY PARKHURST

For a man who described Himself as "the one who has no place to lay his head", Jesus was remarkably familiar with the details of housekeeping. He spoke in parables about houses and householders, about sweeping and lamplighting, about vessels that appeared clean on the outside but were soiled within. He often joined others in their home to share a meal, and after healing a little girl, his first instruction were, "Give her something to eat." (Mark 5:43)

Jesus regarded domesticticity, but did not exhault it as the highest form of service to God. In the story of Mary and Martha, when Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to His teaching while Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and his followers, Martha complains to Jesus that Mary isn't helping her; "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me."

Jesus response is as notable for what it does not say as for what He does say. He does not hurridly rush Mary into the kitchen. He does not commend Martha for her single-minded focus on domestic matters, instead He treats Martha with the same perplexing seriousness with which He treats other disciples, "Martha, Martha, you are troubled about many things, one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

There is a similar story earlier in the Bible in the gospel of Luke in which Jesus invites a man to follow Him and the man asks for permission to first bury his father. to which Jesus replies, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60). It was unthinkable to believe that a son should neglect to bury his father, and Jesus' instructions posed a startling assumption about what comes first. And with Martha, that it was equally unthinkable that anyone should neglect to feed the hungry stranger at their door.

By Jesus' judgement, even so obviously necessary a task as burying one's parents take second place to following Jesus, and likewise, the moral duty to welcome a stranger, takes second place to listening to Jesus teaching. The first commandment, "To love the Lord your God with all one's heart, and soul and strength and mind" clearly, always takes precedence over the second commandment, "To love one's neighbor as oneself." But in real life, it is not possible to love God without loving your neighbor, and a primary way of loving one's neighbor, is to feed and house and clothe them.

In fact, Jesus says that feeding the hungry and clothing the naked equals feeding and clothing Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40). Jesus is served even as we peform such duties. Jesus speaks of a future hope, that suggests that the activities of making a home are in direct relation to his own redemptive work; "In my Father's house are many rooms,", he assures his disciples (John 14:2), "If someone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23).

The "homely" character of redemption is one of the overarching themes in scripture. God leads the children of Israel to the promised land whose blessings are envisoned as homes to dwel in, clothes to wear, food to eat and drink to satsify thirst. The prophectic hope in the midst of homes despoiled, which is especially fitting in this time, is of "peaceful habitations, secure dwellings, quiet resting places" (Isaiah 32:18). Paul envisions redemption as finally being clothed (2 Corinthians 5:4), and the book of Revelation offers the hope of a well-ordered and beautiful city in which God dwells with his people (Revelation 21).

The Christian story of redemption is a story that moves from home to home. The journey from Eden to the new Jerusalem is one that is characterized by exile and pilgrimage, but also by shelter on the way. And shelter is necessary for creatures like ourselves. For what child can remember Eden or long for Jerusalem who has never had any temporal home at all? The practicalities of housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, are the things that ground our existance in the particular time and places in which we live, and in doing so, make it possible for us to keep alive the memory of our first home in paradise. and the hope of our eternal home with God in His new creation.

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of 
more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

- THOMAS MOORE

So what really matters? Well, housework. It is not the only thing that matters, but it does matter. It matters that people have somewhere to come home to, and that there be beds and meals and space and order available there. whether we do a lot of housework, or a little or it. whether we keep house only for ourselves or for other people as well, housework forms part of the basic patterning of our lives, a pattern that we might identify as a kind of "litany of everyday life"

A litany is a form of prayer that includes the announcement of various needs followed by a response like, "Amen", or "Lord have mercy". Litanies have long been popular with lay people who found in their structure and flexibility, a way to speak to their concerns in tangible and accessible ways. Litanies are both repetitive and comprehensive, and in both of these characteristics there is a certain analogy to housework. 

A litany is typically about a lot of different things; it requests assistance and care from God on a variety of matters. In doing so, it draws together our needs and concerns and calms their potentially overwhelming nature. 

Housework, too, is about a lot of different things. There are errands to be run, meals to be planned, clothes to be laundered, messes to be dealt with. It doesn't take very much disorganization before you begin to feel  that you are trying to juggle a dozen balls and they are all coming crashing down around you. But there is a fundamental focus and unity to housework, too. It is about a certain number of basic needs. If over the course of the day and week and year, the members of your house get dressed and fed and bathed and put to bed, then you can know that you have done the things that matter most.

Housework is repetitive, as well. You cannot pick up a room once and be done with it forever. Everytime you cook a meal, it disappears a short time after, and within a few hours, everyone is hungry again. Clothes laundered today will be in the hamper tomorrow. Anyone who keeps house may be tempted to throw up their hands in defeat.

But we would do well to listen to the phisopher, Soren Kierkagaard; "Repitition is the daily bread that satisfies with benediction". The sun comes up every morning, Christians gather every Sunday, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Every year brings the cycle of the seasons, and of the Christian calendar, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost and Ordinary Time. 

Housework is akin to these natural and human rhythms of the day, week, month and year. We fix lunch because it is lunchtime. We wash the clothes or the windows because it is Monday or sunny. We pack away our coats and boots and get our shorts and sleeveless shirts because winter is over and summer is coming. As we engage with the litany of everyday life, we engage with life itself, with our fellow human beings, with the world in which God has set us all, and thus with God himself. 

The particular form this litany takes will look different for different people at different times. There is no right way to keep house, for such depends on who is doing the housework, for whom and under what circumstances. But housekeeping is part of a tradition that takes seriously, the basic homely needs of people for food and clothing and shelter. These are needs that God takes seriously and that Jesus encourages Christians to take seriously. They are not the only important things in the world, but they are important, they have intrinisic significance and worth that is too often lost amidst the busyness and technological background noise of the modern world. 

"Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, 
and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. " 

- ROMANS 12:1 (The Message)


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Origins of "Housework"

I've been reading a book I happened on to accidently in the archives this past week, Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Day by Margaret Kim Peterson.  It's fitting, as next week I plan to begin spring cleaning, giving everything a good dusting and weeding out things no longer used or needed and making room, not necessarily for more, but to breathe.

Growing up the only aspirations I had were to become a wife and a mother. If I ever considered a career, it was teaching, and that was fueled more by the ability to be at home with my family on holidays and summers. In the end I opted not to attend college, though I did pursue a degree in library sciences when I when I moved back to Texas to care for my mother. I'm only about 12 hours shy of my associates, and I suppose I really should just finish it, but life has changed since then and its no longer a priority. I expand my education daily, on my terms and at my pace. Prior to having children I worked in child care as a pre-school teacher. I had my first child at 23, and from that moment on my life was totally devoted to being a wife, mother and homekeeper. I never viewed my choice as less or believed that I was missing out on anything, so I was surprised to learn how the role of housewife and housework originated and came to be viewed as a lower status in society.

Before the industrialization of America the word "housework" didn't even exist. What did exist were the words "houswifery" and "husbandry", which described the women's work and the men's work required to run an agrarian household. Married couples, working their own land, supporting their own small households. Personally, I think that sounds lovely!

But with industrialization, work became separated. Work outside the home becoming the man's place, and in the home, the woman's, particularly married women, and a new word was thus developed to name her duties, "housework". Before industrialization men and women had worked together in and around the house at complementary unpaid tasks that were differentiated by gender; cutting and carrying wood (men), building and tending the fire (women), making lye, for men, making soap, for women. After industrialization, men and some women (mostly single), went to work. They left their homes and labored elsewhere for wages. Women, especially married women, "stayed home", laboring without pay doing "housework".

Industrialization brought other changes to women's work, with the development of running water, refrigeration, gas and electric stoves, washing machines and commercially produced soaps and detergents. With this, one woman able to do the work that previously had required two or three women. The improvements (if they can be considered that), did not eliminate their work, but vastly increased their productivity. 

Prior to the industrial revolution, clothing was minimal and seldom laundered (ew!), but with the advent of factory made clothing, mostly cotton, now clothes needed frequent washing, bleaching, starching and ironing. One pot meals, that were popular in the pre-industrialized world, gave way to menus that included multiple dishes. And perhaps one of the biggest changes came with the invention of indoor plumbing, cleaning the bathroom. And all this work was to be done by the housewife herself. Many single women went to work in the factories, making hired help, which was common in the pre-industrialized world, difficult to come by. 

It is interesting to note, that "work for wages" outside of the home came to be viewed as "real work", and therefore what wives were left to was not considered as such, leaving men, and even housewives themselves to question what exactly it was she did all day? For all the modern conveniences that were now provided and meant to release her from a life of "drudgery", most women were utterly exhausted.

The problem with "housework" was not just that it was "women's work" but that it was now viewed as low in status, and suspected of not being work at all, even by the men who benefitted from it directly and women whose lives were consumed by it. The seemingly endless amounts of work only increased with the invention of each new time and labor saving device. That combined with the recognition, value or even the necessity of such work, gave way to the feminist regard for housework. Author Germain Greer stated that, "Housewives represent the most oppressed class of life, contracted, unpaid workers, for who slave is not too melodramatic a description."

But what if we were to look at housework, and the doers of housework not throught the post-industrial and post-feminist lens, but through the lens of scripture? What we would find is that God does not share the lowly view of housekeepers and housework as our culture is apt to do. On the contrary, scripture abounds with images of God Himself as a homemaker and house dweller, as one who clothes and is clothed, who feeds people, animals and the earth itself and receives gifts of food and drink in return.

"Thou coverst thyself with light, as a garment, who has stretched out the heavens like a tent, who has laid the beams of thy chambers on the water. . . . Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment. . . Thou makest spring gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, they give drink to every beast of the field. All creatures look to Thee to give them their food in due season. When Thou givest to them, they gather it up; When thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good things. (v. 1-2, 5-6, 10-11, 27-28)

The psalmist portrayal of God as a great housekeeper, pitching a tent, clothing Himself with light and the earth with water as with garments, ordering boundaries, making homes for creatures, giving them food, sustaining all life, creating and re-creating through the Spirit.

This theme abounds throughout scripture. At creation, when God first sets humans in a home He has created for them, a garden, both beautiful and nourishing. And when man is expelled from the garden, God's parting gesture is to clothe them. And he continues to clothe and shelter His people, even in their exile from paradise. He rains bread from heaven as they wander in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4), preseves their clothing (Deuteronomy 8:4) and houses them in booths (Leviticus 23:43).

God's presence with His people is represented often through dwelling places and domestic activities. The Lord appeared to Abraham as he sat at the door of his tent beside the oaks of Mamre. God appeared as three strangers, whom Abraham and Sarai greeted with a meal of bread and meat and curds. 

When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, God met with them in another tent, "The Tent of Meeting", which was staffed by priests whose duties resembled the work of keeping house. They arranged coverings, put out dishes and food, set out lamps, arranged utensils and vessels, and cleared away ashes. (Numbers 4:4-14)

And when in the fulness of time God did come bodily to dwell with humans in the person of Jesus Christ, He did so in a way that is reminiscent of His presence with the Isarelites in their wanderings, 

"The word became flesh, and pitched His tent among us." 

- JOHN 1:14

More to come . . . :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Weekend Progress On My Projects

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be more intentional about focusing on other things that I enjoy like crafts and cross stitching, and spending less time on the computer, especially on the weekends. Well, I'm happy to say that this past weekend was a success!

The larger house in this picture is a panel for a set of throw pillows I am making for our couch.  I finished this first panel Sunday night while watching the remake of True Grit (Netflix) with my husband. He was in California and we just watched it at the same time and texted back and forth about it. Kind of a long-distance date, I guess you'd say! :)

The smaller book cover you see in the corner is one I made for a new bible I bought recently. They only offered two colors and since I didn't care for either, I set about looking for a solution, and arrived at this. I had already stitched up the little panel and originally had other plans for it, but it ended up being the perfect fit for my bible. Since the edges are frayed I was concerned about them becoming even more frayed and unruly, so I sat with a small paint brush and a fine tooth comb and carefully glued them all to the cover with fabric glue, combing them out after I applied the glue to make sure they laid straight. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

I enjoyed myself so much, and my mind definitely feels more at rest by limiting my time on the computer, so much so, that I've decided not to limit myself to weekends only. I'll continue to post here, check in with my friends and family on social media, I'm not looking for a complete fast. But I was so shocked, honestly, by how much less cluttered I guess you could say, my mind felt by spending less time away from the screen that I know instinctively that I need this right now. I also want to get these projects done before my husband comes home, and I've decided that in April I'm going to deep clean the apartment in preparation for his return home around Mother's Day, and as a way of helping me weed out some things.  We're going to be moving again at the end of July when out lease is up, and I want to get an early start so it won't be such a big job in the end.

As for Growing a Life: A Lenten Journey, I've decided that this format is just really not for me. It may have to do with the fact that I have already developed my Rule of Life, using this resource, but the truth is I'm just not enjoying it. I also have other sermons and books that I want to read during this season, and something I learned a long time ago is that often, even if something is good, it doesn't necessarily mean it is what is best, and that's the conclusion I've come to. Rather than study again about how to develop and implement a rule, I'd rather focus on working on the one I've already developed. If you downloaded the materials and you are enjoying using this resource, then I encourage you to continue, or you could also check out the other resource I linked above from Bridgetown Church. I will be doing follow-up posts on how I am implementing my rule and on how things are going from time to time, so if you liked those posts then be looking for more in the future.

And now my friends I'm off to my projects!

Until then . . .

Friday, March 11, 2022

Plans for the Weekend

Something I've decided to do during Lent, I suppose, but really just moving forward, is to place stricter limits on my computer time and focus more on crafting on the weekends. I am simply on my computer far too much, and even good things lure me down rabbit holes and before I know it, I've spent half a day reading articles, bookmarking recipes, all while I'm trying to make a concentrated effort to work through the things I already have bookmarked! I made some good progress on that this week, but adding to it isn't helping anything! I also found out, much to my delight, that my husband will be coming home a little earlier than we originally planned, probably around the first of May. So that is another reason to get some of these projects done!

Currently, I need to make new pillow covers for four pillows, and two of them I want to cross stitch a design on. That alone is a tall order, but I'm going to try my hand at no-sew covers for two of them. I have some leftover fabric from when we re-covered our couch and I've been wanting to cover a few pillows with them ever since. And I'd also like to make two or three table runners, one for our coffee table, another for the top of an antique school desk I have, and one for our kitchen table. And then there are several other smalller projects that I may or may not get to. I've got about six weeks, so if figure if I can finish one project a week, I'll at least get the bigger ones finished, and that's only working on them on the weekends, that doesn't include if I work on them on weeknights throughout the week, which is another time that I'm going to work a little harder at staying off of my computer. I'll share photos of my progress with you next week!

I started Growing a Rule of Life: A Lenten Journey this week and finished up Day 5 and 6 today, with Day  7 and the Compilation for tomorrow. I'll be writing about what I've learned/discovered on Monday of next week, by which time we will already be into Week 2, but that just seems like the best way to do it. If you're participating with me in this and following along, be looking for that post on Monday.

As for the weekend, I've taken a liking recently to old Barbra Streisand movies, several which are available on Netflix and Prime. I watched The Mirror Has Two Faces on Netflix last night and really enjoyed it. Jeff Bridges co-starred, which reminded me of a few movies he's done that I'm going to add to my list as well.

I made the best carnitas I've ever made in my life this week, and still have leftovers from them. I also made up my own flour tortillas, which are SO much better than store bought. I seriously think I might start making up a batch every Monday so I'll have them throughout the week, which should tell you a thing or two about how much mexican food we eat around here!

Tomorrow I'm going to attemp to re-create Pappasito's Steak Fajitas. I got a good deal on a flank steak today, and I have all the ingredients for the marinade. I keep the garlic butter made up and in the freezer year round and eat it on just about everything mexican! I make a big batch and then pour it into tiny muffin cups and freeze it, then pop them out and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer. One muffin cup is just enough for 2-3 people to drizzle it over their taco meat, chicken, steak, it's so good, and I'll share the recipe with you next week after I make the fajitas. After the success I had recently making brisket, if I can nail this there won't be too much about the Texas food I miss that I haven't managed to recreate! Well, now that I think about it,  I still haven't started on Razoo's. :)

And with that my friends, I'm off to begin working on my first project! I hope you're weekend is slow and restful! It's a lovely day out today with a predicted high of 64, but then rain moves in tonight, the temperature drops into the 20's and the high tomorrow is only 35. I DO love winter and it will always be my favorite season, but those 60+ days sure make the colder ones a little harder to take!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

From Grandma's Kitchen - Potato Salad

Today I want to get back to some old-fashioned home made goodness and share one of my favorite recipes with you, Potato Salad!

I'm sure you already have this one covered with your family favorite, but in my book you can never have too many varieties of ways to make this popular, versatile dish. Just yesterday I came across this recipe for Bacon Horseradish Potato Salad and I bookmarked it so I can try it out this summer! I think it would pair beautifully with steaks cooked on the grill!

My recipe isn't anything near as fancy, in fact its pretty simple and no fuss with very few ingredients, but my mother always raved about it and any time we had a family get together, she insisted that I bring the potato salad. Maybe it's the yukon gold potatoes (a must!), the Hellman's Mayonnaise (No substitute!) the fact that I only use sweet pickles, or my ratio of mayo to mustard (I'm not big on mustard!), but honestly, I think it's the dash of sugar I add at the very end that sets it apart. All I know is that I've never served this and had anyone turn it down, and they usually ask for seconds!

This is my go-to side dish served with hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue, perfect for a cookout!

3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup *Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 tsp. yellow mustard
4-6 mini sweet pickles, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped fine/minced
2 tsps. sugar
Salt to taste.

*Must be Hellman’s to achieve desired taste.

Peel, wash, and chop your potatoes into one inch cubes. Rinse with cool water in a colander to remove excess starch. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tsp of salt to the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are tender (about ten minutes). Pierce the potatoes with a fork to make sure they are tender, then drain in a colander. Briefly rinse with cool water to cool the potatoes.

When slightly cooled, add all mayo and mustard and mix to coat. Mix in onions and sweet pickles. Add sugar and salt and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

If you don't already have a tried and true stand-by, give this one a try, and if you do, let me know how you liked it!

Until then . . .

Friday, March 4, 2022

Where Are You?


Recently I pre-ordered Ann Voskamp's latest book, Waymaker: Finding The Way To The Life You've Always Dreamed Of. I first met Ann probably close to twenty years ago, and by "met", I mean online, when she wrote a little geography book for homeschooling families. Several years later she wrote another book,  One Thousand Gifts, which came at a time when I needed it most and made a profound impact upon my life. There have been others in between, and I've purchased and read each one. So when I learned that she was releasing a new book this spring, naturally I ordered it.

Because I pre-ordered it, (it will be released on March 15), I was given access to several resources, including an early release of the first three chapters, vlogs, and the opportunity to be part of a community of readers on Facebook. This week also began a series of on podcasts focusing on Lent.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, something about this season of Lent feels different, which if I'm honest is exhilirating and frightening all at the same time, though let me be the first to acknowledge that being frightened is definitely not from God. Still, and please entertain my pessimism here, the thought has crossed my mind several times lately, questioning if God is preparing me in this season for something hard in my near future. I don't know why I have that feeling, but it settled in a couple of weeks ago now and I haven't been able to shake it. Knowing me, an over-thinker who struggles with anxiety, this is just me allowing my mind to race and wander. One of my great sins is worry, and the need to always have a "Plan B" in my back pocket because "Plan A" has fallen apart in my life so many times. God asked me to surrender that to Him awhile ago now, and until recently I was doing well with it. I'm disappointed that I find myself here once again, but there's nothing like keeping you close to the foot of the cross in surrender like habitual sin.

With that thought in mind, and only two days into this season and each day I've found myself wandering into thin places. Moments in time when the veil between this world and the next is so close. When the hand of God reaches through and lifts your chin and whispers, "I have a surprise for you." I shared yesterday of being convicted of how shallow my prayers have been. And then today listening to Ann's podcast, I was reminded and assured, that in my propensity for worry, in the midst of anxiety, pessimism and fear, He sees me. When I tell you that the enemy has been having a heydey playing with my emotions, that would be an understatement. To the point that I briefly considered not observing Lent this year at all. It was the moment that thought crossed my mind when I recognized the enemy's goal and plan. I will not be deterred!

And once again, true of me, as soon as I finished listening to the podcast, I began writing, and this is what the Lord spoke over me today;

"Where are you? It's God's first recorded question in all of history. The shortest question recorded in the Hebrew bible. Three words that echo across time to meet us, here, today. God always comes looking for you, "Where are you?", because His desire was always to be with you.

When the all-knowing God asks, "Where are you", isn't He really asking so that you'll find the answer? Because what He's really asking is, "Where have you gone?"

In Genesis 16, Hagar, an Egyptian slave, alone, homeless, frightened, and pregnant, encounters God.

"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur."

God knew PRECISELY where Hagar was.

"Where have you come from and where are you going?", the angel asked?

Hagar was running from her mistress, Sarai, who was mistreating her.

She was in a hard place.

But the angel's instructions were not to run, but to go back and submit to Sarai, and in that she would be blessed.

So often in my life when I encounter hard places, like Hagar my first reaction is to run. It is often in these times that the enemy would have me believe that God has abandoned me. But the truth is. . . He is near, He sees me.

Hagar named God that day, the only person in scripture, male or female, Jew or Gentile, to name God personally.

"El Roi" - The God who sees.

"She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

We wander into hard places, with our choices, in our rebellion, in our brokenness. God's plan was always Eden, but we wanted more.

So if we find ourselves far from God, it is never because He moved. God is constant, fixed, faithful.  And regardless of how far or how long we wander, He knows precisely where we are.

"He sees you near ______________, on the road that leads to ______________."

Just as He knew with accuracy, where to find Hagar.

And like Hagar, He will lead us back to the hard places. He will ask us to return.  Because in this journey of life, the only way out is through. And in our faithfulness, we will be blessed.

He is El Roi. The God who sees, and He always, always, comes looking for you!

No matter how lost you feel, He knows where to find you."

When I filled in the blanks, this is what I wrote;

"He see you near fear and worry, on the road that leads to doubt and mistrust."

If you had to fill in those two blanks right now, what would yours read? I'm not asking you to share, just encouaraging you to ask. It's a good heart check, and one I think I'm going to employ on a more regular basis. I think it calls for being typed up in a pretty green font, naturally, and pasted somewhere where I will see it and be reminded.

It also was not lost on me that God's instruction to Hagar was to go back. After-all-this-time you would think I would have learned, the only way out is through. Even if this Lent feels different, since I can't put my finger on exactly why that is, why does my mind immediately settle on the worst case scenario? This beckons back to the old Kim who believed that God was a distant Father who could never be pleased and cared little about her sufferings. I believed for years that I didn't exist to Him, until I messed up, sometimes not even then.

God found Hagar "near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur." God's Positioning System pre-dates our modern GPS by thousands of years. He didn't just "find" Hagar, He knew precisely where she was, as He does right now in this moment for me, and for you. 

Fill in the blanks. Do a heart check. But no worries, wherever you find yourself, God is already there.

Until then. . .

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