Homemaking Career

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Do you ever have a moment where something finally clicks and you get it? Lightbulb! A-ha! Eureka!

I had one of those about three weeks ago: Homemaking is my career.

Now, let me put some flesh on that thought.

I have this weird fatalistic streak that runs deep in my soul. A c’est la vie, or what will be will be, attitude. After years and years of wrestling with it, I’ve realized I twist the sovereignty of God into laziness. Deep down, I believe there are things I can’t do anything about, so I shouldn’t be required to deal with them.

I can be aggressive and self-educating if I am interested in something, but if it overwhelms me, I just shut down. I move whatever it is over into the God’s sovereignty slot. God’s in charge. He’ll have to deal with that. Now it’s not my problem.

Homemaking was one of those things.

For some reason, I believed that as a woman I was a natural homemaker. End of story. It was just something inherent in me like the way my body was shaped. Which meant, I was only as good or bad a homemaker as God had made me. Thus, it wasn’t my responsibility to improve beyond a point. I can work out. I can watch my diet to keep my body healthy. But, I can’t wish myself into being tall and willowy, or that my hair would turn red. The same with being a homemaker. I can cook and clean, but once you move beyond my natural skill, that was it. My husband just needed to learn to be content with what he got and quit pushing me.

God only hands out so many skills, just like there are only so many red heads.

So, instead of looking at Homemaking and Housekeeping as my career in this life, given to me by God, and something I need to be fully engaged and invested in, I looked at homemaking as something that naturally flowed from my fingertips as a human being with a uterus. I didn’t need to read, study, learn, grow, or develop. I just needed to keep plowing forward. As I practiced, I’d get better.

This mindset ended up developing into attitude issues.

Our 10 Year Anniversary as owners of Feminine Fashions Consignment Boutique.

My path as a homemaker wasn’t what I thought it would be. From childhood, my heart’s desire was to be a wife and a mother…and a cowboy. But, instead of getting married and having babies right away, we bought a business. Instead of being at home cooking, growing plants, and surrounding myself with little people, I dived head first into fashion, marketing, customer service, company culture, employees, and all that owning a small business entails. (Don’t think I did this all on my own, please. My husband was the forerunner, leader, and head researcher.) We always talked about how our boutiques were an extension of our home. That’s how I viewed them. But, I didn’t look at homemaking as my career. I still looked at it as something inherent with being female. I didn’t view myself as having a career. I was serving and helping my husband. At no point did I connect in my head the fact that I do have a career, and it’s homemaking.

Then, for lots of reasons, we sold our business, and I came home. I quickly became as busy, or busier than I had been before. I dived headfirst into life. Everything got a yes answer. Conferences, showers, writing lessons, every imaginable event with nieces and nephews, writing groups, and so much more. I had several social events a week, plus all the duties of keeping a home and feeding a family. But things weren’t going well. Instead of studying, learning, and growing as a homemaker, I continued to assume it would just happen, as I gained more experience and practice. I was a women, right?

Even at home now, I didn’t see this as my career. I didn’t want a career, unless it was as a writer. I wanted to be a stay at home wife. I never linked them. *Insert face palm here*

Every time my husband tried to push me to show more aggression, or tried to explain that something was my responsibility, I hunched down in my shell. I tried to make him happy, but I always felt like he was asking me the equivalent of suddenly becoming a redhead. I would watch other women who always seem in control of their home, and I never saw them study. They just naturally exuded comfort, beauty, a cheerful welcome, joy. Why didn’t I? Well, God just must not have given me that skill.

Two years into being a Homemaker, I got sick. My body just gave out. Years and years of running on adrenaline, and other factors just took their toll. I was out of the game. The couch became my place. I rarely looked beyond my own body. I rested and rested and rested. Life was on hold.

Two years of no energy have passed. I am able to function, not at full speed, but I don’t really want to try and do what I was doing for twelve years. I want to find a new speed. After all that, I feel like I’m a twenty-two year old just starting out. I’m a newbie. I don’t know how to keep my home, to be a homemaker.

About three weeks ago, after one of those weeks where everything you do is wrong, every sin is out there for all to see, and God is exposing all the wickedness in your heart, I decided to read some blogs about being a homemaker. I knew something wasn’t right. The smallest things overwhelmed me. I was never happy with how my home was, and I knew my husband wasn’t happy. This had nothing to do with cleanliness. I was never in control of our home. I flitted from one thing to the next. I always felt overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. After being out of pocket for two years, there was a lot that needed to be done. Plus, we have Seminary looming on the horizon, and a possibility of getting pregnant. (If you want more info on that, you can email, text, or message me.) Things needed to get in control. I needed to be in control. I needed to be able to manage my home and help my husband, with a right attitude, not a put upon attitude.

I needed to quit acting like the hired help. I’m not a maid and cook. I’m the lady of the house. I needed to act like . . . I needed to believe that was who I was. I needed to see that as my career.

One of the blogs I read mentioned studying to develop a new skill in Homemaking.

Click. Lightbulb. A-ha. Eureka.

A thousand different things slid into place and I realized I’d never ever looked at homemaking as my career. I assumed it just happened. I’d never treated it with the same focus I had owning our business, or my writing. My thinking and understanding of homemaking has been all wrong. I’ve read books about being a good wife and mother, but I’ve read few about wise housekeeping or wise homemaking, starting with perspective and working out into labor. I didn’t pick other women’s brains about how they create a culture in their home. I did when we owned our own business, but not my home. I just assumed my home was my home. I never went at it with purpose.

Oh the burdens lifted from my soul when the light of truth shone in.

Stumbling and bumbling, I have started looking at my home as my career, my life’s work, given to me by God. What have I find? A supreme challenge with wonderful benefits. I have found something that will stretch and grow me beyond any work I could set my hand too. A homemaker must be good at so many things and willing to switch between them at the drop of a hat. Here was a life-long challenge! But, here was also comfort, beauty, hospitality, serving my church. All the things I’ve ever wanted in their proper place.

Each time I’ve wanted to run and hid, duck down, wrap myself back up in my little shell of God’s-gonna-have-to-deal-with-that-if-He-wants-something-done-about-it, I have reminded myself that this is my great work. My work given to me. From that I have found courage to face things I’ve avoided for many years.

By grace, I’m taking control of my home. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel trapped in a maelstrom of ‘everything needs to be done’ and look, Abby has to do them. I know what needs to be done. I know what needs to be done first, and I can make a plan to do it.

It’s also soothed my frustrations as a wife who writes. I have struggled for years with envy towards all the women I know whose husbands embrace their writing career, invest money in getting them published, and bless them with large chunks of time to write. My husband never did this for me. We always found my writing to be a source of discord. I’m ashamed when I look at this now. Of course my writing caused discord. I wanted to focus on it while I refused to focus on my home. I spent every spare moment I could snatch from a day writing, or studying about writing. I wanted more time for it, when I wouldn’t spend one more minute on my home. My poor husband. Of course he found it frustrating. (Through all this, I’ve been amazed at how gentle and patient he has been with me for years.)

Now, I see it where my writing belongs. It is a part of me. It is something I want to develop. But, my career in this life is homemaking. Not being an author. Being an author can snuggle in there amongst all the other things, but it can’t be my career. Why? God didn’t call me to be a writer. He called me to be a homemaker. Yes, He gave me those gifts. Yes, I have a responsibility to use them and grow them. But under the heading of my career, homemaking. A person with the career of being a lawyer doesn’t just fudge his way through that, while focusing all of his being on growing rosebushes. He doesn’t let innocent men go to jail because he was thinking about the next plant he was going to buy. He keeps his love of roses in its proper place. It’s not a bad love. It’s just kept where it belongs.

Understanding, and believing, and trusting in the priorities that God has given me has helped me calmly face the situations of my own life. If all those women’s husbands are one way, and mine is another, that’s okay. I wasn’t sovereignly married to them. I was married to mine. And right now, I need to put my focus on learning my career, not trying to have a different one. Also, all those women I envy may have learned a long time ago that their first career in life is homemaking, putting all of their life in the correct order, while I had mine all out of order.

There are still many things I must learn. There are still lots and lots of old habits that need to be broken. I still battle anxiety every day. But, now I have motivation and direction. I’m already seeing the benefits of my lightbulb moment. I’ve conquered more things in the last few weeks than I have in months. I’ve been able to communicate clearly with my husband about where things are at. I’ve had a sense of peace and control. I’m not trapped in the dungeon of, “I did the best I could, and since God saw fit to only give me these skills, everyone just needs to accept that, and appreciate it.” Instead, I freely dance in the rain and sing, “Since God has blessed me with a mind and resources, since God has told me this is my job, I’m going to go research this, so I can do my best for His sake.”

I would imagine that most of you reading this have already come to this conclusion. I would imagine some of you think of me as an excellent homemaker because my home is generally clean. I’ve learned those aren’t the same thing. Having a clean home may be because someone is an excellent homemaker. But, it may be that they go through the steps never really understanding why they’re doing this beyond just that it needs to get done, and when it gets done, they can go back to their real life. This is my real life. And it’s a good one.

I think we do a disservice to women as a culture because we don’t see homemaking as a career any more. All the things out there are a career. You have to go clock in, or go to school, or drive to an office, or at the very least have your own business to have a career. Being a homemaker is just something lazy women do. I think this has led some women who are homemakers to be lazy because they don’t see what they do as a career just like being a lawyer, banker, and business owner. If you don’t see it as a career, you’re never going to give it its due. I think some men disrespect it for the same reason. They don’t see what their wife in the home as her God-given career either. The world lies to us. It tells us that we deserve more. It tells us that being a keeper of our homes is a waste of our skill. It tells us homemaking is an un-career. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we take in those lies. We lie to ourselves, and sometimes we don’t realize we’ve believed the lie. Sometimes we react against it by thinking we shouldn’t have a career at all as women. (That’s what I did.) But we do. God gave women a career: homemaking.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

God is good. He is light, hope, and joy. In His providence, He gave me a lightbulb moment.

I have a career, a good one, and a challenging one. I’m a homemaker.


What lightbulb moments have turned your life around? How do you view your homemaking? Do you see it as your main career given to you by God? What resources have helped you the most in this work?

Pencil Dancing Chapter 2

Going Into Your Egg: Write about ways you could change your work space into a more creative space. What could you do to make even a small space more uniquely yours? More private? More comfortable? More inviting?

I’ve always dreamed of having an ‘office’ that was totally mine where I could decorate according to my eclectic desires, where I could draw on walls, and map our huge character timelines. For a short time, I had my desk in our guest room and was able to do this to a point. Then, my husband started teaching and needed that space to study and work out his sermons. At first I was a bit miffed. I had finally gotten the magical space I wanted to write and write and write. A little hidden away place just for me. My husband reminded me that the whole house was my space and he needed this one room. Lol. Well, there I was corrected.

Now, if you will remember I said I was going to look at this book from a homemaker’s perspective and not a writer’s perspective. That’s the point. I never looked at that space or even my whole house as MY SPACE. How silly of me!

After a lot of rearranging last year, my husband now has his own office and I have a guest room ready for company. My small desk had been moved into the living room and stays closed most of the time.

This question sparked a realization in me that I need to re-think my small desk. I need to think of it as the place of creative thinking for my home. It needs to be changed to my home space out of which ideas flow, not my writing space. My head is my writing space. My journals are my writing space. If I want to keep my heart and head in the right place with the right priorities, if I want to be a homemaker first, I need to make a home creative place. My trusty desk, once my Mom’s, is perfect.

My desk is already very private with deep heavy drawers and a top that closes. At any point I can just close it up. (READ: hide the mess) What I need to do to make it more comfortable is get it cleaned up, organized and probably design a better filing system. Right now the filing cabinet is doubling as surface space in my husband’s office. This would make my desk more comfortable and inviting. I need to also put pictures up of beautiful homes and delightful gardens. This space needs to change from the geeky writing space to the home space. Charts of what needs to be done, budget ideas, food, and such need to fill this space. I need to train my mind to love these things as much as my writing. I need to see them as part of who I am, not that thing I have to finish so I can write. There is much wonder in a home and I feel like I’ve been missing it due to discontentment. I just kept thinking: Why, oh why can’t the LORD just let me be a reclusive writer who cares about nothing else???

God knows best. I’m called in the Word to be a keeper of my home and I want my home to be a place that welcomes my husband and other saints in for good food and good drink. In and around that, I am free to use and enjoy my gift of writing, but not to the detriment of the other.

I’m really really enjoying looking at my home creatively from the bottom up. Now, little by little, I’ll get that desk cleaned out, cleaned up, and remade so I can use it for my home. I think I should find some room in my closet, or buy a special box to put my writing stuff in. Like a mobile creativity center. I don’t want to lose that part of me, I just want it to sit where it’s supposed to sit. I want it to quit greedily hording all my creativity leaving none for my home.

Cheers!

Pencil Dancing Chapter 1

Someone asked me the other day how I was feeling. As I quickly pondered how to answer that question, I realized that I’m not really feeling kick-my-shoes-off-and-dance better, nor am I feeling in-the-depths-of-despair bad either. I’ve kinda reached a happy medium where I have good days and bad days. I’m on a strict diet and learning the hard lessons of only doing what I can do today.

With that in mind, I’m going to try to do some slaying of two birds with one stone. I’m reading a book called Pencil Dancing by Mari Messer right now. It is intended to help a writer be more creative, but at the beginning of the book she says that her lessons of creativity can be applied to any setting including that of the homemaker. This caught me off guard. I’m used to being creative. I’m a writer after all. But, do I think of my homemaking and my home in a creative way?? I’ve decided to read this book only with a heart for homemaking and not for writing at all. I’ve already found it inspiring. I have lived too long in the shadow of thinking of my writing as creative and my homemaking as my work. I hope to step into the light loving all that I do with the help of this book.

What about those two birds that need to be slain?

Pencil Dancing has some journaling questions at the end of each chapter and I’m going to do that journaling here. See? Blog post and using my book! Two Birds! 🙂

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New Cork Board! Fabric is from the hem of my curtains. Pray Request sign is the inside of a tea box. Fall pictures are from a tissue box. 🙂

Question from Chapter 1: Raffia in the Doorway

What “barnacles,” imposed from outside yourself or from within, are the most stubborn obstacles to your creative expression? What ideas do you have for reducing or eliminating some of them? What do you most want to let go of? Write your thoughts.

When it comes to creativity in my home I’m most impeded by three things: courage, fatalism, and budget. I have always found it hard to do something creative with my home without overspending on the budget. This makes me want to not be creative at all. It’s just too expensive. I hope to reduce this fear by looking at what I already have in my home. I want to learn how to look at trash differently. For example, I used the inside of a tea box on my cork board. I just cut it up, and wrote a quote on the pretty print inside instead of throwing the empty tea box out. I want to balance this with not being cluttered. I hate clutter. So throw away, but don’t throw away everything. Look beyond something’s intended use, but don’t believe everything has a use.

I tend to be very happy with things the way they are, to the point of being fatalistic. I’m not a driven person except in a few areas. This can really hurt me in my home and even in relationships. I tend to not want to worry about new flooring. The flooring we have is fine . . . right? My oven that never cooks the same way twice is fine . . . or it’s easier to be content with it than it is to go research what oven I might like to replace it with. Put that with the budget fear and I will sit on my hands while my appliances slowly die. I hope to get over this, honestly, by sheer determination and maybe scheduled ‘research’ time. Having a set time to research would probably be the most helpful thing to me.

My husband enjoys a very streamlined, modern styled home. I tend to be very eclectic, and while I don’t like clutter, I do like stuff and books. I like books. I love the homey feeling of books, books, books. I also like throw pillows. I would buy new throw pillows every week if the budget allowed. I tend to want to haphazardly mix all the things I love together whether they match or not. Early on in our marriage finding a happy medium between our two taste was almost impossible. I think, through no fault of my husbands, that I still feel like he’ll hate everything I do in the house.

Now, as a stay at home wife focused solely on her home, and my husband really wanting and encouraging me to make the home mine, I’m a little afraid I’ll overdo it. I don’t trust myself. (If you heard some of the ideas I’ve come up with, you wouldn’t trust me either.) This greatly inhibits me. The solution to this problem is to give ideas time while not being afraid of controlled experimenting. I need to be brave enough to try out new colors. But first I need to think about it, and then maybe try it in the laundry room before I make a commitment to a whole wall in the living room. I need to find small ways to experiment before tackling big things.

What to do all these problems have in common: fear. You’d think I was a woman or something. It’s amazing what I fear in this life sometimes. I think there is also a fear of failure. What I need to do is find ways to be creative in each step and each room without being crazy.

Do you struggle with these same types of fears? What obstacles keep you from creative expression in your own home?

Slice of Life: Goals and Resolutions

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

It’s that time of the year.  Vacations are finished.  The holidays are over.  Family from far away has headed home.  Life is getting back to normal.  Articles fill our Facebook feeds, snarky quotes abound on Pinterest, and Bloggers equally groan and rejoice as they write.  It must be time to make Resolutions.

I don’t look at New Year’s Resolutions as a way to break bad habits (I think that’s called sanctification and should be going on all the time).  I see them as a way to examine the past year and set New Goals.  It’s a time to reevaluate, and since it’s the New Year, it’s a good time to start.  Thinking of goals instead of resolutions accomplishes several things for me.

1) Goals: Saying you’re going to keep up with your budget is nice.  Making a goal with a plan of simplifying your home finances is better.  Do you see the difference?  Resolutions tend to be something we try based on force of will.  Goals tend to encourage planning, evaluation, and milestones.

2) Goals have and End Point:  Resolutions can seem overwhelming.  “I’m gonna lose weight by cutting back on chocolate.”  Yes.  I’m feeling very motivated by that resolution.  (Sarcasm.)  Instead, set a goal for yourself to research chocolate.  Plan to learn about its health benefits and value by the end of the year.  Suddenly, the weight of impossible and unrealistic resolutions lifts from your shoulders.  First, you have a whole year to accomplish your goal.  Second, it’s more fun.  Third, you’re not depressing yourself by cutting something you love out of your life.  Forth, when you’re done, you’re done.  Check it off the list.  Goals are completed.  Resolutions go on forever and ever.

3) Goals come in all shapes and sizes:  You can make big goals, little goals, silly goals, and serious goals.  You can really challenge yourself, or you can manage yourself.  Big goals should be broken down into baby steps, which are really lots of small goals reaching towards one big goal.  I always try to set realistic goals, a few big ones and a few little ones.  It’s very rewarding to reach the end of your year and see what you accomplished.  This is going to look different for everyone.  Only you can figure out what is the right size to motivate you while being realistic.

Resolutions often fail because calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutionsthey express a desire to change something about our character.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Evaluating your shortcomings and desiring to be better is a good thing.  But, this should be a constant, weekly, daily, prayerful endeavor.  Not something we do in January.  Setting goals, instead of resolutions, gives you a road map for the year.  It requires you to look at last year and evaluate what you accomplished, what you didn’t, and why.  It lets you see areas of your life that may be out of control or neglected.  Setting goals allows you to accomplish something, not just hope for a few weeks that you’ll do better.

What are my goals for 2014?  Well, that’s still a work in progress.  I have many things I’d like to accomplish around the house.  I need to get my husband’s input on my goals to make sure they’re in line with his.  I need to review last year’s goals and see what needs to roll over into this year.  A lot of work goes into setting goals, and then you have to make a plan.  You have to set smaller goals.  You have to enlist help.  Always enlist help.  Be prepared to be derailed.  Life happens.  That’s why they’re year goals.

This is my list thus far:

1) Simplify our Accounting:  I hate handling bills, budgets, taxes, reconciliation, and anything that has numbers involved in it.  Stronger than my hate is my desire to be a good steward over what the Lord has given us.  This means being wise in the handling of the home finances.  Last year, I focused on getting a handle on life without the stores.  This year I want to simplify the processes.  If it feels overwhelming, maybe it is.  I will be looking for ways to work smarter, not harder.

2)Food Planning:  This is a three-part goal.  I want to make sure we’re eating healthy, yummy meals.  I also want to work on planning those meals out to the best financial benefit.  And, I want to lose weight.  Yes, as always, the New Year starts with new weight goals.  Instead of just saying I want to lose a few pounds, I want to look at the overall eating habits of our family and get a better grip on them.   (If anyone has good books or blogs on meal planning, please send them my way!)

3) Finish the work on the shed:  When we bought our home, we bought all the contents as well.  Everything we didn’t want we shoved in the shed.  My goal is to finish going through the house to make sure we don’t have things we’re not using sitting around, and then to have a garage sale to empty the shed.  I’ve been working on this goal for two years now.  This year it’s going to happen.  How?  I’m going to enlist help.  I think I’ve tried to do this on my own and it’s just not working.  I need help.

4) Continue the re-modeling of our home:  My respect for general contractors has risen dramatically over the last few months as I’ve tried to wrap my brain around how to go about the remodel of our home.  It seemed straightforward when I started and then took a sudden turn for the crazy.  I will continue to plow through this project.  It’s very challenging to try to decided who to use, what products to use, colors, cost, look, and long-term durability.    Trying to weigh what I can do with some help, and what I need to pay a professional to do is frightening.  This is a long-term goal.

5) Time Management: Somewhere between the weddings, showers, conferences, a new niece, and the holidays, I feel like I lost control over my schedule.  I feel like I was so busy running that I was never home.  And I don’t mean ‘never home’ like I didn’t have time to watch movies and eat bon-bons, but like numbers 1 – 4 were not being tended to.  I’ve been a homemaker for almost a year now and I don’t feel like I have a handle on my home.  I want to help everyone who needs me.  I want to spend time with so many people.  This year I’m going to figure out how to manage my schedule so that I can do both.  I’m going to set goals to work on my house, and leave room for people.  I want to leave myself time to do some Bible Study, some exercise.  I want to feel less frantic, and more useful.  I want my first neighbor, my husband, to have a well-managed home, not whatever I got to this week.  I know from running our business that if I can find a system, I’ll have time to do what needs to be done and do what I want to do.

Life is an adventure.  Life is a battle, a war even.  Are you ready to go?  What are your goals for this year?  Do you set Resolutions, or make Goals?