Joy

The tag line says it all, or it used to: Humofdelicious is was all about crafting contentment, right where I am.

That's how it started out. With the kids growing up, my main job as school volunteer, chauffeur, and homework helper started evaporating. About five years ago, with one almost out of middle school and one in high school, a wise friend, seeing  how consumed I was, pulled me aside and shared how very lost (and even depressed) she felt when the last of her kids moved away to college. After years of being chief cheerleader (like me), she was suddenly downsized right out of the job she valued most.  Nearly every one of her "friends" was a parent with whom she had little in common other than school activities. When the mortar boards flew, so did most of her human contact, so did most of what she did with her days. Just like me.

Sweet Jill wanted me to know the process of letting go and going on didn't need to be quite as hard for me as it was for her, if I didn't want it to be, and from the distance of a few years, she shared this piece of wise advice: go ahead and start crafting a life that doesn't revolve exclusively around the kids, and do it sooner rather than later.

 I'm so glad she did.

I tossed around several ideas: re-certify and go back to teaching? Find yet another career? Ponder some other way to use my gifts, energy, and time? But any time I shared my ideas with my husband, his answer was the same, and it was just this question: What about home? What will happen to the quality of life we have now?

He was right, of course. Fresh bread, homecooked diabetic-friendly meals, crazy spur-of-the-moment movie nights for anywhere from 9 to 40, lots of energy for TLC anytime? Evening visits on the porch swing after he gets home from work, time for girls' night out or Breakfast and Bible Study at the house?

Something(s) would obviously have to go. And I didn't like that thought any better than he did.

So I started looking to keep my current job while finding other ways to use my skills and gifts in a way that didn't disrupt everything we've spent years orchestrating: wholesome food, comfort, and a division of labor that doesn't mean we're trying to carry three elephants (named Job, Job, and Housework) between us.

Instead, I started dabbling in crafting for a small local fair, started the search for some different publications to write for, and started a blog to stay in practice thinking about something other than whether the dryer was working quite right. Rather than look around for what I didn't have, I was going to focus on learning to be content, like Paul.

Contentment. Doing the best with what I had.

It sounded noble, very Christian.

It turned out to be the entrance ramp to the highway I now travel.

Then for Christmas of 2011 I gave myself Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts as a stocking stuffer, an impulse purchase of a book I'd never heard of.

It was the first gift of the first one thousand. Because of it (and because God is using it), I can now admit that what I'm really looking for is joy.

A little more than a year into the experiment, I can say honestly that I believe the pathway to joy is gratitude, and not just for the rainbows but for the monsoons, too.

Since I found the free 1000 Gifts app in iTunes (portable joy!), I've started taking pictures to represent the items I'm adding to my list. Scrolling through the photographic list on my phone has become a favorite past-time while waiting for the doctor or for track practice to end. Hard to be impatient when you're bathing in blessings.

give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18



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