On a Tuesday evening around 11 p.m., D and I stood outside the camper, headlamp on, processing tomatoes through the juicer to be canned. Both of us were tired from the day, and both of us were ready to be done with tomatoes. As we continued to run into problems with the juicer, finding jars in our boxes of packed up things, and with keeping our propane cooker covered enough to keep a steady fire, D looked at me and said, "Is this really worth it?"
On another evening, I was again processing tomatoes (will it ever end??) when my brother, who was visiting with his family, walked over and asked what I was doing. "Making pasta sauce," I told him, to which he replied, "Isn't that a dollar in the store? Is it really worth all of that effort?"
To both Jake and D, I quickly replied, "To me it is."
Bigger. Better. Faster. Stronger. It's everywhere around us. Our culture is constantly looking for something that will get the job faster, will make more money, will use less time. We rush through life, racing away to become more efficient, more wealthy, and more...unfulfilled.
At least, that's how I felt.
As we really truly are beginning to live this lifestyle, I find myself in a terribly busy state of life. I wake up each morning, with huge ambitions and plans for the day, only to find myself each night wondering where the day has gone and how I got so little checked off of my to-do list.
But the busy I'm feeling now is different. It's intentional. It's purposeful. These simple daily tasks bring something to my life that wasn't there before.
Though it takes time to preserve the food from our garden, and though I could just purchase it for a fairly cheap price already made from the store, there's something to be said about the feeling you have of being able to sustain yourself and not need to rely on anyone else for your food. The feeling you have in being able to create something and make it yourself, all from one tiny seed you planted many months ago.
I can buy bread. But the feeling I get in knowing that I am making something with my own hands to feed my family is worth so much more to me than convenience. As I press love into each loaf I knead, I am thankful for an opportunity to be able to share something I made with my family.
Potatoes are cheap. Really cheap! But I have found myself to be filled with so much joy in digging out potatoes with my littles as they squeal in delight as they pull them out of the ground, that I can't imagine not doing it again next year.
I'm even finding joy in the task of washing dishes. The warmth of the water and the feeling of accomplishment when the pile is done is rewarding.
I guess my point is that maybe we shouldn't always be looking at how to make things faster or easier. Maybe, these mundane and routine chores of daily living have some purpose. Perhaps convenience has taken away opportunities to enjoy simple pleasures of daily life and in turn, moments of gratitude just for living.
There is joy to be found in hanging laundry out to dry. Though it takes longer and requires you to depend on the weather for laundry dates, there is opportunity for quiet reflection as you hang the clothes out in the fresh air of the early morning sun.
A trip to the house in the morning to get fresh water to drink might be an inconvenience. But the feeling of the early morning air as it fills my lungs, the sound of the few songbirds left as they sing their morning songs, the glow of the sunlight as it first shows its face for the day...I don't mind the walk for water.
Though convenience gives us more time, what it takes away can also be something to consider. When we go to the store to buy the can of tomato sauce, we miss out on the blessing of being in the garden, hearing the birds sing around you and taking in the fresh air. We miss out on feeling appreciation for the gift of the tomatoes that you worked so hard to grow. We don't get the whole picture...we're missing the best part.
I'm not saying convenience is the enemy...I just want to be purposeful with what I choose to make convenient. I want to fill my life with opportunities to enjoy my daily living, and to enjoy this ride on this beautiful Earth. And, granted, there are days when there is no joy at all in the tasks that I'm starting, and I grumble and complain in my head about what is to be done...but that's only because my mind has blocked myself from seeing what could be. All around us are opportunities to notice, to appreciate, and to enjoy. Let's take those opportunities, serve God with our time and actions, and make something amazing out of today. Let's enjoy the simple gifts of life, giving thanksgiving for the opportunity to experience it. As you work with your hands and give of your time, let's think of how it could bring joy to others or to yourself. Let's enjoy this ride that we're on, taking it all in as we go.
What parts of your daily living bring you the most joy?
"Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one."
-1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
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