Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Happy Pursuit of Staying At Home

I wonder how long I could stay at home without going a little dotty.

The first year I was in Oregon, teaching at Lake Creek School at the tender age of 19, I had something going on every single evening of the month of December. Programs and practices and youth activities and out to dinner with my cool friends and family gatherings with my landlord's family and church and many other wild and happy activities!

I was out of Minnesota and off the farm, and I had a life!! At last!!

Some years later, we have the last few weeks of January, 2018, in which Paul and I drove an hour and a half one Sunday morning to go to Dema Chupp's funeral, then that afternoon we went to a fancy AirBnB house for a retreat with the church ministry team for a couple of days.

We had exactly one day at home before we flew to Pennsylvania for a school administrators' conference. The following weekend I was gone again, to the church ladies' retreat at the coast.

"Do you like doing this sort of thing, or would you rather stay home?" Emily asked me before we went to Pennsylvania.

I said, "To be honest, I'm already thinking, 'Only one more week and I'll be home again, making tea in my own kitchen!'"

Paul said, to Emily, "I think she goes away just for the thrill of looking forward to coming home."

Since the ladies' retreat, I have stayed home a lot. I make tea in my kitchen, with the best water in the world in my own sturdy kettle. Every time a planned activity gets canceled, I do a happy little Mennonite-lady dance.

Every day when there's nothing scheduled away from home, I feel blessed and grateful.

One day I gathered every smidgen of tea from two pantries, one cupboard, the gift drawer, and the countertop, and I sorted and evaluated it all. Then only one of each type went into the kitchen cupboard, and the rest went into the pantry, sorted by type.

I've found that you can read all about downsizing and efficiency, but the key ingredient that is often missing for me is staying at home to do it. When you're gone a lot, you lose track of where you put the box of mint tea, and you're all rushed, so you buy more. Also, the white jasmine tea that no one likes migrates to the back of the top shelf, where no one sees it, and sits there taking up space for years.

So while it was alarming to see how much tea I actually own, it was utterly satisfying to get it all in proper order, and to get rid of what no one uses.
"Don't judge," as worldly people like to say when they know they are being ridiculous.
I've also been setting up my new sewing room upstairs, now that the old sewing room is a guest room. This has been a long process, starting with boxing up and storing my sewing stuff when Dad came last summer, and only recently picking through it again. My pattern stash is a lot like my tea stash, with some of the same unfortunate duplicating and also there's that whole boxful I got from my friend Sharon when she moved, which never got sorted and put away.

So the patterns are to get categorized this week, after I get the box of mid-size children's patterns down from the attic, and I hope to send half of my collection to the MCC Relief Sale.

[Which still leaves plenty for me, trust me.]

Along with sorting and organizing, I've been sewing.  I finished an apron I started long ago, altered two blouses to make them fit, made a skirt from start to finish, and also made a little girl's dress just because I was in the mood to make a little dress.






No wonder my mom always looked so blissful and content, staying home and sewing while the snow fell.

But was I going just a little crazy? I watched for signs. Was I living vicariously through my daughters' adventures out in the big world? Well, I always do that, so that doesn't count. Was I arguing with people in my head? Not excessively.

I kept sewing and organizing and also staying caught up with our laundry, which is a wonderful thing. I made tea several times a day and read two books. I canned sausage like I was preparing for a siege.

One day I took offense at something Paul said, and over-reacted just a teeny bit. But we talked about it almost right away, and I didn't spend a week arguing with him in my head before I brought it up, so that was all ok in the end and not too alarming.


Then on Saturday I thought, "Hey! Tomorrow I can go to church and talk with people! That will be fun!"*

That was when I knew that staying home this much was good for me, and healing and healthy and life-giving. Because when things are far too busy and we are running, traveling, going, meeting, driving, flying, and just zipping hither and thither, then church becomes a heavy obligation, another thing on my endless list, and a duty to be dutifully performed.

I'm always glad I went, but getting out the door on Sunday mornings--that's the hard part.

*Yes, I also go to church to worship God, in case you're worried. But I was also happy about talking to his people.

We don't have much on the calendar for this coming week, either. I am starting to ask God who I'm supposed to call, write to, invite over, or meet for coffee. Certain people are coming to mind, women who aren't visibly needy, but they show up in my thoughts with a quiet nudge. Yes, her. She needs someone to talk to.

Because that is also a benefit of staying home: you feel like you have something to give to others, room in your soul for another, space in your mind for listening--instead of cringing when the phone rings or feeling overwhelmed at another email to answer.

There's a bestselling book called The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. If I wrote my own version, I would call it The Lifechanging Magic of Staying Home.

But first I'll go have some more tea.

Quote of the Day, from Christmas vacation:
Jenny: Dad should learn to play the didgeridoo. It helps with snoring.
Matt: Jenny, be VERY. CAREFUL. what you wish for.

36 comments:

  1. I can identify with the tea stash, although mine isn't as big as yours. Recently (while getting ready to move) I was evaluating and sorting tea bags. I was amazed at the variety and quantity of tea I found.

    I would love to have more time at home these days. I had hoped I would be finished down-sizing before I move, but it seems like a never-ending process. I have gotten rid of so much stuff, but there is so much left. I can hardly wait till my entire house is orderly. LRM

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    1. There's nothing like moving to make you weed out and cut back. Hope the process goes well for you.

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  2. Dorcas, I am working home full time now as a writer and speaker. My other work in these days is counseling, so when I'm not by myself I'm with people who may or may not be healthy. You can imagine. God answered my prayers by allowing me to work from home, for which I'm thankful after 15 years of working outside the home. The home has such a place in my heart and as the nest empties I do believe that our homes are also the places where significant ministry happens. Thank you for reminding us of the value of home.

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    1. Bless you and I agree that there is a transition to ministry as the nest empties.

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  3. I love being at home now. When we lived in CA, I didn't like being home because, well honestly because it was a mess. Now in our new home, I enjoy staying home where I can get some sewing lessons done. I can create more yummy recipes and crochet fun projects. I can actually get cleaning done if I'm at home and not running from this place to that place. I feel more like a Keeper at Home.
    Thanks Dorcas!

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    1. Interesting. I think it can be a vicious cycle--if things get chaotic at home it's tempting to stay away, which makes things get worse at home, and so on. I'm glad you're feeling more settled.

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  4. I think that book "The Lifechanging Magic of Staying at Home" is sorely needed! When we stay home and establish routines our homes become havens and sanctuaries rather than depots. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

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    1. I like that word--"sanctuaries." I really want "home" to be a welcoming, peaceful place.

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  5. I love this post on pretty much every level. But I have no idea what the quote of the day means. I will have to consult Google.

    I have a huge tea stash, maybe like 1/3 what you have.

    -Luci

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  6. I laughed out loud when I saw the tea picture! My family teases me about all the kinds of tea I have...but when you drink several cups a day, its nice to have a selection! Yes, staying at home is therapuetic!

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    1. I would love to share some of my tea with you!

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    2. Well, our friends Dave & Carol just moved there, so maybe....some day!

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  7. I loved and related to almost everything in this post. I, too, now love staying home since we moved to a smaller house and the nest is empty. It is actually clean and uncluttered most of the time! The concept of the home as sanctuary is very prominent in Judaism and the woman is the "akeres habayis", the mainstay who brings holiness to the home. I laughed out loud at the "happy little Mennonite-lady dance". Just last week I did a goofy little happy-dance because it's parent-teacher conferences in the schools and I don't have to go to them ever again! Also the lovely little girl dress you made is almost the same as the blue gingham dress that all 3 of my girls had their portraits taken in when they were 18 months old. I don't have as much tea as you, yet.

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    1. I love that "akeres habayis" idea!

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  8. Judge?! I rather envy that stash! I'd like to try some of it. I only have about4 different kinds. Good post. I enjoy home too esp when my children and I can mess up the kitchen. But then I'm ready for a break again.

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    1. I love a good black tea in the morning, an Earl Grey in the afternoon, and a rooibos at night. Plus lots of others for variety.

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  9. Wow! All that tea! :) The little girl dress is darling. I have a lil girl and I love cute dresses.:)

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  10. I enjoyed reading your blog about "staying at home". I am in my 70's and I am a home body. So many things to do at home. I enjoy downsizing and as I clean out closets I show something to my hubby and he says,"here let me sell this on FBard sale". so we are blessing others with things we don't need or use anymore. I also enjoy baking, sharing cookies with friends. feeding our daughter & family each Sunday at noon plus we usually have a few x-prisoners at our table who live by themselves and are a testimony of the We Care Prison Program in our area. I enjoy reading and encouraging people via e-mail and telephone. Keep writing and sharing your thoughts. (our oldest daughter is married to Rob Swartz)

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    1. Bless you for cleaning out closets at this stage of your life, and for feeding and blessing others as well!
      Fun family connection there...

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  11. Several comments come to mind:

    1. First, several killer lines in this post: "I've found that you can read all about downsizing and efficiency, but the key ingredient that is often missing for me is staying at home to do it." And "'Don't judge,' as worldly people like to say when they know they are being ridiculous." I almost woke the son on my lap, laughing.

    2. What you love, you really love. Fabric. Tea. I like that about you.

    3. Although yes, in an entirely non-judgemental way: that is a LOT of tea. I think you should share some immediately.

    4. I know you have history with your unusual name "Dorcas," for good or ill, but today for the first time I connected you with your Biblical namesake, and wondered if that is a legacy that your mother, or Jesus, intentionally gave you to share. Today it was that enchanting little girl's dress that made me think of it, sewed because you wanted to do it and because someone you know will benefit from it. Who does that?? I love that you sew for others, and for love, and for joy.

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    1. Oh Shari, you say the most kind and encouraging things, always.
      You know, sewing was one of the hardest skills for me to learn, and my name seemed like a bad joke. But when I learned to sew, I really GOT IT, and have lived up to my name ever since. I see it as one more example of Redemption.

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  13. Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging others as well. It is such a good feeling to organize the stash of items that accumulate.
    I'm grateful we could visit at your church this past Sunday and thank you for blessing us with a meal when I'm sure you had other things to tend to. It was so refreshing!!!
    May God bless you this week as you serve Him by reaching out to others who need a listening ear.

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    1. It was great to have you here and to meet your family. The dinner was very low-stress!

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  14. Did I mention I also have a huge stasb of tea too! I love drinking tea and maybe I'll post a picture of my tea or my blog.

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  15. The Baritone2/22/2018 9:36 PM

    That has to be one of the funniest quotes of the day you've ever posted! Thanks for the laughs. :-)

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    1. Thanks! Just guessing you know more about didgeridoos than I do, so you can actually picture this.

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  16. Are you aware your new post is not on your blog the American Cultural Divide ?

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    1. Yes. Someone found it offensive and ....well, long story...but i took it down for now.

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    2. This is why I'm sort of glad nobody reads my blog. I never offend anybody! :)

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    3. Dorcas, you have a 2nd blog?

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  17. I love tea, hot or iced. The only familiar tea I see there is the PG Tips and the Yorkshire tea. I like those, black, with a sandwich at lunch.

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