Monday, June 20, 2011

30 days of work in the home

See the post for Monday, June 20, 2011 at the Merry Rose for a discussion of the fact that doing work with our hands releases feel good chemicals into our bloodstream. One of the most beautiful images in Proverbs 31 is of the worthy woman who works with eager hands in delight, who stretches out her hand to the distaff, whose hands grasp the spindle, who extends her hands to the poor and stretches out her hands to the needy and whose life's work is partly evidenced by the product of her hands. The picture of this woman who is so busy with her hands is one of a woman who is happy in her work and whose handiwork benefits her family and community.

Now, science has given us explanations for why we find that quiet work with our hands is so satisfying. It may be hard to get started on such tasks, but, once we do, a cycle is set up in which our bodies actually reward us with the pleasure of meaningful work and we wish to do such work again. I've covered the scientific side in my post at the Merry Rose.

The scientists who have discovered these built-in biological rewards for working with our hands generally believe that this is a survival mechanism built into our pysches and our bodies through blind evolution. Personally, I think this is a created response given to us by a Creator who, Himself, finds satisfaction in good work (See Genesis 1). I believe that He has put this part of His Image into our nature. He wants us to find satisfaction in our work. While it's true that the fall of man has added pain and frustration to tasks that were originally meant only to be productive and fulfilling, we find that work does add meaning to our lives. Working with our hands to produce concrete results is some of the most meaningful work we can do.

While God may not work with hands exactly as we do, we do find many places in the scriptures where it says that he delights in his works. Certainly, when Jesus came to us in human form, he knew the pleasure of doing good work with his hands. He was, as we know, a carpenter's son. Later on, he used his hands to heal and to make whole. What could be more satisfying than that?

Most importantly, Jesus stretched his hands out on a cross and died for us. That act caused him pain. But he endured it for the joy set before him of seeing many saved. He rose again.

What was one thing he did right after rising from the dead? He cooked fish for his friends.

How happy we can be in doing good with our hands, not just because of a physical reaction -- though that is welcome -- but because of the spiritual satisfaction of pleasing and imitating our Lord!

Happy Home Keeping.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 days of work in the home --

Memories and Mementos

The home worker who feels overwhelmed is often someone who is sentimental and keeps too many things because of the emotional attachment that the things represent. That's one of my weak areas.

Of course, a home is not a home without some items that represent meaning to us and to our families. As Mimi Does says in Busy but Balanced, "There needs to be a space for the mementos that support the souls of those of us living here -- objects with a story, creations made by small hands, treasures found in nature, collections gathered over time, photographs that ignite memories."

So, what are some wise tips for dealing with items of sentimental value?

1) Do not equate people with things. A lovely gift from a beloved friend can cheer up your home. A beautiful heirloom from a grandparent or parent can trigger happy memories. However, if you are keeping something that triggers only grief or pain or that you really don't like, remember that you don't have to keep it just because someone gave it to you. You can honor a living person or remember someone who has passed away in other ways.
2) As we move through the different seasons of our lives, different things will have meaning to us. Periodically evaluate what you are keeping and why.
3) If you have trouble making decisions about sentimental items, you can employ a number of methods to help you. Talk the decision over with your spouse, a trusted friend, or an adult child. Ask for their honest input. They may not be able to decide for you how you feel about an object. However, hearing their thoughts can help you discern your true feelings about it. Plus, if you are keeping something with the idea that someone else will want it some day and you find out that they will not, you can let it go.
4) Learn how to store photographs, linens, and valuable objects. If you do not keep them out on display or in use at all times, you will need to store them in a way that they won't fade, become discolored, or otherwise be destroyed.
5) Give each of your children a file box. Each year, help your child choose just a few things from that year to keep. Here again, some memories can be saved in ways other than by keeping every item. Take pictures of some things and store those pictures on your computer or in a photo box. Or, you can help your child write a short sentence about what an object represents before culling it from his or her stash.

Happy Home Keeping!