catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 17 :: 2013.09.20 — 2013.10.03


Living the homemade life

My whole world changed two years ago.

I had a full-time job, but one day, God abruptly closed this chapter in my life.  Looking back I can see there was a Divine preparation at work, subtle shifts in my heart, a restlessness for a new journey that I could not yet name, but ached for.  Sure enough, it became apparent that this would not be a simple hiatus in employment, but a complete rearrangement of life: my life as one called to ministry and our shared life as a family.  I found myself as a new home-body, feeling like an alien in a strange land.  Some girls dream of growing up to be domestic divas who have full run of the house, keeping it and all who dwell within in perfect bliss.  It never occurred to me that “domestic” and “bliss” could inhabit the same sentence together.

There seemed to be so much loss tied up in this transition: loss of income, loss of vocation, loss of identity.  Every day I would come home from my new part-time employment to an empty house and the task of figuring out dinner for our family. 

For someone who had never been blissfully domestic, it came as a shock to me that something as simple as making dinner had the power to piece back together my broken heart.  It became something of a challenge: what could I put together that would taste good, fill the hungry bellies of all my boys, and yet still fit into the new confines of our tight budget?  I began pouring over the previously unopened cookbooks in my kitchen, searching for inspiration, hints of epicurean wonder that were simple enough for the non-diva gal to attempt.

And then in the late afternoon I would begin the ritual: cleaning my workspace, putting away the remains of yesterday to make room for something new.  I would gather the ingredients and, with careful attention to the newly unearthed recipe, would start putting together the thing that would keep us fed and nourished.  Ultimately it would be this meal that would gather our family around the dinner table as surely as the various ingredients had first been gathered onto my kitchen counters.

When I could not pray because the tears would sting hot on my face, hurting for all the loss, I could cook.  And cooking became my prayer.

In two years, much has changed.  Homemade has become a way of life, born out of necessity more than anything.  The old me would think nothing of going out to dinner any night of the week.  Lunch plans had nothing to do with a lunch box and everything to do with what restaurant suited my current mood.  I never thought much about the inflow and outflow of our resources simply because I didn’t have to.  It was always just so easy to buy the lives we wanted live.

But since then I’ve learned that life has a different quality when it comes from the labor of my own hands, instead of from someone else’s menu or drive-through window.  Somehow life is more satisfying.  I leave the table content, filled not just with a good meal, but with the daily exchange of family conversation, knowing that the food on our plates is the outcome of a love-filled labor.  My prayer for these souls sharing my table is that each bite would taste of comfort, joy, and yes, sweet, domestic bliss.

As one thing led to another, it wasn’t just cooking that was homemade.  Soon there was baking, costume-making, sewing, beading, writing.  In the absence of driven-ness, creativity came to life bringing a richness and depth unknown in the “abundance” years.  I discovered my true sense of “home” revealed in the stuff made with my own hands.  I discovered perhaps who I was meant to be all along.  I came to understand that the creative impulse inside was not an urge to be squelched, but a serious clue to the new thing unfolding within me. 

Deeper still, this new life caused me to see myself in a whole new way: that I, too, am the creation of Bigger Hands at work, the outcome born of love-filled labor, intention, deliberation.  All those inconvenient quirks I would rail against were really part of a grander design that the full-time worker girl could neither hold nor comprehend.  In dying to something lesser, the more that God had for me found an opportunity to be born.

Our dinner table is fuller now, the food better.  It’s healthier, tastier and just plain good.  I’m still not diva material, but I love being a homemaker, or one who makes the home she lives in all it can be.  I understand the value of my time and attention in a way I couldn’t when I was consumed with work away from home.  What I now know is that what my hands and heart produce cannot be duplicated.  It is far more valuable than anything we could purchase. This season has shown me that the life we used to be able to buy isn’t the one I really want to live. 

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