Sunday, February 08, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Creating Beauty in Ordinary Days

I love a good celebration!  When we were packing for our week in South Haven last year, the one where the family was getting together to celebrate my birthday, I knew it would be a special time.

What wonderful memories there are of that week.  I was constantly soaking in the surroundings of sights and sounds and people... knowing what a rare occurrence it was for us all to be together in one place.  Near the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  Walking through the picturesque town with my favorite people on the planet.  A perfectly delightful week.

But most of life is lived in ordinary days.  We crawl out of bed each morning, many of us making coffee before we are quite awake.  There is a kitty to be fed and perhaps a dog to "let out".  For many years there was that prayer of most mothers, "Let them sleep just an extra half an hour this morning".  ;)

Some awake to the ordinary morning of a quick cup of coffee while putting on makeup and trying to assemble an outfit that matches and running out the door to make it to work on time.  Quite often while getting a child dressed, too.  I remember those years.

So while there are a number of circumstances in my life in which I could stomp my feet and whine and hold my breath until my Heavenly Father makes all things new again... I have long ago decided to focus on the good stuff of life.

And for me, it is on most days (not all but most), the luxury of ordinary days. For if you have ever lived through a crisis mode before, you came to desperately desire those times in which life is normal one day after another.

I was pondering this week not only the beauty that is in the ordinary days but how we tend to spend so much of our budget on the brief big events of life.  When in reality, we spend most of our days in the ordinary.

This year as I am honestly trying to focus on the important stuff of life more, I have been thinking through... and planning... and finding ways to do such things on a very limited income... the entire process of making the ordinary even more beautiful.

One of the things I did last week was to rearrange the kitchen in such a way that it will be easy to add homemade bread to our diet again each week.  I decided it would be a good idea to move my big red mixer back to the place on the counter next to the stove where it had sit for most of our years at this house. 

That way I could use it to make a few loaves of dough at a time, one for immediate use... one for the freezer... and a third perhaps made into cinnamon rolls.  Much like Edith Schaeffer mentioned doing in The Hidden Art of Homemaking.

For I have found if the process of creativity is easy and that which is the most complicated has been removed (in this case carrying the extremely heavy Kitchen Aid back to the counter to use it), then what I desire to occur on even the most ordinary of days will happen.

I have already been in this process with the Study for the last year or so.  Not only moving into the room many of my very favorite items so that it is warm and cozy.  But also keeping on hand and having a place to create beauty.  So whether I have a free moment or hours in which to create... the space is waiting.

I have set up the space by the living room sofa to be the perfect setting for resting with a book or a DVD or a PBS Mystery or listening to music on the itty bitty iPod.  Along with... of course... a hot beverage, a candle, and a kitty.  But it took thinking of what that space would look like and feel like ahead of time to make it possible.

I am still working on the whole "making the ordinary days" beautiful thing.  But such ponderings and thinking of ideas is part of the process of the beauty.  To look at a space I use all the time and wonder what would make it more pleasant.  Perhaps spending a few dollars of the grocery budget to buy a single rose for the desk?  Maybe changing where the bowls are stored in the kitchen so the pretty ones are easy to see (and use).

I have just begun using my iPad to make time in the kitchen even more enjoyable.  My daughter gave me a gift of music last week, the Fire and Stone album by The Gray Havens.  Gifted through iTunes so I just had to download it.  Absolutely beautiful!  Not only can I listen to it on the tiny iPod when walking, but now (thanks to the gift of the used iPad from the kids)... also in the kitchen while chopping and stirring.*

More of making the every day, ordinary day, day after day... beautiful.

There is not much we can do to change the world.  Been there.  Done that.  However, we can do a lot to make the small place of real estate in which we live to be more a bit of Heaven in a fallen world.

I hope this makes sense. But I think you understand.  For I do know there are so many like minded people... men and women... who will read this.  At least I hope you do.  For making the most of our ordinary days is our gift to the one who Created those days.

*I have the tiny iPod which does not have the ability to sit on a regular iPod dock.  It can only be listened to with ear phones.  

Photo: Latte and a slice of cake (shared with my daughter that day) from a favorite coffee shop.  Now that my friends is living.


Bonnie said...

So very true, Brenda. When we are sick or uncomfortably away from home, what do we miss? The ordinary, daily routine. The familiar things. Travel is broadening, but I have yet to go on a trip where I have not been longing for the comforts of home at some point!

Elizabeth said...

I so agree! It is the simple things of every day that is so important hence the name of my blog "simple pleasures" thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

Another beautiful post Brenda. I look forward to your weekend posts as a way to pause and take a breath and relax my way into another week.

Lee Ann said...

I sure wish I lived near you. You are inspiring.

Scrappy quilter said...

I agree too, the simple things that make each day enjoyable. Lovely post.

hopeinbrazil said...

Another lovely post, Brenda. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy those "boring" days. Each day of life is a gift.

Anonymous said...

I do love reading your posts, Brenda. You have a gift! I just downloaded some new music and put it on my mp3 player to enjoy in my kitchen. The beauty of ordinary days - I like it!! Pam (SD)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

The beauty of life is in the ordinary. Meals made, dishes washed, laundry folded, laughing with my family, collecting eggs from the chickens, reading.

It is all real life.

Love this Brenda.


Anonymous said...

A very "on the spot" post. Thankful for the "ordinary days"--like Mrs. Rabe said, "meals made, dishes washed" and then a peaceful, quiet evening of reading (maybe even a nap on the sofa). Love those times and makes the times of going out to eat and do a little shopping "special".
Thanks to our Lord for strength and help for each day that He gives us.
Blessings, Sharon D.

Cheryl said...

I love this post!
You're so right. As much as I love the "special" days, most of life is lived in the ordinary ones. How important it is to make the most of each one and to live it for the Lord!

Sue said...

So true Brenda. A book that I read and have reread many times talks about that very thing. Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard. 95% of our life IS lived in the ordinary and those things we do each day can and should be done is ways that bring us joy.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words Brenda.
Your posts are so warming and calming.
Brought to mind one of my favourite sayings. "Every day is a gift from God, that is why it is called the 'present'"

Vee said...

Wonderful stirring of thoughts you've given me. There are so many things that just aren't working well in my world and I just need to stop complaining about them and figure out how to change them!

Kim said...

Thank you for this. You always make me long for simplicity in my life. Unfortunately, when you are a missionary that doesn't happen. There are some ideas here that I should be able to accomplish. =)