Monday, October 26, 2020

What I Learned About Homemaking Living Abroad ~ Part 2


"As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;
as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
~ 2 Corinthians 6:10

Living for several years in a small foreign country with a struggling economy taught me many lessons about homemaking. Since moving back to the State's, I realize how my thought process has changed in many areas. Here is my continued list of 12 random, home-related things I gleaned while living abroad (and in no particular order)... Part 1 is shared here.


4. Though You May Have Little You Can Still Give Much

Even though our neighbors were not well off, they were always giving...  fresh milk from their cows (gifted in a recycled jar), bouquets and clippings from their garden (hydrangeas and roses!), vegetables from their homestead (organic and fresh!), honey from their bees (raw and sweet!) and homemade jam from their fruit trees. Gifts do not need to cost money and generosity is not only for the wealthy. Sometimes we get caught up in the monetary world and forget how many things we can give which doesn't cost us any money and yet has real value! I was always humbled by the variety and creative blessings they bestowed on us as their new neighbors.

To give you an understanding, the gentleman who shared his honey had no wooden front door. A piece of fabric was what divided his home from the outdoors. He would bring over native herbs and share its uses with us and yet he had an exposed roof in his home. He told us where to find affordable bulk foods for our family which was so very helpful (you take Costco for granted and these things do not exist in all areas of the world) and yet his pantry didn't provide past the first day. His knowledge and friendship was worth so much to us and was a gift in itself! 


5. Preparing Food is an Event, A Process

As Americans, we often want things as quickly as possible. After all, we invented "fast food"! However, our neighbors reminded us that meal making is a slow ritual that was worth time and effort. They would roll out handmade ravioli for lunch. They would fill them with fresh chard from the garden and cover them with the pasta sauce preserved from the summer. They worked incredibly hard and the carefully crafted food they prepared was a way they celebrated their simple life. 


6. Make Meal Time Important

And as much time as they spent in preparing the meals, they also spent in enjoying them. They didn't rush through a year's worth of existence in order to spend a week's worth of vacation together (like many are in the habit of doing). They enjoyed their life one meal at a time (it is the simple things that contribute to the daily joy and make up the memories).  Each afternoon and evening was spent lavishly in regards to time. It allowed them to share fellowship with one another. Often, we think money is necessary for creating happy memories (think Disneyland, resorts, etc) when in reality, it is time! It is each-other's company that is most meaningful. It is laughter, deliciousness and love that create the best souvenirs (ones that our carried in our hearts and do not clutter up our homes). 

Time spent around the dinner table has become a ritual in our home. While having a lunch together does not work for our current schedule, dinner time is given our full attention. The table is set every evening with real dishes, serving bowls and cloth napkins. It is as if company is coming over because it is treated like a special family event. The house is quiet and peaceful (television, radio or cell phones are not guests at our table). This is where we first pray together, visit together, find out about each other's days, encourage each other and just keep connected in general. We may be there for hours. It is an investment in our relationship and I see many blessings from it! 

(Note: While we have always eaten our meals around the table since we were first married, I am ashamed to say I did not always put the same amount of love into the meals to make it special. The table would be set in the quickest way possible with torn paper napkins haphazardly arranged. I would chuck the sour cream on the table in the original container instead of serving in a pretty dish. I would rush through the meal in order to get to the next phase of the evening. I'm not saying that sometimes we aren't in a hurry and that shortcuts never happen, I'm just sharing that I began to put more time and effort toward the dinner hour and it has made such a difference toward forging a bond between us. It is hard to put into words but once you attempt to make meal time special, you will understand.)


Perhaps many of these concepts are already understood but I thought I would share them just the same. In such a materialistic society, we sometimes need reminders of how our great-grandparents lived and how rich in experience and memories their humble lifestyles were!

"As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;
as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
~ 2 Corinthians 6:10

What about you, what have you found to be true from your experiences with the topics above? I will continue the series in another post because it can take quite some time to go through. Happy homemaking!


18 comments:

  1. We always made meal time a high priority in our marriage/family....until we hit the empty nest. When our son, our only child, moved out then married, my husband really struggled sitting at the dinner table without him. He was the one who made sure we had family meals all those years. It was very important to him.

    But now, for the past 8 yrs or so, we've eaten in the living room, on the coffee table in front of the tv. It's sad to me. Of course we do still pray a blessing over our meal & sometimes we do talk instead of watch tv but he can't bring himself to sit at the dinner table without our son.

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    1. The various seasons in our lives can be a challenge... We are close to being empty nesters ourselves.. When our daughter is out on Friday or Saturday evenings, I still set our table for the both of us in the same special way as it is the perfect time to discuss personal things between the two of us... perhaps a candlelight dinner would be enjoyed for you both together once in a while with a special dinner and can revive the old family tradition...

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    2. Jenny,
      My husband was the same way when our youngest moved out. I'm not sure how close your son lives but what I did was set up a family dinner night which in our case is Friday. On Fridays- our adult children join us for dinner and it is a time to hear about each other's week. It really helped my husband sit at that seemingly empty table knowing that at the end of the week we would all gather again. Just a thought...

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    3. It’s a beautiful thought ❤️ Thank you for adding that... it will be a help to me in the future also...

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  2. My husband and I too have a hard time sitting down to an empty table. It seems awkward and uninviting.
    Our children are all happily married and have lives of their own, for which I am grateful. The days when the whole family gathered around the table was certainly delightful! That was a very good thought from one of the comments to gather together for a weekly meal together. If we all show up, including grandchildren, there will be 25 of us at the table! Potluck anyone? 🥰 Love your blog, it is heartwarming and inspiring! Thank-you ❤️

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    1. My mother actually does a potluck once a month after church and all our families come. She prepares a large roast or turkey and we all bring the side dishes. It is wonderful ❤️ Do give it a go 😊

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  3. We too eat supper at the table with real dishes and cloth napkins. I don't always use serving bowls/dishes but it is certainly our time to "come together." What you described is what I also envision Tasha Tudor's afternoon tea to be like - a moments pause.
    Also, when I do put a pot or pan on the table, I think of my grandmother - she would be appalled!

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    1. Yes! 😂 Grandmother would off shake her head at my quick ways too! Pots do end up on the table but we do our best right? ❤️😊

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  4. You know, some men just never 'get' those family dinners. We had them when the children were home - every meal - and the kids and I loved them. But he never saw them as anything special. But he's also not a talker, and is not the kind of person to linger over a meal even in a restaurant. Once he has eaten he wants to leave. I found this very difficult for 25 years, but then made peace after realising my darling faithful man is exactly how God made him and he would do anything for all of us...so yes, I'd love slow meal times, but they are not to be in our family. I do however make our meals slowly and enjoyably... xx

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    1. Dear Jenny, You bring up a true point... when dealing with different characters, we need to use wisdom... picking and choosing our battles so to speak... if becoming a quarrelsome wife is the fruits of desiring what is good, then it is no longer good... we do our best in each circumstance... which is exactly what it appears you have done! ❤️😊 Thank you for sharing❤️

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    2. ((hugs)) Books like the Lifegiving Table are wonderful, but they are not relevant to all families. We're all so very unique and if that means dying to self and having my own 'alone' relaxed tea times in the afternoon whilst bowing to my husband's desire for a quick conversation-free dinner then I am fine with it. xx

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    3. You know, I have never read that book but it has been on my wish list for awhile! ❤️😊 Thanks for following up! Have a lovely weekend my friend!

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  5. It is wonderful how the Lord teaches us things in all the places we have been. It isn't the amount that is shared, but the heart with which it's shared. When my husband and I were first married we had very very little. I was told by a lady once the reason no one was coming over to our place for dinner when we asked but instead invited us over to their place. It was because we had so little to share. It hurt my heart.
    Meal times are so important. It is also so nice to put extra effort into making it special with nice dishes and attention into what is being served.
    Love your pretty plate!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Jennifer! I wholeheartedly agree with you...

      "It isn't the amount that is shared, but the heart with which it's shared."

      That is exactly the sentiment shared here! ❤️😊

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  6. JES, you don't have to answer, but I am rather curious which country you used to live in? It sounds like a lovely place, albeit humble, judging from the picture you paint of the inhabitants. :)

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    1. Hi there! For privacy purposes, I try and stay away from sharing too many details online... I hope you understand! ❤️😊 And you are right, it is a lovely place... albeit humble... ❤️

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  7. Oh also, to answer your question, I too have found that meal time is such an important part of family life. In fact, when we sit down to supper I often say to my family, "Welcome to supper!" because I've put so much work into it that it feels like a special event. :) On the odd night it is just my husband and I, I still set the table nicely and make sure to have flowers or a candle. These are the things that make life worth living!

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    1. Yes, so very true!!! And I love your "Welcome to Supper" Greeting! It is lovely ❤️😊

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