Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Work of Our Hands

God has been so loving to give us our homes, and children to fill them. If the earth is the Lord’s, as Scripture says, then certainly our homes belong to Him also. It should follow that our homes should reflect His ownership. Understanding this should influence the way we decorate and manage our homes with resources that the Lord has given us.

While looking at the subject of simple living, it occurred to me that our homes no longer have the distinctive simplicity and warmth they once had. When you consider that the homes of our early Christian sisters were decorated with intricate needlepoint, handcrafted blankets, crochet-edged linens, and other homespun works of art, the homes of today are truly lacking that same appeal. This could well be a result of the modernized ways of our present generation. We seem to have found more value in manufactured cookie-cutter type goods, than in the heartfelt art that once held great meaning to us and graced our homes.

Other reasons for the lack of interest may well be that women of today feel that they have better things to do, or they just don’t have the time, or that handcrafting is a form of domestic bondage. We can debate about the reasons, but it could be that we may have simply lost interest in homespun works of art. Let’s be certain that the skills of our mothers and grandmothers do not slip away. It is the duty of this present generation to insure that these home skills get passed on to the next generation.

My Experience with Hand Crafts
I have learned several types of crafts over the years, and have gotten fairly proficient at sewing, knitting, macramé, crochet, and flower pressing. The one skill I have the fondest memories of is when I learned to knit. I recall learning from my elderly Dutch grandmother when I was a very young. She was very talented at nearly everything she made by hand. After she taught me the initial steps, I would go to her cottage with my knitting project, and she would teach me step-by-step so I could finish it. I would sometimes put my knitting down for the day and watch her sew for hours on her old-fashioned sewing machine.

My maternal grandmother was gifted at creating lace-edged handkerchiefs and hand-crocheted shoulder straps of nightgowns. She used thread to crochet beautiful patterns with her thin crochet hook. I still have some of her old hankies, and I have come to cherish them.

My mother was another gifted person in my life. She loved to take pieces of nature and work them into wreaths and other projects she found to work on in her home. I still have some of those projects, just as I have some of my older sister's projects that she would also craft from nature.

I think the reason why I think so fondly of those things now is because I am getting older. Just as a person may think about why they hadn’t furthered their skill in playing an instrument while they were younger, I have found myself thinking about how I can make a difference now by trying to further develop those skills I once had in my crafting. Raising a family has given me an excuse to put them down for years, but I have recently begun to knit again and wondered why I ever put it down. 

One reason I put them all down was that I was always trying to find a hiding place for my projects so that little hands wouldn’t come unravel them, or I’d have to do a rescue job on my sewing machine because my baby stuck straight pins in all of the openings of my machine. I became resigned to the fact that crafts would have to wait until a later time. I have decided recently that the later time is now. 

We Are Different     
Historically, the way people decorated their homes reflected their values and philosophies. Today it is the same way, but our values are different than those of the rest of the world. Therefore, our homes should be decorated in a simple manner, and with things that are from the works of our hands. Christian homes should look different and be different. When you walk into a home, you should be able to learn something about the interests of the family who lives there, and who the keeper of your heart is. By adding your personal touch, your home becomes a haven for your family, and a place that makes them feel comfortable. It should not be merely a showplace.

Gifts From Our Hands
As the Lord provides you with the resources, and as you make a comfortable nest for your family, don’t forget the value of making a home-crafted item as a gift for family and friends. Just as the family in Little House on the Prairie gave handcrafted gifts on birthdays and Christmas, we can also bless someone with a thoughtful handcrafted gift.

You may be thinking, “I just don’t have the time for that!” But you may want to consider this one point before saying that: My sister started her Christmas gift projects for the following year directly after Christmas. She took advantage of all the seasonal sales, and worked diligently all year long on her handcrafted gifts. Her embroidered pillowcase covers took her quite a while to finish, and starting after Christmas gave her the time to complete them without a time crunch.

An advantage at making all of these gifts is that it fits right in with the simple-living lifestyle. Making gifts usually costs considerably less than if you were to buy everything right before Christmas. Also, these personal gifts are something you will cherish, even more so after the person passes.

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” Psalm 90:17

Please don’t misunderstand me by thinking that if you diligently craft your days away, you will become a more godly woman. My desire is for you to see that the work we accomplish while we are here on earth will not fade away and will become our legacy. You may feel that our lives are just a moment in time, and will not have an effect on what happens in the future. This isn’t true, because we will touch the lives of our children, who will in turn touch the lives of our grandchildren and so on. The work of our hands will live on forever. This is because it is in the things we say, the way we taught our children to work, and by what we created with our hands to pass onto our future generations. Those precious things will have more value than you realize.

~Article was originally published in the Kindred Spirits Journal
Issue #22, March 2007

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