The good news in all this is more travel! There are many, many road trips in my future. There's a whole new part of the country to explore. Gracie is going to be one well-traveled kid. I was too, and I loved it.
I've been chewing so much lately on the concept of home. To add to the displacement, we're trying to move somewhere (in our same city) at some point, but that has been its own special ring of hell. Who knows how long that will take? We won't be here forever, my parents are leaving, and I feel homeless! Even Downton Abbey ended! TOO MUCH DEVASTATION.
I'm working on my contentment issues. I have grandiose visions of the future: a sprawling vegetable garden, hydrangea bushes, daffodil and tulip bulbs that bloom every year, a swingset for Gracie, rocking chairs on the front porch, a wall full of bookshelves, etc. I've had actual fantasies of backyard chickens. Maybe a goat? Alpaca? I can spin its wool and knit a sweater! Don't ask me how much I've thought about it, because it's a lot. James laughs when I mention it, but I don't think he understands just how serious I am about it. I am such a dreamer, but I'm trying to stay rooted in reality and not get swept away in my wants. It's all in due time, all in due time. Or maybe never. That's ok, too.
I've been reading Elisabeth Elliot's book Keep a Quiet Heart. I bought it on a whim after Christmas, and it was nothing if not providential because it has been the very balm to my aching soul lately. It's a collection of little essays she's written on living a life of peace, contentment, and acceptance of God's will. Every morning while Gracie naps, I take a shower and then climb back into bed for the remaining time to read my Bible and a few pages of this book. It strikes a chord in me every single morning. I want to hand this book out to every single person I meet.
This particular excerpt smacked me dead in the face the other day: "There is no end to the spending, getting, having. We are insatiable consumers, dead set on competing, upgrading, showing off ("if you've got it, flaunt it"). We simply cannot bear to miss something others deem necessary. So the word ruins the peace and simplicity God would give us. Contentment with what He has chosen for us dissolves, along with godliness, while, instead of giving thanks, we lust and wail, teaching our children to lust and wail too." (page 125-126)
WHAT. HE. HAS. CHOSEN. FOR. US. I read it over and over. I underlined it. I took a picture of it and sent it to James. God chose our lives for us. He chose where we live. He chose this separation from my family, or at least allowed it for reasons still unknown to us mere mortals. How can I get mad about it when I think of it in those terms? I've mostly been at peace over the whole ordeal, but that doesn't mean I like this. Some days I'm cool with everything, and other days I crawl into bed with chocolate. Literally. There is a bar of dark chocolate on my nightstand and I have zero shame about it.
|please enjoy the bikes in the dining room. They're very polite dinner guests.|
On that note, I've been taking the whole "bloom where you're planted" cliche to heart. I may feel borderline homeless, but I don't want Gracie to ever feel that way. I've been channeling my sadness into some good, old-fashioned homemaking. I've been working to make our home cozy and comfortable and happy, a safe haven for all of us. Every time I see my parents lately, they unload boxes upon boxes on us of my childhood things and other gadgets they don't need anymore. I haven't seen so much of this stuff since I was a tween and living in Nevada, including my Lion King diary circa 1996.
We've also been purging a lot of things and filling in the gaps with family heirlooms. I know they're just material goods, but having my family's things surrounding us is a comfort. I've had my grandma's Depression-era dishes and her 1930s and 40s sheet music decorating my walls for awhile now, and I love thinking of her whenever I see them. This place has felt so homey lately. Gracie's bookshelf is filled with my old books, her toy baskets have my old rattles, and the rest of her room is full of handmade things from friends and family. I managed to find a little room in my overflowing bookcases for my old piano music. I may not have my piano here with me, but one day I will. ONE DAY I WILL. Mark my words.
In the pile of stuff my parents hauled over, I found a stack of polaroids from 2001. Right before we moved from Nevada, I grabbed an old polaroid camera and took pictures of every single part of the house. I knew one day my memory would fade and I would want to remember the details of my childhood home. I was so right. It's funny to see the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen picture on my dresser, the life size Nick Carter poster on my closet door, and the Nancy Drew books on my shelf. Also, the front of the fridge and the bathroom sinks? I was desperately sentimental.
I've been wanting to do the same thing here, just to have a record of Gracie's first home. I walked around the house yesterday (and again on this dark, rainy morning, hence the horrible lighting) snapping some quick pictures of my favorite areas. No bathroom sinks this time. And I guess this counts as that house tour I talked about years ago? This is where we spend our days, the place I have to learn to love and appreciate over and over. The pictures on the walls are crooked, and I don't care. This is just their temporary home. I get cranky about living here sometimes, but there's a huge grassy area right out the front door and a killer park a ten minute walk away. In so many ways, I will miss this place. I will miss the maintenance men. But just their existence, not the fact that they only show up when I'm nursing in the living room or juuuuust stepping out of the shower. We're going on 6 times in a row, I think. The same man. Every time. The others only come when I'm clothed.
|My dear friend Kelsey sent this for Gracie's room, but I love it so much I hung it in mine. Thanks, Kels!|
Some more Elisabeth Elliot, because her simplistic wisdom is changing my life.
"Wouldn't it make an astonishing difference, not only in the quality of the work we do (in office, schoolroom, factory, kitchen, or backyard), but also in our satisfaction, even our joy, if we recognized God's gracious gift in every single task, from making a bed or bathing a baby to drawing a blueprint or selling a computer? If our children saw us doing "heartily unto the Lord" all the work we do, they would learn true happiness. Instead of feeling that they must be allowed to do what they like, they would learn to like what they do." (page 101)
Like a punch in the gut, right? But in a good way. This whole upheaval of my vision of life and family has been quite the spiritual pruning process. I have to take myself back to square one over and over and regain perspective. These hard times are so good for us. They are never without a purpose. We can't be happy all the time, but we can be at peace. I've seen such a change in myself these last few weeks. Some days I wake up frustrated that everything feels out of my control, that nothing is turning out the way I want it to. But I dwell on the truths that these times mean God is doing a good work in me. He's reminding me to trust in Him. What I don't yet have, I don't need.
Trust and obey. Just trust and obey.
I take the deepest of comfort in that. He has chosen this life for me. Things aren't how I imagined they would be, but I have the sweetest baby to pour myself into. I'm mourning the loss of the physical presence of my mother, but now I'm a mother too. And my baby needs me. It's hard to wallow about life's injustices for long when a ponytailed babe asks to sit in my lap while she flips through her books. So I sit on the floor with my girl and read her favorite kitten book over and over, share my lunch with her, rock her and sing to her, take her to the park, and I praise the heavens we live in the era of FaceTime. I'm going to keep saying prayers of gratitude for the mundane mercies of life: changing diapers, picking out outfits and bows, baking chicken, moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I'm going to keep making our home, wherever that is, a comforting haven for us all. I'm going to keep cooking and baking because it's free therapy, and also because a ham and cheese sandwich on homemade bread is what life is about, and I like to lie to myself about the health benefits of lactation cookies.
This life isn't about us or what we want; it's about Him. And I just really hope He wants me to have backyard chickens one day.