5 Ways to Make a Short-term Stay Feel like HOME

adventure, children, Christian, Christian womanhood, Christian women, family, home, lifestyle, Motherhood, serendipity, traditions, Travel, Travel Home

While a lot of the world has been in quarantine, our family has been in the process of moving. We’re dragging a little, but we’re grateful. Our house sold, and we have friends who are willing to take on our loud and needy crew in the midst of a pandemic. As Motel sings in Fiddler on the Roof, “Miracle of miracles!”

Allegedly we’re on our way to live in the gorgeous Cotswolds of England for a few years. It feels a little fake, but I know once my feet hit the airport floor, babies and backpacks abounding, I’ll get that rush of excitement and work to own the whole thing. 

But for now it’s setting boundaries for the toddler plopped into a new, not-ours environment while subsequently saying no to the majority of her favorite things: the playground, playdates, play places. Say goodbye to all the play! Just kidding–now we find fallen branches for her to climb, and we enjoy running through the sprinkler. One of the most surprising challenges of the quarantine has been the heaviness of being unable to give my daughter her favorite things. Clearly this is a very small hardship, but a mama’s heart still feels the sting. A few things in particular have helped us adjust, and I thought I’d share.

Temporary Home(y)

1.Essential oil diffuser/candles—Familiar and inviting smells can help a place feel more like home. An essential oil diffuser is safer than candles when you have tiny ones in someone else’s home, ha! We also use a battery-operated flicker candle for nice ambiance without the aforementioned danger. Right now I’m enjoying uplifting citrus scents like lemon, grapefruit, and sweet orange in a clay diffuser that doesn’t need power.

2.Routine—We do not follow a strict schedule, but we generally have a daily pattern that includes naps and quiet times for the littles (and us, when we don’t need to work!), exercise, outdoor play, listening to familiar music, reading time, etc. This helps with a sense of normalcy for all of us. When there are new rules for children to learn in a new location, it’s nice to have a routine that helps them relax, since they know what is coming throughout the day.

3. Enjoy what is different about the new location—for us: sidewalks. Our last house was on a very busy road, so it’s nice to just walk out the door to sidewalks and take the kids for a stroll, waving at our temporary neighbors and looking for puppies, ducks, and birds. Our daughter’s beloved Daniel Tiger says about trips, “Find what’s different and what’s the same.” Here I am taking advice from a toddler show, but this is my life now, and that is a-okay. 

4. Family traditions—Since the dawn of our little family, that has meant DONUTS, sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly. They might be fancy local donuts from a Charleston shop or 50 cent donuts from Walmart, but we eat these delectable carbohydrates with strong americanos and eNjOy!

5. Chill When You Can–Let me be clear, while I love writing about exciting trips and thoughtful things of life, my adventure-loving self is now a mother of two very dependent tiny people, and I’m daily jonesing for some veg time.

The Big Picture

A short-term stay reminds me, a tired woman feeling a bit displaced, that all of my homes here on this earth are indeed temporary. I’m a sojourner, holding on to the hem of the Prince of Peace, like the woman with the issue of blood. I’m holding on to Him. What a relief to know He’s already holding on to me (John 10:28).

Waiting to Fly

adventure, authenticity, Christian, Christian womanhood, family, marriage, Uncategorized

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It’s the tension between living in monotony and living in adventure that really gets to me. As a mother of two little children, routine is life-giving, as are structure and boundaries. But as a (quieter) member of the adrenaline-junkie club, I long to travel, see, taste, smell, jump and run. I long to relax in the arms of a new place, to sit and know and be known by it–wind in my hair and all that jazz.

Technically we’re en route to England (to live there!)–headed to serene village life, so I’m told. My husband, a federal firefighter, accepted a job several months ago. It was an absolute dream come true! However, due to COVID-19, we’re currently living with a (very gracious) couple from our church here in South Carolina. Our sweet home sold a few weeks ago, and we’re essentially “stuck” here until further notice.  The adjustment period has been rough on my toddler and on my pride and emotions as a mama who is mothering in front of others nearly 24/7.

We were supposed to be leaving for England in a few days, but now even a potential leave date is foggy and seems fake. Some days it feels like we’re hopelessly waiting for our adventure to begin, but deep down I know the adventure begins right now, and it’s my perspective and attitude that will make all the difference. Andy Rooney said, “Everyone wants to live on the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” If that ain’t the truth.

And so I climb this mountain–the mountain of messes, laundry, and tantrums–in someone else’s beautiful home. I climb the mountain of low days and not liking how my body looks and figuring out how to stay close to my husband when all it feels like I do is ask him to please toss me the baby wipes.

Many, if not most, of us are concerned and dealing with disappointments right now. It’s been so much to process.  I’m learning to hold it all with care, with contentment, loosely. Saying goodbye to our beloved little home and moving in with friends during a pandemic was both more and less than what I wanted (which was to hop on a plane to the UK looking cool as is earthly possible with a toddler and baby in tow). But I am here–in lovely and wonky South Carolina. It sort of feels like we’re just awaiting our fate, but what it really is looks more like me leaning into my faith and learning to trust God more.

I won’t be hopping on that plane today, but today still matters, today can still be an adventure, and wherever I go His Spirit is with me. As the psalmist says,

If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:9-10