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).

The Wonder and Antics of Advent

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It is that beautiful waiting–that stomach-fluttering sensation with eyes wide open in bed. Christmas is coming. The house feels stuck in time with a soft glow as Mama and Dad shuffle around downstairs. I can hear Mama say, “Jon, where’s that other roll of tape?” Christmas is tomorrow. Breathing deeply I can still smell the candle-blown-out smell from my Christmas Eve candle I got to carry to bed all by myself.  
About once a week leading up to Christmas, our family would do Advent devotionals. Sometimes we missed a week, and sometimes we forgot and only did it Christmas Eve, but it was always so special and so important. There was the gold wreath, holding four candles and one in the middle– one for each of us to light. Dad would read scripture verses about Jesus in Isaiah and Luke, and one of my brothers would attempt to blow out the candles with puffs of breath, pretending to hide his antics from Dad. We snickered and shifted, trying to find a comfy position on the floor.  There was a warmth and anticipation that enveloped us in our flannel pajamas and slippers we had outgrown years ago. My family has this thing with traditions.
Those advent devotionals taught me about living in remembrance of the Gospel and never forgetting the holiness and specialness of our Lord, our continual inadequacy, and His continual love. Now I realize that those nights were a picture of our lives.  Even though we can sit still better than when we were young, we never truly grow out of our antics. We recognize the glory of God, but still seem to fidget with the cares of this world, both the things we love and the things we fear. 
In Christ’s holiness and in the expectancy of His second coming, we are less than we should be. We wiggle and squirm, our mannerisms often irreverent. But He came all the same. He came to glorify the Father and save us. So recognize the beauty of this moment and take a few to remember and wait, remember how He came and wait with joy for His return. Maybe you’re worried that you did not get so-and-so a good present, or maybe you can’t find the other roll of tape. It’s okay. Light a few candles for Advent, read some scriptures, and let the flame remind you of the Light of the World who came to rescue you and will descend again. Christmas is coming.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
P.S. Interested in trying an Advent devotional (in addition to scripture reading)? It’s not too late! Here are a few ideas:
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