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).

New Year’s…Remembrances

Christian womanhood, Christian women, Christianity, church, God, Gospel, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, New Year, Remember, writing

It is a tradition among some to write New Year’s resolutions, which involves writing your goals and hopes for the next year. Maybe this helps some people–I’m sure it does. However, I have not been one of those people.  Perhaps my goals were too broad, too big, or just plain dumb. Other than the good exercise of writing down goals, New Year’s resolutions sort of depressed me. I liked the idea of them, but it seemed like they were just paper, pencil, and lofty goals…lofty goals I was likely not to achieve. They were time capsules of disappointment.

Several years ago, someone challenged me to, instead of merely writing resolutions, write a list of all the things I had accomplished that year and some of the things God had helped me learn. It was one of the most encouraging things I have ever done.
Now, I am not a drunk-on-self-love type. I find all of that rather annoying and unbiblical. However, it is clear that God wants us to remember what He has done in us, and when we only focus on what we want to do or who we want to be in the future, we may miss what He has already done, and who He is already helping us to be right now.
In Joshua 4 God told his people to build a memorial to remind them what He had done and to be a remembrance for their children.
“When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21-24)
So try it. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Find a piece of paper, a piece of quiet, and remember. Write things you’ve accomplished, learned, and experienced. I bet you’ll be surprised. Chat with your family about the Lord’s grace and provision for the great and the small this year of 2014. 
And a Happy New Year to you!
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
image credit: 1. google images/answerhub.com
 2. google images/mobilemarketingwatch.com

Waiting Is an Action Verb

Christian women, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus, waiting

“Annnnd…ACTION!” You don’t have to look very hard to realize that as a culture, we are addicted to action, to adventure, and to thrills. From movies to Go-Pro cameras, we are always looking for the next adrenaline fix. We connect such escapades with the value of a life. “He went skydiving! He is so lame,” said no one ever. We feel that a quiet life is a waste, right? So, punch your fist in the air and shoot off into the galaxy, just like Superman. Oh, wait. That’s pretend.


My husband is a firefighter. And while there is much to be done in other areas of his job (medicals, flight line emergencies, etc), there just aren’t that many fires around here. Due to frequent storms and the mold caused by humidity, island homes are principally made from concrete, rather than wood. Therefore, they are quite resistant to flames.


But his job is not merely to fight fires, it is to be ready to fight fires. He has spent thousands of hours training (both himself and others), pouring over literature, practicing with the trucks, and organizing materials. I am so proud of him.

Isn’t he darling?

                                                    


We say we want the battlefield of life: the front lines, the excitement. However, are we willing to train in the quiet moments? Are we willing to sweat and study when the pressure is off? Are we willing to wait?


Waiting is an action verb. It requires discipline, resolve, and choosing to make the most of the moment, even when that moment does not offer what you want. 


I remember when I was praying and hoping for my future husband, I learned that waiting was one of the greatest challenges. And the waiting continues for our entire lives. We are always waiting, waiting for that next thing we desire in life. Perhaps it’s a spouse, perhaps a child, a job, a house, a severed relationship we want mended, or maybe it’s just a well-deserved nap.

But true waiting is not sitting idle. Waiting involves trusting in God and doing what is necessary to prepare. It requires faith and steadfast courage on the days when hope seems futile and our dreams like fairytales in another tongue. 


There are days I feel like certain dreams may never be fulfilled, but as I lay them before my Savior, I realize that He does not require me to have the answers of tomorrow. He simply wants me to do my best with today, to prepare, to work, to train for that next thing. Even if I never see that dream come to fruition, I know that I will see my Lord one day. In the end, all we are really waiting on is Him. And as we wait, He is there. 


Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long.”
Psalm 25:5

Moderation: Confessions of a Secret Foodie

Christian, Christian women, dieting, health, Jesus

Do you know what makes me flap-my-flippers-like-a-seal in excitement? Donuts–the plain, glazed kind. Add a fresh cup of coffee, and I am in wonderland. 
There are so many tasty treats and so many types of delightful cuisine. I try to be healthy, and sometimes even get teased about “eating like a bird” or “dieting”, but the truth is…I love food. 
A few of my best friends are the types of people who forget to eat. This baffles me. Forgetting to eat has never happened to me. I do not forget. But with my short frame, a few pounds here and there seem to add up quickly, so I try to keep it under control. It has been the struggle of my life. 
Around the time of college it was at its worst. Although I was never emaciated and actually looked really good and healthy on the outside, I was not healthy on the inside. My mind was obsessed with being thin.
Thankfully I moved on from that, but then due to a particular stress in my life after college, I began to binge eat, cereal being my food of choice. And I would tell myself I would start a super intense diet…the next day. I was trying to fill the deep hole of sadness and loneliness, but overeating only made me feel more insecure and full of guilt. 
The problem? I was looking to food for comfort–just like others might look to drugs, alcohol, or sex. Sure, I was never obese, but I was miserable, and my heart was so very, very heavy. I avoided going out places, and I was jealous of my friends who were thinner than me.
Food makes a horrible god. And after having struggled for a little over a year with on-and-off binge eating, I just got tired. I fasted, prayed, and decided to be at peace with who I was at that moment, not looking to fad diets that promised quick results. 
Shortly after this calm resolution, I met my (future) husband, and we eventually talked about food, dieting, and moderation. The Lord used him to steady my heart and remind me that eating healthily is a day-by-day process, treats are okay, and beating myself up over a few pounds is just plain stupid.
Good food is a gift from God, but when we turn it into an idol, it will (like all idols) become a devastation. Do I still struggle with this? Yes. And my guess is that I will continue to struggle at various times throughout my life. But I know that there is victory in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. HE is my Bread of Life. And whether I am thin, overweight, or somewhere in between, the point is that live for HIM, not for my waistline.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 
1 Corinthians 10:31