I have alternated between being an ostrich and burying my head under the sands of life; a mule slowly and stubbornly plodding up, down and around the curves of this journey; a chimpanzee darting from this activity to that, chattering and making joyful noises while finding pleasure in simple things. Long sigh, the elegant analogy of my life as a zoo... I am currently in North Carolina housesitting and dogsitting for my brother. Yesterday, Sean and I gave a bath to his dog. As non-pet owners, we are not used to pet smells (strange, isn't it, considering my life is a zoo?) Halfway through, the bewildered dog jumped out of the tub, startling Sean who also jumped up. In the cramped quarters, his backside rammed into the toilet tank cover, and the force caused it to flip off and crash to the floor. Who does this happen to? We had to track down a replacement toilet tank cover before my brother and his family returned from their trip and before Sean had to catch his plane. Thankfully, there was a company specializing in discount toilet tank covers not too far away. Who knew that such companies existed? My sanity was restored for $18.00. What a ridiculous experience! Prior to Sean's return to Maryland, we went to the library here to stock up on books and DVDs. I checked out two biographies and a stack of homeschool books; I really enjoy learning about others' experiences, and I need a boost of encouragement in the homeschooling department. Every year after the holidays, things start to d-r-a-g. For the children, I checked out two Charlie Brown DVDs - I have an addiction to the way Barnabas laughs at Charlie Brown programs. It's childhood innocence at its finest. I love watching his face - eyes opened wide and twinkling with amusement, then the peals of laughter exploding in the living room. Long after the children are put to bed, I stay up reading and have finished both biographies. I cannot go to sleep, you see, because my services are needed as soon as the throwing up begins. Mireille has been coughing at night, and it inevitably causes her to throw up. So I have been on duty to ensure that she makes it into the trashcan and not all over her cousin's bed. Three nights of late nights reading with vomit interruptions - another dimension to this zoo dispensation. A good mix of music, from Sandi Patty to the Supertones, underscores this daily drama. Life is good. God is here with us. He is my Safari Guide, Tent, Canteen of refreshing Water, and everpresent Help in the midnight hour.
Posted by Miki at 3:18 PM
My last post was about moving into a tiny space with my family and embracing this new season. This blog is about the three precious years we spent in this cute little Cape Cod style house. I still miss this house, its warmth and charm; though I know I can't go back, the yearning for being there is overwhelming at times.
We bought this fixer-upper the year I struggled with postpartum depression. When we first drove by it, I immediately imagined myself sitting on the back steps. Even though the renters kept the place a mess, I saw beyond it, and the place charmed me. Sean started the initial phase of fixing up the place but soon discovered that it was not his strong point. On the other hand, I discovered an ability and enjoyment in doing things around the house, from painting to landscaping. It took me nine hours to dig out all the large flagstones for the walkway and many more hours to lay them back down over a base of landscape fabric and sand. Eventually, I had the dying tree in front cut down then put flower beds around the perimeter of the house. Inside, I painted the living room sage green and the ugly brick fireplace a creamy white for a cottage chic feel. The dining room had a yellow and blue stained glass chandelier, so I painted the walls a cheerful yellow and hung vintage-looking curtains that were cream with yellow and blue flowers. It was so elegant! The kitchen had a French bistro feel, with chocolate brown walls, a dark green counter top, and curtains and a border to match. It was fabulous!
Fixing up the home and making it ours was therapeutic to me during that difficult time. It promoted my healing to be a big part of creating that loveliness when I felt broken and incapable so much of the time. Though there were painful times, there were so many more joyful moments in that home. My children were so happy! They had friends come over for birthday parties, play dates, and our annual gingerbread decorating party. I hosted tea parties and game nights with friends. We raked leaves in the Fall and jumped in them, and the house seemed made for Christmas decorations. Our neighbors were slowly coming out of their shells, and our house was becoming the gathering place to chat and play. Many of the happiest memories of my life took place at that house, and I will carry them in my heart forever.
I am okay with that season being over and recognize the growth that took place in our lives when we moved away. This journey we are on with God is ever-deepening, and I appreciate the understanding I have gained in the last two and a half years since we moved from there. What made that house special ultimately was more than the outward design of it - it was the presence of God and a happy little family. He's still with us wherever we go, and we're still that happy family!
Posted by Miki at 9:32 PM
It is Tuesday afternoon, and I'm holding a restless yet tired baby. It's been a week of feverish children, hacking coughs, packing like crazy and the loading and unloading of trucks. In the midst of it, God answered my prayers that everything would fit, we'd be out in time, everyone would stay safe, strength would hold out, and the resettling will go smoothly. God is truly faithful. So here we are in our "new digs." Well, not really. Our place isn't quite ready yet, so we have taken over the master bedroom at our relatives' home. The children have pretty much slept for the last five days, so all they require are comfy beds and lots of tissues. I need my children to be settled, and then an internet connection so I feel connected to the outside world. With that accomplished, I am just waiting for them to totally recover from this virus their bodies have been fighting. At some point today, we will be able to get some laundry done, and I eagerly anticipate wearing clean clothes. Sigh. Our apartment lease ended last November, but we didn't want to move again around the holidays. So we extended our lease to the end of January and started looking at homes to move into. After a year in a small apartment, we were all looking forward to more space. In December our relatives mentioned that they were building a basement apartment in order to bring in some income - I sensed God leading us to consider this and after some discussion, we decided to be their first tenants. It would enable us to save some money to buy a minivan without taking out a loan, give us more time to find the place we wanted to move to, and help out our relatives financially. Plus, I like challenges! The opportunity to downsize and live in closer proximity appealed to me. It could be preparation for the mission field or teaching us how to live with less. Then the "Workforce Reduction" happened, and we were so thankful for God's hand, preventing us from signing a lease on a more expensive place or buying a car. As I wait to move into our cozy new place, some questions linger in my mind. Who decided that everyone had to have their own bedrooms, formal and casual rooms...all this compartmentalized space in a home? We get used to living this way, but what are other options? We rarely take the time to consider this since our lives, what is available and expected in this culture, are pretty much set for us. Is having a home filled with nice stuff required for happiness or even a sense of success and prosperity? Have we failed if we aren't able to check off that list: Own Home - check, Two Cars - check, Formal Dining Room - check, Lots of Toys - check, Latest Gadget - check. I absolutely don't think there is anything wrong with those things. But with my recent experience packing up all of our stuff, I was overwhelmed by the amount of things we had that we couldn't manage. It feels like our things own us, and we don't have a lot! We left behind a dining room table, chaise lounge and sofa when we moved to Baltimore, knowing we were going into an apartment for a year. I also consider my experience as a missionary. I moved to Ethiopia with all my belongings in two suitcases, and then the larger suitcase full of clothing, shoes and toiletries was later stolen. I had a handful of outfits, a camera, some books, some good music, and a few pairs of shoes to my name. Did I miss the stuff that was stolen? Though some of my favorite dresses were in that suitcase, the answer is not really. Life went on. It was easier to manage my things and pack for my return trip to the States with less stuff. I have dubbed this new season in our studio apartment "A Social Experiment" and will blog about different experiences, challenges, etc. as they come up. I have actually been looking forward to this move and for what it will teach us all. I want my children to experience life in a more simple way, learning to get along and consider one another as we share the small space. I want to challenge our cultural expectations head-on and discover what is truly required to live a satisfying life. To me, this is an amazing opportunity, a God thing, as we wait to see where we will be when Sean gets a new job. In the meantime, we have a budget that allows our family to live comfortably while we wait. Sean is getting freelance assignments that continually add to the pot too. To quote a true saying, "We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future." Amen.
Posted by Miki at 12:06 PM