I shared a few posts back about damaging my camera and needing to replace it. Well, I did! It wasn’t a major upgrade at all, but the camera is a slightly newer model than what I had and I am still trying to figure things out on it. It was so wonderful to be able to get out last weekend for a day trip to nearby Montreat, NC where my husband and I went to college, met and married. These trails used to be our daily bread, our common language, and now we are so rarely in these woods! It was ministry to us both. It’s therapeutic to get away from home and our usual work for a bit, particularly to get outside together. We hiked for a little ways, looking for a good spot in the river to stop and let the kids play. I think our kids are pretty decent hikers considering their age; Philippa does well keeping up with the older two, though she can often tire out far sooner than the rest of us. As much as we’d like to go farther, we have to be content with shorter hikes and more stops and curiosity. After playing in the water for a bit the sun dropped below the mountains and the temperatures grew cooler quickly. We headed back to the trailhead and the picnic area just below it for a cozy warm fire and dinner. It was a treat for me to play around with my camera throughout the day, and I was thankful for the opportunity to capture a bit of this year’s fall color, and these simple sweet moments together with children who are growing lankier every time I turn around. Fall, the turning of seasons again, and these days slipping by so quickly.
It’s hard to believe it is the last week of October. This month is slipping by so quickly, this shoulder month when days flicker between feeling summery and wintry. We play outside so much during this month and want to soak up every minute of it. The way the light seems somehow richer, golden, playful. The sound of the dry leaves clattering to the ground, the crisp air, pumpkins sprinkled everywhere. I’m slowly trying to make headway on home projects, mainly getting more organized inside our home. I’ve struggled to feel at home here, and I’m eager to hang pictures and find homes for every little thing, making sense of the space we have. Something in me longs to make a beautiful, simple, and inviting home for my family and also anyone else who comes into our home. It often feels overrun by the chaos of books and papers, toys and random articles of clothing that have been dispensed of. Such is life with small children, but still we can’t give up entirely. Children inherently love cozy–waking with tousled hair and pulling a chair up by the fire in the early morning dark. Happily digging through the bin of winter hats and gloves and finding their old favorites once again. Setting up little homes outside and in, building forts in with fallen limbs and creating elaborate block fortresses. I think of these words from Edith Schaeffer:
In spite of wilting leaves after a period of time, the memory of that table is as vivid as if it had painted on canvas. Indeed, the memory of even short-lived beauty makes it worthwhile to take time and energy to provide a background of beauty for the human relationships developing in your home. Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas in these areas, nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves.
-The Hidden Art of Homemaking
The reality is life isn’t always beautiful, even in our own homes where we long to create a haven and a rest from the cruel and dark world. So this work is hard, plodding, slow, marked by repentance and effort and dependence on God.
This year we’ve done some of our usual fall traditions: picking apples, visiting a farm, painting pumpkins, leaf rubbings. What are some of your favorite fall traditions? I’m slowly getting back into my knitting rhythms, so very happily. I’ve cast on for Philippa’s birthday sweater (her birthday is one month from today!) with that lovely shepherd’s wool, and I have so many ideas for each of the kid’s birthdays and christmas this year. Brandon (with the help of my dad) brought home a free play gym that they disassembled from a neighbor’s yard, and we have plans to reassemble and fix it up soon as part of the children’s christmas present. Many projects on the go, many still to come, while we spend our days doing school, reading books, collecting and making pretty things. The very best time of year is still to come, and I’m wanting to clear our home and hearts, preparing and making room for the happiest season of celebrating birthdays and Christmas.
I stumbled on this song months ago and knew it gave words to our one-day new home. I knew we would probably end up with an old home, a fixer upper, and I find beauty in that. In living new fresh life in old walls. Consider playing this song as you scroll through these pictures. It’s somewhat of a blessing I’ve been humming over this new home.
These pictures are from our first time showing the kids the house, after we had keys in hand. We didn’t want to show it to them at all until it was officially ours, because the process had been difficult for them when offers on previous homes had fallen through. We opened the door for the first time, they ran in squealing. Brandon carried me over the threshold. It was a sweet, sweet moment after a long wait. And how appropriate that we closed on the house and took the kids to see it for the first time on the first day of Spring! I kept thinking of these words:
My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:10-12
And so, we get to move in and watch everything come to life, turn green, blossom and shine. We feel full of hope for what is ahead, seeing God provide this home for us in His own time and way through miraculous means.
Brandon and I have been working all week getting things ready and clean, and we emptied out our storage container yesterday into the home. I took the kids this morning and began unpacking a few toys for them to play with as I set up the kitchen. They were so excited, seeing our things again and seeing the home begin to take a bit of shape. The furnace decided not to work the day after we closed, so we are still working on getting that taken care of so we can move in officially.
Our last home had the numerical address 23 and for a long time now I have been clinging to Psalm 23. As we’ve walked this journey with Phoebe and her health battle, as we’ve admitted to ourselves that we have a chronically ill child, as I’ve fought gnawing fear in the dark of night, Psalm 23 has been a constant companion and comfort. It was always familiar but now it is personal. Now it is like a sharp sword in my hands against the darkness. When I saw that our house number on this new little white house was 623, I thought immediately of Psalm 23:6 and looked it up. How fitting it is.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is His promise to us in this life, isn’t it friend? No matter what we are walking through, whether joy or pain in our current circumstances, surely GOODNESS and MERCY are gonna follow us everywhere we go. AND? We might have just bought our first home, but our hope isn’t wrapped up in these walls, thankful though we are for a place to call home. We are always a bit out of place in this world, always a bit left longing for the house of the Lord. Always pilgrims until we make it there one day. We are gonna make it there one day, friend. We are going to dwell with Him in HIS house forever. If the joy we feel in buying our first home is only a foretaste of that joy, oh what great joy it will be!
I can’t wait to share more of our journey as a family in this new little home with you, readers! Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind. And may our hearts like doors open wide, open wide.
ps. Thank you to so many of you who have prayed with us and for us as we walked out this long journey and as we continue to face battles and uncertainties ahead. We couldn’t have done it without you! Specifically our families, our parents, my parents for letting us live with them in the interim and bring a whole lot more noise to their lives, as well as our church family and specifically our life group. Kim + Time, Heather + Chris, Kevin + Mary Lynn, Tessa + Rod: you guys are OUR PEOPLE. You have blessed us with scripture, prayer, encouragement, meals, muscle and brawn. You are teaching us what it means to live as Christ’s hands and feet here and how beautiful it is to live knit-together lives.