Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Christmas

Our very first Christmas together as a married couple is fast approaching -- well, is already here. We don't have much room in our apartment for a tree, and we don't have much money to spend on buying lots of decorations that we'll just have to store and move over the next few years anyway.

But how to make our little home feel like Christmas?

We spent most of our weekend doing just that. Armed with paper, scissors, and some imagination, we made Christmas.

(Be kind and remember I don't claim to be a professional photographer.)

We hung snowflakes cut from notebook paper and Anthropologie catalogues from our kitchen pass-through.

They make magic shadows.

Cake stand, old book, sugar = winter.
(the light was terrible)

Some greenery, more paper trees, and a mason jar.

Same theme, different notes.

It's simple, and definitely not Martha Stewart, but we're happy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On Contentment

The dryer is purring, the brownies in the oven filling our apartment with chocolatey smells, and this nasty month-long cold seems to be on its way out at last.

I don't often feel content, especially in the throes of daily living -- even when that daily living is filled with things I have longed for: my beloved husband, a full-time job I enjoy, good food and my own home... All of those joys come with many more sacrifices, much hard work and responsibility, much dying to self. To really embrace my marriage and keep it healthy, Millie has to die. To love and serve my toddlers at work, Millie has to die. To keep my home clean and hospitable, Millie has to die. What strange ways God works and gives and grows us, that in order to live, we must die.

This paradox has been playing in my mind for months, especially in the light that these five months of new marriage have been the hardest of my life -- and I do not say that lightly. God has put pain in our lives these past months that Andrew and I could never have foreseen, never have prepared ourselves for. We pray that we are being sanctified through these deaths, in the strange way that God works His wonders.

One of the struggles since marriage has been fighting to find a job, to find my place in this community, to find how I can work and contribute -- to a business and to my family. I approached the job market with the gifts that God brought out in me during college, gifts that would be valuable in the work field: organizational and administrative skills from working in my college library, writing and editing abilities from four years of English study, customer service from summers waitressing, and patience and flexibility from working at Ridge Haven. I held these out, seeing my gifts and abilities, and God ignored all of them. I was so sure He would place me somewhere to continue refining these gifts He's showed me, in some office, or even a library.

Absolutely not.

I'm an assistant teacher at a daycare -- a job I genuinely enjoy, but never would have placed myself in. (I had never even changed a diaper until the day of my working interview.)

My struggle has not been with the job itself, though some days that has been the source of my frustration. I just wonder what the balance is between developing and using the gifts and talents that He gives, and relying on Him. So often I feel way over my head, uncertain, inadequate, like I don't have what I need to do my job well. But I have Him, and that's enough. So then, what with my abilities? I know they don't sanctify me, or earn me favor; I just wonder how they're going to come into play later, or if they were only for that past season.

Like in every season, all I can do is trust, and I can trust, because I know that this God, my Maker and Savior, not only knows me, but loves me.

And every day for the rest of my life, I have to cry, I believe; help my unbelief. And I'm so thankful that I am free to be patient. His timing in my heart is specially suited for my life.