the state of being content

I am trying to embrace contentment. To truly embrace being happy with what I have and the circumstances in which I find myself.

IMG_0128

Which means I am trying to embrace this apartment as home.

This apartment with the hot water heater in my closet. This apartment with no dishwasher or garbage disposal, with barely usable cabinets, and horribly inefficient refrigerator. This apartment with a tub that doesn’t drain well, with a porch that fills with water when it rains and then floods the downstairs neighbor’s kitchen . This apartment that is crammed full with our stuff, especially in the spare bedroom that doubles as a garage (and has boxes of my teaching materials piled to the ceiling).

I have struggled to embrace this apartment since the day we signed the lease. Our one year in our other apartment turned into four, and I kept consoling myself by saying that the next place would be better.

IMG_0398

And then we moved 1,000 miles away to a town where good, affordable rentals are in high demand but low supply. We stepped out in faith, which included trusting that God would provide the money to pay our bills (since we’ve both left “stable” jobs in the last couple of years in order to pursue a dream). So we chose the budget-friendly option (not to mention, we only had a weekend to find a place and sign a lease, and this was one of two available options at the time).

Because of this, I have refused to settle in. I have not hung a single picture on the wall, “because hopefully we’re not staying in this apartment through the winter.” I have refused to be creative in trying to find homes for all the little random things, “because I just can’t make it work!”

And I have complained. Loudly. And often. Because I think I am entitled to something more…just because I exist.

At the beginning of July, I was feeling convicted on this subject, and looked up Scripture on contentment and thankfulness. I even wrote down verses on cards, but haven’t sought to apply them with any sort of diligence.

My perspective is (very) slowly starting to shift, though. I’ve read blog posts by others who have honestly wrestled with the same issue, and found encouragement from them. I have visited with people in a home that was cozy but had a warm, well-lived-in feeling.  And there were no apologies for what it lacked materially because the hearts of the hosts were hospitable and generous to share what they have. There was no sense that anything could be considered lacking.

IMG_0500 IMG_0503

My home will be hospitable if my heart is–even if my furniture is mismatched and well-worn.  Even if my space is cramped.  Even if comfortable chairs are in short supply.  Even if my bath towels are stored on an open shelf, visible from the living room couch. Really, does it matter? Not all that much.

IMG_0561 IMG_0516

(By the way, I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I have a lot of beauty around me to appreciate. Every single day.)

Advertisements

At Home

We’ve now been here for 3 weeks, and are fairly well settled–at least physically.  I think it takes a while to settle into a new place emotionally.  That’s not to say we don’t love it here–we absolutely do!  We’re simply still adjusting to a new town, a new state, and a new pace of life.  It has been good for me to be in a slightly uncomfortable space again because it is forcing me to re-evaluate my priorities and re-adjust my attitude about many things.

Here are a few highlights from the last few weeks:

Image

Martin and his dad got to drive this contraption 1,000 miles (in the wind and rain).

Image

This is actually the back of our apartment, but we use it as the front door.  Thanks to my mother-in-law, we have some nice flowers, tomatoes, and basil.

Image

We are right next to the train station.  I thought that this would bother me, but the train noise is actually kind of fun most of the time.

Image

It takes about 5 minutes to ride to the city beach. It also only takes 2 minutes to ride to a delicious ice cream shop.  As you can imagine, these rides are often paired together.

Image

We are about 30 minutes away from Glacier National Park, which is truly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  This is Avalanche Lake, where we saw a moose our first week here!

Image

Here is evidence of said moose, so you know I’m not making it up.

Image

The Tour Divide route goes right through town.  If you don’t know, Tour Divide is the most impressive (and craziest) mountain bike race.  It is a self-supported, 2700+ mile race from Canada to Mexico that (more or less) follows the Continental Divide.  You should look it up.  The little yellow smudge on the left side of the picture is a racer.  We’re nerds, so we sat out on the side of the road to cheer for riders.