There’s nothing quite like Christmas time approaching to fill a new house with warmth and mindful activity, that special something that transforms a simple “house” into so much more: a home. A recent move clearly marks new beginnings, but what’s more, it can represent the shift in a family arriving further and deeper into their own story and family identity. That’s what it’s been for us. These past few years since Taylor and I have been married, each Christmas has been in a different place. Stability only to be found in our faith in God and in our family’s love and care for each other.
But now we have been blessed with a home from which we will likely not have to move for many years to come, and the prospect of putting down roots is finally before us, for the first time since we’ve met actually, over six years ago. I confess I am a bit unnerved by the sensation, as we’ve had to wait so long for this. But slowly I feel a settling in my mind and heart, and I am seeing potentialities arising that never existed before. My heart expands with each new idea as it arises, knowing that here I can shape a real home for our small family, one full of greater stability, warmth, nourishment, acceptance and love, faith, and traditions.
And that’s really what I want to talk about at the moment. A new home represents the ability to implement stronger traditions surrounding our own family, but also the season and cycle of both the natural world around our new home and around the Church year of holidays, feasts, and fasts as we grow in our faith in Christ. Moving here and settling in has granted such an opportunity for moving past the haphazardness of our family life up until now. We’ve been in a constant state of transition as a couple just since we first met. And we’ve brought two children into our family we all form together, seemingly perpetuating the chaos at times, as much as we dearly love the joy surrounding pregnancy, birth, and early infancy.
So much has changed though. We are finally back in Hungary pursuing the ministry that we are dedicated to here. Our children are both now slightly older, and a bit easier to manage and care for (read: we’re getting just a tiny bit more sleep these days). And we’ve been blessed with a house to call our home, far into the distant future if God wills it. No more tiny apartments, boxes stored in various places, too often living out of suitcases, the inability to find things I know I own somewhere, but just can’t locate. I feel like I am about to become a normal adult or something. Ha.
It’s been a wild ride. But we moved into this home and a new chapter is beginning, and I feel a hesitant but steadily growing joy swelling up from inside. Advent and the approach of Christmas are the perfect season of light and joyfulness to warm our new home at its core, dedicating it to God’s glory and purpose, as we seek to live a balanced, intentional life as a family.
Practicing meaningful Advent traditions, celebrating St. Nicholas Day, and preparing for Christmas as a family has been an entirely new experience this year. There’s calmness, foresight, and intentionality. Things are no longer rushed and scattered. I’ve never quite experienced a build up to celebrating Christ’s birth that has been as slow and contemplative as this year has been. It’s been deeply healing for me, as I am sensing a profound shift happening in our lives. But more than anything, I sense a personal shift is beginning for myself past these raw, early days of motherhood, and past the ragged uncertainty of these first few years of marriage and getting overseas. The process of getting to Hungary has been so difficult and a real challenge to such proportions that I could never have anticipated fully. And in truth, I don’t feel that I’ve ever been able to communicate it well with others.
But here we are, finally settling into our new home, eager to form new memories of our own with a greater sense of permanency than we’ve ever experienced as a family before. Imagine the joy surrounding pulling out all of our old Christmas decorations, lights, and ornaments, with the intent of bringing the warmth and joy of this Advent season of soon celebrating Christ’s birth.
All this in mind, my heart is meditating on only one thing during this Advent season: God, the giver of gifts and the God of light. Advent is a season of light, deeply symbolized by the lighting of candles each week and the awaiting of Christ, the Light of the world. The following verse from St. James has been circling through my mind and heart for some time now…
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
– James 1:17
What truth, and what beautiful imagery to convey such a profound comfort. We will go through seasons of difficulty, long months or even years to stretch us and to grow us. But God is unchanging, and always a giver of good gifts, some big, some small. We have only to develop the eyes to see them. And for our family in this moment, it is the gift of a home of our own, some stability for the first time in several years, and the opportunity to form new memories and traditions during this season of Advent, the coming of the Lord of Lights Himself.
This is such a fun age for the children especially to begin our Christmas preparations too. Taylor and I are simply basking in all of their innocent joy and eager participation in the decorating and festivities. A one year old and a three year old’s simple understanding of the world around them. Observing them really helps one to focus on the meaning at this point in the Church year. Christ Jesus. Joy in His coming. The simple celebration of light and warmth and of knowing Him.
Earlier than in years past, I unpacked our Christmas decorations and brought them downstairs. We purchased a potted Christmas tree for the first time this year too, which I especially love. We will be able to use it for the next few years, rather than cutting down a new one each year. During the warmer months, we can have this lovely potted tree sitting on our back patio to enjoy year round as well. I so love to have plants on all sides, so this one is a double win!
As you can see from the photos throughout, the kids really loved helping with the lights and ornaments once we began decorating. Their grandma, or “Nada” as she is lovingly called, came over to help and take part in the new memories being made.
I think I can say beyond a doubt that every single one of us has very full hearts this Advent season.