Friday, September 2, 2016

Maintaining Vitality Part 4: Decorating and Strollers

This is the fourth post in a series about maintaining vitality and preventing burnout as a wife and mom on the mission field through healthy habits, such as:

Strategy #1: early morning solitude
Strategy #2: a weekly day of rest
Strategy #3: friends and mentors

Strategy #4: A Pretty and Organized Home
"Homemaking" is not a skill I would identify as a strength or interest of mine. In fact, I didn't really cook until Fernando and I got married (fortunately, he is very easy-going when it comes to food!). However, I have learned that if my home is organized and aesthetically pleasing to me (even if it doesn't look professional or perfect), it adds inspiration, peace, and joy in everyday life.

I am an organized person by nature. One way I respond to stress is cleaning and decluttering. I find it both energizing and calming to put my living space in order, and even more where we live: many homes do not have built-in bedroom closets or bathroom cupboards and drawers; the humidity makes stored items smell like mildew; and roaches love plastic, cardboard, and paper. As a result, I am extra motivated to give away what we don't use and keep clutter to a minimum.

While I always enjoy admiring others' interior decorating results, it is definitely not my area of expertise. But when I surround myself with simple, meaningful, and pretty (to me) objects, I feel much more at home. For example, one of my favorite items is a glass full of shells collected since I've lived here: the first time I went to Fernando's home community, our honeymoon, Mr. J's first trip to the beach, etc. Some other objects that remind me of dear people and rich memories:

Washington calendar on the fridge 

Pictures of both sides of our family

Wedding gift from my brother, who lives in China

A cross-stitch gift sent all the way from an Argentinian friend who serves in Papua New Guinea. We met in Mexico.

From my "Salvadoran mamá" who hosted in me for six months in 2009 

From a college friend's YWAM trip to Guatemala about ten years ago

Strategy #5: Getting out of the House
While creating a beautiful home environment is important, it's also good to get out of the house!
On the weekends, the four of us like to go out as a family for a walk: along the water in a nearby Garifuna community, the wharf in La Ceiba, or a botanical garden with large trees. It does us a world of good to spend time outside together.

Most late afternoons, when the sun gives way to shade, I put Miss A in the stroller and help Mr. J put his shoes on, and we take a walk in our neighborhood. After fresh air, exercise, and opportunities to get to know our neighbors better, we always feel better when we get back home. Mr. J has been more interested in the big kids' makeshift soccer matches, jump rope sessions, and bicycles.

Some days it can be tempting to stay home and avoid cross-cultural interaction or feeling observed, but usually I am refreshed by the beauty of God's creation, a safe neighborhood for our family, and the reminder of what I do have in common with friendly neighbors. One day, I ran into several mothers who, like me, were putting off going back into their hot kitchens to make dinner for picky kids! :) Conversations can include how to fish frijoles out of toddlers' noses, why the pesky ant population has suddenly increased, natural teething remedies, etc. A good laugh about commonalities is medicine to a foreigner's soul!

The next post is about one of my favorite strategies: visits back "home" to Washington State.

No comments:

Post a Comment