When you are engaged, conversation is all about the wedding. Colors and decor, decisions and dresses- are all part of the joyous anticipation before the big day! For Ryan and I, the conversations sped up and lasted a total of two months. (A wonderful decision, I might add!)
And in the weeks following, to my surprise, home decor became the topic of nearly every conversation with friends.
Needless to say, it was a challenge after working in the slums of Nairobi for two years – while still loving and dearly respecting those that I talked with. While it was fun conversation, my heart wrestled with the symptoms of materialism from the culture I grew up in.
“It’s a woman’s joy to make her home a safe haven,” I often heard – and agreed with! But still, there was the question inside – “What if we are really supposed to be living with our brothers and sisters in the slums?” Or, in other moments, “But how do I do that, and still live simply?”
It may sound superficial, and completely unworthy of any deep thought. Men reading this post may already have tuned out. 🙂
I didn’t ask for it – but the last few weeks have dug up these questions again – and – as always, brought me to these cracking knees.
Three weeks after we moved Mid-November, we found mold in our house. The last few months have been a series of landlord visits, balancing work to find days to stay at home while people came to work, and most recently staying with good friends while solution number three is attempted to rid our house of moisture.
I have a strange instinct to take photos of anything that I think could be useful in the future. (Legal proof to the landlord that we’ve lost property because of the moisture in this house! Legal proof for a court case that is laughable when I think about where we live!) And so, I have photos of everything in our house that had to be disposed of because of mold. Furniture, shoes, and a golf club bag.
I will, however, refrain from posting these photos.
As I write, our living room is host to all the furniture in our home, and the back porch is hosting the contents of our kitchen. We have a new daily ritual of removing everything from the kitchen in the morning, and putting it back in the evening.
The pictures so carefully hung on the wall, are pressed against concrete by our mattress. Suitcases and crates serve as temporary shelving, to serve some purpose within the chaos.
And dear husband sits across from me, working away on the computer. The only reason that I know the roof will not come crashing down any minute. Who listens to my rants about paint on the tile, and half-finished cupboards.
This has brought out the worst in me, particularly knowing the homes our friends. Friends who live in tin homes, where moisture is always a problem, and air cannot be rid of the scent of must.
Even in the slum, there is a difference between homes that are well organized, put together just so. Homes where colorful pictures are hung on tin, and flowery p.b.c. plastic lines the ground. Everything they own fits in one room, but even this room is partitioned by lace curtain.
And the importance of calm, clean, and beautiful in the home is evident.
It may be defined differently, based on where we were born. We may prefer metal to wood, or lace to cotton – but whatever we find beautiful is reflected in our home. It must be.
The color of the walls, the placement of the photos. The creative re-purposing of items arranged around the house. The books and the comfortable chairs, and the scented candles that make this place, “home.”
There is purpose in this too. There is something about this haven that let’s us work in a culture that we were not born into, and gives us a place to cry, laugh and talk through everything that we saw and heard during the day. The heart-aching stories that have soaked into these walls are not allowed to turn into stress when we are here.
It is home, and we are together. These cracking knees rise up to move furniture into rooms now tiled, grateful for the opportunity to make something beautiful again.