How Longing for Paris Has Helped Me Learn to Love Home

I am a dreamer. I love art and music and creating and design and good food and travel and beautiful places; these are the things that feed my soul. I also have four kids and live in a very old, run down trailer overlooking the neighborhood trailer park, with a quickly vanishing budget and never enough time and usually sticky floors. Sometimes…well, often, really…my dreams and my reality clash in a big way, and I am prone to give in to the discouragement and dissatisfaction that naturally occur given the chasm that lies between them. I feel the tension between what I want to do (get creative) and what I have to do (take care of my house and family) so strongly, that sometimes, if I’m being honest, I begin to feel resentment toward my family and my responsibilities and my lack of free time and finances for keeping me from what I love to do.

So when I got the chance to be a part of a team to help Sarah Mae (coauthor of Desperate, which was an enormous help and encouragement to me when my kids were all very small) launch her new book, Longing for Paris, I jumped at the chance. Just reading the title and subtitle (One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure- Right Where She Is), I knew this book was something I needed to read.

Without giving away too much of the book (because you need to read it for yourself!), Sarah Mae, with a conversational style, making you feel like she’s discussing these things friend to friend over a cup of coffee, first digs deeper into our longings, showing us why we need to understand how God made us, and that it’s ok to have these longings. He is, after all, the One who gave them to us.

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Then she walks us through the idea of finding and appreciating beauty in our everyday lives, whether that be through the food He has provided for us, the beauty in nature that He has created for us, the love and joy we can find in our children’s lives to whom He has entrusted us, or the deep love and romance that we can cultivate with the spouse that He has paired us with. All the while, she encourages us to trust our dreams and longings with the One who planted them deep within us, and gently reminds us to keep our priorities straight.

Longing For Paris has helped me tremendously, freeing me from the guilt of having these longings that are outside of the immediate realm of my job as wife and mother, and helping me to realize that I was created with them for a reason. It has been a necessary reminder to give them over to God, and trust Him to use them as He will in my life. But, I think the most important and practical lesson I have learned is to integrate this love of beauty and search for adventure within my family. For so long, I have thought of my creative ventures and searches for adventure as something I needed to do on my own, separately from my family. But this book has been a necessary reminder that, like I believe God wants me to use and cultivate the skills He’s given me and learn to appreciate and enjoy His creation because He loves me, I want to help my children appreciate and enjoy this beauty and cultivate their skills along with me because I love them. It’s a journey we can take together. I don’t have to go to my studio to get creative; we can get down on the floor and color or paint the sunset together. I don’t have to hire a babysitter to find adventure; we can go looking for ways to add a little bit of adventure to our lives every day together.

So here’s what we’ve been doing this summer, how we have integrated what I’ve learned since I read the book. We (my husband and I) have made a conscious effort to pack in as much adventure as a family as we possibly could. And that doesn’t mean that we had to go on a big, expensive trip (although we did go to Disney World, and it wasn’t even my favorite part of the summer) or spend a lot of money.  It was as simple as a few impromptu camping trips to explore our state parks…

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…it was visiting every splash pad we could possibly find…

Splash Park

…it was a day trip to the local zoo…

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…and it was simply watching the fireworks together.

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And now that school has started, we have declared Wednesdays (their short school days) to be our mini-adventure days, where we will search for more everyday adventures, whether that means hunting for new parks, or a visit to the science museum.

I’ve also been making a conscious effort to cultivate the natural creativity that my kids were born with. And let me be clear…that doesn’t mean I have to get on Pinterest and make myself feel guilty about all the cool, crafty projects that I’m not doing with my kids. Sometimes it looks a little more like simply allowing my kids to express their creativity, even when it makes me a little uncomfortable, like when they choose their own hairstyles…

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…when my 3 year old gives herself a manicure and it scares me to death…

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…when they ask to play in their Sunday dresses and I say ok…

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…eating popcorn for dinner occasionally…

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…and, of course, it always looks like taking a few minutes to enjoy a popsicle together.

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We have tried to implement this not only in my kids lives, but my husband and I have been trying to be a little more adventurous than the usual dinner and movie for our rare date times. We have gone hiking, we have exercised together, we have even done a little exploring together…like this old, abandoned campground up in the Smoky Mountains.

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Reading this book has been a reminder to be awakened to the art within me and my kids and all around me. I don’t want one more day to go by where I don’t notice that beauty even in the smallest of things. That beauty is not just in the things I can buy or make with my hands or take pictures of, it is found in those small moments when my baby girl just wakes up and is snuggling in my lap, or when I happen to notice the way the sun falls on these glorious little masterpieces who call me Mommy…

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…or in the little snippets of beauty that we find on our everyday walks together right where we live.

Nature

 I don’t ever want to miss these little moments, or waste the chance to help my kids notice and appreciate them. I want to never again allow the drudgery of life to blind me from the beauty that can be found in it.

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 I want to live wide awake, and fully appreciate these gifts and this beauty God has given me.

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And I believe I can do that right where I am…right in the midst of the normalcy of my life.

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So go grab a copy here, in your local Christian book store, or a signed copy here, and read it for yourself! I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

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