September is here. Autumn has fully arrived. The lush Norwegian maple trees outside our window have started to turn yellow again, gracefully watching us running around, busily preparing for moving.
For my husband and I, we had little time soaking in the autumn sun these days but putting our heads down to sort and pack tons of books, clothes and meaningful items into boxes for shipping to a new country. I let my bitter and sweet feelings slowly run their course as I photograph and list our furniture and home appliances for sale on the internet.
This apartment of ours, located in downtown Geneva, though pleasantly close to a gorgeous city park, only 60 sqm in size with one bedroom, one anteroom, one tiny kitchen and one large bathroom ( oddly double the size of the kitchen), is the place that witnessed our courtship, engagement and marriage of the first five years. It quietly bore our quarrels and tears in those painful nights, comforted us in piercing disappointments, welcomed baby Caleb and baby Esther, and dressed up for holiday and birthday celebrations.
Before I got married, I’d never had an apartment solely to myself. I’d always shared apartments, mostly, bedrooms with others. I’d known nothing about home design, furniture arrangement, or decoration. I’d often eaten out or ordered deliveries and barely entered the kitchen. Though I was beyond happy to finally have an entire apartment to call home and make it the way I like, I didn’t expect how much I was yet to learn about homemaking, being a wife and soon after, being a mom.
When we were expecting our first child, I wanted to move to a new apartment with at least one extra room to be a nursery. That didn’t happen. We had to put Caleb’s crib in a corner in our bedroom and added curtains around the crib to make the space cosy. Though it wasn’t ideal, it worked.
When our second baby was on the way, I felt mortified to visualise our life with a newborn and a toddler yet still living in an apartment of this size.
“Where shall I put my baby girl? Isn’t she supposed to have a beautiful home with a pink bed and soft carpet?”
It felt devastating to think that we couldn’t provide our second child with a nursery either. We still couldn’t afford to move to a bigger apartment because our income was far from stable. Fear hunted me down: “Would we be stuck in here forever?”
I had a most challenging time facing our reality in those long months. I blamed my husband, blamed myself and blamed God. I felt trapped in our pitiful circumstance in a foreign country, even though it didn’t feel right to leave yet, nor stay.
When the sage-femme came to our home to routinely check on Esther soon after her birth, she looked around puzzled. Before she asked any questions, I explained to her in my red, nervous face that my baby slept in the stroller in the living room. The sage-femme nodded gently: “It must be hard.” It took everything in me to hold back the tears of shame.
One night, after feeding my newborn daughter, I put her down into her “stroller crib”, rocking it back and forth to get her to sleep. Feeling exhausted and defeated, with tears, there I asked God, yet again: “Why didn’t you provide us with a bigger apartment? Why my daughter has to sleep in an old stroller in the living room? Haven’t I been a good Christian? Why it has to be so hard?”
Then, a scripture came to mind: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)
I began to wonder— If God’s promise is true, which I believe it is, could it be possible that we are still meant to live in abundance even in a difficult season like this?
It was a defining moment for me. It was also part of how this website got its name. And learning to live in abundance in every season and help others do the same has become my mission.
A few days later, I wrote a blog post, Dare to Claim Abundance Here and Now
I decided to stop being a victim to the size of our home but to rearrange it to meet our needs as much as possible— make the best of what we have. After several interior design magazines and YouTube videos, I did it with my husband’s help! I wrote that experience and what I learned in these two posts:
We transformed our apartment and made it a home we love! I stopped complaining about our situation but was full of thankfulness. I no longer felt shame about how tiny our apartment was; instead, we invited friends for dinners, hosted parties, and received countless compliments about the way we set up our home! I started to see so many hidden treasures in that season of our life despite the real challenges in financial instability, a global pandemic, and raising young children.
Now, the season is changing. My husband has got a job he loves, and we are preparing to move internationally. We are leaving this very first family apartment where my husband and I learned cooking, parenting, homemaking, budgeting, meal planning, goal-setting, and so much more.
We will finally have the budget for a much bigger apartment in the new country, and I’m very excited. However, I will be forever cherishing the memories of the five-plus years living in this tiny one and eternally grateful for it.
My friend, what season of life you are in right now? What are the challenges you are facing? You may feel disappointed and maybe heart-wrenching; however, I want you to ask God and yourself this question today: Is there anything I can do to make room for grace and abundance? Then, get still and listen to what emerges in your heart.
Remember, season changes. Difficult seasons won’t last forever (nor the easy ones). Life always goes through ebbs and flows, altering between carefree summers and harsh winters. Nevertheless, you and I were made to live in abundance in every season with our Creator.