The Cottage

Psalm 71:14 But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.

Quite a few years ago my husband and I decided to visit New England. He had lived the first fourteen years of his life in Massachusetts, I had spent two and half years in Connecticut in my early twenties. I carefully planned a vacation that would travel up to Mystic and would also encompass a visit in his childhood hometown. Because it was fall and our anniversary, I researched cider mills and booked us into a classic New England inn, in one of their private cottages. Romance? check. Quaint activities? check. Beautiful fall colors and views? Check and check!

Here’s what we got: a tiny two story cottage with a bathroom so tight you couldn’t close the door and use the toilet or shower at the same time. There were no closets or heat unless you built a fire in the fireplace, which was conveniently located at the foot of the bed, which was in the living room. There was one small television in the corner that got a limited number of channels (clearly they expected you to be busy doing other things.) The upstairs was a large garden tub, which looked questionably clean. My husband refused to get in it.

It was cold that weekend and I quit girl scouts before fire starting was taught; so my beloved built the fire. In his haste to warm the room, he didn’t open the flue. Smoke was everywhere- we opened windows and doors trying to clear the haze. The smoke detector never went off, a fact I found to be both a blessing and a curse. When the smoke cleared- literally- we lay on the bed and my husband asked how many nights I booked there and when were moving onto the next hotel. Romance? not so much.

In many corners of our minds, we live the life imagined. It has been fed ideas from popular culture- movies, books, from stories of celebrities and “normal” people alike. Somewhere in the mix, we convince ourselves that the right ambiance produces the perfect life. That if we have the wrap around porch, the right kind of car, or even the idyllic cottage we will create a life or moment within it that is perfect. And so we place our hopes in things both attainable and not.

We had a relaxing, wonderful vacation in New England that year. It was not because of the romantic inn or the splendid views. It was because we had a sense of humor and a relationship was built on more than classic images of romance handed to us by someone else.

God is often appreciated more in the less than perfect. When we can see the hand of God at work in the strife- some of it even humorous in its ridiculousness- we come to depend more on our Sustainer than the external stuff that others tell us will fill up our souls. We continue to hope in the light of a saving Redeemer that works miracles with reluctant disciples.  We lift our praise again and again to God who brings us along, misguided as we can be, through good times and bad.

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