Welcome back friend, I'm glad you came over again today. Yesterday I shared a little about the story of each home we've lived in until now, and a few (low quality) pics from my scrapbooks to give you a visual. It was sweet to think about those different seasons of our marriage and the twists and turns of our story together. Each home represented a slice of our lives that feels like yesterday when I stop and reflect on it. We've shared some humble homes together, places that didn't seem like much on paper or according to any real estate listing, but to us they were our little haven from the world. Places that we shared life together and regardless of how they stack up in the world of real estate, they mattered to us.
When I think about what it is that makes a house become a home, I think one of the key ingredients is simply time. The longer you spend in a particular place, the more you make it your own and the more it transforms along with you. I worked in the Interior Design world for a little while and went to school to learn how to transform spaces that pleased the eyes and serve the functions they were designed for. Everything about it was methodical and calculated, there are codes and design principles and scale to consider. All of it mattered and yet, what really makes a house a home isn't the furniture or the floor coverings or the custom woodwork. People make homes and stories line the walls. Foundations are built with history and beliefs, joys and sorrow. Every home has a humble beginning no matter what it looks like, but it's worth is determined by the people who grow along with it.
We've lived in our current home for six and a half years. Who we were when we moved in is not who we are today. A lot of life has happened in that time period and as we've changed, so has our home. Its' purpose has changed, its' look has changed, and its' occupants have changed.
Fast forward six years...for all the times we've wondered if we made a big mistake or shouldn't have bought here, we've never regretted that we bought modestly and didn't go for more than we could afford. At the time we didn't know how wise that choice would be, but certainly God was giving us grace by leading us in that direction. Buying within our means has afforded us more than extra square footage ever could. We've lived inexpensively here, we've paid off debt here, and I've been able to stay home full-time with our kids here. I wouldn't trade that privilege for anything...
We were your typical working couple and we lived the classic "no kids yet but we've got a dog" life, giving Ryley free reign of our new place and introducing him to all of our neighbors, who thought he was as big as a horse. Which of course he wasn't, but many of our older neighbors liked to have that same conversation over and over and over, as if we hadn't just discussed it the day before :)
Homes give you space for living and being yourself, but actually God is the one provides all the shelter we need. We've weathered some storms here, but we've also enjoyed some incredible waves of joy. In His great mercy, God did answer our prayers and He has filled our home with kids of our own, in His perfect timing.
He changed everything when He gave us our sweet Ava and when we brought her home here. Suddenly the function of our home changed, just as we did. Our nest had a chick in it and where tears once flowed, laughter and joy flooded our lives. These floors held her when she learned to crawl and these walls heard her cries. We walked the halls when she was fussy and we stayed in for nights on end just so we could hold her and watch her every move.
Ryley's life was turned upside down too, but we were complete. Grateful for every part of this new journey and already feeling that life would never be the same...not to mention we would never be the same.
We've made more memories than I could possibly count, and more noise than a neighbor ever should! We've grown, our kids have grown, and our home has done its' best to keep up. We've almost made room shuffling into an Olympic sport and don't even challenge me on creative storage solutions. I've come up with some amazing ones! I've been forced to!
And so, here we stand today. Still making this place work and riding out a market that is recovering but is taking it's sweet time to build equity again. We've got a complicated relationship with this condo. I walked you through the sentimental value of this place, but I haven't really shared much of our frustration. Twelve hundred square feet isn't impossible for raising a family, truly it isn't, but it is a challenge. And yet, as I expressed at the start of this post, we aren't the same people we once were. Bigger homes and more space isn't all we're after these days.
But Godly wisdom, direction from the Lord, and obedience to His Word? That's what we're chasing hard after. We owe it to the two little people God has entrusted us with to make sure that we value them and the Lord, way more than we value real estate or bank accounts. Today, we are people who have been transformed by the grace of God and who are trying to build a home that reflects it. We are as flawed as anyone, sinners saved by grace and desperate to say that any good that is in us, is only because of Christ in us. We are as prone to envy and ungratefulness as anyone, and we're in a day to day struggle to be thankful and content no matter what our address.
I said it was complicated, no? We have no idea how the next chapter will play out, if we'll stay until we can sell or if we'll be able to rent and find a new home to love. We are seeking the Lord often about it and waiting to hear from Him for each step. Just so it's clear before we move on from here, because of this long and complicated journey, I love who we've become as a result of being "stuck" here. God knew what this would require of us and He's been working hard to build it in us, no matter how hard we fight it some days. It's been a refining and transforming work and I'm extremely grateful when I look back and see how far He's led us. Believe me, we've got a long way to go still; this will always be a wrestling match as long as we're human and we get distracted from our main goal of pleasing the Lord and bringing glory to Him. But we're making slow steps in the path He's carved out for us and we're seeing so much of His goodness along the way.
So, tomorrow? A fresh post about the ways our home has transformed from season to season. Lots of pics, some laughs I hope, and lots of heart. Also, some interesting (read: odd) design choices from me along the way! Pictures don't lie... I'm loving these chats with you, stop back and see me again, will you?
"Unless the Lord builds the house, it's laborers build in vain..." Psalm 127:1