We’re closing in on 12 years of marriage over here. 12 years! And it’s got me all nostalgic.
We’ve walked through infertility, foster care, adoption, ministry life, depression, various moves and lifestyle changes. We were recently out at the cottage our (then) family of four lived in for a season. Our oldest looked around and wondered how we all lived there. It is small, for sure. And when I told her they were smaller and somehow it worked, she just took it all in. I imagine she was replaying moments-good and bad-that we lived out in those walls. Then she took the dog and tromped through the woods with her, leaving it all behind.
I never moved, growing up. My parents built the house I grew up in the year before I was born. I lived there until I moved in with a friend for a year, when I was 24. I didn’t go to college, so I didn’t even have that experience. My husband and I have moved 4 times in our 12 years-always in the same county, but to vastly different homes. When we were dating there was a song we loved that called us to repent of the American dream-the house, cars, picket fence-and to live differently. I loved the idea, but I HATE moving.
Our first place was a teeny, tiny two bedroom rental behind a restaurant and truck stop. The only window we could use for an air conditioner went into the garage (which was an addition) so we had to open the garage door whenever we used the a/c. It had a little yard, though, and for this country girl, that made a world of difference.
Our next place was a wonderful home for us. It was a townhouse right outside of the city-the location was meh but it’s been the only house we’ve had that I could paint the colors I wanted to and make it ALL mine. It was actually huge-an end unit with a finished basement and a laundry room on the first floor. I often said that if we could have just plopped it on an acre we would have never moved. I will always have a fondness for my dreamy yellow kitchen with it’s soft white curtains. It’s where we brought our oldest two girls home. Our 12 year old learned to ride bike in that cul de sac an we took walks almost every day over the summer through the neighborhoods around us. It was a great place, and it sold in under two weeks.
Next was the cottage-we had a few reasons for moving there, one of which was that the girls would have the entire camp meeting to roam through. The yard at the townhouse was half the size of our current kitchen, and these girls needed space. My father-in-law purchased the cottage and we rented it and moved in, the same week we finalized our adoption for our older girls…and one week before our littlest came home. My first memory of the cottage is seeing two other members of the camp meeting taking care of the road after some snow and ice-one was driving his pickup and the other was sitting on the tailgate with a bucket of salt, spreading it as they went. It was a quirky neighborhood, but somehow it suited. We had some wonderful years there-brown water and all. It’s where we brought our youngest home, where she took her first steps, where we spent many hours on the front porch or playing shuffleboard in our front yard because it was there. We see now that God had us there so we could be ready for this next season.
We’re living with my husband’s grandparents now, in their home. It’s plenty big, a rambling rancher on over an acre. The backyard is my dream come true. We can see for miles from the back porch, and the sunsets are unmatched. Our current living room is a bedroom, a small one. It’s an interesting arrangement in lots of ways, but we fully believe it’s where God has called us and it’s His best for us in this season.
I don’t know what the next chapter will bring. I don’t know if this will be our last home, our last move, or if there are more to come. I think back to those two twenty-something kids (we were SUCH kids), listening to a song about abandoning the pursuit of this American dream, and I am very fond of them. Because we’ve grown into these adults, with children, in our late thirties, who still believe in all of that. I am also a little nervous at times because I don’t know what is yet to come. Every now and then, more so in difficult times, I get this longing for a “normal” life (whatever that is). And then I realize we’re too far into this one and there’s no turning back! Ha!
There are lots of reasons why we haven’t done much to the inside of the house we’re living in now. Some of it is financial, some of it is that we want to honor Grandma and Grandpa by keeping it what they planned it to be, and some of it is lack of how-to. There are times when I feel the ache of it, the desire to put my own imprint on this home in tangible ways. But the Lord uses that desire to remind me that the intangible is much more important. It’s a reminder of where the Kingdom truly lies-not in countertops or painted cabinets or finishing the basement. It lies in loving the people inside these walls.
Walking imperfectly through the imperfect, with the grace to carry all of us. Our walls will hear laughter and yelling, they will see tears and rejoicing. They’ll see loving and forgiving and all of the emotions under this sun.
I’m praying for all of our walls today-whatever emotions they’ll see-that we would all (this writer and the readers alike) see God for the faithful Father He is. He loves each of us immensely.