faith · family · Home · marriage · writing

What Happens When You Move 10 Miles Down the Road and Everything Changes

New living room. Perfect for dance parties and silly boys.

I know things have been quiet around here since I revealed what happens when the three year house becomes the ten year house becomes the sold house. There’s still a lot to say about that and God’s timing and sense of humor and my incredible lack of patience and grace, but y’all… I’m really tired.

Moving is no joke. Can I get an amen?

Ten miles. That’s about how far we went. Far enough to jump the county line and need a new school situation. Far enough to make me choose between my familiar Ingles with the bag boys who learned how to write complex sentences under my tutelage. Far enough to make me understand why this stretch of rural highway annoyed my husband every afternoon for five years.

Somehow we moved into a bigger house with less dedicated space. One less bedroom, a basement in need of a true finish, and a family room big enough for our family of six and all of our friends who are just as outnumbered in this parenting gig as we are.

New obsession with items I  have wall space for. Well, porch space actually.

That’s why we bought this house. So everyone can come over and drink sweet tea on the back porch and the kids can run wild on our almost-four-acre subdivision lot without us having any real worries.

But this different space means everything is different. I can’t put the same furniture in the same places. My Ikea tables are woefully out of place. There’s nowhere to plug in a lamp next to my couch. Our master bedroom is ginormous which is good because my kids like to play hide and seek in there. For the first time ever, there’s room under the bed because, hello? Basement = lotsa storage.

It’s a little like living the dream. Really. Even though it’s not my dream farmhouse with a wrap around porch.

(Joshua says he’ll build me one. He’s a much better person than I am in case you’re wondering.)

Yet we’re still wandering around. A little uncertain about things like end tables and dining room chairs and pictures to hang. My friend Brooke said I’m not allowed to hang my beautiful wall art from 163 Design until it truly is Well With My Soul.

So I’m sipping coffee and the Word on the back porch. Soaking up the sounds of birds and cicadas and squalling kittens who won’t leave the dog alone.

Because you should always get new kittens when you move.


You should also knock off from unpacking and climb a mountain with your Florida friends.

Here’s another life lesson about moving. Somehow ALL the kids stuff–including scraps of paper and toys you intended to throw away–will make it to the new house and get unpacked. However, their daddy and I still can’t find:

  • the alarm clock
  • the printer
  • his shoes
  • the Wii console

So this is where we are right now. Big changes. Little changes. And a whole lotta Jesus being spoke over me by blessed friends who love me through my crazy.

And a husband who is willing to put up with me for another fourteen years and beyond. Here’s to a new house and a new life.

family · Home · hospitality · just write life · writing

When Your 3 Year House Becomes Your 10 Year House Becomes Your Sold House


I tucked myself into the corner of the sectional couch we finally broke down and bought last year so we would have furniture that fit this tiny living room. Early in the morning the sunlight shafts through a kitchen window I’m not great at scrubbing clean and lights up a worn table with perpetually sticky chairs.

This is my quiet place. For three years I’ve risen early and written hard and sipped coffee and liked this little house best with that golden pool of light beaming on my hardwood floors.

In some ways, we outgrew this house before we ever moved in. When we bought it in 2006 at the climax of the real estate inflation, mere months before the fall, we figured three years.


Three years. New paint. New carpet. A few handy little things and then we’d be moving on. I had two girls then, one toddling and one nursing. My mama told me this house wasn’t big enough for more kids.

Ten years later we’ve raised four kids in that house and hosted friends and family and parties and memories.

We tried to sell in 2010. Again in 2012. Again in 2014. Fourth time’s the charm. Did all the right things–items in storage, fresh and clean, highlight the good. Big backyard. 4 bedrooms… just very little family space. Really 3 bedrooms and an office and don’t forget we have fiber internet!

IMG_7156None of that mattered. When we get all the paperwork signed and sealed our little house that built me into a mother, a writer, a better person–this little house will be sold to a neighbor who felt the timing was finally right for her to take it on and share it with others. This little house is about to be a ministry, a caregiving place, a breath of hope.

We prayed that years ago. Thought maybe we’d even be the ones to keep it.

Y’all, when this house is finally sold it will be at the last possible moment before our loan changed, before we reached the end of our rope with what to do about finding me space to write, the kids space to play, my husband space to work from home.

Always it’s been one of those first world problems. Six people cramped in 1400 square feet. We always knew we could make it work and in the last few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to offer hospitality without comparison. Because I was tired of telling my kids our house was too small to welcome our friends.

That is never, ever true. No matter the size of your place, true friends will sit on a narrow porch and play games with ten kids running around inside because it’s raining.

We take help in all sizes.

Some of those true friends helped us load a U-Haul with material wealth and drive ten miles down the road this week. To a place that’s bigger–and plenty better in some ways.

But that house that grew us into a family will always be out true first home.

P.S. I know you all want a tour of the house…. I’m working on it! Had to clear up some space on my fancy video camera, i.e. phone.

Notice the difference between Annabelle’s friends and Madelynne’s… of course, they did unpack all the books to find the ones they wanted to read.
ePantry · Home · hospitality · Margin Mom · writing

3 Ways to Love Your January House

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always love–or am even grateful–for my little house. We’re cramped and it’s rare we host a large gathering (though it does happen!). We’ve got a For Sale By Owner sign in the yard right now and a list started because this time we’re really going to do it–the staging, the packing, the make-it-cute-for-others deal that comes with putting your house on the market.

But even so, every now and then I look around and catch my breath and wonder how much I’ll miss this little house when the day finally comes that we load a UHaul with ten years and too many books.

I always love my house more post-Christmas. Once I get that tree down and pack away decorations, my space feels reclaimed. And sometimes I leave in storage some of those knickknacks that got bumped for my snowman collection and I don’t miss them. 

Because my 9 year old is a genius, we found a place for the Christmas tree by splitting the sectional. And yes, that basket of laundry is part of the decor.

Because there’s margin, white space, an empty spot  I can either fill with something new or old or just leave open, inviting, reminding me that a new year is a new start and I don’t have to fill each blank just yet. 

3 Ways to Love Your January House

Let something be empty.

A table, the buffet top, a shelf. Leave space for the gifts, both tangible and not, that will come your way this year. My goal is always the kitchen table. It’s our hardest working surface and if I don’t keep it empty, there’s no where for me to work, dinner to be eaten, or a cup of tea to be poured while someone sits with me and pours out heart words.

My decorating savvy friend told me I need to break up the pictures. Who knew?

Put up something new.

We (and by that I mean Joshua) actually put up these shelves right before Christmas and then we loaded them down with Christmas, so now we’re figuring out their purpose. Too much is there right now, and I’ll be simplifying this weekend, but just having a new look for our living room has lifted my heart. And this was a cheap DIY. We bought a board and brackets at Lowe’s, stained the board, cut the lengths we wanted, and ta-da! Instant room makeover. (Again we is really just my husband. I contributed by handing him the picture I had torn out of Better Homes and Gardens at least two years ago.)

Make cleaning fun.

She wears a hat and a mermaid costume. You know, whatever it takes.

Don’t know about you, but my house always feels a bit grimy once I put away all the decorations. (I think it’s because I’m allergic to dusting. Not dust. The actual act of having to put down my book and clean.) So last fall I began ordering all-natural cleaning products from ePantry. My favorites are Mrs. Meyers because everything always smells so good and fresh. I don’t know about you, but while bleach may work, the smell stings my nose and doesn’t make me feel very welcomed in my own home. Celebrate that you’ve finally put the last box of ornaments away and order this special January cleaning kit from Mrs. Meyers and ePantry.

mmcd_leadimage_v3Everything here is completely free with a $20 purchase. The site is easy to navigate and the sweet staff will help you choose great products for your home that you’ll actually use and enjoy. Already a subscriber? Just click here to redeem this offer. 

Tell me–what do you love about your January house? And do you have any cleaning tips for keeping a house picture-perfect during a sale season? Help me!

And in case you missed it, I finished book 2 of my #60Booksin2016 challenge. You can read my thoughts on Dear Mr. Knightley right here.

cooking · Home · hospitality

When Brave Hospitality Looks Like a lot of Pizza

The girls and I had the idea one early autumn afternoon that since Halloween fell on Friday night this year, maybe we should have some friends over for Friday night pizza.

They invited families from school and church and I spread the word to friends of my own who would keep on the path to sanity for the night. We ringed a patch of dirt with old landscape stones and called it a fire pit and broke out the paints for a little craftiness.

I stressed about who we had invited and if they would come and who we hadn’t and if they’d be hurt and people said–it’s okay if you just order the pizza.

But it wasn’t. Not because I wanted to show off or be prideful but because if you come into my home, I want to offer you a part of myself, a glimpse into our everyday chaos, a seat at our family table.

Even though we set up outside and banished all twenty-five kids from the front door.

I make pizza on Fridays because I enjoy it. Over the years it’s become a therapeutic ritual our family relies upon. Every other night’s dinner might be made up on the fly, but pizza has become a predictable routine they expect. And in a world that is constantly unexpected, it’s a small gift to keep something the same.

So I made eight pizzas and friends drifted in and out of my kitchen to keep me company and kids spilled off the back deck into the yard and I didn’t worry about our imperfect bathrooms or lack of living room square footage or carpets that desparately need to meet a Stanley Steamer.

I just made pizza.

There were people we’ve known for years and friends we’ve just met and at one point I wasn’t sure if those were trick or treaters or guests on our front porch. It was wildly disorganized and delightful.

And you know what surprised me most? That after we had canvassed the neighborhood, people came back. They drank coffee and cocoa and sat around and talked and listened and we all ignored the mess and the candy wrappers in the kids’ rooms.

I don’t host parties very often. We’re not asked to be the home for the socials. Our house is small and there’s no denying it. But what we lack in space, I’m learning to make up for with a face of brave hospitality.

That’s a catchphrase these days for inviting even when you aren’t ready, welcoming even when it’s a stranger, cooking even when you think you’re not as good as the delivery down the road. In this social media driven world of perfection, there’s a group of women in my generation who are striving to be less perfection and more purpose. To love like Jesus loved on purpose.

Over the kitchen table with marker stains.

Over the broken bread and wine that might look like coffee and scones but feels like communion.

Over in the small house with pizza in the backyard.

Friday Five · Home

Are You Willing? {Five Minute Friday}

Two nights ago this sweet little stop I call home nearly burned to the ground. 

In a picturesque downtown with a half dozen little cafes and taverns and another handful of businesses that move in and out, it can be hard to make a living.  It can be hard to believe that pouring your blood and sweat and retirement into an expensive storefront on main street is worth more than planting yourself a few miles down the road in the strip beside Walmart.

Especially when that building is 100 year old pine that goes up like kindling. That’s what they kept saying. How those flames leapt so fast and have now changed the face of history in my little town. How they licked and fed and ravaged before they were contained by brave fighters from all over this county. 
But when something you love has burned to the ground, you can’t just stand by and watch it happen and then walk away and never look back. Whether it’s your home or your business or your marriage or your family, when it’s something that’s been the better part of you, you raze that ground and build again.
You come back.  You find it in your soul to be willing to give another chance. 
On Fridays, I join in with a group of writers willing to go bare in the world of words for five brave minutes. We write without overthinking, without editing, without pause. We write for five minutes on the same prompt and then we share it all together in great big linkup at Lisa Jo’s. You can find us trending on twitter with #fmfparty. Come on over and join the fun.