family · Home · hospitality · just write life · writing

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.