Home has always been a constant in my life. For 21 years, home was the same. It was a traditional brick home in Marietta, Georgia that kept my family safe and together. A place for sleepovers and late night cookies. A yard for birthday parties and trampoline routines. A driveway for my first car and my first date. It was the keeper of my childhood and teen memories – the happy but also, the slamming the door kind.
When I went off to college, I began to realize the importance of home. Everyone was somewhat identified or associated with where they were from. It was how connections were made or differences were understood. And although I didn’t go home as much as my parents would have liked in those 4 years, every time I did, I was quickly reminded of the blessing that is was.
It was place of rest, a place to love and be loved, a place to be proud to come home to. After college, I moved back to that traditional brick house to start graduate school. Not because I wanted to but because God planned it that way.
Shortly after that challenging transition, I met my now husband, an officer in the Air Force. When things started to get “serious” I started to question God. I was am a lover of things constant and I wasn’t sure how the military was going to fit my agenda. “C’mon, God, sureeeely this isn’t what you have for me?… You know moving, new people, new situations, unknown plans are hard for me…” I would pray. I can still hear Him laughing to this day.
A year later I was engaged to that Air Force officer and God was leaning in. Speaking peace and purpose over me. Boy, did I need it. Engagement and wedding planning alone was difficult for me, but mixing in the military ingredient was the icing on the cake.
During that time, pre-marriage, I got really excited about my future house in St. Louis. Like buying 30 throw pillows a week excited. I think it was the strange combination of my love for decorating with my need to distract myself from the actual realities of moving that brought upon this excitement. This was going to be my first real home away from home and I wanted it to be perfect.
I had only been to our future house once but that didn’t stop me from spending hours drawing room plans and searching for the perfect pieces to fill the space. My fiancé would patiently send me wall measurements (at my request) and not question me when packages from Target would show up at his door every week. I had big dreams of transforming that bachelor pad and no one was going to stop me.
Fast forward to now, where we are 3 months into this wonderful and crazy thing called marriage and both calling St. Louis “home” (See you never, long distance). I am frequently asked, “Does it feel like home yet?” and for a while I wasn’t sure how to answer. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how I would know if it did.
Sure, I had made some friends and our rental house was coming together (thanks to all our beautiful wedding gifts) but I was still often confused on what needed to happen to be able to confidently answer: “Yes, St. Louis feels like home!” with a smile.
It wasn’t long before I realized the military lifestyle had clouded my lens to be present. The fear of moving every few years was keeping me from wanting to plant roots because I knew it would be short lived compared to what I was use to.
Our friends were/are buying homes and making 10-20 year plans and I couldn’t help but be envious. I had house fever too but no way to medicate it. I LOVE making plans but was told not to. It didn’t feel fair. And even worse, it felt selfish to talk to my husband about it — knowing he would feel guilty for his line of work.
Luckily, I came across an amazing blog and book by Myquillyn Smith aka “The Nester”. She is a designer who has moved 13 times in 18 years of marriage. As a fellow renter she is able to relate with others who move often but also want to make a beautiful space to call home. Her encouragement on how to be “content to rent” was what my heart needed.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for” – Epicurus
With her ideas of “nesting” and a bit of time, I was able to clearly see that although this might not be the exact home I would choose or how I would have planned my life, God chose it for me and He makes no mistakes.
My husband and I initially had different expectations of the home. He just wanted enough space to kick off his shoes at the end of the day but I wanted rooms that welcomed me with opened arms (and fresh flowers if it’s not too much to ask).
We debated how to decorate a home that wasn’t ours. And we learned to make compromises. I bought paint from a man named Skippy off Craigslist to save money (my dad is still mad at me for this one) but hey, I got 6 gallons of pretty paint for $50 and I can sleep better at night knowing our bedroom isn’t a dungeon anymore. Win.
We planted a “porch (herb) garden” that could potentially move with us.
And my husband so selflessly hung every last picture, curtain, shelf and light fixture because he knew my heart for a home beat different than his. And although we both know it will all need to come back down sooner than later, it’s all part of being present. And feeling at home.
….Click this link to see the hard work paying off 😉 —> VIDEO
And now when I see that beautiful hummingbird who comes every morning to sit on our outdoor chandelier, wave to our mailman who calls me by name, drive to the cleaners without needing Google maps, feel the last bit of sunlight hitting my face as we eat dinner together at our gifted table, look around at a sectional full of women sharing what God is doing in their life on Thursday night, it undeniably feels like home.
Because moving, the military lifestyle, or renting doesn’t change the amount of memories we can create in one place. As long as we have created a place of comfort, rest, and joy. A place where others feel welcome and safe to be themselves. We will then have no choice but to feel at home.
I can confidently say, people I love are here and memories are being made. So, yes, St. Louis does feel like home!
As long as we are in the Air Force, we will move around a lot. So this is just the beginning of learning to love where we are at. Learning to make a home wherever we are. Investing in the people around us. And not apologizing for doing too much to a rental home.
Because where we were, where we are, where we’re going all matter. No bit of moving or change catches God by surprise. He ordains every step of our journey and even prepares us for it. He is within every house we make our home.
Sometimes the world wants you to believe that home is white with a front porch and a garden where you children will grow up playing in the yard… but then God is faithful to remind you that home is also a small rental with drafty windows and a scary basement.
Whatever your physical address may be, know that the Lord is present and He is gracious.
Here are some before and after pictures of our 1st home together:
And some spaces that weren’t lucky enough to have before shots:
“Making a charmed and happy home is a noble endeavor” – Deborah Needleman