We just moved in.We have our very first house which, for the foreseeable future, will be our home.
It has been a long journey here.
As is the case with many pastor and missionary families, we moved into this house sight unseen. The church graciously offered to let us give color suggestions for the paint colors but they needed the final decision long before we ever saw the house in person.
The previous homemaker was kind enough to look through her family photos and send a few pictures so we could get a rough idea of the rooms. These were definitely not pictures taken with real estate in mind; they were pictures of Christmas mornings and Halloween costumes. It felt intrusive to be presented with an intimate family moment and instead of commenting on how cute everyone looked, squint around the wrapping paper to analyze the wall colors and think about trim options. After spending a few color obsessed days we sent our paint requests, sight unseen, to our new church family.
With the paint bought, I returned to look at the parsonage pictures to see if there was some major detail I had missed. *Thankfully a thoughtful lady in church had asked if we really wanted yellow paint in the bathroom with pink tile. Blagh! Paint disaster neatly avoided.* Because the decisions were finalized and the purchase completed, I couldn’t force myself to try to peer around the corners of the pictures to stretch my vision past the film and get a glimpse of the hallway or basement stairs.
Instead, I looked at the pictures for what they were intended to be, moments of tradition and sharing, moments of someone’s home. I thought about how much their daughter has her mother’s beautiful hair and appears to enjoy reading just like her father.
That was when I realized these family photos, now being help up again color swatches, held a gift of insight. Unless I was an avid blogger, DYI interior designer and housing photography specialist, I would probably never have a picture of our house in unadorned freshly painted glory. And why should I? A house is made of wood and beams but a home is made of love and dreams.
When I had asked about details about the building she was helpful but had difficulty recalling a few minor details. Was the tile in the bathroom white or pink? Was there still a curtain in one of the rooms that had pictures of toys all over it? Those details didn’t jog her memory because her mind of filled with family memories that spilled into and overshadowed the physical setting.
Our paint colors are named lilting laughter, robins egg blue, hummingbird, and plumage. I did not plan this little theme but my mother, an experienced homemaker in the midst of endlessly changing houses, immediately pointed out that the names alone were perfect for a new nest. Here will be a home for our children to grow and thrive before they take wing and fly. A nest, a haven, a home.
A place with room for both roots and wings.
So when I share pictures with friends and family and who knows, maybe the next young anxious pastor’s wife in years to come, I can tell you I will not obsess over the paint job or baseboards. What I will study with affection will be the threadbare favorite pajamas and messy finger paint art gallery. I will focus on the home created inside the house.
With Pinterest and interior design blogs galore it is so tempting to dream up perfect homes in your mind. (I have at least three separate boards on Pinterest all for home design and decor ideas.) And I agree, having an aesthetically pleasing space is important for a sense of contentment and home, but that can be accomplished in little ways.
Can’t switch out your oven for a professional 8 burner gas stove? Don’t let cooking in the kitchen be spoiled by that detail, drape a cute decorative tea towel on the oven handle and make a comforting gooey cheesy dish to warm the hearts of your family on a cold winter’s evening. Can’t rip out the carpet and lay your own rugged yet refined slate flooring? Ah well, there will be a lot fewer bloody noses from childhood tumbles on the carpet.
As we start our first week of our first year at our first church as pastor’s family I give you my first personal goal: I will be grateful to God and to the church for providing a house for my family. I will encourage these walls and beams to hold our dreams as we put down roots and spread our wings.
And I encourage you to think about that detail about your house, the rumble of the washer, the mustiness of the basement, the light fixture that is a little wonky, the electrical outlets all installed upside down – you name it, and for at least a day let that angst go. Don’t even try to fix it yet, just let it go. There is a lovely picture in my Mary Englebright calendar that says “If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” And when you can’t change the way you think about it, pray that God will change your attitude for you.