Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I Love My (Imperfect) Home (and why you should love yours, too)

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Warning: this post is going to be long.  Much more wordy than my normal posts.  But my prayer is that if you ever struggle with ingratitude about your home, or maybe just need a little encouragement to keep being thankful for all you have, that you’ll read my story here and be blessed by it.

About three months ago I started to feel a bit ungrateful for our current home.  I wouldn’t have seen it that way at the time, but looking back now I can see my discontent for what it really was, which was a misplaced idea that a different floor plan or neighborhood (or lack of neighborhood in my wishing-I-lived-in-the-country moments) was going to make me happier.  And that, in light of all I have abundantly received, is ingratitude.
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The Old-Fashioned Household
But at the time I reasoned it was just rational thinking about what we “needed” from a home as a family.  I started looking at the things that I found less than ideal, like the fact that we live in a three-story townhouse (raised, with the first story at ground-level, not a basement) and because my husband uses the first floor as his office, I don’t have access to our back yard without going all the way around our condo building unit. 
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Our cute little back yard, that we don’t see very often; its closer to walk to the park than to walk around the building to use it Smile
Or the fact that having my main living space on the second floor makes lots of extra work of every-day tasks like taking out garbage and compost, walking the dog, jumping in the car to go somewhere with the toddler, bringing in groceries, etc.
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I was also starting to feel frustrated with the reality that because my husband works from home, I don’t have an un-interrupted “work day” as many housewives do, to do their daily routine and schedule it in such a way that when their husbands get home, things are nice and tidy, kids are cleaned up, wifey has on a clean shirt and a relaxed smile and dinner simmering on the stove (come on, isnt this the reality at all of YOUR homes?  Winking smile ).
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Instead, I have multiple interruptions and visits from my beloved husband during the day which, while are a blessing in themselves, can sometimes make me feel like I am continually on display doing  job that I am still very much in the beginning stages of doing anything close to well, and often feel out of my depths.  When you add my tendency toward anxiety when I feel inadequate, you have a perfect recipe for self-pity and ingratitude.  Hmm… there’s that word again.  I told my husband we really “needed” a house with an inlaw suite so he could have his own bathroom, kitchen, and separate entrance so our workdays could be a bit more separate.  Mr. Old-Fashioned like the idea, but the truth is that moving in the next year or so isnt really feasible.
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Then two things happened to shake me out of my pity party and make me realize I needed a change of attitude, and quick.  First was my husband’s hurt feelings (read: irritation) when I mentioned moving for what was probably the 100th time in a week.  Sure I told myself I was talking about the future, and didn’t “mean anything” by it, and was just “thinking out loud”, etc, but the truth is, ladies, that we really need to be mindful of how our words come across to our husbands.
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If you happen to be one of the few, privileged (and I don’t mean privileged in the sense of great wealth, but in the sense of being blessed with the rare commodity of a good husband) women who get to stay home, take care of her own kids and make her home a haven for her family because you have a spouse who is working hard to make all of this happen, you should be flooded with a great deal of respect and gratitude towards your man. Talking about things you don’t have, things you wish you could buy, how you would like your life to be different, comes across to a guy who is breaking his back to provide you with all you DO have as ungrateful.  And if its one thing I’ve learned about men in my ten years of marriage is that they may come across as tough and insensitive, but they are VERY sensitive to what their wives think and believe about them and the life they are providing for their families. Sisters, we have the power to make or break a man’s spirit with our words and attitudes about our marriage, our family, our homes, our lifestyles.  So let’s be selfless and generous with our words, with our attitude, and project gratitude and appreciation.  Trust me when I say I’ve learned the hard way over the years that this will mean only good things for your family, and it’s a lesson I continue to need to learn by God’s grace.
So, once I was humbled by how my words were affecting my beloved, my heart was already tenderized big time and on the way towards repentance.  But then I got blow number two to my ingratitude, in the form of this wonderful blog post by my cousin Leah, all about how her family of five is currently living in a 475-foot temporary living facility on a military base in New Mexico.
Here’s my cousin and her adorable family
Well I could just about tear up writing this (Ok Im a dork and am tearing up) because I just LOVE me some military wives.  I was a military kid growing up and I know the pride you feel as a military wife and kid and I know the sacrifices that have to be made sometimes in order to support a husband who is not only serving you as a family, but serving his country as well.  Frequent moves, distance from extended family, difficulties in sustaining long-term friendships because of distance, and even separation from your husband when he’s TDY can put a lot of strain on military wives.  And with all of this in mind, and with my internal pout going on about the “size” of my house, my perspective was totally changed with my cousins’ gracious post about how she not only helps her family to survive, but to thrive in small quarters while they await yet another move.  Take a few minutes to read the post… it will encourage and inspire you, no doubt.
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Bird, “walking” our dog Stuart.  One of my favorite pictures of her.
So with these two things brewing in my heart and mind, I took a walk with my daughter to the big, open park we have right next to our condo apartment, and I prayed and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for my ingratitude, and turned around and thanked Him for all the blessings I have in my life, including my wonderful home and the area I live in. And as He so often does when we open our hearts to what He wants to show us, He helped me see all the positive, instead of the negatives I had been focusing on.  Positives like:
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This giant open field/park right across the street from our complex that is almost always totally empty.  I never can figure out why no one is ever at this park, but I can count on one hand the times we’ve gone over there and found anyone else in the whole thing.  I can let our little dog stuart run around,
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Bird has fun picking up sticks
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and more sticks
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and hoarder-level amount of sticks (seriously… this kid is obsessed with sticks)
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notice Stuart, lifting a leg when nature calls
and I can sit up on a little hill and watch Bird play and commune with my Lord and savior.  Pretty awesome.
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Bird enjoying our condo park.  Notice the sticks in-hand.
And there are two other parks in walking distance, one small one right in the center of my condo complex, where the neighborhood kids play and I often get to chat with another Christian mom who lives nearby. 
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And we have a pool!  Who has a pool?  Not very many people!  Our condo of about 70 units shares this lovely pool and, much like the field across the street, it is usually dead during the weekdays.  Most of the kiddos in the complex are either at daycare or school, so Bird and I usually have the run of the joint.  What a blessing indeed.
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And the list goes on.  I love my daughter’s bedroom that my father in law helped me paint this spring, and the extra bedroom we use as an office for now until, Lord willing, baby number 2 comes along, my gorgeous upstairs bathroom with stone tile in the shower, my functional if somewhat homely kitchen, and on and on.  And most importantly, it is awesome because
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these people live here
and this person works so hard to provide us with a house to call home
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and this book tells me that all of these gifts come from a God who loves us and provides for His children.
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I hope that my little journey back towards gratitude for my home can help encourage you to love every corner of yours today, even if the corners are cobwebby with chipped paint or comprise a house with other imperfections that leave you occasionally wanting for more. But by God’s grace lets not let our dreams for the future impede our joy in the present.  And lets let the men in our lives know how much we appreciate the house we get to make a home.
With all my love, ladies!  Happy Homemaking!
Proud to be linking up today with Saturday Show and Tell at Cheerios and Lattes,Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife, Homemaking Linkup at Raising Homemakers, Works for Me Wednesdays at We Are That Family, and Share Your Cup Thursdays at Jann Olson’s.


Pam~ Virginia Retro said...

Terrific post! & you have a beautiful family. Also, I do love my small 2-bedroom home very much. :-)

Sarah @ Natures Nurture said...

Absolutely wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and inspiring us to love and appreciate all that we have, especially those hard-working men that make it all possible :-)

theoldmilkcan said...

Lovely post...I have found myself complaining about our old house (it comes with the husband's job) but we are very lucky to have a roof over our heads.

Rose said...

Beautiful post and it hits home for me.

Theresa said...

Wonderful reminder. Love the park and the pool. I have to drive my kids 30 minutes away to another town to swim...though I am grateful to have a car to drive in :)

I was an army brat growing up and remember having to live in a tiny motel for 6 weeks, because the waiting list for housing on base was so long. My parents made the best of it though, and I have fond memories. That same base now has ripped down entire streets, because people do not want to live in the small houses. So sad.

The Old-Fashioned Housewife said...

Thank you all for the lovely, encouraging comments!! I cherish each insight! God bless you, ladies!

Diana said...

Wow! I really needed to read that. My perfectionism often gets in the way of my gratefulness. Something I definately need to work on. Thank you for sharing.

Diana said...

Wow! I really needed to read that. My perfectionism often gets in the way of my gratefulness. Something I definately need to work on. Thank you for sharing.

Laura Lane said...

Thank you so much for the reminder. I really needed it this morning.

Laura Lane
Harvest Lane Cottage

Sarah said...

I love your blog and this post! My husband also works from home and sometimes it is tiring just trying to keep my 1 year old from distracting daddy. He has a french door to his office so it's hard for him to ignore us. But, I am so thankful because our daughter gets to have a lot of time with both of us. :) You have a new follower! Have a blessed evening.

Cheerios and Lattes said...

Thank you for being so candid and honest. What a great perspective. Thank you for sharing with us on Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you'll join us again this week!

Jann Olson said...

Hi Nicole, I always say it's not the size of the home it's the size of the hearts inside it. Hubby and I do have a larger home than we really need. It's great when all the family gathers, but you know what I have found? Although I love our home it just doesn't have the same cozy feeling a smaller home has. God bless you, your hubby and little bird!