As always, I wish I had taken pictures of the house right before we had our Open House a few weeks ago. My house was so clean and tidy.
It will never be that clean again. Ever.
I had the great idea to just clean corners of my house (one corner at a time) and take pictures. I’ll do this once a day over a week or so. Just know, the pictures will be deceiving. Know that just beyond the frame are small tumbleweeds of dog hair and a sink full of dirty dishes. Oh, and a certain little boy’s underwear will probably be on the floor.
So backstory on our house. It pretty much just dropped in our laps. Ok, really, God placed it there. It was a complete surprise to us, though.
See, we were not looking to buy a house. We were doing the exact opposite. We were happily renting a house around the corner from where we currently live. Our Aunt and Uncle owned it and our rent was amazing. I really liked that house and even though we were renters, they allowed us to paint, put in flooring and pretty much do what we wanted. We took care of it like it was ours. We had great neighbors; our kids knew everyone on our corner. Our neighborhood was exactly where we wanted to be. As a bonus, we lived two blocks from The Hubs’ parents. And yes, I like living close to my in-laws. We were not looking to buy. Not in the slightest.
We had owned houses before; but at this time, owning a house was just not a possibility. Not even remotely. It had taken us some time; but we were content with where God had us and we were content with renting and not owning a house. That was a dream that I had laid to rest for the forseeable future, maybe forever. And I was fine with it.
Then we got an email from our long time realtor and friend. She and her husband wanted to sell us a rental they had owned for 30 years. They had never lived in it. It had only ever been a rental. They wanted to offer it to us before they put it on the market.
Unfortunately, I will not do this story justice because I can’t get into all the details. What I can say is they offered us such a deal that we were shaking our heads in disbelief saying, “We think we can actually buy this house!” We were in shock because it didn’t seem like they were gaining anything. The benefit was all ours.
The house, a 3 bedroom/ 2 bath 60’s rancher, definitely needed a lot of work. So, we prayed about it. A lot. After much prayer and consulting with family and friends who we know to be wise, we signed on the dotted line. Several times, actually.
Now, this is when our lives turned into an episode of Fixer Upper. We basically had a month to make this house move in ready. The bones of the house were fine; but after being a rental for 30 years, it needed a ton of TLC.
In one month, with the help of some very skilled friends and family, we…… (and by we, I mean me, Andy and bunch of other people) pulled up the entire floor of the house. There were 3 different layers of linoleum in the kitchen, olive green vintage tile in the entry way and just nasty, gross carpet in the rest of the house. Our friend Mike (and Andy) took down popcorn ceiling from almost every room. Every room got textured and painted. Every, single room. New floors and carpet were laid throughout the house. The kitchen cabinets got sanded and repainted. And our friend, Mike, installed canned lights in our living room, which I absolutely love. The Hubs worked tirelessly. We had very good friends who used their skills and gave up a lot of their free time to help us. Family pitched in. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Oh, and we packed up a house.
That was May. May was crazy.
In June, we found ourselves in a new house, surrounded by boxes; but still in our awesome neighborhood. We were now 3 blocks away from our parents. We were still shaking our heads saying, “Wow, God, really?”
May and June were overwhelming and exhausting; but we feel so blessed. And we did nothing to have what we have. We weren’t looking or trying or even praying about a house. It was a gift, an undeserved one.
And that’s why we wanted to have an Open House.
About 12 years ago we bought a very teeny house. We lived there for 8 years. As our family grew, the house got even smaller. It was hard to do much entertaining in it. It was not in a convenient location and there was not much parking. When we moved to our rental, I was so ecstatic that I could actually entertain. And we did quite a bit of it.
Since then, God has really impressed on me the difference between entertaining and hospitality. I struggle with ” how my house looks” and “how does it compare to others”. I’m learning that hospitality has nothing to do with how put together (or even clean) your house is. Our beloved rental was still on the older side and I constantly had to battle the thief of comparison. Comparison steels your joy and the opportunity to bless others.
My way to fight that battle is to have people over. Ugly floors? Who cares. Hand me down furniture? So what! Come over and let’s have a movie night!
Now, we are in a “new to us house”. Though we had done quite a bit of work to this new house, there was still so much to do. We knew we couldn’t wait until things were picture perfect to have an Open House because by the time we had made all the renovations on our to- do list, I would probably be a grandma!
I seriously had to fight the urge to wait until I thought the house looked “good enough.” So we picked a date and the evite was sent. No turning back.
The Open House was lovely. So many friends and family came. Our house was packed. It was so hot that day, I felt like I was on the surface of the sun. But, it was okay. I had envisioned The Hubs saying a few words about the house and what a blessing it was; but the day was crazy. So here’s what I wished we could have said that day.
This house was an unexpected gift, a complete surprise. And while I know that often times the gifts God gives us are not ones that are material, sometimes they are. They are at times small and other times huge, like a house. What I’m learning again and again is how good God is and how faithful He has been in our lives. The God that gave us this house is still the same, good God when life is hard and we are going through a deep struggle or hurt. He never changes.
And I know that this house is not really ours. It’s His. So, we can’t be selfish with it. Our family has been blessed by this house and now we in turn can use it to bless others. Whether the yard is landscaped or not. (It’s not by the way.)
So here’s to more get – togethers, family dinners, birthday parties, Bible studies, coffee around my kitchen table and…. painting, bathroom remodels, new windows and so much more.