Wednesday April 13, 2011

{ShOp tHe hOusE}
or furnished rental

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On Saturday one of Kate’s new friends was coming with her mom to pick her up for an afternoon of shopping..

The rest of us had plans for a day out also, so I was hurrying around to get everything done..

darting back and forth between the bathroom to wash my hair, and the kitchen to fry the bacon.
At one point when I ran out to throw something away I began looking around at the yard.
Since the snow has melted, we’re discovering the many treasures that have been buried underneath it for all these months.
toys. balls. headless polly pockets. tim horton’s cups. and rolled up soiled diapers.

As I headed back inside it struck me that Kate’s friend and her mom, who we knew from church, had never seen our house before…
and suddenly, seeing the garbage peppered yard bothered me. 

Before I knew it there I was, wet hair in towel, still in my pajamas, burning bacon inside..
while I cleaned up. raked up. picked up. and swept up the driveway and porch.
Standing for several minutes looking up at the house wondering if there was any way to make the whole thing seem nicer. more attractive.

Leaning on my broom handle, with my lips pursed and a slight wince on my face,
the words a friend once said to me came ringing back as they often have through the years …

“Is your home to bless or impress?”

And though I still wished I could have climbed up on the balcony of the second floor bedroom to rip down the way ugly cobalt blue tarp the landlord had put all around it to keep the squirrels out.. that I don’t think has worked since we hear them up there nearly every morning.. I sighed and shook my head.

I knew she was right. Her words were right. There was truth there.

And not that there’s anything wrong with cleaning and keeping what we have looking nice…
or that somehow you’re going to be blessed to pull in my driveway and see balled up soiled diapers laying around. :)

I will probably forever be a recovering slightly ocd perfectionist neat freak..
who once upon a time would follow her first born around picking up the toys behind her.
Well, maybe not quite. but nearly. and maybe I’ve relaxed a bit too with old age.
Though I do keep looking over at the door where Ben left his shoes in the middle of the rug,
and not nice and neat in the shoe basket around the corner. ;)
But, living in a furnished rental has taught is teaching me some valuable lessons in contentment.
About working with what you have.
Realizing how much you do have.
And what it is at the end of the day that truly makes a house a home.

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discovering simple blankets can make nice slipcovers for that unsightly fabric or pattern.

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and some decor can’t be remedied no matter how many blankets you’d use
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some of the decor i liked that was here.. this old kneeling bench w/ hope & pillows added :)
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and this sewing machine…
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using christmas decor as a cover up… working w/ what you have, right.
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pictures found tucked away among some towels. and lamps that made it here but somehow their shades did not…
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not exactly the width i would hang these, or what i would hang.. but it’s where the nail holes were and what i had…
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It’s been a funny revelation to me.
One Shayne and I have laughed about more than once…
when I talk about how much I miss our home in the states,
because we both know all the issues I had with that place through the years.

We called it the insect house, because everything imaginable was found there.
Even snakes in the kitchen at one point !
to which I threatened to move out and never return.
to which God taught me that no matter what you fear and think you can’t handle… you can.
His grace even covers snakes~
Though I might have doubted that a few times as I would see their heads peeking out from under the baseboards at me as I ran the vacuum..
finding myself finishing my vacuuming from up on a chair.

What do they say about what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger…
hmm.. well, something like that. or atleast just makes you a really quick jumper upper on chairs! ;)

That house had one bathroom. No dishwasher. Rickety. Drafty. and 250 years old.
I dreamed of no more hand washed dishes.
knocks at the bathroom door met with, “go to the OTHER bathroom!”
Something newer. bigger. not so moldy. and of course.. snake free!

Now. here we are. with many of those.
and not just two bathrooms, but THREE!
even a dishwasher…

But. having some of those things that I used to say, “If only I had…”
has not made my heart stop longing for other, “if only I had’s…”

Because contentment isn’t about being okay with what we don’t have,
it’s coming to a place of being okay with what we do.

Living here, in a place with someone else’s stuff, has been interesting. and challenging. and..
really I’ve hated it. ;)
How I’ve wanted my own stuff around me. and look forward to having it again one of these days.
yet. pause.

as God tills up the discontentment in my heart I’m realizing how little stuff I actually need.
Oh, the excess we have compared to most the world and yet, it’s never enough!

And though I’m not going to lie and say I’m ready to sell it all and move into a hut with just a wood stove.
I’ve had my eyes opened in a fresh way that it’s not with all this STUFF that my home is built.
Or in the ability to make it look nice and impressive.

Those times of discontentment and frustration, which usually result in quick temper and snappy tongue, do more to make my home unattractive than any number of garbage across my yard or lack of pretty decorations inside…

When my spirit hangs like a heavy cloud and my attitude makes others uneasy to come around me..
does it matter what is hanging on the wall, or how well I put it there.        

A wise woman builds her home. But the foolish pulls it down with her own hands… prov. 14:1

We know this. But do we KNOW this?

It’s is not in the stuff  we have that makes our house a home.
It is the stuff that’s found in our spirits. In our hearts.

January days~ 785January days~ 818

how I desire for my home to be one of peace.
a place my kids feel safe and welcomed. free and accepted.

Sure I’m going to teach them to care for what God’s given. To be responsible and tidy.
And maybe how to hang a picture straight on a wall or make a room brighter with new pillows..
but most of all I hope they learn what the spirit of a true home feels like. even if it doesn’t always look nice.

And when I think about my friend’s words.. “blessing or impressing?”
I can’t help but to feel that contentment is at the very foundation of a home and life that blesses~

I think contentment is one of those lessons that I’ll never fully learn.
Just when one area settles it seems another surfaces…
Like, okay.. sure my hips don’t bother me anymore because now I’m consumed with the wrinkles on my face! ;)

And I can’t say I’ll ever not want to have a home that is pretty and filled with nice things
That’s part of who we are as women. Who God has made us to be. Embracing beauty and creativity..
and nothing wrong with those things.
there’s no need to apologize or feel less spiritual because we like to paint and sew and bake and decorate and arrange.
Those are all expressions of our design.

But God keeps bringing me back to where my real contentment is found.
What I’m grasping for and looking to fulfill and give me self worth.

At the end of the day does it matter if a few were impressed here and there.
Or. if those who crossed my path. walked through my door..
and most importantly lived in my home were blessed, in some way, by my life,
and pointed to something far more eternal than my manicured lawn and lacy curtains~

January days~ 813
January days~ 845January days~ 843January days~ 849
January days~ 763
round the house~ 267

and about homes.. :)
would you please pray with us that God would provide one?

We originally had to be out of here by the end of the month –
and we’ve been looking since the first of the year but so far, nothing.
Our landlords have now given us until the end of May…
but I still find my heart a bit anxious.

Learning to wait. to trust. to believe He provides in His perfect timing…
and yes. to be content with what He gives.
hopefully not a hut with a wood stove. ;) 


45 thoughts on “Wednesday April 13, 2011

  1. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    i’ll say a prayer…know just how that place of having a deadline hanging over your head feels…

    love, love your words on contentment, and blessing vs. impressing…
    such a great post…super way to start out my day!
    gotta scoot before it’s total confusion and mayhem around here…
    have a lovely day dear friend!

  2. purpleamethyst76

    We lived in a furnished apartment for about 6 months when G was a baby.  It wasn’t my style but I didn’t really give it much thought though.  No time–esp. w/3 kids in diapers.  LOL

    Your place is lovely but your spirit of contentment is even better!.  We’ll be praying for you !

  3. willeywonderings

    ahhhhh, i read you, girlfriend.  

    remember, i am the one sitting in the middle of the mud puddle with you.

    my house isn’t furnished but some of the other stuff leaves a lot to be desired. somedays i am ok with it and just go with the flow, other days come along and i buck it all daylong. then someone comes in and comments how NICE it is for a rental…. and i feel these guilty feelings start coming. i really want to be content where i am and even if i have to be here an unknown amount of time. i really do……. but i hope i can be greatful for a nice kitchen someday too :) :)…. (better continue reading ym “one thousand gifts”  )  praying you will find something soon….. i remember that awful feeling…

  4. dilafila

    i love your house. the simple decor. the fresh feel. the very comfy feel it gives off. i want to crawl in a chair and read a book and drink coffee. i don’t know what your going after but this is what i get from it and i really like it. well done, thou good and faithful servant.

  5. jennieanne84

    aw…what a great posts with wonderful thoughts on contentment…..

    you made the house you live in into something cute! i like it.

    i’ll pray you find a house.

    luv u

  6. smilesbymiles

    To bless or to impress … I think about that so much. And really, that happens so little by our house (ok, a little … it feels more blessed to be given clean towels, plenty of toilet paper and a toilet that isn’t plugged) ;) as it does by US. Because it is our words, our smiles, our hugs, OUR welcome that blesses. I need to keep sinking that into my heart this week. I am so tired and feeling so stretched after helping to host a choir that came through last week, helping with baby Sarah’s funeral Sunday and Monday, and now a friend’s wedding this weekend which means hosting a family of four (who I have never met) and an old friend and singing at the wedding. Oh and Adam’s birthday party Friday. To bless, not to impress. I hope I keep hold of that b/c I’m afraid it might not have much of a chance at impressive. ;)

    I liked this sentence so much:

    Because contentment isn’t about being okay with what we don’t have,
    it’s coming to a place of being okay with what we do.

  7. appalolly

    You and I have a lot of the same lessons that we need to learn (are learning)…as probably do most human beings!

    We want something, then when we have that, we wish for something else.  Big problem I have struggled with over the years.  Still do a lot.

    Loved hearing your heart and what God is teaching you on this. I have a feeling that for me, at least, this learning about contentment is going to be a life long process!

    Your home is very beautiful…if you ask me.  (And I just got done doing the “end of winter” yard pick up around here on Monday night because we have people coming over on Saturday!)

  8. down_onthefarm

    praying with you dear friend. about having a house to call home. and sooner {today is good} rather than later.
    i’m thinking that there are some available ’round here. not sure whose idea that is…mine or His? but pretty sure.  :) that blessed me. in an ouch kinda way as He pointed at my stuff. and oooh so glad for the word pictures that you share with
    truth and rubber- meetin- the- road- lessons. you have rearranged and moved and added things of your own to your rental…looks great btw…
    kinda what He does for us. on the inside. bringing His stuff…pitching mine out. okay. maybe it’s not the same exactly ha
    but i do know. it is a process! and there is. will be. a homecoming! where it is all just right.

  9. WildWomanOfTheWest

    I am always blessed when I come here, as those who visit your home.  It is your heart, along with your wonderful creativity, that makes your home so beautiful.

    After the tornado, we lived in a hotel for about 6 weeks, motel art’s not my style, but God was beyond gracious with giving me the desires of my heart with this old converted barn.

    He has a home for your family Amber~ hold tight!  No matter where or the condition, your sweet details will make it beautiful to all who enter.  (((hug)))

  10. aSeriesofFortunateEvents

    I think I’d be so afraid that we were going to break the things that were furnished!

    I hope you find something very soon!!

    I get discontented too and have to remind myself, I have it way better than a lot of people so I better stop complaining. LOL

  11. mytoesareblue

    what in important reminder for me about blessing or impressing. i hope to print that up and put it somewhere that i can be reminded of what truly is important. thank you for talking about this and sharing a bit of what you’ve been going through lately. i pray that God will provide a home that will work for you guys, be affordable and be somewhere you can settle into ;)

  12. redladybug18

    “Is your home to bless or impress?” -I like that. Such a good thing to keep in mind. Seems like as soon as I learn contentment in one thing and think I’ve attained it, God puts me in a different situation and I gotta learn it over :)
    I’ll be praying for a house. I know God has one just for y’all just in his perfect time.

  13. wj3km

    Amber, I love to see how you and Shayne complete, complement each other – what a sweet couple you too are!!

    I totally understand the feelings of living without your own belongings – been a big struggle for me living with my FIL and ALL his stuff – believe me, there is NO room for any of our homey things :( Some days I just wanna leave and never return, but other days I feel guilty for wanting more “stuff” as in decor, etc. when there are so many who’ve lost all their belongings through disasters.

    The Lord will fulfill his purpose for you, he will not abandon you. He knows the desires of your heart and knows what you need – he owns the cattle on a hill, he provides food for the birds, surely he will provide for you too! :) His ways are higher than ours and I pray God will do amazingly above and beyond what you can imagine! :) I pray you will see His extravagant love and care for you!

  14. Elizabethmarie_1 are such a lovely woman/mom/wife.
    You are right about contentment and I love the little quote!  Blessing or Impressing.
    I will pray for you guys to find something soon….remember, the house next to us is available! ;)
    Happy Wednesday to you.

  15. seekinHISwisdom

    Stretching, all of it. But the snakes top it off, in my mind!! lol

    Home is a woman’s domain, it speaks of our heart, love and dedication. Even though yours is furnished I see so much Amber beauty, the lovelies and womanly touches you added. Beautiful. Really.

    I would gladly visit your home with rolled up dirty diapers in the yard, yup, would not bother me. BUT if I saw them in my yard, you would find me burning bacon and hair rolled onto a towel as well. :) In some ways we are all the same. us women.

    Prayers as you search and find a HOME, a place to call your own.

     ~ Luv ya

  16. resolved2worship

    We’ve lived in a furnished rental before (w/ four kids at the time too!) – we were there way longer than I’d have liked of course, but I learned a lot during that time about growing where planted and making the most of it. Looks like God has given you the grace to do that as well. Personally I like the new modern flare you’ve got there :) I’ve lived in over 30 houses — it’s hard to FEEL “homeless” – even for those of us live in the moment less orderly personalities. It takes focusing on the eternal and realizing everything down here of the flesh will be gone so fast. I’m still learning that even after all my “homeless” times and moves — wonder if I will “get it.” But I guess it’s not always getting it that matters as it does that it leads me always back down the road to Him. May it do the same for you. have a great day and happy you have melted snow.

  17. ABAHM

    I love how you have “fluffed up” your rental. Pretty pillows and all. I think we women all hear you, and do need that reminder of bless or impress to keep our thinking straight. Praying for God to lead you to the place he has for your family! We are praying for someone wonderful to move in next door to us…funny how many people have an opening next door

  18. OceanTrust

    Thanks so much for sharing. This is such an important thing to remember, being content – and blessing, not impressing. So hard for us humans to do! But so vital to lives lived for God and that encourage others rather than just living selfish lives. Your post was a good reminder to me today.

  19. CBrown6207

    You’ve done a great job with adding warm touches to your place.  And you are so right about decorating and making things look pretty as being part of our design as women.  We have totally been where you are before…rental home with rental furniture, and other times in a hotels for about 9 weeks while everything but the clothes we needed to wear was in storage.  It’s just.plain.hard. to feel like you don’t have a place of your own.  Contentment…  so hard to learn and I too, feel like God wants me to learn it over and over and over again.  I will keep on praying for a house for y’all!  Though you don’t know where that house is that you will call home, God already has the perfect place picked out.  : )

  20. TrentTribe

    It’s true.  We’re never satisfied. Always longing for what we don’t have.  If we live our lives that way, we’ll come to the end having never got what we wanted.   Great reminder to be content. 

  21. christinasdavis

    “Is your home to bless or impress” I read that this morning and have been thinking about it since then. That could apply to our entire lives couldn’t it? Are we here to bless or impress?

  22. Anonymous

    I must share how this post encouarged me. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, ever since my friend Maria sent me the link. We don’t know other but God has been using you to get me interested in Him again, and going to church with my kids. Your home is really nice and I hope you can find another one soon.

  23. mlt10202002

    we live in a dingy rental, with carpet that is beyond horrible. it was worn out when we moved in three years ago. and has not improved. and i find myself shrinking at the thought of people coming to admire our new baby, and seeing the tackiness. i hope i can remember your words “is it to bless or impress?”
    i reallyhope they will be so smitten with the cuteness of our new baby, they forget to inspect the carpet. =)

  24. DawneElla

    I will definetly being praying for the Lord to provide a home. I know what it’s like to have to be out of one place by a certain date and not have another one secured as the date approaches…it’s kind of how we ended up buying this house. We were in a rental and the owner’s decided to sell to a friend of theirs and gave us very little notice. My biggest concern was not having to change the kids schools…at the time I had four kids in three different schools…it narrowed the options considerably, finding a house in the same district that would serve all four kids. We also needed immediate occupancy, at least 3 bedrooms with  potential for 4, a garage or outbuilding for my husband’s equipment plus it had to be in our price range and at the time we had only a small savings for down payment. It seemed like a tall order in a short time. Long story short…I stumbled across this place one day while dropping my daughter off at a friends. I seen the “For Sale” sign on the lawn and decided to take a peek…it was empty and had been empty for a while…it was (is) a fixer upper and we did bite off more than we could chew but it met all the criteria I had prayed about. We’ve had our issues with the house and we still do but I’m glad we took the plunge and bought it. It hasn’t always been easy, there’s been challenges in home ownership and sometimes I’ve wondered if we made the right decision, did we follow God’s will or orchestrate or own? It’s hard to know sometimes!  But I’ve liked the “feeling” of owning…that no-one else decides if we have to leave and we don’t worry about taking care of some else’s property in a way they might critisize…it’s ours…and we can do what we want with it. Plus the money we put into it in a sense is going back into our own pockets.

    I don’t know what the Lord has in store for you as far as a place to hang your hat is but I do know you’ll make it “home” no matter what the situation. Your heart to put Him at the centre of the brick and mortar that you abode in…will make it “home”.

    I’ve been thinking about you Amber and a visit now that the “almost” nice weather is here. My weekends keep filling up on me so we are going to have to figure something out…maybe even plan for something on a Friday…and I can take the day off…something! Talk to you soon, love Dawne

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  26. Cluesy

    yah for melted snow and I will be praying you guys find a home very soon
    cute pictures and i love what you have done
    I hear you on contentment
    I’m such a slow learner and always seem to find something to be discontent about
    Thank you for your words of wisdom

  27. DanishDoll

    I can identify with the struggles of your heart regarding these things. I often miss my lovely home back in America, but it isn’t mine anymore to miss! LOL! When we first moved here, we lived in a really, terrible place. Terrible. Really. I kind of wonder if God did that on purpose to make me SO grateful when we finally got a bigger place. It is still low cost housing in an ugly, cement apartment block, but we have so much more room, and I have done my best to make it homey and welcoming! I can’t do anything about whoever it is who pees in the hall sometimes, and I cannot change the fact that many of my neighbors are alcoholics, but I can shine God’s light, and be as welcoming as I possibly can with this little place God has given us! SO true… we must find our contentment in HIM, and not in things!

  28. ToLiveLoved

    “blessing or impressing”….I love that and plan to use it.
    Will pray for a home, for direction, provision, and absolute peace in the process.
    Love every single thing you wrote here. Every last bit.


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