I have to tell you, I have the most beautiful home. How is that for an audacious statement? But, in all seriousness, I love my home. You might be imagining it as a stately home, perfectly apportioned and decorated with a mix of antiques and new furniture. You might be envisioning a home in the mountains, at the beach, or in the perfect suburban neighborhood with large yards and big trees. You might just be annoyed that I had the guts to say that. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re probably wrong. I live in a 1000 square foot apartment at the cross-roads of two major highways in a suburban area with few mature trees. It’s not filled with the perfect furniture and coordinated accessories. Almost all our furniture is hand-me-downs or from IKEA. I’ve patched together our décor from various thrift stores, gifts, and homemade art projects. But, despite the imperfections, I find joy in the beauty of my home. I did not always see it so, but God has taken me on a journey this past year, freeing me from my expectations and opening my eyes to the gift I’m living.
To help you understand my perspective, I will give you some history. I love decorating. As a child, I would go to the library and check out stacks of decorating books and pore over them, dreaming about my future homes. I would take ideas from here and there, attempting to make my little bedroom live up to my impossible ideals. As a college student I would paint rooms, move furniture, shop thrift stores, and sit in the decorating section of Barnes and Noble reading through books for ideas. When I got married I spent hours working on our home, trying to find a way to decorate a home for both a man and a woman. I found delight and comfort in these activities. I also found shame and disappointment. As much as I tried, my efforts never met my ideals. I kept trying and striving and failing and not finishing. It was a cycle of love and discouragement.
Then last year, a baby was dropped down in the middle of my life. Well, he’s not a baby; he’s two. Last year we adopted a delightful little boy. I plunged into being a stay-at-home mom. My work became this little boy and my workplace a 1000 square feet of far-from perfect suburban apartment. With his typical toddler schedule of regular sleeping and eating, I now spend hours and hours within the walls of our home. I should hate it. I should loathe being in this confining space. I should be yearning for something else, but I’m not. Instead, a miracle happened in my heart. As I entered the world of full-time mothering in this space, I began to love it like never before. I began to appreciate things about it I had never noticed before.
This space is small enough that our little boy easily learned to walk without being overwhelmed with too much area to cover. This space has no stairs so I don’t have to carry him up and down just to run to the store for more milk or worry about him falling. This space is cool, even in our hot Texas summers. This space has more storage than we need.
The art I’ve gathered, the paintings by my grandmother, sister-in-law, and myself are a delight for my boy’s eyes. He loves to look at each piece. I can tell him not just what it is, but who made it. The hand-me-down furniture isn’t so precious that we can’t curl up on it and watch Curious George while eating crackers and juice.
As I clean up toddler messes and put various items away to keep them out of reach, I am handling the things in my home more than I have in years. I have more time to see and appreciate them. I also know that I don’t want more things because I would just have to clean them and put them away.
When we were young professionals, there were days when we barely used our apartment except to sleep and get ready for the day. Now I use every room in the house every day. I walk all over and around and back and forth and I can see how well each room suits our life and helps us accomplish tasks while also providing comfort, shelter, and safety for our small family.
I view my home from different angles now, often from the floor looking up and around, while I play with my son. As I become still and small in the space, I can see how spacious it is; halls and rooms spread out from where we sit next to the stack of board books.
Probably the greatest change in my home that makes me love it more than ever is the beauty of my son’s room. I tried to decorate it for him as we waited long months to bring him home. It was the hardest decorating project I had ever faced. I never seemed to get anywhere. As a known lover of decorating, I felt the pressure of everyone expecting me to do something unique and wonderful. However, looking around, I could not make the furniture and art work with the overwhelming emotions in my heart. When people came to see us they would inevitably wanted to see his room. I was so ashamed at how it looked, like an uncared spare room and not a nursery for a much-loved child. Now, the room has life and spirit as he fills it with his toys, books, clothes, and mess. I don’t feel the pain of that long wait, but the promise of a young life and personality beginning to unfold.
So, yes, my home is the most beautiful home. It changes to suit our needs: a safe shelter when we need rest; a beautiful place to sit and play with blocks and cars; or a place to eat a sandwich, some blueberries, or a bowl of ice cream before bed. I’d like to gently suggest that I bet your home is beautiful too. The beauty of our homes comes from lives that are lived with love and contentment among the gifts God has given – the contentment with what we have brings its own sense of sweet freedom.
Anna is a lover of books, history, nature, and all things beautiful, whimsical, and grounded in authenticity. She earned a degree in History with a minor in English, then went on to get a Masters Degree in Library Science, and spent several years working as an academic reference librarian. After years of infertility, she and her husband Jason welcomed their son Nathan home from his birth-country of South Korea in July 2012. The journey to become a mom and the daily struggles to mother Nathan and his unique needs to the best of her ability have stretched and strengthened Anna’s faith and relationship with God. Anna is passionate about social justice for orphans and women as well as keeping her eyes open to the little gifts of grace God gives her throughout each day. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, calligraphy, playing piano and blogging at www.comehitherandstay.com. Anna and her family make their home in Dallas, TX.