2.5 years ago my husband and I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment, and about 1.5 years ago we brought our daughter back to that same apartment where we’ve all three lived since. But now we are thrilled to be moving into our own house in just a week! Before making a list of all the reasons I can’t wait to have a house, though, I want to reflect on what this place has taught me…
Doing the doable
Before our daughter was born a friend told me that her family of three was currently living in a one bedroom apartment and would be for a few years. Oh, so it wasn’t impossible? This made me realize the key difference between possible and preference. Despite what Pinterest would have us think, babies dont actually haveto have their own cute little nurseries. Social media in general has a way of shaping our expectations and preferences and then convicing us they are the only option. But I realized that mixing up preferences with possibilities keeps us from doing what we could, or maybe even should, do sometimes.
Hospitality vs entertainment
Many of the things on this list will not be things I did such a great job of intentionally learning but rather things I was forced to learn. And this is one of those things. When you have a small apartment that primarily holds necessitites due to space, you don’t have much to entertain with. It can’t be about showing off how cute your house is and how fun your entertainment center is. It forced us to make hosting about serving, creativity, and relationships. It meant whipping out the lawn chairs when guests came over.
Most of us as Americans do not have to look very hard to find material things to be thankful for. The language we use of “finding” things might say something about our materialism/entitlement when to people around the world (and maybe even down the road) those things would be very obvious to give thanks for. Nevertheless, I do have to “find” things to be thankful for sometimes. And in the searching itself, I realize how much I have.
Two specific examples come to mind: Even though the water would change from scalding hot to freezing cold mid shower, water itself is something to be thankful for. Especially when it’s clean, accessible, instant, and warm. Though our kitchen was small, we always had things to cook and something to cook in. Space, utensils, appliances, and food are all things to be grateful for. They might seem like it, but they aren’t givens.
We’re never “beyond” this
Not too long ago we got a new car that I primarily drive. My husband took my old car. After driving our new car for a few weeks I got into my old car and started to complain about it. I quickly (maybe with a little help) realized the mentality I was falling into. It caused us to renew a theory that had to become a reality: our personal and family goal in life is not to simply “move up.” May we never be “above” shaky cars, finicky showers, or stained carpets. We never want to be “past” certain things or people.
The grass is greenest where you water it
I have heard this quote recently and I loved it. But in an ouch that’s good kind of way. This small apartment has taught me the value of cultivating the “yard” you are given. It might always be smaller and browner than the Joneses, but that’s irrelevant. That’s their yard. Not mine. Things only grow if we dig, plant, and water. It’s hard work, but the beauty of the fruit it bears is worth it.
I’d rather have a happy heart
…Okay so sometimes I would rather have my favorite things than a happy heart. But at the end of the day, I’d rather go to bed with a wellness of soul than have all the material things I want the most. Through the house buying process it hit me like a ton of bricks- I would rather stay in this small apartment for the rest of our life and have happy hearts than live in the “perfect” house but have an unhappy marriage, family, and heart.
The beauty of simplicity
I will always remember moments like spontaneously pulling over at a frozen pond with my family. We found a huge shovel, sat on it, and my dad pulled us around. It was a blast. It was delightfully simple. This apartment has allowed us to enjoy the small and the simple; the sometimes overlooked. It’s like toys. 3 toys are easier to really appreciate, know, and enjoy than 10. They have more of our attention and time. Sometimes intentionally choosing to down grade and simplify is a good thing. It enhances enjoyment and contentment.
What memories are made of
Memories often can and do include money. But in my experience the best memories are created and not just bought. The buying can lead to the creating, but more money does not always mean sweeter memories. In the same way we have also learned that no amount of space is too small to make memories in. These four walls have held a lot of life. They have held countless memories that will not be easily forgotten.
Thanks for giving us a door to open after a long day of work, a trip, or time away and a place to walk into and say “ahhh home” about. Thank you for holding our belongings- the ones that tell of our life before each other, the ones that represent our life together, and the ones that mean a new little life is a part of us. You have held our belongings that remind us of various people over the years and various places over the world. You have held a lot of growth, laughter, tears, and love. You might not always be missed but you will never be forgotten.
Love, the Lewises ✌
This is simply beautiful! I enJOY reading your insights & I do NOT enJOY reading. So like I said, simply beautiful!
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Thanks for bringing back memories! When Randy and I moved from our first apartment (it had maybe 500 sq ft) to our first house, when we had loaded the last belongings, I sat in the floor and cried. He thought I would be only happy, but you feel like a chapter is closing. There’s just something so special about your first home with your true love. But you can take all those memories with you and you’ve taken lots of pics so that Reese can see her first home as well. Love you!
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Natalie, you amaze me. The wisdom you have at your age is a testimony to the relationship you have with your Savior. I am so proud of you and so glad to call you friend. You push me to be more…..more content with my life, more intentional in my relationships, more open to the possibility that “more” is often NOT better….just more. God bless you in your new home. I look forward to the memories you make & share from the other side of the river.
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:’) this means so much to me. Thank you for your kind words. You are such a blessing to me!
Oh, girl, just what my heart needed today. I wrote a similar piece when we moved from our house to our seminary apartment and wish I had written another in February when we moved from there to our Parsonage. So easy to forget the lessons from small living and just fall into the easy habit of excess (because after 3 years of small living, anything bigger than a small apartment feels like excess, lol).
Thank you for your insights here, Natalie, and thank you for making the time to share them.
Here’s my “home” post:
Thank you for sharing your blog too, just read it and loved it. Such a good and timely reminder about true contentment and what home really means.
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