Hi, I’m Jenny and I’m a closet real estate junkie. I devour episodes of House Hunters and read shelter magazines like 4 walls and a front door are going out of style. And I regularly nickel and dime our carefully-crafted monthly budget to death with “just one missing piece” or “a quick $11 tweak” to rooms in our house that I desperately want to love but feel hamstrung in so doing, because they are not actually mine.
(The irony of the very title of this post is not lost on me, because no matter whether our housing checks go to first mortgage of wherever or rental company, inc, aint none of us taking it with us. But bear with me.)
I love decorating. I love finding something and giving it new life with a fresh coat of paint or by introducing it to an unlikely partner and achieving style cohesion.
When the Nesting Place dropped a couple years back, I was all over that pretty little tome, even though until this morning, I’d actually only read it in black and white on ye trusty old Kindle. (Kinda ups the game to see her genius laid out in brilliant color. My bad, Myquillin.)
I eagerly incorporated her battle cry of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!” into every square inch of our cute, if beige, rental house.
This may not be my house, my internal monologue mused, but it’s going to look like it, gosh darn it. Even if I can’t change the wall colors or tear out every inch of (perfectly nice, but still horrifying with small children) carpet, or Joanna Gaines me some decent sight lines between the kitchen and dining room.
So I mixed and I matched. I scoured Saver’s and Goodwill and the clearance racks at Home Goods. I’ve even curb-picked a few gems from our neighbor’s ample front walkway. And over the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve turned this place into our home.
Bringing a couple more babies home into the mix hasn’t hurt to make it feel more official, either.
And yet, every month when I write that rental check, I have to tamp down a little surge of shame, or maybe it’s more like wounded pride.
This isn’t where a thirty-something family of 6 should be. We should be homeowners by now. When will we be grown ups?
Even just writing that out, it looks so ridiculous to me. Because it is ridiculous. We have clean water and secure jobs and healthy babies and 300 days of sunshine per year. And we live in a safe and walkable neighborhood that I have come to love. I can walk to the grocery store, our gym, and, quite recently, a craft brewery which welcomes children and goldfish crackers. Because Denver!
Of course, when I’m throwing my monthly mental pity party as I sign the check, I’m not usually thinking about the choices we’ve willingly made that have gotten us here, choices we would never dream of altering, even if we could. Living in Italy. Traveling abroad. Being open to 4 little souls who are even now mingling Legos and mac and cheese into a builder-grade paste which will cement itself to the side of my (free! hand-stained and refinished by us!) kitchen table.
I wouldn’t trade what we’ve done with our first 6 1/2 years of marriage for anything. And yet there’s still frustration as we crunch the numbers.
God has been so faithful. He continues to be so faithful, even as I question His path for us, frantically searching Redfin and Zillow for new listings as I nurse a sweet baby to sleep. I could be doing spiritual reading, or even staring blankly at a wall, and it would probably be better for my heart and soul than clicking on “just one more” listing, devouring data about square footage and interest rates and HOA fees like an addict.
I’ve some work to do in the contentment department, and I know there needs to be a day of reckoning for my heart which seems to vacillate wildly between “let’s eat rice 11 times a week while we save for a fantastic down payment” and “I just need to spend $75 on some patio furniture for our front porch so this feels more like home.”
Can’t have it both ways, Jenny.
Can’t have that Pinterest-perfect curated space of your dreams, updated as the styles and seasons change, and be hitting those financial goals you set with your patient and probably saintly husband.
So here’s my new missive: waiting. Waiting in joyful hope. Waiting in expectant peace, and believing that one more load of crap from the thrift store or the Target Dollar Spot is not going to make this place more home to us. And waiting on God’s timing and His clear directive that our next step is His next step.
I’m better at doing. But I can’t “do” my way into the kind of patience that grows gratitude. Which is a pity, really, because I’m rather handy with a hammer and spray paint.