Simple, Purposeful Living in Our Home (Part 3)

Our house isn’t fancy. Honestly, it’s nothing to blog about. I laughed out loud when three lifestyle and home bloggers wanted me to join them in this series. I love our house. I think it’s pretty. But it’s definitely not going to be one you would find in a magazine.

But our home. It’s different. We’ve spent the last several years learning about home. Making our house a home, learning what it means to be home, and the people we would find there. I think it’s true for most Mamas, but the older I grow, the more home means to me.

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My Place

It was a brick house that sat on the hill.

Blackberries grew right on the property line, and in the summer, on hot days like today, we'd throw those old strips of plywood across the top of the bushes and go pickin'. After a few hours in the sweltering heat, we'd proudly display our bounty on the table and get to makin' a blackberry cobbler. The kind you can only make from pickin' your own berries.

Four acres of our little bit of country. With the view of hole number five, the par three right before the water, across the street. I caught my first fish in that golf course pond. The one you always say is bigger than it really was. The long driveway up the hill. My tree house in the backyard, the one I built with my dad.

That brick house that sat on the hill.

Although there were good memories in my childhood home, that house also saw some of my darkest days. Particularly, when I was in high school. You know the time when you're trying to find yourself. Those four years when you're trying to figure out where you belong. Those were the hardest. My parents went through a devastating divorce after 25 years of marriage.

And I could not find my place.

After the divorce, we left that brick house on the hill and moved into the city with my mom. I cried the whole day we moved. We left blackberries and rolling golf course hills to a two bedroom house with drug dealers as neighbors. No joke, my mom called me one night and told me to not leave the house, because the police had the dogs out looking for a suspect. My sister's room was right across the three foot hallway, and we would sing together at night to drown out the sound of the rats scratching the walls.

I celebrated my 21st birthday there. Brandon had the flu, but still made me cupcakes and invited more people than the house could hold. That little house on Wall Rd. was a place of rest in a time of chaos.

It was nothing like we were used to, but somehow fond memories happened in that house with the rats. Mom would keep extra food in the pantry and a whole gallon of extra milk for my friends who would stop by and stay with us. We had one of our best Thanksgiving meals there sitting in the front room, because there wasn't another place for a table.

But still, at Wall Rd., I couldn't find my place.

My heart constantly fought, trying to know a God of so many rules, that I had believed Him to be. If I had prayed more, studied more, served more, my life wouldn't be in shambles.

After a brief stay at Wall Rd., we moved across town, back to the country again. It was still in neighborhood, but thankfully there were no rats, and we all had a bedroom. And a dining room for that matter. Brandon proposed to me while living under that roof. And it was there, where I realized there had to be more to God than rules and me working for His love.

On this day, seven years ago, I married my dream man. The one who I had prayed for since I was twelve. Because I followed rules so closely, I chose not to kiss until I married. And this sweet man respected my decision for purity. On this day, seven years ago, we kissed for the first time.

And after a tropical honeymoon, I started finding my place with him. We made our home in a little white cottage. For the first time in my life, I was safe. And our first year of marriage, my heart revealed years of pain that I had been holding, bunkered away. I knew when I married him I was accepting his hard, but I wasn't prepared for him to

accept mine

.

The walls in that little cottage watched a rule following, working for love, broken girl, meet a God-Man with a tender face who accepted me, because of His sacrifice. I danced for Him in that kitchen. I sang Him love songs so loud, the neighbors probably heard. He picked up the broken pieces of my heart that had spilled out in our bedroom. I broke rules in that house. You know the rules that grace doesn't know? I started to realized there, in that place, who I was. Who He was. And He was nothing at all who I thought Him to be.

That little cottage saw dark days of my heart too. I would lean over the table in the dining room every night for Brandon to give me shots. I remember sliding down the wall in the kitchen when I realized our last IUI had failed. That bathroom floor saw many of my tears. And that shower heard me crying out to the Lord for a child. There is still a worn spot to this day in that bedroom beside our bed, where I would lay before Him. Broken heart and all.

Several years later, we brought our Selah Grace home to that little cottage. By then, those walls heard the cooing of a miracle baby. God had grown her in our hearts. We became a family there. A forever family. And more and more I was finding my place.

That little cottage no longer held room for us to grow, so we bought a house in a nice neighborhood. Kind of in the country, kind of in the city. Sometimes in the morning, I can hear the cows waking up past the trees in our backyard. Bunnies hop and nibble, but children ride their bikes up and down our street. The teenage boys two houses down play basketball every evening, and our neighbors have become dear friends. This house, my dream house, has lots of rooms. I have my own sewing room, and a room with lots of windows where I go just to read and write.  The living room has been filled with women, sitting on my couches, hungry for more of Jesus. And I have come to know this beautiful Father, my true Beloved, sitting on my white couch, more than ever before.

And just a few short weeks ago, Micah, came home to be in our forever family. Lately, these walls here, in this dream house of mine, hear lots of crying. They hear the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse on repeat. The floors haven't seen a vacuum in an embarrassing amount of time. And I promise you will find rings in our toilets.

This house has a constant smell of grilled cheese, because most days, that's all my toddler girl will eat. The floor already has spit up stains. There's a red mark on the kitchen wall from an escaped marker. (Selah has just learned she can color.) And the other day I found a milk cup under the coffee table, and from the smell of it, there is no telling how long it had been lost.

Baby boy has tummy issues, and cries more times than not. He rarely sleeps, and never can fully get comfortable. Selah spends most of her days in time-out lately. She loves to climb furniture and really likes to throw things in the trash. It's what toddlers do, so I'm told. And I've found myself feeling squeezed. Like I can't catch my breath. So I put him in the crib, I put her in the high chair with a snack, I go to the bathroom for the first time that day and cry.

Alone.

Ashamed, that I don't seem to be handling this two-under-two thing like other moms I know. Guilty, for being so overwhelmed, when all I've ever wanted was to be mommy. Humbled, that I don't have the strength I thought I carried.

And I began to wonder again, where is my place? Just for me. No bottles, or burp clothes, or baby dolls, or old sippy cups. Sometimes in the midst of mothering, on these really hard days of serving everyone all day long, I start to loose myself. Who I am? Who He is? Better yet, WHERE is He in this chaos?

The other day, sweet Micah was trying so hard to eat, and crying because he was in such pain. I hadn't showered, hadn't brushed my teeth, hadn't slept in five weeks, and I too, started crying with him. And because I didn't have words, I turned my heart to this faithful Father. And instantly, I felt Him say to me, "Let me mother your heart, Sweet Girl, so you can mother your children's."

In that moment. I found my place, again.

All my life, I have moved, and walked through hard. And each time it took a while to find my place there. What I wish I could've told my high school heart is, "He is your place. No matter what. No matter where you find yourself, He is your place to run."

He was there, laying with me in the bed, as my sister and I sang to cover the noise of the rats. He was there, under the same roof, living with me, during that time I was engaged to Brandon. And boy, was He ever there in that little white cottage. He unveiled my heart to a grace-filled, Father.

And He is here, too.

In the middle of the night feedings, in the hours of crying, at the time-out mat, and in the midst of the significant insecurities I have been feeling lately. 

Sometimes when I feel I can't breathe, I scramble to find my place. Away and alone. A room just for me. But during these days, I am mommy to two-under-two. And I have an audience when I use the bathroom. So in the middle of Mickey Mouse, with spit up on my shirt, dirty hair, empty belly, and yoga pants, I find My Place.

And I take a deep breath.

It's Him.

It will always be Him.

Nothing is Wasted

I was newly married. Still blissful in our new life together.

Our little white house was perfectly decorated, like I had imagined. All of the presents from our wedding, were thoughtfully arranged in their new home. Ready for us to use them as we began our life as man and wife.

Just like my new house, my new marriage, to everyone else looked tidy and sweet. And it was sweet, very sweet. But marriage opened up more of my heart than I was ready to give.

Something special happened the day I married my husband, as it does on every wedding day. We agreed to a covenant relationship so precious, that like God walked down the isle of the split animals with Abram in Genesis 15, we walked down the center isle to one another before the Lord, too. In this beautiful covenant, we joined together as one. His beautiful life and mine were now joined together. And with the beautiful, came his messy too.

I clearly understood walking down the center isle meant I was agreeing to take his mess as mine, and I was okay with that. I love that man more than anything. He was the one I prayed for and dreamed about. But what I didn't realize, was that I was agreeing for him to take

my mess

as well.

This was something I wasn't ready for.

I married him, with A LOT of mess.  Many years filled with broken, hard, dark, ugly, and painful mess. I didn't realize just how messy my mess was, until we became one, and he saw it too.

Because my story shares other's stories as well, just know that the mess was bad. I hope one day, I'll be brave enough to share it, but now isn't quite the time. It was a lot to work through. And being newly married, I needed someone outside of my life to look in and help me see the gospel in it.

I found myself sobbing in my parked car after coming home from a session with a tender counselor. She spoke healing and redemption over my very hurt heart.

It wasn't something new. I had carried this pain for years. I learned to live with it. Operate around it. This pain, had become familiar to me. So familiar that I really forgot it was there.

Until then. When we became one.

It seemed to make it's way out, timidly, in the safety of my new marriage. When this gentle, kind man, that I now called my beloved, saw what I had walked through, the pain of those years couldn't stay hidden down in the depths of my heart any longer.

Not quite ready to walk in. I sat in my car. And cried.

All the years of hard, I had kept locked inside, found their way out of my heart, and landed as big drops of hot tears on my lap.

I remember crying out to the Lord, sitting in my car on that summer day, "Is all of this wasted? Are all of those years meant for nothing? Please tell me You will use this part of my story for some greater good other than mine. Because, yes, I love you more for those years. But please tell me they aren't just meant to be for me. Please don't let them be wasted."

Almost seven years have pasted since that day. I have watched a very faithful God take those years of ashes and turn them into something beautiful in the garden of my heart. Although they are not forgotten, He has taken those memories and replaced them with those of healing. He has used my precious husband to "restore to me all of those years that the locust had stolen" (Joel 2:25). And I'm learning that nothing is ever wasted.

The three years of infertility treatments. The up and down of taking hormones. The emotional rollercoaster I traveled every single month. Crying and begging Him for a baby. Finding myself heartbroken over, yet another, baby shower invitation or pregnancy announcement. The countless hours I spent on my face before Him. All of those days have not been wasted.

A friend's failed adoption, a widow's cries in the night, the single woman waiting for her beloved, bad test results, the unexpected bill, that hard child, and the rocky marriage. They are not wasted.

In all these things, He works. He loves us hard. It might feel as though it's only a big mess. Too big, too painful, and too ugly to be made beautiful one day. But He revives the hardest, darkest, and most painful moments of our lives. He uses them in our lives, to work for our good and His glory.

Somehow in His faithfulness and goodness, He reaches down and rewrites a story of grace.

Nothing is wasted.

Not one single thing.

"And we know that for those who love God

all things

work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 ESV

*Thank you to

Rachel Ackerman Photography

for the photos*