There’s something about preparing to move that brings out my sentimental side.
As the reality has set in over the last few months that we will no longer be living in our house, it’s been hard not to get swept up in the emotional part of it all. I mean, this is the first house we bought together, the house we brought five children home to, the only house we’ve ever lived in as a family.
It’s full of memories.
I encouraged my kids as part of their writing for the end of the year to write about our house. Write down the things they want to remember, whether it was memories they have in certain rooms, drawing little maps of what it looked like, or writing out actual stories. I tell them how much I wished I had written more down as a child, and I often wonder whether or not I’d remember certain things better or differently had I written them down. I also wonder if the act of writing secures a memory in our brain that might not be there if we didn’t write it down.
I’m glad we live in a time where we have cameras. We can easily look at pictures and the image can spur a memory. But writing preserves our feelings. It shows our perspective in ways a photo cannot.
Since my kids have been challenged to write, I know I need to do the same thing. Time is not my friend right now and the overwhelming list of all that has to happen is growing daily.
But as I was thinking about writing about our house, I was thinking about the many posts I see on Instagram of the lovely spots in people’s homes. If you understand the culture of IG, you come to realize that the picture doesn’t always match the caption. Sometimes the photo is just a beautiful place in someone’s home and they’re writing something they’re thinking about or learning or struggling with. But the image pulls you in. It makes you want to want to stop and read what they said. These photos represent safe places, secure places, places that are loved.
So I started thinking about what beautiful spot in our home that I could write about. What is the place that draws me in every time? What makes me happy when I look around and see it? And I realized, while I love our little house and I loved living here, there isn’t a place that draws me in with its beauty. I don’t find myself with a plethora of places to take pictures of beautiful things.
Because the beauty in our home isn’t from our decor. It’s from the memories.
I could take a picture from the couch. My view of the living room and dining room where I sat, coffee mug in hand most mornings. Sometimes alone, sometimes in prayer, sometimes snuggled up with littles, sometimes bleary-eyed, sometimes rushed in my days of heading off to work.
I could take a picture of our dining room table. Often half-filled with schoolwork pushed to the side, or craft supplies that didn’t make it back to the drawer, or dirty cups that didn’t make it to the dishwasher. A place we spent many hours each day, learning, eating, talking, laughing, (and yes, crying and yelling too).
I could take pictures of my kids bedrooms, trying to capture the many hours that have been spent in them over the years. The place where I nursed them to sleep when they were babies, and as they got older, where we read books and snuggled as they fell asleep. Or as they somehow turned into even bigger kids, the place where we laid and talked about whatever was on their mind, sometimes heavy and hard stuff, sometimes silly questions that made me laugh.
As I thought about the places in my house I was drawn to, the one spot that kept coming back to me? This old ugly counter.
Replacing the counters and remodeling the kitchen was always on our list of things we wanted to change in our house. But we kept having children and then I stopped working and then it just wasn’t a priority anymore. We had a very functional kitchen, although not very beautiful. I mean, look at the color of these counters! Not my ideal choice, but they worked.
It doesn’t make a pretty picture, but it surely spurs on memories.
This was my exact view on the day we decided to buy this house. I remember leaning up against the counter from the same angle I took this picture, the owners standing by the fridge, asking how far along I was. The wife hit her husband and he said, “What, I was sure this time!”
This was the counter I remember leaning on when I was in labor with Eden. My parents had come to pick up the kids and they were gathering them up to the car. The contractions kept rolling close together as I was waiting for them to leave, and I leaned over the counter to steady myself again and again.
This was the main counter I used to cook.. I rarely used a different one to prepare meals. Life has been one constant rotation of kids pulling at my legs, sitting on the counter, standing on a stepstool, to finally standing and helping to cook by themselves. This was the counter where Eden got her hair stuck in the mixer and she somehow pulled it to the ground with her as she fell. This was the counter I learned to make sourdough bread, where my starter has sat for 3 years, waiting to be fed and used. Spilled flour, food scraps, dirty dishes piled here daily.
When I’m able to be alone when I cook, I pray a lot. This counter surely heard a lot of prayers fall from my lips. It has also caught its fair share of tears. It has felt the weight of my arms and the pounding of my fist. It has heard my dreams, my fears, my desires, my hopes, and my thanks.
When long to-do lists swirl in my head, when the speed of life takes over, when the future is still very much unknown, it’s so easy to forget to live small. It’s so easy to forget that God is present in all that’s small in our lives. But as I thought about the favorite parts of my house, I was reminded that sometimes the best things come out of what’s not so beautiful. God can take things like ugly counters and use them to create lasting memories in our lives. He can take the ugly places in our hearts, the painful moments in our lives, the long and difficult seasons, and redeem them to use for His glory. He is the one who repairs our brokenness, and brings beauty from ashes.
I’m asking God to open my eyes to see the beauty in the not so beautiful places. To see the world, to see people, the way He does. To change my heart and see His goodness in all things, even ugly countertops.