house

I remember when blogging was mainly about our personal lives, our comings-and-goings, our thoughts or mundane adventures. Funny, isn’t it? There weren’t book deals to be had yet – publishing wasn’t paying attention to blogging yet, and there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter to mark “going viral,” and soapbox rants or manifestos happened once in a blue moon instead of every Tuesday.

I thought of that this morning when I sat down at the computer to blog about the past week or two because I don’t have any manifestos or soapbox rants right now, I don’t have any thing worth “sharing” with your Facebook friends or pinning on Pinterest, it’s a little story of our family’s days the past while here. It’s old-fashioned blogging this morning, just simple stories and even a bit of memory keeping. 

We moved this week. We’ve been circling around the idea of moving for months and just when we had abandoned the idea altogether, the stars aligned – and quickly. It isn’t exactly a great time to move – new baby, new book, summertime and all that. But if we waited for the perfect time for most things in life, we wouldn’t do much of anything, would we? We’ve spent the last month packing up our now-former townhouse steadily.

Brian and I have moved a-plenty in our lives, for a time there we even moved once a year or two repeatedly. Our biggest move was from Texas to Vancouver ten years ago this very week. But now I’d say that even if the distance is not comparable – we just moved up the hill within our own neighbourhood, for heaven’s sake – the sheer work and logistics of an international move for two young marrieds without children rival an in-neighbourhood move with four tinies. 

Moving day finally came. I feel like when you arrive at moving day it should be “ta-da! finished!” but instead, it’s simply the mid-way point because now you have to unpack all those boxes and re-establish a home.

Families who move frequently because of work or the military or ministry, I will pray for you and love you forever. Bless.

I had my hair tied up in a headwrap and a top-knot to disguise how grubby I had become. It was all hands on deck. We hit that last few minutes of throwing things madly into boxes marked “misc.” and hoped for the best. (My sister laughed pretty hard as she was unpacking those boxes – let’s see, a few paperback books, electronics, a razor, box of Kleenex, baby toys, two diapers, a magazine, a power cord, bag of tortilla chips, a pillow, what else can we cram in here?)

On that last night, we gathered in the girls’ room to pray together as a family. We wanted to mark the end of that era of our life and make some room for the inevitable sadness even in the midst of the joy. We prayed together, expressing our gratitude for this home and blessing it for the new occupants. We prayed for the move and for our new home, too. The next morning, after the movers had left with our stuff, I wandered around the empty house, remembering how we had worked so hard to make it a home six years ago. Evelynn was born in the living room there. Maggie came home there. Joseph was just one years old when we moved in, Anne was three. I wrote my first two books there, scribbling at the kitchen table and typing on the floor of the main floor bathroom with one eye on a tiny in the tub. We learned what it meant to have roots there. The tinies ran around the little neighbourhood of townhomes with a gang of good kids. And I don’t mind telling you, we had the best neighbours, the absolute best. 

We have spent the last two days unpacking now. Brian sprained his ankle in the first thirty minutes of our unloading which wasn’t great timing but because he is completely unable to sit down while other people are working, he kept unloading and unpacking for another fourteen hours after that.

Our people showed up big time for us – my mother took over Maggie Love for the day texting me when she needed to nurse and then I would hustle over to feed her and then head back to the house. My dad took Evelynn out to a work picnic for the day. Anne went to her best friend’s house for the day and Joe went to his buddy’s house to dig in the dirt with great joy. Having them out while the men were unloading the truck was much easier. Everyone came home, my parents helped us to set up the beds quickly, and then we went to bed that night, surrounded by boxes and utterly overwhelmed. Our littlest ones cried bitterly with exhaustion and newness at bedtime and I felt like howling right along with them.

We’re the kind of unpackers who would rather work from awake-to-asleep without rest until the house is completely unpacked. Brian and I are well-matched in this mantra – we don’t quit until it’s done.

I don’t think my feet have ever hurt quite this much though. In the morning, I got to work on the kitchen and unpacked steadily, stopping only to nurse Maggie. Anne unpacked and set up her entire room beautifully, often coming by to airily remark that if I was tired of looking at all these boxes, I could always come to her room and have a rest. My sister came over to lend a hand for the afternoon and then we really started to make progress – kitchen, washrooms, our bedroom, tinies bedrooms, living room, laundry room…. Friends stopped by with flowers or food or an encouraging word. Our now-former neighbour stopped by with a hot meal including fresh veggies, brownies, and a bottle of red, may it be counted unto her as righteousness. After three days of catch-as-you-can meals and fast food, it tasted like heaven. Brian and I took that first bite and groaned out loud – real hot food!

So here we are on Sunday morning. Everyone is sleeping except for me and Maggie and Anne, my two bookend girls are alike in more than looks, early risers both of them. Coffee is brewed. We made scones together. Our things are mostly unpacked, all that remains is the guest room and a bit of the dining room stuff and some of the garage. It won’t take long and then we’ll start hanging pictures. The sun is coming through the windows and dust is swirling like fairies in the light. When everyone wakes up, we’ll scramble for showers and quickly get ready for church. I have final read-through for last-minute typos before my book goes to press on Tuesday. An article is due, Brian returns to work, tinies will make a mess of Legos and dress-up clothes in their playroom, the little jumperoo-baby-thing is perched on the kitchen floor, we’ll have leftovers tonight. Ordinary life is beginning again.

In an old L.M. Montgomery book called Jane of Lantern Hill (a dear favourite of mine from childhood but one of her lesser known works), Jane and her father are house-hunting together on Prince Edward Island. They describe all the things they want in a house and then they agree that the most important thing is “magic.” And by that, they meant that you want to feel like the house is yours before you even buy it. I felt that way about this house. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love the line-items of the house like a quiet settled neighbourhood and how everyone gets their own room (Anne is especially chuffed about this) and the backyard and the big deck with a view of the mountains and especially the double-fridge-freezer-combo thing (that fridge is THING OF BEAUTY THO). But the best part is the magic. It feels like home already, it felt like home right from the start. I can see it in the tinies as they are quite at peace already here. I believe in home-making.

My friend Jen said we were moving into our main memory home, the home our tinies will likely grow up in for their childhood, the home from which they will set out in the world. This will be the home for the middle part of my life, maybe longer, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

I like that idea, a memory-making home. I can picture Christmas supper and birthdays, friends around the real wood fireplace, new books written here, tinies on trampolines, a garden at long last for my patient husband, late nights and early mornings and creating comfort as ministry. These are the days we’ll have to remember someday, right?

 

 

What I'm Into :: Summer 2015
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  • Tara Porter-Livesay

    I loved reading this, Sarah. I started blogging in 2005 to keep my memories and I did not care if anyone read it or did not read it — those posts are still my favorite (favourite) because my memory will not hold those details and I love to read them. I am so glad you guys are done with the huge push of unpacking on a sprained ankle for 14 hours. We love you and we so hope to have tea with you in this home one day. Pax, friends.

  • Welcome home, Bessey Family. Enjoy the early morning with dust fairies and all! Love to you as you make magic and memories in this home!

  • Sandy Hay

    Years ago I was one of those military families. i used to say that in the first 17 years of our marriage, we had 12 different kitchens. These were actually wonderful years. Then we bought our “main memory house”. Now we’re making memories in that same house (after LOTS of remodeling) with grandchildren . Love this phrase Sarah…creating comfort as ministry … Beautiful 🙂

  • Susan May

    This is a beautiful post, I love everything about it. Except for the sprained ankle.

    Brava that you are a fierce unpacker.

  • fiona lynne

    Happy new home! I’m a little jealous. We did all the packing craziness (with just one toddler but morning sickness to boot) a month ago. Buy now we’re in an in between phase, nomads fit another four weeks (and counting). I’m eager for that magic, that settledness again. But this nomadic time has also given me such a heart for those migrants who spend so many years without that settledness.
    May this home be such a place of abundance and light for your family and community x

    • The inbetween is so difficult. And yes, it does give such tenderness and empathy to others. Blessings on you , Fiona – praying as you settle!

  • Nicola

    That made me tear me up reading that, what a beautiful post – i love when you write like this. When we moved a few years ago, our main criteria was a house with, what we termed in absence of a better word, soul. No one could understand what we meant by this, but we knew. But I love how it is also described as magic as it is a mysterious concept that not even the best estate agent (as we call them here) can describe on the listing. Wishing you all many many happy years making memories together!

    • Thanks, Nicola! I love that word – soul – for it. That might be way better way of describing it!

  • Emilie Bishop

    Love Jane of Lantern Hill, both the book and the Kevin Sullivan movie. Love your magical house. Hate moving;) Yay for being very nearly done with it!

    • Thanks, Emilie! I never liked the movie as much as the book but I’m an L.M. purist. 🙂

  • “…creating comfort as ministry…” Love it! Many blessings on you and yours in this new space to call home. May all who enter in be filled with God’s goodness and grace and His magic. xoxox

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  • Valerie

    Would it be stupid to say Swoon? This post made me feel like that…Swoon! This was so lovely Sarah.Thank you.

  • I cannot wait to see what happens in and through this house. So happy for you guys! And now may you enjoy the fruits of your labor and may you get a chance to rest and refresh.

  • Jory Micah

    Congrats on your new home!!! Xo

  • Beccy Cree

    Oh moving….in the year and a half I was 14/15, we moved 4 times. Now as a twenty year old, I’m determined not to move again until I have to!

    • That’s a wise choice! We did nearly 10 in 10 years of marriage and so then we stayed put for 6 years and now hopefully for 20! I hear you, girl.

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    Magic! I love Jane of Lantern Hill and I agree with her about the magic. I hope this new house holds so many magic memories for your family, Sarah.

  • lindalouise

    “creating comfort as ministry.” Yes. Blessings on your new home. May you make many happy memories there. Waving at you from New Braunfels !!

    • New Braunfels! xo

      • lindalouise

        xo Sarah. I must tell you. I sort of came to your blog “kicking and screaming.” Forgive me. I’m older than your Mum and had some preconceived ideas. I’m old enough to know better. So I’ve spent days and days reading through your posts and have come to love your dear heart. We will likely never agree on every little thing, but on those deep, heart things we are kindred spirits. Just felt it was time to stop “lurking” around and give you a hug. xo

  • Memory builders… how wonderful to have a place to call home, to have the walls bear witness to love and crazy and joy, to be warmed and fed by the furnace and stove and hands working in love. Blessings on these coming years of busy and may they be grace-filled.

    • What a beautiful blessing, Kelly – thank you!

  • Elizabeth Trotter

    I love “Jane of Lantern Hill” and have been considering reading it to my own kids! I used to stay up late reading it as a middle schooler, just before we made a move of our own out of military quarters and into civilian life. I heart Lucy Maud. 🙂

    But moving out of the house where your tinies were born and raised? That’s tough. We did that when we moved overseas, and I still miss the house with all the chips in the paint and scuff marks on the walls because tinies kept running into them, and with no flowers in the yard because we were too busy playing with children to tend to plants. That house was well-loved and well-lived in, as I’m sure the one you just left was.

    Here’s to more magic in your newest house!

    • It is tough, Elizabeth, you’re right. I love how you put that “too busy playing with children to tend to plants” – that’s pretty much how we were, too. I think I took it harder than the tinies did though – they were too excited about a yard and their own rooms. 🙂

  • Lauren

    Two years ago I somehow convinced my husband to buy our ‘forever’ home for its magic, despite the fact that it ticked none of the boxes on our wishlist. With just three bedrooms and one bathroom, it was way smaller than we were looking for (we had five kids at the time; we now have six), it needed tons of work, and wasn’t exactly where we wanted. But it has huge trees, birds aplenty, and it couldn’t possibly have been anyone else’s — it was waiting for us. Two years later the magic remains and none of us could imagine living anywhere else. I hope very much that the magic in your house lingers for as long as you live there!

    • So beautiful! Love this story, Lauren! When you get the magic, you just get it. Love this.

  • Carrie Bishop

    This was lovely. And, can you please tell me more about this amazing fridge/freezer? I think I may need one in my future.

    • Haha! It’s the centrepiece of the house, I think. It’s a commercial size so twice as big as a regular unit. With these four tinies who eat like teenagers, this is going to be so necessary!

  • We are in the midst of packing up for an around-the-world move from India to the US and it might do me in, seriously. We’ve moved other places, but yes, international moves are hard on everyone–especially mom. When we land on the other side are praying for peace and roots and a little rest after our 5 year adventure…magic wouldn’t be too bad either. Congrats on your new place!

    • Wow! India! That is something else. I remember when we did our move from the States back to Canada and how we had to itemize every box’s contents. Nearly did me in. Praying for you!

  • I loved reading this story. As one who has moved several times in the past few years, I can identify with all the emotions that go along with it.
    I also can’t help but notice that your house color resembles a certain Police type Box that travels in time and space.
    Blessings to you and yours as you begin one (or several) new chapters in your lives.

    Geronimo!

    • Ha! I noticed that, too! It’s actually more of a blue-grey in real life but in that photo it showed up as TARDIS blue, for sure!

  • Amanda L

    Can I say thank you? We moved yesterday. I am sitting here in the dark of morning on the other side of the world from you and I feel connected to your sentiments! Beautifully articulated. My children sleep and I desperately clutch coffee so that I can face the boxes that didn’t quite receive the Bessey treatment yesterday.

    • Hope the unpacking is going well today, Amanda! Hallelujah for coffee, eh? 🙂

  • pastordt

    Oh, man, do I get this one! Maybe too well. We just moved as well – for the first time in 18 years. Can you imagine all the stuff???? We’re doing some work on this new place (new to us) to make it truly ours, but it already had that magic. I’d been looking for 18 months and I knew from the minute I walked in — ‘this could be home.’ And it is. May you be blessed in every way in this memory-making space, dear Sarah. And get those pictures up! Then it will truly be home.

    • Oh, I love that, Diana! I feel like we’re bookends here – this will be my 18 years home, we’re just getting started and you’re into the new chapter.Love it. Blessings on your new home!

  • Est

    I love that – a memory making home. Also having read a of the Anne Books I have never read Lantern Hill. Thanks so much mentioning it.

  • Nicole Hallford

    Beautiful. I miss old-fashioned blogging!

    • Me, too! I love a good rant or editorial, too, but this is still fun to me. I still love to read this kind of writing.

  • Erin Sandlin

    “Creating comfort as ministry” – I love that! You’ve already done that here! Reading your blog, to me at least, feels like curling up in a cozy and inviting living room.

    I’ll be using that phrase as a guide while we get our home ready to host our small group this fall. 🙂

  • Lindsy Wallace

    We are in the packing up and preparing to move phase and reading this old-fashioned blogging made me a little teary-eyed! I’m so looking forward to ordinary life beginning again!

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  • Meliedes

    I am so happy for you that you found a magic house. They’re so special! As a military wife with a move coming up right after Christmas, I am praying for a magic house, too.

    • I’ll be praying for that for you, too, Meliedes!

  • Caiobhe

    I love that …’a memory making home’. We’ve been in the same house for 11 years and I am a mover by nature so I have rather resented it at times, but when I look at it in that way it has been the memory making home for my children and will be forever. That is beautiful. thank you. And God bless in your new home