I sighed as I surveyed the path directly in front of our porch. There were SO many weeds.
As I began to pull the weeds that had grown between the spaces of cement blocks, I realized most of these weeds were not going to give up their residence so easily. While it was a cool summer evening, I soon found myself sweating.
It struck me. These weeds had made themselves a home in the most unlikely of places. They had embedded themselves in the cracks in the asphalt, between the spaces in the cement blocks and even out the sides of the steps on our porch. I was amazed at how I couldn’t even get to the root system of these plants, they were entangled so deeply.
My husband and I have been renters our entire 5 years of marriage. We’ve lived in basement apartments for the majority of our marriage and then finally on the main floor of a bungalow with renters below us.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. A physical house (apartment, condo, townhouse or room) does not make a home. Things do not equate to happiness. Money does not bring contentment. There is a lot of societal pressure to own a home. I’ve been told that it’s a waste to pay rent rather than put that money towards a mortgage. When I was pregnant with my first son, I was asked a few times if my husband and I were going to buy a home and I had to laugh at the thought of such a expensive baby shower gift!
Whatever the situation or reason for renting or buying, there can often be the struggle with being content with the season of life you are in. I want to share 4 things that have helped me make my house more than just a building I rent, when I’ve struggled with contentment.
- Decorate. Something as simple as paint or hanging pictures on the wall can go a long way in making you feel “at home.” I keep our home decor simple but I aim to put things around me that I find aesthetically pleasing and calming. We’ve invested in furniture that is comfortable and functional. Cut the grass, trim the hedge and plant some flowers! Do things that make your space feel “homey.” I anticipate fall every year, because it is my most favourite time of year to pull out my fall decor, bake apple crumble and put pumpkins on the front steps. Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive as there are so many second hand things you can repurpose. 99% of my home decor is repurposed or handmade!
- Minimize the clutter and clean things up! We are always in the process of minimizing our possessions. Having less to clean up and organize makes our home feel fresh. It also gives us more time to spend together as a family.
- Practice Hospitality. I am not great at hospitality. I don’t clap my hands at the thought of entertaining and I’ll admit, I don’t do it often in this season of having babies. BUT it’s something I’m growing and being stretched in. I think something happens when you invite people into the space you live and take the time to make them feel welcome. You begin to take pride in your surroundings and become intentional in sharing your home.
- Adjust your perspective. This takes time-trust me, I know. I’ve gone through seasons of hating places we’ve lived in. I made myself miserable and no one was to blame except ME. It’s a process but set little goals for yourself to do things that will bring about a more positive mindset. Prayer for a grateful heart has gone a long way in helping change my perspective.
As I was pulling those weeds the other night, I had the realization that I have a choice. I can choose to take no pride in where I live. I could cringe when I’m asked if we own our home. I could apologize for my modest, small brick rental when friends come to visit.
Or I could choose be like those weeds. Practically speaking, weeds aren’t great. Metaphorically I want to be like a weed, right where I’m at. I can choose to set my roots deeply and firmly in this season. I can choose to make a home exactly where I’m at. I can choose to take be a good steward of what I have, right now.
For every time I sweep my front porch, shovel snow off the path, clean my tiny bathroom or hear the old hardwood floors creak obnoxiously in my bedroom-I can welcome the warmth of gratitude.
I have gratitude for this house being the place where I brought BOTH my babies home. Gratitude for this home being the place where we became a family of 3 and then 4. Gratitude for my sweet friend who lives nearby and can walk to my home with her little boy for visits. Gratitude for living close to relatives. Gratitude that my husband doesn’t have to commute long distances to work. Gratitude for the view out my front window of the beautiful trees that change colour every fall.
Where we live and what we have (or do not have) does not have to determine our measure of joy in this life. I reckon if I can not learn to find joy where I’m at now, then I never will. Its a process, my friends!
At the end of the day, who is beside me matters so much more than where I’m living. My family has made this house a home. If you find yourself struggling with your living situation, I hope this encourages you to embrace and make the most of what you’ve been entrusted with. You won’t regret it!
Do you rent? What are some things you’ve done to make your place feel more like home?