Thursday, February 5, 2015

Making my childhood home, MY home

I was recently inspired by Compass, an excellent site that offers a neighborhood guide for NYC and DC. You can view houses to buy or rent, list your own home or check out different neighborhoods to see which would be a good fit for you. I love this. I lucked out and bought a house in the neighborhood I grew up in. There were no surprises, and I knew what to expect. If I had to buy elsewhere I would definitely want a little insight into the neighborhoods around to choose the perfect fit for me.

So how did I end up in the neighborhood I was raised in? It's a sweet story actually...

My grandfather always told me that if he were alive and able he would build a house for me when I grew up. As a little girl, I admired the houses and buildings he built and dreamed about my own. I thought about sweeping front porches, big oak trees and a cozy fireplace all crafted by my talented grandfather. Sadly, he passed away before I was ready for my own home.

Two years later, Chris and I were married and shopping for our first home. I was drawn to the sweeping front porches, big oak trees and cozy fireplaces. There were very few that fit my wants and needs and I started to get frustrated. It seemed impossible. 

Then one day my dad called and said he had found a lovely horse farm that was gorgeous and way out of my price range. I looked at it and it was amazing but there was no way I could afford it. Dad revealed that he wanted to buy it for mom and wanted to offer me my childhood home. The one my grandfather built. The one with a large front porch, two oak trees overlooking my horse's pasture and a fireplace that my grandfather laid brick by brick. 

I cried. Chris and I talked about it and prayed about it and ended up buying the house. The day we closed Chris looked at me and said, " He built a house for you."

My challenge started when we moved in. I had to make a house I had lived in for 23 years with my parents, my own. All of their stuff left and I was left with big empty rooms. I began moving my stuff in and arranged it the old familiar way. It felt like I was a visitor in my parents home. So I rearranged my stuff and started buying new things that made the space feel like mine.

My childhood bedroom would be the guest bedroom. I wanted it to be elegant and have a vintage feel. I took an antique dresser that my mother left behind and moved it to the room. I added a furry rug, my antique twin bed, and some equestrian props. The room really came together and felt like my space. I loved it.

Next, I turned my attention to my baby sister's room. It is a very large room and I didn't have a need for another bedroom so I turned it into my office. Bright colors and contrasting furniture set the mood. I added a wall of bookshelves and centered my desk. The space is bright and open and I love working there. 

The living room was the hardest room to make feel like my own. There are only so many ways that the furniture works because of the floor plan. I decided to go super simple and cozy in this room. Warm colors that glow when there is a fire in the fire place, ceiling to floor drapes and polished wood. I added the bench my other grandfather built me against the stairs and some cute throw pillows. The living room ended up being very cozy. 

I am very happy with our home. It truly feels like our place now and I am excited about all of our future plans for it. 

The other day my mom was talking to me about the house and she said, "The four most important men in your life are apart of that house. Your dad has worked on it, my dad and his dad built it from the staircase to the fireplace to the walls and now your husband is patching and renovating it." 

It was a "wow" moment for sure. I am blessed. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A tip for a strong marriage

Today I am sharing one of my favorite blog posts about how we make our marriage a happy one. This is from the archives and three years later I still credit it as one of the reasons we are strong in our marriage and growing stronger.

Life Giving....

Today's I opened my devotional app and this is what I read:

 "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God , namely, Christ.
- Colossians 2:2

The app went on to talk about seeking community and love, but my mind wandered to my marriage and how united we have been lately. You may remember how I have talked about the fact that our marriage isn't all peaches and cream , but lately I have been really trying and I think we are the strongest we have ever been. It all falls back to seeking love and being life giving.

Life giving? What is that?
When I first heard it I didn't fully understand either.

My husband's church required us to go to pre-marriage counseling and the main thing I took away from it is to be life-giving daily. What does it mean to be life-giving? It means doing the small, self-sacrificing things for one another and not only doing those things but at the end of the day thanking one another for doing those things. God sacrificed for us and showed us the ultimate love and by sacrificing, even a little, we show a glimmer of that love.

Some examples...
-When I stop on the way to work and get him a limeade from Sonic just because I know he loves them and it will make his day.

-When he does the dishes so I can get in 5 more minutes of blogging.

-When I send him an encouraging text through a rough day.

-When he cleans my horse's stall so I can soak in the tub.

All of those are life-giving moments. It breathes life into the relationship. It gives the other person a boost in life. It shows love. We thank one another for these moments because we know they are not necessary. I encourage you to do something life-giving for someone you care for. And remember, if someone does something life-giving for you, thank them for showing you love.