“Unless the Lords builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;” Psalm 127:1
We just started pre-wedding festivities with my daughter’s shower two weekends ago. The theme was “She Found Her Main Squeeze” with lemon décor, daisies on the table, fruit-filled cupcakes, and a beautiful charcuterie board. The bridesmaids were amazing, helping me make my vision a reality. Today, she is packing up her gifts, along with her bedroom, with plans to move into her first apartment at the end of the month.
Maggie asked me today if I am excited to be an empty nester, and my response was yes. But this yes came after weeks of working through some tough emotions. Not only is my daughter getting married this year, but we are likely going to be move into a much smaller apartment closer to our church and my husband’s work. There are a lot of losses that I had to work through and some grieving I had to do in anticipation of the move.
Some of the losses include the fact that Terry and I have never owned our own home. Some of this was due to poor financial decisions we made early in our marriage, but a lot was our commitment to home educate our children. Early on, Terry went back to school part-time while I stayed home with our children. After receiving his associates degree in 2007, we dreamed of putting aside money for a down payment for our first home. As he was looking for a new job, the recession of 2008 hit, resulting not in a better paying job but a job loss. For three years, Terry worked temp jobs in his field, unable to land a permanent position due to the economy. Hence, our house-owning dreams were put on the back burner. In 2011, we moved to Pennsylvania with the hopes of eventually owning our first home. Again, circumstances seemed to put that dream aside. Now, with the current housing prices and our age, we are trying to weigh our options.
I know that its’ considered the American dream to own your own home. I have always imagined what my home would look like. I have created Pinterest pages with kitchen layouts and picking out my own light fixtures. Yet, we are realizing the American Dream might not happen for us. And this recognition came with some internal messages I was believing about myself. I believed that my lack of home ownership meant I was a failure as an adult. I had to take an honest assessment of my life and realized that, although that is how society defines success, this is not how the Lord defines it. We made decisions to live as a one-income family and that came at a price. In retrospect, neither of us regret that decision or the effects of it.
Despite the fact we have always rented, I feel like every place we have lived has been my own home. We have been blessed to have the freedom to paint, and even on some occasions plant trees in our yard. Our home has been a place for our family to gather, love and play. Which leads to another loss I had to work through: this new place we are moving into will be a place where my children have never lived. Not only was I going to be an empty nester, but in many ways, it felt like I was cutting down the tree where the nest had been. I had to remind myself that it was an opportunity to create new memories. I also had to remind myself that this is a new season for my husband and I, and new seasons also bring positive changes.
Finally, when looking for a place to live, we decided that we wanted to stay as close as possible to the price we are currently paying. With the housing market being so competitive, rent prices have also increased. Thus, we are currently looking at a much smaller townhouse. Which leads to the last loss: I will have to give up some of my stuff. I have no desire to crowd our current household of items into a smaller space. I like having open space in my house to breathe. But I love my stuff, I have carefully curated my décor over the course of years. I love having access to all my books, kitchen gadgets and office supplies. It took me a little while to gain a healthy perspective. But the reality is that it is just stuff and having a simpler lifestyle will force me to consider new purchases more carefully. It will also force me to be more careful at the grocery store. Finally, it will allow us to have more freedom to travel and explore, creating the kind of memories we want.
We are excited to move to Carlisle, where our church is located. Specifically, we want to be in a neighborhood where we can be helpful and connect with our neighbors. We want to be an example of how Jesus transforms lives by loving our neighbors well. After working through some of the losses, I am truly looking forward to this new stage. This week, I’ll be putting in a call to the realtor of the neighborhood we are hoping to move into. Our prayer is that we can move sometime after the wedding to embark on this new adventure. While Maggie may have found her main squeeze, I am choosing to make lemonade with life’s lemons.