I’ve been searching for a way to relax and decompress from the rollercoaster ride we have been on this year.
When I saw this book sitting on a table at the entrance of our library last week, I knew it was waiting for me. I’ve been wanting to order it since it’s release date, but life has just been too crazy and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read.
Honestly, I don’t typically allow myself too much time to read in general. Mostly because I’m left feeling guilty that I’m not doing other, more important things that need to get done. (Which, of course, we all know that that’s a lie straight from the pit because…we all need ‘me’ time!)
And partly because when I begin reading a good book, I can have a very hard time putting it down and I will ignore more pressing matters…like…dinner, or picking my kid up from school…
But we all know that reading is good for you and we should all be doing it! Plus, I want my kids to see me reading.
Books. Not my kindle, not facebook. But actual, physical, page-turning books. (That’s a whole separate post, though)
I didn’t think I had time in this insane season of my life.
But here I was…and there it was…and it just felt right.
Boy, was it right!
I’ve needed a reason…a distraction…to slow down. To take my mind off of kitchen layouts and flooring samples and shopping lists seven miles long.
Little did I know, that this book would be so much more than that.
Here’s the truth guys: I can put on a really fantastic fake smile.
I can act like I’ve got it all together and sound very much like I’m ok.
But when the lights go off, when Facebook isn’t watching like a creepy Truman Show episode, the truth will always catch up.
And that’s where I had found myself in our current journey.
Let me draw an example for you.
I’m at a store.
(Because lately, it seems I’m always at a store…)
And I’m buying a lot of stuff.
(Because lately, it seems I’m always buying a lot of stuff…)
And I continue to place item after item on the counter, while the register makes it’s fun little sing-song noises.
Noise I once found attractive and exciting…and are now noises that make me cringe and want to run far, far away.
The cashier can’t help but notice that I’m buying a lot of stuff. A lot of ordinary items that most of her customers probably don’t always purchase in one, ordinary visit.
“Wow! Big shopping day, huh?” she asks.
And I know that that means.
It’s the friendly judgement that we all do, innocently…without realizing we’re doing it…without meaning to be judgy.
I instantly feel like I have to explain myself…
“Yep!”, I reply, ”I need lots of stuff!”
Because, why wouldn’t you be excited to do all that fun shopping?!
Inside, my guts are turning with every consumer item scanning across that little, noisy screen.
“Buying a new house?” she continues to pry.
Here it comes…
“No. Rebuilding”, I say…still smiling.
“Oh! You’re building a new home? That’s exciting!”
Man, this lady doesn’t quit!
I could just leave it at that. She would never know…
“Not quite. REbuilding. Our house burned down”, I reply, smiling.
This smile is the largest of them all.
Why did you just say that with a smile, you moron?! You look so stupid telling people your house burned down while smiling!
But what else am I supposed to do? Pout? Whimper?? Stick out my bottom lip, quiver my chin and begin to cry?!
No facial expression seems appropriate for that reply.
I don’t want their pity.
I don’t want it to be another awkward moment between two strangers when there are people behind me just innocently waiting to buy their own basket full of cringe-worthy items.
So, I do all I know.
Their reaction is always the same.
Their eyes get wide. They tilt their heads ever so slightly to give the effect of empathy.
Sometimes their jaw drops.
“Oh wow! I’m so sorry!”, they exclaim.
Followed by a multiple choice option of second sentences.
They might say:
- What happened?!
Honestly I can’t blame them for asking this. And it’s probably the best thing they could ask, in my opinion. If anything positive is going to come out of this, it should be awareness. I would much rather warn people about the dangers of dryer fires than talk more about the cart of crap I’m ever-so-obligingly purchasing.
But not everyone asks that. They may say…
2. Oh! My (mother, sister, uncle’s first cousin’s masseuse) had a house fire.
And then they proceed to tell me about how horrible the insurance company was, or how they lost all their most prized possessions, or how their life was never the same again.
Awesome. Thanks for the inspiration, lady. Next time you’re about to go in for major surgery, give me a call so I can tell you about the time I almost died during my appendectomy.
3. (and this is my personal favorite. Insert sarcasm. A whole Target cart full of sarcasm).
“Well…now you get a whole new house and all new stuff!”
I get all new stuff.
Three times a day, sometimes.
Because every time I try to perform the simplest of tasks in my own ‘home’, I realize I’m missing something else.
And then I get to go back to the store and spend money on something I already owned.
Something I already spent money on.
I liked that ‘something’. It worked fine. In fact, I learned it’s quirks and grew to love them.
It took me weeks of wearing my Hunter boots with blisters before they felt comfortable and didn’t rub against my ankle bone anymore.
I had the perfect laundry basket system that made doing laundry not just easy, but enjoyable! They were labeled with cute chalkboard labels, and my kids knew the system and could help me with their laundry.
I’ve used the same hair straightener for 8 years. It was the best $22 I’ve spent. I knew what heat setting worked best on my hair, I knew how long it took to warm up and how long it took to cool down. I had perfected the learning curve of that cheap little Conair.
I bought the cutest little glass drinking cups for the boys. They fit in their hands perfectly. They had a simple design, they were tempered so they didn’t shatter everywhere when we dropped one. It held just the right amount of juice.
But they don’t make those drinking glasses anymore.
And my 8 year old hair straightener has been replaced with other, fancier hair straighteners with new settings that my hair isn’t familiar with.
My laundry basket system doesn’t fit in our temporary home. And now my laundry room is chaos.
And sometimes I just want to throw a massive 3-year-old temper tantrum because I WANT MY STUFF BACK!!
Ooh! And thanks for reminding me… I get a whole new house, too!!
I liked that house.
I loved it.
I chose it. In fact, I chose it the second I saw in on realtor.com. Before I ever stepped foot in it, I knew I wanted it. And even after we walked through it, Ryan wasn’t sure I was totally sane when I was immediately ready to put down an offer.
It was 45 minutes from anywhere we’d ever lived. In fact, it was so far out there, we had never even heard of the main crossroads.
We knew nothing about the area or the schools…but I knew.
This was my house.
I poured everything I had into it.
I spent months and months, late nights, hard-working weekends, Christmas Vacation, and any extra time I had to make that house what I wanted.
It wasn’t perfect. But I worked my butt off, and we loved it.
I felt safe there. I was comfortable in it. I was proud of it.
So is there a positive side? Yes.
We are all alive and safe. Houses can be rebuilt, but lives cannot.
So, I am extremely grateful.
But am I excited to buy new stuff and get a new house?
I so deeply wish I could say yes.
In any other circumstance, I would have been over the moon to build my dream home!
But this way….this is not the way I wanted to do it.
So, here I am, standing at the register, staring at Ms. Can’t Keep My Mouth Shut, with a huge, sparkly, fake smile on my face.
“Wow! And you’re smiling about it!! Good for you!”, she says, as we wrap up the conversation and I get out my handy-dandy credit card.
I walk back to my car, and the fake smile fades.
I load my trunk with expensive cardboard boxes, close the driver-side door behind me, and begin to cry.
It isn’t SO bad. I should be able to get through a 5 minute conversation with a kind stranger.
But then I go to the next store.
And the next store…
And I go back to the first one because I forgot 13 other things we needed…
And this conversation goes on every day for 12 weeks.
And what I thought would get easier…was getting more difficult.
I was struggling.
I was having major anxiety just walking into a store.
I found myself snapping and being unfriendly toward strangers just to avoid a conversation that I didn’t want to have.
I didn’t want to fake smile anymore while I discussed fire extinguishers and insurance policies.
I was wandering through life, angry at my circumstances and angry that I couldn’t snap the heck out of it.
So, there I stood in the library lobby, looking at that book, with those cute little faces that just look like two people I could be best friends with.
And I knew I needed it.
It’s so good, guys. If you haven’t read it…do yourself a favor…
A good portion of the book is dedicated to describing Chip Gaines and his amazing character and outlook on life.
He is carefree and adventurous! He is spontaneous and chases his dreams!
And one of the things that he would always do, is buy a new house without discussing it with his wife, and then tell Joanna they were moving and it was settled. She would get upset at first because she was attached to her current home that she had worked so hard to make beautiful…but now she had to move into a gross house that needed tons of work, and she didn’t even have a say in it.
Now…let me preface this by saying…we are SO incredibly blessed by our circumstances.
We could be in an apartment. We could be in a hotel.
Heck, we could be on the streets!
We were given a beautiful rental home and I cannot complain about a single thing.
So please don’t think I am comparing our current rental house to a disgusting, Chip Gaines blue-light special Fixer Upper.
However…I didn’t choose it.
I didn’t choose these circumstances and I didn’t get a say in the matter. Just like Joanna, I wasn’t happy about where I was or my lack of say in it all.
And in an instant…God spoke to me while I was reading this book.
“dwell”, He said.
Dwell? Where did that word come from? Did I just read it in the book?
So I read the last paragraph again. Nope.
“dwell”…I heard again.
Now I knew I wasn’t imagining it.
I closed my eyes. I knew I was due for a Jesus wake-up call. I couldn’t keep living like this.
“God…what are you saying?”
And then he told me.
You poured your heart into your home, Krista. You made it perfect and I took it away. Not because I wanted you to be sad. Or to waste your entire year in a home that wasn’t yours. But because you were dwelling in that house too well. You relied so heavily on that roof over your head and the stuff in your rooms. I took it away and you were lost.
You were dwelling so comfortably in that home, but you forgot where your dwelling should really be.
Life should never be so picture-perfect, that it becomes effortless.
Just when Joanna would get comfortable in a house, Chip would go and sell it. And he’d buy her a new, unfamiliar, smelly, complicated house. It wasn’t move-in ready. It wasn’t simple. It wasn’t a complacently comfortable house to live in.
You can live in your house. But don’t live in your house.
You can be comfortable in your house. But don’t get comfortable.
And although your physical body may be found in the home. Don’t ever let your spirit and your identity be found in that home.
“and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever”…
Live in this house. It’s good. It’s clean.
But dwell in My House. It’s perfect.
That’s all I needed, guys.
That was my wake up, ah-ha moment that I needed desperately to snap me out of my pity-hole.
It was the slap on my wrist I needed to remind me who my life belongs to and how quickly He can alter it.
And now…thanks to Chip and JoJo, smiling has gotten a little easier. (I’m pretty sure this makes us BFFs…)
Not a fake smile that I’m hiding behind just to make it through my day.
But a genuine smile.
This fire has totally, entirely sucked.
And sometimes, I still want to stomp my feet and throw a massive temper tantrum.
But all this hard work is so much easier knowing it’s purpose.
I am going to build a new, beautiful home. I am going to raise my kids, love my husband and be happy.
I’m going to live like Chip – spontaneous and chasing my dreams!
And I’m going to live in my house like a temporary guest – never complacent, always striving.
I will love deeper.
I will work harder.
And I will remember that at any moment, it can all be taken away again.