The Minimalist Mondays series began with the start of our journey.
Today, I want to continue where I left off… you may be thinking finally! Yes. It’s taken me a while, but here it is.
Like I said before, minimalism always felt like what the “cool” moms did and since I was neither a cool nor crunchy mom I wrote it off. Enter that 3 week trip out west and I’m ready to consider how maybe just maybe this might actually apply to me.
Remember that log cabin looking house with the wraparound porch? Yep. We sat down with the owners who were friends of my in-laws and talked for two hours conveying how serious we were and that our next phone call would be to our realtor to put our house on the market. They were as excited as our kids were exhausted that night.
The next two weeks flashed past at shocking speed while we packed liked crazy people, rode emotional highs and lows, washed and patched walls, and strove for perfection in the photos the realtor would take.
Saturday came. Half of our belongings were moved into my in-laws basement. I felt ragged and frayed in all the worst places. Insanity was surely lurking around the next corner as we looked down the barrel of the 4th week of school amidst these boxes.
Then. Sunday Mike’s phone rang. The sellers had cold feet and finally admitted that they decided not to sell, but they said we needed to go with them to look at the piece of property they were going to buy.
It was one acre way off a busy road in Hudsonville, close to grandparents and cousins, in a great school district, right up against a bunch of woods with quad trails and a pond, and in my heart the only thing I could do was yell “plot twist!!” and go with it. Feeling that somehow THIS was actually what God had for us, better than we had imagined!
Knowing we would need to do a leap-frog move (move in with his parents for a few months) in order to build in the spring, we made our offer. They accepted and we began drawing up the house plans! Since we love our home, we used the current floor-plan and added space here and there and moved things until we had the ideal space for the future teenagers we knew were coming. As anyone who has done this knows, you begin to live in that plan. You arrange your furniture as you think it would look best. You hang decorations. Your heart doesn’t care that its all hypothetical – as far as it knows this is real. Even the kids had Pinterest boards for their new rooms and all the ideas bursting from their minds!
Meanwhile, we packed and packed some more. Mostly, though, I realized just how much I didn’t need. So much was given away and tossed! The photographer came and the house was captured in all her glory. Mike called septic and well companies to begin the process of taming the land. I didn’t pay much attention because I figured it would all work out. This was what God had for us – obviously.
The Perk Test (a soil drainage test for where to place the septic tank drainage field) was done. We knew it was in process and were anxious for the results so Mike continually checked in with the guy. After two weeks, we were approaching the point of no return: the property closing date. Finally he admitted that he couldn’t give us the results because after measuring the property he found it was .0998 of an acre not a whole acre. He said he had no authority to declare it an acre. I remember this being around election time because of how irritated I was with big government. After another week, it was finally declared an acre – and we received the heart-dropping results.
It perked (drained) but only on the back portion. We’d have to haul in fill for a really steep driveway or give up the backyard.
In my heart, I wasn’t yelling “plot twist!” excitedly anymore, it was more of a whisper – a very pained whisper. I knew God was protecting us no matter how attached we’d gotten to the new house – that didn’t exist outside our hearts and minds.
After this news began to sink in, I looked around our home. Walls cleared of any evidence children had touched them, kids bedrooms with only the bare essentials, every book/dvd packed away, and the realization that everything I had been packing and doing for the last two months now had to be undone was like a ton of bricks about to crush me. It was emotionally expensive to pack it all up to begin with.
Somewhere the theology I know and cherish began to poke up in the middle of the rubble of dreams: He never makes mistakes – ever! Everything that happens is for His glory – to make His name great and THAT is my good. His plans are much higher than my own – I can’t even begin to understand them. This is why I say “everything is theological”.
Because it is.
Theology most applies to the daily grittiest parts of life. If it didn’t God wouldn’t be very big, would He?!
Little by little I began to see the ways God had been protecting us from ourselves. We hadn’t locked ourselves into a corner by listing our home or selling it before we had another one. The owners of the property turned out to be unwilling to see reason with the perk test and we lost our earnest money – but we weren’t stuck with property we couldn’t build on. Each step, we kept asking God to give us wisdom and show us the next step. “If you don’t want us to do this, shut this door so firmly and clearly we can’t possibly miss it.” Well. There was no mistaking it. He clearly closed the door and made sure it was dead-bolted!
With these precious truths in my mind, I began to see “stuff” differently. Maybe it’s a natural outcome of moving, I don’t know. I just knew that there had to be different criteria for allowing stuff back in.
I guess that’s where Minimalist Mondays began. It was the process of realizing that we do not “need” all the stuff we think we do. Even the kids loved the idea! Their bare rooms with plenty of space for creativity and actual play appealed to them. They kept telling me how easy it was to put clean laundry away in drawers not stuffed full and how their room didn’t get as messy! Win!
So while we didn’t end up with the beautiful blue gabled home we planned in our hearts and minds, I still holler “plot twist!” because God always does things better than I could imagine. We planted ourselves in this home once again: updating the bathroom, master bedroom and my office as we flew through November and December.
It felt good. Home.
While I still had no idea of what God would do later, this first prying my fingers off our stuff and our home was essential to His plan.