I found this house.
I was searching online in my back hole of an office when I should have been doing something more productive and company-worthy. But my almost-fiance was house hunting. For us. For our future. And I was helping. And I found it. It had me at, "I have green shutters." I forwarded the listing to Aaron and felt so excited. It was cute. It was in his price range. It was perfect. I could see us living there.
And then he walked in the front door with a realtor andthey both knew: it was it. This was the house for us. For our soon to be newlywed bliss. For whatever would come down the road. This house with the ornate front door and the custom fanned ceiling plaster completed by a dedicated and talented Amish gentleman and the kitchen with the rich looking cabinets. It was going to be home.
Aaron brought a puppy home to the house before he brought a bride. Ruger was discovered in a Walmart parking lot by my sister's neighbor and while "get a dog" was on our list of future endeavors, it wasn't one we were immediately ready for. But one look at that wiggling black fluff ball and my guy melted and promptly stashed the puppy in his truck and brought him home. Less than two weeks later he was slipping a diamond on my finger. I remember scrubbing the fridge - where we would put all of our future food! - with pure joy. I remember wiping out the cabinets and delighting in the promise of a home of our own. Occasionally mesmerized by the sparkle on my left hand.
And then, following in Ruger's puppy steps, I came to this house as a young bride. We had our first real fight back there in the master bedroom and it was about laundry. I learned so much in that first year of marriage... about Aaron. About myself. About what marriage is really about. And about how immature I really didn't want to believe I ever was. And then, as turns in time go, the pregnancy test turned positive just months before our first anniversary. That wasn't our plan. And here we were, again, another adventure we weren't sure we were ready for, simply because the timing didn't coincide with our to-do list.
We've received good news within these walls. And bad. I've had positively blissful times with my son and then there are the less than sparkling days or nights - the ones where I'm pushed so far that I don't even know who I am or who he is or what we're doing and why-can't-we-all-just-go-to-sleep?!
That day I spent helping my fiance scrub our future first home, I remember walking through each room before I left that night. He was out in the garage and I was pondering what life would be like within these walls. I prayed as I moved from the main area and down the hall. I stood in the door way of the first room - the door way that once led to our guest room and later became our son's room. We picked out paint for that room. I ordered whimsical forest animal decals from Amazon and we stuck them on the wall. We put a crib together there because there was no way we could get it down the hall and in the room otherwise. I sat with an open Bible on my lap while Aaron painted when I ran my finger down the list of books of the Bible and like it was completely meant to always be, I said, "How about Joel?"
Aaron's "man room", the third bedroom, was quickly overtaken. His desk and gun cabinet squeezed in among my books and piano and the guest bed I refused to relinquish. Eventually the desk got booted to make room for my elliptical. In my first pregnancy, I slept in that bed so many nights due to aching legs and the inability to fit one more pillow in our bed with my husband still in it. In this second pregnancy, he's slept in there almost exclusively, giving me the queen bed for my growing self and all the pillows my little self desires. See. I knew what I was doing when I refused to ditch that extra bed.
I cooked food in that kitchen that I had never cooked before. I finally figured out what setting to use on my stove that our pizzas would cook evenly. We sat around our fire pit with the baby monitor sitting in the edge of the deck, the soft strains of a lullaby playing in Joel's room perfecting our evening. I came to these walls as a new bride and the in such a short time I came back as a new mom. I decorated within these walls. I cleaned. I dreamed and blogged and wrote Christmas cards. I grieved and I sought God here. I cried happy tears and broken tears.
I don't know that I knew that first night, that night I walked the empty space, praying and hopeful, that all the good that would happen would happen. Or that the hard times would be as hard as they were. I definitely don't think I had any clue that the blessings would be as beautiful as they actually came to be.
And now there are going to be new halls to walk down. Another home to bless and learn and grow and fight and be challenged in. In a few months it won't just be a new baby changing our world. It'll be a new world changing our world. We'll be moving to an area that is familiar to my husband (he grew up there!) but completely foreign to me. Foreign completely except for the man who will be coming home to me and the little boys I will be loving and mothering.
I remember my Mom being a little sad when we moved from the home we grew up in. She had come there as a new bride, just as I had come to this house. I remember being so excited about our new house (and mainly my new bedroom!) that I didn't feel much sentimentality with moving. I can understand those emotions, now. Now that I'm a wife and not a kid just excited at the prospect of having two windows in her new room. Now that I'm a mother and I feel as though I have been created in so many ways in the spaces of this house.
This may have been just a space. Just a spot on the earth that someone else will one day inhabit. And I will pray and leave behind a blessing for them, whoever they may be. In less than four years, so much has come to pass. So much to be thankful for. I think I came to this place thinking I was going to do this or that or whatever nonsense was going through my head at the time. I never thought I would grow or be stretched the way I have. And even more than all the lessons I've learned and the memories I've made... there has been so much love.
And it's exciting to think that all that love I've gathered... I get to take with me. And we'll get to spread it around our new home like a big, welcoming, familiar rug. We'll step through a new door, but we'll have the same love. Even though our first home might just be a set of walls, it was still ours. And as teary as it may make me sometimes to think of leaving, the truth is I get to take the good with me. The memories don't stay behind. Even the dog is coming with us.
Life here has been so much more than we could have figured. I'm looking forward to the next chapter, the next adventure.... the next home to walk in, all empty and barren, and to see the possibility. And to experience, day by day as we build life, more blessings and more lessons and more love...
"So we build, we build,
We clear away what was
and make room for what will be
If you hold the nails, I'll take the hammer,
I'll hold it still, if you'll climb the ladder,
If you will, then I will... build..."
~ N i c h o l e N o r d e m a n