Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Simplifying Life turns into Building a New House

 
Calvin: Will you be in charge of decorating the new house, Mommy?
Me: Yep.
Calvin: Can I help?
Me: You'd better.
Calvin: What do you want me to do?
Me: Well, what's your area of expertise?
Calvin: (thinks) Uh, I'm good at whittling!
Me: Score.

If only it could be that easy. If only Calvin could whittle us right into that home, with lively curtains on the windows and perfectly placed pendant lighting.

I thought we were up to our eyeballs in nit-picky decisions a month or so ago, but it turns out it was only belly-button high, back then. And though I'm inclined to call "eyeballs" now, I know better. So let's just say we're at clavicle. Chin, tops.

I vacillate between Type-A precision and shut-down mode. It surprises even me. I never thought of myself as a shut-down kind of girl. Not when it came to making a house look pretty.

But here's the guts behind the shut-down: It's weird that we're building a house. I know I've said it before. I'll surely say it again. It's how I feel, for at least a moment of every single day. I never thought I'd be here. I don't know exactly how to act here. Sometimes I pull on my twin-set and embrace it with the vigor of Martha Stewart herself. Other times I slink off to the corner and say things like, "I really don't care. I promise I don't care. Whatever you decide will be fine. Good, I mean! It'll be good. Just please, decide without me because I just. don't. care."

I remember back when everything in the world went cockeyed and we knew we needed to sell our house. We knew it was time to live more simply so that our resources could be freed up to do more important things than pay a mortgage and plant an orchard that wouldn't survive one season. Things got so confusing there for a while. I'm a girl who loves to decorate, and I found myself on shaky terrain. I fretted over that invisible line in the sand - what's too much? What constitutes excess? What's just plain greedy? So we buy an old house for cheap in a sketchy neighborhood - do I dare make it look pretty? Wouldn't that be frivolous? Shouldn't I live in a dive and send the cash to Southeast Asia? How could I ever justify a vintage schoolhouse map for $25 dollars while children are dying from malaria?

People talk about "balance", but isn't that usually just a cop-out?

I wanted to do whatever was right, but down in my soul, I was scared. I couldn't shake the feeling that this is part of who I am. This stuff is one of the things that makes me come alive. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. Is that wrong? And if it is, now what?

Almost 18 months ago, I read these words, by our beloved Nester:

Is it wrong to enjoy a pretty house?
Not at all.  But I think it’s easy for materialism and comparison to creep in and that’s something I like to be mindful of.  I don’t believe that moving furniture, painting walls, changing pillow covers and enjoying those things is a sign of discontentment for me.  Nobody accuses the writer who is restless with the pen and a blank page of  trying find her contentment in the wrong place.  Is the singer who changes the arrangement, the pianist who craves the keys, the painter who tweaks the canvas, the collector searching for that one last treasure, the songwriter who paces the floor waiting for the perfect words,  are they looking for meaning and contentment in all the wrong places simply based on what they are passionate about?  Is it about time they smartened up and stopped wasting their time? No one would dare accuse them of such.  I think they are created to pursue their art.  I LOVE tweaking and playing in our home and I’ve done it my whole life, it’s who I am, my home is my canvas. As a child I dreamed of creating beautiful, meaningful rooms. I’m guessing that you are one of those people too.  If treating your home as a canvas is a ridiculous notion to you,  you probably stopped reading this blog years ago and you are probably pursing something that you love that I wouldn’t understand~I love it when people know how to find their passion.

I'm not even playing when I say that the clouds parted and angels sang. Okay, I'm playing about the angels. But finally, finally, I started to see that balance doesn't have to be a farce. Bringing a space to life is art to me.

So what has changed?

Well, the house has changed (only instead of buying an old house for cheap, we're buying a new house for cheap.) The budget has changed. The heart has changed.

Unfortunately, I'm finding that some of the urges have not changed. I caught myself trying to rationalize a $300 pendant light just a few days ago. I could swear I heard my subconscious whisper about the virtues of $90 curtain panels so lovely that they make a girl's heart pinch.

Conventional wisdom and throw-back Shannan would have both said that if I can pay cash for these things, I can afford them. Some might nudge me towards the fancery by reminding me that "you get what you pay for". Some would pat me on the back and say that it's my Christian duty to fulfill my Proverbs 31 calling by making my home as beautiful and welcoming as possible. Many would say that God has given me the money I have because He wants me to enjoy it in most any way I see fit.

I see things differently now. Yeah, this art fulfills me, but helping others building wells and rescue children from slavery fulfills me infinitely more. So I balance my art to make more room for my purpose.

The passion is still here and the canvas could not possibly be more stark, making me alternately giddy and overwhelmed. I'm having more fun than ever, because I'm forcing myself to be think outside the box. A zippy rug would be fun, but we happen to already own a boring brown one. Make it work. (I adore you, Tim Gunn.) Pottery Barn is still his same, Don Juan self, but Flea Market is rough and edgy and plays hard to get. I like it.


Flip the whole story on its ear and there remains the fact that we are choosing to upgrade our flooring and our cabinets. We are willingly handing over money to pay extra for things that will be rust & dust, one day.

You see my dilemma.

I have big plans to remain staunchly conflicted through the completion of this task, and beyond. I'll question and second-guess. I'll stew over the clearance-rack curtains so long that someone else will snatch them up while I waffle. And then I shall swiftly kick myself.

I'll keep right on fighting my stubborn, selfish will. I'll pray for a heart that stays right where it should be, fearing all the while that it'll move.

I'll do all of this while I make my art.
 
So, tell me where you fall. Does this stuff give you fits, too, or is it just moi? And while we're already here chatting it up, what's your art? I'm dying to know and I'm especially hoping that someone tells me chemistry is their art. Or land surveying. Or public policy. Or tax code. I'll stop now.

86 comments:

  1. This post and that quote from the nester gave me some peace in a different way. You see, as much as I pin lovely things, I am not a decorator. Oh, I'd like to be, but I lack the funds and the talent and the motivation and, and, and...
    But this reminded me that it is okay that I have had an empty frame on my wall for months now, and that only two rooms in our house have been painted and we've lived here for seven years. This is not my art, and I appreciate other people having this for their art, but it is not mine. (though I still pinterest away)
    My art - my art is mommy-ing. It sounds silly, but I am learning more and more how I spend my day with my little ones is art. Not everyone enjoys this. Not everyone is good at it or called to it. But mommy-ing is my best art.

    ReplyDelete
  2. okay, if you really passed up a vitage school map i will come kick your hiney. pretty sure thats a sin somewhere in habakkuk, or one of those obscure books...

    but really, i ask myself this same question nearly everyday. even as a child i loved nothing more than redecorating my room,looking through penneys catalogs. it's hard to know that the Lord has given me this passion, but then question how it's to be used. at any rate, pendant or no, upgrades or not, io'm looking forward to the big reveal. MOVE.THAT.MINIVAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm a teacher; that's my art. I used to feel bad when I read blogs with crafty women or those who could decorate a home with thrift store finds and make it look better than an interior designer. Then I realized, I'm a teacher. Stop comparing. Embrace it and love it. My "art" is practical and not glamorous, but it's me.

    I get the whole house thing. We're getting ready to start building our dream/forever home, and it scares me. What's too much? Is it just storing up treasures on earth? I'm not sure if I'll ever know the answers, but I guess we all have to examine our lives and make that decision on our own (obviously with the guidance of the Bible.)

    That is all :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't count the number of ways I love this.

      Delete
  4. oh gosh i wish i knew. I wish i Knew how to balance and glorify God in everything- but I'm so selfish! and my mom, she has all the right things that she is passionate about- doing everything to her best ability, cleaning perfectly, serving others at church and every way possible and she doesn't care about things like house decorating and hot gluing. sigh. she is always the best thing in the world. anyway, I digress, I don't know. don't you wish you were friends with me in real life?? I'm just this ill prepared and without answers in my real life. its so fun. I hope that by doing things that are crafty and dorky things that make me smile, glorify God. and I once read a verse in exodus where He talks about "crafters" specifically and I felt like heaven had opened me up and taken me in. So maybe he gives us all things to be his hands and feet and the fact that you like to decorate your house and want to glorify God inspires me to go look up that verse and find out the exact one it is and then I inspire others to get in His word too and then even though we are blessing the blessed and not the heartbroken at this moment, this skill and passion will guide us to the heartbroken. i dunno. i guess well keep praying....

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got a lump in my throat & tears in my eyes. THANK YOU!
    (In answer to your question, you know it....house fluffing & taking pictures, that's my art)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Farmgirl2purposeJune 6, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    Wow....i really needed that...you are such a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh heavens, you sound JUST like I did when we were working on our house in the hood. Except I was also throwing up and pregnant, which meant I leaned much farther towards "shut down" mode most of the time. Know that God will use your choices, and your talents and passions, to bring Himself glory. And some of the kiddos in your new neighborhood might need to see a home that is meaningful and lovely. So they can feel safe enough to explore their own passions and pursue their dreams. And so they can know just how perfectly God made them, that not a single one of their passions is an accident. None of them girl, and we need to practice what we preach. So my house is pretty, but I dont mind if it gets messy or if a kiddo steals my cute ceramic giraffe (I mean, I mind - obviously - and we are using it to learn and teach and grow with our little neighborhood community) But my point in all this rambling and sentences without punctuation is that He will use it all when we hold it loosely and trust in who He made us to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Becca said EXACTLY what I was thinking as I read this post. There are somebodies in your new neighborhood for whom a pretty house decorated on a realistic budget will be a blessing you can't even imagine. Not to mention you are creating a haven for your family. You've blessed me by how you've held every good gift with such an open hand...and your honesty about $90 curtain panels. God will honor that. Now I just hope you will cut loose and ENJOY with abandon the gifts He's given you from His very hand.

      Delete
  8. I would love the chance to build one more time, it would be our retirement home, simple in style, with a big kitchen great room, (I love a formal dining but with only two here it is not practical). I would have about 1800 or so sq foot perhaps a bit more, all on one level or at least the master and bath on main. With six grand children it would be nice to have a room 'for them' as in a bonus room or even an exercise room, that is not in public view. It would be simple.

    ReplyDelete
  9. here is the deal. I want to leave this earth with people remembering how they FELT when they were in my home...not how it LOOKED. I do care what the curtains look like, I care about the beautiful dusty miller blue that I painted my laundry room, i care about the way my mismatched chairs around the dinning room table match in a way that only I could combine. But...my art...it has to be loving the people sitting in my mismatched chairs, inviting them over for dinner just when they were needing it. Sitting on my couch and having a conversation they were needing to have. I want all the fluffing, painting, great thrift store treasures scored to make a FEELING in my house, not a LOOK. I love to love on my home...I hope that it is felt when fine folks enter these four walls.

    On a lighter note, our first home was new construction, base EVERYTHING from cabinets (not sure they were even real wood) to the cheapest flooring option they had. It was the greatest challenge, such a thrill to take it from eeeeeh to oooooooow!! So much fun that little house was. So much love and hard work, TONS of paint (never underestimate what paint can do).

    Our current home was a sad try left over from the 1980's. She now sings our song, she is ready to welcome and love on all who enter. We loved her back to life with gallons and GALLONS of paint, some of that there fancy linoleum, some pretty flowers in the yard and a healthy garden out back. One might even call it our very own mission field, were we will do our best work for Him who has called us. All from a couch with cute throw pillows.

    ReplyDelete
  10. One of my best friends, and one of the most authentic and genuine and godly women I know is an interior decorator. She spent years going back and forth in her thirties as to whether or not what she did even mattered or was okay for a believer. But her heart is in the beautiful and after years of soul-searching she found peace as He personally made it clear she was indeed to go to design school and pursue her passion, a passion God put into her for a purpose.A passion that only emulates what her Daddy is best at anyway- creating beauty.
    We have our lifegroup at her house every WED- just came from there. And every person who comes into her home feels relaxed, peaceful, welcome and serene. Men and women. Believers and non-believer alike are drawn like a moth to flame. I have heard the compliments that aren't even compliments because they aren't meant to flatter, and are most often said in a surprised tone of voice indicating their sudden realization at their own comfort in even being able to recognize it and say so.People get so comfy that the masks come off. This dear friend points to God in the beauty she brings into her home and into the homes of others. And her own God-found beauty radiates from within her as well. Some things she 'spends the money for', some things she gets thrift or free (for clients as well) and some things she just makes herself. She simply has the gift to make her house a home instead of a magazine cover or a unkempt shack of indifference. It is the place we all want to be, because it's beautiful there, and that comes mostly from her as she points us to our LORD. I call none of it frivolous- I call it a ministry.One I've seen in action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMEN Jenniffer!!!!

      p.s. I love the spelling of your name...great symmetry!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for putting into words what my heart has felt. You and your dear friend are an inspiration for me.

      Delete
  11. "I balance my art to make room for my purpose" your words have spoken straight to my heart. My art is decorating. I love transforming rooms. Right now we're in the midst of repainting every room in our home. But unlike any other time, there isn't this urgency that I need to get it accomplished asap. I still try to justify items I want as well. But i've found that if I just walk around the store with them for a bit, they end up back in the shelf. Serving others has actually taken priority in our hearts. The decorating will get done. And I've realized I can enjoy it more when I take my time. :) thank you for being so honest...you aren't alone in this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I needed to read this today. We are in a similar place and I continue to wrestle with wanting to "not be like everyone else" and "be like everyone else." It's an edgy battle and you did a great job summarizing both the battle and some solutions. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the way you worded this, Shannan! You are right-- balance our passions with our purpose. And YES, I daily struggle with my innards wanting to go shopping for my home. Making it beautiful, welcoming, and warm. And yes, I confess to crying about it to my husband. Wow. It is what makes my heart beat a little faster. It makes me giddy. And you have no idea what a huge stack of flooring out in my garage just waiting to be installed in my bedroom means to me right now. But, and I do have one. I keep myself constantly guarded. Am I creating and decorating "within our means" or parameters that we've set for ourselves? No longer the sky is the limit. So bring on goodwill, resale shops and trinkets from garage sales. God gave me creativity and I might as well use it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. The *conflicting* is a great place to be. It keeps us on the straight and narrow and close to His heart...seeking what's right for us.

    And my art...it's right now the worship in living by faith. It's messy and beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. At that very same place. Not necessarily about decorating but just about lifestyle. Torn, confused, all over the place? check. But I love how you put words to it, and I am so glad to not be alone.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I DO see your dilemma! And I can smile at the irony, because it's you and not me.

    "Lord, for you, we'll simplify!"

    "Wonderful, which of these 2,000 doorknobs would you like?"

    Oh, I see the irony! But you're still doing this. If, on the day you signed on the farmhouse, someone had told you of this plan, would you even have believed them?! But you got the Good Word and now walk in blessed assurance. Has He ever really needed anything more than a willing heart?

    I also see your conflict. How much is too much? Consider the peony. Is it really necessary to be so breathtaking? Could the Earth not serve it's purpose and be horribly ugly? I'm not sure that you can help yourself with this one, what with THE Creator taking up residence right inside you. And you could create an enviable look by thrifting, so I say create, honey, create!!!

    It's all relative, you know. I just saw an article about a famous designer whose siamese cat has 2 maids. So, then there's that.

    Also, upgrades can be more economical in the long run, I really think. We live in a rental built in 2006 and there are cut corners that already need replacing. No condemnation from me there, either.

    My brother is a phenomenal worship leader/musician/speaker, my sister is a phenomenal singer/speaker... This used to freak me out, because in my family ministry = that kind of talent. Art was more Fine Arts... No one told me that, I just got that impression. But that is not my art. I've dabbled in cake decorating, flower arranging, scrapbooking, taking photos...any small manageable project where I could create something. I'm not saying I do any of that really well, mind you, but I'd like to think I have an artist's heart.

    I think creating is part of a new creation's DNA. And I think you're a good steward of all He's given you, FPFG. Rock on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness gracious, I'm so tempted to delete this!!! Good night, Irene, that's just too long... Feel free to delete this, FPFG!

      Delete
  17. Math is my art. I love the order and beauty of it as it explains the world around us. I love explaining it to my kids. I love using it in my cooking and sewing.

    I love hearing about your delimmas because I am right there with you. Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a niece for whom math is an art. Spreadsheets make her swoon...and I'm not even kidding. I sorta envy that. School would have been much easier with that passion.

    Me? Have you even taken personality tests and come up right. in. the. middle? So, you take them again and try to be completely honest. Middle. Again. Well, that a lot of how I feel about decorating. I have grand and glorious ideas...and I love being on the hunt for steals, and I can I have a Masters in Re-purposing and have been going it before it was PB or West Elm worthy. But, I love every. single. stinking. style. y Pinterest boards look like I should be either medicated...or encouraged to just make a choice for heaven's sake!)

    I used to hate green and cabin-y things. Yeah, that's our living room now. Early Rustic Understatement. And, I love it. Well, I love what it cold be. If I have the money to do what I'd like.

    But, I don't want to spend a lot of money when I've seen first hand what goes on in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. (And, honestly, we couldn't throw money at it if we even wanted to. God has us in a state of "transition and learning.")

    One things is for sure. While Pinterest and blogs can make ma long for more...they can also remind me that "Others are quite happy with much less." And, a read through of a couple posts from Heidi, and American living with her Greek husband in Thrace (at Home in Greece http://homeingreece.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/diy-ziploc-bag-organizer/ ) has me feeling very blessed that I can just run to the store for more ziplocs.

    I'm a work in progress.
    Luckily, my builder is a skilled carpenter.

    Blessings,
    Dana
    CookingAtCafeD.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love "Luckily, my biulder is a skilled carpenter."

      Delete
  19. As someone who's moved 12 times in a as many years and never owned a home, I am envious of your opportunity to personalize a space. However, I do think it is a slippery slope after watching my parents "tweak" their home for over 20 years and countless projects. The slippery slope also involves pride. How much of it is wrapped in your home? So, tweak ahead, just keep perspective and as the old saying goes, "Don't sweat the small stuff..."

    ReplyDelete
  20. We are in a spot where we are faced with moving five little (and by little I mean two are small and three are teens) to a new house. Only I can't decide if we should spend less and go small or make a comfortable home in a larger home with a larger rent payment. Is that where I want my money going? I say I am for the orphans, but if I am not willing to sacrifice a couple hundred square feet to free up money and time, am I really? It's 6am. I am going back to sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Honestly, I have struggled to find my art. I'm really not sure what it is. It's a good question and one I will be thinking about and hopefully it will cause me to realize something about myself. Even though decorating and rearranging and finding deals is not my art, I still fully appreciated this post. I have some of the same questions in the area of where I feel like I'm being a good steward and where I am frivolous. I believe the balance comes from the intentions of our heart. Which will always, always be a work in progress. So much of what you write resonates, challenges and encourages me. I appreciate you. And now, what I would really like is for you to come visit Jacksonville, FL and help me find some deals and make my house pretty....like I said, not my gifting!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love reading your blog. You have such a way with words...which right there is a purpose :) I have to say this, God gives us talents..we use those talents to better our lives, those lives around us (family, friends, strangers)and for His purpose. I really think that He sees your heart...He knows your PASSION and your PURPOSE. It really is a heart matter. You have a good heart. Let it shine. You have the answer. Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  23. i think with the right intentions anything is possible. seeking truth and light. you don't have to have all the answers or be the perfect anything. you have such a good heart and move so many people. that is enough, fo sho.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ok, I'm the queen of waffling. I can literally talk myself out of ANYTHING! Even stuff I truly need. I sweat over the smallest purchases like they are possible life-changing events and then I feel guilty. I think I'm unbalanced in this area. During decision time for me, I always think of the verse " A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." I think that pretty much sums me up during decision/shopping time, and believe me, this isn't a brag. I know it's unbalanced thinking on my part.

    As far as my art, I think it's writing, but I struggle with saying that. I have the whole "but I'm not good enough" battle going on in my brain.

    ~FringeGirl

    ReplyDelete
  25. Biochemistry, does that count?

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just love this post! My homes are my canvases. I'm a Navy wife, so I've lived in about 10. I try to balance simplicity and homey. I am learning so much from my current house. We've been in it 2 months. I made it to a certain point of finished, and I am letting the rest evolve. I love the nester's words of wisdom. I try hard to embrace her "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" philosophy. Her posts on her family room encouraged me to make my family room really work for my family. You have such great style. I can't wait to see what you do with the house.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Well shoot, you just spoke straight to my heart! My art is style. I used to be a stylist. I own more clothes than anyone I know and I used to feel immense guilt over this. Shouldn't I give it up because it's unnecessary? Shouldn't I donate all of it to charity, because surely that's more holy than enjoying it? (that last sentence makes me want to barf but I'm being honest here) But then I thought: does someone with a huge personal library Think they need to give up their books? No. What about My grandma who grows 136483614 varieties of dahlias, no one tells her "that's too much, give it up!" so why is it any different for me to have an extensive wardrobe? If God asks me to give it up, I hope I'd do that, but I'm realizing it's ok to enjoy things even though they're just THINGS.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I found your blog recently, and like many others, feel like I found a kindred spirit. This battle is constantly raging inside of me. How much is too much? Where is my heart, really? I am being honest with myself and God, or am I actually trying to trick everyone? How much energy is too much to devote to things that will ultimately rot? I lay awake re-arranging and creating at night and also thinking about all the people in the world that do not have these options. Or any options.

    My husband actually had a life coach for a while that told him he had a "me-me conflict." Which is what we have decided sums it all up pretty well. We are conflicted, but we have decided that it is better to stay that way.

    ReplyDelete
  29. God puts all different kinds of gifts in each of us. It is what makes us His own special kid on the block. He even puts a love for lost animals in some. Do you know anyone who fits that description?

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sort of missed my point here. (again.) We are not buying the $300 light. And we don't fancy ourselves "missionaries" any more so than every one of us should, regardless of where we live. We are moving into a down-trodden neighborhood that will be revitalized. (At least that is the hope of the organization we are working with.) Our budget is very small, but we plan to squeeze the heck out of it. And I think the house will be lovely, when we're done.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. I sort of feel like this misunderstanding is too far-reaching to be addressed through words on this page.

      I dearly hope you are the only person who has read my posts and taken from them that this is all just about a "pretty house". I hope you are the only one who has understood me to mean that I do not care about the people in the neighborhood where we will be living.

      We sold our farmhouse because it was more than we needed. It sucked up too much of our cash. We thought we would be a run-down house in a run-down part of town, but we ended up buying a brand-new house in a run-down part of town. So yeah, it's confusing at times.

      I do not know exactly how the neighbors will perceive us and our new house, though our entire block will be new, so we will not be singled out in that way as you assume. The good news is, it's not really my problem to worry about all of those things. Of course I do worry, but then I remember that God sent us there and we are going. That's all I need to worry about right now. He will cut a path for us. There might be people who hate us there. Hopefully, there will be at least one who doesn't. I have learned as much here on my blog as anywhere that no matter what you do or how you do it or how you explain it, there will still be those who want to criticize or point a finger. So I am learning to just do the thing that God has asked of me and let Him sort out the rest.

      We have learned to hold loosely to the things of this earth, because they do not belong to us. In building this house, we are more aware than ever that He could ask us to let it go five years from now or one year from now. And that is okay with us.

      I referenced the well/slavery thing because yes, the FPFG readers fully funded a well and part of another one. Part of the thought behind selling our home was that we would move into one with a minimal mortgage, freeing us up to give additional funding to these kinds of things that matter the most. We could never have done so to this degree before the move, because most of our budget went to our house and ourselves.

      The program we are working with is not a Christian organization. It is a neighborhood revitalization/stabilization program. For us, it is almost the perfect storm, because it is inexpensive AND in the type of neighborhood we knew we were being called to. I read your first comment as critical, that we are going there to be missionaries and then building a mansion, throwing it in the faces of everyone around us.

      As I said, we are not labeling ourselves "missionaries". Not any more so than we do in this rental house or in our previous home. We are simply moving into a neighborhood that has had a rough go of it. Most people didn't want to live there, which is why most of the houses on the block are abandoned. Like anywhere else, the people there need Jesus.

      We are going there to be with them and live our lives. We are not assuming that they need us. They definitely do not need us. They just need Him, and maybe we can play a part in pointing those in need to Him. That would be an honor and pretty stinking awesome.

      I'm sorry that you find me so contradictory. Any confusion probably stems from the fact that life seems a bit more confusing, these days. We have felt clear about where we are going for a while now. It's just all of these details that goof us up.

      I do not by any means claim to have all the answers. I'm not here to put myself on a pedestal. I don't deserve one. We are just struggling along and I happen to write about the struggles here, for lots of people to see.

      Hope this helps. :)

      Delete
    4. Thanks for the response...the written word can be misconstrued. I can mess things up because I lack the vocabulary to get across my meaning....I just wanted clarification. I removed my post because I just thought I was being annoying, and making more out of it than what was intended. I am glad to get a clearer picture. I won't be bugging you anymore, and I will try to keep my comments if any to barely anything. I just think way too much. It gets me into trouble sometimes.LOL

      Delete
  31. I'm a math teacher and a mommy. Those are my arts. I am learning to take nice photographs and hope to make that my art as well.
    As for your conflict, keep in mind that you are blessed with your interior design talents because of the greatest Interior Designer of them all. Keep in mind that the Creator was the first designer, and your talent can be a reflection of that part of Him that you have from His image.

    ReplyDelete
  32. A good book to read - Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaffer.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Our God is amazingly creative and being made in His image means we were meant to create too. It's all about our motivation. Build and decorate your home with His glory in mind and it will delight Him. It can be a canvas to show His blessing and provision in your life to others, vintage map and all! You were made by Him to create!

    P.S. - I just tried to create blueberry muffins....hope He doesn't mind them burnt! :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Upgraded items don't have to be thrown away/fixed/changed in a decade ... maintained, yes, but not replaced. Who knows what finances will be in 10 years? I know from your post that you're not being totally extravagant. So upgrading floors with a busy household makes sense. And from other posts about your farmhouse, I know your upgrades are in the classic sense and will still look good in 15 years.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Love your heart sweet girl. We just finished building a new house. We are in our sixties. I have agonized over the same things. After all, how long are we even going to be around to enjoy all the stuff?
    We did do some upgrades - it seemed practical and reasonable. I have so many things it was a struggle to find a place for everything (we down-sized) and some of it had to go. And yet, and yet...I still found myself longing to scour the antique stores and pouring over Country Curtain magazines. The search for contentment is a hard one when we are surrounded by so much.
    However, all I have to do is look into the faces of the two precious children we sponsor through World Vision and know I am abundantly blessed.
    I don't think it is wrong to want to do the very thing God has woven into your heart. I am sure He intends to use it for His glory.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Shannan, I don't have a blog, but I read some ,including yours. I ,too, have pondered(and worried) over being too concerned with how my house looks, what to put where, should I buy this or that. I just think when IT becomes more important than your relationship with Jesus, then it is time to pull back, settle for the thrift store item, God will give exactly what you need, it just may be the expensive thing, you'll know! Just pray about every purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Not just toi. How much is too much? When is enough enough? For a heart like mine, contentment lasts but a few fleeting yet glorious minutes. And I am reminded again and again (like when I read your blog!) what/where true contentment and value lies. I wish I could say it's in a Barcelona chair.

    God is good. It sounds like you're already finding your balance of art, passion and purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "staunchly conflicted" - that is EXACTLY how I feel! I can't for the life of me get this all figured out. What is okay to buy, to have, to want? And what is "storing up treasures where moths and rust corrupt"? Help me please!

    And as for my art? I don't have that answer either. This whole mama gig used to be my art - but then the kids grew up and I realized I placed entirely too much of my identity in the way I mama-ed. I still love, love, love being a mom but it's different now. Can my art be just being nice? I just want to say nice things and do nice things and be kind and compassionate - but is that art?

    ReplyDelete
  40. My art is making a home too! We'll be buying our first home this summer, nothing much, but that's kind of the way I like it. It's a blank slate...and I think about how I would like every room to look as I'm trying to go to sleep at night. Trust God to bring you to the things he wants you to be involved in, He will, but he also made you with all your likes and dislikes for a purpose. I always lovingly want to tell you to relax :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm having a horrible couple of days and I just wanted to tell you that your words made me feel better.

    I can't properly construct a reply to any of them, but I wanted you to know that I feel better now.

    And we're still debating on the house front. it's not easy stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I dearly hope you are the only person who has read my posts and taken from them that this is all just about a "pretty house".

    Well, I can say I didn't take that from them.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Not exactly sure what my art is. My art is not my art if that makes even a bit of sense. There is more there. I don't take the time to really delve in. Need to. Excited for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Btw we are talking about this a lot lately...honey and I. I think reading 7 and Radical has us scratching our heads. How to know what's too much? I love how you care. How you want to give and make a difference. Your heart is in the right place. And I think that's what he really cares about.

      Delete
  44. Btw we are talking about this a lot...honey and I. Reading 7 and Radical really has us scratching our heads. So hard to know what's enough or too much. Love that you care. That you want to give. Your heart is in the right place and I think that is what he looks at...nothing else.

    ReplyDelete
  45. So much to say, Kid!

    Very thought provoking but first I just have to say/ask:

    Calvin WHITTLES? I almost spit out my drink.

    That is darling with a capital D!

    It's great that you're concerned and that you're a thinker.

    I also think it's totally fine to enjoy this experience, rock it and pick out some fab wallpaper, accessories and paint and just enjoy the ride. It's not like you're building a McMansion!

    As always, I can just shove it, too. You tell me.

    xxoo~

    TT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never, ever shove it, Tiny. At least not on my turf. You never cease to make me smile.

      And this is way late, but I still find myself thinking of your fantastic round of TV tag with Em! My Strange Addiction? That will crack me to pieces for months....

      Delete
  46. all i know is that i'm glad centex picked it all out for us. even if it's cheap and may not last a year longer, at least i didn't have to think about it. and now, now that my style has changed since moving into our house 7 years ago, i'm actually glad we don't have money to change things. because it could turn into a black hole of want. so instead, i live vicariously through your changes. : ) i really do. have i told you lately that i love your style, and your heart? anyways, i get so caught in the middle of what's okay to have and want and what's not, that all i can do is praise Jesus that he covers me. xo!

    ReplyDelete
  47. you are the bomb. you know it started with God and then Jen Hatmaker and then you. I can't get my head around all this business.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I can feel your confliction *(I'm sure that IS a word) all the way down here. I hope you find what works for you.

    My art is my family. That is what drives most everything for me. That is also what drives my love of making a nice home and creating yummy meals. It's what I feel I was put on this earth to do. I do realize how very June Cleaver that sounds. Maybe you should start calling me Jen Cleaver? I'm going to go look for my pearls now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How'd you get to be so funny? And cute? That's what I want to know.

      Delete
  49. Well said. I love what the Nester has to say on the subject! I too struggle. We want to build a house in the country someday - debt free. My prayer right now is that if that is God's will for us He will make it happen but that He will also help us to use it for His glory. Somehow. And I still want my hardwood floors and my nice cabinets and marble counters and... well i most likely will not spend the money on marble counters. Unless of course I got a REALLY good deal... Ahem. You see I have the same dilemmas???
    I have found, especially lately, that it is SO fun and satisfying to create the look I love on a shoestring - thrifted finds, goodwill, the flea, etc. Let's hit up Springfield together sometime!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Of course you are not alone in this struggle. I walk around my home daily praying, wishing, hoping we could move into something bigger. See, to my eyes, my 4 bedroom, 2story was perfect when we only had two kids...we were going to stay here forever. Then God changed everything. He opened our heart to the need in foster care in AZ and bam, we officially adopted our three foster kids last year. So now my 4 bedroom, 2story feels really small with seven people living on top of each other. But I also know it is enough. God has sprinkled ideas of moving in and out of our life these past few months, and just when we think He is saying 'YES', the door closes. So I walk around, thinking about how awesome it would be to have a little more room challenged by the idea of "can't we make this into what we need instead of what we want." Oh it is hard some days! So I feel for you. If you find that line, that balance,PLEASE pass it on! :-)

    Always enjoy reading your heart...makes this big, crazy world feel a little smaller!!

    Blessings
    Kristen

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh, this is timely for me. We've just moved in to the home my husband started building for us 6 years ago. It's lovely. It's awesome. It's huge and castle-like and makes me feel...spoiled.
    Dare I complain about 'all the decisions' I've had to make? For 5 1/2 years things went sooo slooowww as we waited for finances and direction, aiming to be debt-free in the end of it all. But then the last 6 months, when the funds were finally there and the decisions were umpteen-a-day and they all seemed so direly important...ugh! I really tend towards shut-down mode (so glad you used that phrase!).
    I finally just had to determine to be happy with it all. It really is all good. The sink and the doors and the floor and the countertops...all good.
    And yes, it frustrates us to have to focus on these things when there is so much in the Kingdom, so many things more eternal than dust and straw. We hope and earnestly pray for our home to be a refuge.
    It's just a house, Christ is our home, and doesn't He give good gifts for a reason? We have to rest in that, sister.
    Art...not so much a decorator, but I love to write. Enjoy your Home and your lovely new house : )

    ReplyDelete
  52. Wow - good topic of conversation! Did you ever guess when writing this post (or some of your others) that it would touch so many people's hearts?
    Being conflicted is a good thing, keeps us reigned in a bit, reminds us there is more to think about than the material goods we lust after. I say do your thing, use the gift you were given to make a house a creative, meaningful and comfortable home for your family, and make modest decisions on how to spend your money - I think God sees right into your beautiful heart and loves you dearly for trying so hard to do the right thing!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Wow! Great post! I'm struggling in the same ways...I was reading in Psalms a few days ago about how beautiful God has made nature and about how He shows Himself through His creation...and I started thinking about these underwater caves I'd seen on a documentary and how beautiful they are and how few people had ever seen them - they aren't the highlight of that particular area. In fact, until these divers discovered them, it's questioned whether they'd ever been seen. And it hit me - though they are rarely seen, God made them beautiful and well. And He is a God of order. And then my desire to make the inside of our bathroom closet orderly and functional and beautiful made more sense. We are created in the image of God. We are His image bearers. I still struggle, like you, with knowing how much is too much and how do I glorify God in this and when it all rusts and turns to dust...and yet, look at how lavishly and beautifully and wonderfully God created this earth - that He will one day consume with fire. I'm not telling you to go buy the $300 pendant, just agreeing. It's hard to figure out. Lean on the Spirit. He will lead you. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm so thankful that Jesus speaks to each of us on what is too little and what is too much and when to give to the need and when to not give bc that particular need is not the call he has for us.

    I bought two pottery barn fixtures for this house, but we've surely sensed him saying no to many other things and we've listened most of the time. sometimes not...but then, he is so good to teach us in those times, and it's always with love and grace.

    i'm glad you're listening to him as you build this house and make purchases for it. it feels good to feel like you're honoring him in all of it.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Just found you through Nester and had to subscribe- wow, you got in my head and wrote my struggles! :) Hubby & I have been discussing selling our home and getting completely out of debt so that we can be free to do and be. Not sure what that would look like roof-over-our-heads-wise, but it is a desire of my heart. I struggle with the balance of making home and recreating beauty and using the resources God gives for His purposes. I've been pondering writing about that struggle myself. Maybe I still will eventually, but you have put that struggle into words perfectly. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Have been building/completing a new house ourselves for the past 7-8, maybe 9, years. Been living in it for approx. 4-5 years. All of our married life we have lived in small houses that provided the challenge of creating beauty from and with practically nothing. Then, BAM! a blank canvas to design, build, create however I want. I totally shut down. I didn't know how to create from nothing. I only knew how to take an existing something and transform it in decoration perfection. I have only started to "get the vision" for our house during the past year. My walls have been blank more often than not. In five years only two arrangements have existed on the living room walls and then not for long. The only thing there now is a large photo of my children propper up on top of the piano. My advice? Remember that artists often wait for inspiration before beginning a masterpiece. Give yourself permission to not only embrace your artistry of creating a beautiful home but to create at whatever pace you are inspired to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I love your perspective on this. Of course we want our home to be a sanctuary for our family to come home to but we also need to be good stewards of the money that God has given to us. It will be fun to follow your progress. I was watching some show on HGTV with my son. The featured home had a fish tank that cost over $1 million! I commented to him that that would feed a lot of children... He says, "ya with all those fish!"

    ReplyDelete
  58. I stopped by from Nester's -- and so glad I did! The title of your post caught my eye because my husband and I have been discussing building a smaller home and moving out of the 1907 beauty we rescued and renovated in 2005. That was a dream-come-true and I never thought I'd move, but God's got another plan, so I'd never think of staying put. Much like your story, God let our world turn upside down a few years ago, and we've been on a wild ride ever since. In fact, I started blogging to find sanity -- and balance. Some days I'm still looking... I wrote about it here: http://myplacetoyours.blogspot.com/2012/06/havin-hay-day.html

    I was encouraged by your post and many of the comments left in response. God is definitely calling us to stop being so self-consumed and take care of "the least of these" as He's commanded. May His richest blessings be yours as you make choices and balance beauty with obedience; they do not have to be mutually exclusive. I look forward to seeing how God leads you.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Great post Shannon
    I like you.
    I like hearing you process the way Gods leading your mind.
    That guy is such a surprising story teller, and I love to see the effort you put into trying not to get in his way.
    Your humility inspires me and so does your honesty.
    But then again maybe that's you just staying out of His way and going with his ideas instead of your own.
    I'm into it ;)
    And your house must make Him smile and think, "my babygirl. She wants to be just like her daddy, and that's precious to me" just like any doting daddy would.

    ReplyDelete
  60. It's not about how much we have; it's how we put it to good use. We always think that the easiest way is to sacrifice, even though there's still a better way to compromise. I admire you for having selfless decisions. No matter what happens, I'm pretty sure you will have a lovely home, with lovely people who value purpose. I'm glad you already have an idea of what your purpose is. You are not just building something for yourself; you are also building inspiration to others. Kudos to you!

    ReplyDelete
  61. I so totally feel your pain, alas not in the joy of getting to build my own house. (and now the guilt seriously bombards me because i am so incredibly for the house that we do have and that we can afford it and that we were able to "fix" it up last year (read heavy into the fix!!) sometimes i find myself overthinking and not enjoying the process, just give God the glory in it all...He is the master planner (and builder)!

    ReplyDelete
  62. Thank you, thank you, thank you for restoring my perspective. My work (nursing) is my art and if feels so good to accept that. I want my art to be home making and all that involves but it just isn't me.. I read blogs to feed that part of me and then I go off to work.
    Parenting is my passion.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I love looking at second hand places for things to use in the house and scrap yards for ideas for the garden!

    What House

    ReplyDelete
  64. OK, I know this post is over a year old and I probably read it before and who knows, I may have commented and you have probably already sorted all this out and made peace etc etc. you get the drift. I will just say that the knack for decorating is a gift from God. This is something I wish I knew a few (ok lots of) years back when I was going to college. I wanted to major in Interior Design but allowed myself to be talked out of it because it was shallow. I won't go into detail here about what I chose instead - would take too long to explain the good and the bad. I just want to say: It is not shallow for a Christian to love beautiful things and want to make her home beautiful for her family and friends. Done with balance, decorating can be a ministry. The end.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I absolutely love love love the look of your house!!! We currently own a small house (2 bed, 1 bath & 900 sq. kind of small YIKES!!) and plan on one day (hopefully soon) building our own. I like that the yours has the open feel but still looks cozy. I was curious if you bought your house plan online & if so do you mind sharing which site & plan. Glad that I've found your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, chica! Actually, our home was purchased through a nonprofit neighborhood destabilization program, the kind where all the houses are almost exactly the same. We had very little say in the big picture of the house and the plans were pre-determined. Basically, I'm no help. But have fun and I wish you all the best!

      Delete
  66. Ponder when that would function applying solid wood for instance. logs reduce to help size. My partner and i completely really like really like really like the design of your house!!! We presently individual a smaller household.steel building manufacturers

    ReplyDelete