For the last forty-nine days, we’ve been settling into our new house, in Orlando, FL. On July 1, 2019, we moved into the parsonage of the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, where I now serve as Lead Pastor, and for seven weeks, we’ve unpacked boxes, arranged and rearranged furniture, organized drawers, etc., etc.
Today’s task was to hang pictures on the walls.
We’ve done a lot, and the house increasingly looks like “ours.” But, there’s still more to do – more pictures to hang, more shelves to decorate, a garage and closets to organize. I just couldn’t do anymore today.
As a United Methodist pastor, we’ve moved a number of times, so we know this process pretty well. Each time we move, we attempt to sell or give-away junk we no longer need. Then, as we occupy a new house, we shuffle furniture from room to room, deciding what’s needed where and, often, what doesn’t fit anywhere, and ends up going to the garage, or for sale, or to Goodwill.
And, inevitably, something new needs to be acquired for the new house to meet our particular needs. In the last house, it was a set of blue imported cabinets, to give the den a “pop” of color. The house before that required new rugs and a flat screen TV, to go above the fireplace mantel. So far, in this house, we’ve needed a desk for my “study” (a great, old workbench, I found on Craig’s List – and I got a great deal!), a new couch and chair for the den, and a frame for one of my daughter’s paintings. I also found some old sash windows at a garage sale in the neighborhood – I plan paint and hang them on the wall in the den… one of these days.
Each time we’ve moved, there’s both a purging of old stuff we no longer want or need, and the acquisition of something, or things, new. Somehow, each time, the old and new merges seamlessly, to make our new house feel like home – like “our” home.
Of course, besides the furniture, there’s the miscellaneous decor – keepsakes, photos, collections, sentimental gifts. Do we still want to display this? Do we still want to hang that picture? Should I take this to the office? What are we going to hang over the couch? What did we put on those shelves in the last house? Where will the Christmas tree go? It’s all part of the moving-in and home-making process – everything has to find its place, even if that place is a box, on a shelf, in the garage.
Though we still have a lot more to do – which probably just means we have too much stuff – this house increasingly feels like “ours.” Though every room looks and feels different than any other room, from any other house we’ve lived, each one is starting to feel familiar. As I walk from room to room, each filled with the accumulated stuff of our lives, I’m reminded of the story of each and every item. Some things are just practical, and while they serve a useful function, I don’t necessarily feel any sentimental attachment. But, other items have deep meaning to me, and tell a story – our story.
Stuff we’ve brought back from trips.
Cool things I’ve found in thrift stores or antique shops.
Furniture I’ve refinished.
Gifts we’ve received.
Things we’ve inherited.
Photos of precious memories.
Collections of beloved things.
Books I’ve loved.
And, in my study, a lot of “weird stuff,” according to my wife. It all seems normal to me!
Though life is certainly more than stuff – even when you have as much stuff as we do – “stuff” tells the story of our lives…
Mementos from the places we’ve been.
The particular “style” of the furnishings.
The unique taste of the decor.
Photos of cherished moments and people.
Reminders of times gone by.
The promise of times yet to be shared with loved ones, and future memories yet to be created.
If you’ve ever visited one of our previous houses, or someday visit our new one (we do plan to live here a LONG time!), you may not know or understand the particular story our stuff is telling – it is a unique and eclectic assortment! But, it will be hard to miss that WE live here. There’s no mistaking that this is the unique collection of this particular family’s life. While we likely don’t need ALL of it to feel at home here, it’s all part of the story we’ve been living from house to house to house, from town to town to town, from year to year to year.
It’s all part of how each house has become our home.
It’s all part of how this house is becoming our new home, and will be for a long, long, long time.
What story is your house telling?