The Right Kind of Home Improvement

For 25 years my husband Andy and I, and our growing family,
travelled from one rental house to another. We lived in someone else’s house
and pulled weeds from someone else’s garden, and lived by someone else’s rules. What we longed for more than anything else was a place of
our own.
We didn’t think we’d ever be able to afford a
house. It’s practically impossible to save money when a family is continually
increasing in size. But through the goodness of God, our dream did became
reality.
I can remember the day we realised we could walk into a real estate office and say, “We’re looking for a home to buy!” We grinned at each other in delight. I couldn’t sleep for
thinking about it. It was such a wonderful feeling.
We imagined the sales person asking, “So what are you looking for?” We thought we could be content with any home as long as it
was ours. Small garden? No problem. It will be OUR garden! Small bedrooms? No problem.
As long as we can squeeze the beds in, we’ll be happy. They’ll be OUR bedrooms. 
But surprisingly, we could actually afford more than the basics. Our vision expanded. So did the list of houses we could view. We soon found what we believed was the perfect house for us. It
wasn’t huge, but it was certainly not small. And it was going to be all OURS!
We bought that house, moved in and grinned every day for months:
no more moving, no more regular inspections, no more landlord’s rules.  I still grin when I look around. This is our
home and I love it very much.

So we’ve lived here now for nearly six years, and are we still satisfied
with our home? 

Sometimes I think another bedroom would be nice, or a bigger
laundry. How about a decking running across the width of the back of the
house? French doors could lead from the back bedrooms and also the
family room, to this outdoor area. Can you imagine sitting outside,
looking over a valley of gum trees, enjoying a glass of wine, or even a meal, while listening to the kookaburras chuckling on the fence?
Oh yes, that would be delightful. A sparkling swimming pool down at the bottom of the
garden would surely add to our pleasure too.

On Sundays when we drive into town to go to Mass, we pass
right by a huge hardware warehouse. The car park is always full. It must
be one of the most popular places in our area. Everyone, it seems, is busy
improving their homes. It’s big business. Should we also start improving our
property? Perhaps we could begin work on that decking.

I think about this for a while. Do we really need that
decking and the pool? We’re managing just fine with the four bedrooms we
already have. Yes, a bigger home would be nice but I don’t think it’s for us. I want to remain grateful for what we already have, which is much more than we used to hope for. I
don’t want to lose that I-can’t-believe-this-is-OUR-house feeling. I don’t want to let dissatisfaction creep into
our lives. Because where will it end? Do you know what I mean?
Now there is no doubt our home is still in need of
improving, even if we can do without that decking. For a start, I am going to
make it twice as big by eliminating half its contents. But size isn’t
everything. There must be other ways of improving a home. Perhaps we could make it more welcoming, more comfortable, an even better place
to live? But how? I don’t think the answer is stuff. So what is it? Do you have any ideas?
PS: If you’d like to read the story of how we were given our very own home, it can be found in this book: Big Hearted by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas. 

And you could hop over to Facebook and see what’s going on on my Sue Elvis Writes page. (I posted a link to some delicious cakes!)

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Comments

  1. Reply

    I know exactly what you mean. We have been in our own home for 9 years now and I'm constantly thinking of improvements. Sometimes I forget that feeling of first moving in – the wonder and gratitude I felt at having our own place. My mother in law (in her 80's) who raised a very large family and made do with very little told me something that has impacted on the way I think about things. She confided that, when she was young she wanted so many things – this new piece of furniture, that item of clothing – things that she couldn't have. She says that when she reflects on her life she can't believe she ever thought like that. She says these things (our wants, particularly for material goods) are nothing. They don't matter one bit in the grand scheme and she is now concerned with the condition of her soul rather than the condition of her furniture. I think it's great to keep that balance. It's good to buy things you need and occasionally want that will improve your life and make you happier. But not to the point of being dissatisfied with what we already have.
    So, I try to appreciate things like a clean floor, fresh flowers in a vase, being adequately clothed. We in the western world are so spoiled 🙂

    1. Reply

      Kelly,

      Balance… Oh yes, exactly! Your mother in law sounds like a very wise woman. It must be lovely to share thoughts with her and learn from her experience. Maybe we sometimes yearn for new things, while at the same time, not noticing the things we are already blessed with. There is always something more to want, isn't there?

      Yesterday I was reading an article about how we need to stop and ponder the present moment, to notice the clean floor, the smiles on our children's faces, the sunshine drying our clothes, the meal we are enjoying… It sounds so simple but we often forget to do it. I agree: We are very spoilt indeed.

  2. Reply

    When I was little I dreamt of owning an old cottage with wooden beams. As of five years ago we bought our very own two bedroom 200 year old cottage, complete with wood burning stove, red brick interior walls, old wooden doors and, yes, lots and lots of beams. We are seven people and 9 animals in a two bedroom house and I still wake up everyday, look around me and thank God he made the (probably totally impractical) dreams of a little girl come true. Sometimes when you've had to wait for something it is all the more precious when you obtain it. And I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe it is real!

    1. Reply

      Claire,

      Oh thank you so much for sharing your dream house! I do agree about how things are more precious when we have had to wait for them. Your house sounds delightful! I've seen a lot of old house with beams on TV. They are very English and full of history. Nothing like them here!

      We once lived in a two bedroom cottage with 5 children. It was a bit of a squeeze. In one bedroom we had 2 boys on one side of the room, and 2 girls on the other. The toddler slept with Andy and I in our room. We managed.

      God is so good, isn't He?

  3. Reply

    I doubt if God frowns on you improving your house Sue. A deck might make a big difference. I think it would be about $10 000-15 000 if yu got a builder in , much less if your spouse is handy. An ex guvvie and very ordinary house at the back of ours has improved out of sight since the lady added a big deck at the back and a french door.
    I can understand why you fancy a pool as well. I would like to put one in for our son who has autism but we do not have the room. We finally got a large pergola to eat under and a sliding door to access it last year and it has made a big difference. I saved up for it. Improving your house is fun especially if you pay cash for everything and you own it

    1. Reply

      Hi Karna!

      Oh I agree: God won't frown on us if we improve our home. In fact I think He delights in our delight. No, there's nothing wrong with decks and pools. But I just don't know if we really need them. I sometimes daydream about such things but know we don't need them to make life complete. We already have so much to be grateful for. Besides, we probably wouldn't get much use out of a pool. The swimming season where we live is usually short, though we are in drought again at the moment and temperatures are milder than normal. It's such a pity you don't have room for one. It sounds like a pool would be perfect for your son. And the deck… I found a beautiful shady spot at the bottom of the garden the other day. I might move the outdoor table and chairs down there! One thing I would like my husband to do is lay proper paths through the garden. That would be nice!

      It's been a while since we last chatted. I've enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Reply

    HI Sue

    Get onto Andy about your paths. Maybe he could make a large paved area for your outdoor furniture and put up a pergola. Hold onto your deck dream everything I have wasted material has come over time and I have bene married 28 years.l

    1. Reply

      Karna,

      I like your paved area idea! Andy has already promised to lay some paths. What I'd really like is eucalyptus mulch paths. They remind me of the bush tracks where we run. Not very good for keeping our feet or shoes clean while we are outside but they look wonderful, and would be very easy to put down. You are right. Things don't have to happen all at once. Over time we can do little improvements and enjoy our homes.

    • Jim
    • December 16, 2016
    Reply

    I really like your attitude. Too many people in the world today are not content with what they already have. The earth can’t support continuous over-exploitation of natural resources in all directions.
    Jim recently posted…Best Eucalyptus Hardwood Furniture & Patio Sets in 2017My Profile

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