Tag Archives: #52 donations

Life Lessons from House Staging

Part of getting ready to put our house on the market is staging it for buyers. We were told to remove anything personal, make rooms and closets look spacious and take away any reminder of work.

In other words – hide the trash cans, remove the paper towels from the countertop, move the laundry detergent out of sight and on and on.

This is what they do in model homes. They want people to feel like the house is a place where you kick off your shoes and put your feet up. A place where work is minimal, at best.

Our closets are very small, so we were told to remove about half of the stuff. This would give the illusion that they are bigger.

It feels a little like I’m selling a lie. We do have small closets! Of course we work here! There are dishes to do, clothes to wash and carpets to vacuum. We are a family of six and we live here – and living gets messy and those messes need picked up. Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

But it works. They do this in model homes because, on some subconscious level, it works.

But here is reality – you can remove the items and make people feel like the house comes with less work and less stress, but that doesn’t make it true.

You will still bring your stuff and your work and your life and your stress with you from your old space into your new space – even if you don’t see a single trash can in the house when you walk through. It still exists.

I am learning some valuable lessons from the house staging process.

Lesson #1 – Like I said before…..Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

Like with the move.

Maybe if I don’t talk about the move…..maybe if I don’t think about the move…..maybe if I avoid it all together……maybe if I do everything physically necessary for the move without really dealing with the emotion of it……maybe if I just have a glass of wine tonight to turn off my mind…..

I have been trying really hard to focus on the positives of the move and not be sad about leaving yet. I will have time to be sad about being gone once I am actually there. Why be sad now? I’m still here after all.

But sometimes, I wonder if I am just stuffing it down somewhere deep?

Yesterday, I looked at my calendar and realized how little time I really have left in our home, in our community, with our friends who have become like family. I thought of all of the people I want to hang out with and all the things I still want to do here in Indy and realized I have run out of time to do all of those things.

In an attempt to be positive, I reminded myself I can always come back and visit. Which is true, but it isn’t the same.

I really can’t imagine being gone. It all feels so surreal. I try not to think about it. I’m getting my house ready to put on the market, but it still doesn’t feel real.

But it is real. Even if I don’t talk about it. Even if I don’t think about it. Even if I avoid it.

Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away. 

But, I need to continue to think of the positives. For my children, for my husband and for myself. I know God has a plan in this and I trust in that plan. I may not be able to imagine my future there, but just 8 years ago before I moved from our home that I loved in Irvington into my home I love so much now – I couldn’t imagine my future here either.

I’m not sure if it’s healthy to try not to be sad right now? I’m not sure if that’s just avoidance?Maybe it’s just like me putting the paper towels under the counter so that it all seems less complicated than it is. Maybe it’s less work to focus on the physical aspect of moving and not the emotional.

I really don’t know how to deal with all of this. I don’t know how to say goodbye. Is there some type of protocol?

I need a manual on how to do this.

What I do know is this – I don’t want to spend my last weeks here sad, so I think I will just enjoy each day as it comes. I will take each good bye as it comes. I will try not to dwell on what’s on the horizon and not get lost in the thought of moving, but at the same time not pretend like it isn’t happening – because that’s not healthy either.

But how do I do that? Will someone please write a manual.

Some moments will be sad. Some moments will be happy. Some days will feel like a regular day in our home and others will feel like a sad reminder of our departure.

I think I just need to take each day, each moment as it arrives. That has been the nudge I have been getting from God time and time again for the past few years. Be in the moment. Take each moment as it arrives. Tomorrow is not promised. What you have is today.

I need to keep breathing that thought in and breathing it out. Daily.

Lesson #2 – Less stuff really does bring more peace

Hiding trash cans and removing all signs of work isn’t realistic in a house that is actually being lived in, but I have come to appreciate the peace that comes with simplifying.

A year and a half ago I embarked on a 52 Donations project where I donated something (time, money or material objects) every week for a year. It was a wonderful, life-changing project.

During that time, I simplified our home and got rid of a lot of clutter (or so I thought.) Getting the house ready to move has taken that to a whole new level. I have had to get rid of so much more and it feels good. Really. Really. Good.

I don’t think we were meant to live with so much.

When I walk into a room and there is more open space, I seem to breathe a little better. When drawers and closets and cupboards aren’t overflowing – it just feels good. It feels right.

Honestly, why in the world do I need multiple can openers? Or 20 coffee mugs?

I don’t. I don’t need that much.

Somebody else could probably really use some of my excess and getting rid of the clutter has felt wonderful and necessary and freeing.

I do hope when we move we can continue to keep things decluttered and organized, but…..

Lesson #3 – As it has been said before, “No matter where you go, there you are.” 

When I think of moving, I do get excited about the idea of simplifying our lives. Not just the clutter, but also our schedules. I do look forward to the idea of more time together as a family. I know there are things to look forward intertwined with the sadness of leaving.

But to keep our home and our schedules decluttered will take intentionality. If we aren’t intentional about making changes, we will slowly end up exactly where we are now.

We will still take our habits with us. A new house in a new place doesn’t make us new people. We are still us, in a new location.

If we want to make life changes, we will need to work to make those changes – just like we would have to work to make those changes here and now.

 Lesson #4 – Take nothing for granted.

We have limited time left in the home we love, with our friends and neighbors we love and I don’t want to take a second of the time we have left here for granted.

We have been blessed beyond measure to live in such a wonderful, loving community. I am grateful for every second we have had here. For every memory we have made. For every friendship formed.

I may not know how to deal with the move, but I do know that I am blessed. Very blessed to have experienced all of the kindness, love and depth of relationships my family and I have experienced during our time here in Indianapolis.

I do not take that for granted.

Thank you, God. Thank you.


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Reality Checks

Sometimes I need a reality check.  Or two. Or three.

Sometimes more.

I am a stay-at-home mom.  I realize that this is not for everyone. Every family needs to decide what works for them. This was the desire of my heart, and my husband’s heart, and we were committed to making this work. We also knew, God willing, that we desired to have a large family.

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Having a large family and one income would require sacrifice, but this was a sacrifice that we were willing to make.  We knew that we may not have the finest things, and we were Ok with that.

In October, 2009, my husband and my very pregnant self, along with our three-year old and 20-month old daughters, moved from an area that is located about ten minutes east of downtown Indianapolis called Irvington to the suburbs of Westfield.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about being in the suburbs at first. My husband and I had a lot of conversations prior to moving. We liked the idea of being close to downtown.  It seemed so much cooler.  I still think it is cooler. 

But, coolness aside, it wasn’t a great fit for us anymore. For many reasons, including the location of his job, it made sense for us to move to the north side.

So, that’s what we did.

We found a foreclosure that was a wonderful fit for our expanding family.  I felt very blessed that we were able to move into a house that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. Along with the feeling of gratitude came the reality that our blessing was another family’s misfortune.  I would think of the family often, especially in the first year.  I would wonder about them.  And pray. 


About three weeks after we moved into our home, our third daughter was born.  We began to settle into our new location.  At first, I did not think much about moving to such an affluent area.

When we lived close to downtown, we were surrounded by the rich and the poor.  Very nice homes were located just blocks away from poverty-stricken homes.  Our cozy little yellow bungalow sat across from the golf course.  Just a few blocks from our home was a street known to be a hangout for prostitutes and drug dealers.


We went from living in this melting pot to living where we live now.  We live in Hamilton County. According to a recent article posted in WTHR, Hamilton County is now ranked as the seventh wealthiest county in the nation.

The longer we have lived here, the more I find myself comparing our lifestyle to others and feeling like I am not living up to some type of standard.  The longer that I have been surrounded by wealth, the more my perception on how people live has erroneously changed. My idea of what is normal is becoming skewed. I am comparing my lifestyle to the lifestyles of some of the wealthiest people in the world. This is one of the challenges people face when they are living in the land of plenty.  I am beginning to understand why the term “keeping up with the Joneses” exists. This struggle is not unique to me.  One of my favorite movies is about this struggle that many Americans face, fittingly called The Joneses.  It is a thought-provoking movie that I highly recommend.


Now this is not a knock on the suburbs, or the people who live in the suburbs. This is not a knock on being wealthy, or having nice things.  Those are wonderful blessings that God has bestowed on people.  I really enjoy living here, and feel very blessed to be where we are.  This is just commentary on my ridiculous, absurd, insane thoughts.

I find myself forgetting about the early years in our marriage when we talked about having less and being Ok with that.  I find myself feeling like what I have is not enough, but here is reality:

I have an ample amount of everything that I need.

I am not hungry.  I actually have the ability to choose, daily, what I will eat.  I am able to make food at home.  I can go out to eat.  I can eat fast food.  I can sit down at a restaurant.  I can search Yelp and see what sounds good to me, and go there, and eat.  Everyday, I have an overabundance of dining options.


I have water.  Clean water.  I have options of what kind of water I want. Tap water. Filtered water from the fridge.  Bottled water.  Flavored water. Water from the hose.  I can drink water. Shower in water. Bathe in water.  And when I drink the water, I don’t need to worry about if it is going to make me, or my family members, sick.

I do not worry that my children will die from starvation, or dehydration.  Thank you, Father.

I have a roof over my head.  I am warm in the winter.  I am cool in the summer.

I have clothes on my body.  I have a pillow to lay my head on at night and blankets to cover myself with.

If my children are sick, I can take them to a multitude of doctors and grab them medicine from a plethora of pharmacies.

To many people around the world, living in our home would be like living in a mansion.  It is all about perspective.

That is reality.  We are blessed beyond measure.

But, here is a secret of mine.   I am sometimes embarrassed by the cars we drive.  Yep. True.

We have a 1997 Toyota Avalon that we have had for years.  It is paid off and runs fine.  We have a Toyota Sienna that is also paid off and runs fine.  We own two working vehicles.  True, one of them is more like the car you get when you turn 16, but who cares? It works and it is paid off.


When we first moved here and had our third daughter, we did not have the minivan yet.  I would load all three kids into the back of the Avalon. That was my car.  I thought nothing of it.  Now, I have become increasingly embarrassed to drive that car.  I actually will go out of my way  to be sure I will have the minivan when I need to go somewhere because I don’t want to be seen in the Avalon.

Do you know how crazy that is?!  There are people who don’t have food, and I am caring about being seen in our paid-off second vehicle.  Something isn’t right here.

Thankfully, God has been showing me the ridiculousness of my thinking.  He is teaching me gratitude.  He is giving me reality checks.

This year, at our Christmas dinner, I looked at the overabundance of food on the table and in that moment God did something to my heart.  I felt like He said to me, “Look.  Look at this blessing before you and be grateful.”  I was struck in that moment by the fact that I was able to feed my children.  I could feed them without any fear of where the food would come from.  There was so much food on our table that some would go to waste.  My heart was grateful, and it was also very convicted.

I have carried that conviction with me into the new year.  When I find myself thinking about the things that I want, I quickly remind myself of all that I have.  When I find myself thinking about wanting a new car, I remind myself that we have all that we need right now.  When I find myself feeling embarrassed, I remind myself to be grateful.  I do not need to impress anyone.  And, really, nobody cares what kind of car we drive.  Our friends care about us, not about what we have.  The way that I feel has nothing to do with people saying, or doing things, to make me feel this way.  It is just my own stinking thinking.  The thought that we need to have more, or be more, to prove something is just a lie.  It is a lie that I am not buying into anymore.

I am on week four of my 52 weeks of donations and it has been a wonderful experience thus far.  I do not think that it is a coincidence that I am embarking on this at the same time as I have been struggling with these thoughts.  As I clean out our home, God is cleaning out my heart and my mind.

I am thankful for the work that God is doing on my heart.  I am thankful that He is patient with me.  I am extremely thankful that I do not need to worry about how I will feed my children tonight, and I pray for those who find themselves in that situation.

I am thankful for abundant blessings.

I am thankful for reality checks.













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