Inspiration Journal

Being Content in The Home That You’re In

Written by Brianna Bell

When I was a little girl I used to dream of living in a big home with beautiful and ornate furniture, a sprawling yard and a cozy porch. I imagined myself drinking warm tea in the winter, sitting in my breakfast nook, watching the snow falling outside my window. In the summer I would lounge in a big rocking chair on my deck, sipping homemade lemonade while my children ran through a sprinkler in our yard.

Today I am 26-years-old, I have been married to my college sweetheart for nearly five years, and we have two young children. Oh, and we live in a basement apartment.

I chose to marry my husband Daniel, at 21-years-old, with barely a dime in the bank. Daniel was studying to become a youth pastor, and we lived in a small 400-square-foot married dorm. Our first year of marriage was one big party. I made my husband is favorite home-cooked meals, served in our tiny two-seater kitchen table. We’d snuggle in bed, our alarm clock was the screaming children below us – the university’s on-campus daycare was housed beneath our feet.

Shortly after our first anniversary Daniel and I welcomed our daughter, Penelope. My husband accepted his first job offer, and we eventually moved to a new home in a new city. It was a one-bedroom basement apartment with marble counters and Berber carpet. Still, I longed for a home to call my own, and the breakfast nook with the picturesque view.

Nearly five years later, and Daniel has a new job in a new city, and we are celebrating two years in a new basement apartment. Our home is above ground, and has big windows and spacious rooms. Yet, my heart has still felt discontent. We do not own this home. The area that we live in is very expensive, and the possibility of owning in the near future is very slim. As our children grow, I wonder how I’ll explain to them their unique home, and whether their friends will notice.

Recently, Daniel and I decided to invest some money in our current rental. For a while it’s felt like this home was just a holding cell, while we wait for better, more permanent things. Our furniture is sparse, and cheap. Nothing feels truly cozy or homey.

When we first moved in we decided to make our mark on this house. We selected bright colours for the walls, and felt joyful as we covered the blank space with vibrant shades of our choosing.

One of our new purchases has been a solid maple table, built by a Mennonite family sixteen years ago. It has already been loved by a previous family – many memories have been made around this sturdy and well-built piece of furniture.

When my husband brought our new kitchen table home, our children celebrated with contagious excitement. They jumped up and down, claimed their chairs, and asked for a glass of warm milk. We all sat down together, a family of four, and enjoyed a moment together at the table. I looked around at Daniel, and our two happy daughters.

Our new table felt solid, like it would withstand many years of warm milk at bedtime, casseroles at dinner, and homework at the table afterwards. I saw my children growing up around our permanent dinner table, and my worries about the actual home we lived in slipped away.

After my children went to bed I sat quietly with a cup of tea, looking outside at the snow falling, creating a blanket on the frozen ground. I ran my hands along the smooth finish of the wood, and said a silent prayer for our family. I whispered words of gratitude and praise to God, for opening my mind and heart, and giving me peace and contentment.

No matter where we lay our head, I pray it’s a place of comfort, peace, and refuge. I pray that we focus on the people in our homes, not the things. I pray we care more about the words that fill the space where we live, and not the knick-knacks. I pray we are thankful for the home’s we’re given, and not envious for the one’s we don’t have.

Perhaps my girlhood dream of a breakfast nook will never be realized. But, I still had my greatest dream gifted to me: my family, to share memories and a home with, around our sturdy wooden table.  

About the author

Brianna Bell

Brianna Bell is a wife, mother, and freelance writer specializing in articles on parenting and family. She can be found elbows deep in sudsy dirty dish water, on the floor playing human jungle gym, or with her game face on typing up her newest article. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Briannarose11/?fref=ts&__mref=message_bubble

  • Love this, Brianna! I have my share of “house envy,” because rather than being a car person or a jewelry person or a clothes person, I’m a house person. But you are so right about this: “No matter where we lay our head, I pray it’s a place of comfort, peace, and refuge.” Yes! I long for our home to be a place where joys are multiplied and sorrows divided. Blessings to you..just pinned this piece! 🙂

    • Brianna

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your kind words. I totally understand what you mean about being a “house person.” I don’t care about those other things you listed either, but have always dreamed of a beautiful home. I think for me, I finally realized, why can’t THIS be my beautiful home?

  • Stacy Harrison

    Many of us can relate to this, Brianna!I love my home, but it is not my dream home, and there are always quirks I wish we could afford to fix. But we have a big oak table for meals, games, and projects, a cozy rug in the living room, and a river in the backyard for fishing and splashing. Much to be grateful for! Thank you for this positive reminder. I’ll be singing a little Stones this Saturday — “You can’t always get what you want — but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…”

    • Brianna

      Hi Stacy, great words and awesome song! I know the feeling, but there’s also something beautiful about the quirks in our home. I’m learning that the hard way for sure

  • Renee

    love this!! i wrote about this very thing recently, actually. we have been married 5 1/2 years and are renting, and like you, our little rental is not what i pictured. yet it’s a wonderful provision from the Lord. I’m thankful he changed my heart from discontent to content & exceedingly grateful. http://tunemyheartblog.com/2015/08/18/choosing-contentment-in-our-home/

    • Brianna

      I love your blog post, it’s all so true. And us mamas, always dreaming even when the dream doesn’t really make much sense – haha! I have been there! I recently tried to convince my husband to buy a house and we don’t even have a down payment.

      And amen to God’s provisions 🙂

  • Lynne Childress

    This is wonderful and such a good message to focus on the blessings and not the things and to steward what we have. Beautiful post.

    • Brianna

      Thank you Lynne for your comment. I agree completely!

  • Emily Skinkle

    We have been in the same boat for the last 3 years. Since April 2012 we have moved 6 times. We’ve had two children in this time span. It has always felt like we’ve been hdig our breath until we can feel settled. Thank you for sharing! Our own home is on the horizon!

    • Brianna

      I feel your pain. We have moved a lot too, although not that much! I hope you can settle in your current home, even if it’s not a permanent home 🙂

  • Such a wonderful post. So easy to get caught up in things a miss the true blessings of our life. What a wonderful moment it is when we have a grateful heart.

    • Brianna

      Thank you Amanda, I think a grateful heart is the greatest gift we can have.

  • Once, I told my parents I would rather have the nicest house in the poorest neighborhood than the ugliest house in the richest neighborhood. What I failed to realize is there are ways we can “fix” our current situation to make it more enjoyable. Taking a simple object (a table) and giving it a big meaning is a great start. We don’t need to have everything we want to be happy or joyful, do we?

    • Brianna

      Thanks Desiree, I think I’ve said something similar when I was younger. Sounds like something I would have said, anyway! I’m learning that the dream home isn’t necessarily the home itself, but what we make of it. 🙂

  • Lisa Renee Stark

    Great article! Your memories sparked my own recollection of what I hoped family and marriage would be like.