When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a little yellow bungalow that a sweet older lady at church rather surprisingly referred to as our “love nest”. It was a perfect home for the two of us. It was also a perfect home for the two of us plus our first baby when she came along. What it was not the perfect home for was the two of us plus our first baby plus our first baby’s large-scale equipment.

That we needed to house hunt became clear one day when my husband walked in the door and rammed into said baby’s play yard, which was set up just inside said door. “Isn’t there someplace better you can put this?” he asked, wincing in pain. “Where?” I asked him. “Suspended from the ceiling?”

So we started looking for a bigger house. I had visions of a House Hunters-esque search. We’d walk in and I’d gasp in delight and admire the double ovens and granite countertops and (of course) open floor plan perfect for entertaining. (Even though I stink at entertaining, and, when I do it, prefer to be shut off from my guests so I can deal with disasters privately.)

Fortunately, my late father-in-law was a real estate agent. Also fortunately, he was a skilled jack-of-all-trades who’d never seen a house he couldn’t fix up. Less fortunately, the house he wanted to sell us needed A LOT of fixing. It really had nowhere to go but up.

My husband had seen the place and suggested I drive by it. I did . . . and scoffed derisively at the red, ramshackle, 100-year-old farmhouse that looked like it needed 100 years’ worth of work and that had what appeared to be a junk yard residing on the front lawn. I kept driving and didn’t think of it again.

A few weeks later, my husband told me, “We need to make a decision about that house.”

“What house?” I asked him.

“The red one.”

“What do we need to decide about it?” I queried.

“If we’re going to buy it,” my husband answered in all seriousness.

“Of course we’re not going to buy it!” I answered in equal or greater seriousness.

Four months later, we moved into the house we weren’t going to buy.

Ours was not the sort of house anyone was going to be hunting for, except perhaps the mice and bats that seemed to have taken up comfortable residence there.

The kitchen smelled like bacon grease, which was also coating the kitchen cabinets.

Instead of an open floor plan, it was (and is) comprised of about a dozen separate rooms connected by a great many doorways.

When we started fixing it up, we couldn’t walk on the carpet without first donning industrial footwear.

The lone bathroom was a study in contrasts, none of which were getting along with each other: faux-marble countertop; dropped popcorn ceiling; blue plastic tile on the top half of the walls; gold-specked wallboard on the bottom halves; and a red checked floor that would possibly have been charming in a French bistro but which was decidedly UNcharming otherwise.

And yet this house became our home. Today, 18 years later, it is still our home. I hope it will be our home until I move into my heavenly mansion. Our house wasn’t what I was hunting for, but as a home, it’s what my heart was looking for.

It is a home where joys are multiplied and sorrows are divided.

It is a home where weird is welcomed.

It is a home where what is worn down can be built up again.

It is a home where the race of faith is run. 

It is a home where grace and forgiveness make regular appearances.

It is a home where decisions are considered and discussed and prayed over and made.

It is a home where broken hearts are comforted and happy hearts are celebrated.

It is a home where news—both good and bad—is shared.

It is a home where my husband and children and I appreciate and cherish each other for who we are while we also encourage each other to become who we can be.

And it is, I fervently pray, a home where this beautiful promise is kept: “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes. How blessed you will be.” (Isaiah 32:18, 20) 

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.