The Day I Bought a Rug {The Grove: Homemaking}

“I bought a rug,” I texted to my best friend. There was no preface, no following clarifying statement. Just… “I bought a rug.”

“Wow,” she texted back. “That’s big.”

That rolled up rug that I hauled out of Ikea was more than just a focal piece for a room or a place for my dog to chew his rawhides. (Why – just why…) This was a marker of something I hadn’t done in five years of being on the field. This was settling in.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve resigned. When my first team leader left. When my grandmother died. When my best friend got married. When my other best friend got pregnant. When my mother died. When my father remarried. When days got hard. I spent time searching for jobs in the US. I called my director more than once. I never bought a rug in those years.

I spent about 6 years living in apartments with no artwork, no bookshelves, and no throw pillows. I had a bare minimum of dishes, silverware, and coffee cups. I didn’t even buy furniture. I was not about to invest in this space. This was not home. I did not want this to be home. And outfitting my apartment like a home might indicate to God that I was green-lighting Him keeping me here. And I did not intend to give him any ideas!

The bare styling of my home gave me a certain level of comfort – I could pack up and get out of there with minimal effort when I decided to bail. I did everything short of keeping a packed suitcase. I was terrified to settle in, to allow my heart to grow roots in this new place. I was frustrated every time I accidentally called this place “home.”

So last summer when I arrived back in France after a few months at home, I had a decision to make. My role had changed and I was now to be the lead pastor of our congregation. I knew that in accepting that role, I had no choice but to put down roots. You can’t pastor people without living among them with joy. You can’t open your home and your table if you won’t allow yourself to call it home. You can’t lead people in living with contentment if you refuse to be content.

So I bought a rug. And real furniture. I bought bookshelves and finally hauled all of my books from the US. When I went home for Christmas, I brought my grandmother’s cast iron skillet back with me. I’ve bought artwork and frames and displayed them. I bought a large set of dishes (thanks again, Ikea) and glasses so that when my table is full, my guests feel welcome. It still makes me feel a bit nervous to be so invested here, but when I come home to my apartment, I feel like I am home.

Maybe you’re like me and you’re looking for a way out. Maybe the Father is whispering to you that though you thought this season was to be quite temporary, you are here for longer than you expected. Maybe you have your own version of a rug that you need to feel settled – be it framed artwork, a bed frame, a couch, or matching dishes. Whatever it is that’s keeping your heart from calling your host country ‘home’ – consider taking the leap and allowing yourself to be home. Because what I have learned is – home matters.

And someday, when the time comes to leave, I will pack my things into boxes and bins, I will sell or give away what is left, and I will close the door on my life here. I dread that day in a way I didn’t know was possible. But in the meantime, I am here. And I can’t be here unless I am all ‘here.’ My body, soul, and spirit fully invested in the work the Spirit has for me here.

What are some things about your home that make you feel settled? What are some ‘settling in’ things you have avoided? How can your home help you settle in and grow roots?

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We invite you to share in The Grove. You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

11 Comments

  1. MaDonna August 16, 2018

    Last night I finally put the rug down under the table that we bought 3 weeks ago from IKEA. So, your post made me giggle. Settling in has been difficult for me because we have seriously moved on average about every 2-3 years for the past 20 years. I remember one time afraid to paint a wall. The fear of my husband coming home and telling me that we were moving stopped me from doing it. When I finally did paint the wall, he did come home and asked if I wanted to move. I told him we couldn’t because I had just painted a wall. Haha.
    I find settling in for me is hanging up photos and getting the furniture settled, but really it is having meals around our table that makes me feel at home. When I am able to cook a proper meal and we can enjoy it together, and even more so when we can share it with others in our home. That is when I know we are settled – even if the painting isn’t finished (which it isn’t in the current place and we’ve been here almost 11 months). I’ll get brave and paint some more after the kids are back in school. Haha!

    1. Kelly Delp August 17, 2018

      Yes! It’s such a challenge to find that balance between making a space home and still keeping our ‘feet’ light enough to move when He calls us!

  2. Barb Hutchins August 16, 2018

    Thanks so much for your post! We were on the field for 11 years before I bought a rug and I had it shipped from IKEA. I have carted cast iron from home for two years and my sweet husband brought back one for me several years ago. It was 8 years before I got rid of the ugly curtains in the house we rent and put up curtains (IKEA) also. This last trip home my husband carried a trifle bowl in his back pack for me because I can’t find one here.

    I remember saying to my husband one day we are not camping we live here now and finally made the investment in artwork (frames are very affordable where we are). When one missionary left the field I ask her if we could purchase all of her silverware that she had brought from home as all the affordable silverware here would bend.

    Then came the day that I realized we have lived in this house longer than any house we have ever lived in and on our last trip home I realized that I couldn’t wait to get ‘home’!

    1. Kelly Delp August 17, 2018

      Yes! We are not camping! It’s amazing how framed artwork makes us feel so settled.

  3. Abby August 17, 2018

    For me having done 9 moves in 11 years with a young family my priority has wheats been to create a place we can relax together and routines that help us find a sense of peace and psychological well being. I gave this thing that it’s not home until my pictures are on the wall. It just speaks of permanence and a kind of slight assertion that however long we are somewhere I am present with those that I love. And actually that’s what makes my home- it’s wherever my family are.

    1. Kelly Delp August 17, 2018

      So good – I’ve been in the weird place that creating a home abroad is my first home away from my parents. So it’s been a lot of not just displaying artwork, but curating it as well. It’s a lot of work!

  4. Bonita August 17, 2018

    For me I’m struggling at the moment with whether I should be”at home” in my role overseas. I heard a speaker talk about that leaders sometimes experience fight or flight feelings and had never thought about that in relationship to work but I definitely feel like fleeing at times.

  5. Addie August 18, 2018

    I’m laughing because I was just at IKEA the other day looking at a rug! And reading the comments makes it seem like a common, normal thing to be standing there contemplating as if life depended on it. I didn’t end up getting it, and I think it does have to do with wanting to leave since I returned from a summer at home. I am on a yearly contract, and have signed off to be here until next summer.. so I suppose I might make my place cozy so the next year here doesn’t have to be miserable!

  6. Julie B August 19, 2018

    I smiled as I read this post ….when we arrived on the field, while still staying in a friend’s apartment, I bought a rug! Even before we were in our own place. One of the things I do wherever we are is to try and make our place as homey as possible. We have been staying in an apartment here in America for the last 5 months and I had to buy a few plants and a couple of things to make it home for us here. (The apartment already had a beautiful rug!)

    Growing up as a TCK my Mom was always making the places we lived feel like home. She did this as soon as possible and in my memory we always had lovely homes no matter what the circumstances. (She used local art and local furniture in the days before IKEA). They were places of refuge as well as places where guests could feel comfortable. We always had guests in our home. Now that I am in the place of living abroad, I too try and do that in our apartment. I realize that this earth is not our true home, but it’s also good to “nest” a bit no matter where your location is. Somehow I think more ministry takes place out of my living room than anywhere else!

  7. Elizabeth August 19, 2018

    This was a good read for me. I definitely “nest” when I arrive places, even if it’s just for a year or so. Homemaking is something I really enjoy, even if I can’t have it for a full-time job description as a single woman not living on a trust fund. But as I approach 40, I don’t have a clear sense of how long I’m committed to my current city or even field (I’ve only been there a year so far), wondering if I’ll ever marry and have kids, or if political factors or aging parents will move me away sooner than later. So I’ve come to a crisis point in language. I don’t really have a lot of energy for it while working full-time, and I’ve never put much into language learning while living abroad in the past. But I realize the heart language is important. I took an intensive language course this summer, and while it was good, it also highlighted how long the road is and how close I still am to the beginning. I could just focus on the local ladies who already speak my language for my ministry, or I could spend my time with people who don’t speak English to work on my fluency in their language, but without a miracle it’s impossible for this introvert to both during the same school year. Am I willing to look at this place as somewhere I’m going to be into my next decade of life? It’s kind of terrifying.

  8. k August 20, 2018

    I didn’t really get this topic last week, but now that I’m reading the rug story and the blog that’s linked up, I’m feeling like I want to record my own experience of this, hopefully blog soon!

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