Yes! We have a home.
Finally, after ten months of temporary ‘home’ making in other peoples’ houses, we have moved into a house in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and we don’t intend to move anytime soon. It’s a wonderful feeling to be settling and relaxing into our own space, knowing that we can put away the suitcases and imagine ourselves here next week, next month and even next year.
From this ‘own home’ vantage point, we’re suddenly able to look back on the last year and acknowledge that it has been hard, exhausting and only possible through the grace of God.
And that grace has been evident again and again in the generosity of those who have opened up their homes to us. Whether it’s been for a few days, a few weeks and even a few months, we’re so grateful to those who have let us stay – all four of us, with all our noise and our expanding baggage.
Since we left America, we have stayed in over twenty places, but we have lived in ten different homes. Often our hosts have been there, sometimes they haven’t…but along the way we’ve learnt, stumbling and fumbling, how to stay with people, and share their space. Our hosts have been amazing, and we would love to emulate some of their welcome, generosity and kindness as we open up our own home.
How to host well (from our best experiences):
- Be quick to offer.
- See it as an opportunity for friendship, generosity and maybe even sacrificial living.
- Be up front about food, money, laundry etc.
- Consider what makes the room/space feel less like camping, and more like home.
- Recognise it will be costly for you, but know that it’s gratefully received.
- Embrace the chaos and the noise, knowing it won’t be forever and your guests are desperately trying to contain it.
If you’re ever in the position of staying with people in such a way, here are some of the challenges and joys to consider:
- You will be annoying to your hosts, even if they say you aren’t…you are! But accept their sacrificial love in allowing you to be there anyway!
- Consider noise levels in the morning, especially with boys who are eager for ‘breakfast time Mummy’ (or ‘Brexit time’ as Rufus calls it!).
- If you’re staying for a while, don’t bring your eight bags in all at once to save your hosts thinking you’re staying forever…
- Work out how to give them breathing space from you amidst it all.
- Avoid tripping over open dishwashers and falling flat onto it, because replacing one expensive (!).
- Be aware that weetabix, and in fact other cereals, become concrete if not cleared away quickly.
- Prepare carefully for the shower dash – timing and attire are crucial to avoid embarrassment over the breakfast table.
- Curate your bedroom space carefully so that well positioned suitcases make you forget all your children are in the same room as you.
- Adopt the refrain ‘it’s not ours’ with small children to reduce (though sadly not stop) games with breakables and stainables.
- Ensure keys work to avoid shoulder barging the front door (while holding a toddler) and making your hosts think they are being attacked.
- Accept that your children will forever afterwards be expecting more than just you at any meal table, and in fact will find your company a little underwhelming.
- Love that relationships are often forged in crisis, and as people step in to host you, precious friendships are being made and enjoyed.
It’s been a rollercoaster of accommodational challenges and joys, but amidst it all we are so very thankful for the open-housed love and generosity of so many. It’s not just those who had us to stay, but the many who had us over for meals, looked after our children, and sought to give us space in any way possible.
P.S. The pictures below testify to the fact that we bring chaos and noise whether invading peoples’ house in the UK or over here in the States!