I have turned in the keys to our first home. Saying goodbye is always a sentimental process for me - although the actual moment of walking away is usually easier than all of the build up to the goodbye that I create in my mind.
As Robert and I have been preparing to move into our now home over the last several months, I have had many many thoughts about our little 776 sq. ft. apartment that has been the only home we have shared. It was in this home that we began establishing a life, a marriage, and our own family patterns together. It was in this home that we began to learn trivial and intimate details about each other's pursuits, values, and person. And it was in this home that we formed community upon community.
Only five days after returning to the States from our honeymoon, we moved into No. 2009 with our three desks, two bookshelves, bed, dresser, big screen tv, and a treasure trove of beautiful new kitchen things. After driving our moving truck halfway across the country, we showed up at the apartment around 11:00 PM and realized we had no toilet paper, food, or cleaning supplies. We ventured out of the new home we'd occupied for less than 20 minutes in search of queso and the closest Walmart.
We quickly decided that the first piece of furniture we would purchase would be a couch. It took us THREE months to pick one out. We actually ended up buying a coffee table before a couch! (Not the wisest move, but it worked just fine.) Until then, we set up a makeshift couch with a big box containing a piece of broken audio equipment to keep the box from sliding and placed some extra bed pillows without cases in front of the box. We ate dinner at Robert's desk.
Shortly after we moved to Austin, one of our pastors encouraged our church to be hospitable. He said, "You can share the gift of hospitality even if you live in a cardboard box! All you need is a pack of Oreos and some paper cups with water."
We all laughed, but God began to move in my heart with that silly comment. I had more than a cardboard box, and my chocolate chip cookie recipe totally topped Oreos.
So began the four years of welcoming people into all 776 sq ft of No. 2009. And I began to plan out our spaces so that they would feel homey to Robert and I but also be transitional for hosting.
Over the years, four community groups spent time in our apartment. I had nights where I worried about everyone being comfortable because we'd topped 25 people in the small space. In that home, we hosted both the regulars and the one time guests, the Easter suppers, Christmas parties, and waffle nights with friends. In that home we prayed, encouraged, cried, celebrated, mourned, healed, loved, and grew.
There's a smallness and a sweetness to being newlyweds in 776 sq ft. Perhaps that's what I dreaded saying goodbye to the most. I realized that soon I would no longer be able to have a conversation with Robert from our bed while he sat on the couch. I savored the last loading of the dishwasher, the last morning drinking a cup of tea while staring out our wooded, private, patio, and the last moments Robert and I shared together sitting on the empty floor of our living room staring out the sliding glass door.
But when I went back for the final walkthrough to turn in the keys, it was no longer home. I had said goodbye and am prepared for new things! I am so grateful for the things that God taught me in No. 2009 - the most important of which: to be faithful and obedient with what He has given.
"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Psalm 24:3-4
Photos by amazing and talented Angela Lally.