When You Need to be Reminded that it’s Worth the Trouble

close beforeMy parents bought a fixer-upper!

mom & dad during

They just kept the shell of the little 800 square foot house they bought. The put on a new roof, new siding, new windows and doors, new plumbing, new electrical, new-almost-every-thing but a beautiful, chippy, built-in cabinet….

They knocked down most of the inside walls and turned this place from a 2 bedroom (tiny rooms) 1 bath, to a one bedroom two bath. They closed in the carport which gave them extra square footage and space for a family room, laundry room and an extra bathroom. And when I say “they” I mean the crew they hired–although my dad, Chad & the boys did put together all the kitchen cabinets over the weekend.



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Dad wanted arches in the house–just like in his grandparent’s house.

picking a color

Mom and Dad sold their house in January and since then have been rotating between living in my little 400 square foot office (with a new puppy!) or staying at Emily & John’s house.

Now that the walls are up and it’s getting finished, I’ll share more photos with you over the next few weeks. I’m so excited for them, it’s the CUTEST little house y’all!

old carport

And as a 40-something mom, looking at our fixer-upper with a literal 12 acre long to-do list–it’s been so encouraging to watch them take on this project. Because as I fret over the       s   l   o   w       pace that it seems we are going at our house, I’m reminded that we have a long, long time to enjoy this place with our family. I mean, look at my parents–they started fresh with a fixer just last year and we all are looking forward to enjoying it with them.

I used to always feel like it was my mission to “finish” our house for my boys. Like I was under some kind of deadline to get everything in the perfect place, to get us settled down and organized. THEN I’d let out a huge sigh of relief and we’d get on with our lives in our finished house that I didn’t have to think about anymore.


I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Life is like a fixer upper. There are things to do. And dreams to be had. And sometimes progress is SO SLOW and then before you know it people are waiting on you to make decisions and next week that part that you’ve fretted over for so long is over and done and you felt like it was going to take forever but somehow it also went by really fast.

Today, let’s enjoy where we are.

Because Home was never meant to be built in a day.




    I have this feeling that I NEED TO DO ALL THE THINGS. Before the little fingerprints turn to high school chemistry books and then college move out boxes. Because only then will I lay on the couch and read a book in my perfectly appointed house. Which is obscene really, when you think about it.

    I also think about this in terms of career/life. How many people I know who will say “Yeah, I used to be a cop…” or “Years ago, I owned a little storefront…” And today they do something 100% different. Life feels so finite and like you can To Do List it away. But it’s not. And that’s encouraging. If only I’ll really let myself believe it. (Types the girl sitting in a hospital room with an HGTV magazine and DYING to get home to implement some of the inspiration…)

    • Jeanett, I feel like we should clank our personal copies of HGTV magazines champagne style: “cheers” here’s to the fellow imperfectionists who are choosing to BE. Right where they are.

  2. Yes! It is never, ever done and resting in that is so hard. We bought a wonderful fixer upper last May and we are already getting ready to put in on the market. My husband is a pastor and he’s being transferred. Again. This is our 8th move in 8 years of marriage and I am so over it but as a Mom of three you have to bootstrap- you just do. And you have to redefine what it means to be home, because it’s in process and it changes and it’s the process no matter where you are.

  3. Oh you don’t understand how much I needed this today! My husband and I have just sold our beautiful 2500sqft home (my baby!) and now trying to find a house half of the size and cost, and it’s been challenging because I have a major separation anxiety with my home. Congratulations to Brenda and Gary! Their new house is beautiful and can’t wait to see how they make it their home! Very inspiring – thank you!

    • Yuko! I know that is SO hard. but also, I hope it’s secretly exciting. It’s so emotional to leave a home you love. I hope your next house is a place of rest and healing!

  4. soooo fun!!!!! what a great little house & what a super fun project to work on with them … special times!

  5. What a good word: what we are doing right now, the traveling toward the dream, that is the living.

  6. I am not sure a house is ever done, I am redoing everything right now, so on to the next chapter. I don’t have a deadline, just do what I can. Congrats to the parents on this really cute house.

  7. OH how I need to apply your wise words. I always feel in a state of “undone” around here. There has been a gallon of paint sitting on my kitchen counter for about 6 months. I keep cleaning around it, because I’m gonna get to it one day. There’s so much I’ve done in our home, and so much I want to do to finish up…so that we can relax and enjoy it. Your last words about home not being built in a day…so true. I hope and pray that I have been building HOME into my family every day.

  8. So happy for your parents! I agree with your dad, arched doorways are the best! We had them in the house I grew up in and I’ve loved them since then.

  9. Mary Lee Carrigan says

    Goodness! This surely resonates here with me! We moved into our new/old home 3 years ago Christmas and slooooowwww doesnt even begin to describe our progress. Have so many dreams and hopes of how I want our home to be (it is so cozy an quaint and “us” in my mind), but then we have trees fall on our house (we live in a beautiful wooded area), need a new ac/heating unit, new washer, etc. and we have quickly run through what was supposed to be money used for those dreams. I can get pretty down in the dumps about it because I too feel that pressure of wanting it perfect for my kiddos. Reality is though …. they will remember the “feeling” of home more than the content I believe. … a stressed out momma who can never be content and at peace with what we have or a momma with a grateful heart who “lives” , enjoys, and is present. Oh what a struggle this can be
    Reminds me of the African missionary/student/seashell story ….. “long walk, part of gift”. Thank you for speaking our hearts. You are a blessing.

  10. We will never be content in our houses because we never “arrive” since really we yearn for our perfect, forever home. So, yes, life is a fixer upper and we get frustrated wanting to finish and enjoy living in it. Our daughter is a 40 something who has just transitioned to new state,home and lifestyle following hubby’s military retirement and now full-time ministry as a pastor. Her dad and I just put our big, beautiful (almost) finished home of 15 yrs up for sale to move into another small fixer upper in a city nearer to her. Sigh. Can’t believe we are going to do it again but excited at the same time! At least we aren’t in a small office with a puppy…yet! ;-)

  11. Beautiful home and space! I completely agree. I have realized in the last couple of years that I never want to be “done” with my home. It is constantly changing as I change and I love the chance for it to be reflected in my space!

  12. Ironically…I am reading this today…and we move into our first rental this Thursday. We have sold our 2nd home…an investment property. We are moving into a rental to sit and wait for our next investment…whatever that may look like. We are due with baby #3 in 5 short weeks. I was just telling a friend that it isn’t how I thought it would play out. All this wasn’t really in my plans but God has perfectly orchestrated it all and I couldn’t have done it better myself. I am about to be searching your “content to rent” archives as we transition. I am ready to have this third little blessing and enjoy where I am…even if it isn’t “ours”. We are so blessed.

  13. That is exactly how I feel as we prepare to graduate my oldest child this year. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. YES! Great advice as usual! I have finally come to realize it will never truly be done. I will always be changing something, big or small. That’s just me an if I didn’t have a project I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Good for your parents! Can’t wait to see the finished product. :)

  15. We moved into our house last October and I’m constantly looking around and feeling the need to this that these and the other. And I want to do it now!!! But when I look back at our last house, things weren’t truly “finished” until we decided to sell it. And then we barely enjoyed it because we were busy keeping it clean for showings or leaving the house so it’d STAY clean. :)

    I loved your last paragraph. Better to enjoy this life in progress than to succumb to the tiring demands of unrealistic perfectionism!

  16. I needed this today. I have a list of things i want to accomplish in the next 7 weeks before our 2nd child arrives. It doesn’t all have to be done, just a wish list. Thanks for the reminder.

  17. Bravo !

    I admire their bravery to tackle a new project.

  18. I can’t wait to read / see more of their renovations to the house. It already looks so cute on the outside. We are retired and live in a 900 sq ft house, so I’m going to get ideas for hubby’s list, for sure. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    As always, I love, love, love your attitude, dear Nester. You’re such an encourager.


  19. Oh, I’m so excited for them! It has come such a long way from that hopeologie video!

  20. I really needed this today as I wallpaper the backsplash in my kitchen, covering the chalkboard paint!

  21. This is so hard for me because there will be periods of time – L O N G periods of time – where literally nothing happens. Nothing changes. Not a single thing moves forward because we are so caught up in the day-to-day frenzy of life and kids that there is no time or energy or money to devote to projects. Then suddenly I blink and three years has gone by and the house still looks exactly as it was. I don’t need it to happen all at once, but I need *something* to happen.

  22. Great reminder to revel in the now. I was frustrated this morning b/c my oldest has the stomach bug, and the youngest would. not. get. off. my. leg. I had so many things I wanted to get done today around the house. This was a nice wake-up call to let the to-do list go for today and focus on the people who live here. :) Love your parents’ new place!!

  23. Enjoy where we are today – great words to live by. (Can’t wait to see more updates on your parents cutie-pie house. We live in an approx 1000 sq foot home and so I love seeing what people do with smaller spaces)

  24. Will you post their progress as well? I love seeing the process :)

  25. This was about the most perfect timing. I was writing these almost exact words in my head and now you’ve done it for me. After six years of waiting and then renting we have put an offer on an older (1956) home with lots of unique and but lots of need. My heart wants to take it slow but my mind is racing. Thanks for the reminder!

  26. I NEEDED this post today. We are in the midst of a full house reno – which I love and is what I wanted – but we are now faced with the reality than my parents will be moving in with us. Now I am stressing to try to get as much done as I can before their arrival, which isn’t practical and frankly, isn’t gonna happen! It’s one day at a time and you’ve got to love the journey (and construction dust) as much as the destination.

  27. Amen! I just love this! Thank you for always speaking truth into this world of instant gratification and what seems like simple before & afters on TV and magazines. That’s not real life and I want to be grateful and live in the moment even if the moment is messy and unfinished.

  28. Wonderful , as I am readying my house to sell. It is overwhelming…one task and one day at a time. I hope you share more of your parent’s cute house.

  29. I loved this post. Looks like an awesome project for your parents! My dad built our house when
    I was growing up. He wanted to build it without debt so he did most of the work himself. So we lived in a construction site for most of my growing up years, finishing one thing as time and money allowed. When I bought my first house in 2002, a house with TRIM in every room was near the top of my list. My first house was very “done” and I realized in the almost 11 years I lived there, I re-painted, re-decorated, and updated the kitchen. It was a lot of doing for a “done” house. My next house I bought 18 months ago and had very different things on my list and bought a cute, 100 year old fixer upper with a gorgeous 2 acre yard and a pole barn. I love this little shack but it is hard to not be frustrated at the slow progress I’m making as I update it one room at a time. Thanks for the perspective. I do have years to work on this place and get it where I want it. The journey is half the fun- and I’m not one for sitting still anyway so I would just be bored if it were all finished already, right?? :)

  30. I love this post!! What a great reminder. I used to think that at some magic age, I would “arrive” – I would know everything I needed to know, and feel like I really know what I’m doing in all areas of life. I’ve realized that age will never come! I”ll always be learning and growing. I just realized that my home is the same. I’ll never be “done.” It’ll always be growing and changing as our family grows and changes. Thanks for this great reminder, Nester!

  31. Thank you for this! I bought my first house a year ago at 23 years old and have had to put so much more into it that I thought I would, including a new roof soon. Your perspective is refreshing and one that I will try to adopt more often.

  32. Such great advice!! I’ve always thought to get it done for my kids too then we could enjoy it, but you are so right- life doesn’t work like that. And it’s been such fun getting to redo things as a family. Love your posts and especially this reminder!!

  33. This really spoke to me. I’ve been thinking I needed to hurry up and finish my house, because my daughter is in High School and will leave us in a few years and will never know what it’s like to live in a finished house with us. We’re out of money and while I’m working behind the scenes to make more as quickly as possible, it could reasonably take 10 years for us to finish what we expected to do in 2. But you’re right, it’s a process that’s meant to be lived in and experienced. I’ve been stealing my own joy with my impatience and fretting about the time line. Yep, I’d love it to be finished, but I CAN be content with a longer process.

  34. Life is like a fix-r-upper… A work in progress… I like it! I am so encouraged by this post. I am to the point where I want everything DONE already… Life is never “done” until it’s over.

  35. My kids do occasionally ask when I’ll be “done” fixing up the house, but in truth, it’s part of who I am and they know that. I’ve even heard their friends ask about areas of, or things in our home, and heard my kids respond “nope, we didn’t buy it, mom made it”. And ya know what, there was pride in their voice when they said it. They may not always like living in the chaos we self proclaimed decorators create, but I know every once in a while, they stop to appreciate the love filled homes we’ve made (even though they may never be “finished”).

  36. Thank you! Since the flood it’s been a constant feeling of urgency to finish the house. I needed to read that today. We don’t want unfinished projects to hang over our heads forever but it’s good to be reminded that it really is ok to live life and have some fun despite the to do list. Thank you

  37. I think it is awesomely grand that your folks did this. I am sixty-something and I would downsize from our 14+ acre homestead in a heartbeat, as long as a body of water was involved!!! Such an adventure and it looks as though a successful one. Can’t wait to see all the “after” pics! xo

  38. One of my favorite sayings “we get to where we’re supposed to be, when we’re supposed to be there” – I have to remind myself all the time ; )

  39. Great post! Also fixing, with three smalls kids and one on the way. No choice but slow. Have to remember to enjoy it! Thanks!

  40. Peggy Zortman says

    Wonderful post! And thank you to your parents for letting us peek! It’s going to beautiful! I can relate on the slow process, but some days progress can’t be measured in what you see.

  41. I used to feel this way about my kids. Gotta get it done before the kids grow up. Now I’m saying, Gotta get it done before the kids have kids. I need a space to play with grandkids. LOL. My husband thinks I’m crazy. He says I’m always “messing” with something. :-)

  42. You know this coincides with the release of Michelle Cushatts book today called “Undone” (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!). Life will always take us in a different direction than we thought we wanted to go, but thankfully love is big enough to stay with us through it all. Beautiful article.

  43. Haha… great last line!! :) This is an encouragement today, as we are weeks into a home renovation and still have three more weeks to go before we can move in. What a great reminder to enjoy HOME as where we are now instead of pining for the next step…

  44. We moved into our fixer-upper ten years ago this year, and we are still improving. Life just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have a project to look forward to!

  45. What a transformation! I couldn’t agree more. Even if the process seems slow, it’s all worth it in the end.

  46. A nice way to be grateful and know its worth it is remembering what it feels like to have nothing. I live in 300 square foot garage with next to nothing. No hope of ever having a home. People that have these great opportunities in life must be appreciative and grateful. It looks like they are and enjoying the process to. Some of us would give anything to have such a great opportunity for living space. What fun they are having. You can tell from the pictures.

  47. Oh, how you made my heart sing today!! It’s so encouraging to hear so many people feel this way, it’s amazing how much pressure we women put on ourselves. To have permission to take our time without judgment, to be a work in progress and to be okay with it… Such a blessing. i just wanted to say a great big THANK YOU!!! Our 1970’s fixer is being reinvented as we speak, my husband and I are almost empty nesters of 3 (last one in college) and I have to tell you that my kiddos turned out great in this work in progress, the older two have great jobs and homes of their own. Not once did they complain or decide to not invite their friends over, in fact, all my babies come home quite frequently to relax with us with friends in tow. I needed to remind myself of that fact today and to encourage younger Mom’s in the midst of life. Again, great big Thanks for helping me to put my priorities in check today. And, your parents are completely adorable, as are YOU!

  48. Can’t wait to see more of this little house your parents are working on. Our first home was 900 square feet and it was fantastic. The only thing that made us leave it was knowing we’d have more than one child. This looks beautiful! I love the construction!!! Grew up going to job sites with my dad who was a builder/contractor. Nothing better to me than walking through a house that is simply framed up. Blessings to your folks.

  49. I can’t believe the transformation!

  50. Glad your dad is getting his arches! It’s little things like that which make a home special. Your encouragement to enjoy where we are today can be applied to so many areas in our lives! As a mom to a nine month old, I am learning to just enjoy every stage he is in rather than always looking ahead to what is next.

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