Day: July 23, 2014

Home staging is a big buzzword in real estate these days. You’ll hear about it on HGTV, and see it on the DIY network. Bloggers love to talk about staging, and it’s all over apps like Houzz and Pinterest.

If you haven’t dipped your toe in the staging waters, I’ll explain:

“Home Staging” is the act of turning a lived-in (or vacant) home into a neutral, appealing space for the purpose of attracting potential buyers. Home staging removes the personal touches of the current (or previous) occupants and creates a ‘blank slate’ where buyers can envision their own furniture, family, and life.

Home staging, my dears, is a pain in the butt. We’ve done some staging here – hid away the 5’x7′ rug to make the entry appear larger; slipcovered the ratty loveseat in our front room, tidied up the bookshelves (but a true home stager would make me pack 75% of those books and have ‘styled’ shelves); removed all the homeschool items, hung new curtains, and turned the schoolroom back into a dining room (but a real pro would probably make me create a faux ‘leaf’ to extend our dinky table and buy slipcovers for our ugly mismatched chairs). We reduced the items on the kitchen countertops (but if I were hardcore, it would be nothing but the KitchenAid and the Keurig!) and took most of the toys out of the family room (that room might pass ‘real’ muster, actually). Purged things from the kids’ rooms (again, probably a pass), but we didn’t change the office-slash-guest room (and a properly staged home has no dual purpose rooms. You’re supposed to pick one and make it shine!). Bought new handtowels for the powder room and hung the nicest towels in the other two bathrooms.

Living in a house which has been staged feels stilted. This is still my home, but it’s “off.” It’s like sitting in a nicely decorated hotel room. I feel awkward if I leave a dent in the sofa cushion. On the surface, it looks great – and it’s supposed to, that’s the point, for real estate purposes.

But today I was thinking about how many Christians are walking around fully staged. We are prepped and polished. We have packed away our unsightly clutter and mess – but it’s not really gone. We have hung up new curtains of humility, modesty, patience, grace – but there remains pride, greed, selfishness, anger.

We want to gleam and glow, and when others in the church ask how we’re doing, we give them our “listing” answer. (Four beautiful bedrooms! Gas fireplace! Eat-in-kitchen!) “I’m so blessed… Things are really busy, but we’re doing great….” I’m not saying that we’re being dishonest when we present these generic answers, exactly. After all, the houses on your local real estate market really DO have the features with the funny abbreviations: 4bd, FP, lg bkyd…. Right?

What I am saying, though, is that one of the functions of the body of Christ is to build each other up.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

It’s impossible* for me to help a sister shore up the foundation of her marriage if she never shares her fears or hurts. I can’t speak encouragement and hope into the heart of a friend who doesn’t confide her doubt and desperation. My Sunday School class recently finished a study of Romans 12, and the author used this passage to exhort his readers to build an authentic community with each other.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

“You can’t be a genuine part of this Body,” he said in one of the videos, “when you’re so busy keeping your mask on straight.”** And that’s the truth, y’all. I accept the challenge – and I hope you will, too – to take off a mask of holy-roller perfection, to stop “home staging” my life and my spiritual walk, to start sharing even my doubts and ugly moments. When I do, my brothers and sisters can step INTO their God-given calling to build me up! When I do, the saints around me may be emboldened to de-mask and de-mystify and share their own hurdles and difficulties, which gives me (and others) the chance to step up and serve my Lord by building them up.

 

 

___________

*I should add a note: we’ve probably all had times when an unknowing person did or said something profoundly needed which interceded in our lives at just the right moment. Those are great examples of times when the Holy Spirit prompts us to aid, even though we don’t know the specific need. But those examples don’t let us off the hook for being transparent and authentic with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
**I didn’t take perfect notes: that’s a paraphrase. 🙂

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{This is one of those “I have to tell you THAT so I can tell you THIS” rambling stories. Hang in there.}

At the end of May, our renters moved out of our Elsmere house. There was some drama that weekend, but the short version of the tale is that they did eventually move out, we found lots of great workers to paint, install new flooring, handle little handyman tasks, and clean the place, and then we listed it for sale at the end of June.

The same morning we drove up to Elsmere to get our keys back, Chris was reading the newspaper in our Owensboro kitchen.  Ever since we moved here, I’ve had a Saturday morning tradition of reading the Real Estate feature insert with a cup of coffee and browsing the ‘larger’ listings. Our plan has always been to stay in this house until about 2015, and then move up to a bigger place; I wasn’t looking with deep intent, but I love looking at homes! I had glanced through the paper that day, but since I had our Elsmere trip on my mind, hadn’t opened up the MLS website or put my usual amount of interest to work. Chris, however, grabbed the laptop and did a search on the MLS site.

Up popped a 6 bedroom, 5 bath, 1927  Craftsman/farmhouse style home on a coveted street in town. Sitting on two generous lots, with a saltwater swimming pool and three-car detached garage, this house listing blew him away. He spent the entire drive to Elsmere talking about the yellow house. He called our realtor to get the “inside scoop” and ran mortgage calculators on his phone.

escalated

The next day, Chris was on call – and there was an Open House. In between consults at the hospital, he drove over to the house and walked through with the listing agent. He came home REALLY excited, and spent the next several days making appointments with bankers and finding out what kind of loan we could get. He asked me to make an appointment with our realtor, so I could see the home too.

Long story made longer: it’s a gorgeous home and I loved it. I’ve always loved old homes, I’ve always had a weakness for yellow houses, and the basement alone on this house is the size of the home we currently live in. WHat!?! But I was hesitant.  The pool, while a lovely feature for adult people, is a drowning hazard particularly for children under age 8, statistically speaking. (And we have three children 8 and under, remember? One of whom is particularly noted for a lack of inhibition and a certain flair for disregarding boundaries. Ahem.) The utility bills for the home, quite frankly, scared the bejeebers out of me. They were about as costly as the mortgage on our Elsmere house. Yowza! And there’s the consideration for ongoing maintenance issues if one buys a home built in 1927.

 nevermind

A few weeks went by, wherein we continued to debate the merits of the yellow house, but we began to reach a consensus that even though it was beautiful, it was not The House For Us. Another Saturday morning rolled around, and with nothing to do, we decided to drive around a bit. Lo and behold, it was the Parade of Homes weekend!

parade

 

The local home builders’ association puts these on twice a year, showcasing their latest and greatest feats of construction. We decided on a whim to walk through a lovely, large home in a neighborhood where a couple of Chris’ colleagues live. Halfway through the first floor, we learned that the home belonged to the hospital CEO. It was show-stoppingly beautiful. Martin Custom Building had done an incredible job. The next day, Chris went by himself to see another stop on the Parade – another Martin-built home. This one belonged to his friend Rico, and Chris was able to chat with Rico about the building process.

He came home ECSTATIC. He had a map of lots for sale in a new development – one he particularly liked was circled. The next week, he made appointments to meet with bankers about the loan process for new construction. He had conversations with designers who work for Martin, conversations with people around town who had built with Martin over the last few years. He was super-thrilled…. until a meeting at the bank took the wind out of his sails. (It ended up being a miscommunication, but he came away from the meeting with the impression that we really couldn’t afford to build a home. The reality is closer to: we could afford a land loan now, but we couldn’t start home construction until the land was ours outright.)

We had a long, serious conversation.

I suggested that perhaps we should go see the available 5-bedroom listings in town. If we liked any of them, we could move forward with listing this house and getting a home loan (which the bankers were practically throwing at Chris!) and moving “up” in house now.

And if none of them fit our dream, then we could decide to commit to building, even though it would probably be a three-year project. (We estimate that we’d need about 24 months to pay off our land, and then allow 8-10 months from the start of construction until move-in.)

So, we called our agent.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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