Moving has been a steady part of my life along with another little family tradition called “seeing potential.” As an Evans, I think I moved 13 times. Now, after 10 years of marriage, we are settling into our 4th residence. Even our church is about to make a move “Spencer style,” which basically means a great deal, with a great future, but not without some blood, sweat, and tears in the meantime. There really is a redemptive thrill in taking a neglected, broken, often smelly, house and restoring it to a habitable, hospitable, home (more on that in the next post).
Starting with the broad view, here are some universal moving tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Organization is of first importance. Organize before you move, stay organized while you move, and get organized like you are on enemy territory after you’ve moved. Our last move was by far the smoothest and this was not circumstantial. It included a 6th born 3-week-old into a house with no kitchen among other troubles. How we did it: As soon as we knew we were going to move we started packing boxes. Each box would be labeled with a 3×5 card listing its contents, then labeled with a sharpie listing its end location (e.g. kitchen, master bedroom, toys, etc.) Keeping the boxes categorized is a higher priority than filling them. Then as we moved in, all our wonderful helpers could take the box to its proper location. In our case much of the house was still unfinished, so I made areas in the basement for each category of boxes. This way I could (and still can) unpack at my leisure and access any items I may need in the meantime.
2. Speaking of wonderful helpers… It is not humble to turn down offers of help. Take people at their word; don’t cause them to have to convince you that their yes means yes. Chris’ love language is to help people move and another friend of mine derives great pleasure from making people all manner of meals and treats. Don’t rob them of their opportunity for joy.
3. Set up house quickly but don’t rush. Once you are in your new house, make beds, hygiene, and one clutter free comfy spot to relax, as soon as possible. Decide on a few things that help you feel at home. And then slow down. Live in your new space for a while before deciding on permanent homes for storage, furniture, and pictures. You will save so much time and money by being patient. Pay close attention to patterns of clutter and solve the matter from there. Which way do you walk into a room? Arrange your furniture accordingly. Do you always seem to need a diaper and wipes in the living room, but have to run upstairs each time? Find a drawer or a basket to keep them in nearby. If you work at it, you’ll start to notice lighting and mood and where your family naturally gravitates, and this will help you enhance your decorating and hospitality. Make your house suit your needs, not the other way around.
4. Have friends over right away. A wise older friend’s words are burned in my mind, “Christian hospitality is not the same as worldly entertaining.” This tip is for the good of your soul. As you set up house, it can become consuming. It is easy to lose sight of your goal, which is not to create a museum but a hospital. To borrow from Bunyan, set up “a place for the refreshing of weary travelers.” Hospitality is a state of the heart that is focused on refreshing and helping others. For better or worse, the state of your house can effect no change on this matter. (By way of clarity, do not mistake my meaning here. A disheveled home is not automatically more hospitable.) I could go down a bunny trail on hospitality, which maybe I’ll do sometime; but to the current point, I only want to encourage you that a hospitable heart need not shrivel in the dry and weary land of moving.
Happy moving to you. Lord willing, we will be staying put a good while. Chris knows that to even suggest moving again, he must include the words, “Two Men and a Truck.”