I have never been a nester.

I’ve never been the kind who spends days and weeks in a new home ensuring I find a specific place to store everything I own. It’s more than just a dislike, it’s a subtle refusal to get dirty in the mess of unpacking. I unpacked this issue in the spring (see what I did there?), but returning to Dallas has brought it back to the surface.

While I was away for camp this summer, the ministry house I live in underwent some pretty incredible remodeling. Here’s the deal: I live in a house. The house has two floors, each with a separate entrance. The downstairs is the space we use for ministry with students, but it also housed two guys while I lived upstairs with another gal. This summer, they gutted the downstairs to open it up for more students, more space, more fun. They also separated my two bedroom upstairs apartment into two one-bedroom spaces, making the house a tri-plex. If that’s a thing.

So although I live in the same house, my space changed entirely. My room moved across the hall. My old room is (or rather, will be) a cozy den. The back room that stored all the boxes I refused to unpack is now an incredibly functional office, with aliases that include dining room and craft central.

I live alone in my half of the apartment, which means I have no roommate for the first time in my life. Which, more so, means I can’t rely on anyone else to nest on my behalf. I can’t wait for someone else to hang pictures and make this house a home. If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. The shifting brought me back to a truth I could no longer avoid:

It’s time to unpack & it’s time to nest.

It’s time to remove the weird safety net I kept by keeping boxes full. As if I might load up my car in a day and leave, if things got too hard.

But nesting is weird. It means I accept that I actually, really, truly live in Texas. It means I buy storage bins to hold scarves, and hooks to hang up necklaces. It means I sort through boxes of old notebooks and put every darn book on the shelf. It means I decide that I don’t want to live in a house this year. I want to live in a home.

And in this little home of mine, some of the pictures are crooked. Some of the frames have nicks, and there are about fifteen extra holes in the wall from where I mismeasured over & over & over.

Nesting is hard. It forces you to unpack when you could run from the things you carry. To stay inside when you could ignore the work no one will see and affirm. And to intentionally think through why you own certain books & sweaters & coffee mugs. It’s calls you to discipline. To consistency. To discover what you value & why you value it.

You see, these things won’t last. One hurricane (is that a thing in Dallas?) or tornado (this surely is) or unexpected fire could swallow up my things in matter of moments and I would have nothing of it left. I’ve run from nesting because I didn’t think my things here mattered, but I’m finding that these temporary, fading things help me make a house a home. And a home that invites vulnerability and freedom and light and love and laughter is a home worth tending. A haven worth creating and pouring all the heart and soul I have into it.

The pictures on these walls remind me of the people I love so much it hurts. It reminds me of the places and faces who have shaped me, challenged me, and called me to fight for holiness. Nesting is hard & it’s slow. But it sure is sweet to walk into a home that has my fingerprints all over it. It’s sweet to think of what this home will become – the hearts that will sit on these couches with a desperate need to be reminded of their value and purpose. The sweet high school girls who put so much cream & sugar in their coffee that it might as well be warmed up sugar. But they love it, and I love them.

‘Cause the sweetest part about nesting is the wild & crazy privilege of creating this haven for any and all who someday enter. To create a place where hope is fought for, even in the midst of devastation. Where time is slow and eyes aren’t glued to phones. A place where there is always a pot of coffee brewing and break-n-bakes in the oven. A place where new friends and old feel safe to set down the burdens they’ve been carrying and embrace the God of hope, freedom, and joy.

Slowly, but surely, this place is becoming mine. And I’m finding I love it in ways I never dreamt I would. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

I want this home to be a place where the coffee is strong, the laughs are loud, and Christ is always, always, always lifted high.

Sound off: In what ways do you need to nest – physically & spiritually?