Monday, 27 June 2011

make room

I have discovered the secret to clearing some clutter from my house: invite someone to come and live with us for a year. Preferably someone who will notice and appreciate a more clutter-free house - someone beyond the infant/toddler/childhood stages.

Over the past two weeks, we've had some interesting developments in our family. We've agreed to host a high school student from Afghanistan for the next year, and she arrived yesterday. We're all very excited. My daughters are especially looking forward to having a big sister.

When I look back to my wish at the beginning of June to put the house on a diet and live in a more clutter-free home, it makes me think: be careful what you wish for. I had no idea that this hosting opportunity was going to come about this month, but it was just the motivation I needed. It blends my wish for a saner house with my wish to extend hospitality in meaningful ways.

We cleared out our spare bedroom (it's amazing how much can fit into one closet!) and had to make some decisions about what to keep and what to toss. The room is ready now and I keep going into it just to look around and sigh a deep, happy sigh. It looks so lovely and peaceful and serene. And I realized: this is what I want. I want this serene feeling ALL OVER my house!

look! empty shelves!
It's not quite there yet. But it's coming, and it's much improved after many loads to the thrift store and recycling/garbage.

In a friend's comments to this post, she talked about being a "Doozer" - those characters from the show Fraggle Rock who were "futilely industrious." I immediately identified, and thought about these Doozers a lot over the past few days of madly cleaning. I said to myself, "Don't be a Doozer," meaning don't just take something from one room and store it in another, shuffling clutter around. Make a system. Throw it out. Give it away. Free yourself. Be liberated from your doozerness. Make room.

This past Christmas, I wrote a play for the kids at our church to perform called "Make Room." My brother-in-law wrote the theme song, and the chorus went like this:

Make room, make room, make room
There's something here that God wants to do
You can be a part of it too
So open up the door and make room

[this song will be on his soon-to-be-released new album]

So along with my Doozer mantra, I sang this chorus as we tidied up and made room. We're making room for surprises, for new opportunities, for new life.


  1. As we considered also taking in a student I was reminded of Winston Churchill's great quote "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

    When my wife and I first started talking I was definitely a pessimist and had a million reasons NOT to do it. However after a while I realized there was one great reason to do it: We had room and they needed some.

    Now, after less than a day with them in our home I can see all of the opportunities that lie ahead as a result of this decision and that all of the reasons "not to do it" aren't even really true.

    Being "tired and busy" is not a reason to try something new!

    Dive in!

  2. That should read "Being "tired and busy" is not a reason to AVOID trying something new!"

    I guess I'm still pretty tired.

  3. Bob and Magda are coming to Ontario during the summer. They lived in Afghanistan for a number of years. Maybe it would be a connection and an excuse for you to say hello to them!!

  4. What a great opportunity for growth and connection and possibility. I love it! Is the exchange through a program or church or family friend? Did you have much time to consider it or did you just jump right in?

  5. Cam - yes, dive in! And I love that Churchill quote. Perfect.

    Lisa - I didn't know that. Maybe we'll be able to connect this summer.

    CeCe - we made the decision in the past 2 weeks. I'm writing web content for an adoption agency right now and the words that are used over and over are "open your heart and home to someone in need" and I guess it sank in! My brother is really involved in refugee issues and his family hosted a student last year, and he was aware of the need this year and sent out an urgent appeal for homes. The students are refugee claimants - very smart kids with big hopes and dreams for their futures. Thanks for sharing my excitement!

  6. looks GREAT! Way to go Rebecca! Your sister was telling me about the car loads that were taken to thrift stores :) This photo looks so very inviting.

  7. Shauna: yes, carloads. It felt good. Thanks for the encouragement :)

  8. I am so impressed with your decision to open your home to this young woman. It's a big step to invite someone into your life like that.


  9. Suzanne - yes, it's a step, but it feels like a good part of our journey as a family. We're looking forward to seeing how the year will change us - even in a week it's already broadened our perspectives.