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Start Small

My husband Chresten and I are tossing around the idea of selling our current home and buying a "new" one. We recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary and have lived in our current home on West 68th Street for just over 15 years. When we moved to West 68th Street, we had been married for almost six years but had no children yet and had never previously owned a home. I will never forget how excited we were to "finally" purchase our own home. As itinerating evangelists, there was no proof of consistent income beyond our stack of 1099 forms we plead for from the 50+ churches we would minister in each year. So trying to get a lender to take a chance on us was stressful, to say the least.

By the time we reached the closing table, we felt downright violated. These people checked our bank accounts every day, seemingly on the hour, to make sure we hadn't actually used any money to do our daily business and pay bills other than our rent. But despite all the trouble, it still felt amazing when they handed us the keys and we were released to signal the moving truck and the entourage of family and friends whom we had suckered into helping us move that day.

Despite its outdated finishes from 1979, the multiple layers of wallpaper we soon discovered in the kitchen, and the Berber carpet in the kitchen and breakfast nook (that was layered on top of gold-ish linoleum), the house on West 68th Street was officially ours. We often found ourselves teasingly saying, "This is OUR house and we can do whatever we want to to it. We are real grown-ups!"

It was a well-built home in a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood, complete with the bus stop directly in front of our home. But even when we toured it the first time, just a few years before HGTV and House Hunters were even "a thing", Chresten and I walked through, critiquing the things that just had to be updated. We began our mental list of all the projects we would tackle right away. "Oh, yes, that sliding door in the master will have to go" and "I can't stand those counter tops. Those will be replaced ASAP". And then there were the tiny projects like sticky bedroom doors that needed to be adjusted, removing blinds on the master's sliding door to the back porch, and so on.

Over 15 years we have tackled our fair share of home repairs and updates. In fact, much of the house barely resembles its original state on move-in day, October 2003. But some of those tiny projects got lost in the shuffle. For all of 15 years our oldest daughter's bedroom door required a slight lifting when you entered and exited to avoid the most horrid sound. And those blinds in the master bedroom that I always hated seemed to never be removed. And then we began to consider what must be done in order to sell this place.

I'll be honest: we have had a few good laughs as we have been diligently preparing the house on West 68th Street for a potential listing. The slew of tiny projects formed into a list of "to do's"...and were accomplished by my husband over a handful of days. We found ourselves asking the question, "Why did we wait 15 years to fix that? Who knew it would be THAT easy?"

I share these thoughts with you as the Holy Spirit often takes quite simple or frustrating situations in my daily life and gently taps me on the shoulder to prompt me: there's a deeper life lesson here.

More than once over the course of these past few months I have mulled over how many "tiny projects" I have pushed aside for all of those "major projects"--not just in my home but in my life. It is possible for all of us to focus on the most urgent tasks at hand, but regret the small things that never seem to make it to the top of the list. This can be spiritual, but it can also be practical. And it can be the things that really mean the most to us but always seem to get shoved behind the big stuff.

There is so much vying for our attention and demanding our time. And the guilt trip is one that never finds its journey's end, right?

I'll be honest: I have had to let go of some staunch practices in my life over the past few years that I had held within a rather tight grasp. With the acceptance of a 30+ hours per week job outside of the home with a traveling husband and two kids still at home, I had to wave farewell (with a tear in my eye) to the concept of getting a birthday card mailed to every single person in my acquaintance. I haven't completed a photo album since our youngest was about 2-3 years old. Sigh.

But I often wonder: how many of those small things that matter so much to us could be easily accomplished if we would just find the motivation to start small? Would we be surprised how easily it truly would be accomplished? Take the first step. Ask for help. Make a phone call. Say "yes" when connection with a friend was offered instead of hiding behind all the busy. Sit down to write just one card.

Start small.

As we conclude this blog series, Beginnings, and enter Month Two of 2019, can I challenge you to find just one thing that's truly important to you that you've put off but you're just not sure where to begin? And then start small. Don't tackle more than one. Don't overthink the details or make it complicated. Just start somewhere. It's quite possible that you will look up as I have over these past few months with that slew of little honey-do's and ask yourself, "why did I wait so long to start?"


Start Small is ENTRY FOUR in our Beginnings blog series for January 2019. Catch up on ENTRY ONE by clicking here.

Looking for a place to start small? Click here to learn more about Let's Come Alongside at Sanctuary.


Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, and her husband, Chresten, have been married for 21 years and have been in the ministry together for every single one of those years! (whew!) 20 of the 21 years have been spent in full-time evangelistic work, both stateside and overseas. They have two beautiful blonde babies--ages 14 and 9--and base out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many ministry wives she often feels like the red flag on the tug-of-war rope with the children on one end and her husband and the ministry on the other end! When she finds time for personal hobbies, Bridgette enjoys entertaining, blogging, singing, browsing the local antique shops, and sipping on a cup of hot tea for a few precious quiet moments. Her heart is to lead others to the authentic presence of God--through worship, through Word, and through one-on-one connection. Read more from Bridgette's heart in this gut-honest piece she shared with Sanctuary in Fall 2018.

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