what does my house tell you about me? #choosinghowtolive

Last year I started to act on the sense of calling to move to a new area after living in the same community for close to 20 years.

There are LOTS of things to consider when you look to make a move like this. Of course there’s a whole slew of financial and adult-type decisions to make (spending limits, mortgage options, market speeds etc). And there are the more practical aspects like access to the freeway for driving to my work or the number of rooms I need or the amount of garden I could possibly hope to manage. (Let’s face it, I’m paying someone else to do that regardless of how big or small it is. Know your limits.)

A primary motivator for the move was to locate myself more intentionally in proximity to people I want to do life with. I am well engaged in my local church so I wanted to live close to it and to the other people who are part of that community. And of course, there were a few ‘wishes’ amongst that in terms of the style and character of the home, the number of established trees nearby and a few other preferences that would always give way to other more significant values.

As I was processing all of these things, the sense that grew to a conviction for me was that it wasn’t just a matter of choosing where to live but how to live.

If I’m starting with a blank canvas and almost every option is on the table – what is going to be the overarching framework for how I decide? And the question reverberated,

How do I want to live?

That was an entirely different way to look at things. Not just WHERE do I want to live but HOW did I want to live? Quite a few things rose to the surface and shaped my priorities but they could best be summarised this way; I wanted to live in community. Like, actually IN community. I want to live within walking distance to a community hub of shops and activity that will allow me to play and shop locally. I want to live in a location that is easily accessed by others and where I can develop relationships with my near neighbours (after 17 years in my previous home I didn’t know the names of anyone in my street). I want to have a home that allows me to host and nurture community through shared hospitality and warm inclusion. The list could continue if we were to move beyond the geographical and practical considerations (which maybe I’ll explore in future blogs) but for now, that’s enough of a summary. And it was this filtered searching process that led me to purchase the house I now own and live in. (Which I love! Check it out, how cute is it!!??)


I love sitting in the light-filled loungeroom watching and listening to the activity of the community that moves along my street. There’s a teenage boy who catches the school bus at the end of my street and when he walks past he bounces his basketball and it makes me smile to think how he is probably getting into constant trouble for the repetitive noise but I love it. There are some teenage girls who catch the same bus and sometimes they’ve walked past singing at the top of their lungs. There are families with dogs and young children on scooters, people tending their front yards and nature strips, friends honking their horns as they drive by, visitors coming and going and all manner of sights and sounds. I love it.

BUT, this is the view you would have of the house if you were to walk by on the footpath.


And this will. not. do!!

It’s the only house in the whole street that has a fence that high. In fact, when describing it to people I would say “it’s the one near the corner with the very high fence.” because it was the distinctive feature. That fence is almost 6ft tall. Most people can’t see over it at all. I can see over it from the elevated loungeroom and with the benefit of sheer curtains to shield my privacy, but anyone really wanting to look into my property would have to get up on their toes and crane their neck and be altogether un-subtle.

Some of you are thinking, “yep, that’s what a fence is for! Security, privacy and generally stopping nosey neighbours from seeing into your property!” But that’s not how I choose to live!

I imagine the children of the neighbourhood speculating about who or what is hiding behind that fence. “My ball went over the fence once and I was too scared to go and get it.” “I hear she collects the legs of crickets in jars.” I know, I know! My overactive imagination has been well documented and is clearly at play here! But you get the gist. When filtered through the “how do I want to live” question, a high fence is communicating exactly the opposite to my values and desires.

So, the fence got a trim!


How great is that? Who doesn’t love a good before and after transformation?

I feel like my house now says what I want it to say about who lives there and how she’s choosing to live. The large gates are gone, the fence is trimmed. People might not even really notice the difference or be thinking about what they’re thinking about when they look at my house now. But it’s not sending the wrong sub-conscious message anymore.

And last week, the guy with the basketball walked down the street and bounced his ball on top of my fence smiling to himself as he successfully balanced it the whole length of my block.

And just to add to my sense of joy and satisfaction in living where I live – I have landed amongst some great neighbours … one of whom voluntarily did the labour of cutting my fence down!! Can we just pause for a moment to admire the excellent work of my neighbour Blake? I came home one Saturday to a spotless front yard and a shrunken fence … amazing!!!


what you can do to live free!

On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston – an experienced hiker – was climbing alone in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. As he descended a slot canyon a 360kg boulder dislodged, crushing and pinning his right arm against the canyon wall. 

Ralston was trapped for five days – rationing his food and water, drinking his own urine, and eventually slipping in and out of consciousness and delirium. On May 1, he infamously amputated his own arm (you might want to read that back again to get the full gravitas)!! He cut his own arm off! He fashioned a tourniquet, broke the ulna and radius bones and then sawed through his skin, veins and nerves with a largely blunt knife (I hope you read that quickly because – ew!).

Once free, he had to rappel down a 20m wall (one handed) and hike the 13km to his vehicle. He met a group of hikers on the path who gave him food and drink and alerted authorities (who had commenced searching after Ralston’s family reported him missing). He had lost 25% of his blood volume and 18kg of overall weight. 

It is an amazing, barely believable story. The lengths he went to in order to be free. It causes us all to wonder what we would do in a similar situation. The extremity of his circumstances clearly propelled him to act beyond what a person would otherwise even consider let alone be capable of. 

Ralston was determined to free himself from the rock because he knew his prospects there were slim and getting slimmer. He knew that so long as he remained pinned to that rock the likelihood of dying in that place would increase. He determined to be free – at the cost of his arm and unimaginable pain and discomfort. So much so that he reported he was “looking forward to the amputation and the freedom it would give.” 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” 

– Galatians 5:1

Paul reminds us that the price for our freedom has been paid by Jesus on the cross so we can LIVE free. The eternal consequence of our sin has been sorted, we’re restored to relationship with Father God, life to the fullest is on offer – freedom.

But do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Ever feel weighed down? Or burdened? Ever feel bound to a habit or caught in an unhealthy relationship? Ever feel pinned down by guilt or shame? Ever overwhelmed with regret or entangled by sin?

That is not the language of freedom! Those experiences are not the marks of free people!

If Jesus has done what’s necessary FOR freedom – perhaps we have to look at what WE need to be doing to LIVE free?

Aron was willing to do whatever was necessary to release himself from his trapped position. 

What do you need to let go of to release yourself to live free? What drastic, maybe even painful, measures might you take to free yourself? What hard decisions, painful disciplines, difficult conversations, deliberate re-learnings, or intentional first steps do you need to action to see you move toward the freedom Christ desires for you?