Learning to be Content With a Well-loved Home

A friend once told me, “You know, Lisa, I don’t think God is going to let you get rid of that blue carpet until you’re thankful for it.”

Nineteen years ago we came to town for a weekend to buy a house. We looked at thirteen, narrowed it to three, and then chose our house. Russ and I are slow decisions makers, so buying a house in a weekend still stands as one of our most decisive moments.

As we walked through the house admiring it, I said, “I love the house, but this blue carpet has to go.”

Never, let me repeat, never say words like that. God was giving me a great house on eight acres in a nice town – a big change from our current home. That’s what I should have focused on.

We had six children when we moved in, and with no wiggle room in our budget, the carpet stayed. I figured in a few years I would get my dream of pulling out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood to match the rest of the main floor.

Then in 2006, we began the journey of adopting four children over a span of 17 months. We were spread thin in every possible way: time, money, energy. As we were plunged into the realities of parenting children with early trauma, all that wasn’t absolutely essential was stripped away.

Our days were focused on safety and security for everyone in our family. It took all I had to care for the physical and emotional needs of the kids. Putting dinner on the table was a test in perseverance most days. Going to the grocery store was nearly impossible.

The financial strain of meeting the special needs of so many kids felt like it might pull us under. And darn it, did I mention we value being debt-free? We couldn’t put new floors on a credit card.

Life comes into sharp focus in the face of trials. Things I once thought were important, like the appearance of my home, became far less significant as we faced the needs of our family.

Concerns about the color of our carpet, the age of our cars, the style of our clothes slipped all the way down to the bottom of our list of priorities.

That blue carpet saw it all: babies, potty training, house training a puppy, sickness, and even the gallon of milk that exploded when I dropped it while carrying groceries into the house.

It was even worse than it looked, which is saying something, and I knew it.

As 2019 begins, we only have three children still living at home; it’s strangely quiet. We’re not buried in as many needs as we once were.

Our well-loved home has grown a little shabby over the decades.  The finish has worn off the high traffic areas of the wood floors in the kitchen. The original 1920’s red fir in the entryway has so many splinters I’ve kept a rug over it to protect our feet.

It’s finally time to take care of the floors.

Last Sunday we moved everything (including the refrigerator) from our main floor into one room. Monday the crew arrived and the project began. We’ve already run into a significant complication with the discovery of wet subfloor due to water leaking through an exterior wall. Nothing is simple!

What have I learned from this?

1. Contentment and gratitude are essential.

2. Debt weighs us down; very few things are worth it.

3. Sometimes we just have to wait – even if it’s 19 years with a not-so-loved carpet.

4. In the waiting, Pinterest is not your friend.

Discontentment takes up precious energy which no parent has in excess.

Thinking over and over again about something we can’t have, steals joy and gives nothing in return.

Did I ever become truly thankful for the old, blue carpet? I’d like to think so; although as with many other things, it’s been a back and forth tug-of-war in my heart.

I can say with certainty, I’m hugely thankful to own a home, however imperfect, where I can love my family and welcome our friends.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  1 Timothy 6:6-8

Contentment is essential, my friends. Work on it. Catch yourself when you want to grumble and complain. Choose gratitude every time – write it down to remind yourself.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Emily
    January 30, 2019

    In the waiting, Pinterest is not your friend.
    I love you. And I loved your blue carpet but can’t wait to see the new floors.

    1. Susan
      January 30, 2019

      Choosing gratitude is an essential for me. It often is an act of faith, in the midst of the hard stuff. I’d also add the decorating blogs don’t help either. Maybe baking cookies would be better today!

      1. Lisa Qualls
        January 31, 2019

        Yes, cookies sound like a good plan, Susan.

    2. Lisa Qualls
      January 31, 2019

      You’re going to love it!

  2. Jonna
    January 30, 2019

    This was a very timely read for me — thank you for writing it! I once had PINK carpet that was horrendous, and I’m now painting our attic and feeling so irritated that I didn’t buy a home 8 years ago that was “move in ready”. But we, too, value debt-free living and couldn’t afford anything but what we got; yet slowly over time, I have come to appreciate the “sweat and toil” that comes from planting seeds right where God wants you.

    Be blessed, my sister in Christ. 🙂 God is smiling down on you for all you’ve done for those sweet babies of yours (and praise be to him that you finally got to remove that carpet!!! :))

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 31, 2019

      Jonna, it’s good to know other moms understand. Press on!

  3. Rebecca
    February 1, 2019

    I LOVE your words!!!! We value being debt-free, too, and sometimes we have to choose to intentionally think about things other than carpet. ❤️

    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 1, 2019

      I’m so glad you like this post, Rebecca!

  4. Mama of Many
    February 12, 2019

    We bought our house 17 years ago . . . with 10 children. We added a couple of “extra” teens for year, and then adopted a couple of younger children. When we bought the house in 2002, we did replace the 1970’s gold shag carpet in the downstairs, but thought “we will wait a couple of years to replace the upstairs WHITE carpet. 17 years later, we have the most horrendous not-so-white-anymore carpet in our hallway, office, and two bedrooms. Oh my! I would love to replace it, but we will not go in to debt for this. We have only one child left at home this year, but college expenses for several others have weighed us down significantly the past couple of years. So, our white carpet will need to hold out for a few more years. 🙂


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