Encouragement · Family Life

Unexpected Lessons from Trailer Living

In my previous post I wrote about our new home purchase in the country. What I skimmed over in that story was the seven months it took us to find a house. Those seven months were their own story that I wanted to have some time to really chat about. You know I love to tell stories… and this one is fun!


 Matt and I listed our house for sale in October 2014. We received and accepted an offer the next month in November. We had been looking at houses since July of 2014, but found not many people wanted a contingent buyer so that’s when we moved forward with the sale of our home. Our buyer ran into some complications and needed to extend escrow, so we didn’t actually close on our house until January of 2015. Our contingency plan, if we didn’t find something during escrow, involved a 30 ft travel trailer. You read that right…travel trailer.

Here it is! The trailer that would be our little home for the next seven months, parked cozily in my parents driveway.

 My parents were generous enough to offer to help us out but had limited rooms in their home for my family of 5 (+2 dogs). Since they have a good size lot for their house, we realized we could park a travel trailer in their driveway, and use it as a sort of addition. We formed a plan with my parents about the use of their bonus room (a converted garage) to house some of the extras we couldn’t get in the trailer for school and what not. We would use the trailer as our bedrooms and storage space for clothes, toys, etc. Then use their kitchen and bathrooms and living space as usual. The idea was to avoid impacting my parents lives too much since we were sure we were going to get an accepted offer on a house any day.

 We found a travel trailer that had a queen size bedroom separated from the living space by a curtain. It also had 2 bunks and a dining table and couch that converted to beds as well. Madi and Cooper claimed the bunks and Emily got the dining table which stayed a converted bed most of the time. Each child had one drawer or cabinet to house personal items or toys. Cooper had the only closet (and closet is really a stretch it was more like a cupboard) for his clothes. The girls got the bathroom as their ‘wardrobe’. Since we wouldn’t be using the bathroom, Matt took a small sheet of plywood and cut it to fit the top of the tub opening. I found rings that fit into the small hooks left from a shower curtain that had been removed around the tub. On the plywood base we had just enough room to stack two, three-drawer plastic dressers, one for each girl. And the hooks along the former shower curtain pulls now served as hanging space. They got to share the medicine cabinet for their accessories. Matt and I each had a small cupboard for our clothes and our bed lifted to allow storage underneath. Matt made a small opening in the paneling of the bed base for our small dogs crate, that way it didn’t take up floor space but the opening was still accessible to her all the time. We stored our remaining clothes, bedding and other items under the bed.

Our trailer after we did some updating 🙂

 So now, our family of five, who had been living in almost 3000 square feet was in 300. It was cozy. We did luckily have my parents spacious home to eat and watch tv in, shower, and spend most of our days in. Living with your parents again after not living with them for 13 years is an interesting experience. There was definitely some trial and error and a lot of grace poured out on one another. Luckily, my parents are good communicators and we were all able to express our frustrations, make changes and move on. While it would have been convenient to move right from one house to the next and avoid the trailer living all together, I see now how much that time changed my family. God had a plan for those 7 months, and taught us much.

 First, I learned reliance on God even more. He reminded me how easy it is for us to say we are relying on him when things are good, and going our way. But are we really? Or are we getting stagnant in that reliance, are we forgetting what that really means…to be reliant on God? One of my favorite sayings comes from the book of Daniel, where three men are going to be thrown into a fire for not bowing to a false god. When the king who was threatening them asks if God really can save them they say He can, but even if he doesn’t, their minds are not changed. “And if not, He is still good.” is the saying that sums up that story. The Lord used that space to challenge me if I really believed that.

 Second, I learned we have SO much stuff! So many things that we think we need, or we give way too much value too. When you only have 300 sq feet to call home, you see more clearly just how much you have. I realized, in our old home, with my ample closet space and kitchen cabinets that it was easy to lose sight of just how much stuff was there. Stuff I slowly realized that I didn’t need, didn’t even want or didn’t use. That started to change the way I thought about the home we would one day purchase and the spaces we would make there. It fine tuned mine and Matt’s vision for our future and the reality that we really didn’t need nearly as much as we had.

 Lastly, I learned how much I really do enjoy the company of my family. As we learned to look differently at our belongings it became plain what really was valuable to us was US. Laying in bed, ready to fall asleep and hearing Cooper say goodnight to each member of the family melted my heart. Praying out loud together in the dark or singing them a lullaby became something everyone looked forward to (I have always sang to my children and while my older ones don’t regularly request it anymore, they don’t object to listening in when I am singing to Cooper). I realized that I wanted our new home to have that kind of space. The kind that brings us close and makes us examine what we have. Not in an I don’t have enough kind of way, but an, Oh God you are so good to us kind of way.

 Now that we are in our new house and making our renovations happen, it is easy to get caught right back up in where we were before. But I am glad that we have those days of trailer living to look back on and remind us of the goal we have ahead in making this house our home. That the tile selections and flooring choices are not what will make these walls home, but the people who cozy up with you inside it.

 What things have you learned in unexpected places?

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