The During

As a home blogger most of my job is sharing the mess.

People mistakenly think that our blogs are a bunch of reveals complete with beauty shots. But I’ve been blogging for over 5 years. Let’s say I have 10 rooms in my house. That means I’d have to redo a room every few days in order to have enough freshly finished rooms to talk about. Most of what I write about is the stuff in the process.

At first I hated that part.

Most of us don’t mind showing an ugly before with the past owner’s furniture and purple walls before we moved in, and then we want to show a pretty after that compared to the before wows and impresses. KaPow! Ta-Da!

I’m learning that the biggest, best and most informative part of the story happens in the during. When the mattress is on the floor and the wall color isn’t quite right and there are paper streamers hanging because you are the most indecisive person on the planet. More and more I see value in sharing the how and why of my decisions, and the mistakes I’ve made along the way. It’s the best way to connect with people.

It’s the same with life. The real story happens in the mundane every-day-ness and our reactions to our imperfect world and our response to a perfect God.

I’m so grateful for people who have been willing to share their imperfect, right-now life; the good, the bad and the ugly. I look at the world through house colored glasses and this house full of half finished rooms reminds me that I can’t wait to live until it’s all ready for its closeup.

Because that won’t happen for a long time.

  • Stacey

    Ack! Process, I am not a fan of process. But I am learning right along with you that it is in the process that we connect with others. They don’t want the finished story anymore – “I was this now I’m this”.

    Others want to walk with us and know we are real live people and have messes that we are not afraid to share.

    Baby steps, right?


    • The Nester

      so true Stacey xo

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  • Cynthia S.

    Amen. Life is happening Right Now. Waiting to have people over “after I clean up more” meant I didn’t have people over much. So glad to be done with that. Honestly, that room in the picture you have is a lot nice than some we have, whether your mattress is on the floor or not.

    • The Nester

      yep, putting it off “until” is more like a permanent put off.

      oh and the room? so nothing

      $35 thrifted chair
      $60 thrifted dresser
      mattress with HomeGoods sheets
      Free stump
      a deformed cowide rug $65
      paper streamer $7
      the only new things in there are the plant, pillow cover and rug, I’m starting to enjoy the mattress on the floor, it was one of those “for now” things that now seems really inviting and maybe a waste to get a bed!

  • Anonymous

    Wish I could find the quote I used to have tacked on my home office wall, words to the effect that “Happiness is not a station where you arrive, it’s a train you ride.” Waiting for anything until “everything else is perfect” can waste your life away. I still fall into the trap of “Whew, once this is done, i’ll be finished with this.”

    All life is a process, everything is in flux, and it all changes. You just have to pay attention and grab every moment. Let us remember that this “let up on being perfect” also applies to ourselves, our appearance and our frequent mistakes in life! A good lesson for the bigger picture. Thanks for sharing your process.

    • Kay

      I believe that the quote you were thinking about is:

      “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”
      – Margaret B. Runbeck

      Thank you so much for your post. It struck a cord in me. I especially identified with “Waiting for anything until “everything else is perfect” can waste your life away.” So true…and is what I tend to do. Today, I choose to do better. : )

      • Anonymous

        Kay, thanks for the citation on the quote, but the piece I had went on much longer using the train analogy. Had examples: “As soon as the kids are through school, I’l….” or “When we get a new house, we’ll….” In Googling I found lots of people using this phrase but I would really like to know where that clipping is. Well, as soon as I finish my seed order, I’ll look for it…….

  • Andrea

    Thank you for this! We are moving at the end of May and my current (soon to be old) house was still a work in progress house! And now we are moving west to east again to a quaint southern town and my new work in progress already has ideas pouncing through my head! Thank you!

    Nothing wrong with a bed on the floor! :)


  • Dana at Happy Little Lovelies

    It’s really uncanny that I saw this post this morning because I wrote a post last night titled “On Living Between the Before and After Pictures” that went live this morning as well. It’s just so true, right? I’m struggling to really treasure the in-between…where so much grace is, but also were we’re faced with all the imperfections too. Anyway, you have always been an encouragement to me in this area….you’re desire and willingness to not just show the after pictures. That takes a knife to the pressure and lessens it a bit. Thanks. ;)

  • Linda Stoll

    And that’s what makes you shine, Nester! It’s about living the process, enjoying the journey, and always remembering that real people live here. Life is just not a bunch of photoshoots strung together.

    As always, thanks for keeping it real …

  • Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    I love your “durings!” They are a reminder to me that my own house doesn’t have to be (and never will be) perfect. And, they encourage me to spruce up my own “meh” spaces.

    I’m super excited about a little B & B-type space I’m creating for mom friends to get away, but was hesitant to post pics of the “before”– before I got to the “after.” But, I figured posting the befores would hold me accountable to actually making some “afters.”

    Plus, like you said, it’s “life right now.” And that’s what I want to share with people.

  • Karmen

    You just explained the reason I read your blog and love it. It is real. I am growing weary of some of the home blogs that are sooooooo unrealistic with their color palate plans for each room and detailed to-do house lists and I think to myself: I can’t even remember how long that stuff has been wet in the washer: 1 day? 1 week?? Thanks for being you!

  • Tracey

    We had a shelf and a tiny deer head hook that I wanted to paint before hanging in our master bath. I finally had Alan hang them both last week unpainted. Now I get to use them and if I ever feel like painting them I STILL CAN!

  • Marne

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog today, as I sat in my family room, with 4 different color swatches painted on various walls, wallpaper not quiet all stripped off one wall {did I mention the ADHD?}, a large rug I regret buying {waay too busy for my already over active mind} ALL this to say THANK YOU for keeping it real!!

  • Lisa-Jo @lisajobaker

    And this is why you are my favorite home blogger to read. Really love this one.

  • Jacinta

    Beautifully said. I am VERY new to blogging about starting my handmade business and although it feels easier to talk about the “final product”, the process of what it takes to “put my art out there” is where the “real life” lies. Thank you for your vulnerability in showing “real life”.

  • Merry

    I love a good before and after, but I am so thankful when I get to peek in at the process. And I love to see a nice lived-in, messy room shot. Because I am so indecisive and unsure of myself when it comes to decorating, seeing someone else’s home looking good-but-not-perfect takes a lot of pressure off me.

    About a year ago, we bought an under-construction house, which has not turned out to be the fun project I thought it would be. I don’t want to waste time or money, and I have perfectionism issues, so we’ve been living with primered walls and concrete floors in the walk-in level. I can’t paint because I want to pick the flooring first, I can’t pick the flooring until we can move the 17-ft wet bar, we can’t move the bar until we can build a garage, and we can’t build a garage until our other house sells. So I can’t do anything, right?

    I read your guest room post and realized this: I CAN paint the walls, put up coat hooks and hang up something to make it feel like home. I can paint the concrete floor until we know what we are doing with flooring. I can trim the doors and windows. It might have to be adjusted when I do the flooring, but it’s not a big deal.

    You are helping me realize that doing anything is better than doing nothing, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Thank you.

  • Bomi

    Great thoughts:)!

  • Janet

    I could offer you some good competition for most indecisive, lol. I love reading your blog because you’re so honest about real life; the in between, the messes kids, dogs, adults (including me) make in an ongoing basis. My house never has and never will be a candidate for House Beautiful. It’s cool that a magazine recognized that and did (is going to do? awful with time) a shoot with your home in its everyday state. That is how families live. Thanks.

  • Lisa

    There is living in the messy moments. I always enjoy your posts and insight.

  • Missy

    If this picture is of “the process”, could you come process a room or 4 in my home? Thank you for reminding us that the process and connections that result because of our sharing is at the heart of the blogging community.

  • Karen

    We are like a home reno to God….He can see the ‘potential’, just like I see the potential in my 1880 farmhouse. And if others don’t like the ugy before, they can come help make it beautiful or stay home! Thank you for your much needed words today.

  • Bev Duncan@ Walking Well With God

    Oh thank you…I needed to read this. My children did most of their growing up in the house I live in and even though they are grown and I’m…well…50 something; my house and I are STILL in the process and will be until I meet my Heavenly Father. Thank you for encouragement for the “During”!

  • Dottie

    Your writing reminds of the poignant essay that Erma Bombeck wrote when she was dying about wishing she had burned that rose-shaped candle, and wishing she had not waited until the house was clean to have people over, and not being afraid to sit in the grass with the kids for fear of grass stains, etc. I so admire you for your fearless approach to truly living and enjoying your home and your family. I was so tickled by the pictures of your boys enjoying going out the window to the roof of your porch. My Mother indulged that “wild” behavior when I was a child and I really appreciate the fact that she gave us the freedom to enjoy our home in every way the same way you do your family.

  • Brittany

    Thank you so much for this! It seems like I am always looking toward the next thing and missing the in-between times. It’s good to be reminded that I need to slow down and enjoy the little moments that God has given me, and that other women are dealing with the same struggles I am! Thank you!

  • C.P.

    This is why I love reading your blog. With 3 dogs, a son and a messy husband and terrible arthritis at 32 I move very very slow. Other blogs make me want to cry because I can never reach that level of perfection (which is probably not the true story anyway) but you make me realize I can just go for it imperfections and all. And for that I thank you.

  • Karen

    As a wife, mom and soon-to-be grandma who frequently moves (currently in house #8 in almost 30 years of marriage), I appreciate today’s post and I just happen to love the color on your walls ;)

  • Karen Thompson

    I like the room as it is even though in your eyes it is the during and although I would get a bed base, I would use soft furnishings to create the colour in that room.
    I would love to have my own space personally, but do not have that luxury or the money, so I see your during in a different way.
    I would want nice rooms which were comfortable, but ideal and perfection are difficult, if we love Jesus, because he died because the world is anything but perfect and ideal. So should anyone who loves Jesus be chasing after that in a home, when people outside that home, don’t even have one. ask Jesus and consider.

  • Suzanne

    Brene Brown has written a book called “Daring Greatly.” It’s all about the gift of vulnerability. It is how I believe God intended for us to be to be connected with Him and each other. Your comments today are saying the same thing. Brene Brown was just interviewed on Oprah’s SuperSoulSunday last Sunday, Part 1 and will be on this Sunday for Part 2. The interviews are archived on Oprah’s website. Love your willingness to be vulnerable! God bless you!

    • The Nester

      oh THANK you, I have The Gift of Imperfections and need to get that book and watch the interview!!!

  • Chaney

    Beautifully put! I struggle with this one…it’s hard not to want to be a perfectionist when your stuff is “out there” for all the world to see. I think that’s why I come back to people like you though; you challenge perfection and encourage showing off the “during” – because that IS life. So thank you. Please, please keep writing. Nesting Place is on my daily reads list, and I need it to keep me grounded! :)

  • Jennifer

    Nester, you give me courage today–and invite my heart to see Him, now, in the beauty of the mess. Thank you so much.

  • Jessica

    Oh, the process! Working with young children, I am a passionate believer that the process is more meaningful that the product. However, that belief is not easily seen in my grown up work and life. It’s time to slow it down and find the beauty in the “during”. Thank you for that reminder!

  • Jan

    I loved this! And I love the name “during”. We are all living in that phase but few are willing to share where they are at. Thank you so much for challenging us to be real!

  • Tiffany

    “The real story happens in the mundane every-day-ness and our reactions to our imperfect world and our response to a perfect God.”
    THIS is what I needed to hear this morning as I look around and see disarray because we have a small project in the kitchen going, transitioning kids’ bedrooms (we have 6 kids & 3 bedrooms…so constantly struggling w/ HOW to have 4 boys in one bedroom in such a way that it is not constantly trashed!!) and our basement is a constant struggle.
    What struck me though was that even with all of the mess around, one of the first things I thought of when I read that line was not the physical stuff in my house, but how does it affect our relationships?? What are our “reactions” to our homes, especially when they are not how we wish they would be, and what do we teach our children about OUR priorities through those reactions?! I know that I do not always model grace and I get overly frustrated with them when I get too attached to how I want the house to look!!
    Have a fantastic weekend!!

  • Jamie Bickle

    Being in the sometimes un-pretty or painful moment and knowing that someone else has or is walking that path encourages me to press on, hopefully with a little grace.

    Blog away, mess and all.

  • Regina

    I agree, we can get caught up in the before and after that we forget about the little things it took to get to the after from the before. Thanks for this post.

  • Anita Knapp

    “I can’t wait to live until it’s all finished…”

    Love this. Most of the time we think of “I can’t wait until…” as meaning that we are happily anticipating something, but you are so right. We really CAN’T wait to live. Thank you for reminding me to live in the now, even with all of my imperfections. They make me interesting (even if my kidlets don’t think so).

    I had our women’s scripture group over last night, even though my house is not perfect. Thanks for giving me, an introvert mother-of-many, courage to branch out. You’re my hero!

  • traci

    So wise to have figured that out!


    Amen sister. It is about all the in between stuff as we live our lives. Thanks roe reminding us of that.

  • Becky Jones

    My kitchen is a mess right now. Got a new tea pot and 4 cups from my daughter-in-law and have that still sitting in the boxes and have the house all decorated for Easter and then there is all there “junk’ around. We have a new Chihuahua and if we leave anything and he is by himself he will get into it and eat it or chews it up. So I guess I could blame it on the dog.

  • LeeAnn

    I love this. Thank you for this post. I, too, love to see the inbetween stages.

  • Mrs. H.

    Love. Just wrote about this yesterday.
    Thanks for sharing your real life. FYI you are a huge blessing to a lot of army wives often in transit. Thankful for you.

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  • Jeanne

    You are so necessary to so many people….thank you!!

  • Kelli Fox

    ahhh – the process.. that for sure is my middle name.. and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon! Working full-time with a long commute and lots of kids doing lots of things leave precious little time to do what I want to do at the house (also limited funds). But I’ve learned to accept this and enjoy the snail’s pace at which my house is becoming my vision of perfection. And that room up there is still gorgeous just as it is! Have a great weekend :o)

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  • Beth willis miller

    Yes, where ever you are…be all there…we only have this moment with those we love…

  • Nancy Ruegg

    ‘Love the way you transformed “during” into a noun! Yes, it’s the during that’s important; the process is the most interesting part. That moment of exhilarating satisfaction, upon completion of a project or achievement of a goal, is too short-lived to be the only objective. In addition, as we each share our processes, what empowerment we’ll provide for each other!

  • Beth Williams

    I love seeing the during times in people’s lives. It’s what makes everything so real and honest!

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  • Heather Novak

    UGH! I avoid projects b/c with two littles it is SO HARD to COMPLETE the process and I’m one of those chicks who cannot handle that in between and won’t budget to have someone else do it instead. Is there a 12 step for me?

  • Sheyla

    All I know is that there aren’t many people like you. Everyone (we women) always puts on a face in front of others… And I must say, I am getting sick and tired of doing this! My dishes are not always done, sometimes I like to stare at that unwashed floor for an hour and still don’t have the energy to mop it, and there is always that stupid piece of furniture that ends up being extra after I redo a room that I have a hallway full of extra chairs, art, etc. Kudos to you for being you! This is the reason I keep coming back to this blog. You are an inspiration :)

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