The One Minute that Could (But Shouldn’t) Make All the Difference

She and I have different ideas of what “staging a home” means.

For me, it means making the place look like someone lives here but and like no one lives there. Food in the cupboards – not on the counters…table…floor. Furniture in the rooms – with cushions actually on the couches. Clothes in closets – not in baskets…piles…wads…trails. Legos in bins – not on the carpet…linoleum…wood. You get the idea. It’s not about a specific item left out or a stray cracker crumb. It’s about an impression.

An impression my two-year-old is not seeking to make.

This is her idea of staging our house.

We’ve had 18 showings in 31 days . 18 kitchen cleanings, 18 opportunities to hide our laundry in creative places and our counter-fruit in the microwave, 63 bathroom cleanings (though I’m told 3.5 baths is a selling point) and 18 outings scooting our family of five out the door on an hour’s notice.

We’ve worn-out our welcome at the library, the kids’ museum, Chick-fil-A, friends’ homes, the playground-in-21-degrees option and yes, stalking our driveway from the next street over.

Our kids are living off individually-packaged Veggie Straws, fruit snacks and GoGurt (covering all the food groups), because we can’t have the house smelling like recently-cooked food, now can we?

The whole thing has been far from fun.

And it’s not like we don’t have 18 million other things going on right now.

Our five-year-old has triple surgery this morning (tonsils out, adenoids out and ear tubes in). We’re making some big transitions in our ministry. And, as I shared last week, I have big opportunities in front of me for getting my books published. It’s also the week for fantasy baseball draft prep and March Madness.

Not to mention, the usual. Dinners, PTO, AR tests, potty training (sorry, Chick-fil-A – I forgot that leggings don’t absorb), homework folders, sports, bedtimes, stomach bugs, speech therapy, dates, toddler meltdowns, and birthdays.

Life is full and selling a house makes life feel bloated.

I know, I know. We signed up for this (well, sort of). And we live in a country and income bracket that give us choices and opportunities. So, take my whining with a grain of salt.

This Saturday morning was a particular scramble. First thing on the schedule was “Coach Dennis” and Jack’s basketball game. Each family member dragged themselves out of bed and refused to cooperate in any way whatsoever. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your point of view – I rolled over at 7am to news of a morning house showing.

Into staging mode we went.

Everything into cupboards and drawers, counters/mirrors/toilets/baths/floors wipes, lights on, trash emptied, Legos consolidated, toys binned, books straightened and a basket of clean laundry exiled to the trunk of the car.

The kids protested, while following behind us un-staging as we went. Monster-Mom made a few appearances, but, we made it out the door with a handful of minutes to spare.

Again, not my favorite adventure.

Maybe this will be the one. It only takes one buyer. This could be it.

This is the type of assuring self-talk sellers have on repeat. If they don’t want to go absolutely insane.

Here we go!


The “potential buyers” were in our house one measly minute.


You can’t even stack and de-stack 36 Solo cups in that time. (I know, because I’ve tried. #minutetowinit)

They gave our house sixty seconds. Sixty seconds to wow them, woo them and win them over.

Um, yeah. Not gonna happen. You can guess how well it went.

Three hours of cleaning and staging for one lousy minute. 

Now our house is rather small. But even the fifty-cent tour can’t be done in under ten!

It was easy to be discouraged.

To let one minute change my mood. To let one minute dash my hopes. To let one minute speak louder than the rest.

And not just when it comes to real estate.

I’ve taken some tough one-liners lately. Friends with well-meaning words that cut deep. Strangers with innocent small talk that taps tender places. Carefree words which land like sandpaper.

I imagine I’m not alone. Any set of words can be taken wrong, read-between-the-lines, mined for subtext, read into or even just have tough timing.

We tend focus on the one minute.

The one painful sentence in paragraphs full of good intention. The one hurtful choice in weeks full of good experiences. The one negative reaction in a sea of encouragements.

The one minute stands out. It’s louder than the rest. We let it define us, direct us, derail us.

Not cool.

I’m quick to think “I see what’s going on here.” To assume. To let things carry more weight than they are meant to. To give in and give up.

But I can’t put my hope in one minute. I can’t put my hope in one experience. I can’t put my hope in one person.


Unless that minute can make all the difference.

Unless that experience can change it all.

Unless that Person is all in all.

Otherwise, I won’t hope in the “one minute.” I won’t hope in the friendship or the circumstance or the reaction. I’ll hope in the only One I’ve found truly hopeful and  sure.

The house? It’ll sell. Or it won’t. But that one minute doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s just a very – VERY – small piece of it.

6 thoughts on “The One Minute that Could (But Shouldn’t) Make All the Difference

  1. Out of the ballpark, Ames. Well said. Love the un-staging Syd does–boy does that bring back memories! But a minute doesn’t make a lifetime. It doesn’t even make a memory. It’s just that–a minute. Beautiful.

    1. Thanks Dayle! It give me comfort knowing you’ve been there and you all survived ? just a minute.

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