Home?

Home.

Am I homeless?
Where is my home?
What makes a home?

I’m reminded of the P.D. Eastman (Dr. Seuss) classic, Are You My Mother? With each turn of the page, baby bird asks “Are you my mother?” Page after page, no affirmative response is found.

I ask myself, almost as often as others ask me, “where is home?”

Could Las Vegas be home? I was born there. Could the Oklahoma house be home? Our ranch style home with a big backyard, trees for climbing, a basketball hoop in the front, and a swing set out back was the house where I spent the longest continuous stretch of time. Could Okinawa be home? I spent six of my most formative years in this island paradise, albeit divided by a six year stent in America. Is Colorado home? I have spent over a decade in this beautiful state and currently reside here. Can I call a whole state home or would I need to pick one of the seven spaces I’ve inhabited during the last ten years? Is Virginia home? As a seventh grade student being told she was moving across the globe in a matter of weeks, nowhere on the planet felt more like home. Could Alabama be home? I almost laugh recounting the mere ten months I spent in a town where it can’t be determined whether the good-ol-boy-racism or the combined heat and humidity were more stifling. The one factor that lets Alabama keep its’ place on the list is that it is the one place where we lived that I can picture my dad in the home.

Perhaps all of these places are home. Or maybe none at all.

What is a home?

Online dictionaries defined the word with several similar descriptions varying only by small nuances.

Below are definitions that struck within me a twinge of longing.

-the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered
-the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household
-an institution for people needing professional care or supervision

Home – the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered. My domestic affections do not center on any house, nor do they land on any town, base, or city.

Home – the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. The only place I’ve ever planted myself permanently is earth. I’m just not akin to permanence. My family was a hodgepodge of my immediate family, the awacs community, and the body of Christ, all of which were in a constant state of flux.

Home – an institution for people needing professional care or supervision. I cannot imagine a place feeling less like home than a facility. Circumstances may necessitates such a living situation, but the term home should never have to be shared with such a place devoid of all comforts and familiarity.

I may not have a place to call home, but my heart did; it felt at home with him. In his arms. By his side. My domestic affections were centered on him. With him, I planned to live permanently, especially as members in our little family. Amidst the protective bounds of the institution of marriage we could live cared for and supervised. Housed within an unswerving loyalty, I felt free to rest in the comfort and familiarity of life together – home.

This home burned to the ground, like every other ‘home’ of my childhood.

I begin to gather the things – the mementos, symbols, and reminders of a life that was, that is no longer. I save things as a way to preserve the memories of the lives I’ve left behind. I keep shells, journals, photos, rocks. I hold each tangible piece of my life in the palms of my hands and I do my absolute best to freeze time. I grasp at each grain of sand as it falls through through my fingers and through the hourglass, begging for just two more minutes (mittens). No one hears my pleas. Time moves on and I must find a new home. I slowly press on. I look back. I always look back. With me I drag bags and boxes filled to the brim with the representations of home.

I carry home with me, exhausting as it may be.

For Better or For Worse

I’m a big fan of great television shows. I was just thinking about all of the shows that I have religiously followed. Looking back, I am someplace in between proud and embarrassed to admit the shows that I have faithfully followed. I have seen every episode of every show listed below (the number of seasons is noted to the right of each show) at least once. 

Grey’s Anatomy – 13
19 Kids and Counting – 10
The Office – 9
How I met Your Mother – 9
Parks and Rec – 7
Gilmore Girls – 7
Pretty Little Liars – 7
Good Luck Charlie – 4
Arrested Development – 4
Lie to Me – 3

I have ‘endured’ some of these shows for better or for worse. I watched as producers killed off my favorite characters, corrupted the stories with values I disagreed with, and  dragged plot lines out far longer than necessary. I patiently waited months through the off-season wondering how the cliff-hanger ending would be resolved. I re-watched episodes to savor the emotion and to analyze the details. I watched these shows when I laid in bed sick, when I wanted to celebrate finished school projects, or when I wanted a distraction from the hard of reality. Sometimes I stuck with these shows because they gripped me until the very last time the credits rolled and sometimes I held a firm grasp on the shows because I’m a compulsive finisher. As long as episodes were running, I was committed. It’s jarring to see how the number of years my marriage lasted utterly pales in comparison. How could our dedication to television shows so far outlast our devotion to our vows. What happened to the promise to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to submit as to the Lord, to love as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it, to love and to cherish as we adventure together?

My marriage – 2.5

The story is not over. 9 years elapsed between the end of Gilmore Girls and the revival of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the life, 14 years passed between the end of Boy Meets World and the start of Girl Meets world, and 21 years separate the end of Full House and the beginning of Fuller House.

The story is not over yet.

When Hurting Helps

Wounds cut deep pathways through me. Blood ran, not mine, but His. His blood ran over and through each painful piece. He grieved with me. He suffered for me. Each cut begged for more blood to spill. And freely it flowed.

His mercies have been healing waters that gently flowed over deep wounds, stinging at first, then soothing. Restoration came. On the surface, the cuts healed. The gaps were sealed. The voids were filled. Scabs replaced open, oozing wounds. Restoration was perceived. I wanted to believe that the healing was complete, however, each time I moved into those places of pain, each time I bent the site of a laceration, the crevice would open again. Blood would drizzle, puss would leak, but each time the lesion was opened, the discharge and accompanying distress was lessened. Stopping all movement tempted me, but moving through the pain was the only way to prevent muscle atrophy. The process of cleansing cuts and sores became routine in a way that steadied me. Some days the process yielded relief, while other days it produced tears.

He was the blood, the byproduct of the wounding. He was the cleansing water, the soothing ointment, and the poignant antiseptic, the treatment of the injury. He was the hand to hold through the aching, the shoulder to cry on amidst the pain, and the great rescuer to scoop me up and hold me close until the affliction subsided. He tenderly attended to my tenderness at the site of each gash.

Total restoration may never happen in this broken world, but the process has begun. Pain will not be a roadblock on this journey. Though pain can bring attention to an injury, it must never be given the power to inhibit healing. This recovery road is rocky, but there are caring communities and restful streams scattered along the way. There is also a great companion, a healing buddy, to journey alongside me. He runs ahead to clear the way, he offers protection by watching my back, and he holds me hand when I feel like I can’t take another step. I am never alone.

Each hard has been graced with love, more love than I would ever have known if I never experienced such scathing. I have always believed a special bond emerges through shared suffering. What joy to have forged such a bond with my sweet Jesus.

“Suffering isn’t a mistake, and it isn’t the absence of God’s goodness, because He is present in pain.” – Kara Tippetts

Courage, dear heart

Last night I shared. I opened my heart and exposed my wrestling; I disclosed an ache that keeps me up at night.

I woke up exemplifying what Brene Brown terms a ‘vulnerability hangover’ – the feelings of ‘why did I share so much?’ and just generally feeling yuck – physically sick – caused by the emotional energy exerted to share. I even took a half day off work.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ordinary courage.”-brene brown

To my people – I want to say thank you. Thank you for your courage in asking the hard questions. Thank you for your courage in sharing, vulnerably, the wrestling you face. Thank you for staying up into the depths of the night to be light amid much darkness. Thank you for lending your strength in communication to my inadequate words. Thank you for your empathy and absolute lack of condemning judgement. Thank you for pushing me to pray expectantly, hope persistently, and press on fiercely. You are my family, my community, my people. You are my safe place. You encourage me to be courageous. Thank you.

Kindrid Spirits

Have you ever had a friend so dear to your heart that you felt most like yourself when you were with that person? What a gift. How lucky I am to have something worth missing! (Paraphrasing Winnie the Pooh) My heart still deeply aches for my sweet friend. Will I ever quit yearning for her friendship?

 

We could sit silently in comfort. How rare. She would gently strum the guitar as I let silent tears stream down my face. I would wash dishes as she reluctantly gave in to the tears. We could sit in tears together comfortably. Neither of us big criers, but each honestly gifted the other with our own shedding of tears. What freedom. We were strong, independent women who let down our walls with each other. We felt loved through time spent together and touch tenderly shared. The hand to hold when we felt week gave courage, the hug when we felt empty filled our souls, and the act of sitting squished together made us certain we were not alone. We would lean into each other on hard days and rest our heads on each others’ shoulders, letting our hearts metaphorically follow suit.

 

We fiercely prayed over each other and pleaded with God for big things. We hoped for each other when hope felt lost. We gently nudged each other with hard truths. We sought out the good in the other’s life. On days when she could no longer see the goodness herself, I would find it for her, protecting that goodness as truth. When I could not see the goodness myself, she found it and she reminded me with persistence. There was a sweetness in our friendship that overflowed from the sweetness of Christ’s presence and love seeping out of our lives. Like two mugs being carelessly carried in one hand, the liquid sloshed from one mug to the other. Whichever cup was fuller on any given day, freely mixed with the other, splashing and overflowing with Jesus. I like to picture hers as tea, calm and restful without lacking any fierceness; mine would be coffee, intense and warm, always caffeinated. Like mixing coffee and tea, our friendship was not obvious, but it became more natural than any other friendship.

 

When we first met, my husband declared we would be lifer friends with her and her husband. I didn’t see this, but I am forever grateful that he did. We pressed in, dove deep, and never looked back. She was the best friend I never knew I needed.

 

She would drop life’s chaos to be present when I needed friendship. She would listen for hours, give advice, and pray expectantly. She entered the hard of life with authenticity and courage. This is the friend I could call at midnight and she would sit with me and calm me down for hours, only to get up for work by 5am. This girl did friendship well. Her sacrificial heart was humbling. Her loyalty, empathy, and unconditional love were powerful.

 

Our friendship, though only a few short years in length, has forever changed me. She pointed me toward Jesus and spurred me on in ways that will far outlast our time together. Though we no longer connect, her heart is tied to mine as a piece of my story.

 

How could two friends become strangers so quickly? I suppose in the same way that two strangers could become friends so quickly.

 

Sweet friend, Grace and Peace to you. I always thank God for you and continually mention you in prayers. I remember before God your work produced by faith, your labor compelled by love, and your endurance that stemmed from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Paraphrasing Paul in 1 Thessalonians) I love you dearly.