What pictures do you see in your mind when you hear that word? What accents do you hear? What aromas do you smell or what tastes make your mouth water? What feelings come over you? These aren’t simple questions for me to answer. So many things come to mind, and they are not all of the same place.
Today, I have been missing North Carolina and my friends and family there like crazy! (Okay, it’s been longer than today…) North Carolina – that place I didn’t know I’d ever want to call home again; oh, but I do – and often! North Carolina brings back memories of an ocean vast and wide and never-ending; swaying back and forth with the tide. Long sandy beaches to walk down, counting off one pier after another. Restaurants that have been there forever, owned by the same families forever, selling the same yummy albeit very unhealthy food! Air you can cut with a knife…or a chain saw, depending (ahh). Tans and swimming pools and cook-outs and watermelon and RC Cola. My Grandmother’s beautiful yard and flowers; my Great-Grandma’s vegetable garden(s) that produced many a meal for the family. Sweet tea, the best BBQ in the world (sorry Texas), and the very best of conversations…anywhere…with anyone! Always someone to call you ‘Honey’, ‘Baby’, and ‘Darlin” It’s the place I get to go visit far too little, but when I ride on or walk the streets I still look out for Loflins, Sunrise Grill, The BBQ Shack, The Big Chair downtown, my elementary, middle, and high school, the Churches that grew me til I left, the houses I spent weekends at with friends, and the A & P that I’d walk to with Grandma – which has long since been gone!
North Carolina was my first home, but I have had others.
There is Missouri where I went when I didn’t know anyone. I remember the feelings of independence and total dependence on Him! I remember driving to work on Monday morning’s from outside Lake of the Ozarks all the way to Moberly, MO (2-2 1/2 hours away) and stopping at the same Panera Bread every week to get a danish and a coffee. I recall running in the evenings after I had cleaned toilets in the girls’ dorm, then showering, spending at least an hour at the library and getting to bed while everyone else was visiting. I remember going to see LifeHouse perform in Columbia with a bunch of “friends” (or people I would later call friends) from college. I remember eating at Taco Bell til I thought I’d be sick! (I, to this day, do not eat there any more!) I remember sitting outside in the cold on early Saturday mornings, eating cereal with Nathan before he left for his job at the lumber yard. I can still drive past the old church building that Nathan and I got married in, though it’s no longer the same church. I can fondly remember walking around the track at the local Community College with my friend Julie, me pushing a stroller, her walking with her pregnant self. I remember those crazy evenings/weekends that we traveled with Nathan’s band; me with a baby crawling about and one I was still carrying. I can still smell the food court at the Columbia Mall – probably because I got sick outside of it when I was pregnant with Aaron. I remember traveling forever to get anywhere, and now we are back to complaining about having to drive 20 minutes to get places!
Missouri was my second home; it’s where I began my life as a wife and a mother and as a minister’s family.
Now, we are here, in “Colorful Colorado”. (Now, this is not a knock against this beautiful state, but let me just tell you I’ve seen more color in an 8 pack box of Crayolas! Brown and Green and sometimes Yellow just don’t quite cut it for “colorful” when you’ve lived in NC where my Grandmother’s flower garden has more colors than this whole state!) There is a huge mountain range out my front door – literally! It’s massive and beautiful and I like to call it “Ole Faithful” as it reminds me of the faithfulness of God. Here I have learned to eat more “all natural” and “organic” when the price is right. Here we go on hikes and play in parks rather than our yards because, well, we don’t have yards big enough for play. I’ve learned to appreciate every blade of green grass, as we have so few that make it year after year (here, grass is usually an annual plant rather than a perennial) Here we have breathable summers, perfect autumn days, amazing snow days, and unpredictable spring days – sometimes all in the same day! This is the first place I’ve ever lived that has a Starbucks at every major place of commerce. Here we can wear shorts during the day and pull on a sweat shirt in the evenings. (One of the things I love the most!) We have watched hot air balloons be unrolled, taken off in, and land…in our neighborhood! It was here that we came to plant a church over 5 years ago, and it’s still alive and growing and doing amazing things! It’s here that we became mortgage payers and got into credit card debt and then went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace – ha! It’s here that I prayed to have a little girl for 2 1/2 years and got one!
Colorado has become my home for now. It is beautiful and challenging. Today, it is home.
Though these are the places I have taken up residence in and received mail at, they are not the only places I consider “home”.
I have been to the Ukraine, where many people sat, unsmiling on park benches or walked scantily dressed around the center of town. I passed out tracks near ports, outside bars, in the parks, down the streets. I sat in a little church building so full of His love that I bowed weeping – crying out for God to always let me have the privilege to do His work, wherever!
I have been to a government-sectioned reservation in South Dakota where one of the first people I saw was a baby girl walking down the street in her diaper. I still have a picture of me and a little girl who hung around me that whole week of VBS. It was heart breaking and amazing and everything I wanted my life to be about. It was home to me.
I have been to The Projects – in my hometown in NC – and put on dramas and handed out hotdogs and played with kids that I might have been told to stay away from at school. And as we were pulling out, I looked down the street and I recognized the very apartment I lived in when a lady named Betty came and sat down on our unfurnished floor and asked to take me to church. It was home to me.
I have friends in Ireland, Mexico, Honduras, Italy, Africa, and Taiwan. I have read about what they are doing there, and God lays them deeply within my heart and I cry and I pray and I long for Christ to be revealed where they are! Where they are…it is home to me.
Last year Nathan went to Honduras; his first mission trip ever! I couldn’t physically be there with him, but he was there. And it was home to me. Last year a friend’s husband traveled to the Philippines, and saw things we might think are “unreal” but real they are! I watched videos and I read blogs and it was home to me. I have been reading Katie’s blog, looking at the pictures she posts, and all of a sudden I am face to face with needs greater than what I’ve ever experienced. And in between every line she writes, I am home.
5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. Colossians 2 NIV
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you… I Thessalonians 1 NIV
Sometimes it is so hard for me to “be all here”. I long to be Christ’s hands and feet world wide! I long for my husband and boys and girl to do the same! I have dreams of us walking streets and living love out loud before a people that need to know God. I have dreams of us handing food out to the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the helpless, giving hope to the hopeless, loving the unlovely. I want Nathan and I to teach our children what it’s like to live open-handed before God: allowing Him to take and give whatever He desires. I want us to teach them how to accept the good as well as the bad. I want to teach them to truly see – not just see what’s on the outside of a person, but what might be empty or needy or poor on the inside of a person. Christopher has been saying with a passion lately that he wants to be a doctor; oh, how I want him to see the really sick of this world and seek to bring physical and spiritual healing to them!
I am not deceived; I know that since we are here, this is where God wants us to do all those things right now. So, what keeps me from doing it? I am full of excuses and unwarranted fears. I am constantly reading challenging books and posts and statuses, but I am rarely living the challenge. I am praying that God will show me how to do whatever He wants me to do. I am praying God will fill me so much more than I am with His Spirit! I want to overflow with His fruit! I want to have a light in my eyes and an excitement in my smile and a joy in my voice! Living inside oneself can stifle all of those.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51 NIV
They say “home is where the heart is”, and I know this to be so. I will live my life “at home” while “going home”.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6 NIV
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13 NIV
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14 NIV