Words for Wednesday: the pathway home

blogIMG_4416 (1)Home. It’s not only where the heart is but it is where many folks physically find themselves on Thanksgiving Day.

A lot is written about home – be it ever so humble, there’s no place like it. In our 40+ years of marriage, Papa and I have called a lot of places home.

Our family of origin homes where we grew up were in two different areas of our home state. His family home was in the city, mine was in the country. Our homes were over 200 miles apart, different in a lot of ways.

As newlyweds, our first home was a one-bedroom furnished apartment nearby an Army post in the southwestern United States. Eventually, we moved onto the post and lived in military housing in a comfortable three-bedroom duplex.

After Papa spent an unaccompanied year-long tour in a foreign land, we reunited and, with our first-born, called home some temporary housing until we were able to move once again into a three-bedroom house on the military post.

But we only lived there for one year. Papa separated from the Army and joined the ranks of sales with a national company. We weren’t sure where our new home would be located until after he went through his training.

Home became the very first house we purchased in the Midwest.  We moved in with one child and moved out with three children into a brand new house in a smaller suburb. But again our home didn’t stay our home for very long and before we knew it, we were whisked off to the Pacific Northwest. A new place to call home.

Twenty years ago, we made the decision to ‘come home’ – move back to our native state. It was a cross country move for us but one we’ve never regretted. It took us quite a bit of time as we searched for our new home here, but eventually we found a 2.25 acre plot of ground in the country to build a new home upon.

So this is home. This is the place we have lived the longest time during our marriage. This is the place our grown up offspring call ‘home’ even though they spent many of their growing up years in other states. They all have their own homes now, but I think they are like me – they still call their parents’ house home.

And home is where we all will be this Thanksgiving. This house that holds a ton of memories on this ground about three and a half miles away from the homestead where my parents lived and I grew up.

On this 14th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, my heart is full of gratefulness for home. Not just for this house, but for this place, this area of this state where my heart has always been. And I give thanks that our family will gather around the table once again here at home.

Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” ~ Wilbur D. Nesbit

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Home Sweet Home, Part IV

[Blogger’s Note: This is the final installment of the Home Sweet Home series.]

blogfront-door-welcome4Ten years swiftly passed by.  That’s how long we’ve lived in our residence here in my homeland.

In this house we’ve experienced 10 years of joy and laughter, sorrow and pain, homecomings and leavings, family get-togethers and empty-nesting.

For all intents and purposes, this house is my home, yet I feel no bond to it like I felt to my childhood home.  And this bothers me.

My husband and I have resided in this dwelling longer than any other home we’ve had together. Shouldn’t I feel settled in this place?

I do truly love my home, but if my husband announced today that his job required relocating, I would not be overwhelmingly sad to leave this particular abode.   Is it because we’ve moved often or is there something deeper? This realization puzzles me and that is one reason why I’ve been wrestling with “home” lately.

I think I should feel a deeper connection to our home; it is, after all, the home to which my grown children come back.  Hopefully, some day they will bring spouses and children “home” to visit us. Yet somehow, my heart remains attached to my parents’ home instead of this one.

When my father passed away last summer, my sisters and I made the decision to sell the family home.   None of us could afford to keep it, none of our children needed it, and none of us wanted to be landlords to renters.  So the only solution remaining was to place the property on the market.  I didn’t realize how deeply I would be affected by selling the home to a stranger.

That’s what disturbs my dreams many nights.  When I dream of “home,”  it often is my childhood home.  I dream that the new owners have changed every aspect of the house.  I dream that I just walk into their house unannounced and declare for them to get out.  On some days I grieve for my family home almost as much as I grieve for my parents.   And in my rational and logical mind, I know this must stop.

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams,” someone once wrote.  I realize that the house I call home is just a house of walls and beams, and an old one at that.  I know that “home” is what I carry in my heart, that place built with love and dreams.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to separate the two, let go of the physical house, and embrace the memory of my childhood home.

I’m drawn back to the definition of home in Wikipedia which says, “Furthermore, places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who one is or used to be or who one might become. These types of reflections also occur in places where there is a collective historical identity…”

I’m no psycho-analyst, but I can see that losing that place, my childhood home, which was such an anchor for me for much of my life, is what has affected me so profoundly.  A sense of my identity is somehow linked to that house, and I feel that strong “collective historical identity” Wikipedia speaks of because of the familial ties to that house – all 128 years of them.   My father was born in that house and he passed away there just as he wished.  It also just recently occurred to me that both of my grandfathers also passed away in that home.  My family history is tightly entwined with that dwelling, which is why it’s so difficult for me to relinquish it.

Reflections of the past serve many purposes.  They show you where you’ve been and what you’ve done.  But I also believe that once you can place your reflections where they belong –  in the past –  they help you have clear vision for the future.  I know in my heart God has a lesson for me to learn through this experience.

Matthew 6:19-20 tells me my treasure is not here on earth but in heaven.  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

The scripture reminds me of an old, old song my grandma and I used to sing while sitting together on her favorite rocking chair (the one with the swan-head arms that I so vividly remember):

“This world is not my home, I’m just passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.  The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord, you know I have no friend like you.
If Heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re all expecting me and that’s one thing I know.  My Savior pardoned me and now I onward go. I know He’ll take me through though I am weak and poor, and I can’t feel at home in this world any more.

Just up in glory land we’ll live eternally, the Saints on every hand are shouting victory.  Their song of sweetest praise drifts back from Heaven’s shore, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

And so there is my answer – my real home is not here on this earth.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, my real home –  heaven – awaits me.  And someday when I arrive there, I will feel at home. In the meantime, I must be content here in this place where He has planted me because He has some purpose for me here in this earthly home.

If you are a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, I’m hopeful that you too realize that your home here on earth is temporal, but while we are here, we must strive diligently to be about our Father’s business each and every day.  Our time here is short.

If you don’t know Jesus, I pray you seek Him, learn about Him, and give your life to Him, so that you may serve Him.  Your real home will be waiting for you in Glory.

[Blogger’s Note:  Thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me through this series.  Over the last few weeks, pondering it, praying over it, writing, editing and re-writing it was a very emotional roller coaster ride for me.  So I’m going to take a short break from writing, but I promise I’ll be back.  I have so much more to say!]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Home Sweet Home, Part III

pexels-photo-259583.jpeg [Blogger’s Note:  If you haven’t already done so, please read my Who Am I (intro) post and Part I and Part II in my Home Sweet Home series prior to reading this post.]

“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

The circumstances that brought my family back to my homeland were extraordinary.   I plan to write about those circumstances later —  please look for that post, it will be titled Leap of Faith.

It absolutely seemed too good to actually be true. My family was moving back across the country to my husband’s and my home state, more specifically, my home town.  Our house was sold, unnecessary belongings purged or unloaded at a garage sale, and the remaining furniture and household goods packed once again onto a moving van.

Our cross-country journey was about to commence. Two parents, each driving a car, with three kids divided between us, traveled five days to finally arrive back home.  As each day drew us closer, I longed to view my home.

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.” ~ Robert Montgomery

I must describe home to you so you can understand what it meant to me.  The house that I called my home was the house in which my parents lived.  It’s not remarkable as far as houses go.  It’s a very old, simple two-story white frame house sitting on almost four acres of beautiful green expanse which my father tended faithfully and turned into a lush carpet worthy of golf course status.  There are maple and apple trees, a grapevine, and my mother nurtured an abundant vegetable garden and beautiful flower beds.  Mom took pride in her home and it was always well-decorated, well-kept and well-loved.

The remarkable aspect of my home is that it had been in our family since the year 1882 when my great-grandmother bought it from its original owner.  A real estate appraiser actually found an earlier deed for the house dating back to 1870, so the original part of the house has existed for 140 years and for 128 of those, it belonged to my family.

My father was born in that house.  When his mother passed away, my father purchased the house and moved my mother’s parents there to live.  So both sets of my grandparents resided in that house at different times.  When my mother’s parents needed care, my parents, along with my middle sister and me, moved into the house with them.

From the time I was seven, that house was my home.   My childhood memories are enmeshed with it.  I lovingly remember my grandparents living with us, even though I was only nine the year they both passed away.  I remember smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread when I came home from school and freshly baked cookies and pies when I came home from college for Christmas vacation.  I remember lying in bed on summer nights before air-conditioning and the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through my open windows. I remember the crunchy sound and nutty odor of fall leaves as I walked to the school bus stop.

I remember shivering in the summer evening coolness while conversing with my mother on the front porch swing.   I remember the time it snowed so much, we couldn’t open the door; my father had to nudge it open an inch or two at a time, brushing away snow with a broom, before we could get out of the house.   I remember leaving home for college, and leaving again to live in my first apartment, and again when I married my true love.

I remember bringing my first-born home from the hospital to this house while her daddy was stationed in the military on the other side of the world.   I remember all three of my children being happy and excited to travel “home” to Grandma and Grandpa’s house during all those years we lived far away.

Some of the most treasured moments of my life occurred in that simple, white frame house. To me, that house signified warmth, comfort, family and love.

Wikipedia.com relates other thoughts about home:  “Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person’s home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health.  Some people may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Sometimes homesickness can cause a person to feel actual symptoms of illness.  It has been argued that psychologically the strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way.”

For all those years I lived away from home, I evidently was homesick, and no matter how many years passed, those feelings remained. 

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.” ~ Frederick Buechner

The world that lived in me was centered around home.  Coming back there to live meant the world to me, even though we would face trials and difficulties.   In the first eight months of living there, we lost both my mother-in-law and my mother.  We searched for a home to call our own, and a year and a half after we moved there, we finally purchased a farmer’s field on which to construct our own house.

At last, I thought, we’re going to own our own home at home!

(Please come back tomorrow for the final installment of my Home Sweet Home series.)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Home Sweet Home, Part II

pexels-photo-731082.jpeg[Blogger’s Note:  If you haven’t already done so, please read my earlier “Who Am I” intro post and Part I in my Home Sweet Home series prior to reading this post.]

The time seemed right.  After a tour of duty overseas and another year stateside, hubby was ready to resign from military life.

We were enthusiastic and relieved when he landed a job as a sales representative with a national company.  After two weeks training, he was assigned a position in a Midwestern city.  It wasn’t home, but it was a bit closer to home.

We purchased our first very own house in the suburbs, nested pretty well there, and two more little additions, middle daughter and son, were added to our family during the time we lived in that house.  Soon we outgrew our smaller abode, so we searched for a larger one in a suburb farther from the city, happily sold our older house, and snagged a new one under construction.

We resided in the new place for a couple of years and even though we chose the carpeting, paint and wallpaper, and we had many happy memories there, it still didn’t feel quite like home. But we were content; we belonged to a wonderful church, where we felt like family; we had amazing friends, great neighbors and lots of activities and opportunities in which to volunteer.

We moved from the Midwest (with me kicking and screaming inside my head) to the Pacific Northwest when my husband received a job promotion and relocation.  I was comfortable in the Midwest where we had lived for eight years, and it was a drivable distance to our home state from there, so I really did not want to leave.

In my heart and mind, I had hoped and prayed for hubby’s job relocation to take us nearer home, not further away.   So the day he announced a promotion and subsequent move to the west coast, I was shell-shocked.  Instead of moving closer to our home state, we were heading in the opposite direction!   One of my friends consoled me with this statement, “Well, look at it this way.  You can’t move any farther west; you’ll fall into the ocean!”  Some consolation.

Moving that far away from home felt like I was falling into the ocean!  It loomed huge and overwhelming in front of me, but for the sake of my children, I outwardly treated the move like a big adventure.   I strived diligently to discuss it in a positive manner so my children would embrace a healthy attitude about the upcoming upheaval.

Still it unnerved me to watch that gigantic moving van drive away from our Midwestern home with our entire household and our car loaded on it! With just our suitcases, we boarded a plane and flew to our new home on the West coast.  Despite my trepidation, the move did prove positive.

We settled nicely into a new house in a great neighborhood with an excellent school for our children, found a welcoming body of believers who quickly became like family, met life-long friends, and traveled up and down the Pacific Coast absorbing sights and places we never would have experienced if we had stayed in the Midwest.

But I never lost my yearning to go home.   T.S. Eliot wrote: “Home is where one starts from.”  In my heart, that was utter truth. I may have left my home behind, but home had never left my heart.

At some point, I engaged in a Bible study with a godly woman younger than me in age, but sometimes wiser.  Every week we discussed contentment and God taught me a tremendous amount about that subject.  I intend to write a blog post sometime in the near future sharing what I learned during that time.

I prayed often for God to help me latch onto the security of being content where He planted me.  A contented man is one who enjoys the scenery along the detours,someone once said, and I desired that.  However, I still tightly clutched the thought that the detours would surely lead me home where I would attain that long-sought-after contentment.

The Lord had other plans for us.  He kept us in the Pacific Northwest for six years.  Trips home were rationed to every other year because flying cross country for a family of five was expensive.  Job downsizing threatened hubby three times and the third time, my husband lost his job, but God amazingly provided a new one.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it occurred, but I finally learned to be satisfied where God had planted us.  My husband and I traveled further in our walk of faith when God took us the farthest from home.  The area’s gorgeous scenery was awe-inspiring, but believers in Christ a minority there, so we quickly learned to be strong in our beliefs and to fully rely on the God who truly supplied all our needs.

And when I, in particular, learned that lesson, God showed me it was time to go home.

[Please come again tomorrow for the next installment in my Home Sweet Home series.]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Home Sweet Home, Part I

pexels-photo-355722.jpeg[Blogger’s Note: You might like to read yesterday’s post “Who Am I” before you begin my series, Home Sweet Home.  The earlier post explains why I chose to write this series.]

In the last few months, my dreams have been consumed with either homes in which I have previously lived or my childhood home.There’s an old saying, “Home is where the heart is.”  I’ve been wrestling with the concept of “home” lately.

In the span of a week’s time, I probably dream about home three or four times, and those are the dreams I remember.  The perplexing part about this is I am home.

Here’s how Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, defines home:  “A home is a place of refuge, comfort.  It is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and be able to store personal property…As an alternative to the definition of “home” as a physical locale, home may be perceived to have no physical definition — instead, home may relate to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort.  There are certain cultures in which members lack permanent homes, such as with nomadic people.” 

You could hardly call my family nomadic, but we did endure a few years of wandering to different parts of our country due to my husband’s job relocations.  Over a decade ago though, we moved back to my hometown area.  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Ed Pearce once wrote, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”  That sums it up quite nicely for me.

After our marriage, my husband and I resided in a southwestern state where he was stationed in the military.  Moving away from home back then was an exciting adventure.  Newlyweds striking out on our own, we attached a small U-Haul trailer to hubby’s car and filled it with our pristine wedding gifts and a few other belongings to drive half-way across the country.

We located a furnished (didn’t worry about such things as bed bugs!) one-bedroom apartment.  We were blessed to have family (my oldest sister’s family) live about two hours away from us, but it still wasn’t home.

The broad expanse of never-ending plains with few trees, fewer hills, scrub brush, and cactus proved foreign to us.  The heat and unrelenting sun driving up temperatures up to triple digits for much of the summer, dust storms and threats of tornadoes, sightings of armadillos, scorpions, and tarantulas didn’t comply with my view of home either, but we were newlyweds living out a new escapade.

We placed our names on the military post housing list and waited for a unit to become available.  By that time we had acquired some furniture, were settled into our jobs, and felt prepared for our first house, even though it wasn’t our house.

We excitedly moved into officer’s quarters on post where we had plenty of space for the two of us and our cat.  Hubby gained a small yard to mow, his first experience at lawn maintenance since he grew up in a city row house without a blade of grass in his “yard.”  The house, of course, belonged to Uncle Sam, so it didn’t really feel like home.  Home remained that place from where I came.

After a few years, hubby received orders for an unaccompanied tour to a foreign country and shortly afterwards, we discovered we were going to be parents for the first time.  The thought of bringing our first child into the world alone made me pine for home all the more.  So I moved back with my parents while hubby flew to the other side of the world for an entire year.  Home became more entrenched in my heart since that’s where our first child, oldest daughter, was born.

Back to the southwest we migrated again when hubby returned from his tour of duty.  We lodged in temporary housing until a house on post became available for us.  This time, we only lived there for one year.

And even though we celebrated our daughter’s  first birthday and Christmas reunited as a family there and we were blessed with great friends, neighbors, and the community camaraderie military life provides, I still couldn’t call it home.

Another journey awaited our little family – hubby, oldest daughter, and me – as we set out for a new home and left military life behind.

[This post is the first in a four-part series.  Please check back tomorrow for the next installment.]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com