Home. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? I didn’t think there could really be more than one definition of it until this just happened.
Driving in the car with my daughter on the way to cello practice, we heated up LaRosa’s pizza from “home” (aka Cincinnati). Jeremy had just gotten back from a guys trip with friends in Kentucky and veered off to pick up this pizza to bring back to us. Oh just the smell, the taste of what was familiar and what we had eaten growing up can do wonders for your soul! As I ate a slice of the pizza while driving, Elaina asked me how it was. I immediately replied, “oh, it tastes just like home”!!
In that moment, I looked at her and thought, “Hmmm……home. What does that word mean to HER?!”
Looking at her, realization hit me. I lived in Ohio for 30+ years before leaving. 30+ years is a long time to live in one place. Ohio was a place where my parents had lived and grew up and where their parents lived and grew up. That was home. When I looked at my 13 year-old daughter, I quickly did the math. She lived her first 7 years in Ohio, 3 years in Colorado, and coming up on 3 years in North Carolina.
What is her definition of home?
I told Elaina that my definition of home was a PLACE. A Place. My parents still live in the same home today as when I first moved there going into the 1st grade. The stars that I placed on the ceiling fan in my bedroom are the same stars that still glow. The stars, that as I lay there with the youngest nephew who is now 5, can be explained that he doesn’t have to be afraid of the dark because you can turn off the lights and see a galaxy floating above your heard, a galaxy where Jesus lives and where you can talk to Him and tell Him of your hopes and dreams and fears and then before you know it, you’re waking up to the sun coming in your bedroom window, just like his Aunt Stephy used to do. THIS is HOME. To me.
And while this is an absolutely beautiful thing, it’s not what my kids will grow up experiencing. We have chosen to give them something different, we have been called on a different journey. God had a different plan for MY family, a journey of faith. As a mother, every now and then I will stop and think, “my children’s journey doesn’t look like what mine did. Am I doing damage to them? Did I rip them away from what the “box” was supposed to look like? What have we done?!” Because let me tell you, we’ve had friends tell us that what we were choosing to do was ripping life right out from under our kids noses, we were asked if we really wanted to live this life, away from all we knew, we were made to feel guilty and we were driven into the ground. There were times I would sit on my couch doubled over in tears for the choice we were making at stepping OUT of the box.
When I told Elaina, my 13 year old, my definition of home was a PLACE, do you know what her reply was? “Mom, home for you is a place but home for me is a person. Home for you is a “what” but home for me is a “who”. I don’t see “home” as a house or a town or a bedroom or the certain food I eat or really any of the stuff around me, I see home as God and our family (mom, dad, and Brady). Wherever we are, and God is obviously always with us wherever we go, THAT is home to me. It doesn’t matter where or what we are doing, if it’s us together and God directing us, we are home.”
WOW. (For those of you who know me, I may have cried just a little in that moment)
We oftentimes look at each other, a spouse/significant other/a parent, and say, “we need to give them stability! We have to settle down so they can know what it’s like to be stable and secure and loved and reliable” all the while making the “stuff” the thing we put our hope and trust and security in. Doing what we are called to do?! Since when was making life so perfect and a part of the “box” the most important thing?! What I heard in that moment was my daughter saying “everything around us can be unstable and unsure and chaotic and loose and sporatic (to the eyes of everyone else) but if we are stable on the inside, at the core, we have immeasurable amounts of joy and peace and security amidst an ever changing world.” When you are called, you go. Home isn’t a place but a who. To her.
In this moment, it came full circle. I realized we couldn’t have given our kids any MORE of a stable life. We have taught them that when Jesus calls, you go. It doesn’t matter if none of it matches up and everything looks like chaos on the outside to the rest of the world, we are stable and secure in Him inside. We have taught them that all you need is Him and He will direct our paths and make our crooked ways straight and when we need to go the right, we’ll go right and when we need to go to the left, we’ll go left. Our kids have lived with their grandparents stopping by multiple times in a week, having cousins at their fingertips along with trick-or-treating together, watching the sun set every night behind the Rocky Mountains (in their mom’s refinished $2 rocking chair on the porch, nonetheless) and taking a ski lift up 10,000 feet in the air to snow tube on the top of the mountains, they’ve watched bears digging in the trash of someone’s home and seen elk wading in the pond, so close they could touch their nose, they have lived in blizzards of 35 inches and lived in “blizzards” that consists of .1 inches (and everything shuts down for days!), they have watched the “stuff” be sold and leaving with nothing and watched trust in action, they have zip lined in the Smokies and surfed in the ocean, they’ve lived where the Amish have come and built their barn on acreage and they’ve played endless days with their friends from the townhome complex, where mom and dad would wheel up the grills so we could laugh all night long, they’ve camped on top of the world with mountain lion dens and floated down rivers on tubes. These adventures weren’t vacation stops for them, these were their homes. They became homes because when God said go, we went on complete blind faith and trust. Home for them is a who. And we couldn’t be more proud.
So let me challenge you with this. What is your definition of HOME? Are you desperately trying to make a home for your family, thinking it needs to look just like the world and the church and your parents have taught you to have it look? Are you trying to stuff everything into this “box”, making it appear as nice and neat and orderly as you possibly can for those around you? Are those around you needlessly suffering because of the guilt you may be unknowingly hiding with the pressure to “do it all”?
“But Steph, this is what I thought it was supposed to be! I didn’t know there was any other way to live?! I was told I have to do this and this and this and this and when we retire we do this and this and this and we’ve lived a great life and it’s been easy and difficult, simple and hard and we did the best with what we’ve had and now we can die peacefully and happily knowing everything is right where it’s supposed to be.”
When you stop and allow yourself to think, are you making the “stuff” your security for your family, your kids, yourself? Are you making your life look so much like the “box” yet in your inner heart you are a mess, chaotic, and unhappy?
What is God calling you to do yet you just push away because it doesn’t match the “lifestyle” you are told you must live? What are you holding back from because you know the stress and guilt it would cause for others in your family? What decisions have you pushed out of your reality due to the thinking “well, it’s just something we’ll do when we are older”? What choices do you stop yourself from making because the amount of trust and faith it would take would have you sick in bed for days?
Can you look at your life and tell me you have absolute peace and joy and stability in your soul and not your stuff? Because you can.
Jesus says in John 8:12,
When you allow your HOME to become a who all other cares and stresses slowly fall away. You can hand over that guilt and pressure and chaos to Him, who died to take it for you anyway, because there is a plan for YOUR life as well. You can do what you are called to do and you can act on those dreams that are hidden in the tiny parts of your heart when you are stable in the who.
Jeremiah 33:3 says
“Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Because just maybe, like a young girl from a farm town in Ohio surrounded by corn fields, who had a wild, crazy, unheard of faith, who prayed a prayer over and over in the form of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”, that prayed for her future husband (and was blessed to have met him at 18, so very young) and loved travel with a passion, who is living out the desires of her heart (and still doesn’t even know them all), you too, can have the desires of your own heart as you finally lay it all at a Savior’s feet who wants nothing more than to take you places you’ve never even imagined.
“ Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think..”