I’ll be home for Christmas!
What excitement there is in that thought . . . home! What, exactly, makes home the place we long to return to, the place we dream of?
I remember when my husband and I made a move to a different house after over twenty years in a home we had built—the one where our children had spent most of their growing-up years. We told our then grown-and-flown children of our plans . . . and they protested, “But we won’t be able to come home anymore!”
I assured them that “home” was not a particular house, but a place where your loved ones are, and that they would most certainly be welcomed into our home, no matter where we moved.
Perhaps I’m less attached to a physical house than most people might be. I grew up as—first—a pastor’s daughter, and then a missionary’s daughter. We lived in several cities in the United States before heading to Indonesia, where we lived in different houses on different islands. These houses were far from the standards in the United States. One of the houses we lived in had woodwork and floors that were partly eaten by termites, and no indoor plumbing. There were rats sometimes spotted by the outdoor bathroom. But it was still home because that is where I felt surrounded by love from my family.
When we came back to the U.S. for furlough when I was in fourth grade, we rented a house in South Minneapolis, where I could walk to school and walk home again to eat lunch with Mom. Again, that felt like home, because it was where my family was gathered.
During our furlough when I was in junior high, we lived in a different house, but I found that the love and acceptance from my parents became that nurturing place that I could call home. This was the place where I found solace when needed, and where I found acceptance. It was a place where I was loved and encouraged.
Later on, when I came back to the United States, leaving my parents behind in Indonesia, I lived with my grandparents while I attended my senior year of high school. They were not my parents, but they loved me and provided a home in the absence of my parents. That year was a very special year for me, and I have wonderful memories of my grandparents.
Then when I married the love of my life and we pledged our lives to each other, we lived in four different apartments before we bought our first home. Each one was a place where Bob and I created a haven just for ourselves, where we could truly feel “at home.”
As I look around the walls of the condominium where I now live, I see familiar, meaningful items everywhere: Uncle Charlie’s watercolor paintings hang on the wall, as well as a print from Grand Marais, one of the favorite destinations for my husband and me. There’s a wooden plaque with “I love you” carved into it that my daughter Kristie made in ninth grade. The Southwest grouping of pictures and decorative tile over the sink reminds me of the times Bob and I went to Arizona. Even in the bathrooms, framed views of Maui and Aruba remind me of happy memories, along with a picture of my six grandchildren’s silly pose on a beach. Nearly everywhere I look are more treasured photos of our family and special ones of Bob. And there’s the end table that Bob built, maybe not in my current style of furniture, but precious because of who made it.
These things are what make “home” for me. Familiar, loved objects that tell me I have experienced love in this place. The things around me reflect who I am and whom I love.
And even now, when I’ve been widowed and live in this place alone, it is home, a place where memories reside and a place where I welcome my family back.
God promises in his Word to make a home in me so that I can always know his presence, his love, his comfort, and his forgiveness. Colossians 1:27, NIV speaks of the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In the next chapter, we read, “Continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV).
Ultimately, when God is in my life, my home is in him, and I feel that I belong. He has made me part of his family, and I am accepted and loved.
My home reflects me because of the things in my home. I want to reflect God to the people around me because of who he is to me.
Patsy is a blog writer and author of the recently published book In God’s Hands–the story of her parents’ almost 40-year missionary service in Indonesia. Search this new release on Amazon.