Winter arrived in force today here in the Midwest. It is the week of Thanksgiving, though. The end of November is no stranger to snow flurries and cold temperatures. Our amnesia with this transition always feels somewhat unrealistic as the globe follows its course around the sun. One more trip to mark the counting of days here, this place we call our home.
Home is the focus this week, the direction of our words and our thoughts. Emily asked what home meant last week. My answers to the reflection questions following the 3rd Week of the Atlas Girl Book Club are below. Emily’s sister talked about what Home meant to her last week, but this week she has a special guest on her blog. Please take time to visit her and hear her story.
I have to be honest, I cried through the last week’s reading, with almost each and every chapter. I cried with Emily when she cried, and I thought of how closely her words echoed my heart, my own thoughts, my fears. Her questions about home, about fitting in, about finding a place to belong… ultimately, looking for the Father… they resonate in my own heart. They should beat within each of our hearts because, if we are all honest we would agree that we are all seeking a place of acceptance.
It is everywhere. This need to be heard. It is here, right now, as my fingers are pounding a keyboard of letters fashioning words to please the eyes and ‘ears’ of the reader who is looking for the message I am trying to convey. It is in the stories being told, the unspoken anthems of the rebel who chooses to take a stand, and the persistent plea of the protestor on the street pleading their passions for all to hear.
And somehow this all makes me think about what it means to feel at home.
Home has never been an actual place, for me, but a connection of hearts, of lives, of moments collected and stored, all congealed together to reveal the story of a life. Home has been in the people I have loved, the lessons I have learned, which have affected the woman I have become today.
Home is found in the presence of the Father, In Christ, we are assured of our belonging all to show His Grace.
It is here, as we bask in the beauty of those who are walking with us on the journey in this direction towards grace-filled living that we find our fit. It is fully in Him that we are found.
“And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:6-7
Driving my children to their classes provoked a sudden memory which took my breath away. It brought on the tears as I remembered one of the most relevant definitions of home I could conjure. It stuck with me all day, waiting to be poured out for you.
The rain was pelting the window, this morning, telling me it was more of an icy sleet, preparing to coat the road surface in slick mirrors. Immediately I saw the vintage Christmas Trees hanging from the street lights lining the sidewalks. I have loved those decorations since I was a girl. In fact, that was the exact comment I shared with my children. And instantly I connected the decorations with Thanksgiving Dinner at my Grandmother’s house, because they were always hung the week of Thanksgiving. Then I remembered the way they would light the way on Christmas Morning, when we would come in early to see her before the rest of the chaos of traveling ensued.
It has been a long time since I have been to my grandmother’s on Christmas Morning, but the memories are tied to this awareness of belonging that has tattooed itself upon my soul. The remembering hit me like a brick, causing tears to pool instantly… this is the first Thanksgiving without her presence and home feels a little farther away when I miss her.
When I think of HOME, her name is close on my lips because she made such an impression upon my living that memories evoke the knowing that I was loved deeply by another. And I realize the connection that ties it close.
Home is where He is, where His presence dwells and lives.
Her love for the Father fully saturated her every moment so that she passed along this gift of love and acceptance to her children and grandchildren effortlessly. It created an atmosphere where everywhere she went, because He went with her, was full of comfort, peace, acceptance, and safety.
The reason we find ourselves when we lose ourselves in God, is because we are finally aware of the location our hearts were meant to exist when we meet the Father. Until we know this, we will never fully belong, fit, or feel contentment… that peaceful contentment that causes the sigh of joy to radiate through every fiber.
I find that home is here, in my daily journeys with the ones I love so deeply. It is in the service to my family and those He has put in my path, purposefully sharing real life living and soulful loving in our connecting.
And though the memories of holidays without grandma are painful, for a moment, leaving trails of tears sliding down my cheeks, they also leave me grateful for the promise revealed in their purpose. We are given a glimpse, a foretaste, of a future home… a heavenly home, already being prepared for us. Perhaps, also, the relevant deeper truth is that we are never meant to belong here, but to pass through, hopefully leaving an imprint that points others to the home and the hope that awaits them.
Emily’s challenge this week was to find a picture of the perfect home, cut it up and piece it back together, looking for the light and beauty which is illuminated by the cracks. I sat down to actually draw a picture and what I realized is that the physical home I have loved,(the dream home in my head) wasn’t what came through in the drawing, but it was the view that I found most comforting.
Home, friends, it is a word that evokes great feeling of comfort, peace, and belonging. It isn’t as much a physical location rather than a perception, a focused view.
The lesson I am learning, one that I hope you can grab ahold of is this: You belong nestled deep in the heart of the Father and He is creating a home for you to inhabit. Until then, as we seek him, making him our view, he recreates a place for Himself in the habitation of our heart, and the beauty of being found is something we can experience everywhere we are.
Praying you feel the wonder of finding Him and being found by Him today!
REFLECTION QUESTIONS Atlas Girl Book Club Week 3:
- What does “home” mean to you? Does it conjure up cozy feelings, or feelings of loneliness and isolation?
Home, is more than a place, it is a connection. It is a feeling of belonging when I am seated near those I love, the people that carry the pieces of me that have been worn for them. Home is in my kitchen cooking for others, preparing food that will bless their heart. Home is at the prayer bench, where I feel alive and full of purpose. Home is often here at my table, where I can pour out the things I have been given, the blessing of creating love with my hands, for those He brings my way. Home is where I am found in Him.
- Do you feel you’ve been homesick or homeless your whole life? Why/why not?
Sometimes I feel like a wanderer, here in the space that I occupy, not really feeling like I fit, but then there are times when I glimpse what He is calling me to do and I am enticed by the beauty that I am not meant to fit here, because we are made for more.
- Hospitality means helping someone to leave your house feeling better about themselves than when they came. How should we live, knowing this world is NOT in fact our home? How can we practice hospitality –in our daily lives, whether it’s at high school, college, in the business world or in a house– in a way that represents the kingdom of heaven?
I love this. It is heavy on my heart. Live our lives as though we are filling the reservoir of hope in others. We are meant to pour into one another, making space to sit together and connect. It is hard to do in our every day busy living, but it is worth the effort to stop and recognize, to stop and take time on others. To stop and spend ourselves for a purpose that doesn’t meet our material needs but allows us to meet the soul needs of one another.
- What do you picture when you think of heaven? Does it feel “homey”?
I think of open tranquil places filled with heaven’s beauty. I think of love surrounding, the presence of holiness bathing every moment. I think of celebrations and reunions, of gardens and sighs of contentment, and I think of the light that He shines. It is more than ‘homey’ it is the very definition of home, a place to belong and a place that has been prepared for me. When Christ said He was going to prepare a place for me, I am expecting it to be filled with HIM.
- Are you wanting to revisit the past and dust off places that “home” means to you? If not, why?
Today I am longing for the comfort of my grandmother’s arms and her laugh more than going back to dust off places. I long for the welcome of her embrace and the assurance of her promise that it will all be ok, even though I know it was her faith that assured me not her ability to make it better. The wisdom she spent on us, the love that she etched into our lives, she was the epitome of HOME to me, and now more than ever I miss her presence. She was a door that led to His grace. Her life spilled faith into ours. This also encourages me that Home is just as close to me, because she led me down the same journey she took … straight to the Heart of the Father.
CHALLENGE: Sketch a picture, or take a photo, or make a collage using magazine photos of the “perfect” home, and then cut it up like a puzzle and tape it back together, daring yourself to still see it as beautiful. Because even though we’re all broken, those cracks, they let the light in says Leonard Cohen.
Linking up Emily a few other fellow wanderers: