Homesick

As I told my son to go to bed for the fifth time this Mother’s Day evening, I reflected on how patient my mom was with me.  How she never turned me away when I tiptoed into their bedroom at night, trying not to wake my Dad.  How she’d scratch my back and my arm to lull me back to sleep.

A dull ache overwhelmed my heart for the first time in months, and I immediately recognized it as it settled in like an old friend.  Homesick.

I inwardly laugh that there was a time not very long ago when I wanted nothing more than to put distance between myself and my southern roots.  To leave the endless humidity, the obsession with college football, and the wretchedly hot summer days.  I longed to explore the other forty-nine states.

Less than a year after getting married, that’s exactly what I did.  We left.  And two cross country moves and nearly five thousand miles later, I realized something.  South Carolina is in my blood.  I can’t escape it.

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I look back at the woman I was nearly eight years ago, and though my roots haven’t changed, I have.  I’ve been stretched and pulled and forced outside the zone of comfort I’d built around myself.  My faith was renewed during those years of packing, repacking, not knowing where we were going to live or how we were going to build a new life.

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When you move away from the place where you’re rooted, your definition of home changes.

I gave birth to my first son nearly a continent away from the place where I spent my childhood.  Utah, with it’s majestic peaks, spectacular sunsets, and crystal crisp rainbows became our home.  Our new friends became our family.

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Then, after nearly four years, we did it all over again.  The mountain side of Maryland, with it’s rolling hills and small town feel became the place we would welcome our second son.

I wouldn’t trade the way these experiences have shaped me.  How each move has pushed me to seek community and friendship.  My sense of control was replaced with complete surrender to the God who makes all things new.

My relationship with my husband became stronger than the forces which threatened to pull it apart.  We were driven to rely on each other through every struggle which came and passed.

But tonight I am homesick.  I know that no matter how many times we move and rebuild, my anchor is rooted in the Palmetto tree state.  And that anchor is deep.

Phone calls, texts, and Skype conversations can never replace a hug and a face to face conversation over a glass of sweet tea.

Like an accent that creeps back into my voice when I’m around my family, South Carolina will always call me back.  With her sandy beaches, real barbecue, calabash shrimp, and sentences that start with y’all.

Instead of trying to fight the call, I will let it settle like a slow refrain that gives rhythm to my step.  As I dance my two-year-old to sleep and sing with that southern drawl creeping into my tongue, I know I will be okay.

I will be more than okay.

 

 

Love Looks Deeper

Have you ever met someone with whom you felt an instant connection?  A friendship was formed with little or no hesitation, and you went on to share stories about your aspirations, your disappointments, and the ordinary routines of your life?  I have experienced this type of bond.  But it is oh so rare.  With my borderline introvert personality, perhaps it is more infrequent for me than others.

Developing a meaningful relationship with another person takes time.  In most cases, an instant connection will not be there, but we are called to dig deeper.  To find what lies beneath the surface.

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Some of the most life changing relationships I’ve experienced have been with those who, after my first impression, did not appear to be someone I would want to befriend.

A woman I met at a women’s ministry event, who was annoyingly loud, ended up making me laugh so hard I was in tears on a night when I had been tempted to stay home. Another woman who seemed pretentious became a dear friend, and one of the most genuinely caring people I know.

We all project different versions of ourselves when we are trying to impress those around us.  When we just want others to like us.  We try to be the person who is the life of the party or the one who has it all together.

My husband and I have moved a total of over five thousand miles since we got married nearly eight years ago.  Before our last cross-country move, I was devastated to leave relationships that were just beginning to grow, but knew God had something spectacular planned for us at our next destination.

I wasn’t wrong.

He has molded my personality, which was once extremely introverted, and pressed me to reach outside of my realm of comfort.  He’s pushed me to see those around me.  He’s made me realize that living a full life means reaching beyond what I think I’m capable of doing.

He’s shown me that we are called not just to extend grace to those around us who are like us, who share all of the same beliefs and political stance, who like the same t.v. shows, and whose kids attend the same school.

Peter, who had experienced the pure, abounding love and grace of Jesus after denying him not once, but three times, says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Love means looking past first impressions.  It means looking past that snarky remark and seeing the person who had a rough morning, an unexpected phone call.  It means starting a conversation with the girl who has barely said two words at your Bible study even when you don’t know how to begin.  It means taking a meal to the widow across the street, even though you know he may talk your ear off for an hour.

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Love looks past our initial opinion of people and sees the initials of Christ stamped on them, made to reflect His glory.

 

Where is Home?

The place we now call “home”



Lately I’ve thought a lot about how a person defines home.  Many would say it’s the place where they grew up, or the place they’ve lived their entire lives.  Some have moved all over the country from a very young age, whether it be because their family is military or other reasons, so there is no specific place they can say they spent their childhood.


I lived in the same area for the first twenty-eight years of my life, but almost immediately after I got married, my husband and I began moving.  A lot.  And although our moving was more out of necessity than want, it has taught me a great deal about who I am and forced me to redefine the word “home.”


South Carolina, which is where I grew up and spent most of my life, will always call my name.


What’s in South Carolina?  Well, you haven’t tasted real BBQ until you’ve visited the South.  You may think you have.  Trust me.  You haven’t. 


SC is also home to some of the juiciest, sweetest peaches I’ve ever tasted and boasts beautiful beaches and rich history.  And most importantly, it is where my family is.  My mom.  My dad.  My brother and niece.  Several of my cousins.  I miss being able to jump in the car and see them at a moments notice, sharing meals together, and spending the evening just talking and watching movies.


Most of all I miss the time they are away from my children, who don’t have the opportunity to spend the night and Pa Pa and Grandma’s house unless it’s during summer vacation.


As much as I miss all these things, I know that moving cross-country twice in the past seven years, with a couple of smaller moves in-between, was part of God’s plan.  My husband and I learned to rely on each other and find strength in mutual love and understanding of one another.


One year after we made our first big move, I had my first son.  Two years after our move, I gave my life to Jesus.  Our faith has grown in leaps and bounds.  We’ve begun to trust God in the seasons of struggle and not lose hope.  


I moved past my awkward, shy, introverted self and met some amazing people who  stretched me in my walk with Christ.  I realized that relationships form and grow in God’s timing and not my own.


Through all of the transitions and the growing experiences, I discovered that home is where my family is.  Not my Mom and Dad, brothers, niece and cousins.  But my husband.  My kids.  Me.  I slapped some paint on walls, hung pictures and kids’ art work.  I filled several homes with as much love as one mother’s heart can hold.  

Home is walking through the door to a warm embrace and dogs licking my feet.  Home is hearing shouts of “Mama” after an evening away and trying not to trip over little arms and legs.  Home is my Meemaw’s shadow box hanging on the wall, a sweet memory of a loved one who is now in her eternal home.

One of the most important things moving has taught me is that the dwellings we call “home” here on earth are temporary.  My prayer is that no matter where the future takes us, my family will feel home in the very essence of their being, no matter the place… because of the security that they have in God and the love they feel when they walk through the door.


“In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you.” 
John 14:2

Blood, Water, and other Adages

Sometimes I wonder where sayings come from.  As an English major,  the origin of different words, figures of speech and the like always fascinates me.  There’s an old saying I’ve heard a lot lately, and I have to be honest.  I really dislike it.  We’ve all heard it at some point, I’m sure.  “Blood runs thicker than water.”

Okay, the commonly understood meaning is that relationships with family go deeper, are stronger than those with friends.  In all honesty, I have not always found this to be the case in my own life.  Envy is an emotion I try at great lengths to avoid, but I have to say I envy those who have close relationships with their extended family, cousins, second cousins, and third.  I used to see these family members once a year.  Now I’m lucky if I see them in a decade.  It saddens me, but geographical distance makes it hard to maintain a close-knit connection.  This is one of the reasons I am grateful for social media.  Although I do not see these relatives often, I feel as though I am part of their lives because I can send them a message, view their pictures, and be aware of what’s going on in their lives.  I know that the bond will always be there, no matter how many years pass.  So in this way, I get it.

In a literal sense, I’ve always found the “Blood is thicker…” saying odd because, well, yes, blood does technically “run” thicker than water but it makes me imagine someone who has water running through their veins, which makes absolutely no sense.  So, recently I decided to research where the phrasing originated, and what I found was surprising.


The adage as we use it now comes from an old German proverb, however the original meaning more than likely has been lost.  An older, Jewish version states:

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” 

Now this conveys something else entirely.  My interpretation is that my relationship with God precedes my relationship with my family.  


I understand the bonds of family.  Believe me, I do.  My parents have displayed their devotion to me in more ways than I can count, and when I look at my own children, they are literally little pieces of me running around outside my body.  My oldest son recently visited my parents, who live over five hundred miles away, for a week.  I felt as though part of my heart was missing. 


There is nothing they could do that would make me not love them, and I understand God’s love more fully as a result of being a mom.


However… after moving cross country twice and living a great distance away from my immediate family for several years, I have discovered something:  Your friends become your family.  


It takes time.  Boy, does it ever.  Building trust with another person is not something which can be done overnight.  But the women I’ve studied God’s word with, who’ve shared the trials and joyous moments of mothering with me, the family who was so close to us after our first big move that my oldest son began referring to them as “Aunt” and “Uncle”….  well, these people are my family.  These bonds go deep.  They go deep because they are eternal.  These people will join me with my Heavenly Father one day. 


 I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty amazing.