I opened my eyes to the familiar, purple walls with the new york city skyline painted on them- the room that inhabited all my middle school and high school hopes and dreams. There’s nothing quite like mama’s house- home. Her perfectly vacuumed floors, evident from the lines that meander neatly from wall to wall. Her calming, sage green walls throughout the living area. And the unorganized array of pictures and announcements -graduations, weddings, and babies of loved ones- adorning the fridge and freezer.
As I walked around the house, I couldn’t help but notice more memories. With my cup of coffee, I cozied up on the couch with feelings of nostalgia. I thought back to when we bought the furniture I was sitting on. We haven’t had it forever, this home or this furniture.
After moving a few times post-divorce, God eventually blessed mama to buy a home. I remember my embarrassment and confusion. Having to move out of the gigantic, brick home on a hill, in a country club neighborhood. And moving with a family friend temporarily, before we could even find a decent house to rent. That big, brick house we moved out of- even in its glamour- inhabited hurtful memories and painful days, but it was all I knew. Mama always said, “it was a house not a home.” And after years of picking up the pieces when Daddy left, she finally got the chance to create a home. Not a huge house that was full of fancy things and empty hearts. But a little, cozy home that elicited feelings of genuine peace. Years and years later, I have a special appreciation for these little pieces of furniture we found to fill our home as we started a new life. Pieces purchased by a hardworking, single mother trying her best to make ends meet, to create a “new normal” for her girls.
My brain fast forwarded as I looked at all the more recent memories around our home. Signs of my three year old niece are evident in each room. Her baby pictures – with a big smile and sweet eyes- brighten up the walls. My room is crowded now- with a princess castle and a pink and purple mini bed. Our once orderly living room is now filled with little girl joys- a pretend play kitchen and hot pink sofa. The dish rack in the kitchen is overflowing with sippy cups.And through the transparent curtains on the back door, I can see the grand swingset mama got my niece for Christmas.
Home is known when new circumstances are unknown. Home is comfort when life slides you into uncomfortable. And home is not just the old pictures, vivid memories, and nostalgic moments. It is the people who make it special – the people who are there and have always been there.
On the first day of the year as we talked resolutions, Brandon suggested that “visiting family more often” be one for both of us. There was even talk of once a month visits to family members in driving distance. Since then, we’ve tried to squeeze in visits to my daddy in the nursing home, visits to his dad in the country, babysitting his local nieces from time to time, and I’ve trekked to Aiken for baby shower and now baby. All these visits- short and sweet- are never enough. But I thank God for the familiarity of home and the moments we can share in it. I’m thankful that no matter how imperfect life has been or how imperfect we continue to be, my family was handpicked for me and me for them. I’m thankful that as circumstances have changed for better or for worse, that love and peace can always be found at home when you intentionally look for it.
Maybe your family is broken. Maybe home has painful memories or current realities for you. Or maybe life has carried you in a direction that is far from home- voluntarily or involuntarily. I want to encourage you to find the special blessings in home and in family. After all, God placed you in your family for a reason. Even if you feel like they cannot be a blessing to you, you can certainly strive to be one to them.
I’m gonna find joy in looking at the blessings around us now and the dark days we had to endure before receiving them. I’m gonna find joy in the way God used hard times and new normals to mold and prune our family for His glory. I’m gonna find joy in hoping that I can create a home one day- one in which my family always desires to return.
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.