It is New Year’s Eve Day. A day to look back on the year, say goodbye to what you don’t want to take with you into the future and to think about what you want to say hello to in the new year.
This year has been the most tumultuous of my life. For the first half of it, I felt like I was tethered to my life, like I was floating above all that I knew and loved, because I was preparing to leave it all and move to the other side of the Atlantic. We spent the second half of the year, in our new location treading water, looking for a place where we could “touch” and find some footing. Both halves of the year lacked the comfort that comes from being rooted and grounded in a home, the familiar and a clear calling.
As we come to the end of 2018, I can honestly say that our move to the UK has been a positive “reset”. Our family has learned so much about ourselves and grown together in so many ways. Not a moment of the transition has been easy and I would be naïve to think that we are out of the woods yet, but we certainly are in a much better place than where we were a few months ago.
In the last month, we have definitely felt like we have found our place. The day-to-day in the unfamiliar is getting more comfortable as we learn to find our way (and drive!), shop and do life. We have seen where we fit and where our gifts can be used in the church where we are working. Friendships have deepened to the place where we love people in England. We are feeling blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives.
One thing that is still a bit hard for me is that we are not yet settled in a home. We are renting a furnished house that is adequate, but isn’t quite “it”. Our things are not yet with us and we are not permitted to do anything to the place to personalize it. Things just haven’t gone the way that we had envisioned, so this piece of the puzzle just isn’t in place yet. There is a part of my identity wrapped up in this missing piece and I have been trying to peel away the layers of what that all means to me.
We came “home” for Christmas and New Year’s. We spent the week of Christmas in PA with my family and are now in TX with Randy’s family for the week. When I arrived at the house that I grew up in, I cried. It felt so wonderful to be at a place that felt like home. My mom does an amazing job with Christmas. Decorations that I have loved forever are in their places. There were a million kinds of cookies. The swinging door still squeaks, the bath toys that I played with as a kid are still under the bathroom sink and I know where the tissues are kept in the pantry. It is all familiar and it felt like balm on my heart. Christmas is a sentimental time and so much of what we do to celebrate has been passed down from generation to generation. The season cannot pass without me thinking about how my grandmother used to decorate her table with a small gift at everyone’s place; something that my mom has carried on. My favorite Christmas moment has always been reading the story of the first Christmas by candlelight. – We used to do this at my other grandmother’s home, but now that she is too old to handle the visit, we again carry this on with my parents.
This whole idea of home was magnified as we went through all of our possessions yet again in preparation to send them over the Atlantic in a few weeks. They have been in storage and some things have already been ruined. Others we knew we also had to part with as there just isn’t the space in the average home in England that there is in the States. “It is ok, they are just things . . .” was my mantra that day.
And that really is the truth that I am beginning to own. A home is just a thing. I come from a long line of women who were master homemakers. And I have endeavored to follow in their footsteps. So, now as I face my 40thbirthday in 2019, and I don’t have a home, I feel like a bit of me is not able to be. However, that is a feeling, not a truth. The truth is that what really made being in PA feel like home was lingering over coffee with my parents, cousins running around together, laughing over old stories with friends and my mom crying when we left. We have never lived in TX as a family, but it feels like home, because of how comfortable it is to be with the people here who we love.
These past months, I am learning to make a home for my family by being their safe place, not necessarily making their surroundings appealing or homey. I have held all of my kids while they cried through homesick nights, with nothing to offer but prayers on their behalf and a shoulder to cry on. We have had long talks about why we are doing what we are doing. Is it worth it? We have seen God confirm in their young hearts that yes, it is. . ., but, we have taught them it is ok to feel a lot and to let it out, because it is hard to re-start your life when you are 9, 12 and 14. We have a history that is sentimental, precious and dear to us. But that isn’t who we are. Past joys are to be remembered and celebrated, but it is the people in our lives who make up what is home.
So, as we face 2019, I resolve to be the woman who is a Jesus follower (He didn’t have a place to lie his head. . .), wife and mother first. I want to really listen, hug, play board games and be with my people more than I want to feel like a geographical location is home. That will probably come, but even if it doesn’t, I wasn’t called to be comfortable. I am called to love and that always feels like home.