Robert Frost said, "Home is the place where. . .they have to take you in." What made our home?
- FAMILIAR with RITUALS AND ROUTINES
"A hundred men may make an encampment,
but it takes a woman to make a home."
These are the things, not really things at all, that filled our house. . .intangibles, that made each house our HOME.
Faith was first on my somewhat alliterated list because family security came in knowing Christ was the head of our home. Dad led us in family altar but also by example in living out his faith. That strong Christian influence filled our house. Prayer, Bible reading, finding a church were priorities and assured us of Who was ultimately in control. Before I was born, during Dad's absence in World War II, this was not only important but vital. Those prayers bonded family across the seas literally. Doug and I established that same Head of our Home pattern.
"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain."
Charles H. Parkhurst wrote,
"Home interprets Heaven.
Home is Heaven for beginners."
Family filling the rooms transformed every dwelling into home. Raucous laughter, brotherly wrestling, sibling squabbles, the smell of baking, Mama clearing her throat three times, my piano ramblings, the smell of saw dust from Doug's wood shop, "Mama! I'm home!" greeting both generations from the '50s through the 90's.
Familiarity also helped whether it was in belongings or life habits. Sometimes it took awhile for our furniture to arrive. Until then the house felt less like our home. But once my own bed arrived and I nestled into the familiar, it became home. Food tasted better on our own dishes than on paper plates.
Woven into the familiar things around us were the routines within us. Schedules, family rituals, our patterns of doing things together all established our home. Even such a mundane routine as homework helped because it was homework. There we felt appreciated, accepted, affirmed.
"Good hit, Ricky!"
"Slow down, Kathy!" I loved to practice piano at warp speed.
"Kent, brush your teeth."
"Kimberly, turn off the light. You've read long enough. Bedtime!"
"Time for devotions, kids."
Finding friends took a bit longer than unpacking the boxes but we learned to waste no time doing so. Military brats are all on that restricted time away from extended family so we learn to reach out to others as soon as the curtains are hung. That carried over when I became a minister's wife. I never waited on others but initiated friendships. Church often provided that opportunity but so did my neighborhood. My first next door neighbor taught me everything from picking and canning corn to cooking collards and pickling cucumbers. Giving, rather than taking, is the key here.
"I went outside to FIND a friend and could not find one there.
I went outside to BE a friend and friends were everywhere!"
All of this took time but combined with effort, house became home.
"We shape our dwellings and afterwards,
our dwellings shape us."
Once I wrote a magazine article on friendships in the ministry. I interviewed many pastors' wives. More than one teared up in loneliness as she admitted to having no close friends, often afraid to make them. False notions about her biblical role or life-in-the-fishbowl fears robbed many of forging rich friendship. Many wives lived in isolated loneliness. Christ had 12 close friends among others, three of whom were especially dear but He described John as the beloved.
Like dominoes encircling me, faith, family, familiar routines and friends all support to make me feel at home wherever the house may be.
One day heaven will surround me with the same. They'll take me in and I'll be home! Again. But this time, forever.