Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Going Home

As the light of a home I've known all my life poured out into the darkened suburb walk, familiar and foreign mixed and I couldn't measure whether I had come home or was simply displaced inside of familiar.

Two weeks ago today I touched down on the tarmac of Chicago's O'hare Field.  From a metal bird in the sky like those I watched from my bedroom window growing up, I wondered if one of the many lights below belonged to the home I knew as a child.  Had the flight patterns changed at all in 40 years? 

I was welcomed by baggage claim by a childhood friend.  We shared memories of recess races and I met the fiance, she is marrying late in life after decades of adventures both in and out of ministry.  Then my step-dad, opening wide that door as I reached the top step to the front of this all-to familiar house.  He looked the same, but weary.  No doubt wrestling with that morning's diagnoses of stage 4.

I've been torn since before my flight lifted off the ground in sunny south-central Montana.  Torn between 2 worlds.  The one which holds most my close family members, the ones I spent growing up holidays and family picnics with... the ones I left for the west when I was 18, returning for only brief visits since.  And the one my husband and I have grown in the west.  With kiddos and youth group and Bible camp plans and university graduation plans and garden plans.... Both worlds are me.

If home is where the heart is, how do I reconcile my heart for aging parents and siblings and nieces and nephews with the heart which has labored and birthed blood of my blood and teaching and growing?

This has been my wrestling match in the midst of doctor's appointments and surgeries, and a house planted 60 years ago, watching 3 generations grow old.  I'm needed here... but I am needed there.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to get away.  To make the 2 hour drive outside of the city and into the freshly plowed corn fields of north-western Illinois.  To see, one last time, the house my biological dad built right after I moved away.  The one he and I had dreamt about when I was still in middle-school.  With acres and orchards and gardens for bumper crops.  The one he just sold because my other Step passed away 2 years ago from a similar Sentence. 

Funny how life shifts.  Funny how home changes.

We talked for hours, just me and my dad.  This man whose features and mannerisms I mirror more than either of us readily admit. He took me to dinner before I headed back to the city, back to my surviving Step to care for and keep walking out this Sentence with.  As we drove through the small farm town a church marque caught my eye.  An old familiar verse which seemed to bridge miles:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord
Jeremiah 29:11a

After dinner and good-bye I drove back the 2 hours, listening to Klove and rolling that Jeremiah verse over and over.  Rolling home over and over.  The following morning I dug in deeper...

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

and this morning, deeper still....

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  
Jeremiah 29:11-13

...and suddenly I knew.  Home is where the heart is.  And when the heart is in Christ, no matter where we go we are home.  Somehow, reading Jeremiah 29 and being reminded that GOD knows the plans he has for me... even if I am confused.... that as Israel was being given this sentence of exiling, God was saying through the prophet that they would come home.  That when they call upon God, pray to him, seek him with ALL their heart... home would come.  Perhaps here it is literally, but for me this week, it became proverbial and beautiful.

Grandpa laid the floor in this 2 city block long V.A. Hospital back when it was first built.  Now my step dad is making regular trips across this piece of history as he battles for life.

Illness, separation, challenges... they are all blips on the map of time.  Tiny spots God desires to use to grow us: first closer to Him and then farther in our Walk.  I never left home, whether at 18 or my 2 weeks ago flight.  Home has always been in my heart with Christ.  I have left the presence of people to pursue the plans and direction God has, but I have never been gone.  We are blessed in this day and age with Skype and face-time and cell phones... the people are still close but no matter where I go, God is always closer.  Home is always here.

Some day I will say good-bye to the last of my parents.  I already have with mom, almost 15 years ago.  My step-mom, 2 years ago.  My step-dad has a chance and may kick around for a while to come, my biological dad is strong and healthy.  Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and so on.... they have their own 'homes', their own plans and trajectory.  Their home is in their families and, for those who share my faith, in God as well.  We may not be close in body, but we are still family.... as for me and my house.... I'm always home with God.



  1. Hi Amanda - I am your neighbor over at #TellHisStory and I wanted to stop in and read your post about going home. It is hard being torn between two places ... I only live 3.5 hours driving distance from our family, so I don't have to get on a plane, it's drivable, but still, it is hard. Thanks for sharing about your trip going home. Blessings

    PS.. if you are looking for another place to link to on Thursday's I would love if you would consider joining my new linkup #TuneInThursday - it opens Thursday 3am PST and runs through Sunday night. you can find it at (Please feel free to delete the link if you think it inappropriate).

    1. Thank you for stopping by Debbie. As you can imagine, it has been a roller-coaster for the last few weeks! I am just getting to replying to comments. Thanks for stopping by and for the Link-up mention. I'm glad your family is closer then a plane trip, it definitely helps in holidays and illness :-) Blessings, I will be sure to stop by your link-up again as I get back my blogging groove!

  2. Amanda - I am so glad you could join the party last week at #TuneInThursday. I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get around to commenting on your post, I had a retreat I was speaking at this past weekend, and it put me behind a few days. Hope to see you again Thursday and that your week has been going well.