I don't know if any of you ever had the privilege of attending a Mary Courson retreat - but I did twice. Even though it was the same story both times I was so blessed and encouraged by her way of sharing her life so beautifully - and the ways God had worked in it. It truly was an example of older women teaching younger women and I loved it! She wrote a book that pretty much was just more details of what she shared at her retreats: Fragrant Pathways.
One of the topics she wrote on was homes. All the different homes she lived in - the memories she cherished from them, and time spent in them. I am going to pull a copycat, and do that myself.
In my room there is a picture framed - it's really a puzzle Nick and I did one Christmas break, of a Thomas Kincaid painting - and there is a beautiful home with lights glowing on the outside. I picture that as my home that God is preparing for me someday. It is a simple little cottage - beautiful flowers outside - and it just seems homey and inviting, and one that others could come in and be blessed by. So that is my heaven home someday that I look forward to. :)
My first home that I remember, was my childhood home. It was an old farmhouse - now over 100 years old. I loved that house. There was a garden that my parents planted in each summer... my dad built us a very cool tree house in the back in one of the apple trees, with a homemade swing that swung from it. One year he had a bunch of friends come and help pour concrete in the back to make a patio, and we all got to put our handprints in it. Even Poohbear the kitty. My dad also turned the attic upstairs into three bedrooms. My bedroom had a curtain closet, that I made into my little writing room, that I would make up stories in, and dream about things. I was given a typewriter by a friend's mom that went in there, and I would type out stories and I even typed out a newspaper for awhile. This was the home of my dreams - where I was allowed to be a dreamer. I would look outside my window and watch people go by and dream. I was going to be the next L.M. Montgomery, or Louisa May Alcott - I was sure of it.
The downstairs floor were hardwood - and they made great floors for "ice skating" in socks.
It was the home that my parents brought my baby sister home to. It gave me a beautiful picture of a mom who would spend her afternoons sewing clothes for us kids from her bedroom window while watching us play in the backyard, and a dad who could do anything in the way of fixing and constructing things. He even put in a basketball court that we would shoot hoops together in the evenings sometimes. It was a home I learned my love of music in. It was a great house.
It was old though and I remember carpenter ants that would show up every year - those were really gross. One year right after halloween I had a bunch of candy wrappers in my garbage can, which they all found and crawled around on - and as I started killing them they started crawling on me. I developed a deep dislike.... no a deep hate for ants that day.
When I was in middle school my parents decided to sell the home and move into a newer home that had more basics - like more than one bathroom for our family of 5.
This was the home that I finished growing up in. My dad put a wall up in the family room downstairs and created a room for me with glass closet mirrors and double doors. It didn't have carpenter ants here which made me very happy. My parents purchased a trampoline at this home - which is still there now, although it really is at the end of it's springing days. It was the home I spent my last night as a single woman in, and now it is 5 minutes from my current home and my children all love going there to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Ray, and Aunt Abbie - or "Abs" as my daughter Ava called her today.
There was my first apartment that Nick and I spent our first half year of being married in - at the Verandas.
The home that we got a kitten, Katie, in and used our wedding money to pay for the pet deposit. A home that we walked through the doors to a huge pile of wedding gifts and confetti and balloons and roses EVERYWHERE thank you to loving friends and family - especially my brother who snuck my keys and had them copied before I got married.
Then there was our first "home." It was a 4 bedroom - with a little yard that backed up to Baseline. There is a palm tree, given to us by our dear friends Nathan and Michael at our house warming party. It now is over the fence and you can see it as you drive by on the main road. It is the home that we dreamed of starting a family in. A home that got toilet papered by high schoolers from our youth group that we helped with, one weekend, and thank you Eric Doll for giving us the list of everyone involved. :) A home that we brought another kitten home to, Lucie, when I was getting the pregnancy itch and needing something to practice my maternal instincts on. A home that I would cry on my bed after spending days with my friends and their children, aching uncontrollably for the desire that this home would some day be filled.
It was a home that held an empty room, that I kept a door closed to, with a few baby items in the closet, that maybe someday I would get to fill it with a baby.
It is a home that we gave up, so we could move closer into Beaverton to help start a church plant, and take money from the proceeds to start the adoption process. It is a home that never was filled with our children, but jump started that dream for us.
Then there was the summer apartment. A place we lived interim from our new Beaverton town home being built. A place where dreams were starting to move forward - a home that we filled out adoption paperwork in. The home that I would come back to after working at the church as a secretary for 3 days a week. A home with sidewalks that we would walk on in the evenings and talk about our new church and about dreams of starting our family. A home that we knew was only for a short season and so full of hopes and plans and excitement.
In October of 2004 we moved into our townhouse. The home that we would settle in for the next 5 years. This is where we brought all four of our children home to - Josiah, Ava, Lena & Mallory. A home that I repainted a purple wall many times to get the colors just right to match my "peach" couches. A place that was close to the max station, which would take me and Josiah and Ava on little adventures to the zoo or to downtown. The perfect place for walking to and from locations, and with a patio that I put climbing hydrangeas on the rock wall that grew beautifully.
A place that I watched my busy little boy run in circles in.
Memories of deciding to pursue adoption again and telling Nick that I was okay with it as we looked at the picture of me and Nick and Josiah over the mantle and I knew we were not done with just one.
Times of hearing about birthparents changing their mind and deciding to keep their child and coming back home to Josiah and being so GRATEFUL for my little boy.
Times of getting to bring Ava home to her brother, and later getting to decorate a baby girl nursery because of awesome friends who bought me the bedding I had dreamed about a year before...
A home I watched Josiah and Ava take 2 Easter eggs down the hall to the front door and had them hand them to Nick to tell him I was pregnant.
A couch that I sat on for 8 weeks while I was on bedrest with the twins and watched the blessing of the Lord pour out on me while friends and family took care of us and provided for us while I sat and carried my babies to 38 weeks.
A home that was not empty for very long and suddenly filled beyond max capacity. And one that we chose to put on the market a month after Lena and Mallory were born, and then I kicked into super cleaner mom and thankfully we sold it 6 months later.
And our current home. A home that we are just getting settled into. A home that's bedrooms have white walls and may stay that way for awhile until my children are older and I have time again - or at least help? One that I am getting to enjoy seeing my husband and Josiah create a garden and plant things and find joy in watching them grow. A home with four bedrooms so Josiah and Ava can both have their space to be themselves, and a home with plenty of room for friends and family. A place that I got to watch the neighbors down the road do their annual illegal fire work show on the fourth of July shooting them right over the roof of our home (thankfully we had a rainy June). It's up on a hill, so it is a home that has taught me with my running, how to run back up hills at the end of my runs.
A place that my kids broke in with sickness beautifully starting with Mallory's mystery infection, then the "100 day" coughs, stomach flu, ear infections (10 total), scarlet fever... and now we are taking a break from that for this summer season. It's where we come home after being commuter mom for my two older children driving them to and from school.
I don't know how long we will get to be blessed with this home - but for now I am grateful for the shelter and protection it provides for us. I hope and pray that I can create an environment that my children will have fond memories of as they grow up. I know that it's not the home that creates that. A home is just a home, big or small, old or new, it doesn't matter. For me, it's all about the lives I get to love and serve in it, and the God who gave it to me for this season. I pray, thinking of all my faults and failures, that I can be good steward to all that the Lord has given me. And that this home will be witness to all that HE does in and through our lives.