Close your eyes and picture the first thing that comes to mind with that word. Home. Is it your childhood house, filled with laughing parents and dancing siblings? Is it the first tiny, cluttered apartment you lovingly shared with your spouse? Is it the beautiful house on the hill you dream of one day attaining? Perhaps for some, the word “home” doesn’t conjure up any good memories. When you recall home, do you still find yourself as the little girl hiding in the closet listening to her parents argue? Are you the little boy afraid of the monsters under the bed, with no daddy to come chase them away? Maybe your family moved frequently throughout your formation years, and it’s difficult to pinpoint one residence as feeling like home. Whether positive or negative, “home” evokes strong feelings in all of us.
A recent reading of the book Making it Home by Emily T. Wierenga has started the wheels turning in my head thinking about what home actually is. In Emily’s book, she is forging her way through the mucky waters of motherhood, wifehood, and authorship, and how it all ties into the loving grace she has received from Jesus Christ. She shares her experiences of striving to make a home for her family and accepting the tasks and rewards of that journey. Reading her book made me wonder, what is home?
When I think of home, several things come to mind.
First, my childhood home. I picture my older sister and me spending hours at the kitchen table learning to read and write. I picture coming into the house from playing outside all day and smelling spaghetti sauce, my mom in front of the stove stirring the pot. I picture the prompt 9:01pm phone calls from my dad as he drove a semi-truck cross-country and checked in on us nightly to let us know he loved us. I see a fire in the fireplace on snowy Sunday afternoons and America’s Funniest Home Videos on the TV as we eat pizza on a card table in the family room. I feel my dad kissing my sleeping head as I am sick on the couch, movie playing in the background and my mom making Jell-O in the kitchen. I see my sister and me getting ready for school, sharing stories as we share a bathroom mirror. I hear Josh Groban playing as we open Christmas presents in the family room, my dad fiddling with the video camera he never remembers to prepare the night before. I feel the laughter as my mom, my sister, and I recount funny moments from the week as my dad watches NASCAR through closed eyelids.
Next, I picture other people’s homes that I loved being in. I see the endless summer days at the pool in my grandparent’s backyard, sneaking pieces of candy from the formal dining room that was transformed into a candy room full of sweets for little tummies. I feel the cool water on my skin as I jump in the pool, my grandma sitting on the deck watching my cousins and I perform acrobatics off the diving board. I see my granddaddy mowing the grass on his old riding lawn mower, or in the garage fixing up a classic car for the hundredth time. I see little hands picking strawberries and dunking them into the pool to clean off the dirt before popping them into little mouths. I see my other grandparents’ house, warm light radiating from the old window panes. I smell the fresh baked bread as I walk through the front door, my mouth watering in anticipation of the homemade grape jam to accompany it. I see my grandma in the kitchen cooking a Sunday roast. I see my grandpa in the kitchen loading the dishwasher after dinner. I see my uncle popping popcorn for my sister and me as we have movie marathons late into the night. I feel the bubbles in the bubble bath surrounded by dolls made of flowers, illuminated by the lavender candles glowing from the counter. I see my grandma in her bathrobe, sipping tea in the early morning hours at the kitchen table. I picture family holidays, rooms crowded with relatives and food covering every surface possible. I hear board games being played loudly and smell coffee being brewed. I see the youngest generation running amuck through the house, squealing with delight when someone catches them and they surrender to tickles. I see the women in the kitchen, discussing gardening and baking. I see the men in the family room, dozing off in the reclining chairs. I hear choruses of “thank you!” and “you’re welcome!” as wrapping paper is strewn across the floor.
Last, I picture my husband and the home we are making together. I see antique cameras and travel memorabilia covering the walls. I see my husband jumping up from his computer and running across the room to hug me when I walk in the door. I feel his arms around me in the darkest nights. I hear him singing along with music while making pancakes in the cramped kitchen on Sunday mornings. I feel the sweat pooling on my back as we frugally refuse to run our air conditioner. I hear the laughter of our friends crowded around the table playing cards. I smell the chili cooking in the Dutch oven as snow covers the ground outside.
The old saying, home is where the heart is, rings true. What makes up a home is truly the heart inside of it. It’s the people that give life to the structure, creating a sense of belonging. Home is the laughter, the tears, the scents, the smiles, the hugs, the comfort, the encouragement, all wrapped up in a package labeled love. Home is where our heartstrings are stretched to the point of breaking, and our heads rest on pillows until we are healed. Home is where a kiss from your husband erases the doubt of the day. Home is where a hug from your mom wipes clean the harsh words spoken to you at school. Home is where the laughter of your siblings makes a grey day sunny. Home is where dancing with your dad teaches you how to dance with your husband. Home is where grandparents spoil ruthlessly. Home is where children learn it’s okay to dream big. Home is where a missed soccer goal or failed test shrinks away until it’s hidden behind ice cream and board games. Home is where you learn to read the bible and see God’s love shining through your parents.
I choose to make my home where my heart is – with my husband and my family and my friends. Location and square footage will not define my home. Rather, the love that fills it will. Regardless of what my house looks like, my home will look like love. My desire for my home is that all who enter will feel that they belong, and they will be inspired to make their homes in the same manner.
How will you make your home?