There are many places in this world, that I consider to be “home”.
Of course, I count this dear, little house here in Seaford, VA, as “home”–this is where grace and mercy have abounded, for my crew and I, over the last several years. It has been a safe place–truly a place of abiding–for us.
But there are other places in this world, that I consider to be home as well:
Hawaii–I love those islands deeply, with their vast views of the sky and ocean, and the beautiful culture and rich friendships I have with many people there.
Kansas City–Such a great place, for being a big city. Great memories, the birthplace of my youngest boy, and home of the Kansas City Chiefs. I’ve often considered moving back there.
Tennessee–and Kentucky–both a type of “home” to me, because of friends that I continue to cherish today.
Montana–I’ve never even been, yet I consider this to be “home”, because I’ve dreamed for so long about the Big Sky. We are currently planning a trip there, and I can’t wait.
And then, there is Iowa.
I never know what to say, about Iowa. I spent the vast majority of my “growing up years”–well, um,—growing up—in Iowa. Fairfield, Iowa, to be exact. So, in that way, it is “home.”
So, tomorrow, I am going “home” for a couple of days, prior to a work trip to New York.
It’s a strange feeling, laying here in bed, thinking that tomorrow night I’ll be at my best friend’s house (well, her dad’s house; she’s coming from her home in Vermont), probably eating extra thick cookies and cream milk shakes (with extra cookies, please, not crushed too small.) from The Dairy Bar. Or, maybe we will be seated at Torino’s after the home football game, eating the best greasy pepperoni pizza in the entire Midwest.
And Saturday. Saturday, her dad’s invited us to ride with him in his antique Monte Carlo, for the annual Kid’s Day Parade. That’s the same parade that we would ride our bikes to every year, up on the square. You had to get there early, because the goal was to get the best spot possible at the front of where the parade would turn to go around the square, so as to be able to scramble to get the candy that those in the parade would throw to the kids along the route. If you timed it wrong, or if you ended up having to get a place further down the line, you ran the risk that the “parade floats” (trucks turned into floats with chicken wire and tissue paper) would run out of candy, before reaching you.
It’s a strange thought, that I’ll be back in that small, odd, interesting farming community, in less than 24 hours.
My memories of growing up in Iowa are a decidedly mixed bag. There is much about Iowa that is hard; painful even–things that I don’t like to dwell on, or think about. Things that unsettle me.
But, there are also memories that are lovely–like how the fields of corn roll on for miles, before meeting the horizon. How you can watch monstrous thunderstorms roll across the country side–angry, roiling clouds with daggers of lightening–and yet never feel a drop of rain because you are not in their path. How we used to ride our bikes all over the town, with no fears or concern. How we could tell it was midnight, when the traffic lights started flashing–either red, or green, depending what direction you were coming from. How each Christmas, the entire town square was turned into a magical winter wonderland full of Christmas lights and displays and even a rotating carousel with Santa and his reindeer, from which I may or may not have tried on multiple times to steal Rudolph’s Red Nose.
There are good memories, amongst the tough ones.
And I’m grateful, for both.
Let me clarify, though–I am not–nor will I ever be–grateful for some of the very hardest things. There are some things in this world, that we shouldn’t be grateful for.
But I am grateful, for what some of those tough things have taught me, about who God is.
He is the God who sees and knows, even when we do not sense His presence. He does not abandon. He is faithful.
I didn’t learn these things easily. Not even close. Learning the saving truth of who God is–and believing that truth–did not come until many years after I left Iowa. But those tough things, along with His patient grace and mercy upon my rebellious soul, have helped bring about a fierce dependence upon my God, that, in turn, helped me navigate the incredibly difficult waters of raising my crew as a single mom, after the incarceration of my (now) ex-husband 9 years ago.
Though He slay me…though the tree should not blossom…though life here in this earth contains tremendous griefs and sorrow amongst the amazing joys and laughter…
My hope is in Him. Yet I will rejoice, indeed.
But I’ve also learned much, from the good things I recall of my Iowa home:
- How brilliantly blue and enormously vast the sky can be, and how it settles my soul, to gaze at it.
- The importance of steadfast faith coupled with a good sense of humor, as demonstrated by my mom in so many challenging situations.
- The importance of hard work, through my plethora of early jobs—babysitting, nannying, cleaning for Mr. Gobbile, Cleaning for ServiceMaster, Pamida, and getting fired from Baskin Robins.
- The joy of music and singing, from years of finding refuge in music.
- The value of Maid-Rite burgers and Pork Loin Sandwiches and Cookies and Creme Milkshakes (with extra cookies, please. Not too crushed.)
- The special gift of friendships that span nearly a lifetime.
I agreed to this 2-day trip on a whim–I had Delta Travel Vouchers that were about to expire, and dear friends that would be in town, for our 30th High School Reunion, who were asking me to go. After I booked the flight, though, I admittedly said to myself, “Are you crazy? Why did you do that??”
But now I’m looking forward to being “home” this weekend. There will be much laughter, I’m sure. We’ll root for the home team, laugh at the marching band and remember the tall, orange and black fuzzy buffalo-looking hats we wore when we all joined marching band just so we could go to Disneyworld our senior year. We will ride around the square in a parade, and reminisce about saving our quarters to play Space Invaders and Centipede at Buckboard Annies.
We’ll drive around on those country roads, and I’ll look at that sky, and those corn fields, and remember both the tough and the good; and be grateful for both.
But where my heart will deeply dwell is on the good truth, which is this: by God’s grace and mercy in all things, It is Well, with my Soul.