Making It Home: House or Home?

I tend to exaggerate a bit. 

I’ll throw in a randomly high numerical value when I’m describing some things. I’ll just add in an extra zero or two or twelve for added emphasis. 

There is one case in the Martin world that requires no additional exaggeration. The number of homes we have lived in. I’ll often say we are Gypsies, the inference being we’ve moved so many times one could not possibly call any one particular place our home. The irony is this, we have moved a lot, many times, in all seasons, for various reasons. We’ve rented homes, we’ve purchased homes, we’ve borrowed homes, yet we have done all that moving within a geographical 20 mile radius and twenty year time frame.  

We have identifiers that refer to the various houses, the Street name, unique architectural features we noted, the time in which we lived there. 

I always like the “weird” houses best. The ones with wonky floor plans and the ones with old bones. 

When it came time to move, no matter the reason or circumstance, good or bad, I always wept. I always stressed believing the next house just couldn’t be a place we’d call home. 

It was one of the moves, a downgrade of sorts, it was one of the bad circumstances, when I cried about not being able to give my children a home. A place of refuge and contentment. I longed for them to have a place that was theirs, ours, that felt like home and not the less than fabulous place where we were headed. I was grateful that the Lord had graciously provided us housing, but I was less than thrilled about the four walls that encompassed that. I just kept thinking how this was so not where I thought life would find me at this point in life. Surely I’d be further along financially or something by now. I used to imagine forty was so old and just shy of retirement to the old folks home. I have since changed my mind. 

In those days we were to be moving to the less than fabulous housing option. 

I was down, dejected and upset with myself, a professional woman, a woman with 3 children once again feeling like we were starting over.  I found myself in a puddle of tears crying to my mama. It was one of those big ugly cries where the crier sobs incoherently to the hearer. The kind of cry that runs rivers of streaky mascara downs one’s face. That kind of crying is followed by stinging eyes and the occasional post cry hiccups. I was a mess. 

My mama had wisely waited to speak until those intermittent hiccup silent moments. 

“It’ll be nice Amy. It’ll be fine.”

Hiccup, “How?” 

How came out in two syllables.

 “How-ow is it gonna be fine. We are moving to a teeny tiny dumpy stinky place?”

She paused and in her wisdom, the kind that must come from the Lord Himself, years of living, and infinite experience in dealing with the fairer sex in fits of hysterics. 

“It always is Amy. And as many times as y’all’ve moved, it’s never the house that makes it such a nice place. Not the place that makes the home, it’s you. It’s your unique way of putting things together and hanging stuff on the walls. It’s how you’ve always hung up the kids’ art like it’s a masterpiece and how you place things around that make you happy, the things that are uniquely Amy, that’s what makes your house your home. You love your kids and they know it and to them that’s all that matters really. When they grow up it won’t matter if there was crown moulding, hardwoods throughout or not, what will matter is that you made them a happy home and gave them happy memories wherever you’ve lived.” 

The tears began again, this time the silent cleansing kind. The kind of tears that wash away pride, hurt and disillusionment. 

“You’re right I reckon Mama.”

 I thought about what she’d said, about how I had done exactly that, how I’d collected all the prize rocks and random trinkets they’d presented to me over the years and given them a place of prominence. I thought about the original artwork made by my children hanging framed in various places, or the random sticks collected over time. 

She was right of course. What had always, what has always made our home has never been the four walls surrounding us but instead the five souls within it. Our home has always been established through and by the King. Over the course of time I have learned that a house and a home are two different things and despite having more than a dozen houses, I’ve had but one home, and it is to them and to my King my heart is bound. 

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