Home is where my husband and my daughters are. Shawn has been my home for almost 17 years.
We lived in an apartment attached to someone’s house (where the kitchen sink was the size of a toaster).
We lived in missionary training center housing where there was not even a toilet in the apartment. (We had to walk to a bath house – somehow that was supposed to help prepare us for life and ministry overseas.)
We upgraded to a little apartment at our next training center where there was a toilet (the cheering! the excitement!) but no shower. We had to bundle up in the winter just to walk to take a shower, hoping our wet hair wouldn’t freeze on the walk back. And of course, hoping the line wouldn’t be too long since we were sharing with a whole campus.
We lived in my in-law’s basement (it was more of a garage with a bed in it) for 4ish months.
We lived without running water for a year, and we’ve lived in a few ghettos. The kind of ghetto where your friends don’t feel comfortable parking their car outside your house.
We lived above a boutique where you could buy a baguette, a cold drink from the fridge, eggs, seasoning, all from a friendly man from behind the counter.
We lived where we could hear the ocean at night and drums when there was something to celebrate. We lived where the Call to Prayer at the Mosque was our alarm clock and a reminder that I should probably start dinner (read: ask Shawn what we were having for dinner).
We lived where no one understood our language or our ways.
We lived where snow fell higher than our car and where our apartment was furnished and quite possibly the most uncomfortable thing known to man.
We lived here and we lived there. We had pot smoking neighbors and mice upon mice living among us. We always had decorations of some sort. Even if it was just a map of the world taped to the wall with family pictures taped around it.
And now we’re in a new place and I’m thinking about home, and the various homes we’ve known, all over again. I’m thinking about what it means but more so, what it should mean, and what we want it to look like for these growing-by-the-minute girls of ours. They may not be amazed by the light fixtures, or how well insulated the house is, or how great the long driveway is. They may not be impressed by the bathtub like I am, or rave about the front door like I do. (I’m going to interrupt myself with a quick mini story: a friend came to see our new house last night and she was also raving about the front door. I said, “I know! I just can’t get over it.” And she said, “Then don’t.” And it was the sweetest permission to just love this place, to keep being grateful and appreciate it all unapologetically.)
I started thinking about what we want our home to look like, aside from the door and the tile and the way we arrange our furniture. I started thinking more about the culture of our home. In issue 27 of Bella Grace, there was an essay on home. Then there was a blank illustration of a house where you can write down or illustrate all the feelings you want to fill your home with. That really made me stop and think.
In the empty space of the illustrated home, here are the things we jotted down:
Laugh here! Cry here. Be you here.
Accepted because we’re accepted in Jesus.
Growth (but no rush).
“Always we begin again.”
Whatever home looks like here, or wherever our girls end up, I hope they know love and grace, and I hope that at some point they get to have a front door that they love.
By Jenn DeAtley