Wednesdays with Jillene: “that’s where home will be…”

“We’re going home.”

Seems pretty straight forward, yes? Doesn’t always seem that way though. Over the past week For a few months now I’ve had to pause and intentionally use the word home and conversely stop and refrain from using it as well. I guess preparing for and then living through a big move will do that to a person: make you re-evaluate home. 

What makes something home? How do you decide what you call home? Looking back I thought about how, whenever our family has taken weekend trips, our smaller kids very quickly start referring to whatever building or room we are staying in as home. 

Small Child (probably Avari): “Okay mom, I’m done swimming now. Let’s go back to our home.”

Me: “You mean our cabin. Let’s go back to our cabin.”

Small Child: “Sure our home… I mean cabin.”

Seems pretty natural for them to adopt a temporary place they are residing in as home. And yet, they still know that more permanent place we call home exists.

This whole move thing, let me tell you, is really stretching me. A week before we moved I found myself intentionally changing the language I used for the house that we lived in and the camp it was at… as much as I’d like to say it was to help my children prepare for the transition… it served to prepare my heart. I mean really, how do you prepare your heart and mind to seamlessly transition between one home you’ve lived in for 15 years and the new home you’re about to establish?

But the day came, the truck had already left with most of our belongings, a van full of kids and random Narraway family accessories began the almost 8 hour (with a few expected and unexpected stops) from Camp Vick in New York to Camp Cowen in West Virginia. And that moment came to say, “Hey guys, we’re home.”

There we were, the whole lot of 10 of us, our beds, clothes, dishes, assorted belongings, and toothbrushes… we were now home. And yet, I’m sure you know, we weren’t quite. You can move all your stuff, pack it up in boxes, bring it to a new place, set it up… You can change your mailing address, insurance information, get new driver’s licenses… You can up and take you, your spouse, all your kids, and a few pets… bring them to a new house and that doesn’t mean it just becomes home… 

’cause there is this silly problem of your heart.

You can move all of those physical things but the heart doesn’t relocate so easily.

So for me, at about week 3 of living here I had that pit of my stomach sickening feeling: I don’t have a home.

Ever had one of those weird experiences when you take a nap and fall asleep when it is daylight and then wake up and it is dark outside? Once awake you can’t tell if you’ve slept straight through to the next day or not? Or what about when you are spending the night in an unfamiliar place and you awake the next morning not quite sure of where you are or what’s happening? Those sure are unnerving experiences that can really throw you off.

And see, I really I think that’s a decent comparison to what it was like to settle into a new home. 

Please don’t misunderstand, the place was great, the people were beyond wonderful, our family was transitioning better than I could have imagined they would, there as no question that God wanted us here… but there was that unsettling question of home. When will I know when I’m home? What makes a place home. How will the new feel like home when my heart is still with everyone that made the old home?

But I don’t think I would have expected any less. How could I? Did we not pour our hearts, efforts and daily lives into our ministries, friendships and extended families? You don’t just leave all of that and forget… you can’t just leave that all behind without leaving a bit of your heart too.

The result? Some very tough moments… one very hard morning when I could barely find my voice, my literal voice, because in the middle of searching to feel… to find.. to understand home I’d started to lose me.

Does that sound silly? I don’t know. Maybe it does to you but to me it was all too real. I might have had all my things, I might have had my husband and my kids, God was ever present leading us here but I didn’t have home… and in the toughest moments I wasn’t sure where that left me. 

During Camp Global here at West Virginia Baptist Camp at Cowen I felt one of those God ordained moments coming and so I sat and waited. Greetings, announcements, activities, speakers passed and I waited. I wanted to get up, wanted to move on to the next task… but God gently told me to wait… No matter what reason I gave myself, how I tried to tell myself I needed to be doing something else… I couldn’t leave.

img_0629.jpgAnd then Baillie stepped on stage, I couldn’t look away. Truth be told, when she started speaking and then singing, I’m surprised I wasn’t a puddle of tears and emotions (there was a few tears) but when God meets you with truth right where you need it spoken there is healing even in the pain.

As she and her family are missionaries to Mexico just a few years ago she’d moved from West Virginia to the mission field. Then recently their family had come back in the states for a period and now she’s headed off to college. Read what Baillie said about her song and then take a listen!

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Following God isn’t always easy, you know. His plans are greater than any I could ever imagine but that doesn’t mean they come without hardship. For me, following God here to West Virginia opened my eyes to the depths of something I knew but living it is something else entirely.

I’d lived at Camp Vick for 15 years, home sure had a strong meaning there. Other than Micah all our babies were born in Buffalo and came home to grow up there. Our families lived 30 minutes away, always seeming so close. Birthdays, parties, and family holidays were spent there. Our lives were poured into ministry in New York. Our dear friends were all around.

Following God is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And to follow God is to love others as He loved us.

So it comes as no surprise that to leave a place where you’ve been living can feel like leaving a piece of you behind. The struggle is to see how much more full your life is that you’ve loved enough to leave that piece of you behind.

And here is what God’s been working on my heart this summer, what God has been stretching beyond a thing I know in my head to a deeper reality I live my life by:

I am not home because of where I am… I am not home because of who I am with… I am home because of whose I am.

I am a child of God.

I am lavished with His mercy, filled with His grace, loved beyond imaging. Not because of where I live. Not because of who is in my life. Not because of what I accomplish. Not because of what I have.

All those can be taken away (oh my word- do I know that would hurt) but I would still be God’s child.

Like Baillie, I long for a time when all the people I love, all the things that have pieces of my heart will be all together. And I have the hope that in Christ we have the security of heaven. What in the meantime? How to live when home feels scattered in a zillion pieces across way too great a distance? But right here is where God’s working on me comes clear, in this simple to speak and yet complex to live scripture:

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.

Psalm 91:2

That’s where home will be…

~Jillene


Thank you Baillie for your song, your heart and your permission to repost that here on my blog! God Bless as you walk the many journeys God is placing in front of you! Praying for you.

 

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