Updated: Feb 15
“Home” is a word that should be soothing and grand, conjuring up memories of joy, happiness and peace. The word “home” is endearing to so many that its connotations and use are almost endless – from a home stretch, hometown, home cooking, homemakers and even the Homewood hotel. As if that weren't enough, we can even go to a hardware store called the Home Depot. Ironically, “home” can even be used to describe a gender like a "home boy" or a "home-grown" girl. I have occasionally used the last phrase to describe my wife to new acquaintances. Before you associated this term with the popular phrase, "the lights are on and nobody’s home," let me drive my point... HOME.
I know not everyone has pleasant memories when they think of home. Just this week, a lady we'll call “Jane,” wrote to tell me she had an abusive, alcoholic husband who was destroying their marriage and family. At wit’s end, she was looking for answers to salvage the devastating consequences on her and her fragile children. Divided homes will crumble quicker than a cracker. While I am troubled for many like “Jane” whose homelife is or has been regretful, I must be honest and say, that for me, home is the closest I have been to heaven.
Like every one of the men I have met behind the steel bars of prison, there is a constant thought making circles in my mind. It is the hunger to return home. For them and me, we would do almost anything to get back to the one place we feel like a king. Amazing isn't it? Nowhere in the world, regardless of its beauty or splendor, is as comforting as the spot we call home.
As I write I feel a sense of sadness. It's Resurrection Sunday and for the second year in a row I have not seen my family on this special day. Instead of my house, I am alone in a hotel room on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas. When I returned from lunch today, I turned on my phone and felt a lump in my throat as I viewed the picture my wife sent of her and my three children all decked out in their Easter best. Missy was dressed in a stunning red dress and my oldest son and only daughter were clad in pastel colors that could make an Easter egg crack itself with pride. My youngest, nine years old, was the expected one who dressed as though he weren't on the team. You could say... well, he has his own ideas of fashion. His navy blue V-neck T-shirt, khaki shorts, white belt and his out-of-place, calf-high black socks, made him look like an old geezer on a Miami beach who thinks he still looks cool. When I saw his outfit choice, I immediately wondered if there was the usual debate with him before going to church about his wardrobe and if Missy decided to just give in rather than try and convince him of something he would not understand.
Seeing my family photo made my day and reminded me how unique they are and how much I miss them and our home. With them, life is so...complete.
What makes home so special?
The people I love are there. The people who love me are there. Mistakes are forgiven. My youngest has not gotten too old to crawl in my bed when he gets afraid. My teenage son still thinks I'm cool and wants to watch sports with me. My daughter isn't embarrassed of me and when her friends stay the night they both want me to go (WITH) them to Wal-mart or on walks. Missy cooks great meals. I can be me and still be accepted. No one earns love there, it is automatically given.
In spite of tonight's sense of loneliness and sorrow, I am extremely blessed. I know not everyone has the privileges I have of being a person who has two separate homes they love. That's right, I have two houses. One is located in North Texas, a red brick house that I wonder if I will ever pay off. It is the place where my three kids, wife, Great Pyrenees and yellow Labrador await my return. With God’s grace, I will return on Thursday.
The other is completely paid off. I don't owe a single penny! The place is stunning! There is a great view of a crystal-clear river, constant warmth from a blazing son, majestic off-white colored gates and even though it is located in a major city, it has a small-town feel. It’s a place where anyone would feel welcome and never want to leave! Even now, I am making plans to leave Texas and move into this home permanently. The best part is that this home was not something I paid for myself but has been undeservedly given to me by my closest friend. I guess you could say I inherited it the day I placed my faith in Him.
I know it sounds too good to be true but its not, and He has a place for you as well. So come on in, pull up a chair at the feast and make yourself at home. You'll be glad you did.
After all, great homes cannot be bought; they are built peace by peace.