Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home for Holidays

I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holidays. My two "not yet out of the nest" children are out of school the entire week and we are headed "home". When I talk about going "home" I am referring to where our parents now live. Home for my husband is a small town in south central Arkansas where all of his family has resided for ages. My husband moved only once--from the country to "town" when he was in 6th grade. He even commuted to college for the first 2 years. He grew up with all of his grandparents and cousins in the same town. Thanksgiving with his family will mean lots of traditional Thanksgiving fare (his mom has been cooking for weeks) and lots of relatives. I remember being overwhelmed with all the people during those first holiday visits. The holidays with my family will be quieter and less traditional. So as not to duplicate my mother-in-law's traditional turkey dinner, my side of the family celebrates our Texas heritage with Mexican food or BBQ at Thanksgiving and a shrimp boil at Christmas. With no extended family in the area and depending on my brother's family schedule, it is usually a smaller seating arrangement. They are both equally enjoyable times of celebration.

I may speak of home as where my parents now live--and it home because of them-- but for me, "home" isn't any ONE place. You see, I am a PK (preacher's kid- yeah I know that explains a few other things about me) and over the course of my childhood, there are several places I've called home. Most of what I remember of the small East Texas town where I was born and lived until I was 3 except is vague memories stimulated by family photos. It must have been a great time in my life though-- as the first born child, I had the focused love and attention of my parents and according to my mother, was spared multiple spankings during church services when well meaning church members would rescue me during the service and give my mom a break.

We moved to Arkansas when I was three and that's where we "got" my baby brother (at least that's the way I understood it to happen). We lived next to the church building- this arrangement had its burdens(noisy parishoners) and blessings. One time the local radio station held a contest where the first person to bring a church bulletin to the station van parked behind our church building would win a prize. I do not remember what the prize was, I just remember falling and skinning my knee in my effort to be the first one there. I remember filmstrips in Sunday school class and Vacation Bible school crafts. Mrs. Kelley was my Kindergarten teacher and she taught me how to cut with scissors. I loved her gentle voice and did not like it when I had to move to first grade where I had Mrs. Hale for a teacher. She was old and mean and I thought her name was spelled "Hell" (if you speak southern you will hear the similarity). I did not have to endure Mrs.Hale/Hell for very long because we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in the middle of first grade. Elementary school, piano lessons, roller skating parties, Brownies & Girl Scouts--I have great memories of that time and place. It remains, to this day, my favorite place to have lived (I even returned there to attend college some years later).

I spent my middle school and high school years in the Houston area. It was the best of times and the worst of times. The big city had many opportunities, experiences, and temptations and I dabbled in it all. I didn't know that I needed to be rescued from that place but God delivered me out of circumstances and relationships that I could not shake on my own by moving my family back to Arkansas. It was not the big city opportunities that would most affect my life but was God working through a committed youth group in a Baptist church that would forever change how I lived my life. Through their witness, I realized that I had been playing church and not fully committed to following the One I said that I trusted as my Savior.

The course of my life was forever changed. School choices, marriage, career, ministry & children would all be altered by that one choice--a lifetime commitment to following Christ. I've called 5 more places "home" since that time. Going home for me means visiting all of those places and people God has used to mold me into the person I am today and the being grateful for the impact they have had on my life.

So how about you--where or what is "home" for you?

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