Any opportunity I get, I drive by homes I have lived in. These homes are such a part of me that I consider them old friends, homes that are important veins that lead to my heart. I am able to recall vivid memories of each room, whether joyful or despairing, they are integral in the telling of my life’s story.
Author, Stephanie Perkins, asks, “Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
My earliest memory is my family's Valley Forge home in Houston. We moved there when I was 4 years old and my parents finally sold that home after I was an adult, with a family and a home of my own.
Valley Forge was as much a part of my childhood as any member of my family and my memories of that house are indelibly imprinted on my mind. My favorite room, a room I considered to be my good friend, became a large walk-in cedar closet located right next to my bedroom. To this day, the smell of freshly cut cedar makes my heart warm and fuzzy.
When my young world seemed to turn upside down, I would retreat into the depths of that cozy, aromatic closet where I felt safe and secure. I can picture my young self, sitting cross-legged on the warmth of the plush carpeted floor. My mother hung all of her evening dresses, along with my older sister’s crinoline and tulle skirted formals in this cedar closet. I can close my eyes today and still envision those formals billowing around me. Gazing up, all I could see were clouds of the most beautiful dresses. Hat boxes were stacked on top of shelves and a rainbow of dyed peau de soie pumps, stood at attention, one after another. Here is where I could retreat and solve all the problems of my little world. Here is where my imagination could run free, I could forget my sadness and I become an exotic princess from a far off land living on an island all her own…surrounded by chopped down cedar trees.
Sinclair Avenue in Midland, Texas was my next home. We bought this house as a young married couple. While it was tiny, I loved every square inch of this home. This is where I brought my babies home from the hospital. This is where they took their first steps and said their first words. The dated, pink tile countertop of the hall bath was the place my little ones sat while loose baby teeth were pulled and pigtails were created. In this home, my children learned to read and ride bicycles. Magic childhood Christmases were experienced between the walls of this sweet home. I remember preparing the nursery first for Brent, then for Brooke. I was so proud of myself when I painted Brent’s little boy room sky blue with white fluffy clouds just like Meryl Streep had done in the movie, “Kramer vs Kramer.”
The front door of that home was never closed. Children came and played and stayed. I grew up, along with my children in that home. I discovered, within those walls, life could quickly change, as could the family that lived within. I became a single mom while living in that little home and remember feeling scared and uncertain of what our future would hold, but I never doubted the love that existed there.
Brent, Brooke and I made the move to San Antonio in 1995. Not only did we move into our Stonehenge home, but we moved into a new family. I loved that home because this is where I fell in love with Steve. I loved that home because this is where he had raised Lynn and David and this is where, together, we raised two more teenagers. That home suited us well, but Steve realized it could never be “our home” and so, we began to think about building a new home together.
Bretford Court was our baby. It took 2 years to design. Working with an architect, we would draw and discuss and plan and then do it all over again. This was before the Pinterest and Houzz era and I lugged around a large, three-ring notebook stuffed with magazine pictures of dream room after dream room. The actual building took over a year, Steve and I loved the process, we loved our builder and we loved living there.
We had such precious memories of this home. All six of our grandchildren played in the little mouse house that was tucked under the eaves of the second floor family room. This cheerful pint-sized nook held toys and crayons, books, pillows and stuffed animals to cuddle. Our grandchildren would crawl in and play for hours in this little space of their own.
We put our heart and soul in the design of each room. Our kitchen was probably our favorite room, again another dear friend to me. Each night, Steve and I would listen to music, while cooking dinner. On cold nights, we would sit in front of a fire, drinking wine, laughing and eating dinner in that wonderful, cozy space. Ahh, those were the best of times.
When we knew Steve’s life was to be cut short, I knew I couldn’t live alone in this magnificent home that we had built together. I knew, without Steve, this home would be too big, too vacant, too sad. I’m thankful Steve was able to stay in our home until he left this earth. I am blessed I was able to say good-bye to him in our bedroom that we so loved, that was comfortable, that was home. After Steve’s death, the house was simply too painful, the walls echoed of the memories of voices and laughter I would never hear again and I knew it was time to move.
God was amazing in orchestrating every second of this last difficult move. Friends bought Bretford Court, Brooke and Jared moved into their new home and I was able to buy their Pinoak Knolls home and renovate it with incredible ease. The move of three different households took place without one hiccup, without one realtor and with such simplicity.
So why the pregnant pause when asked if I’m happy here? Sometimes, I feel like even this house is too big for just me, as I rattle around from one room to another. Maybe a smaller, cottage type home would suit me better. Perhaps, I have been watching too much HGTV and Chip and Jojo have turned me into a “find an old fixer upper, knock down all the walls, add some french doors and shiplap and it’ll be great” kind of person.
There are times I wish I lived in a little house in the country where I could have a nanny goat, two chickens and two miniature donkeys. (My friend Claudia told me if you have one donkey, you must have another…Claudia knows these things.) Other times, I wish I lived closer to the kids, as I spend much of my time driving back and forth between our homes. Then there are times I wish I lived in a house overlooking a lake…no, that might get too lonely.
All of this said, I’m unsettled. I’m trying to find my place. It’s as if I’m one of a few remaining puzzles pieces, searching for just the right spot for my piece to fit so that my picture is complete. I hope my puzzle piece will one day find its place, because until it does, my heart doesn't seem to be where my home is.
The time has passed for me to feel the security of a warm, quiet cedar closet, or the contentment of sitting in a nursery, rocking one of my babies. I understand my time of cooking in a kitchen and sharing a home-cooked meal with Steve has come and gone. I know these rooms will always be my friends, but they are from long ago and I simply am no longer able to visit them.
There is a longing deep within me to nestle into my home and find the quiet solitude within, to feel that this home, like all my other homes, is more a person than a place.
I know my focus must lie in allowing my heart to be Christ’s home, for this is where I will find true contentment, real joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
So, who knows whether tomorrow, I’ll be raising two miniature donkeys, living closer to my children, sitting out on a lovely lawn enjoying “GoldenPond” or simply staying right where I am and asking myself, “Why on earth would I ever want to put myself through the gruesome ordeal of moving again?”
For what it’s worth,
Ephesians 3:16–17 “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”