This Is My House, This Is My Home
Part 1- What is ‘Home’?
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. ” Mother Theresa
At the moment, my housemates & I are in the process of looking for a new house to rent. We have found a new house nearby, and are just in the referencing stage. It’s an exciting time in some ways as it offers new opportunities, and a fresh start. But it can also be really stressful because it requires you to re-define what “home” is, and to create a new home in an unknown place.
This move, along with a wonderful blog from my friend Sabine (http://sabineamy.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/home-is-where-the-heart-is/), and the ‘Vision’ put forward by my Church (Hillsong) recently, got me thinking again about what home is?
In the last 6 years I have moved house 9 times!! That’s more than once a year. I have lived with family, with friends, in little rooms, in big rooms, in Derbyshire, in Cheshire, in London, and in Surrey. I don’t mind moving house, but it does up-root you in a way little else does. I have moved because I needed to and because I wanted to. I have moved for convenience, for clarity, for necessity and for opportunity.
Recently I watched an episode of one of my favourite programmes One Tree Hill. In it the characters discuss their home- Tree Hill, and what makes it so wonderful. They reminisce on all that has happened there, how they grew up, fell in love, got jobs, and had families all within the context of this magical place they call home. For them, no matter where else they go; Tree Hill will always be their home.
When you ‘Google’ home you get a lot of images of houses, but are they really homes? Or does home conjure up more of an image of family, sanctuary, or something very different for you?
Now, for me, to be honest, ‘Home’ is a very interesting subject…
When I was 7 my half brother committed suicide and even at that age it changed me forever. My parents divorced and ‘home’ changed completely.
At one stage I was in emergency foster care then went to stay with a friend from school and had a new ‘home’ for a week.
Age 13 in my 2nd year of high school ‘home’ became a women’s refuge, for over a year, which seemed lifetimes away from where I grew up.
‘Home’ was next a council estate which has the least ‘homely’ place I ever knew. It was a place, and situations that filled me with darkness and dread. My only joy- a little cherry blossom tree outside.
One day in the summer when I was 15, home changed in a way I could never have anticipated. I was put into foster care. I was given a few moments to pack up my thing then taken to a new family, a new house, a new home. A strange family, a strange house, a strange home. I didn’t know how long I would be there for or how life would change.
I say all this not to be dramatic, but to paint a picture. For some people the concept of home is reasonable straight forward. A house, a family, security, comfort. For others it is a very different thing. And for many, it is often changing as life progresses.
Over time, my idea of home changed irrevocably. As I experienced the love of my new family, including boundaries, discipline, grace, and forgiveness, my understanding changed. As I began to learn about Jesus, how he is my saviour, friend, father, comforter, protector, and family, my understanding of family and home again was dramatically re-defined. I don’t think I could begin to even describe the process, or how my mind was blown by the understanding of God’s love and grace, and how that was put into action by my foster family. And I definitely cannot explain, through all the changes and complexities, how a group of people, from such different backgrounds, understandings, and lives, were drawn together to become a family!
But that is what is so amazing about Jesus. And that is what is so amazing about ‘Church’. That a group of lonely, broken, incomplete people can become a whole, strong, loving, inseparable family.
And that is what my family have become to me. That is what ‘home’ is now to me. It has become a place of safety, comfort, love, security, hope, care, acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, and belonging. And all because my foster parents, and sisters decided to lay down their lives for others, to give of themselves, to overflow with grace, and to be every single day, in every practical way, ‘Home’ and family to others.
And trust me, it was a challenge on all parts, but a challenge worth fighting for.
Home is a total sanctuary for me because of the love that pours out from my family ❤
I will say, as a side note, that if you are a Christian, and you have never considered fostering or adopting, please do. I know that it is not for everyone, and it is a challenge. But if you have the love of Jesus in your hearts, and you want a practical, real, every day way of showing that love; you could literally transform a child’s life, and show them Jesus, by bringing them into your home. There are thousands of children in the UK who have no idea of what ‘Home’ is, and what it means to be in a family. You could show them. I believe that it is an incredible evangelism, and God has put it on my heart, that as I was saved by my foster family in so many ways, how incredible would it be for me to do the same for other children who don’t yet know him…
Psalm 68:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)
5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
6 God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.