Home Again…Part 1: Adjusting

Two years. So much can happen. So much can change. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that to you…you lived the last years, too. If you’re reading this you survived them, too.

Two years ago I went to the best conference of my life. Connecting with other women clergy within my denomination energized me and encouraged me. I was excited to get back to my congregation. But first a quick visit to get my Scrabble fix with Mom.

Two years ago she got sick and never really bounced back. Her breathing issues were complicated by her anxiety. Or was it the other way around? The cycle was vicious. Then the natural progression of age related dementia began to show up unannounced. Another severe lung infection and we called in support from hospice. She had several infections, but they cleared up with medication…except for this last time.

The day before Christmas Eve was a typical day. Sure, her appetite was off a little. But she was scolding the officials and coaching the teams from her chair as she watched a couple bowl games. Before that we managed to get in a game of Scrabble. All in all, a pretty normal day.

Until bedtime. As she was completing her usual bedtime routine she began to have breathing issues which switched on the anxiety. A dose of morphine, holding her hand for a bit so it could kick in, and then walking her to bed and tucking her in seemed to quell the attack. But her sleep was restless, and she cried out for it all to end. More hand holding and gentle words. I called hospice and was directed to use a med that would help with the secretions. This seemed to bring a little relief and she fell asleep. And then she was gone.

My husband and I had dreamed of somehow being able to purchase Mom’s house and live out our retirement in the beauty and warmth of Arizona. Not having enough means and Nelson needing to be in Ohio for his mom brought me back to Ohio.

In one of our conversations on the long trip home, I tried to express part of what made this obvious choice so difficult for me. I’m nearly sixty-five years old, and this is the first move I’ve made, we’ve made, without knowing where or what, without having purpose or direction. Limbo. Waiting. Trusting. Wondering. I’m living an unsettled sort of peace. And I’ll confess, I’m not particularly fond or comfortable with this strange mix of circumstances.

But I’m home. And we’ll continue to work out all that means, and where that goes. Because that’s what we do.

Lenten Thoughts: Home

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Several years ago, my husband and I were in the market for a new place to live. We had only owned one home and we lost it when the restaurants my husband co-owned closed. It was a hard loss. We rented the house we lived in when we started that round of house shopping because both our daughters and all our grandchildren were living with us. They moved out on their own and we were lost in this very huge, and expensive house.

So, we found a really good realtor. She figured out our needs and likes. One day she took us to seven houses. I fell in love with one house and liked its location. Then I fell in love with one location and sort of liked the house. While we’re still struggling a bit with some things with the “loved” house, we sent her an email and told her that we thought it was the one.

As we pulled out of the driveway, I began thinking of colors for the rooms and where I’d put furniture. Nelson began research on propane. We imagined ourselves living in our new home. Was it a place where we could see ourselves growing old? The price was right, but how was the fit?

When we bought our first house (the one we lost), we bought it mostly because it was available with land contract, and it was only a block away from where we were living (an easy move), and two blocks from where I was working. We learned to live with the rest of it. It was a house, but never really became a home. We came and went so much from that place, it was more like a stopover than a dwelling place. This became very clear to me when I lost my jobs and was “stuck” being there for months before we eventually moved.

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I remember a devotion I read by John Henry Jowett many years ago where he spoke of our need to find our dwelling place, where we could be “at home.” He referenced 2 Corinthians 5 and compared birds that just flit in and out with those that nest and dwell.

A search of “dwelling place” led me to many references made to God’s dwelling place. Isaiah paints a difference image in chapter 32: “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest (Isaiah 32:18, NIV).”

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older, and getting more so every day, but I want to find a place where I feel like I land and rest. The house we were considering had a “lake” in the back yard, and Amish farms across the road in the front. I don’t know if it gets more peaceful than that.

The important thing, though, is not the address. The house could be in the middle of nowhere and not be a place of undisturbed rest. If a house is to truly be a dwelling place, I will have to be at rest in my heart and spirit. I will need to be at peace with my creator.

So my prayer became, if this was where he wanted us that he will lead us beside the still waters and make us lie down there.

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