Going Home

With no warning, we went back.  I can’t say back home, because it is no longer our home, but back to what was always home until we moved just a few short months ago.  I’m not sure if it was the suddenness of being in the place to which we had said goodbye, the seeing of things once so familiar, or the absolute culture shock from where we now live — most likely a combination of these — that was so jarring to our minds.

Christian and I left a day after we heard the news that my dear friend’s grandma to whom she has been caregiver for many years, was quickly passing from this world to the next.  Needing to see my friend’s face and needing to help in any small way drove us to make the journey back.  Our kids opted to stay home and care for things here since it wouldn’t be the kind of trip for visiting and such.

We drove all day to arrive in the evening in the place we had always known as home.  But now, it looked different with the new perspective we have.  The place in which we now live has very little traffic, no suburbia, and very few chain stores or restaurants.  Heck, the nearest Walgreens is almost two hours away.  Hustle and bustle are foreigners here.  But there — everything is within reach.  I thought I had missed some of that.  Turns out, I hadn’t.  It felt like so much stuff — chaos and noise and folks so busy running here and there that they can’t really see the folks around them.  I know, I know.  I hear it in myself.  I sound like Sasquatch coming out of the woods.  It did feel a bit like that.

We’ve been gone this long before.  Like my dear friend pointed out, this is how long we were on our RV trip.  And even when we were baby snowbirds we were gone quite some time.  But then, we were wanderers and returning was coming home.  This time was backwards and upside down in our minds.

“I think what you notice most when you haven’t been home in a while is how much the trees have grown around your memories.” — Mitch Albom

We stayed just a couple days with a day of travel added on to each end.  I got precious stolen moments with my friend in the midst of this journey upon which she finds herself.  I’m so very proud of her as she continues to pour out love in a way that is both precious and heart-wrenching.  In the quiet hospital room, she whispered words of love, and remained ever-present, and made sure the Gaithers sang GG home.

And there’s that word again — home.  For GG, I know of  a few of the places that she called home.  The southern home in which she grew up and lends cadence to her words, West Michigan where she spent her married years, and then in her granddaughter’s home where she thoroughly enjoyed watching her great-grandchildren live and play.  Now, however, she got to really go to the home she longed for.  At 96, she will get to meet her mother that she only knew for 6 short months.  At 96 she begins again with her beloved Jesus — no longer hampered by the results of  life and its living.  Can you just imagine what her homecoming felt like?

“…No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it.  No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” — 1 Corinthians 2:9

Having done all we could, we began our journey back.  Back to our children and our pets.  Back to a leaky drainfield pipe and wood to collect for winter.  Back to the vistas and views  of a gazillion stars and the absolute hush of the woods.

“Does it feel like home yet?” my husband asked me about halfway here.  It does.  I surprise myself by longing for it.  My heart has found its new place.  From being the one of us who didn’t want to leave her house for so long to now being the one who feels settled was a pleasant surprise.  I asked him the same.  He’s getting there.  As we got closer and closer, it felt more familiar — and as our kids welcomed us back, I’m absolutely sure there is no longer a question.

This is it.  This is where we establish a residence for our hearts and our happiness and the unity of our family.  It’s where a legacy begins. Here, families will begin and live out their own love.  Hearts and tummies will be nourished as we laugh and share around a common table.  This is our home.


“‘I wonder if it will be — can be — any more beautiful than this,’ murmured Anne, looking around her with the loving, enraptured eyes of those to whom ‘home’ must always be the loveliest spot in the world, no matter what fairer lands may lie under alien stars.” –L.M.Montgomery




Weathering the Storm (Part Three)

This is part three in a series.  Click here for Part One and here for Part Two.

I was devastated.  We were being transported via ambulance to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. A three hour road trip at this point in the story felt impossible for many reasons.  For one, my husband was in no condition to leave his bed;  I couldn’t imagine him being carted across the state.  For another, I was so beyond exhausted after several nights without sleep that I didn’t think I could find my way to my car in the parking lot, let alone to drive somewhere I’d never been–downtown Detroit didn’t sound like a picnic.  I was going to be even more alone than I had been so far.  The weight of the world and the future of our family felt like it rested somewhere between my shoulder blades.

As they prepared the ambulance and our drivers and all of the paperwork, I called my beloved friend and told her I was leaving.  Would she please watch out for my children–the two at home loading our moving truck and one with her family much too far away to be comfortable.

She basically said, “No.  I’m coming with you.  Whatever happens you cannot be alone in this.”  And then she told her boss and left work and arranged for my car to be picked up from the hospital and brought home, and took her place driving behind our ambulance.   She would soon guide me through mazes of hallways and secure our hotel room and haul my bags around and help me rally–and walk the halls and pray for us.  My other beautiful friends rallied as well.  They brought food to my kids and called and texted them and stopped over to hug them.  Beautiful friends were  texting me dreams and visions God had given them for us, and more folks than I knew how to count were praying.  All my bases were covered.

The wise man prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.  It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

I got into the ambulance with my husband in the back and began a three hour road trip in a rainstorm at 80 mph listening to eighties music with a stranger (the driver) while eating a Lunchable.  Strangest, most surreal moment I can remember.

And then we arrived.  A huge hospital–completely scary and overwhelming as we entered through the emergency room and wound our way through the maze up to our new intensive care unit.  It all started all over again.  The million questions, the dozens of doctors, the transfusions, resisting fear, standing on faith, barely sleeping, just staring at my husband’s face…

Except this time, I had to leave him at night and  go to a hotel room and wonder if he would be okay while I wasn’t there.  Here, the staff quickly became our compassionate lifeline.  Here, God was about to reveal some answers…

 Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.–George Herbert

There is an enemy out there and he whispers lies.  He waits in the shadows until it’s dark and the world feels scary and then he quietly whispers lies into folks’ minds.  Sometimes he waits until you’re almost asleep and then he SHOUTS a scary word and makes you startled and unsettled and afraid.

But then…then, there’s a sweet and gentle whisper, like a beautiful melody wafting along on the breeze ever so faintly waiting to be heard, bringing words to remembrance.  Words of peace.  Words of love.  Words of truth.  Harder to hold on to, so elusive are they.  But they are real.  

We have heard both.  Lots of lies from the dream-dasher.  As I look into my husband’s eyes and see the same desperate look my sweet daughter gave me after hemorrhaging after childbirth–the same begging-for-help expression–the same pale features and drawn face, I heard lies.  From one hospital to another, there were doctors who told me that there was no way our dreams could happen.  I was told my husband would be here for weeks.  I heard words like cancer and leukemia.  We were asked if there were things that we had done to remove God’s protection over our lives.  We sought our God and asked why He brought us to this place.  Had we missed the mark somewhere?  Was this a lesson He was teaching us?

Time and time again, He responded ever-so-quietly.  We had recently told Him to give us a story.  To use us for His glory.  That if He wanted to fulfill our dream and His plan that He birthed in our family, that whatever the story was, we would tell of His goodness–shout it from the rooftops.  

This enemy, he tried hard to unseat us.  He wanted us to doubt and feel abandoned and to kill the dream.  

But this…this is the story about how he failed.  How God is bigger.  How God even uses the hardest of things to show His love–if we wait for it.

I remember back just a week or so ago.  I was driving in the country.  It was a lovely spring day.  In front of me at one point was the biggest hill in our area.  It struck me that this hill looked quite daunting upon approach.  If I had to climb it on foot, I would be overwhelmed, and quit before I even started.  As it stood in front of me, it looked like my car should strain to climb it.

But, in truth, as I began my ascent, in my cutest little Honda Pilot, it didn’t even really feel like I was on a hill.  On either side, spring flowers were blooming.  Halfway up, the hill hardly looked steep–just a slight grade.

It just depended on how I looked at it.  In the rear view, it was just a thing in my past.  No big deal.  A place I’d been.  rear view

I could have stopped at the bottom and gotten myself all worked up over the possibilities.  What if my car stopped and rolled backwards when I got halfway up?  What if I just couldn’t climb the hill?  Maybe I shouldn’t even try.

But I would have missed the victory!  The view from the top is spectacular!  The perspective from that vantage point is priceless.

Once the climb is over, it ceases to look like any kind of issue and just looks like a place I’ve been.

That’s where I want so desperately to be.  Over the hump.  On the other side.  I know it’s there.

I hate this hill at this moment.  But in me, it is producing something.  Some sort of strength.  An amazing sort of closeness to my heavenly Daddy.

And you should see the flowers along the way!

To be continued…

In the midst of the flurry–clarity.

In the midst of the storm–calm.

In the midst of divided interests–certainty.

In the many roads–a certain choice.

–MaryAnne Radmacher