When I was a little girl, my family lived on forty acres in an old farm house far from town.  I was told that it had been a house in Chicago that was moved in pieces to West Michigan many decades ago.  I wish I could prove that story, because it seems like it would have been quite the adventure!

That big, ol’ house which contained a covered front porch complete with a porch swing, a barn, an old ramshackle cabin, a garden, and a bag-swing upon which I twirled for hours offered me room to safely roam and play and explore and hide.  As I’ve mentioned before, the atmosphere in that house was far from ideal for a little girl, but the aforementioned places provided refuge for little me. We moved from there when I was ten, and afterwards, I longed for what I had allowed to be idyllic in my mind.  I dreamed of that house often as I slept — even as a grown woman.  Often, I dreamed that Christian and I bought the house back and fixed it back up and raised our children there.  Sometimes, I would take a drive and just go see it.  It’s perplexing to me that a place so full of bad memories holds such an elevated place in my mind.  I wonder what it is about us, as humans, that needs to do that.  Like when a person passes away and the reality is quickly discarded, and all that is remembered has softened edges and becomes better than it really was.

I wonder what the reality would be if we could go back and revisit a place from our past. Like visiting your elementary school after 20 or 30 years absent.  It feels like some misadventure from Alice in Wonderland with all of the proportions skewed.  Doors with knobs that used to seem to take two hands to manage are now tiny, and hallways that loomed like caverns are now crowded and strangely normal.


I didn’t realize for even one second how I was being given a gift, a surprise — my dream fulfilled — until recently.

You see, for all of our marriage we lived with too-close neighbors.  In our first cozy, noisy, apartment, there was the much-too-friendly-for-Alison-to-be-comfortable, stripper who lived across the hall from us and made sure to stop by and tell my husband he could borrow a *pan or whatever* anytime.

Then there was the one-armed man who shared our driveway in our first rental house.  He stared from within forever-closed curtains and only left the house to go to and from work.  Didn’t speak.  Left a lot to my wild and frightened imagination.

Then, we bought our first house in a quiet-ish little neighborhood.  It sat on a corner and could be seen from all sides.  On two sides we had neighbors who didn’t mind their massive fights being heard by the whole area.  On the other side was a man who needed to know everyone’s business.  He took note of what time we turned the lights out to go to bed and when Christian had been traveling!. “Oh, you two were up late last night!”and “So, you were gone for a while last week!” (!?!)

We then built our house on 3 acres.  Felt like solitude — for a minute.  Until one neighbor complained about our dirt bikes being too loud and another began construction of a garden of questionable produce, and dogs barked, and all of the woods behind us were ravaged to build a possible subdivision.

For the little girl who grew up with her dad hanging laundry on the line in his underwear, this was a struggle.  Too many people.  Too many things.  Too much noise.

And then my son had a dream that trickled throughout the family.  A dream so outlandish to most that most still haven’t even heard why and how it is coming to fruition.  The more we talked about him living his dream, the more we wanted onboard.  (Not trying to be mysterious or anything, but you can watch it unfold here. It’s a whole ‘nother blog)

I must admit, I kicked and fought many of these steps.  I wasn’t crazy about the thought of being *dragged* somewhere cold and far from my normal.  I wanted my friends and my Biggby and my easy life.  And then there was the epic battle that it took to land us here.  I kept wondering why I was fighting so hard for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted.

And then, one warm, early summer morning, I found myself alone in the loft of my new, old barn.  The only sounds were a few early birds singing with abandon.  The dust motes filled the beams of sunshine like so many snowflakes in a blizzard.  The wind sighed through ancient boards and creaky beams.

And I worshiped.

There was One Who knew the longings I had even more than I did.  I had forgotten my dreams of living far from neighbors, but He hadn’t.  I had set aside my longings for covered porches, and a swing, and a garden, and old ramshackle cabin, and the woods for miles.  I didn’t even remember to dream for that again in my world.  But He recreated it far more epically than my own little ideas and multiplied it by a thousand!  As I breathed in the smell of the barn, I was transfixed and transported.  It smelled so familiar.  Somewhere I had been.  Somewhere pleasant.  Who knew barns smelled alike?  I hadn’t been in one since I was nine.  And here I stood, given back with excess spilling everywhere.


And I can most certainly hang laundry in my underwear.


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