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Posts Tagged ‘Home’

In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now.
You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven.
You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here.

– Ann Voskamp

canadianpassport1-300x200

Where is your citizenship?

We all have birth certificates and passports that declare where our home is, in the eyes of our individual ‘Caesars,’ but this life is short, and those legal documents declaring our Earthly citizenship do not take us into Eternity.

The citizenship of our Foreverland is stamped, in blood, and we do not have to fill out forms to apply, we simply have to be willing to receive. And once we receive, we have arrived, safe in the homeland of the kingdom of God that exists here and now, that exists for all eternity with Christ.

We have all had moments in our lives when we have felt that we were not quite there yet, as though our new passport has not arrived in the post, or we, like in the following story, have arrived at the border, the airport, the train station, the boat dock without proof of where we belong. We have all had times when, sitting around the board table, the pot luck table, the family dinner table, we felt like an illegal alien who does not fit, who does not belong … and oh, how we yearn to belong! Oh, how we yearn …

The yearning is a gift, a reminder, that we were made for a garden … and a garden was made for us.

But …

even when the weeds seem to strangle,
even when the soil is no longer rich but dry like dust,
even when the rains are washing away our crop …

this weed-infested,
heartache-filled,
I-don’t-know-what-to-do-next citizenship on sin-filled planet Earth …

is also created by the great garden tender, who also created us.

This is the kingdom

We are the kingdom-bearers

Children of the great high king

Ruler of heaven …

and Earth.

Even though we sometimes say to ourselves, “I can’t believe they let you in.”

And here follows a reminder about citizenship, by Ann Voskamp …

“Someone has to be that Mother.
 
That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20 minute traffic backup under the hot, beating sun, only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children.
 
So that would be me.
 
“Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?”
 
The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge.
 
He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either.
 
“Um… no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers?
 
“I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother…. ?
 
I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free.
 
“Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch it, still hoping the earth might open up instead. The officer pops his head in. “Birthdates, kids.”
 
Birthdates?
 
Joshua states his month, day, year and Hope leans forward and I’m the realist who doesn’t hold out much hope at all.
 
The officer taps it into his computer, glances over at me, “And are they Canadian citizens?”
 
“Yes?”
 
And I really try to say it like I’m not always a tentative Canadian, like it’s not a question, like I’m dubious, like I think he’s just gleefully extending the torture of my ineptness and embarrassment of not having one piece of paper to prove anything — because isn’t this the United States of America and when exactly did they start letting in hicks without a passport, without a birth certificate?
 
He looks up from the screen.
 
“Welcome to the United States, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
 
And he hands me my passport.
 
“Welcome?” Um … Really? “But if you let us into the States…” I stammer it out —”

And now click here, When You Sort of Feel Like You Don’t Belong, to read the rest. And for my family who knows they matter, there’s a rainbow at the end!

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I have a secret shame … but, I guess it will soon no longer be secret …

It all started about eight and a half years ago, when we had company over for dinner in our new house. We had experienced quite an exciting process in the purchasing of this current house, and selling of our previous place (in the order … sigh), and we truly felt that God had provided this little piece of heaven on earth for us.

20130611-171131.jpgFrom the moment that the couple arrived, until they left hours later, the wife of the couple was constantly making comments about how big the house is, how excessive the house is, how extravagant the house is. By the time they left, later that evening, my joy of our new home had been popped like a helium balloon.

big

excessive

extravagant

For the thrift shopping, Scottish heritage bearing, tightwad in me those descriptors of our home were enough to make me feel shamed.

As I look back now, my desire to move, to downsize, started with that evening. I could not bear to imagine people thinking that I, that we, wanted to live in excess.

This story came to mind the other day when I was planning a party at our home, and I pulled one of the people invited aside and asked him to please not judge me on our over-sized house. Each word I communicated to him, I did so with the similarity of a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs after being caught ripping up the baseboards (not that that has ever happened with our beast). What I was really communicating to him was not humility, but shame.

But now, as hubby and I are looking at ending this season in this house I am remembering that, although I have referred to it as an albatross, although I have referred to it as the original Money Pit, although I have referred to this house as owning us (and let me tell you, it does), I am remembering how, originally, we looked at it as a blessing, from the hand of God …

It is what we have done with that gift … allowing it to own us, allowing it to dictate how we spend our time … our money, allowing the words of one person to cast a shifting shadow on the gift that God delighted in presenting to us.

May we learn from this secret shame … may we overlook the shadow to see the light of God in the blessings … all of the blessings … that He has given.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

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images-2I am awed by the manner and intricate detail with which my God makes efforts to encourage me, teach me, comfort me and communicate with me.

There have been times when I have opened my Bible, or another book of words written hundreds of years ago, and it is as though the message were hand picked for me, for that exact moment in time. There are innumerable instances when I have cried out to Jesus for help, only to turn on the music to hear a very perfect response.

In these unexpected times of oneness with my heavenly father, I am left with one main knowledge … He loves me … He, the Creator of all life, and the perfecter of all beauty, mystery and wonder truly loves me, and will never leave me alone.

This communication and communion of intimacy happened again just days ago. I was not particularly needy or downcast, but I was lowering my head and asking for His encouragement. As I opened up to my social media there on the screen was the message that as soon as I started to read I knew it was for me, for my eyes, my heart, my soul.

The status was written by a Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson, an author, speaker and television host (700 Club Canada) whose status updates are always filled with encouragement, but it is never drivel that seems forced and fake. She wrote:

“No matter what you are facing, there is a powerful place of profound relationship that is offered to those who would steadfastly seek the Father.

Psalm 25:14 “The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.”

God’s covenant to you is that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. Though man, jobs, locations and circumstances may all change and bring discontent and concern, your God is faithful to the very end. You have no need to worry that any dread, anxiety or fear would take hold of your situation. Talk to the bad thoughts and tell them to take a number and get in the line-up to ‘not listening’. Give no place to negative and disturbing contemplations of our natural mind. They bear no validity to truth. Having done all stand in Christ alone. Your victory is being devised by far greater forces than what has come against you.”

Then, just hours after reading and pondering her words, the words of a song came on the radio, and although I do not believe they were written with this intent, I heard them as though spoken to my heart from my Savior:

“Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone

Cause I’m going to make this place your home”

He loves me … He, the Creator of all life, and the perfecter of all beauty, mystery and wonder truly loves me, and will never leave me alone.

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It is end of the year at school, with exams, report cards, prom and graduation the main talks around the water fountain.

The students who are graduating out of the school system are a totally different group than when they entered.

In the beginning they were possibly still struggling with toileting, could barely print their names, might have been dealing with separation anxiety, and possibly still even needed a car seat .

Now, thirteen years later, they can fix an engine, write a manuscript, run for miles and recite Shakespeare. They can drive a car, survive alone at home, and are just months away from being able to elect our politicians.

Truly, if anyone has, they have experienced the reality of metamorphosis. Who they were in the beginning of their schooling is barely a shadow of who they are today.

Those who are graduating this year are fully immersed into all of the farewells, from all that they have known for the past thirteen years. They are having celebrations, receiving gifts and making plans for the rest of their lives. They may not know what their immediate or long term future will look like, but they all share one common bond … they are leaving home.

Now they might not be leaving their parent’s home, but they are leaving their school, and whether they spent just a year or all thirteen years there, they are leaving home.

School is not just a place of education, it is also a microcosm, or small picture, of society and more specifically, of family. Within the walls of every school are:

* the ‘perfect’ cousins, who do it all the right way … always!
* the uncle or aunt who is always carrying mints.
* the grandfather with a flatulence problem.
* the grandmother who cannot match her clothing colors.
* the weird uncle.

The list goes on and on.

The school family, like the ones we share Christmas with, is not perfect. It is often unpredictable, nosy, odd and embarrassing. It can make you feel as though it is ruling and ruining your life. It can seem like the only chance at freedom and a good and healthy future is to leave.

And then the day comes, and you hold that diploma, and it is time to leave … forever.

And whether you loved your school home, or were convinced that you never should have been there, all that you knew is done, over and gone … and it is never, ever going to be the same again.

The school family was not just the negative, the strange, the obscure. It was also the place where you had, not just moments of failure, but also moments of success. It was where that one teacher would say, “how are you?” and you knew that he or she really wanted to know. It was where you got your first taste of a gift or ability that you could be passionate about … in the lab, the computer room, the drama class, the gym, the English class, or in chatting it up with the custodian. It was where you first dealt with your fear of public speaking, test taking, sports, an engine, or computers (okay, that is just the staff).

When a graduate leaves their school home, there is adjustment coming. The expected is no more, the unexpected is all that is before you. The safe places to hide, and the spotlight to shine on you are changed. A temporary homelessness descends, and adjustment is necessary.

It was the school home. It is the place where students have gone from child to adult.

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Woohoo! I walk out of a quickly filling big box store, just nine sleeps to Christmas day, and snow flakes are starting to fall from the pregnant clouds. I am in the right place!

I have been humming “I’ll be Home for Christmas” since my son and I boarded the plane on the west coast, heading for the east. And now I get to hum “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (okay, confession time, I have been humming that since November first … but, I digress).

It is so good to be here, at the home of my birth, as the Christmas season is in full motion. I get to see my parents, my brothers and their families, other family members, friends and old familiar places.

I am discovering that the one way that my mom and I are not the same is Christmas decor. She LOVES it! I usually twiddle my thumbs all Christmas day, hoping my family will let me take the tree down on Boxing Day (it often comes down around the New Year … sigh).

For instance, there are snowmen EVERYWHERE around her house! They are in every room (the bathroom could be called the snowman room (kind of makes you wonder if that is where snowman ‘poop’ came from. She could have a store, and make a mint, just by selling her snowmen.

Then there are the Christmas dishes (sets, mugs, glasses, serving dishes) that fill her china cabinet. There are not enough family members to utilize all of them.

Then there is the tree … I feel inadequate just sitting in the same room as her Christmas tree. It is … perfect! It looks better than any tree in any store that has been professionally decorated! I would not even post a pick of mine on the internet!

I do love how my mom hangs on to things (some things). My mom has on her refrigerator a nativity that she has been putting on her refrigerator for (we added it up) over thirty-five years. It was on a bag of “Ben’s” bread. Mom used her sharp eyes to cut each piece out perfectly (she is the queen of the line, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time” … therapy is the only cure for that one … just sayin’). Then she wets each piece and presses it to the fridge, in a perfect line.

All joking aside (otherwise my mom might send me packing for defaming her 😉 ), the time here will go quickly, I am sure. It is such a blessing to be able to be here at this time of year. Nostalgia is reigning in my mind and heart! Now if the snow would just hurry up and show my son what a real snowstorm is!

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This is Home

I write this on April 22, as I am looking out past the lanai, at the sun rising over the houses, reflecting in the pond behind out condo. It is 7:30am, and everyone else is asleep. Ahhhhh!

I have been here, with my oldest daughter, in North Port, Florida (the sunny, turquoise water, Gulf Coast), visiting my hubby, son and youngest daughter, for five sleeps now. They left home, on hubby’s sabbatical, to drive here (from British Columbia … can you see me making the ‘L’ for loser sign on my forehead?). We had all been apart for almost four weeks, when my oldest and I arrived.

In just one and a half sleeps (it’s one and a HALF because the flight leaves at 7am, meaning I’ll need to be at the airport at 5am, meaning the alarm clock will need to be set for … I so don’t want to entertain that!), my daughters and I will board a plane in Orlando, Florida and head back to the Northwest, land in Seattle, and then head to the great north, to the place we call home.

But what is home? Where is home? How can I be sure?

Recently there was a study released of the Best Place in Canada to live 2011. And the four places I have lived were on that list (I always check, because I have them prioritized in my head, but it is fun to see if someone else agrees with me).

Currently I live in Langley, BC … and it is so beautiful! And it was rated #44 … out of 180! I’d say that was pretty good for a place that has everything a person could need or want, in the Vancouver area, and is littered with farms and greenhouses … nice contrast. Our son, Ben, was born here. From the hospital, high on a hill, we could look down on the valley and watch the fog lift in the morning. This is all Ben knows of home.

Prior to Langley, I lived in North Vancouver, it was rated #98. I think it’s good marks must have come from it’s proximity to Vancouver, because it was certainly not it’s affordability! Nonetheless, in the summer, it is the most beautiful place to live (in the winter, you need anti-depressants just to get out of bed). Our youngest daughter, Cris, was born here, early in April, with Magnolia trees, full of blossoms, surrounding the hospital.

Then there was Orleans … and it was rated, for the second year in a row (as part of Ottawa-Gatineau) as #1! This is the home where hubby came to the conclusion that hell is not hot, but cold (-50 windchill will do that for you. Imagine, living in a winter wonderland where tobogganing could result in frost bite … before even taking one run down the hill). Our oldest daughter, Brytt, was born here, just across the street was the autumn colored, trees, lining the Rideau Canal. This was the home, that felt most like home, as so few in Ottawa-Gatineau are from there, so everyone is from ‘somewhere else’, and everyone strives to make it home, for each other.

And then, the only home I knew until I was 21 (and that was half a lifetime ago!), #11 … out of 180, Moncton, New Brunswick! Okay, so I didn’t actually live in Moncton, but a village (my kids think it is hilarious that I grew up in a ‘village’ … their only knowledge of ‘village’ comes from the Shrek movies … quite a comparison!), just minutes down the highway. Only about 1600 people lived in the village … and, believe me, everyone there knew everything about anyone there! It was a great place to grow up, with four distinct, equal seasons (maybe not so equal this year, though). And there are so many wooded areas, you never see bears while out for a walk! (or snakes, for that matter)

But, what is home? Where is home? How can I be sure?

Hubby and I have often talked about moving to sunny San Diego, California, once our youngest graduates high school. You see, we chose Langley as our home, way back when our oldest was in kindergarten. We liked what the community could offer to a young family. We thought it would be good to ensure our kids would grow up knowing, as we did, a sense of hometown. So, we chose Langley as their hometown, and have trusted that God would provide meaningful employment for us. And He has.

The rain, the dark, endless winters (aka. monsoon season) of the Lower Mainland drive me crazy! And I pray for release from this wet, dark bondage.

But, I am starting to see a flaw in our long range dream of moving to San Diego, once the kids are done school. We have worked so hard to develop ‘hometown’ for them, in Langley, BC, that if we move, they will probably stay. All of a sudden, we are faced with ‘home’ without our kids. Now that is not so unusual, nor is it bad, but …

what is home?

where is home?

At one point in our lives it was more narrow, more black and white. It was owning a house. Living in a nice community, that was safe, and family-friendly. It meant finding one school that all of our kids would graduate from.

Here, on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida, with Palm Trees swaying in the breeze, I am coming to the realization that ‘home’ is where-ever we are, as a family. For this week, home is in a condo, in Florida. Next week, home will be in Langley, BC, for three of us. And from Florida, to Dallas, to San Diego (hello Legoland), to Oregon and everything in between will be home, for a time, for the guys in our family.

We have such fond memories of all of the places we have called home, and, in the words of Maya Angelou, “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s alright.”

April 24, 2011

As a postscript, today, my daughters and I were driving North from SeaTac Airport. As our vehicle crossed the US Canada border this above song starts playing, and doesn’t go unmissed by any of us …

“And now, after all my searching,

After all my questions,

I’m gonna call it home.

I got a brand new mindset,

I can finally see the sunset,

I’m gonna call it home.

Maybe this is home … “

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