Thursday, March 19, 2015

You Can Go Home Again

I left my hometown in the summer of 1978. I couldn't wait to leave. I closed the door to bad memories and opened it to marriage and ushered in a new life in a new town. I welcomed the change.

Life eventually took us to another state and going home meant something altogether different.

My personal roots are complicated. My home of origin was torn apart by cancer, death, and circumstances beyond my control.

Me, Bus and Wilma-2013
My mom's best friend, Wilma, and her husband, stepped in to fill the void. Through the years, their home became the one I returned to. Their arms were the ones that welcomed me with hugs. When my children were born, even though I had a relationship with my dad, their house was the one I couldn't wait to visit to show off my new babies.

I have many memories of my early years. It's a blessing and a curse. The house I felt the safest in is still my favorite place for a drive-by. I can envision my family inside, still intact. It sits one block over from Wilma's home.

Life has a way of bringing you full circle. Age has a way of showing you the big picture.

Forgiveness has faded the bad memories and returning home has become something I look forward to. There are two plots of land that sit on a hill on the outskirts of town that will keep me returning until I breathe my last breath. The two people I honor with my visits gave me life.

The two I came to visit recently have given me joy in my life. They've given me part of their lives. They are two of the most selfless people I know. I made a visit to my hometown and spent a couple of days with Wilma. She's been in the hospital for an extended stay and I wanted to spend time with her. As we often do, we talked about the past, memories we cherish, people we know. I've looked into her eyes, felt her warm embrace, and seen tears trickle down her cheeks as I depart my entire life. It's the way we do goodbyes. She has a tender, genuine heart.

During the years since I left, many things have changed. The high school is now the middle school, and my grade school is now a community center. The downtown area has had landmark buildings torn down and new offices built in their place. Gino's, our favorite pizza place was relocated, and The Dairy Queen is a no-name ice cream shop.

But, home is still home. When I drive through town, memories of my childhood come flooding back. In many ways, I'm still the little girl on the inside when I revisit the town of my past. I can still see myself walking to the book mobile on Saturday afternoons after doing my chores. I can remember playing in the vacant lot on my street, learning to ride my bicycle, learning to drive a car, and losing my mom to cancer.

My high school graduation-1977
But, on the outside, life has made a few changes. I'm a little worn, a little weary. The burdens of life and age begin to show the tell-all signs if you look closely. Coming back to my roots reminds me I'm not the same as when I left. I've made some good choices along the way that have enriched my life, made me stronger, drawn me closer to the One who loves me most. I've also made some choices that caused me to drift.

I'm thankful for the two people who live on a corner in West Madison who never change. Their love and support have remained faithful in my life for as long as I can remember, and I have a good memory. When I left the hospital last week, I told Wilma I loved her. She replied back to me, "I love you more." I couldn't argue with her for I don't know anyone with more love to give.

Even though the home of my parents no longer exists, I can go home again. There's a saying that says, "Home is where your heart is." My heart will forever exist in those I love as long as I have breath.

A part of me will always reside in my hometown. I thought I could run away but my roots go deep in that little town that first shaped me. I had to face my demons and lay them to rest.

It was the heart of the people who truly loved me that held the greatest influence.

Look around you at the lives you touch. You may not think you have much to offer. There are hurting, lonely, children all around you. Invest your time in these little ones, or not so little ones. Their future may depend on it. God may be calling you. Don't disappoint Him, or a child in need.

"...Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you? Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'"
Matthew 25:44-45


Friday, March 6, 2015

When Life Sends You a Curve Snow Ball

This blizzard wasn't in my plan.

The plan was to travel to West Virginia on Tuesday, spend Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, and Thursday morning at the hospital with Wilma. I'd leave on Thursday afternoon for home in South Carolina.

What do they say about the best laid plans?

Our life is not ours to plan, nor is the weather.

As I write this post, I'm sitting in a hotel room with time on my hands, time I didn't know I'd have for writing.

She's a southern car, what's snow?
I tried to leave, but treacherous roads and pouring snow prevented me from my journey. My goal was to get home by Friday morning since that's when my Bible study begins, one I've been anticipating for months.

Now that's a good thing, right? So why was I prevented from getting home?

It occurred to me that sometimes even a good thing is not the best thing.

I was heartsick when my car would hardly make it out of the hotel parking lot. All I could think of was I need to be home in twenty-four hours. At twenty miles per hour on the interstate, I need to get this car moving. But driving on icy roads was also foolish and my good intentions may have given me a one way ticket to the pearly gates. The flip side of that was I would get my intense Bible study.

So I'm choosing to be thankful for the time to rest. I'd stocked up on junk food, water, and Gatorade. I'm warm and dry and the scene is beautiful as I gaze at the winter wonderland out my window.

I've been sucked into the Lifetime movie channel. You should see me, I'm crying with a battered wife, the wife of a murder victim, and the daughter of an overbearing mother. I don't watch much television at home. I had to remind myself that my books and writing were better choices. Writing won.

For whatever reason, this is God's best for me. As the snow continues to fall, I'm reminded of Who is in control of all things. That fact gives me comfort.

What is God's best for you? It may look different than His best for me. Just like my situation in the snow, I knew which decision to make. I didn't like it, but it was the right thing to do.

Sometimes our answer is obvious and sometimes, not so much. That's when we pray for discernment and wisdom. He will be faithful to answer our request in His time. His best will always be for our good. I have to keep reminding myself of this fact.

Until better days and warmer weather friends, spring is coming.