Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. :) Man, y'all. I am in Heaven! Halfway through my vacation to Central Kansas, and I'm reaping the unbelievable blessings of an overflowing love tank. Being surrounded by the comforts of familiar places and the people you love (and who love you despite yourself) is the most powerful sedative I can think of. Especially when it's all in the peace-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. Thank You, Lord, for a godly family.
A few things I've learned over the last few days:
1. That there are few words in the English language as fun to say as "Hogoboom." Special thanks to the Albert Hogoboom Tank Truck Service in El Dorado, KS, for giving my parents a free mug and for making me smile every morning when I drink my coffee. :)
2. That hot summer mornings and evenings on the backyard swing provide the best environment for deep and meaningful conversations.
3. That when it's 90 degrees in the shade when you START your morning run, you might need a little extra Power Ade. :) (I have a new respect for my mighty man who does this regularly!)
4. That small towns in rural Kansas, when going through extreme drought and heat, would make a great film set for a remake of The Grapes of Wrath. Everything has an extra layer of dirt and dust, and the poor grass looks like dried out hay.
5. That if you want to remember what it was like when you were in third grade and your teacher MADE you try the vegetables on your lunch tray, just come over to my house and watch me try to serve my Papa Bear peas. hahaha! Sorry, PPB! I will remember that in the future. (Poor guy made a face that looked like a 10-year-old being forced to eat cooked spinach.)
6. That Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was actually based on a true story that is currently taking place in my parents' backyard. Only, it is a group of squirrels, not rats, who have an underground society in which they plan and scheme ways to crack into even the most protected bird feeders. For now this is a squirrel-free zone, but they are plotting their next move. Soon they will be feasting on bird seed despite my PPB's pipes, wires and domes that protect it. haha! It's war!
7. That not every Walmart is a crime scene waiting to happen. Down here in rural America, it's just the normal grocery store where you run into everyone you knew from back in the day and get to catch up on life in the cereal aisle.
8. That checking email even for a moment while you're on vacation can set your relaxation level back by at least a day.
9. That I miss my Big Fat Fanny when she's banished to the beauty shop for a week. haha! At least she misses me, too. It's nice to know she loves me. She tells me in the most wonderfully loud purrs and meows. :)
10. That while there's certainly emotional peace found in familiar places and walls, the real peace of home comes from the people you're with. And this is where I'll launch the quick message.
Over the past couple of years, my parents have been taking their time and remodeling the home we grew up in. They're doing a great job, and I have to say hat's off to them for the recent update of the office, which is affectionately now known as my mighty man's room. :) It's a lovely guest room/office painted in a combination of light and dark sage greens. Kind of masculine and tranquil at the same time. Anyway...Sorry. Got sidetracked.
In the process of remodeling, they are eventually going to get around to my bedroom, which has stayed pretty much the same as it was when I was in high school. I still have art projects on the walls, Troy Aikman posters on the celing, and my high school letter and track medals on a quark board in the corner. I call this room my "safe place."
Back when I was going through severe panic attacks and anxiety, a counselor told me to think of an environment in which I felt completely safe and at peace. My home bedroom was that place. It was where I could go to actually sleep (a unbelievable gift for an insomniac) and experience a slower pace of thought. Nothing could hurt me there, so I would go home as often as I could and, when I couldn't, I'd do my best to go there in my mind.
This weekend, as my family and mighty man and I were standing around talking about the house plans, they brought up the fact that my room was one of the next projects. Man! You should have seen my eyes! haha! Apparently they got really big and my bottom lip started to stick out a little. :) I know my heart certainly had a reaction to it.
"My safe place! What am I going to do without it?" For a moment, it was a little bit of an anxious reaction. Good thing I was in the arms of my mighty man at the time. Because that was what the Lord used to bring me a great lesson. Both he and PPB were all over it. "I think it might be more about the people here than the room, babe," the mighty man said. Papa Bear smiled and agreed.
And they were so right. When I thought about why the safe place was so safe, I realized that it was because I knew my parents were upstairs and my sister and brother-in-law were just down the hall. I was in the presence of love and family. Nothing could hurt me there.
Now, I'm almost a little embarrassed to admit that I'm just learning this in my 30s. But isn't it so true that people are what make these environments so special? Yes, the walls help, but it's the hearts and souls that provide the true peace. But, it's not just human--it's spiritual.
Yesterday, the mighty man and I did a devotion that led us to Acts 17:24, and it really brought it home. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands." While the house itself might be a great environment, the more important factor is that my Lord is here. He is alive inside my momsy, PPB, sister and brother-in-law (and mighty man when he's there with us). And that presence of the Holy Spirit is what brings the safe environment.
Because we are the carriers of God's Spirit, who is alive inside each one of us, we have the ability to bear that safe zone wherever we go. The Lord is the One who provides it, and He is always with us. And, when we're in the presence of others who bear that Spirit as well, I fully believe it just gets better. :)
I don't know if any of you can identify with the idea of a safe place, but I totally want to encourage you today that you can have one wherever you go. If you have the Holy Spirit inside you, you can experience that safe feeling and peace no matter where you are because He is inside you. He isn't in walls made by human hands. He's alive inside each of us who have received Him, and He can minister His peace to us regardless of where we hang our hat.
Today, remember that the God who loves and created you is offering you a safe place in His presence. I know I will continue to receive that truth and rest in it this week. And, even when I head back to the city, I will return armed with the reminder that my safe place is in the presence of His love, which He offers to me directly and through those closest to me on earth.