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“But it was hard for me to shake the feeling that home~my real home~was one state to the west, where the drawl is just the tiniest bit more pronounced and magnolia trees line the interstates, swaying like sweet old ladies who open their screen doors and beckon you to come on in.” Home is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong~Sophie Hudson

I’m sitting here this morning staring at the curser and a blank page. Why? The latest book I’m reading has gotten me tongue tied and buried under a mountain of memories. Thirty pages in and I knew I had found an old friend. And it has struck me right at the heart of all I had been dwelling on lately.

It’s that time of year when Old Man Winter is leaving his bite everywhere. A few stray snowflakes danced around my face this morning as I walked the dog. On a day where most of the country is grumbling about snow~magedan and all of its inconveniences, I counted my few flakes as a gift.

Home is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson is packed with priceless nuggets such as this:

“Jesus.

It had been Him all along.

Only He could take a building filled with folding chairs and an old Coke machine and turn it into a spiritual home. And only He could take a bunch of quirky people who otherwise might have only nodded hello to each other in the Winn-Dixie and turn them into brothers and sisters.”

I grew up in a similar church. Up narrow steps, we met above my Papa’s place of business. Sat on folding chairs. Cold folding chairs. Old hymns like Trust and Obey, Jesus is Tenderly Calling, Amazing Grace, and Just As I Am floated up into the rafters and towards the heavenly realms.

I first fell in love with Jesus there. Left him behind a time or two or three. Had to circle back and find my way again.

When I think of home there are other things as well.

A gaping hole my brother and I dug into the side of a hill in our back yard, where the largest matchbox car city there ever was existed. Cousins galore all packed in a tightly woven little community of family. Mops and brooms that doubled as microphones or horses, depending on the day. Bicycles doubled as Corvettes and Stingrays. A tire swing that went out high over the creek. Kool Aide and peanut butter sandwiches. Dirty feet and long summer days.

A stubborn old pony and a barbed wire fence.

Winter snows came deep. School buses buried up in the drifts meant a long, cold walk home.  A family friend would borrow (I use that term loosely~smile) his Grandpas old tractor and pull us over snow covered roads.

Mountain twang and blue grass music floats along the gentle breeze.

Mountain Laurels bloom white and lush, smelling sweet. Long and winding roads. Chestnut Creek runs right through the middle of town.

There are other memories as well. Some not so good. An alcoholic father who was never present. Criticism and judgment in tender places, where it tends to stick and prick the most. And you can’t shake it loose.

“But that’s what stinks about the parts of us that are broken and hurting. We try our best to keep all the pieces and shards gathered and contained, and we trick ourselves into thinking that they’re not affecting other people. Eventually, though, our need to feed what is broken starts to overpower everything else, and those hurting places make us careless and reckless. Before we know it~and sometimes after it’s too late~we look around and see that the people we love the most have been wounded in the collateral damage.” Home is Where My Heart Is~Sophie Hudson

Home. All that is familiar and central in our being. The place where our affections are centered, whether we are physically there or not. The good and the hard.

Three states, seven addresses, and nearly two decades later, I’ve experienced home in a myriad of ways.

When I settle in and find community at last, I realize Jesus is at the center. It’s when I have callously pushed him to the back burner, I struggle with my footing. Have no sense of belonging.

Then He leads (sometimes drags) me back to where He is. He becomes the center again.

And I am home, regardless of my address.

Sophie Hudson closes her book with these words…

‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far

And Grace will lead me home

Home is where my heart is. My heart is where I need Jesus to be. Grace upon grace…

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isaiah 32:18 NIV

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn