It Takes Traveling to Appreciate Home
Judy and I have been privileged to be in 63 - 64 countries over the years. Each one has a special meaning or experience; geography, culture, and most importantly, the people.
In many locations, we were privileged to serve those who serve the Kingdom. In some, it was just to experience the country and its culture. Sometimes it was to bring a message, start a business, or help in other ways.
Each experience was part of the preparation for the next stage of life and ministry. We are thankful for all of it. Our most recent trips include visits to the Greek Islands and the Outer Banks of North Caroline. They could not be more different besides their proximity to water; heat and high humidity gave them common ground.
All this having been said, it is coming home that is the best. Home is where your hearth and heart are located. The familiar sounds, smells, weather, and altitude are all part of coming home to Colorado Springs and the Black Forest where we live, love, and have our being.
There are always challenges to coming home. My riding mower that broke the day before we left is still not fixed. The weeds/grass are growing like they’ve been fertilized daily since we left. The fountain bubbles in the front filled with water from the almost daily rain showers. Our replanted pine trees, replacing the ones broken off because of heavy spring snows, seem to have grown a foot since we left. It looks like they will make it. Who knew that transplanting pine trees was such a tricky business?
And then there is the emails and office. You’d like to think that some of the issues would resolve themselves or simply go away. No such thing. By the second day back, you almost feel the way you did when you left home.
It’s always good to get home. The hotels around the world and the country have dedicated thousands of dollars to upgrade their amenities. The beds are the best, the comforters the most comforting, the breakfasts are second to none, but yet, it’s best to be home. My own bed with its individualized lumps, my pillow with its unpredictable shape, and breakfast I can either make myself or hit one of the local breakfast eateries. I don’t even have to look at a menu! I appreciate coming home.
It is amazing how quickly we can revert to our normal lifestyle and behavior. After a few days, it’s as if you’ve never left. However, it doesn’t take long for us to begin asking the questions, “Where is God calling us next? Or even, “Where haven’t we been that we’d like to go?” Admittedly the choices are somewhat reduced given our almost 60 years of wandering, experiencing, and seeing how God is at work in all the places we know nothing about. How great is that?
As I look around my home office, I’m reminded of both the travels and the joys of home. A clock with a picture of us beside a life-size statue of a German saint, the staked totem pole representing the Ohio State Buckeye’s, a peacock shoehorn from India, a silver piggy bank where I put my change (from around the world), a Rubix Cube, a small figure of Martin Luther and a silver dinner bell from my grandmother. Pretty eclectic don’t you think? While I’m home the are some of the remembrances that take me away. At the same time, sitting here writing to you brings me home as well.
A couple of additional thoughts ring true: Home Is Where the Heart Is and There Is No Place Like Home. It is in the remembrances of past experiences that we can discover some of what may lie ahead. Whether it is travel, dedicated ministry, or a combination of both. We are so blessed to have lived in 19 different apartments, townhouses, nation homes, and houses. My prayer is that this one will be the last. We chose the lot, we designed the house, we were intricately involved in the construction and we live here. Interestingly, of all the places we’ve lived, remodeled, and re-done, this is the first house we’ve built from scratch. It feels good to know that it represents the experiences of a lifetime all rolled into one place.
Judy is at the other end of the house in what the neon lighted sign says is “Judy’s Command Center.” Yes, a bright red neon sign I bought her for her birthday four years ago. Indeed, it is everything she appreciates and enjoys doing right at her fingertips. Her mode of transportation to the various part of the Command is her rolling office chair. She thought of it all, designed it all, and is living in all of it.
At the other end of the house is my home office. Just the way it works best for me. A computer with a couple of screens, bookshelves for what I’ve read and have yet to read, places for a part of my hat collection, and a conference table for those important discussions.
We leave our offices and meet in the kitchen. The living room and the big stone fireplace are all great places for us to meet, talk about the issues of the day, the world and our ongoing walk with God. The Retirement Reformation is a topic we come back to often, as we are living and experiencing it right before our eyes.
We’ve got a big lower level with bedrooms, kitchen and living areas for guests, both short and long term. Judy’s sister and husband from Tacoma will be here next week and speakers at our church are often guests. It is amazing how special a little extra space can be. We are discussing how that space could be available to a couple who could help with the yard, the house, and even some cooking. If we can find the right couple, it will allow us to stay in the house for maybe a decade longer. When you are open and communicating, some interesting ideas follow.
This has been a different kind of a blog. I’ve swept aside the curtains and given you further insight into who we are. You know, it is transparency that creates friendships. It is my hope that God is bringing us all closer to Him, as we each draw closer to that eternity with Him. Until then, He has called and prepared us to help grow the Kingdom and we are reminded daily that we are to be faithful for a lifetime. We are each blessed and uniquely equipped to follow His call on our life, through all three stages of retirement, and then into the eternity with Him and our fellow believers.
Yes, is great to be home and it will be great to finish eternity in a home of eternal thanksgiving and praise.