Family,  Finding "Home" in 2013,  Messy Faith,  Military and Veteran Life,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings

Home {one word for 2013}

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I’ve had my “dreams and goals for 2013” post on my “blog posts to do” list for several months now. But when I sat down to start writing it a few weeks ago, I immediately scrapped it without saving.

Eh, no one cares or needs to know that I want to be a better wife or mother, read more books, spend less time online, and keep a cleaner house next year. Writing a post like this is just dumb.

Another “craze” that seems to be taking over the blogosphere is choosing one word and only one to describe the upcoming year and the dreams and goals you have for it. I’m not sure whose idea this was. (I think it was based on a book?) I think it’s a great idea. But as I steer away from fads, crazes, and doing-what-everyone-else-is-doing, I decided to pass on that too.

Besides, one word is just no fun for a verbose person like myself.

But six months ago, a chain of events started that led me to write this post. It started when I bought a TV receiver so I could watch the Olympics. I love women’s gymnastics and have an established tradition of watching it “with” my mother. During the week that the gymnastics was being aired, at the beginning of each evening, there was a theme video with photos and videos of the gymnasts. The background song was “Home” by Phillip Phillips. It’s a catchy song, but I didn’t pay it much attention. Then in October when my mom and I saw the gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnastics team on tour, I heard the theme song used again during one of the finale acts. It was a really neat end to a pretty amazing evening.

A few weeks later, my husband and I started attending a new church. We weren’t sure what direction we needed to go as a family…only that we were discontent where we were. Not so much with the church itself but with the kind of church it was. We needed something to refresh our faith. We needed to be somewhere where we could be understood and loved for who we are, not for who we are supposed to be.

I have been attending MOPS at this “new” church for almost two years, and visited there several times while Russ was deployed. I was overwhelmed at the loving spirit and kindness of this church and wanted to share it with Russ as soon as he returned, but after one visit back in January, it was obvious that he wasn’t ready to leave the comfort of our denomination and church background.

Leaving a church is scary. It’s even scarier when you are trying something new, completely out of your comfort zone, knowing that you will probably only be there for 4-6 months anyway. We wondered if it was worth it to try to make a church move now…maybe we should just wait until we move. But finally, eleven months after our initial visit it was time to try again.

I got the times mixed up and we arrived a half hour late. As we were walking into the foyer, we could see the service on a TV monitor. I could see a video playing of soldiers’ surprise homecomings…set once again to the song “Home.” I didn’t really understand why they were playing that video, until we snuck into the back and sat down to listen to the message which began this way:

Watched that like 20 times this week. Reuinions are sweet. And they’re made even sweeter when someone’s been away, and they’ve been a part of a mission, and that mission has reached completion, and they get to come HOME to the people that have been praying for them, and the people that have loved them, and have encouraged them and supported them along the way. And as I saw those images and I started to think…I really believe that that’s why God created the church. Because He knew that if he was going to send us on a mission, and if He was going to give us this task that had eternal implications…and that mission was going to have the possibility of messiness and disappointment…that if we were going to be engaged in all of that–then we were going to need a group of people to whom we could come home. And a place where we could be reunited. And a place where we people would understand what it’s like to go through what we’re going through. A place where we could celebrate and just a place where we could come…HOME…

And it’s hard to have a homecoming without a home. And with the mission to spread the gospel across the street and around the world we need to know that we are part of a family of the redeemed. And we need to encourage one another. And we need to know that we are encouraged and loved and that will keep us going through the tough days in this mission. A place where we can come…HOME.

I immediately felt, well…home. Like we were in the right place. This is exactly what we have been craving for so long. This is where we need to be. It’s not going to be for long, and it’s definitely not perfect, but for now, it’s home.

The song “Home” took on a little bit deeper significance to me that morning, although I didn’t hear it again for almost two months.

Then we were driving up to my parents house for Christmas. Flip flip flip went the radio during the hour that my husband was driving. The strum of the early guitar part immediately caught my ear, and I exclaimed “oh oh oh I like that song!” He obliged and let me listen to the whole thing.

We didn’t speak. I simply held his hand as I let the simple fullness of the lyrics wash over me:

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

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 gonna make this place your home

Then the next morning I woke up to see another surprise military homecoming video in my Facebook news feed. The song in the background was, yet again, “Home.” This time as it was playing on my mom’s computer, Russ grabbed me and we stood in the middle of the living room just holding each other. Crying. Remembering his homecoming which took place a year ago. Thinking of the future. Just exhaling together. It was in that moment that I knew that “Home” was my word and that I had to write this post.

I can’t think of any better word with which to enter this upcoming year. In 52 days my husband is done with the Army forever. We will technically be “on leave” and still be collecting a paycheck and benefits through the first week of May, but all of his work obligations will be over. My husband is looking into employment options and filling out applications in hopes that he can start a new job sometime in March or April. This means that we COULD be moving as early as March.

We are open to moving anywhere. We don’t know where he will be working, where we will be living. We don’t know much of anything beyond the end of the next 52 days.

It’s scary. It’s scarier for Russ than it is for me. He has the burden of providing for us and making sure we are not homeless. He is planning for the worst… “WE COULD BE HOMELESS IN 6 MONTHS!” (He says it’s really disguised optimism. “You see, if you plan for homelessness, then anything that happens is a step up from that! WAHOO!!!!”)

I have my moments of fear too. Oh I hide it well. I pretend that I’m not scared at all, but it’s not true. It’s nerve-wracking not being able to plan ANYTHING! To just sit on my hands and wait until the plan is revealed.

But I am the optimist…the dreamer. Each day that passes I am increasingly excited about the future. Excited about a fresh start, a new house, a new town, new stores, new church, new support groups, new friends. NEW EVERYTHING!!

Earlier in 2012, I read a book called “Mindset for Moms” by Jamie C. Martin. In her chapter 14, “Write it down,” she encourages mothers to write down their dreams:

Magical things happen when we write down our hopes and dreams. I have seen this repeatedly in my own life. If you haven’t given it a try, I hope you will. It has the power to revolutionize everything.

Some believe it’s selfish to want anything in life to be other than it is. I disagree. When we open ourselves to a better life, we also open our minds to serving others in more meaningful ways. It’s tough to think of others when your own desperation, absence of resources, or difficult circumstances have you focused only on yourself and what you lack.

Is there a situation in your life you’d love to see changed? Write down what you want, the ideal outcome you would choose if you had no limitations. Don’t be afraid or concerned if it sounds “too good to be true.” Make it as specific as possible. Then commit it to prayer and see what happens. Don’t allow your doubts or insecurities to uproot your words! The act of writing takes a mental process like thinking and makes it concrete. Suddenly abstract thought create an actual word picture–something we can visualize, something we can believe in.

Today take five or ten minutes to write down your dreams for your family. Then stand back and watch in amazement at what comes your way.

Just after Christmas, I also read this blog post by Holley Gerth, where she encourages us to dream “God-sized dreams”:

If I could leave any present under your tree, what would you choose? Not the kind that’s limited to what can fit inside a box or be wrapped with a bow but what your heart really desires.

Think hard about that for a moment. Can you see it?

You’re looking at your God-sized Dream.

A God-sized Dream dream isn’t placed under a Christmas tree–it’s placed within your heart by the One who created you. And it’s not about something big. Instead it perfectly fits who you are, what you’re called to do and how only you can make a difference in this world.

And here’s the best part: First God gives it to you…and then you get to give it back to Him.

Many times God-sized dreams are left unwrapped. Fear, busyness or insecurity tell us that we can open that gift later. But today, this Christmas, I’m asking you to open the gift God has for you in 2013.

I am full of so much hope…so many dreams. And so here in this post, I’m writing them down. I’m pushing away the demons that want to fill me with fear, and I’m daring to dream that life after the Army is not some sort of death-sentence, but can be even better than I could even try to imagine.

I’m dreaming of home.

I’m dreaming of a bigger house that gives us room to expand our family and keep things more organized.

I’m dreaming of a big backyard for our children to play:


I’m dreaming of a neighborhood park within walking distance:


I’m dreaming of getting involved in a community. In a loving, welcoming church. In another MOPS group. In ladies’ Bible studies. I’m dreaming of coffee dates and playdates with new friends. I’m dreaming of connecting with and encouraging other ladies, other mothers, through relationships.

I’m dreaming of guy-friends for my husband. Of couple friends that we can connect with and have over for game nights and fellowship.

I’m dreaming of finding good babysitters and hourly daycare options. I’m dreaming of nice preschools and fitness clubs so that I can still take care of myself.

I’m dreaming of expanding our family (eventually), staying healthy during our next pregnancy…and having a VBAC in a birth center.

I’m dreaming of the minivan, the porch swing, and the white picket fence…


These dreams are huge. They really are “too good to be true.” And probably most of them won’t come true for a very long time. But I’m dreaming them anyway.

I don’t know what the path ahead of us is going to look like.


I don’t know how hard or slippery it’s going to be:


I don’t know how many uphill, precarious steps we are going to have to climb:


And I don’t know what’s waiting for us at the top…


We might have to take a paycut, downsize our house, move into an apartment, and wait even longer to have more kids. We might have to suffer from unemployment. We might struggle for months to make new friends and connections. We might rack up massive amounts of debt. We might be lonely. We might be struck with illness or accidents. Who knows… But I think that no matter what clouds are ahead of us, the sun will always be peeking out if we make the time to look for it.


God is telling me that the future is bright. That I don’t need to fear. That by this time next year–no matter where we live, how much we make, how much is in our bank account, how much debt we owe, what kind of church we attend or what kind of friends we have–that He is going to be WITH us and make it HOME.

So yes, I have a word for 2013. But it’s not a goal. It’s not a resolution. It’s a dream.

And that dream is HOME.

Hold on to me as we go


As we roll down this unfamiliar road


And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home


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 gonna make this place your home.


If you are not familiar with this song, you can listen to it here:

{These photos were taken on a family walk up in my parent’s neighborhood in the suburbs of Chicago. They do not hold any special or secret hint about where we are moving or where we would like to move.}

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