Home for Christmas

“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” –from the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas
With the passing of Dad this past summer, the family home that our family has grown so familiar with over the years since Dad married my stepmother back in 1979 has been sold, and it is now no longer a part of the family. In other words, there is no physical “home” to go home to anymore.

When Dad died in June, the last member of that generation in my family died, too. While my two brothers have their own families, and they have their own homes to celebrate Christmas with their children and grandchildren, I have been single all of my life, so my “home” is literally found in the statement, “Home is where the heart is.”

I’ve moved a lot over the years and I’ve lived in three different states due to my profession. Yet, I’ve always made wherever I was living at the time feel like a “home” to me even though I’ve lived in apartments all of my life. Originally from the Midwest, since 1992 I have lived in Southern states (primarily Florida for over 20 years and now in Texas). I’m not entirely sure you can ever take the “Midwest” out of a Midwesterner no matter how many years one lives in another part of the country, especially in the South where customs and even language takes on a new flavor and meaning. I still have not learned to be “Southern” yet, and I’m not sure I will ever be successful at it.

I ran across an article published on December 21, 2015, titled My Heart is Where My Home Is,” by Lynn Soots (although at the bottom of the article it credits Julie Ostrow as the author), that gives a defining experience as to what I mean about being a transplanted Midwesterner living in a Southern state. Here is what she wrote:

What does it mean to ‘go home’?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the town where I grew up. I haven’t lived there in decades, yet, I visited two weekends in a row. One weekend was reconnecting with the past—my high school reunion. The following weekend was spent sharing my present—leading an improv workshop at the Grand Rapids Improv Festival and being interviewed on a local morning show. Funny thing…and believe it or not, I was somewhat shy in high school. I didn’t take a single acting class or ever performed on stage in high school. Yet, decades later, I appear on TV and teach an improv workshop in my hometown.

Attending my high school reunion brought unexpected connections and friendships. New and renewed friendships. Classmates I was friends with before are now in my life again. We shared laughter and stories of old and new.

It felt like I never left-sort of

Having been away from Grand Rapids, Michigan through the years left me with a constant longing for home. Being uprooted after my freshman year of college and embarking on an adventure to Raleigh, North Carolina with my mom and dad, this youngest of six was forced to make a home wherever she was.

Moving from a Midwestern town to a Southern town was a culture shock for this once 18-year-old. I was told I talk funny by people from all over the Southern United States. For those of you not aware, just like there are different Midwest accents—from Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota—there are various Southern accents—from the mountains to the beach of North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

Although my Southern friends and I had a few communication “mishaps,” we always laughed and poked fun at our language differences. Not to mention the different colloquialisms. I was feeling at home with my new friends.

Just as I was starting to feel like I could plant roots in Raleigh, my parents uprooted once again. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during the summer after my sophomore year of college. After having her mastectomy, she and my dad moved back up to the Midwest exactly one year after the three of us moved to Raleigh. From then on I was on my own.

Constant journey toward home

I realized that throughout my life, I continued to listen to my inner voice, my intuition, and follow my passion and my joys. Multiple times I have had to push myself beyond my own boundaries and limitations. Sometimes by my choice and sometimes because of circumstances beyond my control. As I pushed myself through new experiences, one feeling remained the same…my desire to connect with others, to have a sense of family, and to belong.

My Heart is Where My Home Is

No matter how long and hard I look outside of myself and beyond my inner circle for connection, I am reminded by my loved ones that I am loved, I do belong, and that we are family.

As I reflect this holiday season, I bask in the feeling of knowing that I am home. (Quote source here.)

And here is another article published on June 14, 2016, titled, Home Is Where The Heart Is, by Zanteria Nelson, who was a student at the University of West Florida at the time this article was published. Here is what she wrote:

Home is where the heart is.

That statement is much more profound than it appears because it means that your home can be anywhere on this spinning orb. It means your home will always be the place where you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are. It means you can find a home with your family in your hometown, when you are alone overseas, or anywhere in between. It means the place you long to be. It means that you could be homeless, living in a nomadic life, and find a home everywhere you go in every experience you have. It means you can find a sense of home in a friend’s hug, in exploring the unknown, in a familiar tingle of love, in a warm bed or in the midst of a joyful run. It means that your home is wherever you take your heart, and if you are like me and you live with your heart and for your heart, then you will forever be at home. You will never be homeless, and will always feel at home.

In others words, “Home is where the heart is,” is not just a mere phrase. It means so much to your life, my life, and the lives of others. Home is not necessarily your house. Sometimes during our walk of life, we do not understand where we belong in this world. We tussle with the fear of not belonging to anyone or anything. Of course we have families, but our families do no not dictate the way our life should be.

It is our innermost soul that guides our lives, and that soul lives in our hearts. Whatever our heart expresses it truly represents who we are. Wherever our heart lays is truly where we belong. Our heart is a spiritual source that connects to the things that are most beneficial for us.

To be honest, in many ways, I myself have been feeling lost, lost in a spiritual and emotional sense. These feeling are evident in the most unexpected moments, moments where I find myself in my car, at the beach floating in waves, or sitting at a table.

Surrounded by unfamiliar faces, and I start to think. Where do I want to be? Where do I feel the most relieved? Why am I here? What is my meaning? What is my truth? What is my purpose? What is my path? What is my bliss?

Sometimes, I am lost in the sense where I find myself wondering what the point of this life is. If everything eventually fades, if we all eventually die, if nothing is permanent, then what is the point? My heart answered all of these questions for me. For wherever my heart leads me, I am truly home. For your home is where your heart is, and my heart is with me. (Quote source here.)

Of course, for those of us who are Christians, our heart is owned by another–Jesus Christ. And He is exactly who Isaiah so clearly described in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

In an article published on OnePlace.com titled, When Jesus Came to Town–A New Beginning,” by Greg Laurie, author and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA, he write:

In his excellent little book,My Heart, Christ’s Home,” Robert Boyd Munger writes of Jesus coming to his home and describes his sense of embarrassment when the Lord begins walking around. Imagine what it would be like to have Jesus come to your home and actually visit, especially if you weren’t expecting Him?

The Bible unfolds this very scenario in Luke 19 and introduces us to a man named Zacchaeus. Into his home walked the Creator of the universe in human form.

Zacchaeus was a successful businessman, a chief tax collector. In those days, there were three primary places where taxes were collected: Capernaum, Jerusalem, and Jericho. Zacchaeus, being the chief tax collector in Jericho, was over one of the “Big Three.” He was head of a tax farming cooperation with collectors who extorted the people and paid him before he paid the Romans. You might say that he was the kingpin of the Jericho tax cartel. He was hated, despised, and isolated by his fellow Jews.

But Jesus had a different view of Zacchaeus. He assessed him this way: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) In other words, Jesus saw the real problem with Zacchaeus. He did these things because he was lost.

As Jesus came into town, Zacchaeus could not see over the crowd. So, he sprinted down the street and scurried up a tree, trying to catch a glimpse of Him. In this culture, it was considered undignified for an older man to run. If you were a government official, you did not do something like this. It was not appropriate. But Zacchaeus didn’t care. He wanted to see Jesus.

Here came Jesus with the crowd. They were pushing and pulling, amidst a lot of noise and excitement. Suddenly, as the Lord passed by, He stopped, looked up at Zacchaeus, and called out his name.

Everyone stopped and looked at Zacchaeus. I doubt they were looking at him with love. They were probably thinking, “Let’s cut this tree down with this creep in it.” But I believe Jesus’ look was different than the rest. I think His look was one of love and compassion.

Jesus told him, “Make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Can you imagine the excitement that filled the heart of Zacchaeus? He probably came down that tree a lot more quickly than he went up.

Jesus and Zacchaeus momentarily disappeared from the crowd. They had a conversation that changed the course of this chief tax collector’s life. Something dramatic happened during that visit, but Scripture doesn’t reveal what it was. It is clear that Zacchaeus came out a different man than when he went in.

Zacchaeus realized that Jesus was not merely a guest in his home, but in reality, the host. How important it is that we make this same discovery: once we have given our lives to Jesus, we are under His command.

When we have placed our faith in Jesus, we are no longer our own. It is not even correct for a believer to say, “my future, my life, my plans, my career, my family.” Rather, a believer should say, “Now I belong to the Lord, and I want to do what He wants me to do.”

The Apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17). A literal translation of this statement would be, “My prayer is that Christ would settle down in your heart and finally be in your home, that He would settle down as a family member.” It was the idea of Christ being at home in their hearts and lives.

Clearly, this change had taken place in Zacchaeus. Salvation had come to him. He was no longer the same man.

Can someone see by the evidence in your life that salvation has come to you? Jesus may be calling your name right now, wanting to settle down in your heart. Maybe you are treating Him like a guest, an honored guest, granted, but a guest nonetheless.Is Jesus at home in your life right now? Does He have free reign? Can He do what He wants to do?

Jesus wants to help you and change you. Like Zacchaeus, welcome Him into your life and let Him have His way. If He does throw something out, just know that He will put something better in its place. (Quote source here.)

For Christians, Jesus gives us a whole new meaning to the word “Home”

And home…

Is where . . .

The heart is . . . .

YouTube Video: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Rascal Flatts:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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