Where the Heart Is

   We just returned from a three-day visit to my parents' house. My ten-year-old son, Heath, has a sack full of things that he brought back from his grandparents' house in the country--things like a favorite stick from their sycamore tree and a favorite fishing lure that he used to catch the "biggest" catfish in their pond. My daughter is wearing a new shirt that Nana bought her.

    In fact, it always takes us longer to unpack than it did to pack because my parents fill every nook and cranny of our van with fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season along with homebaked treats. I begin unloading the ice chest they packed, filling my freezer and pantry with blessings bestowed on me by my loving parents. As I unpack my bags, I hang the new outfit my mother insisted was just my color.

    At the age of 41, my childhood home is still a favorite place.

Actually, my parents no longer live in the home in which I was raised, but wherever they live, I always feel a welcome sense of belonging. Their hearts provide a place that is home to me.

    After 17 years of marriage, I am well aware that my true home is with my husband and four children, but I have a place in my heart filled with fond memories of a childhood home. It was a place where Mom and Dad were happy and stable. At a very young age I was taught godly principles. I watched my parents routinely read the Bible and pray about decisions that affected our family.

    Peaceful days were filled with child's play. Since Mom was always at home, our days were filled with activities around our home, like climbing trees, building forts, riding bikes, splashing in mud puddles, and playing with the neighbor kids. Though we had our chores, my mother always encouraged our hours of playtime. My childhood memories are of carefree days where I felt safe and loved.

    I remember one summer night after church, a group of young women were talking in the foyer of the church where my parents pastored. My mother was listening to a conversation between two of the women. They discussed how relieved they would be when school started back in the fall. They complained that their children constantly messed up the house and produced more laundry than usual. I will never forget my mother's response to their comments. She said, "Oh, I always dread seeing the summer come to a close. It seems children grow up so quickly. I know one day I'll soon be left with a very quiet, clean house, but I will miss these days with the children under my roof."

    My mother's first priority was her home. Though she was a busy pastor's wife opening her home to visitors several times a week, teaching a Sunday school class, and playing the piano at church, home was her first workplace. She modeled before me how to manage on a tight budget and still feed a growing family. When I got married and established my own home, I had a wonderful blueprint to follow.

    Even now when I walk through the front door of my parents' home, a soft almost tangible peace floods my heart. Life's stresses and worrisome pressures seem to fade away when I go home. When a three-and-a-half-hour trip home doesn't fit into our schedule, I can find a quiet place and go back in my mind to that not-so-distant place I called home. I soon regain strength and new joy at the memories of time spent with godly parents who helped me set my course in life. There's no place quiet like home.