Going Home

11 07 2011

They built the house when I was six years old. It’s a basic ranch style home, long and rectangular, with a wide circular driveway paved smooth for bicycles and roller skates. These rooms witnessed my life. Elaborate Barbie houses and “the hall game.” Writing and performing plays. Practicing dance and piano and guitar. Vinyl records and disco moves. School projects, a slim-line phone, and an orange beanbag chair.

I see my various selves in my old bedroom. I’m small and weak with fever, and Mom is perched at my bedside, cutting out paper doll clothes or coloring in a brand new color book. I’m in junior high, with friends sleeping over, and we’re giggling, whispering secrets, and wondering about make up and clothes and boys. I’m sixteen and crawling into bed after coming home from a date, still smiling because my sweet Daddy waited up for me, even though he insisted he really was watching TV.

I’m sixteen, and my True Love finds me, and I’m on my knees, growing wings.

“If these walls could speak . . .”

I wonder, does a house remember? Do a young girl’s prayers — the first and holiest ones — somehow remain, a faint aroma of grace?

I left for college at eighteen, then marriage at twenty-one, and the first baby came at twenty-three. I had my own home now, but this house, it was always the place I returned to. My life, my children’s lives, and now my grandchildren’s lives — a thousand snapshots of smiles framed by these same walls, and isn’t the frame what holds a thing together?

“You can never go home again.” So the saying goes, and perhaps it’s true. Certainly we can’t go back in time, become the little girl again. We can’t catch the same fireflies or whisper the same secrets. But the house, it’s still there, and my parents still in it. This house that expands and contracts and opens its arms to each new generation, lively once again with music and laughter and baby’s cry. With Luke and Sarah and sweet little Naomi, who sleeps in that same room where I first tasted Living Water — where I awoke and knelt long, my head bowed low, and the words, they came in songs to Him. Now she awakes and stretches her tiny arms and legs, and does she hear it? Do the echoes linger still?

“You can never go home again.” Perhaps not. But sometimes life’s twists and turns take you very close, and you find yourself sitting in the living room of a house on the same street. A house that you passed every day on your way to school. You rode by on your bicycle as a little girl and you drove by in your Volkswagen Bug as a teen, and again and again through the years, you and your children and your grandchildren, never once thinking you might one day live there.

But it’s come to this, and you tell the owners you’ll let them know. You bow low, open hands holding all things loosely, clinging only to Him. You ask, and there’s no mistaking the Voice that speaks. Peace pours in, and every argument is swept away in the flood.

So. In a few months, after almost twenty years in a community that has loved us and embraced us and carried us through the hardest days of our lives, we will be saying goodbye. Because, as difficult as it is to pull up these well nurtured roots, we can’t resist the loving purposes of our Always Good God. Might it now be my turn to sit beside Mom in her weakness and wait up with Dad? What a beautiful honor.

In a few months we’ll be moving to Dallas. We’ll be neighbors with my parents, our son, our daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter.

And we’ll be neighbors with my life history.

It’s true, in some ways, you can’t ever go home again. But these wings? They bend to the Spirit’s wind, and the only way to soar is to lean hard into the music and let go. And what if you land close to where you began?

Perhaps the first and holiest prayers meet you there.

I believe it. I already hear the echoes of grace.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for:

#165 Promises kept. (And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.)
#166 Prayer with George and the gift of unity
#167 Peace that passes understanding
#168 The joyful prospect of sharing life with beloveds
#169 God’s promise that not one word will fail of all that He has spoken
#170 Tears and grace from treasured friends
#171 A brother’s generosity
#172 A father’s joy and gratitude
#173 A mother’s life (Happy Birthday, Mom.)


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33 responses

11 07 2011
Sandra Toole

and this community will feel the void. Thank the Lord for internet and your blog..you keep me inspired Jeannie

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Much love to you, dear Sandra. It breaks our hearts to leave, but I, too, am so grateful for the internet. And you won’t escape my voice over the phone, either. xo

11 07 2011
Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

So precious…you will cherish the opportunity – the “beautiful honor” – to “wash the feet of the saints.”

Much love,
Patricia

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Patricia! Isn’t it so good to know this is what He modeled for us?

Love you.

11 07 2011
Katy McKenna

Oh, Jeanne, my friend. I know the beautiful honor you’re about to receive. I cared for Mom, in close proximity, for ten full years. She’s gone now, and the anointing has lifted from me. To be given the gift of caring for her was the privilege of a lifetime. I know you will bear this honor well! Much love to you and yours.

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Katy. We do see it as a gift and privilege. And thanks so much for your promise to pray. This, too, is the gift. xo

11 07 2011
Mary DeMuth

We will be neighbors!

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Yes! How jolly is that? Brush up on your jiggidy jig. xo

11 07 2011
karenzach

Wow! I don’t even live in Marshall and I am missing your presence! I can only imagine how the community will miss all of you! Not that I blame you. Naomi is precious. I’d want to be right up the street too!

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear Karen, what a lovely thing to say! I’ll let you know when another house on the street hits the market. 🙂

11 07 2011
chrishollysmith

Ahhh, Marshall will be bereft of your beauty and gifts, dear Jeanne. And yet to go with God is to spread His fragrance to farther reaches. Oh, Dallas is blessed!! We love you and your family. Holly

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Oh, Holly. Thank you so much for this benediction. May your words prove true.

Much love to you.

11 07 2011
Gretchen

Hi, popped by from Karen’s recommendation on Twitter.
“Peace pours in, and every argument is swept away in the flood.” Beautiful. This is my devotional, today. Blessings on your move.

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks so much, Gretchen. And welcome!

11 07 2011
tinuviel

God’s providence unexpectedly brought me back from the mission field to my hometown (near Dallas, actually). We are not on the same street as my folks, but not very far either.

May the Lord fill your transition with grace and joy and beautiful new hellos along with the teary good-byes. May He give you joy in the new and new/old fellowships and church home He has waiting for you to discover.

11 07 2011
jeannedamoff

What beautiful prayers! Amen, and thank you so much.

Such an exquisite tension between providence and the unexpected. Our path may take us by surprise, but never Him. There’s much comfort in that assurance. Blessings to you and your parents, too.

11 07 2011
all shall be well

We also are thinking of moving to a new home, not so far away, but still a change. Your words are so reassuring to me:

“But it’s come to this, and you tell the owners you’ll let them know. You bow low, open hands holding all things loosely, clinging only to Him. You ask, and there’s no mistaking the Voice that speaks. Peace pours in, and every argument is swept away in the flood.”
Blessings to you and your family. 🙂 karen

12 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear Karen, I’m so glad this was helpful to you. May our kind Lord light your way and make your pathway certain.

Love.

11 07 2011
Deborah Carr

Such lovely remembrances and treasured snapshots shared … you’ve taken me back to my own neighbourhood, my own small bended knees. I do believe little Naomi can hear the echoes of your songs and prayers. There is something in such worship that lingers. And how lucky she is that you will be near to her, to gently guide her and love her and share God’s love with her.

“But these wings? They bend to the Spirit’s wind, and the only way to soar is to lean hard into the music and let go.” You cannot know how these words touch my spirit today….How I am leaning…leaning hard…but struggling with the letting go.

12 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Deborah. Isn’t it wonderful to contemplate the mysteries of God’s ways? Grace to you as you lean into Him.

Much love to you.

11 07 2011
Linda

Jeanne, How good God is. There will be tears, but there will be much joy. We have done it in reverse with my parents moving to Texas to be closer to us. It has been such a blessing to be able to be close to them as illness and aging make life more complicated for them.
Our oldest son and daughter-in-law and their children live just a little north of Dallas. It would be such a precious gift if one day our paths might cross.
This was so touching.

12 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Linda. Yes, He is so good. Do let me know when you’re in the neighborhood!

11 07 2011
Simply Darlene

Jeanne,
Oh, but to be framed by His Almighty hands keeps “home” in our hearts no matter the walls that surround us. You live a life full of honor. You inspire me to be better.

Blessings.

12 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Ah, yes, Darlene. It’s such a comfort to know we are always home with Him. And how well you know this! The inspiration works both ways, my dear.

Love to you.

11 07 2011
Diana Trautwein

Oh, travel well and lightly, Jeanne. A trip of a thousand memories, both old and new. These words speak of recognition and remembering and reconnection – of surprise and serendipity – of discoveries waiting to be made in this new/old multi-generational life which awaits. Beautiful. Blessed. BREATHE it in.

12 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Such a good word, Diana! The “lightly” part will take some work. We’ve accumulated way too much stuff. But I do relish the thought of shedding superfluous weight and flying unencumbered into God’s purposes. Thanks for your encouragement. Love to you.

12 07 2011
chris

hi Jeanne,

i’m sure that moving away from Pam and other fast friends described in “Parting the Waters” will be wrenching! but i take comfort from the fact that in this decision you have such a clear sense of God’s will , and the peace that comes with not just doing, but also willing, what God wills for you. i’m also really glad that, altho’ there’s so much “life-history” you’re moving away from, there’s also so much “life-history” your moving to. i hope the moving out and settling in will be as stress-free as possible for all of you, not least for Jacob…

all blessings,

chris

13 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks so much, Chris. I appreciate your sensitivity to the particulars of this transition. Your words encourage deeply. We do have that mysterious peace that passes understanding — peace that saturates every good-bye with grace and gives strength to press toward His purposes with joy. If He covers us so gently, surely He will cover everyone else touched by these changes. Such comfort.

12 07 2011
Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience

When you write, I think my pulse grows louder in my ears… my soul.

I hear His echoes in your words… all that grace. Everywhere you go, friend…

13 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, beautiful Ann. What humbling words these are. It must be that God’s grace flows to us then through us — and as it courses through His body, we receive it back again, again. That echo you hear in your soul, may it beat in harmony with the beautiful song of grace you sing so well.

You remain in my prayers, that even as God spreads your message of eucharisteo to multitudes, you might hide in the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty. Yours is the glorious calling to practice presence in the upside-down kingdom, modeling what it means to be small and to simply receive. What a mercy. Every thought of you makes me smile.

Much love to you.

12 07 2011
LLH Designs

I just hopped over from Ann Voskamp’s blog and am so touched by your words today. May your homecoming be filled with God’s grace and mercy as you return a servant.

Blessings,
Linsey

13 07 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you so much, Linsey, and welcome. xo

16 07 2011
Anna

I loved this post, your words, the story, it’s beautiful.
I can relate somewhat to some of it, the growing up in a house, the dreaming and wondering of the future… and now you’re returning, how fortunate you are to be able to do so, what a loving husband you have to move so you can be closer. So much sweetness in your life… and heartache, too, but a grace that comes through your words. May He supply all your needs– emotional, spiritual, physical, social– as you make this transition. Blessings!

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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