Coming Home to You

You’d think that after three years, I would have finally beaten these feelings of homesickness. But I haven’t. Not entirely. Lately, I’ve been missing my family. A lot. More than the normal, “Hey, that thing I just saw reminds me of Josiah.” No, this is more like, if you showed me a hundred different ink blots right now, I’d probably find a way to associate every single one of them with home.

Home. I don’t know that there has ever been a word so warm and inviting.

As a noun it means: the place where one lives permanently. As a verb, it is: (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it.

Many people have made speculations beyond those definitions, as well. Penelope Stokes wrote: “Home wasn’t where they had to take you in; home was where they wanted to take you in. Home was where you always knew you were welcome, where their eyes lit up at the sight of you.”

For most of my life, I saw home as that place I lived for most of my life—that place I return to several times a year. I envisioned it as the place where my family is waiting with open arms and brilliant smiles.

Then I got a reply from a friend whom I had written in this serious case of homesickness, and his concluding statement knocked the breath out of me.

But I think that there will always be some people (maybe only a few) who you have known for a long time—who you shared experiences with—that, even after extended periods apart, it still feels like you never left home.

I read those words. I reread those words. I edited them for grammatical clarity. And then I began to wonder, perhaps for the first time… Maybe home is not so much a place where you come and go, but a place you carry with you. Maybe, in a way, I’ve been home all along.

And this may sound ridiculously, frighteningly weird, but I want to be home for someone—a place of permanent refuge. The kind of place where you return by instinct simply because you somehow know it’s safe there. I want my words to shelter another in the storm. I want my life to harbor other lives—fragile, broken lives that just need a place to rest and heal and discover that there is beauty on the other side of the abyss.

So this is me coming home to you—creating home for you—and praying you’ll find that home only a heartbeat away from where you are.

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

I held my breath and accepted the phone from my grandma’s outstretched hand. Never had I felt such nervous anticipation. It was as if my entire life hinged on what my mother was about to speak into my ear.

“Are you going to be sad?” Mom asked.

My seven-year-old heart deflated. “It’s a boy?” 
“No, it’s a girl.”
And so began the Rebekah/Lydia show.

A sister is perhaps one of the greatest blessings God could ever give a girl. Though there are days it certainly doesn’t feel like that fact is true. After suffering through three brothers, I believed the gift of a sister was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Most days, I still feel that way.
I have to confess that Lydia wasn’t what I had in mind when I asked Jesus for a sister. I can’t play with her hair, she doesn’t like to shop, and most everything I love to do is what she would consider  “boring”. At first, I was disappointed, but I now know that I wouldn’t trade her for the world. Lydia has stretched me and grown me in a way no one else ever could. I’ve learned a lot from her. And this may sound funny since I’m the older sister, but I want to be like her when I grow up.
I found that I connected most with Lydia at night. Once the lights were off in the rest of the house and we were supposed to be sound asleep, we’d be whispering back and forth, hoping Mom and Dad couldn’t hear us. Sometimes we would giggle at the silliest things, and other days we would share the intimate things of our hearts.
I don’t believe people when they say they are “just too different” from their sister to befriend her because, if Lydia and I can be seven years apart and differ so drastically, then anyone can be friends with her sister. While our personalities often seem to clash, our hearts are knit of the same fabric. And that is what makes our friendship work.

Left Behind?

My friend had a baby yesterday, and while I’m excited for her, I’m also kind of wondering when I got old enough to have friends with children.

Weddings used to be simple. At first I attended the weddings of relatives, then I watched some of my friends’ older siblings get married. The fact that they were all much older than me made those weddings seem normal. But when I started watching my friends walk down the aisle, I got a little weirded out. I guess I missed the moment I “grew up” because sometimes it floors me to think that Amber is going to be a mom and Megan’s a wife. What does that make me? Well, right now it makes me the only one of the three cousins my age who isn’t pregnant. I always feel weird when I think of that.

It’s not like all my friends are married. In fact, most of them are still single. Still, somehow I feel a little left behind. And while I’m really not anxious to get married right now, I can’t help but wonder when it’s going to happen and who it’s going to be. Some days I think it would be nice to have a husband and kids, but most days I’m perfectly content with the freedom that comes in being single.

Our problem doesn’t lie in our relationship status; it lies in our perspective. If you’re looking at the situation as if you’re being left behind, then that’s what you’ll be. You might be tempted to give up your other dreams and settle for the next guy who comes along… Or you can focus on the blessings of singleness.

As for me, I’m taking my time, living the journey, and waiting for the day God taps me on the shoulder and points out the man He intended for me to marry. Let all my friends tag “Mrs.” on their names; I kind of like being Miss Rebekah for now.

Casually Breaking Your Heart

Casual dating. I think that’s the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever heard. How can something as serious as a romantic relationship ever be considered “casual?” And yet I hear the phrase tossed around all the time. “Well, yeah we’re dating, but it’s pretty casual. I dunno. We’ll see what happens.” Or, “Yeah, I don’t really like him, but he asked me out so, here we are.”

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is just a “Hollywood culture” mentality, either. It has infiltrated our churches. When I confided in a Christian friend that a guy friend of mine was trying to get me to go out with him, this is the opinion she shared with me: “Well, he sounds like a pretty sweet guy, and you seem to get along well with him. I don’t see any harm in two friends casually hanging out and maybe grabbing a cup of coffee.” Really? Well, then I think I’ll just wear a flashing, neon sign that reads: “Hey, I like you back, so keep pursuing me!” That might be a little more subtle.

For me to have gone on a “casual” date with this guy would have been wrong because he would have read much more into the situation than just “grabbing a cup of coffee” with a friend. The truth is, although I could have easily gone out with this guy and remained completely unaffected, I’m pretty certain that the mixed signals I would be sending him could be hazardous to his heart. What would my actions be insinuating to him about our relationship? Saying that you are “casually dating” someone is like saying you’re “just friends.” But friends don’t ask friends out unless they are hoping to be more than friends. Are you getting the picture? There is no such thing as casual dating because “casual” only exists on one side of the relationship.

When my friend’s girlfriend broke up with him, she confessed that she hadn’t known if she really liked him or not, so she figured dating him was the only way to find out. Then she got upset with him when he accused her of playing with his heart.

Personally, I think he had a right to be upset. You know, when a guy asks you out, it is okay to tell him, “I’ll think about it,” or better yet, “I’ll pray about it.” (After all, it’s always a good idea to invite God into the scenario right up front.) I can’t help but wonder how much heartache my friend could have been spared had this girl taken a moment to pray about their relationship and seek God’s will instead of just saying “yes” when he asked her out.

But oftentimes, we don’t pray about it. We simply do what our feelings are leading us to do and “follow our hearts.” Now, that’s probably some of the worst advice you ever received from Disney. Did you know that the Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked? Let’s face it, ladies – we’re selfish, and our hearts are only catering to our own needs.

So, as a girl who’s a friend of many a guy, I’m begging you, please be careful with the hearts of the men around you. Relationships are not a game. And there is nothing “casual” about breaking a man’s heart. Next time a guy asks you out, take a moment to pray and truly seek God’s will in the situation. If you’re not interested in pursuing the possibility of a permanent relationship with this man, say no. I’m sure the guy will agree with me when I say that temporarily hurting his feelings up front is preferable to crushing his heart a couple months down the road.