Yesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.
Home is the smell of sausage frying in a ridiculously heavy cast iron skillet once belonging to Granny. The smell would sneak down the hallway to my bedroom in the early morning hours. It was our signal that it was nearly time to get up. The sound of cabinet doors and drawers opening and not so gently closing always came with morning. Daddy was the responsible party – and we knew when we smelled the biscuits in the oven, it was time. Daddy would whistle while he cooked each morning, yet another less than subtle wake up call for us. We were always greeted by the same mess when we stumbled to the kitchen. Homemade biscuits always left a trail – a light covering of flour on every available surface.
Home is the quiet of late afternoon – the dull, rhythmic thumping of the dryer in a distant room. Background noise – a lone television broadcasting afternoon headlines to an empty room, the occasional creak of the ironing board as my mother ironed in the living room. Home is the smell of fresh laundry – towels just out of the dryer that we would burrow under until the pile dwindled as mom slowly folded them in her precise pattern.
Home is the small tree growing in the front yard. Not an impressive tree – in stature – but to my sister and me, it was…
a princess castle, a pirate ship, a mountain top, in the jungle, a hiding place, base, endless adventures, a swing, monkey bars…
and it was the dreaded source of our father’s switches – used only in the worst of circumstances. When daddy went to retrieve a switch from our beloved tree, it was only then that we wished it didn’t exist.
Home is dinner around the dining room table, saying prayer before eating, holding hands as a family and thanking God for the nourishment which he had provided. And not complaining about what was being served. “It’s not right to thank God for our food, and then complain about what it is,” Daddy would always remind. Familiar meals – comfort food – were served in a weekly rotation…meatloaf, fried chicken, and once a week – breakfast for dinner…a concept my own children just won’t warm up to.
Home is the conflict and tension of teenage brothers, resentful of their “step” mother and angry over the death of their own. It is the open defiance and harsh words heard by my sister and me as we hid at the top of the stairs, terrified but curious. It is the sound of objects thrown, painful sobs, and endless slamming doors. Home is the feeling of being torn between family members…admiration for older brothers, and the natural loyalty and love for a mother and father.
Home is the gentle reminder of our father each time we left the house. We were not sent on our way with rules or threats, but rather with four simple words from our soft-spoken patriarch…”Remember who you are.”
As I have mentioned before, I created a writing portfolio for my senior capstone class at Miami University. Through the course of that class I wrote many poems and short narratives that all revolved around the main subject of home. Being a “non-traditional” student, I had many experiences and years to draw upon for these pieces. One of the exercises we did in class led to the following poem I use this exercise with my middle school students now and find that it is a great way to write about life’s important events. For lack of a better title, I call it “My around poem.”
My Around Poem
Around 2006, I returned to school and was labeled non-traditional.
Around 1979, my oldest brother left home at the age of 16 without saying goodbye.
Around 1997, after 18 hours of labor, my first child came into the world.
Around 2007, on a bitter, cold morning, my Grandpa died.
Around 1975, I stood at the bus stop waiting for my first day of kindergarten…the bus never came.
Around 1993, I married my high school sweetheart.
Around 1974, I watched my dog Benji get hit by a car while I played in the front yard.
Around 2001, on an icy morning, I gave birth to my daughter.
Around 2008, I watched my brother’s son marry his high school sweetheart.
Around 2003, I walked my son to school for his first day of kindergarten…we didn’t take any chances with the bus.
Around 1977, I was forever changed by the actions of another.
Around 1984, I kissed a boy for the first time – at the county fair. His name was Nick.
Around 2008, my high school sweetheart and I ended our 15-year marriage…at the breakfast table.
Around 2006, my son and I walked my daughter to school for her first day of kindergarten.
Around 1985, I had my heart broken for the first time.
Around 2008, I learned to be me again…still non-traditional.
My senior capstone class at Miami University was a writing class. I would say it was one of the best classes I have ever taken. Our semester-long project was to create a writing portfolio that was loosely centered around one theme or subject. I chose “home” as my central idea. The pieces that came from this semester of writing are so different from each other but all relate to my definition of home. I have kept this writing portfolio to myself since that semester. I have shared some poems here and there with people in my life…but until yesterday had never thought about posting poetry on here (I read a great blog yesterday that spurred the idea!).
why do i write?
i write for me
to feel to grieve
to let go and to remember
i write for validation
from my soul
and from my mind
i write to say those things
that i will never
have the strength to speak aloud
i write to heal
to mend old wounds
and bandage fresh cuts
i write to make my world
meaningful, real, and
worth living in.