Saturday, March 31, 2012

Where we step out of the world

(A guest post by Stephanie for this thirty-third day of Lent)

...a place where we step out of the world.
...a place where we stop pretending.
...a place where wholeness and comfort are found in silence.
...a place where we learn the most fundamental lessons of what it is to be loved and to love.

Stephanie is a crazy-busy graduate student who enjoys the few moments of repose that she can get in my home, which isn't so much a place but an atmosphere.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where I have a room of my own

This print is the work of the very talented Kate Thomas. You can visit her website here and browse her Etsy shop here. Image used by permission of the artist.

(Day 32 of Lent)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Home is belonging

(A guest post by Everly on this thirty-first day of Lent)

 Home is where I can be myself. Where my outside and my inside are both recognized and matched. Where I am looked at and seen. Where I am understood or at least aimed for. Home is where my jokes are funny and my outbursts are forgiven. Where my silence is let be and my chatter is accepted. Where my work is appreciated, my laziness is treated with patience, my silliness is welcomed and my solitude is scarce. Home is where I am part of something greater than myself and yet home is where I am greatest. Home is sharing the burden and feeling it not. Home is where I am just a gear in the whirring machine, yet valued and content. Home is belonging.

Everly is a homebody from a family of ten (now eleven-welcome brother-in-law!) She lives on a lovely little plot called Eyrie Park where she writes, cooks, teaches and thrives.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A peace that lingers

(A guest post by Caitlin Lore on this twenty-ninth day of Lent)

Home is...a Sunday morning run while the sun is coming up, before everyone else has risen from bed. There is a peace that lingers on the still roads.

Home is... a good book that I can fall into every time I open the pages.

Home is... the smell of something sweet hanging in the kitchen air.

Home is... the lean of my greyhound when he tells me he loves me.

And as a soldier's wife, home is anywhere my husband is.

Caitlin Lore is a writer, runner, wife, and someday-soon teacher.  She blogs at

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A dirty kitchen

(A guest post by Erin Sanders for this twenty-seventh day of Lent)

My kitchen is rarely spotless. It is a place I cook for my family and make treats for friends. I am sure that it could be clean, but I opt to leave it a bit messy. I choose to take the time I have with my friends and family to engage them while they are with me rather than squander it by cleaning a few dirty dishes that can wait 'til later.

On a similar note, when I visit a friend's place, it feels like home when I head to their kitchen and find a cup in their cabinets, a drink in their fridge, or prepare something for us and/or our children to partake. There is a level of comfort and a sense of true community that is afforded me when I am able to hunt through a kitchen on a whim.

There is truly something about shared food and drink that is unmatched by any other experience.

My dirty kitchen is a testament to basic needs being met and hours of conversation that have taken place both inside and outside the walls of my apartment.

My dirty kitchen, and the kitchens of others are my home.

Erin is a wife to Brian & momma of 3 princesses (Mackenzie - 5 1/2, Kyleigh 1 1/2 & Kaitlyn 5 months). She has a passion for sharing life with others over a plate of cookies or while serving up a home-cooked meal.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home is....

Home to me is the whole family together, good food on the table, warm fire in the wood stove, games, laughter, walks, no schedules, and lingering times at the table.

(An anonymous submission for this twenty-fifth day of Lent)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where we feed ourselves

First carrots from the garden

Also from the garden: rainbow chard stems, ready to sauté 

(Day 24 of Lent)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finding something to stick with

(A guest post by Julianna Potter for this twenty-third day of Lent)

Home is finding something to stick with.

I am not what you would call a decisive person. This is not due to either pickiness or apathy, but rather, I think, to the fact that I like almost everything and everyone...for a while. Every topic, major, career, city - they all offer something interesting, but over and over I've found myself grow antsy halfway into any endeavor, waiting for the next to begin.

Avery is the first exception to that. At the beginning of our relationship, in the midst of a whirlwind of falling completely into another person, I wondered when that feeling would come back, when I would feel the need to pack my bags. Miraculously, that feeling has never come, and the worry that it ever will has gone away, too. I wonder if part of that is that Avery is not the person I saw myself with. I always imagined I would be with someone stoic and shy, someone who liked discussing philosophy and made me take up environmentally friendly hobbies. Instead, I found someone who, for all his depth of soul, is inherently silly. And it's perfect. His charisma, his energy, his child-like excitement for life - they're all things I couldn't have known I would want so much.

Finding someone to become your home, someone with whom routine becomes something to look forward to, someone who makes you love and cling to the word "constant" - it's magical. But it's also terrifying. It is to find what you have always been missing and to have no real guarantee that it will always last. It is to worry that, although you feel you could never want anything more than this person and this moment and this feeling, you have no control over whether that person will always want the same.

So to find home, to find something worth sticking with, is to give up control. It's to put all of yourself into something and hope. To cling to hope.

Julianna is a friend of Bethany's, and thus a fortunate woman.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where we make old things new

Recycling can be pretty.

Decorating with things I find under my bed.
(Day 22 of Lent)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Putting down roots

(A guest post by Grace for this twenty-first day of Lent)

Home is where I have chosen to put down roots, both literally, as in my garden, and figuratively, as in the relationships I have established. I have put down roots through showing hospitality, through getting to know my neighbors, and even through getting to know the local landscape.

My home is a place I can choose to open to others. I can’t show hospitality in a place that’s not home. For me, it is easier to invite people into my home than it is to invite people to other places, such as church. At home, I have some control over the environment, everything from the temperature to the lighting to the way it smells. I also have control over who else is going to be there. Inviting people into public places is more risky because there are more aspects of the place that are beyond my control. Yet, home is a place from which I can choose to exclude others. I can make it my “castle” and use it for protection.

Home has a kitchen. It is the nerve-center of my home, because from my kitchen comes good food, hot tea—the means to provide sustenance to my family and friends. I can’t imagine showing hospitality without food, and I can’t feel at home in a place without a kitchen. There is a big difference between taking someone out to a restaurant and inviting someone into my home. In a restaurant, we may “entertain” a guest, but it’s not hospitality.

When I worked a job and had an office, the office was my personal space, but it wasn’t home, partly because there was no kitchen. In an office, I can wear a mask. People who come into my home see who I really am. It’s hard to keep up a false front in my own home, especially with my children running around.

A familiar landscape can help make a place feel like home, but I've found that home is with my husband and children, and in that sense, I can be home in an otherwise alien land. It would be worse to be in a familiar landscape without them than to be in an alien one with them. I may not have chosen to live where I do, but I have chosen to make the place that I live home.

Grace and two of her daughters make cookies to share.
 Grace is a contented wife of a college professor, with whom she often opens her home to college students. They have three children and are expecting their fourth.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where your story begins

(A guest post by Emily Davenport on this nineteenth day of Lent)

Home is where I’m in charge.

I’m responsible for dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and nesting.  As a child, I complained whenever my mother asked me to help with housework. Now, I look back on my laziness and ignorance with sadness.  It takes a lot of energy to maintain a home, and I don’t even have children.  My mother had two daughters, a full time job as an English teacher (read: lots of papers to grade) and cared for her ailing mother on the weekend.  She did it all. I eventually learned to help more, but I viewed it more as an inconvenience rather than active homemaking. Miraculously, I grew up, and now I take great pleasure in caring for our home and making it a haven for my family and our friends.

Now that I have my own home, I think back to my fantasies of “One day, when I have my own home I’ll...” and smile. I have dinner parties, just not as often as I would like. I have flowers on my dining room table. I’ve finally started an herb garden. I have a dog, Maggie. It’s a strange feeling to be on one’s own and realize that you have the power to create traditions. Growing up, we’d always have a special breakfast on Saturday morning--eggs and sausage, cinnamon rolls, or muffins.  Now, every Saturday morning I make a special breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, and waffles.  When we first married, I wasn’t intentionally trying to carry on this tradition--I just wanted to treat Kevin (and myself) to a big, delicious breakfast on Saturday. Looking back, maybe I was trying to carry over what I knew and loved from my family into my new family.

As we look forward to having children one day, I know that traditions and projects will be crucial to forming our family’s identity.  For me, part of becoming an adult is the realization that  I can select and reject things about my upbringing. Creating new traditions takes intention and time and effort and planning.  The reward is a renewed sense of identity, time, and purpose.  I’m inspired by traditions of my family and friends: Christmas cards, breakfast for dinner, going to Fall Creek Falls, road trips, homecoming parades, Sunday letter writing, Friday night movies, Taco Thursday, listening to CarTalk.  I am excited and humbled by the thought of being the co-author of my family’s story.  Maybe home is not my address, but a sort of bubble of traditions, vocabulary, and expectations that follows me wherever I go. As we meet other people and learn about the world, our bubbles intertwine and grow richer and deeper. 

Emily Davenport happily makes her home with her husband Kevin and dog Maggie.  Her current Buechnerian vocation is as a high school librarian.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a cup of tea, a bean bag chair, a book to read

(A guest post from Liz Gentry on this seventeenth day of Lent)

Home is a place that is personified in a cup of tea, a bean bag chair, a book to read, and a blanket to wrap up in.
Home is a place where shoes are optional, pitching in to help is expected, and fridges can be raided (including finishing off a gallon a milk).
Home is a place one can navigate in the dark, if it weren't for those shoes left out.
Home is a place of refuge when the world seems scary and hostile.
Home is a place that smells of home-bread and home-cooking.
Home is a place where company is welcome, even if the dishes aren't done.
Home is a place where it is acceptable and expected to be yourself.

Liz is a college student in Indiana. She and her husband know they will be doing mission work in the future, but are waiting for the specific details.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where we see face to face

(A guest post by Sara D. for this fifteenth day of Lent)

Home is where most of my memories are housed. Home is the state in which one soul can rest into the souls of others. Home is an ever-changing, ever-expanding fellowship of individuals who choose to come together and learn. Home is the place in which the works of Dr. Seuss, Francine Rivers, and Plato can all be found under one roof - each cherished and enjoyed. Home is the state in which those things which we see in a mirror dimly are sought, and the day in which we shall see them face-to-face awaited (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Sara is a student seeking Truth - not the abstract "truth" of many philosophers, but the Truth of John 14. She has personally encountered the truth of His grace and love most frequently and most vividly at home - for which she is deeply thankful. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Imperfect Pictures

(A guest post by Rebecca Larson for this thirteenth day of Lent)

Home is a subject that has often been on my mind these past few months; something I've struggled with, something I've longed for. Your call for a definition of "home" has had me searching my mind for just the right words, and rifling through photo albums for the perfect pictures.

But I can't seem to find them. So I must go with what is imperfect.

There are only two houses on this earth that have fulfilled the concept of "home" to me: the house I grew up in from birth to almost twelve years old, and the house Dan and I lived in in New Mexico until we moved to Colorado.

The house on Blueridge always seemed the perfect little family home. My parents bought it in 1984, not too long before I came along. To a small child, the backyard of that pie-shaped cul-de-sac lot seemed to stretch for miles: a large grassy space, half a dozen fruit trees, tall, majestic ponderosa pines, hovering bushes that made the perfect hiding places for hide-and-go seek and for building forts. It was the kind of backyard that a child's imagination could create a thousand scenes in, and my brothers and I reveled in it through those early years, playing wonderful games and having many of our raucous sibling fights. The house itself perhaps wasn't perfect. It was a simple, cheaply built tract home from the late sixties. When I was little, the fridge was still chocolate brown, and the shag carpets were varying colors of gold, green, and brown. The home had been poorly insulated when it was built, and despite my parents’ best efforts, it was still quite cold in winter. Because of this, my parents bought a wood-burning stove to insert into the old open fireplace and used it frequently all winter long to augment the heat in the house. There was something comforting about that stove. After everyone else had gone to bed, I remember sneaking out of bed to sit in the rocking chair and stare at the embers as they died down. I wish I knew what I thought about at those times, but some memories fade, whether we like it or not.

The spring before I turned twelve, my parents decided to buy a new, larger house that would better accommodate our family of five as we all grew. I was very excited about this, but there was still something bittersweet about leaving that old home. I was Wendy growing up and leaving the nursery. Yet, somehow I foolishly thought that what had been could be re-created. The new house had not one, but three woodstoves in it, but as it turned out, the better insulation meant that they weren’t really necessary, and my mom’s allergies to wood smoke had worsened terribly, so we only used them once or twice before they were forgotten. I missed the fires. That house was always a nice place to live, but when I dream of home as a child, I dream of the little house on Blueridge. I still dream of it quite often.

While Dan and I were searching for a place to live when we got married, Dan stumbled across the house on Silver one day while out walking near the university. We went to see the place and found a house that was grimy, lacking central heat or cooling, riddled with roaches, and had a backyard that was all one overgrown jungle-like mess of sumac. But we took it. I suppose we didn’t mean to live there long when we first moved in, but somehow it just happened, and we found ourselves getting to know the house. Like “The Little House” of Virginia Lee Burton’s children’s book, this house had it’s own stories to tell. It had a life, a history that we could only learn by digging out the weeds, following the lines in the walls, and listening to the creaking of the plaster in the night. We began to get to know a little Victorian cottage that had been poorly remodeled here and there beyond recognition, we found a lovely backyard layout, and the names “Claire” and “Colleen” written in the cement in a childish scrawl, each accompanied by a little handprint. We discovered a little basement room painted all in red with a deteriorating “stage” on one side and a flag painted on the other with a white star surrounded by machine guns and two white stripes on a red field. Who bathed in that claw foot tub, where are those girls now, what exactly went on it that basement, and what did the yard look like when the backyard walk was laid on 1-4-‘49—the date we found elsewhere on the pavement. We couldn’t help but wonder.

Slowly, we fell in love with that house. We began our story there, created and brought our first child home there. And there we sat in the winter cold of that poorly insulated, poorly heated house in front of fires of our own making in its brick fireplace, staying up late in the night to stare into its warm, glowing light and reflect on the life we’d been given, the blessings we had, and the challenges we faced ahead. Our friends and family gathered around those fires as well, sharing their own trials and joys, embracing life with us. We transformed the backyard into our own private Eden, watching it all torn away when the home’s ownership changed, and feeling the stab as keenly as if something dear had been ripped away from us.

This past June, we moved to Colorado, where Dan began his PhD in August. We said goodbye to the little house on Silver with that same bittersweet feeling, and found ourselves instead in quiet suburbia, in a house built in the eighties with plenty of quirks, but very little personality and no fireplace at all. I can’t say yet whether I will be able to look back one day and call this a true home. We are far away from friends and family, and making meaningful connections in a new location has been far harder than I imagined it would be. Sometimes I find myself wishing that we could afford to buy our own little house and share in its memories while building our own, but I know on reflection that this would only be a bandage, rather than a solution, for a home is so much more than the house that forms its structure.

A home is a place where love resides, where people are nurtured, where family and friends gather, where memories are discovered and memories built. But home stretches beyond simply the place; home is loving your husband, caring for your child, welcoming in friends, new and old, hoping for the future, while remembering the past. Creating, sharing, growing, loving, learning, cooking, cleaning, reading, knitting, singing, fellowshipping, praying, and listening all happen in a home.

I miss home.

Rebecca leads a double life: In one, she lives with her daughter Elinor and her husband Dan, who she follows to the ends of the earth as he pursues his English PhD (and later a teaching job). In the other, she works full time as a labor and delivery nurse. It's a beautiful life, but she often wishes it could be a simpler, slower one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where my soul is at ease

(A guest post by Katie Ruth for this twelfth day of Lent)

Home is a place, a person, or a group of people that causes your soul to breathe easier. Whenever I drive to the Appalachian mountains, my soul breathes a sigh of relief: I feel at peace. At home.


Whenever I come back from a long day of classes and I open the door and see my husband, I know I am home and can relax.

When I am with these friends I am completely myself: no pretensions, no acts, no facades. I am at home.

And even though I do not live with them anymore, my family will forever be home.  These four people (and others too countless to name) will always love me, always have a place for me, and always remind me where I come from. They are home. Home is where my soul is at ease, my heart is full and happy, and I know I belong.

Katie Ruth is a graduate student learning to live, study, rest, and play all at the same time. She lives in Texas with her dear husband where she knits, drinks tea, and aspires to be creative in her spare time.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Home is the earth

(A guest post by Josh Carpenter for this tenth day of Lent).

Home is the earth. I don't mean in the "planet earth is our home" kind of way. I mean in knowing the land the way that a farmer knows his or her land. The farmer knows what the land is capable of, where the tricky spots to mow around are. The farmer knows where there are rocks that need removing before plants can grow and where the dangerous areas and wild animals are. Perhaps most importantly, the farmer knows the legacy of people that lived on the earth before him/ her. Places become reminders of people, events, shared lives, sad yet fond memories, and all the other connective tissue that makes one feel at home. The earth makes space for us to have a home.

It is in this way that the earth formed my ancestors' identities. They worked it with their hands, and it sustained their lives despite their fiscal poverty. The earth made it possible for my family to gather around my great-grand uncle's farmhouse with banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and upright bass and dance on Saturday nights. The earth made space for my family to exist, space for cousins, nieces, nephews, wives, matriarchs, boys, and old men to come away from their labor and be a family. There were many a night that saw the Davenport clan gather at that house... until the Great Depression, TVA, and the post-Vietnam recession made it impossible for farmers to live off the earth anymore. The fields became lakes. The farmhouse became a run-down shack. The farmer became a factory worker. The family drifted apart. The music stopped.

In Tennessee I did not appreciate the earth. I did not know how even though every generation extending back in time to the furthest recesses of anyone's memory have testified to the importance of the earth. I had a great cloud of witnesses that tried to tell me how important the earth was, but I was captivated by the glitz and glamour of the American Dream. I left home in search of that dream. Now all I see of that dream is madness and despair. It is madness, for it disrespects the earth and those living on it. It destroys community and eviscerates one's humanity. It is despair, for at the end of all things it has nothing of substance to offer. I am dreaming another dream now, or rather I should say that I am looking for a Kingdom not built with hands. The Kingdom comes as earth, as a human, as one who preaches a right relationship between human, earth, and God. The Word becomes flesh; pitches its tent with us; dwells with us in farmhouses and flooded fields, in Tennessee and in Texas; and shines in the darkness of the American Dream. The American Dream cannot overcome the Light of the Earth. I did not know how to live with the earth in Tennessee. By God's parental instruction, I am learning how to live with the earth in Texas. By God's incarnation, I am learning how to live with God and others on the earth. By God's Spirit, I trust that the earth will finally be home for everyone. The music will return, for God has called the earth home and invites all of us to come away from our labors and dance.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." -- Revelation 21:1-5

Josh is a seminary student in Texas. He grew up in East Tennessee during the time following the collapse of agrarian life and amid the ensuing social/cultural collapse left in its wake. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Home is....

... where my wife is.

... where my books are ordered on their shelves.

An anonymous submission for this eighth day of Lent