Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where The Heart Is

In my last post I mentioned that I've been struggling with the idea of "home" lately. I thought I'd go into some more detail here in hopes that it might be cathartic in a way.

I'll start by saying that I like where we live. My husband truly enjoys his job as a software engineer at NASA. The job is what brought us here, and it has been a rewarding job for him for the past ten years. I knew it would be hard to leave Louisiana, but the opportunity was there and we both agreed that it was the right time for us to make that move back in 2001. We'd been married for three years and I think we were ready to feel that we were truly "on our own." Moving away meant leaving his hometown, and the town that had been my new home since starting college six years earlier. His parents lived there and we had a great network of friends as well. Leaving was very hard but it was the right thing to do for us. This became even more clear when the next chapter of our lives began -- trying to have a baby. Living near Houston opened up a lot of opportunities to find a doctor who could help us. It took us a while to do that, but we've been very glad that we had those resources available.

There have been lots of great things about living here, not to mention that we are only a little more than two hours' drive from my family. I know that fact may make it seem silly that I often bellyache about being homesick. But the fact is that, even after ten years, Texas still doesn't feel like home. My heart is back home in Louisiana.

If you know Louisiana, then you know that it's a place all its own. No, I don't mean New Orleans, although it's certainly unique! Contrary to popular belief, the whole of Louisiana can't be summed up by experiencing only New Orleans. As close as we are here in this neighboring state, the way of life is really quite different. I use expressions here all the time that make my friends ask what on earth I'm talking about. I talk of food that they've never eaten, much less heard of. It's a culture and a cuisine that can't be re-created anywhere. That place will always be home to me, no matter where I live.

We have made a great home here, though. We bought our house in 2002 after a year of apartment living. It's a modest three-bedroom house that has been just the right size for our small family. I love our home. As a homemaker I spend lots of time here. I like the paint colors we chose and the way that we've decorated it with things that we love. We've made lots of good memories here, although this house also holds the memories of our six miscarried children. Those are tough memories, but also ones that I don't wish to forget entirely. The back yard is home to the tree we planted for them (well, we planted it for our first baby, but it has come to represent all six for us over the years). I know that it will be hard to leave this place someday. I'm sure that future residents here won't give that tree a second thought.

So, I'm torn. I like our home here, but lately I feel so disconnected. I think it all began to snowball about a month before Lily was born. You see, I've been a stay-at-home wife (and finally now, mom) for the past decade. I don't have a very large social group here. The majority of my local friends have come from church. My church family are the only people that I see on a regular, weekly basis. About five months ago, though, the small mission church (or church plant) that we'd been attending for the past eight years abruptly closed its doors.

We'd been members there through thick and thin, since its very first meeting. In the early years we met in a school before renting our own building. Numbers had been dwindling and finances were tough for the past couple of years, and we were back to meeting in a temporary location and trying to figure out what to do next. My husband and I personally weren't sure at that point of the future of that church or whether God was leading us to look for a new church home. The end came suddenly, though, and it left us feeling pretty unsettled. Of course we have stayed in touch with a few very dear friends whom we treasure, but we miss that scheduled weekly time of worshiping together.

I think the combination of losing our church home right before having a baby has been even tougher than I first imagined. It's so hard for me to think of visiting churches with a small baby. She's sort of on a schedule now, but it would be difficult to keep her with us during a service and even more difficult for me to leave her with total strangers in a different nursery week after week. There are lots of aspects to this that I could go into, but I'll just say that I don't feel up for it yet. I know from experience that church hunting is not an easy thing to do. And it intimidates me even more to think of doing it with a baby.

On top of all that, I think that having a baby in general has made me think more and more about home. I want my little Texan to grow up knowing as much as she can about her Louisiana heritage. It is a long and rich (in tradition, not in wealth) heritage that I've researched and can trace back at least seven generations on my side of the family alone, not to mention my husband's. And although I know we are just over two hours away, sometimes I really do wish that Lily could just hop on over to her Granny's house for a visit. There are times when two and a half hours seems like so far away.

My heart is there, but it's also here. It's here because "home" is where my husband and daughter are. Within the walls of our house, I feel perfectly happy and secure and at peace. But when I think about getting out there and finding a new church family, and especially down the road when we must start looking at schools for Lily, it feels so foreign and unsettling. It's hard to imagine our future here, but I know that moving back would never be exactly the same as it used to be.

It feels that somehow, at the same time, I have two homes and yet no home. Does that make sense? My heart is in two places: here and there. But staying here means starting over, just like returning there would also be starting over. Like I mentioned in the last post, we have no plans to move. It's just something we think about, especially now that we have a child.

And after all of that, I realize that houses aren't really what make up a home. People do and families do; I know that. Sometimes I wonder if I'm simply chasing some elusive feeling of what home is or used to be.

(I'm not even sure if these thoughts of mine have translated well into a blog post, but there you have it. Thanks for sticking with it if you've read this far!)


Andi said...

As you know, I don't share your desire to return to home in Louisiana. Perhaps if I was married and had a family, I'd feel different, but until then I "need" to live near a metropolitan area and feel blessed that I can have the best of both worlds by still being only 3 hours from "home". Nonetheless, I did follow what you were saying in your post. I had no idea about your church and am very sorry to hear that. No matter what the future holds for your family, I pray that you'll find that church home, but perhaps more importantly, that you form those new relationships.

andreajennine said...

What a challenge to lose your church home just as Lily was born! I can't imagine going through that season without that support, and I can see how it would be daunting to church search with an infant. I have no idea what kind of church you prefer, but I thought I'd mention that I know of a church in the Houston area that's related to ours. Here's a link:
Feel free to disregard! I just know sometimes recommendations are helpful, and we love our church so much that I thought I'd mention it.

Hope in Virginia said...

I can totally appreciate your sentiments - that's why in a few months we are moving back "home." While it is still within the same state, it will feel a million miles away from where we currently are. And I can sympathize regarding the church...when I was in college, the church I'd attended since 1st grade went through a major upheaval and most people left. It is like losing a part of your heart. I hope you find comfort soon in something that is either the home that you know or a new type of home, whichever God has in store for you.

Jenn said...

It seems like life is always full of uncertainties no matter what the situation!

katdish said...

I know exactly how you're feeling. I've lived in Texas for most of my life, but when I go back to Virginia, it still feels like home.

I'm so sorry to hear about your church plant. I wish you guys lived closer. I'd invite you to church at our little gathering.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, home is with my family. My folks live an hour and a half away, and now it seems like an eternity. I want them to help raise my baby, to be a vital and integral part of it's life. They're trying to find jobs closer to us and we're praying it happens soon!

Andrea said...


I'm sure you miss home now more than ever with Lily in your life. As a Mother I can imagine you miss your family support system. Moving to a new place is difficult. I've been in Memphis for almost 6 years now and I don't have lots of close friends, I understand how you feel.

My friend Carmen (moved here from Switzerland) has encouraged me to become part of a mothers group, as she said it helped her transition. She came to the US with her Canadian hubby, knowing no one and home sick. The mother's group has introduced her to many others in the same situation and she's made friends. It's still not home, but its better :) I'm hoping to join in too once baby H arrives this spring.

As for Chruch, I'm sorry that happened, as its your foundation and I know that is difficult. I'll be praying you find a church that is just the right fit. It's out there, promise :)


Deni said...

Oh, I can echo all of these words, though I haven't been a Texan as long as you (and shhh I still haven't switched my tags--that's tomorrow and I'll probably cry). You can't explain the difference, but we Louisiana natives understand it all to well. Thinking about having a baby and Louisiana not being his/her home, it's just too sad for me to think about.

As for finding a new church family, oh it's soooo hard! I miss my church family back home every Sunday with an ache that is hard to push back. I count it as truly one of the HARDEST things about us moving. I miss that homey feeling, that comfort that comes with a worship style that resonates with you and people who already 'know' you. Not having to explain that yes, I'm 31 and this will be my first earthly baby, but that is only a minute part of my story. I'm so sorry that has happened and wish I could help you!!!

I too, am only 2 hours away, and yet it seems so much farther when you want to just drop by mama's house and sit at the table and have a quick chat!

Praying for answers and peace in these thoughts, decisions, challenges!! Much LA love from me to you!

twondra said...

I've been so lucky that I only live half an hour away from my parents and sister....and sometimes I think that's too much. It's so nice to have family nearby. I don't know what I would do without them.

Connie said...

You are toying with my emotions! I would so love to have you (and my girl) close by. Lily could come to my school so I could keep an eye on her (and kiss her) everyday; you could over for dinner...Send me Chuck's resume' and I'll get it started. ;) XOXO

crystal said...

I can totally relate! My parents are in VA and I'm here in TX. I enjoy every visit like it might be the last. And, I'm counting down the days until they retire and move here!

In the meantime, we should have some play dates. The age difference between the girls won't matter too much. We can enjoy each other company and some coffee, while the girls play.

Give me a call anytime!!!
Crystal Schroeder

Indy said...

i'm so sorry to hear about your church closing abruptly...I can't begin to imagine how much that has affected the members of that church.

We are actually a relatively young church plant (2 and 1/2 years old) and as tough as it is not to have our own church building (currently we are renting an elementary school for our worship services Sunday morning) I couldn't imagine it not being there at all.

I will pray that the Lord will guide you and your husband to the place where He can use you for His honor and glory. I know you have so much hope to share with the hurting and I pray that His name would be exalted where ever you go. I pray for your future church family; that they would be able to embrace you and that the Lord would be enrich your life with meaningful relationships with other young married couples, young mothers and Godly wives.

I also pray for all the other members that are in "limbo" uncertain of where to congregate or perhaps completely discouraged. May the Lord work in their heart and heal any hurt caused by the collapse of your church.