Two weeks ago I was driving along some very old and familiar roads. I had had the thought of driving past an old house. There was this one on Nowlin Road in Kennesaw. I affectionately call it, “The House that Built Me”. Every time I hear that Miranda Lambert song, I see that house. I wanted to go back to it for just a minute. In the insanity and complexity of life, that house was a safe haven.
It seemed simpler then. It wasn’t quiet. Ever. I mean…ever.
At one point we were a small army of 5 adults, 2 teenagers, a Heather, a Caleb and a MacKenzie (Micah came along soon after). It made no sense for a teenager to come out of that with any sense of normalcy. And we should question the beloved sanity of Matt and Rhonda. It had to have made perfect sense to have your aunt and three cousins move into your three bedroom, two bath house…with a basement. Then there was the time my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Ron lived there too. For 4 years, that was home. I am who I am because of it.
The reason for driving those familiar roads was the result of a phone call. The worst news. The heartbreak that won’t quit. The nightmare that we kept waking up to. The shock still hangs in the air. What do we do from here? How do we catch our breath? My response over the following days to all the pain and all the questions was “only Jesus”. I mean it. We can’t wrap our brains around the why or how. We just know Caleb isn’t with us and it feels so very wrong.
I wanted to go by that house but didn’t. I knew then what I knew all along, that home had zero to do with location and everything to do with the people who made it.
My dear friend Erica has said about our kids “they won’t know the love of God until they know the love of His people”. God pretty much set me up in this department. The events of the last two weeks were a reminder of how far reaching, how loving and how awesome each of them are.
These two right here. I could write a book…and so could they. They have had a hero status in my book for about as long as I can remember. For the record, my memory is awesome, so this is saying a whole lot. They mean the world to me and while the world for all of us stood still on February 10th, they lost the unthinkable. They are the best and I want to give you a short list on why.
They have shown me the power of being present. My life was shaped in their living room. You can imagine my reaction when I saw this of Matt and a bunch of Caleb’s friends just a few short days after Caleb’s funeral.
I had (and get to have) many moments surrounded by that same heart. Those moments made me. Some of those moments were in a church building, many were like this picture. Some of them were simple as eating dinner, running errands or Matt’s late night “hey girl’s, lets watch a movie”.
Sometimes, the holiest thing you can do is invite someone in. PLEASE hear that! We go out striving and looking to matter when sometimes, what God is calling us to do is simply invite. To open our door. To listen. That seemingly simple act can change EVERYTHING.
I had a thousand conversations at their kitchen table. They believed in me, encouraged me, challenged me, corrected me and loved big. It makes walking out what God calls you to a whole lot easier when the message growing up was, “do something”.
I don’t just dare to dream of what is possible when we gather people around a kitchen table or a comfy couch. I am a product of the willing. The willing to love, serve, give, gather, talk and listen.
I wouldn’t have had the chance to have loved Caleb like I did if not for the years in that house. I wouldn’t trade those years for all of the “normalcy” in the world. Traveling those roads two weeks might not have been as painful but that is where love can really hurt and you see all the more clearly how love like that changes everything.
If I could challenge you today… I am challenged today. I am reminded of how simple it all can be. To love can be messy, it can hurt…and it can be the greatest. Love well by inviting, seeing those around you and opening your door.
To Matt and Rhonda,
Thank you. You mean the whole great big world to me. God is not done.