A great home built with love
Mom and Dad
Growing up in southern Indiana we were never mistaken for a rich family. We were simple people, living simple lives and we absolutely loved it! My "Pops" was (and is) a Pastor at one of the small Church's in town, as well as a laboror at one of the local factories. Mom, she stayed at home to raise the kids, keep "Pop" in line and to run the house. I was the last of 4 children born in to our family, with 6 years separating my closest sibling and I. I never wanted for anything, my Mom was a master at planning and saving and scraping things together to make for a happy home. Dad always worked, he never missed a day, yet he always seemed to be there to do his part to raise the kids and lighten the load on Mom. We lived in a small, spotlessly clean, house that was always hustling and bustling with neighborhood kids, Church people and family. My parents spoiled us and made life enjoyable and easy. My wife jokes, that I never made my own bed until I went away to college, and sadly, she is right. I never left the house in the morning without a "healthy" breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast and without a morning prayer from my Mom to start the day. We never had a television set in our home, (my Dad still doesn't), so in turn I became an avid reader of books, especially at night when it was too dark to be outside playing. I loved school, not necessarily the learning part, but being with my friends and I rarely ever missed a day. Those days growing up in that house, in that small town, with those people were simply the best. The memories too many to recount in this story, yet, so many good days and wonderful moments to ponder. The day I loaded my red Ford Ranger pickup and left for college, I cried like a baby the whole way, I knew things were never going to be the same after leaving home, I had been beyond blessed to grow up in such a place.
Today, I sit in my office as a middle aged man thinking back over the fading memories of my childhood, wrestling beneath the burden of my own children's future memories. How do I make a magical childhood for my kids? how do i live up to their expectations? what is the secret?
As I ponder on my childhood, searching for answers, my mind always circles back to the same conclusion, I was never unhappy in our home. I can't ever remember a time that I was dissapointed in my parents. There was never a time that I expected more out of them than they could deliver, they always lived up to and exceeded my expectations. I never saw my Dad raise his voice to my Mom in anger in front of us kids, any problems they may have had were kept behind closed doors and away from us. Phrases, such as, "I love you" and " thank you" along with countless hugs and kisses were as common as breathing air in our household as we grew up. My parents house never made it on a magazine cover, they never won awards for their beautiful garden or pristine flowerbeds and they never won an award for parents of the year. They didn't do the spectacular, they weren't trying for the accolades, all they did was build us a home. They taught us to love God more than anything, be respectful to others and treat everyone just like we would want to be treated. They taught us the value of hard work, the responsibility of getting up and going to work, paying your bills and helping those that were less fortunate. They taught us to hold open doors, always lend a listening ear, smile at strangers, give generously, and to pick up the tab.
As a parent, I now know that Dad didn't feel like playing ball with me every night after work, but he did. I know he didn't want to come get me in the theater parking lot after my first fender bender, but he did. I know he didn't want to discipline me when I deserved it, but he did. He didn't want to take every extra penny he earned in his paycheck and shovel it away in a Christmas Club account for us, but he did. There is no way that he wanted to put those gaudy 1966 Mustang hubcaps I bought him on his 1982 Chevy S10 truck, but he did. Mom surely had big aspirations growing up but I never heard her one time complain of being a housewife and a mother. Maybe her High school dreams didn't include cooking and cleaning and doing laundry all day, but she did it. Never buying herself new clothes, purses or shoes always denying herself for our good, and she did it, everytime. I've never met a combination of people who lived out a life of sacrifice and giving to others, as my parents.
What makes a house a home?
Shortly after our first Child, Annabel, was born I asked my Mom that very question, "How did you do it"? How did you juggle "life", yet, make it seem so easy and normal and fantastic. Her answer was simple, yet deep, "I loved my family."
Is it really that simple?
Surely not....but maybe.
It wasn't the "stuff" I had growing up or the size of my bedroom, the contents of my allowance or the construction of my house that made my childhood what it was...no...it was simply two parents that loved me more than anything.
A house becomes a home when it is filled with love, grace, patience, discipline, unity and most of all God. You can't buy any of these in your local store, they don't cost money, but these days they are rare to come by.
As I sit here today, I realize the shoes I need to fill are very large, the task seems overwhelming at times and the world I live in is very different. I am scared. Will I build a home for my kids? I hope so. The blueprint is in front of me, I know what it requires, but will I be able to do it?
My prayer is that when my kids are sitting in an office somewhere, staring at middle age and thinking back over their childhood, they can say they were blessed to grow up in such a place.
Just like me.