It was a brick house that sat on the hill.
Blackberries grew right on the property line, and in the summer, on hot days like today, we'd throw those old strips of plywood across the top of the bushes and go pickin'. After a few hours in the sweltering heat, we'd proudly display our bounty on the table and get to makin' a blackberry cobbler. The kind you can only make from pickin' your own berries.
Four acres of our little bit of country. With the view of hole number five, the par three right before the water, across the street. I caught my first fish in that golf course pond. The one you always say is bigger than it really was. The long driveway up the hill. My tree house in the backyard, the one I built with my dad.
That brick house that sat on the hill.
Although there were good memories in my childhood home, that house also saw some of my darkest days. Particularly, when I was in high school. You know the time when you're trying to find yourself. Those four years when you're trying to figure out where you belong. Those were the hardest. My parents went through a devastating divorce after 25 years of marriage.
And I could not find my place.
After the divorce, we left that brick house on the hill and moved into the city with my mom. I cried the whole day we moved. We left blackberries and rolling golf course hills to a two bedroom house with drug dealers as neighbors. No joke, my mom called me one night and told me to not leave the house, because the police had the dogs out looking for a suspect. My sister's room was right across the three foot hallway, and we would sing together at night to drown out the sound of the rats scratching the walls.
I celebrated my 21st birthday there. Brandon had the flu, but still made me cupcakes and invited more people than the house could hold. That little house on Wall Rd. was a place of rest in a time of chaos.
It was nothing like we were used to, but somehow fond memories happened in that house with the rats. Mom would keep extra food in the pantry and a whole gallon of extra milk for my friends who would stop by and stay with us. We had one of our best Thanksgiving meals there sitting in the front room, because there wasn't another place for a table.
But still, at Wall Rd., I couldn't find my place.
My heart constantly fought, trying to know a God of so many rules, that I had believed Him to be. If I had prayed more, studied more, served more, my life wouldn't be in shambles.
After a brief stay at Wall Rd., we moved across town, back to the country again. It was still in neighborhood, but thankfully there were no rats, and we all had a bedroom. And a dining room for that matter. Brandon proposed to me while living under that roof. And it was there, where I realized there had to be more to God than rules and me working for His love.
On this day, seven years ago, I married my dream man. The one who I had prayed for since I was twelve. Because I followed rules so closely, I chose not to kiss until I married. And this sweet man respected my decision for purity. On this day, seven years ago, we kissed for the first time.
And after a tropical honeymoon, I started finding my place with him. We made our home in a little white cottage. For the first time in my life, I was safe. And our first year of marriage, my heart revealed years of pain that I had been holding, bunkered away. I knew when I married him I was accepting his hard, but I wasn't prepared for him to
The walls in that little cottage watched a rule following, working for love, broken girl, meet a God-Man with a tender face who accepted me, because of His sacrifice. I danced for Him in that kitchen. I sang Him love songs so loud, the neighbors probably heard. He picked up the broken pieces of my heart that had spilled out in our bedroom. I broke rules in that house. You know the rules that grace doesn't know? I started to realized there, in that place, who I was. Who He was. And He was nothing at all who I thought Him to be.
That little cottage saw dark days of my heart too. I would lean over the table in the dining room every night for Brandon to give me shots. I remember sliding down the wall in the kitchen when I realized our last IUI had failed. That bathroom floor saw many of my tears. And that shower heard me crying out to the Lord for a child. There is still a worn spot to this day in that bedroom beside our bed, where I would lay before Him. Broken heart and all.
Several years later, we brought our Selah Grace home to that little cottage. By then, those walls heard the cooing of a miracle baby. God had grown her in our hearts. We became a family there. A forever family. And more and more I was finding my place.
That little cottage no longer held room for us to grow, so we bought a house in a nice neighborhood. Kind of in the country, kind of in the city. Sometimes in the morning, I can hear the cows waking up past the trees in our backyard. Bunnies hop and nibble, but children ride their bikes up and down our street. The teenage boys two houses down play basketball every evening, and our neighbors have become dear friends. This house, my dream house, has lots of rooms. I have my own sewing room, and a room with lots of windows where I go just to read and write. The living room has been filled with women, sitting on my couches, hungry for more of Jesus. And I have come to know this beautiful Father, my true Beloved, sitting on my white couch, more than ever before.
And just a few short weeks ago, Micah, came home to be in our forever family. Lately, these walls here, in this dream house of mine, hear lots of crying. They hear the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse on repeat. The floors haven't seen a vacuum in an embarrassing amount of time. And I promise you will find rings in our toilets.
This house has a constant smell of grilled cheese, because most days, that's all my toddler girl will eat. The floor already has spit up stains. There's a red mark on the kitchen wall from an escaped marker. (Selah has just learned she can color.) And the other day I found a milk cup under the coffee table, and from the smell of it, there is no telling how long it had been lost.
Baby boy has tummy issues, and cries more times than not. He rarely sleeps, and never can fully get comfortable. Selah spends most of her days in time-out lately. She loves to climb furniture and really likes to throw things in the trash. It's what toddlers do, so I'm told. And I've found myself feeling squeezed. Like I can't catch my breath. So I put him in the crib, I put her in the high chair with a snack, I go to the bathroom for the first time that day and cry.
Ashamed, that I don't seem to be handling this two-under-two thing like other moms I know. Guilty, for being so overwhelmed, when all I've ever wanted was to be mommy. Humbled, that I don't have the strength I thought I carried.
And I began to wonder again, where is my place? Just for me. No bottles, or burp clothes, or baby dolls, or old sippy cups. Sometimes in the midst of mothering, on these really hard days of serving everyone all day long, I start to loose myself. Who I am? Who He is? Better yet, WHERE is He in this chaos?
The other day, sweet Micah was trying so hard to eat, and crying because he was in such pain. I hadn't showered, hadn't brushed my teeth, hadn't slept in five weeks, and I too, started crying with him. And because I didn't have words, I turned my heart to this faithful Father. And instantly, I felt Him say to me, "Let me mother your heart, Sweet Girl, so you can mother your children's."
In that moment. I found my place, again.
All my life, I have moved, and walked through hard. And each time it took a while to find my place there. What I wish I could've told my high school heart is, "He is your place. No matter what. No matter where you find yourself, He is your place to run."
He was there, laying with me in the bed, as my sister and I sang to cover the noise of the rats. He was there, under the same roof, living with me, during that time I was engaged to Brandon. And boy, was He ever there in that little white cottage. He unveiled my heart to a grace-filled, Father.
And He is here, too.
In the middle of the night feedings, in the hours of crying, at the time-out mat, and in the midst of the significant insecurities I have been feeling lately.
Sometimes when I feel I can't breathe, I scramble to find my place. Away and alone. A room just for me. But during these days, I am mommy to two-under-two. And I have an audience when I use the bathroom. So in the middle of Mickey Mouse, with spit up on my shirt, dirty hair, empty belly, and yoga pants, I find My Place.
And I take a deep breath.
It will always be Him.