Finding Your Place

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A road in Suffolk, Va.

I grew up on a street my mother named. When my parents purchased a three- bedroom, two- bath ranch in Suffolk Virginia, Momma loved everything but the name of the street. Ford Lane didn’t evoke enough whimsy or excitement for my mother, Priscilla. She wrote up a petition, loaded her small brood into the car and went door to door encouraging signatures from the residents. The houses were tucked past farming fields and wooded acres. Once the 10 residents (or so) signed her petition, the “Ford Lane” sign came down and “Mockingbird Lane” sign went up. We staked our claim. We found our place.

When autumn rolls in I long for my home on Mockingbird Lane in Suffolk, Virginia. I love the quote “home is where our story begins,” because the story I remember started there. By this time of year, I’m sure trees behind our home are turning bright red and orange. The forest floor will soon be covered in a red damp carpet. Momma would always start a fire in the fireplace by late afternoon, and from deep in the woods, where my siblings and I played after school, we could smell the aroma of burning oak in the air.

There were hills, ponds, creeks, and caves. We’d get into all sorts of trouble and find a way out. Momma didn’t mind us disappearing for hours at a time, as long as we took our dogs with us. By dark, Momma hollered from the back porch.

“Kids! Supper’s ready!”

Her voice echoed off the hills and down by the creek. We’d practically kill ourselves sprinting through the briars and branches in an attempt to get home fast, so she’d never know how deep in the woods we were.

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Colin trying out a rope swing in the Smokey Mountains of Tenn.

 

I waited for my three boys to become big enough before I took them exploring through the forest behind Momma’s house. They seemed timid following me through the overgrown trail, climbing down the hill, and crossing the creek. It was unknown territory to my Orlando native theme park babes. I glanced back at them. “Come on!” I said. “Don’t be scared. I know where we’re going. This was myplayground.” We reached the creek with the huge hills on each side. The water rushed down creek, making that gushing sound people buy fountains for. Their eyes lit up with boy wonder. “There’s a cave in the side of that hill.” I pointed. “I got stuck in it once. I don’t recommend it. And in the creek, you can catch crawdaddies. We caught some, kept them as pets for a while, but when we got bored with them we boiled them on the stove and ate them. You pinch the tail and suck the head.”

“What did they taste like?” Christian said.

“Mud.” I pointed further down the creek. “Your Uncle Brandon built a bridge there, so we could cross over without wading. We had a fort with a large black rat snake. Longest and fattest snake ever, but he was nice. He just lounged around on the branch above our heads.”
As you can imagine, they looked at their mother differently after that tour. My history lesson bridged the gap between boys and Momma.

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Our last Christmas at Mockingbird Lane.

One day, after that tour, I saw the three of them sneaking off into the woods. I ran out onto the porch.  “Take the dog! You can go, but you must take the dog with you,” I said knowing the dog will lead them home. I sounded just like my Momma years ago.

My parents sold our home on Mockingbird lane a year before my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their new lakefront home is better suited to handling our large family when we visit, but the move felt like losing my place, and perhaps a foreshadow to a much bigger loss that was to come a few years later, when my sister lost her battle.

Yesterday, my son Colin told me how much he missed his Granddaddy and Nanna’s house on Mockingbird Lane. “Do you know how lucky you were to be able to play in the woods all the time Momma?” He said.

“Now I do, but when I was your age I couldn’t wait to leave Suffolk.”

“I wish I could live there,” Colin said. “The woods seem to go on for miles. How did you not get lost in them?”

I smiled. “We did on occasion but getting lost was how we learned our way.”

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Our conversation made me realize how much place develops a person into who they become, and how often we look out the windows of our place and long to be somewhere else. There was a farming field out my bedroom window on Mockingbird that rotated between, cattle, corn, cotton, and peanuts—yawn– but the most amazing sunsets settled over that field at night. Meanwhile, as a teenager I longed for houses and neighbors.

God knows the value of place. He puts us in places where He can build us. Where our character, knowledge, or influence can be strengthened. He placed the Israelites into the sandy wilderness for forty long years, to teach them obedience and discipline. While we all know they were yearning for the tall grasses of the promised land.

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The lake my parents now live on.

Where has God placed you? Are you stuck in an apartment with loud neighbors? Still single? Still longing to become a mother? Stuck in a dead-end job? Battling an illness? Caretaker of the ill?  If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, there’s a reason for it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 English Standard Version.

Don’t fret if your place doesn’t have the name you want or it’s not as exciting as somebody else’s neighborhood, for God knows the place you need.  Find contentment and stake your claim right where you are, for if you allow it God can take your external and design your internal.

 

See you at your place next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place to Belong

One of my sister’s favorite songs was “Where I Belong” by Building 42. Tricia would turn it up in my car, and nod her head to the music when it poured out the radio. At stoplights, one would see a bald-headed banger, whom might I add, was normally off beat.
You had to love her.
One night the words of this song must have played in her mind, as her son and daughter help her from her chair and into the kitchen, where the family lingered over their meal. Startled to see her up and moving, for the doctor had given her 48 hours to live a few days prior, everyone stopped talking.
She shuffled over to Momma and kissed her mouth. “Momma, I want to go home,” she said.
“You are home sweetie.” Mom replied.
“No…This is not my home. I got to go home!”
“Do you mean your eternal home?”
“Yes” She said before shuffling over to Dad. “Daddy I want to go home.”
Dad realizing what she wanted replied, “That’s alright baby,” he nodded. “You go on home now.”
“Thomas,” she turned to her husband. “I want to go home.”
Once satisfied all understood her intentions, she returned to her Lazy-boy chair, and around two weeks later, she went.
She went home to be with her Jesus.

I think about this all the time now. My sister Tricia knew this was not her home. In the end, she peeled herself free of the layers of this world… useless ambitions, materialism, obsessions with beauty, jealousies, grudges… to name a few. One by one, little by little, until all she wanted sitting in that chair was to be home with her Lord. I believe that is why allowing God’s timing in death is a gift to those who witness it. We get a glimpse of the truest form of someone’s spirit, shining through when all that useless baggage leaves them.

Around five years ago, I yearned for a simpler life. I wanted to move to Clermont, and give my boys a chance to grow up with the freedom to roam and have outdoor adventures. My boys loved visiting my family in Virginia where they could fish, hunt, and stomp through the woods, and I longed to return to the life of my youth.
My husband on the other hand, loved the convenience of living right down the street from all the five-star restaurants and the entertainment Disney and Universal had to offer. He said Clermont was too far out, and besides, he was not the “country boy” type.
If you are having trouble getting your husband to agree with you, I recommend sicking God on Him. I prayed God would change his heart, and make him want to move to the boonies. This advice comes with a disclaimer, God sometimes changes them too much, so be careful what you pray for.
Not long after, Jay took up hunting. Suddenly his closet was full of camouflage. Can I say here, I really don’t like camouflage? I grew up in Suffolk, Va. and hated camouflage then.
It didn’t stop there, out popped the flannel shirts on weekends, and casual work days. He grew a beard, and became a member of the NRA. He sold his Jaguar and bought a Ford Dually pick up truck. This was out of control! Did I mention he killed an alligator, and one day I found the thing on his feet. There is a line people! Alligator cowboy boots on a black man is just not normal! Between you and me, I’m giddy they are a little too tight.
My uptown city boy was changing and I began thinking ‘who is this mysterious cowboy lying next to me?’ Friends in Orlando must think he’s having a mid-life crisis.
In the middle of the madness, a dear friend told my husband he felt God wanted him to buy a farm. He invited us to come see a horse ranch he was considering. Jay and I spent the weekend at the house, skeet shooting and taking rides through the woods on the “quail truck.” We fell in love with the beautiful topography, for down every trail the trees and land produced something new to see.
Our last night there, while the trees tugged down the sun, I strolled through the large white barn. The stalls were clean and empty. There were no sounds of horses neighing or the swishing of their tails, but I imagined the stalls filled with stallions.
I prayed that if God didn’t want our friend to purchase this farm, then please allow a family to own it. It was used by an elderly woman to entertain her friends in card games, but this wonderland needed children running through it.
Unbeknownst to me, God was already answering my prayer, for in my womb my daughter Bella grew. The Father knows the desires of our hearts before we do.
Our friend purchased the farm and we made several weekend trips to see them. On one of these occasions, he offered us a plot of land to build a house. We didn’t have the funds to build a house at the time. We talked it over and prayed about what to do, while Jay steadily grew closer to the Father.
Soon, all the projects Jay worked on for the last 10 years began closing at the same time, and the money we complained about having to wait for, poured in at once.
I am still awed how God turns things around.

I was at the farm, the day my sister went home. I was standing on the lot we picked to build our house, I looked up at Jay and said, “I wish my sister could see this.”
Knowing her heaven call was imminent, he squeezed my shoulders. “Maybe she will,” he said.
I happened to glance at my watch at that moment, it was a little after 4:00pm.
A few hours later, back at our friend’s house, my family finally reached me to tell me my sister passed, and I wanted to know one thing.
“What time was it?” I said.
“It was a little after 4.” Momma replied.
I have to believe she saw the place where my temporary home will be, on the way to her eternal one.

Today, the farm house stands. We went vertical in July and in record timing the house was decorated and awaiting guests by Thanksgiving eve when Jay’s side of the family came pouring in. It was pure chaos! Due to the baby boom in the Adams family we hosted 4 newborn babes, and 13 children overall. God answered my prayer in the dark barn that night.
We can sit on the front porch and see the cows, and from the back porch we watch the horses. It may sound dreadfully boring to some, but to me, it is paradise. I don’t know if God wants us to move there permanently. He tends to reveal things little by little, step by step.
What I do know is while living in hectic Orlando, my heart yearns for the farm. It is a place to write, paint, and enjoy communion with other Christians. A place I feel at home and have peace.
It is a place to abide, to be still and know, but God calls us to be a light in a dark world doesn’t He? Let’s face it the darker the world gets the more we will be required to stand up and stand out.
We are not called to live for the security of our farm house, but for our eternal home.
What does a life lived for the eternal home look like?
It is a life lived with an uncompromising faith, giving unto others, loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul and believing His word is truth, whether you like it or not. It is a life not bound by political correctness, materialism, sin, a life of serving others, not self- promoting, not standing up for your rights, not complaining, and not filled with stubbornness. It is a life of sharing the good news of a Savior, and allowing your life to bring God glory. There may be persecution. There may be suffering. It is a life poured out for the sake of Christ and can only be lived by keeping your eyes, heart, and mind on Him. It is a life that will be messy, filled with temptation, and imperfect I can guarantee it.


Currently, I have two homes, both of which I concede are not really mine, for my true home, my eternal home is in heaven, and I can’t wait to see what God’s imagination creates for me. I wonder the day Tricia and I sip our iced teas on my heavenly porchs, if I will have the view of flying pigs off the front porch and unicorns off the other?