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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coming Home

Back in 1971 I crossed my college campus while loud speakers blared a song across the quad. As I walked to class that day, I heard Country Roads for the first time. 

It was one of those everyday moments holding more than just the everyday. A yearning welled up inside of me and spilled over into tears that slid down my cheeks. Take me home? What home?

My father was a career soldier and I lived many places in my childhood. I was born in Nuremburg, Germany and also lived in Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, France, Georgia and Alabama. My father retired from the army when I entered the tenth grade and we moved to Columbus, Georgia. We lived there two years and then moved to Phenix City, Alabama for my senior year of high school. And then it was off to college. I never lived long enough in one place to consider it home. I had friends scattered across the country, but no close friends. Even my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins were relative strangers to me.

That day on campus I wondered, how could a road take me home when I feel as if I had no home?

The closest thing I had to a “real home” was my aunt’s farm where my grandmother lived. Several generations of both sides of my family were farmers in south Alabama.

My roots were there, on a farm, in the country, in south Alabama. Yet it really wasn’t my home, never a place I had lived, only a place I visited. But I yearned for such a home as that—a place filled with friends, family and fellowship.

A few years later, after I first heard the song, I graduated from college and returned to Phenix City to find a job and to mend a broken heart. There, I found Christ and a wonderful church family. Yet, I still felt restless. I never felt it was my home, so I decided to make another move—this time to Montgomery, Alabama.

I received a job offer from a Christian school in Montgomery and was making plans to buy a home. And, then, my father died. I turned down the job offer to stay with my mother in Phenix City.

And, yet, I fretted. I wanted something else. Before my father died, he had bought 50 acres of land in the country, in south Alabama. I told my mother we could have a house built and move there. She agreed.

A year later the house was built. I had traveled down several times to apply for a teaching job, but no one was hiring. One superintendent told me if I had a job teaching I should keep it (in other words, stay in Phenix City). The state was struggling financially and unemployment rates were in the double digits.

My mother and I did something unwise. 032

We moved anyway. We moved to our country home where the sun rose over the pond and reflected the beauty of God’s creation.

She was fifty-six and I was twenty-six. We both looked for jobs. No one was hiring. She turned fifty-seven and I turned twenty-seven.

“We’ve got to leave—go somewhere we can find jobs,” she said.

“Wait. Just wait a little longer.” I didn’t want to leave. I had found my home.

The days ticked by and she became more insistent. Across the road from us was a gas station/country store. One day she stopped to buy gas and told the woman running the store we were leaving.

The woman told her son-in-law. Her son-in-law told his single brother. “You missed your chance. I told you to call her. Now it’s too late.”

His brother Carl thought, well, she’ll soon be leaving anyway, why not call? He called and asked to come over to meet me. I said sure. He did.

My mother and I stayed.

I married Carl two month after we met.

And, I often sing those words I heard  forty years ago when I come home today, to my home, to the home God gave me, to the place I belong.

It’s great to be home. Hubby with granddaughter

                                                     Carl with our granddaughter

Part of the:  Check the sidebar for more great stories and thoughts on “Coming Home.”

30 comments:

  1. What a great story, Sheila. I have an inkling of what you went through because my dad was a pastor, and we had to move every three to six years as another church hired him.

    I went to school in Kansas City, Missouri; Gate, Oklahoma (just inside the panhandle); Coyle, Oklahoma (north of OKC); and graduated from high school in Claflin, Kansas, near Hoisington. When I moved out, I lived in Ellsworth, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas; and finally settled in Denver.

    Most of the people I'd met along the way I never heard from again. Older people died, and a few younger ones. I was saddened when I heard one of my Gate classmates had died of breast cancer, another had drowned on his honeymoon.

    Thank God we have a Home to look forward to, from which there will be no moving!

    ~ VT

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  2. Nothing better than home! A wonderful story, Sheila.

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  3. Thanks Victor and Michele. I wrote this in a hurry and didn't get this line in: Home is where the heart is and my heart is right here.

    There's no place like home!

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  4. SWEET story! I, too moved every year or two growing up. I've "forced" my family to stay here now for 20 years. It's still a challenge to make friends, not having learned how as a child. Praise God, He places people in our lives who keep working on us! Carol Peterson

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  5. Carol,
    I too struggle with making friends, although I do have some great ones! Indeed, praise God!

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  6. Great story,

    My wife and I relocated after I left the Army, but we didn't set roots down. We later moved, I am finally feeling that this place is mine.

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  7. Wow! This is a wonderful love story and it's TRUE! I bet you're glad you listened to God's whispers to stay put...

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  8. Sounds like you get the best end of the deal! I enjoyed meeting you and Carl in Indianapolis. I hope we get to see each other again--maybe Dallas in 2012!

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  9. What a wonderful story, Sheila! Sometimes, we have to go with what we know in our heart is right, rather than let the circumstances rule. I'm glad it worked out so well for you. :)

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  10. Sheila, what a wonderful "Coming Home" story! Love how God wove the longing in your heart for a place to call home and strung all the pieces together to finally bring you there -- not only home to a house, but to a beautiful marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed your words this morning. Thank you! :)

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  11. Mike, it does take a while to put down roots.

    Tracy, yes I am! I'm so glad. Carl's a wonderful guy.

    Oh, Linda, I'll miss you at the conference this year. Maybe I'll get to go next year.

    Traci, probably today I would let my head rule instead of my heart. God was definitely with me!

    Cindee, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  12. Awesome post, thanks for sharing how God led you to the place you could come home.

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  13. What a great story of faith Sheila. Thankyou for sharing it. It's great to see how God works things out when we can't see a solution.

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  14. Thanks, Shawneda and Adam. God is always working in our lives. When I get down and out today, I remember when he led me to my life here. So glad you two stopped by!

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  15. Decided to pop over after reading your comment today at Rachelle's blog. I'm still laughing:)

    I've lived a fairly transient lifestyle; like you, I long for a place to call home--a place of rooting for myself and my children. As part of a clergy family, we're always on the move. So I rarely have the chance for temporal rooting. I now move that desire inward and place my roots in the eternal soil of heaven. With God, I'm always at home.

    Beautiful story, Shelia. And what a view!

    peace~elaine

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  16. Thanks, Elaine, for popping over. Glad I gave you a laugh today. ;)

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  17. What a beautiful story, Sheila!! Thanks for sharing your story. God has truly blessed!

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  18. I always kinda thought your writing had a slight but distinctive German accent to it. . . .

    This was a great coming-home story. It held particular interest for me, because the MC in my first novel had a similar mental and emotional attachment to a dream home from her past (that also happened to be a farm as well). So while I may not be able to relate personally, I definitely felt a vicarious connection to your story.

    Wonderful post as always, Sheila.

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  19. Thanks, Scott! An interesting thing--I had a German "nanny" when we lived in Germany. I've often wondered if she influenced my speech patterns. Who knows?

    Your book has interesting similarities--would love to read it!

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  20. We just never know how God's timing will work out!

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  21. So true, Christine! Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. Great story...thanks for sharing.

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  23. Glad you liked it MGalloway! Thanks for the read!

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  24. Sheila, that was awesome and so romantic! I couldn't help but go 'awwww!' there at the end. Thank you for sharing.

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  25. Thanks, Nona! I suppose I should write up a full account because it truly shows God's power and how his ways are not our ways!

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  26. What a great trek down memory lane not only for you but for us as we journeyed with you. I enjoyed meeting you and Carl in Indy last year. Hoping we can do that again sometime.

    I think it's fantastic that God had those plans laid out for you so long before, and all the pieces came together like a Swiss watch. God had His own timing, but it's never ours, is it?

    Country Roads was the first song I learned to play on guitar, and my brothers and I play it everytime our families get together. You've given me a totally new perspective on the song.

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  27. Chris,
    Just got back from another great conference. Maybe a gang of us can meet up at Dallas next year.

    Would love to hear you and your brothers play that song. It's still one of my favorites!

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Thanks for sitting a spell and chatting!