By Katie Speer
“Home is where the heart is.” —Pinterest quotes and embroidered pillowcases everywhere
“Home is where your rump rests.” —Pumba, The Lion King
“Home is where you park it.” —RV and motorcycle enthusiasts
“Home is wherever I’m with you.” —Song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
“Home is where the Wi-Fi is.” —Social media addicts
“Home is where your cat/dog is.” —Parents of fur babies
“Home is where your Amazon order is delivered.”—Me. Kidding…kind of
These sentiments may tempt buyers of knick-knacks at Hallmark stores, but they fail to satisfy my lifelong quest to define the nebulous concept of “home.” Let’s try a definition that, well, hits home.
“Home is where family is.” Could be. But what if you have no family? Does that mean you also have no home?
“Our real home is in Heaven.” Yes, absolutely! I started believing this in high school and still believe it with all my heart. Scripture describes us as mere sojourners, unable to fully put down permanent roots until we reach eternity. But what does that mean for us while we’re here? Is it impossible to ever feel grounded in this life?
I still had the desire to explore the idea of our earthly home.
“Home is where God has you.” Closer, but it doesn’t quite satisfy me yet.
I’ve been mulling over this question since I was four years old. As I had more birthdays and more international moves, the question followed me to all of my new houses. I have a friend who has lived in Nashville her entire life. She grew up in one house with the same bedroom. She, of course, always knew where her home was. I still (enviously) remember her cozy bedroom with a soft red comforter, a closet door covered with photos of her friends, and a silver vanity set on her dresser. Surely that was home. Comfortable. Secure. Dependable.
But some of us, like me, didn’t grow up with a bedroom to call our own. Or maybe we did, but life looks much different now. Maybe our “home” is overflowing with toys and Lego™ bricks; our bed filled with kids who just won’t stay in their own. Or maybe our home used to be a place like that—filled with noise and energy, but now it’s quiet and empty. Maybe our loved ones took away our sense of “home” when they flew the nest or flew to Jesus. Home can’t just revolve around family members or the building we live in, right?
Baby Number Two changed our family dynamic drastically. Previously, two parents corralled and entertained our firstborn Audrey. After Analeigh’s birth, we found ourselves playing man-to-man defense. If my husband had to be away, I had only one set of arms for two needy girls. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
This is where a genius piece of baby gear came into play—the baby wrap. Essentially, it’s an extremely long piece of strong fabric you can tie in multiple ways to hold your baby snug against your chest. The baby—newborns especially—feels he or she is being held and enjoys hearing mom’s heartbeat. Before Analeigh was born I considered this a little too “crunchy granola” mom for me. But you know what they say about desperate times. Surprisingly, the baby wrap turned out to be a lifesaver! I could wrap her up and have both hands free to do crazy selfish things like brush my teeth, play outside with Audrey, or “nuke” a not-so-fancy dinner in the microwave. Almost as soon as I put the baby in the wrap, she’d snuggle in, close her eyes, and fall asleep. It was like magic.
While living in Japan, the wrap allowed Daniel and me to make a two-hour train trip downtown to the American embassy to get Analeigh’s U.S. passport. It also allowed me to fly with Analeigh halfway around the world to Nashville, then back to Tokyo, then to Nashville again, all before she was six months old. Baby wraps are perfect for international trips. I honestly don’t know how to survive a 12-hour flight with a baby without one.
I did worry, though, when we moved to the States in August 2017, how Analeigh would fare. Everything was different for her. The time zones were different, her crib was different, and her sound machine was different. People even looked a lot different! Funny enough, when I put her in the same wrap, she didn’t seem to mind anything else. She was close to me, and the soft fabric felt familiar. She quickly fell asleep like always. Only then did it finally dawn on me:
Wherever I took Analeigh in the baby wrap was her home.
And then another revelation: wherever we are wrapped in God’s presence is our home. He is our Maker, after all. He knows us and delights in us more than anyone else could, much like a mother knows and delights in her child. And what mother doesn’t love to hold and protect her sleeping, peaceful baby? I wonder how much more God loves to embrace us, knowing we are trusting Him, leaning in close to Him, and listening to His heartbeat.
It’s not a perfect analogy—no analogy is—but I think it’s a pretty good one. We can cultivate a sense of home anywhere He leads us, if we are reveling in His presence and listening to His voice. After all, what do you get from a home? A sense of peace and security. Comfort. The ability to face new challenges unafraid. Leaning into God’s presence is no different; He gives us peace and security. We will experience this fully in Heaven, but we can also experience that sensation now. We don’t have to wait. We can grow in our intimacy and faith in God now, even before we see Him face to face. Much like a newborn without developed senses, our vision of Him is fuzzy. But does a baby still know her maker (in this case, her mother) and depend on her? Absolutely.
Psalm 5 speaks to this intimacy. David, the author, knew a little something about clinging tightly to God. Even though his life was punctuated by mistakes, he was called a man after God’s own heart because he depended on his closeness with Him. I think the first four verses of this psalm are an excellent example of how to soak in God’s presence. These are things we must actively do to practice living in His presence. This is a relationship with God. We cannot approach it passively.
Verse 1: “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning.” — Come to Him at your worst…in your ugliest crying, in your scariest doubts, in your angriest yelling. You don’t have to dress up, wipe your tears, or fix your smeared mascara to come to Him. Babies, even in their reddest-faced-screaming moments, are still loved and accepted by their mothers. Cry out to God and don’t hold anything back. God can handle it. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Do not edit yourself before you come to Him in prayer. David certainly didn’t, as we read in so many of his psalms.
Verse 2: “Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” — Don’t depend on anyone else for your peace and security. Your husband, ultimately, can’t give you that. Your childhood best friend can’t. Your belongings can’t. Even your house and the feelings of stability it brings can’t. If you have nothing but God’s promise to be with you, that’s all you need. And that’s enough. Don’t stake your hope or happiness on anything else.
Verse 3: “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” — Be consistent and persistent in your pursuit to gain intimacy with Him. If a baby desperately wants mommy to pick her up, will she stop crying and quiet down? No. It’s truly amazing (and agonizing) how loud and stubborn babies can be when they really want something. Similarly, our desire to be held and known by our Maker should scream louder than any other desires. So don’t approach Him only sporadically, or only when you set aside a special time to pray—only when you want a specific outcome. Only before you eat or sleep. In contrast, pray stubbornly and consistently. Then expect Him to show Himself to you and give you direction.
Verse 4: “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.” — Fully trust your journey with Him. If He made you, loves you, thinks you’re beautiful, listens to you, longs to embrace you, speaks to you, and gives you guidance, you can trust Him wherever He takes you. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” The last year has been a “valley of the shadow of death” experience for me personally. I can say without any doubt I have never felt closer to God than in that valley. He has never revealed Himself to me that intimately before or since. He will never leave you or forsake you. You are cozily wrapped close to His heart, and just like my daughter, you can find peace wherever He leads you, because of His nearness.
Have you noticed I keep comparing us to babies? I know it’s not flattering, and I hope no one is offended. The comparison rings true, though. Like babies, we are helpless; we are emotional; we are frail. We are powerless to go anywhere or accomplish anything on our own. But God is capable. He loves us. He is trustworthy. He is ever-present. So let’s actively lean into His presence. When we draw close to Him, we are home.
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
About the Writer: Katie Speer and her husband Daniel received approval for a second two-year internship to Japan in December 2017. Their first internship ended in August 2017 after their daughter Audrey’s battle with bacterial meningitis and Katie’s own severe health struggles. The Speers will work at Good News FWB Chapel with Donnie and Ruth McDonald during this internship. Their goal is to become career missionaries with IM. Sign up to receive their monthly email: www.fwbgo.com