I spent two prime decades of my life overseas. Though I started in my twenties, it was really my thirties and forties that were lived out in foreign lands. I look back on those years and read my diaries wondering how I managed to survive. I was raising two boys, keeping up with a very active husband, and moved at least five times. That says nothing about ministry to others—that was just my ministry to my family.
Birthdays happen every year.
It’s impossible to avoid the reality that we all grow older, even while serving. The things I did five years ago, I do a little slower now. The things I did twenty years ago I can’t imagine trying at this age. Life changes. Your body changes, and as a result, the way we look at home changes, because our roles change.
Home as a nest.
As a woman in those early years of marriage and service, my role was to make our home a place of rest and growth. Rest for my husband and growth for my boys. Raouf would come home after hours of visits or days of travel and need to decompress. Even if the boys wanted to play, that was less stress on him than the constant pouring into others through teaching, counseling, and preaching. These were the days I cooked a lot—making favorite meals for my guys.
Home as a launching pad.
As our boys grew and eventually began attending a local school for TCKs, my time allowed for more ministry outside the home. Raouf was always in and out, but as a mother, I knew my first priority was the stewardship of our sons. Now, however, I could travel more with him or even on my own, as I began mentoring and training others in service. Our place was home base. We still decompressed there and spent time with our boys there, but we served outside the house as well.
Home as a safe place.
When we moved to the States just prior to retirement, our boys were older and facing a lot of challenges in local public schools. Home became the place where we kept our memories of life overseas, whether it was in the form of pictures, furniture, or smells of the food I cooked just for them. Our home was where we debriefed on what life in America had done to us on any given day. We talked about lostness in schoolmates, apathy at the church, or lack of public transportation like the “home” we knew.
Home as a place of peace.
Both before and after the death of my husband, our house has always served as a place of peace to others. Wherever we lived, we hosted groups for discipleship and Bible study. We’ve had counseling sessions about a person’s spiritual life or desire to get married. We’ve been a stopover for friends and former colleagues, who were traveling through our way.
Home as a place of rest.
Now after years of full-time work and a journey in widowhood, my home has become a place of rest. It’s where I look forward to going after a day with the public. It’s where I take my Sunday afternoon nap. It’s where I read books and write. It’s where my kids and grandkids visit.
What does your present home look like? Is it all hustle and bustle or quiet and cozy? Whatever the stage, I pray that Christ remains the center of your home and leaves all who enter with the distinct impression that peace lives in this place.
Grace and Peace
To find out more about home in these stages, check out my latest book Not in Kansas Anymore: Finding Home in Cross-Cultural Service. It’s available in e-book and paperback formats.