“The House that Built Me”⌂

“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing.
Out here it’s like I’m someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself.
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave.
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that, built me.”

Last time I visited, I went and just stood by the side door where the concrete steps were that I used to sit on. They were much smaller than I remember. My gaze turned toward another outside door that led into the kitchen..I stared at it a minute, images flashing through my mind.  I imagined opening that door and then vaguely remembered some swinging saloon-type doors that led into the main part of the kitchen. Then I can see my parents sitting in the booth that was our kitchen table. Like a real restaurant~style booth built into a little alcove in the wall.

Facing the door leading into the kitchen. The door behind me led into the main entrance of the living room.

I remember that door latch too, randomly. You had to push down a little and open. Sometimes it would stick. I remember those mossy bricks surrounding that bush. Those cold concrete steps when they would be damp from the rain. They look exactly the same even though they’re at least 30 years older than when I last sat on them.

It was a unique house and it sure had some character.♥️

I can picture myself marching into that kitchen one day, my parents sitting in the booth innocently eating their lunch, hands on my hips-demanding to know if there really was a Santa Claus.🤪 They exchanged nervous glances and then reluctantly told me the truth. Of course I was heartbroken but I got over it and was ok. Now I’m more than grateful for all of those magical Santa Claus memories. ♥️

I can also picture myself as an itty bitty girl with bright red hair sitting on the kitchen floor, eating strawberries out of a colander (Arkansas word for ‘strainer’) that had just been washed and ‘capped.’ (the top of the strawberry sliced off).

Mom said I could eat my weight in strawberries.🍓

I remember endless, lazy summer days with no agenda, no schedule, no planned activities….literally just living each moment as it came.  That’s all I knew. No questions asked, and most importantly…no expectations. 

No expectations=less disappointment 

Wow. That’s the way it was supposed to be. How can I get back to that?

The days of competitive four-square. That game was SO.MUCH.FUN. There were like 100 different rules and we knew them all.  Playing ‘Mother, May I?’ in the front yard on the sidewalk leading up to the front steps. “Red Rover, Red Rover, bring so-and-so right over….” was life really that simple? Literally nothing but time on our hands.

What happened to those days? 

Home.❤︎

We had just had our traditional gathering at Stoby’s, Conway’s most famous ‘hole-in-the-wall’ restaurant, sharing a cheese dip of course; and then we meandered out, continuing the conversation for just as long in the parking lot as we had inside.

Sooooo many memories in this place. ♥

It was dusk, and my old house I grew up in was now just two houses down the street from Stoby’s…there used to be three in-between, but one had since been torn down.

823 Donaghey⌂

I made my BFF walk with me to see it, somewhat against her will. It’s a business now, so there wasn’t any fear of intruding into someone’s personal space. Although my old bedroom window and the ‘spare bedroom’ next to it-they had curtains up which was odd for a business.  I wished I could see on the other side of that window…just one more time. Or..maybe not.

Maybe I wanted to remember how it used to be. Worn green carpet, (sea foam green to be exact) my favorite color. Lots of friends gathered there~and who really knows what we even talked about. A lot of nothing probably. No devices though~just real live people having real live conversations. Actual communication. Lots of looking at pictures no doubt-not in a phone-but actual photos we could hold in our hands. Double prints in fact, so we could keep one and share one.  I remember a friend~not sure which one~laying in a hammock that stretched from one wall to the other. Yes, I had a hammock in my room. For my dad, the sky was the limit when it came to his girl.❤️

Home.❤︎

The word alone stirs up so many thoughts, unique to each person. 

Memories.

Flashbacks.

Traditions.

What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the word “Home?”💟

Some are probably pleasant, some soul-stirring, some maybe even down-right gut-wrenching. If we pause long enough to really ponder the word, we’d see all sorts of images race through our mind.

This place, this experience of Home…is largely responsible for who we are today. Some things were worth bringing with us on the journey~fond memories and experiences, character that was instilled in us by our parents or family members, life lessons that can still be applied today. 

Then there are those ‘things’ that we’ve been trying to leave on that doorstep for years. Maybe even decades. We can’t shake them loose though, because they’re a part of who we are. But here’s some hope if there is something you wish you could erase from your mind: 

God can use ANYTHING and make something beautiful out of it. Beauty from ashes is the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. It may have been someone’s bad choice and you suffered the consequence for it. But it’s part of your story. And God is an expert at re~writing stories, and those painful memories are still chapters in it, but you can always move on to the next chapter. I know I’ve read books where some chapters weren’t as fun to read, but they were necessary to understand the story. And, the ending was still beautiful. ♥️

When I think of Home I see faces of friends and grandparents. Birthday parties. Talent shows at said birthday parties. Lemonade stands. Sleepovers. Walks to the park. The dining room table. The tiny front porch. The burgundy awning right above it.  The old concrete benches; there were two, in our backyard. My dog, “Pooh,” would run at top speed anytime we would come home after being gone for a few days and leap onto one of those two benches.

The big, old-fashioned Christmas lights that my dad would faithfully pull out of the worn box, and string on each bush on either side of that awning. Some had chipped paint. One or two more would burn out every year, but we had a few replacements. They were hot if you touched them for more than a couple seconds. How did they not catch those bushes on fire? I can almost smell the season of Christmas when I think of those lights~like literally. The smell of that crisp winter air is still somewhere inside me. I sat there ‘helping’ my dad and he would patiently let me drape them over the bushes. We never wrapped them completely around because they weren’t long enough…know what I mean? We just made it look like we did.😌

Do you have memories like that that are so REAL it’s like time never passed? It gives me chills because the realness of those Christmas light memories are palpable.

Home brings different things to everyone’s mind as they think about it. But, it is a powerful word that has meaning attached to it for all of us. 

Now~more than ever. 

Maybe this is what your house looked like growing up?♥

Because it’s THE place where many of us found ourselves over the last year, whether we liked it or not; because of the uncertainty and fear of the future.  All across the world, people have been ‘forced’…to stay home.

And I sincerely hope it wasn’t the worst news ever. 

Some don’t mind staying at home and have embraced the opportunity. But some were and still are looking for any route of escape.

Maybe this cute little house reminds you of your childhood.💜

Reflecting over the news stories throughout the pandemic have been disturbing to me. In the very beginning even, pictures of people within arm’s reach of each other in places like hiking trails, rivers, places that people go to to have some solitude, expecting to see a few people here and there. But those locations became as crowded as the mall and it was just weird. Why? 

What was wrong with Home for some? What’s hard about staying there? And why were people going to such great lengths to avoid it? Hard questions.

I’ve wanted to write on the subject of Home for a while so it’s a good opportunity to switch gears. God’s timing…is always on point, and I’m seeing that now more than ever before.👌🏽

What does Home mean to you? 

Does this look like anyone’s childhood home?♥

Some may welcome images that come to the surface when they think of Home. But some can’t push those images out of their mind fast enough because they’re too painful. 

Sometimes they bring the warm and fuzzy feelings, but sometimes they bring what feels more like a punch in the gut. Maybe because it wasn’t really a home. 

I used to LOVE listening to my dad tell stories of when he was a kid. Of course he was 1 of 11 kids, so you can imagine the adventures.

He was a nostalgic and so am I, completely and totally to the core. I grew up in Conway, Arkansas. 823 Donaghey Street. An eighties kid. Our phone number: 501-327-2211. Our across the street neighbor’s phone number: 327-8859. It’s etched in my mind! Don’t anyone call them because someone still lives there! 😆

Our house still looks the same for the most part. It was a busy street and the house was pretty close to the road.  Like, I would be a nervous wreck if we lived in such a place now because I’d be constantly worried that my kids would wander into the street.

But somehow, it was understood that I would not go in the road, and I never did. 

Me, playing in the great “flood” of 1986(ish). Facing my house, Katie’s house across the street.💟

Unless I was going to Katie’s; I remember looking both ways-left, right, left again, before I sprinted to her house, directly across from ours. Hers had TWO stories, which I thought was so cool. That street seemed so wide to me as a kid but of course it was a short distance. I sprinted nonetheless. Isn’t the perspective of kids fascinating? Not to mention, people didn’t seem to drive nearly as fast as they do now. 

And when I learned to drive~ I could back out of that driveway onto one of the busiest streets at lightening speed…I thought I was the bomb.💣

My house was cool too and I think Katie and all my friends would agree. It was kind of a shotgun style and as a result it had a looonnnggg hallway that seemed to go almost the entire length of the house. The two bedrooms off to the right of that hallway, they were not side by side. But If you entered the closet of both of those bedrooms, you would discover a secret passageway. Picture this: enter the first bedroom and open the closet door and go inside. Get on your knees and keep crawling until you come to a door and you open it and pop out in the other bedroom. SUPER cool.

Also in that hallway were two old-fashioned chalkboards, both resurrected by my dad who was privy to cool stuff that was abandoned in old buildings he would work in.

I would ‘teach school’ to my dolls…every one of them lined up in the hallway ready to learn. 

I’d pass out old worksheets that my teachers gave me~extra ones they didn’t need.

The things kids remember, what they carry with them through their life. When I have time to reflect on 823 Donaghey, these are some things that pop into my mind, in no particular order. Years and ages are all jumbled up.

Reading, one of my all-time favorite activities. Sitting with me was my favorite Carebear.

~I remember my dad picking me up before it was time for me to go to bed, and carrying me with him each night to lock all the doors. The front door that faced Donaghey. The one at the end of the long hallway. Those two doors had those little chain things at the very top. Why on earth was it so exciting for me to secure those chains?!?

~I can see my dad excitedly blowing out birthday candles on his homemade coconut cake~his favorite.

Check out those curtains!

~The “datenut cake” made by mom for him in coffee cans each Christmas. She’d serve it to him with a little dab of cool whip on top. And a cherry. I’d eat the cherry though because he didn’t really like them.

~Homemade chicken~n~ dumplings. Those were good. Pork chops..not so much~(overcooked~sorry, mom)~with rice and gravy. Rice with brown gravy on it? Like, why? I loved it though. Pear salad~ which consisted of canned pears with cottage cheese and a cherry on top…..like who comes up with these dishes? I know they had to be passed down from somewhere. 

~My dad’s ‘homemade’ eggnog, also at Christmas. It was his project~only he needed mom’s help every step of the way and destroyed the kitchen in the process.

How on earth could life have been THAT SIMPLE. And how have we strayed SO FAR from anything remotely close to it?♥︎

Moms who feel guilty about not doing ‘enough’ fun activities with your kids…I hear you. But you’d be surprised at what they will remember the most. Almost all of my memories of Home are very simplistic and ordinary.

The fireplace, also known as the “hearth,” a favorite place for taking pictures.

I wonder what memories my kids are going to carry with them? What will your kids carry with them as they leave home and go through life?

#truth

~I watched Lassie a lot. A black and white show about a boy named Timmy and his Collie dog. Geez, am I that old?! Maybe it did go to color while I was still a kid. Regardless, I don’t think I could pay any of my children to sit in one place and watch that show, although I ADORED it. 

Things have changed for sure. 

~Eating Rice-a-roni in a bowl on the ‘hearth’ (fireplace) while watching cartoons. Pretty sure I ate it for breakfast. 

~Watching musicals~”Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Anne of Green Gables” were three of my favorites. I watched them so many times I had them memorized.

~Stealing those pastel-colored dinner mints and racing into the backyard to hide and eat them. Not at all sure why we had a package of those when you usually just see those only at weddings. Must’ve been a rarity to have them or I wouldn’t have sneaked them.😵

Times were different. So different. I was an only child so I was good at entertaining myself but I really enjoyed my friends too. 

In fact, Friends were..everything.  ❤︎

Kids can be friends with anyone because their minds aren’t crowded with the crap that we carry as adults. My neighborhood friend Katie~she was a kid, I was a kid, we were supposed to play, so that’s what we did. And we had the best time. I remember exploring her spacious backyard, and playing with My Little Ponies. No preoccupation with anything else, just friends. I do remember the argument we had about which house had the ‘most’ snow one winter…ours got 12 inches, but her house got 13. 😂 Then there was the time I held onto her share of our lemonade stand money a little too long. 😬 I was bossy. 😭

Lemonade stand. We would take turns walking up and down the sidewalk, pretending to be “customers.”

I remember when a best friend would spend the night, we would entertain ourselves by walking all the way downtown (which was quite the walk) to go to Clement’s Donut shop. Their donuts were hands-down the best in town. We’d pass the haunted house on the way and we’d stare at the upstairs middle window and freak ourselves out and swear we saw the curtains move. 👻 

We’d also walk to the ‘Corner Pantry’ and ‘The Village’, both for candy of course. We’d walk to Laurel Park to play. I guess we walked pretty much everywhere. We’d walk to Stoby’s to get a to-go order and I remember paying cash for some kind of special drink. Hawaiian Julep maybe?🤢I don’t even think it was that good but it was fun and we thought we were AWE-SOME.

Of course we all ended up getting a job there years later and it became a hangout and the site (and still is) for so many fond memories. And-once I started making those Hawaiian juleps myself, I discovered that they indeed weren’t that awesome. 😂

As a little girl I had a dog, a backyard, a swing set, a neighborhood bestie, and some baby dolls I could play house and school with. What more does a girl need? 

This was my favorite dog~Floppy. I remember the day I spotted him in a department store…Dillard’s I think. I still have him to this day. He is definitely not that fluffy anymore. 💟

No fancy trips or Disney cruises or iPads or tablets or video games or activities galore to fill every space of idleness. And yes I am absolutely guilty of activities galore and dreams of Disney for my kids. But I say this because it’s a comfort to me that I didn’t have those things-and I turned out ok. And yes, I~like others~ always want to give my kids the best of the best but it doesn’t always happen that way, and it’s ok. And they’re ok.♥️

Kids want different things anyway. What they want is not always what we think they want. Things we wouldn’t necessarily consider were at the top of their priority list.

Believe it or not-I’ve never even been to Disney. And I am not sad about it one bit. I’ve been all over the world though, and I had other opportunities that I may not have thought cool at the time, but they were invaluable experiences that helped shape me into the person I am today.

When I was a kid we went on trips to Honduras and Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and more. My dad installed free telephone systems in third world countries in places like schools, orphanages, and hospitals. I saw great need at a very young age. I was exposed to so many different cultures and it gave me a love for all people groups. So I may not have gone to any of the trendy places, but I definitely wasn’t lacking in life experiences.  I’ll take exposure to multiple countries and people groups any day over a theme park.

My memories of home are so simplistic and I’m grateful for that. Time went so slow…but we were living-not surviving. And when that happens-LIFE happens.

I’ve often wondered and thought about what went through my mind as a kid. It had to be JOY. It was a magical feeling. Happy-go-lucky. Carefree. Light. And I know that not all kids are able to experience that so I know that it’s a gift to remember this about my childhood. 

I mean my childhood wasn’t perfection, very rarely do we see that. But kids do almost always find the JOY in life, despite their circumstances. They’re unbelievably resilient….because they don’t know any different than to just live in the Grace of One Day.  One day at a time. And that’s where the JOY is.  Being present in Today.

Kids adapt and overcome. And when a new day comes, that’s how they look at it~a New Day. Unlimited possibilities. No debilitating, unrealistic to-do lists. Exactly how God intended it. No expectations. No living in a future time that doesn’t exist yet. Today is all that’s on their mind. And they’re going to live it to the fullest~to the best of their ability. But often times, because we can’t begin to comprehend how to live that way anymore, we mess it up for them with all manner of things~things that interrupt and upset their attempt to live life to the fullest.💔

I’m learning every day more and more how to live life through the example of my kids. Especially Scarlett Noelle. She literally views every single thing as a gift. She’s definitely not living in the past. She’s also not living in a future time that doesn’t yet exist. She’s living moment by moment. And she has JOY.

Just the other day, she came into my room and looked outside and observed for a moment. At three years old she said, “Mommy, it’s light outside. It’s a new day!” And she said it with such excitement, and sadly~I’m not sure I felt her excitement myself.😥

I’ve often wondered how to recreate that feeling I had as a kid. Is it even possible…or is it is strictly a kid thing? What was different? There really is something to be said about childlike faith. In scripture, Jesus frequently refers to children, 435 times in fact, and points us back to them repeatedly. There’s a reason He keeps bringing kids up. 💜

So then what is it exactly about children that Jesus wants us to notice?

A Lot. A whole lot.♥︎

Children are our present~day reminder of what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like.

They don’t live in the past. They don’t live in the future. They live in TODAY.❤︎

I’ve never felt so certain about anything in my entire life. Jesus mentioned children and used them in countless examples when talking about His Kingdom, for a reason. A really good reason. And He wants us to take notice.

Children live FULLY PRESENT IN TODAY. ❤️

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

The Kingdom of Heaven is HERE, now. In the PRESENT. Not in some far away distant time and place.☀️

In His presence is FULLNESS OF JOY.

We have to be PRESENT in His PRESENCE. ♥️

That means we can’t live in the past. That means we can’t live in the future. We have to live in TODAY. If we are going to experience JOY in his PRESENCE.

Did you know we were not designed to live outside the GRACE of one day?☀️

“But continually encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “TODAY.” Hebrews 3:13. My new life verse. ❤️

Is anyone catching my drift? This is deep. And it’s my favorite topic right now. I’d love for you to join me for Part 2 when I dive into this topic more extensively.

Final thought~❤️

There is no JOY outside of His PRESENCE. But we have to be PRESENT in His PRESENCE. Or we will MISS IT. It’s already ours. We don’t have to go looking for it. But we do have to stop long enough to realize it’s already here. 💜

Don’t miss it.♥

7 thoughts on ““The House that Built Me”⌂”

  1. Laura, I loved this one! I’m a nostalgic too and you were taking us back to a time when things were simpler. But, you make me really think and soul search. Keep it up! Blessings, Marilyn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Marilyn! ♥️♥️I’m so thankful that I have these memories to remind me that life was good~and we really were ok without unending entertainment at our fingertips.
      I’m thankful I remember what it was really like to be a kid, because childhood is an irreplaceable gift.
      Thank you for reading and for your kind words of encouragement. 💜🥰💕

      Like

  2. Love this so much, I’m close enough to still visit the house that built me and I play that song often. It’s so true to my heart. My birth father left our family of 5 for mom to raise and when I was 7 she married her prince. He got to show us what real family was all about. I think back so often if those times and knowing what I know now.. I thank God for those wonderful , slow family moments! I use to watch my parents take walks in the garden after dinner holding hands.. oh where was the camera then.. but those pictures are etched in my memory ❤️ Living on the lake we spent so many hours skiing, hiking, bon fires, camping on friends houseboats. Just wonderful memories growing up in a house full of love. Thanks for taking me back for a few moments in time! Make me smile really big this morning🦋

    Like

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