Friday, May 4, 2012

What Makes a Home?

What is the difference between a house and a home? A house describes simply a dwelling; a place where people live. Home speaks of more than that. It includes the idea of a dwelling place, but incorporates emotional and intangible elements of identity and belonging.

When we returned to the United States last summer we had to make some decisions very quickly, including finding a place to live. We were able to locate and rent an apartment in a location convenient to our daughter's high school, which at that point was one of the most important criteria. But the apartment felt quite small for a family of four. Although each child had her or his own room, the overall space available for family life was tiny. My wife didn't want to invite guests because of the poor conditions for hospitality, including a miniscule kitchen. The apartment felt dark and our spirits suffered. The apartment served as a house, but didn't become a home.

In March we had the opportunity to move into a rental home. The move was a step of faith, because the higher rent and higher utilities stretch our budget very thin. But when we viewed the house, my wife was sold the minute we walked in the front door. The open living room with the sloped, wood-paneled ceiling and the large kitchen (probably the largest of any we've ever had) captured her immediately. The house included a room separate from the main house, which would serve us well as a home office. No longer would I have to conduct my work from a corner of our crowded bedroom. My wife didn't have to work hard to persuade me to pursue renting the property.

The house includes a nice, enclosed front yard. It's an Arizona yard, which means we have very little vegetation. Grass just doesn't go with our desert environment. But we have several large native trees like the one in this picture providing lovely shade (and, unfortunately, currently dropping lots of pollen which covers the yard with a yellow layer.) The shade keeps the yard somewhat cooler than one would expect in our desert climate and the trees attract a host of birds who sing each morning. Let's not forget the lizards who come out to sun themselves on the patio in the heat of the day.

This house has become our home, which is what we need as we continue to work through the process of re-adjusting to life in our home country. We had hoped to purchase a house and make that our home, but for the present that dream remains out of reach. At first this disappointed us greatly, but now we are at peace with the home that God has provided. It is nice to once again have a place to call home; a place of sanctuary and retreat.

What makes your house a home? What attributes do you most appreciate in it?

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