The House on Bear Creek Road

I'm not sure when it happened, but finally, the house on Bear Creek Road feels like home.

I had a hard time embracing this place, at first. It was ugly and old and smelled kind of funny, like an unlikable great-great aunt that wears gaudy off-red lipstick, smells of mothballs and still expects you to give her a hug and peck on the mouth every time she comes to call. This place wore outdated wood paneling and shag carpet, and smelled like a mixture of must and cologne that only old people are secure enough to wear. Brandon did a lot to correct the house's flaws, but it still had problems.

The house made and continues to make strange noises. When the heat kicks on, it sounds like someone gives two snaps of the fingers, awakening a grumpy dragon that lives behind the door at the end of the hall. But hey, the dragon does the job. It will be warm and toasty in here when the temperatures dip below comfort level. There are times when no is water running in the house, but the pipes whisper creepy, little, unintelligible nothings in our ears. Also, the water pressure mysteriously goes in and out, scalding the willies out of whoever is in the shower at the time. Things have disappeared in the house. My mom even witnessed this once. Toys sound off on their own. I once heard an undoubtable, yet inexplicable cat-call from outside the window of the master bath while getting ready one evening. Here's the strange thing--no one would have been able to see me from the outside even with his/her face pressed to the frosted glass. So, really the house is like a creepy, unlikable great-great aunt. The vandalism that took place days after our move in didn't improve my negative feelings for the place.

I organized, cleaned and decorated the new quarters, but it remained foreign to me. Sometimes, in the first few weeks after the move, I would turn onto Sunflower Drive without realizing that my autopilot was taking me to the place my heart still called home. Fortunately, I always managed to catch myself before turning into the driveway. I may have startled the new resident had I barged in to the old place as if I still owned it.

There are several theories as to why the house on Bear Creek Road feels like home now. Maybe it was being away from it so much over the summer. Maybe cleaning it a magical number of times had the same effect as clicking my ruby red heels together. Maybe I'm finally used to my kitchen. Maybe the security system helped me to feel safe. Maybe there's something magical the pitter patter of tiny feet sounding down the hall. My friend, Ellie, told me with a crooked smile that she thinks it's due to the deer heads that now project proudly from my living room walls.

I can't answer as to why the house on Bear Creek Road feels like home now, all of a sudden, but I can tell you some things I love about it.

I love how the sun filters into its open spaces through the curtains I hand made and the french doors. Brandon put them in after the vandalism took out the ugly sliding glass door that had been a feature of the house for the last 30 years. Electrical lighting isn't necessary on sunny days.

I love the vast front and back yard, embraced by thick, lovely woods and dotted with mature, gorgeous trees. This simple acre or so provides a wide open playing space full of adventures waiting to be had by a tiny red head.
I love the sounds of the washer and dryer as they hum and sing in the background. I love the smell of a clean house, cooking food and the light, fresh Beach scent from my Scentsy warmer. These things going on all at once create the perfect "home" ambiance.

I love to sip my coffee or tea on the couch in my studio, looking out through the glass door into the yard. I love to read in the same spot. On cool days, I venture outdoors. I'll sip and read in my lawn chair, basking in a sun ray.

I love the life that teaching brings into my home. I love the children, their parents and the adult students. I love the music that fills the entire house every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I love the vibrant hues in the room that seem to cheer on all of the activity.

I love having friends and family over to visit . . . even if the house is not as clean and organized as I would like. I love setting out the china for friends who don't really care about such things, and drinking from a real tea cup for no reason at all.

I love the face lift my husband gave this house. Every room resonates with his love for me. Even the living room that has been man-ified.

Now, we get down to it--I love the comfort of spending time with my two favorite men here. I love eating, talking, crying, laughing, learning, failing, growing and making memories with them inside of these walls and out in its garden.

And maybe this feeling of home has nothing to do with the house itself. It still makes funny noises. The pipes still make my neck hairs stand on end. I get scalded at least twice a week. I continue to get a whiff of old lady now and then. The house itself hasn't really changed that much. It's me that's changed. I've begun to make cherished memories here. I've prayed for this house--that God would bless it with life, love and joy. He has answered that prayer by simply opening my eyes to what was already happening. And you know what? I haven't driven down Sunflower Drive in months. My autopilot heads straight to the bend in the road, a few yards from the lake, right to where my boys are waiting . . . or where I'll be waiting for them.

It's possible that absence really does make the heart grow fonder, but I really hope that time makes the heart grow wiser. I hope that one day I'm grown up enough to realize that a home isn't walls and halls, but the people God gave me to love and to love me back.

Moving On

We will live here at 150 Sunflower Drive, Farmerville, Lousiana for three more days, and I never expected to feel so sad about it. I am really surprised by the nostalgia that seems to physically attack me as I pack all our belongings in prescription medicine and milk boxes. (My husband is a pharmacist at a grocery store.)

The truth is that I was afraid of this house when I first saw it. I remember the creepy feeling in my gut when we walked in and saw that the master bedroom had a deadbolt on it that could lock someone in the room. I remember how much I disliked the old man who sold us the house. I remember my extreme feelings of irritation at the outrageous amount of awful wallpaper the previous owners had put up and at the fact that they had stained the light-colored carpet with orange wood polish in many places. I also remember the hideous bathroom with it's black linoleum countertop and floor, brown oak cabinets, and cream, maroon and silver wallpaper. And when we finally decided that it was all we could possibly afford as we had no down payment and Brandon would be the sole breadwinner while I attended college, I still wasn't happy about it.

It became ours the day before I forever changed my name, and our family moved us in while we were off on our honeymoon. When we returned home, my husband scooped me up, and carried me over the threshold. Then began the task of making the house a home. We began with removing the gosh-awful wallpaper, and creating lots of passionate memories--passionate love and passionate fights, in cycles. We bought new furniture and borrowed some old. We unpacked and found places for all of those wedding gifts, some useful, some bizarre. A year later, we brought home a rat terrier puppy who pissed all over that light colored carpet, adding to the stains. And a year after that, we ripped up that stained carpet and laid down laminate flooring with our ridiculous tax refund, and from that point on, there never was a question of where Daisy was in the house. You can hear her loudly clicking her toenails from any spot within the prescribed 1,000 square feet.

This place saw old friends move away and the beginning of new, lasting friendships. It saw plenty of card games, plenty of chicken and hamburger dinners cooked on the George Foreman (I didn't know how to cook back then), dinner parties established right in front of the door (we have no official dining area), slumber parties (my guests would happily sleep on our living room furniture or air mattress), the beginning and expansion of a piano/voice studio, several strange diet attempts (the most radical being the elimination of gluten when I discovered my wheat allergy), and multiple Christmas parties. These walls witnessed three major heartbreaks, a university transfer, and a church change. They witnessed alternating periods of mania and depression from my end and a strong, steadfast love and growth from Brandon's end. They witnessed lots of laughter and soul-wrenching sobs and the pain and joy found in finding comfort in one another's arms. They witnessed lots of self-discovery--Brandon and I not only loved each other, we liked each other, too; I didn't want to be an English professor. I wanted to stay home with my future children, give lots of children the gift of music, and write a bit on the side; Brandon found that he was not only cautious, but adventurous, too and embarked on an spec-house adventure; I discovered that I loved the stage; Brandon discovered that major changes aren't always bad.

And then Micah was born. Here was a soul alive for the first time, and as a result, my soul found life again. My heart for the Lord had grown cold during the years of my college education, and when Micah came into the world, I experienced Him afresh. Over the past year (Micah turns 1 year old on Friday), this home has been more full with laughter and life than I would have thought possible when we bought this creepy thing five and a half years ago. Micah has grown from a tiny, squinty-eyed infant who could do nothing but eat, sleep and poop into a little boy who can say 8 words, light up the world with his belly laugh and captivate everyone in a room by his red-headed, fireball presence. And I was almost a dead soul that was about as unhappy as a person can be because I had tasted the joy of the Lord and had lost it. Then, by God's grace and infinite mercies, I slowly found my way back to the heart of the Lord and am once again experiencing the life He intends for all people--abundant life.

And this place saw it all . . .

And because of that, it will never be forgotten.

Praise be to the God who saw potential in this home when I did not. You are better to me than I deserve.