Summary: My Christian home is where I discovered my heavenly home.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Home. This little word in its best definition holds so many memories and meanings for each of us gathered here today. This little word, home, conjures up for us warm memories of days gone by, family, celebrations, hard work to keep farms up and running, memories of holidays, birthdays, weddings, and homecomings from college, war, military service, or to the home church. Home certainly is where the heart is. I have lived and worked all over the world in my military and civilian careers but I keep coming back to North Carolina, my home. My heart has always been rooted in North Carolina.
Home is where many of us here today first learned to trust and love. Home is where we first learned about attending church and of the love of Jesus for us. Home is where we learned about family relationships. Home is where we learned to respect others, to obey our parents, to be kind and helpful to others, and to begin to understand what is and would be required of us as we grew, went to school, interacted with others, went off to college or learned a trade that we might become productive members of society. Yes, home has been one of the things that have shaped us into who we are. Home has served to be the starting point for building our character.
My first memories of home are fractured in my memory. I try to think back to how it was but most of the details have become clouded over the ensuing years but I can remember a few things vividly. I remember growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Pineville, North Carolina. I remember playing with the black sharecropper’s sons and daughters in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. I remember running the cotton and corn fields with them, playing, working, sweating, and getting worn out with them each day only to come home and do it all over again the next day after school.
I can remember an old, un-insulated two bedroom shotgun style house, heated with a pot bellied stove; dad stoking the stove with a big hunk of coal in the morning so that it wouldn’t be so cold when I and my brothers would rise in the morning to prepare for school. I remember on cold winter mornings it was so cold in the house that the windows were coated with ice, inside, and every breath stung because of it being so very cold inside. I remember that once dad got the stove heated up that the ice on the windows inside of the house began to melt and mama and daddy would run to get the mop bucket and old threadbare towels to clean up all of the water that was running in the floors while I and my brothers would sit in the kitchen by the open oven door having our usual breakfast of Cream of Wheat or oatmeal and toast.
I remember old hand-me-down jeans, elastic waist, or bib overalls with multiple patches on the knees and back pockets and home made thick flannel shirts that stored so much static electricity that you couldn’t touch a doorknob without an arc of electricity jumping from your finger to the knob, not just once but it seemed each and every time. This was double trouble when mom would insist I wear corduroy pants.
I remember mama giving us our quarters for lunch and a nickel for popsicles or extra milk at school then bundling us up and walking us out to the road and waiting with us until the school bus came and picked us up. Mom would then get ready for work at Cone Mills while daddy would go off to Reichold Chemicals to his job as a lab technician. Home has some warm memories for me and we could all probably share similar stories about our early years at home before we went out into the world to forge our paths in the world.
Home really is where the heart is and when most of us, if not all of us, think about home, we think of the place where we grew up, a house, a neighborhood, friends around us, or a geographical location but I can remember very clearly the day I came to realize that home is much more than these wonderful things. I remember clearly the day when my Sunday school teacher gave us a new definition of home and where it was located. Our teacher told our class that our true home was not where we were born or where we grew up, that our home didn’t depend upon the state we lived in nor the country of our birth but our home, our true home, really was not to be found on this earth.