“Home” (Webster’s Online Dictionary)  “A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.” 

 “Home” is one of the 4 core values at OFC.  Recently, I reflected on what the word “home” meant to me.  Here are a few thoughts:

Home:  A place of forever loves, family feuds, and a whole lot of prayer. Home for me was 809 Central, Tilton Illinois.  I grew up in the house my father began building when he married my Mother on Christmas Day, 1945.

The Butts family lived next door south of us.  They were a nice family, though their name, and what I thought was creative wit, got me at least one spanking a year.  The Liggets lived north of us.  He was a grumpy old guy who would not tolerate his fenced in yard to be intruded upon.  We lost a lot of whiffle balls over there.  The Francis family lived behind us, just across the alley.  This is where one of my best friends, Rick, lived.  I haven’t seen Rick for 30 years, but if he called, if he ever needed anything…I’d like to think I’d go running.

Across the street was McQuistion’s orchard where you could eat delicious green apples until your stomach ached or your bottom did.  Technically, we weren’t supposed to be over there.  Then just north of the orchard, in the little four room, brown block house, across the street from my own, lived big Ed Brown.

Ed was unique.  Ed lived his life in stages.  He went through a hippy stage, a motorcycle stage, and a western stage.  My favorite was the western stage.  While I was playing cowboy in the back yard; Big Ed was sitting in front of his house, leaning back in a chair, smoking a Clint Eastwood cigar and wearing a Clint Eastwood hat.  At his side, was his very real, very loaded six-gun, holstered, and available if needed.   One day, legend has it that Ed fired his six-gun for some reason, and the local police put an end to the western phase.  I never learned why he fired his weapon. No one disappeared from the neighborhood, including Ed; so I figured it was all good.

Ed died a few years later, much too young, from a heart attack.  I always thought it was more of a broken heart that took him out.  A cowboy shouldn’t be separated from his horse or his six-gun.  Ed was left with neither.

My dad arrived home from work every day at 5:30.  On most days, I was glad to see him, but there were a few days when I was not.  You know the kind. The days when at some point my Mother had said earlier in the day, having totally misjudged and unfairly evaluated something I had done… “Just wait till your father gets home.”  I usually greeted him in the driveway with a hug on those days, though it never worked.

I remember Christmas mornings, Easter Sundays, and countless Sunday dinners.  I remember shooting baskets on the small cement court in the back yard when life got confusing.  I remember the day I got my heart broken for the first time when a letter arrived at 809 Central, Tilton, Illinois 61833.  It was from my first girlfriend, a young lady I’d met at Band Camp at the U of I. I was only in the 8th grade, but suffered a 12th grade broken heart. She explained the distance, the fact that we never saw each other, and the fact that there was “so much life ahead of us” as reasons she had to break up.  Oh, the drama of it all. I shot a lot of baskets that day.

And there were other moments.  I remember squaring off with my older brother to declare my manhood on that little cement court in the back yard.  I remember the walk home after he’d chased me and my manhood several blocks away before I escaped with my life.  I remember hearing my parents pray in their bedroom which was directly below mine.

There were tears at home sometimes. I remember hearing my mother cry when my uncle died in a car wreck, and my family standing vigil at meals following funerals…my grandfathers, my grandmas. I remember crying myself to sleep the night my sister got married.  I have no idea why, but somehow I knew something had changed and would never be the same.  Pets are buried in the back yard at 809 Central, and if you could sift the dirt for tears, you’d find some there.

Life was different in many ways back then.  Dad worked and didn’t talk much. Dr. Dobson wasn’t around yet to tell him he had too.  Mom gave most of the speeches and Dad dispensed most of the discipline.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was…home.   A place of an occasional family feud, forever loves, and a whole lot of prayer.

(Genesis 2:24) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”