Friday, January 17, 2014

30/30: One Particular Harbor

It's week #1 of my 30/30 Vision blog challenge, which will feature a post every Friday for the next 30 weeks. To see the list of topics, click here. Today's subject- Where is home? 

Home is an interesting word. We often refer to the buildings we live in as home. There are many people who think of the community they grew up in as home. Some think that it is the presence of family that turns a house into a home. Many of us have visited unknown places and felt so comfortable there that we announce that it "feels like home!" All of these thoughts were a part of my process as I prepared to choose one place that I consider to be home for this post. But in the end, it seemed the thought that made the most sense to me was the old cliche "home is where your heart is." Old cliches get to be old for a reason...

Much like this weekend's NFL playoffs. my choice came down to a final 4. I grew up in the Guilford College community of Greensboro, NC- and I have great memories of wonderful times and wonderful people there. The house I grew up in, my elementary through high schools, my closest friends and my first youth ministry position at New Garden Friends Meeting were all in Greensboro. There is certainly a great feel of home to Guilford College for me. Option #2 would be High Point, NC- just a few miles from Greensboro but a very different era of my life. Marilyn and I spent the first 8 years of our marriage living in HP and serving Springfield Friends Meeting from 1986-1994. It was there that I learned much about life, marriage and ministry. Choice #3 would be Kissimmee, FL, where I served the First United Methodist Church from 1994-200o, and where Will was born. So many people who are still valued in my life today come from my years there, and are such a blessing to me even now. Amazing stories and incredible years! And finally, there is my current home of Tampa. No doubt it is home to Will. We have been here almost 13 years, with a quick side trip to Georgia in the middle. We love it here, and expect to be here a while longer. Four choices. Four homes. But the idea here is to choose the ONE place that is truly home. And so I shall...

As many great memories, friends and moments as I have in all of those places (and just so you know, Quaker Lake Camp could have easily made the list as well) there is only one that is my One Particular Harbor. It's Springfield Friends Meeting. Yes, my home is a church. For 8 wonderful years the people of that church and that community were our family. They took care of us. They were more than friends. We lived in a house- a beat up, tiny, old house- that they provided for us diagonally across the street from the Meeting. It was also across the street from our senior pastor Max and his lovely wife Avis- and they were GREAT neighbors. It was, without much competition, the worst house I have ever lived in. There was no space, no central AC in the summer, an ancient oil furnace (that blew up once and left everything covered in black dust) and a goofy little bathroom. Most of the windows would not open, having been painted shut over and over again long before we moved in. I replaced the kitchen floor myself, and actually made it better in doing so- which if you know me tells you a lot about what it looked like when we got there. So suffice it to say that it wasn't the house that made Springfield home. But that house was often full of people we love. Youth, church members, our friends from other places and
"Family" on my 30th birthday
family made that house feel warm and cozy instead of stuffy and tiny. There were Christmas parties, Super Bowl parties, chili cook-offs and more. We were also often in the homes of church members, celebrating special events and milestones with them. We experienced true koinonia at Springfield, and that is a rare and wonderful thing. We've been gone almost 20 years now, and many of those relationships are still strong. God blessed us with a home.

And in return for the love we received from that church family, we were blessed by God to be able to build a student ministry that changed the community. Much of what I did as a youth minister in the much larger churches to follow those years was birthed at Springfield. And so many of the students we attracted and shared life with have gone on to do amazing things as adults. It still makes my heart jump to hear from any of them, to see pictures of their families on Facebook and to read of their accomplishments- they are truly my extended family. One day soon I will be able to travel again. And when I can, there WILL BE a reunion. I miss those folks so much.

But the thing that makes Springfield my definitive One Particular Harbor is the criteria I mentioned at the top- "home is where the heart is." And so often my heart aches to be with the people I know and love through my years at Springfield Friends Meeting. Every Christmas Eve, every time they advertise a ham & egg supper or a fish fry, every time there's a Friend Day, every time an old friend passes away or a former student has a major life event- I LONG to be there. My heart- and Marilyn's heart- are often there in spirit. We are blessed to have so many friends from so many places in our lives, including many of our very best friends who are not from that era. But for me, after a lot of soul searching, I can tell you that Springfield is still home. As Jimmy Buffett once wrote:

"There's this one particular harbor, sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
and all are safe within.
A most mysterious calling harbor, so far but yet so near
Where I can see the day when my hair's full grey
And I finally disappear..."

Home is where you feel safe, loved and needed. I have identified my home. Where is yours?

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous1/17/2014

    No matter where life takes you, know that we would love to have you back "home" anytime. You are loved and missed!

    1. Thank you. So many great memories of so many great people!

  2. You made that place home for many of us. Thank you.

    1. We were family Marie. We did it together.

  3. Anonymous1/17/2014

    Those years left a mark on so many. Thank you Carl for all you gave to us.


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