Making a Home

I love HGTV.

From finding the perfect house in a small town to the selection of a private island for those secluded vacations, HGTV has it all. City dwellers can find the cabin in the woods that takes them out of the mad urban rush. Winners of the lottery can find their dream mansion. Don’t forget those who seek to downsize their lifestyle as they move into the tiny house that gives them the simplicity that they crave.

My favorite of HGTV? Fixer Upper!  For five seasons, I watched Chip and Joanna take the “worst house in the neighborhood” and turn it into a beautiful home with the touch of the homeowners’ personality and charm.  Did anyone else cry at the last “Fixer Upper” episode?

I loved watching drab, vine-covered, over-grown-with-bushes homes be turned into the dream home for the new owners. Cottages, ranch houses, and 2-story 100 year old houses that were close to falling down saw new possibilities as Chip and Joanna worked their magic. Often I thought: “I wonder what they could do for my house that could use a little “fixer-uppering”!”

Often as future homeowners decided on a house, you’d hear:

“I can see our family in this place.”

“I can see our children playing in the yard.”

“It feels like home.”

It feels like home – the place to settle in and build a life together.  Noah, Will and I have lived in 2 houses in our life together. (Yes, there were a few transitional apartments.) Our first home in Natchez was a 1940’s bungalow, The Radcliffe House – the home into which Noah and I brought our newborn almost 24 years ago. We watched him take his first steps there, enjoy his first Christmas celebration there, and his first and second birthday parties. One day it was time to pack up the boxes and head north.

Will doesn’t remember too much about that first house. He just knows that he lived in the house on Linton Avenue, now with a bright red door. When Will was two and half, we unpacked our boxes in a two-story 1970’s house. (I think we are almost unpacked – only a few boxes left in the back shed that never made their way inside.)

When Noah and I made the decision to buy both of these houses, I distinctly remember those exact words from Fixer Upper in my own heart and mind, maybe spoken aloud:

“I can see our family in this place.”

“I can see our children playing in the yard.”

“It feels like home.”

It IS home. It’s now twenty-one years in this 2-story home – memories in each room, changes in paint, a new deck, some different flooring and much that has stayed the same. It’s home. It’s where we’ve taken a house built by someone else and made it into a home for the Archers.

I don’t know if we will stay in this home forever. A downstairs master bedroom sure would be nice as we get older. Will lives across town in his own place now but it’s still home for him. As a matter of fact, when any mention of a new place comes into the conversation, there’s a response from the youngest Archer: “You’re going to sell my childhood home?!?” Uh, maybe one day. Sorry, son!

Homes don’t just happen. There are lots of houses on the market. New, old, fixer-uppers . . . all for the showing and purchase. But it’s the personality, the charm, the memories, the settling in that makes a house a home.

As has been my usual practice for the past 5 years, I choose a sentence prayer as my “breath prayer” for the year. My 2018 prayer is “I choose to abide in You, O Lord.” Abide . . . remain, make my home in, dwell, settle down, reside . . . in You, O Lord.

“Make your home in me as I make mine in you.” – John 15:4

This is true home.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book on spiritual formation: “As Jesus travels with us in life, he teaches us how to return to the house of love. . . He never stops telling us where to make our true home, what to look for, and how to live.” *

Living in the love of God – the home of grace and love found in Christ – this is where we can really say: it feels like home. It IS home.

As you look for a place to abide this day, may you find your true home in the love of Jesus.


* Nouwen, Henri. Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit. Harper One, Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird, 2010, p. 78.

Photo:  “Daddy’s building” at my childhood home, a place of many memories and love

Seeing Potential

Shed with Potential

I admit it. I am a Fixer Upper fan – the HGTV show that features Chip and Joanna Gaines and their gifts to turn a house that might be a realtor’s problem listing into a beautiful home someone will love for years to come.

I love to watch the transformation: tear down walls, open up space, install new appliances, install French doors, re-do the master bath . . . it’s enough to make me want to move to Waco that so that Chip and Joanna can redo a home for me!

Chip and Joanna have the ability to see potential.

Reminds me of a conversation with my dad at an auction:

Daddy: “Why would you want that, Trish?”

Me: “Because it has potential” . . . my reasoning for buying an old table or a well-worn chair.

This old building (above) sits behind my parents’ home. It has looked this way as long as I can remember. My dad has occasionally said he should tear it down to which I respond: “NO! It has potential.” I know that it could use some paint and maybe a new board or two but I really like it just the way it is.

For me, it represents potential. It’s not the outside. It’s what’s on the inside: Daddy’s tools, his years of working out in “his building” fixing something, building something, reworking something or just piddlin’.

God sees potential. He doesn’t care about the outside but sees deep inside. He looks at us: “oh, yes, I can work with her. I’m not concerned with the outside. I am more concerned with the inside. I can work with brokenness, torn lives, imperfections, damaged souls . . . I do my best work in these situations!”

Thank you, Lord, that You see our potential. Thank you, Lord, that You see it even when we can’t.

Blog entry is part of my sermon “Soul Improvement: A Work in Progress”, preached Sept 6, 2015. If interested in full sermon, audio and/or video found at  If not interested, I will get over it.