|Home is wherever I'm with you|
"Home is wherever I'm with you." In the past fifteen years we have called more than a handful of places "home."
We started our marriage by moving into an old duplex in Maplewood, Minnesota. It was dark and dank with wall-to-wall paneling and green linoleum floors, appliances, and countertops. The only furniture we owned was the bed we purchased right before we got married. The rest of our home was sparsely furnished with mismatched hand-me-downs. But we didn't care. We were thrilled to finally set up a life together. In that home, we learned (sometimes the hard way) that marriage requires sacrifice. Effort. A sense of humor. And an overabundance of love. We bickered over where to squeeze the toothpaste and who takes out the garbage. We bought our first car together, practiced swing dance in our living room, and hosted Friday night game nights with our college friends. In Maplewood, our home was our haven where we learned how to be married.
Two years later, we moved to an apartment in Lake Bluff, Illinois. Our home was 795 tiny and cozy square feet. Curt immersed himself in graduate school while I learned how to be a commuter, taking the train into Chicago every day. We were completely alone with no friends or family. All we had was each other. In Lake Bluff, we learned the importance of friendship. We found a church we loved, started serving, and slowly began to build friendships. We learned how to support and encourage each other through challenging times. We got better at resolving conflict and grew closer each day.
|nothing like bringing home a healthy baby|
|the Smilp Kids|
Wauconda, Illinois, was the next place we called home. Certain we would never move again, we built our dream home on our dream lot. We were the first family to move in on our street and we watched our neighborhood take shape as our kids grew. We decided we needed one more baby to fill the fourth bedroom and the next year an "It's a Girl" sign hung in our front window when Paige joined our family. The years in Wauconda were a blur of poopy diapers, trips to the park next door, library classes, and more coughs, colds and flus than you could imagine. Those days "in the trenches" were exhausting and exhilarating. Curt and I fell in love all over again as we stood shoulder-to-shoulder, raising kids and scraping by on discount grocery shopping and rare coffee dates.
Our babies transformed before our eyes. They morphed from innocent infants to opinionated toddlers to preppy little pre-schoolers and toothless elementary schoolers. Our marriage put down roots in our home in Wauconda, grounding itself in our relationship with Jesus and with each other. Our future seemed so certain and predictable. And then God changed the story line.
Curt got a job in Portland, Oregon, and we watched as a professional moving crew loaded an entire semi-truck with our possessions that at one time were so meager they fit in the back of a trailer. Fittingly, we spent our last night in Illinois as the Smilp Family before loading our mini-van for a road trip to our new home. Five days later, we pulled into the driveway of our rental home in Newberg, Oregon. We rented it sight-unseen and were thrilled when our temporary home on Oxford Street turned out to be spacious and in a great neighborhood.
On Oxford Street we brought home our puppy Dusty and adjusted to a new life where absolutely everything was different. I got good at introducing myself to any Mom who dared to make eye contact with me. Eventually we made our first friends. Kelly, Alden and Oliver lived on the other end of Oxford Street and ended up being our best friends to date. Our time on Oxford Street taught us to cling to each other and to God when life is lonely and everything is new and different.
Eventually we ended up moving across town to our current home in Newberg, Oregon. We moved the week before Thanksgiving and in one week Curt transformed the sterile white walls into a colorful palette of warmth and homeyness. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in our new home, surrounded by unpacked boxes but fully satisfied and content with the love of each other. In this home we have watched our children move out of toddlerhood and into full blown elementary school age and even middle school tweens.
Growth can be painful. This home has been a haven to shelter us from the pains of starting over again, learning new careers, a new church, new friends, a new climate, and even a new culture. Our marriage has gone through a period of refining - skimming off the impurities that rise to the surface and leaving behind the beauty of a relationship tested by time.
Fifteen years. Multiple homes. But Babe - home is wherever I'm with you.
I can hardly wait to read the story God writes with the next fifteen. Happy Anniversary.