Lessons from the Front Porch

maya angelou safe place home jkmcguire

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
– Isaiah 32:18

We make our way through the tunnel and around a corner, or under an overpass and over a bridge, and there it is – that mid-sized city where people bleed black and gold and steel. There has been life bustling around these three rivers for generations. Long before European immigrants came and inhabited the land Native Americans roamed these Appalachian hills.

My people the ones that came before me were coal miners and steel workers and auto mechanics.

My people are men and women who worked with their bare hands carving a living out of the hard dirt of life.

After all these years of moving and living away while raising a family of my own this wild heart of mine that has wandered far in finding places to rest my head still calls this place, “Home.”

pittsburgh skyline rubberduck jkmcguireLessons From the Front Porch

I sit out on my parents’ front porch – the one that has inspired countless conversations about church, God, and family, becoming, womanhood, motherhood, and life. While watching children slide down the hill on a homemade slip n’ slide, sprinklers with mud building around the edge of tarps – we ease into spoken words and stories.

I’ve learned my family’s histories and lessons from the front porch – listening in as a young child and now participating as an adult woman growing a family of my own.

This is our oral tradition.

I’ve come of age on porch swings and cement floors under a canopy of hanging baskets and wind chimes and the steady hum of my elders’ voices.

There are rhythms here that I can not tell you. I can only show you. I can only encourage you to try it out for yourself. I can only invite you to sit with me for a minute to discover the HOW.

own backyard oz quotes jkmcguire

My Short List of Regrets

It is in these spaces that I face the woman I am becoming and my short list of regrets. Ever since we were in the final stages of buying our not so little blue house in the city – the one with the sweeping front porch – I have regretted the manner in which I chose to wait for these new beginnings.

As I lived life there steady, stable, and waiting to move forward into new places I threw fits and searched wide and grew quiet – sometimes angry quiet and other times resigned quiet.

That is what happens sometimes when life does not proceed the way we had hoped or planned.

Now I regret HOW I chose to wait out the future steps. Because my waiting was not always graceful and it was often riddled with anxiety and worry.

To be honest I allowed a little bit of resentment to grow up like weeds in the cracks where I sat waiting.

  • I worried about how and when it would all work out especially when closing dates were pushed back and approvals came with contingencies and people were slow to respond.
  • I allowed anxiety to have a say – when houses never seemed to fit and time took too long, money seemed too short, and with each year a new rental agreement needed signed.

I allowed my anxious heart to have more weight with each passing year.

When there was no clear way forward I sat down among my weeds of discontent and let them grow deep and thick all around me.

While I could outwardly respond in a calm, rational manner.

While I knew it would all work out in the right timing and way.

Inside I worried quite a bit about things I couldn’t control.

And I am embarrassed to admit I let discontent have too much space in my heart.

That discontentment sucked the life out of the whole process.

first-sunday-home resized watermarkedAnxiety, worry, discontentment, and fear do not offer one life-giving thing into a situation or experience. Instead they do a good job of sucking the life from it.

You can spend a whole bunch of time wondering and worrying and dreaming about the house you could have, and the places you should be, and the job you could be doing, and the people who should be in your life, and the money you ought to be making – instead of finding a way to celebrate every single day that you do have in the place you have already been given, among the people right in front of you, doing the job you have chosen to do right now.

I worried a lot about finding a place – instead of turning my face intentionally towards the home and people I had right in front of me.

A bigger house will not change the spirit of discontent within you.

A bigger place doesn’t make it all better. A newer place doesn’t heal the gaping places within us.

This isn’t about square footage, new appliances, how big the backyard is, or paint colors – home is that safe place where you are surrounded by those who love you and who make your life a brighter place no matter where you end up together.

home is a state of being jkmcguireHome is not so much a destination as a state of being (Facebook Cover Here).

That’s why I can find home on the front porches where I daily live and on many a front porch I have been invited to share in – because home is more about a heart at rest among a people you love and who love you in return then it is an actual place.

I regret not living in the right now because I was too worried about finding the way forward. The way forward will come in its own time and in its own way no matter how much I push and shove and throw a fit about it.

So on my short list of regrets – is looking for home in all the wrong places when all the things I needed for home I already had in my own muddy, postage stamp sized backyard.

What about you – are you prone to look for home all over the place instead of right where you are?

the front porch finding sundays at home smallQuestions to Ponder on the Porch:

  • What/Where is home for you?
  • Who represents home to you?
  • What would an ideal home look like? Feel like?
  • Name a few people that you would describe as content with their life – with their home.
  • Have you experienced discontent in your home? Family? Life?
  • How does that discontent manifest itself? (ie worry, anger, searching, unending conversations about it, etc.)
  • Are you living in the “Someday” or the “Right Now?”
  • What things cause you to worry?
  • If home has not been a safe space in your life what are some ways you can try to find or create home in the present and moving forward?
  • May the home you have be a place of peace and rest.

    My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
    – Isaiah 32:18

 Peacefully,

J.

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