When I was growing up, one of my favorite movies was “The Wizard of Oz.” The most powerful scene for me as a little girl was at the end of the movie when Dorothy repeatedly whispers her heartfelt declaration: “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Oh how I longed to feel that way when I was young. I was a child with two houses but no real home. My parents had divorced when I was very young, so the concept of “home” was almost as unbelievable as a green-faced witch and talking scarecrow. Yet I still yearned for that mysterious, faraway place called home.
As time passed, I grew up, fell in love, got married, bought a house and eventually added children to our household. And the most amazing thing occurred during those years. Our ordinary house turned into something quite extraordinary — a home! I’m not exactly sure when we crossed the bridge between the two. But I realized that while the outside of a house and a home appear quite similar, what sets the two apart is the atmosphere between the walls.
When I look back at the houses in which I grew up, I remember a lingering aura of brokenness. I felt as though I was living in a tea cup after it had been dropped. The hairline fractures covered the porcelain surface after it had been glued back together. This unsettling situation made me even more determined to create a real and lasting home when I had a family someday.
Today inside the walls of our house, my husband and I are creating legacies to pass on to our six children. We’re establishing family traditions and capturing precious memories every day. We live in a house filled with toys and noise — a house filled with laughter and smiles — a house on occasion filled with whining, crying, fighting and complaining — a house filled with numerous hugs, kisses and prayers.
I admit our cup has encountered more than a few chips along the way, my own out-of-sort days included. But those flaws give us an opportunity to grow and learn in spite of our imperfections. The fragile exterior of our cup has been reinforced by all the moments we’ve shared as a family. Our cup is not only filled, but overflowing, with love.
There’s a certain glow, a special feeling that resides in our place — a house that’s been lovingly transformed into the home of which I’d always dreamed. Our house is no longer simply a dwelling that serves as living quarters. Our family has created a genuine home with a heart, an environment that offers affection and security to all who live beneath its roof and are sheltered within its walls.
Yes, sometimes tears tumble in our home, but someone is always there to wipe them away. There will always be one of us falling down, but we’re a family with many helping hands to lift that person back up. We’re far from a perfect household. We’re flawed, but God is perfect and he strengthens us. We embrace everything about us, both good and bad, because all these characteristics make us who we are — a family.
I’ll forever be grateful to that adventurous little girl from Kansas who traveled to Oz. Dorothy and her odyssey away from home taught me an important lesson. Unfortunately, she had to lose everything she took for granted before she could truly appreciate what she had. It was a long, hard journey before Dorothy could finally find her way back home. And although I came from a divorced home, I vowed if I ever did find what I was searching for, a mysterious faraway place called home, I would never let it go.
I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt, I’ll never have to close my eyes, click my heels together and make a wish. I already know in my heart there’s truly no place like home.
This originally appeared in an archived issue of Hello, Dearest. If you didn’t get a copy and would like your own, you can subscribe to get Hello, Dearest in your mailbox every season. If you subscribe, forward your receipt to email@example.com and we’ll shoot a copy of the current issue in the mail to you for free … just because we like you.
Kimberly J. Garrow is the mother of six children and the author of A Mother’s Journey: Through Laughter and Tears (www.kimgarrow.com). She’s a freelance humorist, inspirational writer and speaker.