December 20

For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Psalm 139: 13-14 (NASB)

Three little words. 

They have the power to make my heart skip a beat, turn my gray skies blue, and initiate any other lovelorn cliche you can fling my way.

“Mom, I’m home.”

At first, the children go away for full days of school, calling those three little words at 3:30 in the afternoon when they’ve come in from the bus stop and are looking for a snack and a hug. 

Then, it’s after longer days of baseball practice, band camp, or dance rehearsals. It’s dark when they drive themselves home and then call the words, hoping for reheated dinner and a chat about a bad day.

College is their first experience living away, and while none of my emotions came as a surprise, one moment did. Abby was packing to go back to Miami University after a break, perhaps Christmas, and she casually mentioned she was “heading home.”

Maybe it was my proud alumna status, or the fact that my husband and I met at Miami, (a “Miami Merger”) but something about her statement sounded—strangely—absolutely normal. More than that, it sounded comforting. 

There was an intellectual place inside me that wanted to rebel, to tell her, “This is home, college is college,” but that’s not what I felt. What I felt was relief. She had found a home, created a home, away from home.

When Adam and I dropped Abby off at school the first day of her freshman year, I was trying not to cry (failing) when I said, “Abby, if ever you are homesick, lie down on this sidewalk, close your eyes and remember that your mom and dad walked right on this very spot. So did Grandma and Pop, your aunts, uncles and your cousins. You are never alone here.” (Note: I’m not sure if Abby ever did this, but it sure sounded great in the moment.) 

We are born into this world from our first miraculous home, and we live with the promise of eternal life, waiting to be called home by God. Is it any wonder that we seek the comfort of havens and habitats throughout our lives, following the beacons we know as friendship, family and faith? Listen for the words, throw open the doors, and let the people come. 

Merry Christmas. 

Christy Chafe

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