A little over nine months ago, I was in my brother’s car. We’d left the hospital where my Dad lay unconscious, still breathing, but almost no longer with us. Russ was getting a bite to eat, I was getting fresh air, and it was hard to know what to say, what to think, what was going to happen over the next few days.

A song came on the radio that I’d heard several times before, but this time it began to haunt me. I felt like maybe it was a whisper from the Lord. I listened intently, deer frozen in headlights, but the lyrics didn’t yet mean anything to me — I was sort of numb with grief, so heavy-hearted. Grounded in the passenger seat of my brother’s car, and simultaneously lost at sea.

A few days later, I watched my Dad breathe the last breaths he would ever breathe, and I entered a journey of grief — so sudden, so unexpected, such a crevasse… a frightening abyss.

From time to time, I’d hear that song again, and be whisked back to that moment in my brother’s car. Sitting in the passenger seat — clearly not driving, not steering the ship, not in control of what was happening around me.

It took a while for me to not cry if the song came on… but still, I wanted to hear it, and hear it again.

The week before Christmas, for the first time, truly, I was deeply, profoundly, greatly surprised by joy again. I’d been out grocery shopping, and an international collection of reusable shopping bags scattered our kitchen floor. The Belle crawled in to inspect all the interesting things at baby’s-eye-level.

She proceeded to find a cupboard she could open and unpack. While she pulled things out here, I put things away there, and eventually I sat down beside her to repack the random assortment of boxes and bags she’d pulled to the floor. Once everything was packed away, still seated on the floor, I lifted her up over my head, and she squealed with delight at the fun of the moment.

I lay flat on my back on the floor for a while, lifting and tickling the baby, intentionally choosing the moment over the continual rush of what was tapping on my shoulder, the next thing on the to-do list.

In the moment, I was overwhelmed with joy, reminded of the gifts I’ve been counting in my heart and sometimes on paper. The simple convergence of a decision to be in the moment, to enjoy this little girl who’s changing every day, and a few giggles and laughs was enough to create such an overflow of glee in my heart, it spilled out in happy tears on my cheeks.

Grief has been a long and an unfamiliar road, and it’s a road I’m still traveling.

I still furrow my brow just thinking about the journey, even though I can see so many gifts along the way.

Last night I was joyful to say Goodbye to 2013. Along with a couple of million other Instagram users and Facebookers and social media addicts, I created a little “Flipagram” with lots of my favorite camera-phone images from 2013. {You can view it here.}


I selected a few dozen images, and then the option of choosing a song appeared, and instantly that same beautiful, haunting song came to mind. I searched and scrolled to find it, selected it, and listened again, as images from this past year flew by.

The song is called Home, by Phillip Phillips, and there was just this one lyric I couldn’t get past: what is this place that is going to be Home? Where is home? If God has something to say to me, what is He saying about where home will be for a girl who’s lost her Dad and now feels just a little less attached to planet Earth than I did a year ago?

But today was the day for it to finally hit me. If these are the whispers of Jesus — this God-whisper has the encouraging truth I was missing: whether we are here on Earth, or we’ve breathed our last and flown away some glad morning, the home we should all be longing for is in the Presence of God.

The Christmas we celebrate is so significant because of the coming of the presence of God, as a human on Earth.

The death and Resurrection we revere is so significant because it paves the way for us, though we are messed up and fallen and broken still, to find our way back to that home — that place where we most belong, the glorious presence of an incredibly loving God — there and waiting, arms wide open all along. Prodigals, come home and rejoice!

That first shower on New Year’s morning seems to be an epiphany moment for me always — and today was no different.

The melody was in my mind again. I could hear the God-whisper in those lyrics, and finally, my heart understood:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

This indeed has been a year where trouble has dragged me down. Where voices in dark corners have whispered fear that shook my very soul.

It has been a year of getting lost. It has been a year of being found.

And the glory of it all is learning, deeper still, to make the presence of God the home where I live always — in this life and the next. God has been the one to hold onto, who has rolled with me down this unfamiliar road. Me, in the passenger seat and out of control, wishing things could be different, mourning what was lost, disappointed at what happened, what was done and wouldn’t come ’round again.

What a promise it was — when He said He’d never leave us.

If there’s one wish, one hope, one resolute commitment for me in the year to come, it’s to constantly say yes to the God who wants to make His Presence my home.

Troubles might drag us down, but if we get lost we can always be found. Friend, know you’re not alone, and this year, make His heart your home.