I only have one house but there are several places that feel like home.
This weekend I went back to the church where I spent 25 years as a member. We were doing some things for my mother, so we just made a day of it.
At one time, I knew every person in that church. I knew the "unassigned" seating chart during services. Sunday, my mom was late getting down to the service from her class and I was so worried that I was going to sit in the wrong place.
After being gone for a dozen years, I couldn't help but notice that about half of the people were new. I still saw longtime friends and people who feel like family, but some others have died, moved to new churches or and some to new cities.
This isn't a new phenomenon. The church was once home to Rev. W.A. Criswell, a giant in the Southern Baptist denomination. Before he was a pastor at one of the first megachurches, it had also been a pastoral stop for Rev. David Hall. I loved doing a story with Pastor Hall when I was the editor of my hometown paper. He told the story of when the state faced a horrible drought and he was invited to a service at the state capitol to pray for rain. He told me the story of how he chided those who came to pray for rain and didn't bring their umbrellas.
"If you don't think it is going to work, why are you here?" he asked the crowd. Larry Thompson was also pastor who came through the church on his way to a mega-church future. Thompson was the pastor when I was in the youth group and one of the reasons the church was important to me still.
After church, we went to a popular restaurant at lunch and saw the local State Representative who I knew long before he got elected and follow closely now that I am back in Oklahoma.
We caught up with old friends and we even saw the woman who was Blake's first babysitter when he was six weeks old and my wife returned to work. He's almost a foot taller than her now. Feeding him is easier, but a lot more expensive.
Life moves fast. We're always busy and always tired, but sometimes you have to look back at those places that used to be home and realize how far the water under the bridge has taken us. After thinking back to moments as a youth in that church and remembering a time when the popular restaurant was a completely different business, I realized I haven't been a "youth" for 30 years.
Some of the photos on the wall at my parents' house have been there three or four decades.
The five us are now a family of more than 30 people and with recent engagements, the water under the bridge keeps flowing and our family keeps growing.
I don't guess there is really anything wrong with going back to the home that someone else made for you, but there is nothing like the home you have made for yourself. I like my little corner of the world.
Someday, my little corner of the world might be in a different place. Who knows?
It was nice to be "back home" Sunday but I couldn't help but think about all of the things I would have missed out on if I stayed there.
Then I ran into a young man who I got to know when I was covering baseball at the local university. He and his daughter had just moved back. He was telling me how he was in Denver raising his daughter on his own. One day, he thought about how this wasn't where he wanted her raised. He thought back to his experiences in college and said, "That is where I want to raise my daughter."
He wasn't born and raised there, but it became home to him. He came back to the church I left and it is home to him and his daughter now.
Life's funny like that.
Home may be where the heart is but some of my heart is still in places that aren't home anymore.