noun: home; plural noun: homes
1. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
I've been a Crusader for more years than I can remember. I've been a believer, it feels, even before I knew how to speak the word "amen." And yet, it wasn't until my late teenage years that I truly began to grasp the depth in the title "believer" that I had been handed when I took my first breath of fresh air.
I would be foolish to say that growing up in a Christian home and Christian environment was easy. But I would also be foolish to deny that my upbringing wasn't the biggest blessing I have ever received.
Similar to many families in America, I was raised in an extremely loving home. It's very tempting to think that those types of homes have ceased to exist, but I can say with confidence that they are still very real, no matter how rare they are. It would have been easy to attend the school in the district where I lived with my family. It would have been easy to jump right into the sports programs and extracurricular activities. It would have been easy to make that school my home.
But there is a key factor in the word "home" that my parents wanted for my siblings and me. There is a key factor that I feel my heart ache for every time I think of what "home" means to me. That key factor is my Savior.
Grace isn't just a building to me. Grace isn't just hallways with classrooms, filled to the brim with memories of test taking and decision making. Grace isn't just four walls that challenged me academically and physically to be the best I could be. Grace isn't just my grade point average or class ranking. Grace isn't just my safety net that my parents threw over me to protect me from the real world.
Grace is my home.
Grace is my home, because it was here that I was poured into by countless leaders. Grace is my home, because it was here that I was prayed for and with by those same leaders. Grace is my home, because it was here that I hid my face in my hands, begging God to do something great with my life. Grace is my home, because it was here that I made memories playing ball with my sister, that have permanent shelf space in my heart. Grace is my home, because it was here that I was accepted for exactly who I was and exactly who I am. Grace is my home, because my parents sacrificed much, in order for their children to feel - really feel - the prayers I would catch them praying by their bedside late at night and at the kitchen table every single morning. Grace is my home, because it was here that I fell in love with writing, because my teachers loved it just as much.
And now, seven years after I walked across that stage and grabbed my little piece of "home" written in ink, Grace is still my home.
Grace is still my home, because I am able to lead exactly how I was led. Grace is my home, because I get to watch eyes light up as if they are a window to their heart when they write something powerful. Grace is my home, because I get to see the growth in my students that my teachers saw in me. Grace is my home, because now I get to pray for and with my students. Grace is my home, because I get to pull out my Bible and speak truth into the heart that is struggling to see their worth during the lunch hour. Grace is my home, because it's impossible to walk down the elementary hallways without my legs feeling their tight squeeze of love. Grace is my home, because I get to play a part in helping my students see that they get to use their talents - academically, physically, and spiritually - for an eternal purpose. Grace is my home, because I get to see the way my sister lights up when she talks about her patients and how much they treasure her. Grace is my home, because I get to see the way the little boys look up to the little boy in my life - my baby brother. We are who we are, because of this school. We are who we are, because our parents kept us here.
It's easy to think that God could have used the people in my life to help shape me, no matter where I grew up, and no matter where my parents chose to send me. But the older I get, the more I realize, and the more thankful I am, that the reason Jesus means "home" to me, is because I was shown "home" isn't complete without Him all those years before.
Grace instilled in me a love for academics. Grace instilled in me the power behind being a part of a team that plays for God's glory. Grace instilled in me family, and love, and safety.
But most importantly, Grace instilled in me a home.
My husband and I agreed early on that if we have room in our home for more, we will fill it. It's not every day that someone can say their career allows them to have the. exact. same. desire.
Grace was, and is, and always will be my home. Come on over. Let me show you. I'll help you feel the open arms of Jesus that breathe "home" into me every single day I'm here.
Written by: Hollie Erickson (Junior High English; Junior High Girls' Bible; College/Creative Writing; High School Volleyball Coach).