I’ve lived in many places. Most of them have been in southern California. But I’ve lived in different homes.
I spent my childhood in La Puente and West Covina.
After high school I lived in Irvine for my first year in college. I then moved to Hawaii for about six months when I joined YWAM for their Discipleship Training School.
When I returned to southern California, I lived with my parents in West Covina for a couple of years until I was married. During the first few years of our marriage, Debbie and I lived in two places in Azusa and two places in West Covina. Currently, my family lives in Pomona.
The largest amount of time I lived in one place was in Glendora. Debbie and I moved to Glendora when Michael was about a year old. We lived in the same four-unit complex for almost 20 years. We started in a two-bedroom 1-1/2 bath unit from mid-1993 until late 1999. Then we moved into a three-bedroom 2-1/2 bathroom unit until February 2012. This home and city will always hold a dear place in my heart.
It was in this home that Debbie and I raised our four young children. We made friends with wonderful neighbors. We had a caring and generous landlord. The front lawn and courtyard became the playground for our kids and their friends. We would laugh and shout and sweat through rounds of dodgeball and tag and hide-and-seek.
And like any home filled with family life, there was a mixture of memories spanning the spectrum from momentous to mundane. We have memories of first steps and first days of school. We have memories of the mundane like homework, washing dishes, watching TV, and illnesses. We have memories of joy, laughter, giving and loving. And we have memories of arguments, timeouts, tears and tragedy.
As our children grew, Glendora was a small enough and safe enough town to let our children begin walking to friends homes, to the library, and to the park. In this safe environment, our children learned to stretch their wings and venture beyond our home on their own.
Debbie and I moved into our Glendora home as a young couple with a toddler and dreams of life and ministry together. By the time we left that home, we were an older couple with four adult children and twenty years of full life and invaluable family memories.
When I look at photos of our apartment, I can’t believe we fit six of us in that space for so long. It must explain why we love being together so much.
I remember our moving day on January 28, 2012. It had been difficult packing twenty-plus years of life into boxes and then a truck. It was simultaneously exciting and sad.
We visited the apartment in the following week to clean the unit and hopefully receive our security deposit from twenty years prior. Our landlord was visibly saddened to see us go and promised the full deposit. When the cleaning was finished, we visited each room and said good-bye to our home. Chris even said good-bye to the timeout corner. And then we stepped out and shut the door on twenty years of a blessed and fantastic life.
Four years later, we have transformed our Pomona house into a home. It doesn’t have the same kind of memories. It never will. And that’s okay. The new memories are a continuation of our full family life. We now have memories of sitting around our dining room table for dinners, laughing to the point of falling out of our chairs. We have memories of the two rescue dogs that have joined our family. We have memories of deep conversations about relationship, church, God and life. And most likely, we will eventually have memories of saying good-bye to our kids as they continue to grow and venture into a new life in the world beyond the safe haven of our home.
God, thank you for our homes. Thank you for the safety of four walls and a roof. And thank you for the life, love, and joy that continually spills out of those four walls.