Sep 30, 2011Creative :: HOME :: Contest Finalists ::
**Edited to add **
The winner is Brenda and Brandon Patterson!
Thank you so much to all of you who wrote to me your beautiful stories sharing your definition of "home". Many of them left me in tears ... and all of them left me completely confused about how in the world to choose a winner. So I am going to leave it to you ... my favorite blog readers. Below are the three finalists. You can read their stories and then leave a comment to place your vote. Please only vote once. Voting will end on Thursday, September 29th. I will announce the winner of the free session on Friday the 30th.
In no particular order ...
-------------------------------------Finalist Number One: Emily and Tony Walls-----------------------------------------------
As you walk upstairs into our baby boy’s bedroom, you will find a small closet. Hidden behind the clothes on a blank white wall are grey handprints made with fresh paint and tiny hands almost three and a half years ago. These handprints are from our little girl, Abby, who is now four. When we first moved into our home, she was not even a year old yet, and these sweet little hands represent everything near to my heart.
In a few months, we will be packing our bags, leaving the city I grew up in to follow God’s leading in our lives. As a mother, this move will be very difficult, because in these walls are the memories of some of the greatest moments of my life. It is here I sipped tea and dined at fine restaurants with Abby. It is here we have taken imaginary trips to the zoo and barely escaped the attack of wild animals. Here, we have spun in circles until we collapsed on the floor. Here, we danced like maniacs just for the fun of it. Here, we raced on the playground, swung the day away, played princesses, had sword fights, and made shadow puppets on the wall.
This home is a storehouse of memories which include bringing my baby home for the first time, seeing him grow and learn, and watching his sister love and care for him. Home is where my husband and I turned what was once a middle school crush into a family full of laughter and love.
As I look to the future, I must ask myself a question. I love this house, these walls, these sweet memories, but is there more to home? I believe the answer is “yes.” Home to me includes all of these wonderful moments, but home is also where the Lord has chosen for us to live. I have learned in the past few months that “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.”
Whether a home is earthly or heavenly, whether it is in my hometown or far away, where the Lord is dwelling - that is where I want my family and I to be.
Those tiny handprints on the wall will soon be just a memory in my mind, but perhaps they remind me of something greater than the here and now. Our small glimpses of heaven come from the abundant grace God gives us everyday through simple things like the sweet hands of our children, the support of our spouse, and the love and fellowship we have with our family, friends, and neighbors. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. ” 1 John 3:1
Where the Lord leads us, let us be also, and this will be our home. Thank you Lord for giving us handprints of grace in our lives!
-----------------------------Finalist Number Two: Summer and Andy Childress----------------------------------
I too have been thinking about what "home" means over the past few years. After my mom passed away it seemed like my childhood "home" wasn't home anymore. It's wierd to even go in our house. Then when my dad re-married and I was washing dishes at her house and she had a little figuring in her kitchen window that her daugher had given her. It read "Home is where your mom is". With that being said then my home is in heaven - Amen.
Obviously I do believe that heaven is my home and I can't wait to go there. God has placed people in our lives that help our time here on earth feel a little more like "home". I have an amazing husband and two precious boys that make me laugh constantly. God has blessed me with in-laws that are just the perfect balance. I often tell my mother-in-law that God gave me her because He knew He would be taking my mother very soon. Then, there is my daddy and his precious wife Debbie. I knew that my daddy would re-marry some day but I could not have hand picked a more suitable woman for my dad.
I would love to have a family photo session done that that truely represents what "home" is to us. It would also make for an awesome Christmas gift to our parents who have taught us the meaning of "home"
-------------------------Finalist Number Three: Brenda and Brandon Patterson-----------------------
I really am excited about writing on this topic because I know I don't have a traditional way of thinking when it comes to the word home or the meaning of that word. I looked up the definition of the word. Home: adverb - the place where one lives, noun - the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household. Most people know and believe that home is where you live, the place you go to everyday after work or after a date night with hubby (and that is the definition ) but home means something a little different for me.
I was raised in a divorced household. The divorce happened when I was 3. My father is in the Navy and moved around, and my mother moved to TN. I spent a lot of time going back and forth between them, adjusting to whatever my surroundings were. I lived at a women's battered shelter once, and that was the most uncomfortable place I have ever laid my head. When I was around 12, I ran away for the first time and was gone for about 2 weeks. I slept under a bridge in front of a local high school for the first 2 days and then jumped from house to house after that. Shortly after that, I went to live with my father. My father and step mother separated for a moment and I was sent here to TN to live with my mom. I was very upset about moving here with my mom because this isn't what I knew to be "home". I longed to come home to everyday after school to the parents I belonged to. I desperately wanted a life with stability. I wanted for once in my life to feel wanted and needed. I was so sick of feeling like a burden ... like I was in everyone's way. I just wanted to stay safe in a normal home with normal surroundings. The life I had at my mom's home compared to my dad's was complete night and day. Needless to say I was told I was coming here for the summer with all adults knowing it was going to be forever.
The summer I moved here started my crossroads in life, when I was going to be faced with decisions that would help shape who I am today. I was raped that first summer here, woke up many nights in the arms of people I have never met in my life and in strange places. People told me things about the school I would be going to ... that if didn't have money or certain clothes or a particular last name, I would be nothing. It scared me but if there was anything I had become a master at, it was adjusting. That horrible summer came to an end and the first day of school was coming around, I had no cool clothes, nothing pretty, nothing that would make a kid in 7th grade think I was something special. I dressed in a black Gin Blossom shirt and the coolest jeans I had. You could have covered me in a white sheet and I probably would of felt just as pretty. My class had the prettiest girls I had ever seen and I could've just cried. I knew I was never gonna make it. It wasn't 10 min after being there that those very girls came directly up to me and genuinely asked me my name and where I was from. For the first time since being at my dad's, I felt like this was HOME and knew it was forever. Had I known at that moment what the future held for me I would've never left the sides of those girls. Never had I ever experienced kindness in that manner. All through school I still felt like I had to survive, at anyone's cost. I did and would have done any and everything to escape all that I carried deep inside. So I sank into lots of drugs and lots of memory loss. Until he came along, my husband.
My life has been such an extreme of every emotion and I never thought I could meet my match. I always wondered why someone would want me and my baggage for that matter. But when Brandon came into my life I was left speechless and completely broken for him. We spent what seems like 10 years just laying up all night talking. I have never completely emptied myself out to anyone like I did for him and him to me. Little did I know that the Lord was doing a mighty work in refining the both of us in an extreme way. We started living with each other from day one. About 2 years into our relationship we thought that I might be pregnant and it turned out that we weren't. We really didn't want kids at the moment but I grew to the idea and got very excited. Thenmy heart was shattered. Brandon said "God told me that you were my wife and that we have to be married before he would bless us with a baby." So we eloped a couple of months after that. We tried for almost 6 years to have a baby with what seemed like no hope in sight. I sorta felt lied to by God but Brandon sat there the whole time declaring what the Lord spoke to him and now we have a beautiful healthy 4 year old little girl. The best part is that we get to break the cycle for her ... she will have the joy and gift of both of her parents loving her and each other with everything they have which brings me to my closing.
In closing I first would like to say that I really would love to win this contest, not really for me but for my husband. He gave me life in a world that I thought was dying. This Nov. we will be celebrating our 10 yr. wedding anniversary and no one deserves the privilege of this photo session more than him. It would be an honor to have this memory taken by you to have forever. Anyone that knows him today knows he is a man of virtue and loyalty. Never have I ever been so proud to be something like I am to be his wife. And last, with a little of my background you can understand why I would say home for me isn't so much a place where I could go or lay my head. Home was something that the Lord and I created in my heart. It is in the people that I meet that show kindness to the new kid. Or to the man that showed me I was worthy to be needed and wanted forever. Home was the moment I held our miracle that the Lord promised us 6 years prior, in that hospital bed. Home I guess I would say is in the arms of comfort. The comfort your heart feels when magic moments happen in my life. Thank you Julie, for the opportunity for me to share what I have and thank you for being one of those girls to come up to me that day to welcome me to my home.