What does HOME mean to you? Do you think of it as a safe place or haven? A place of comfort or peace? Or does home mean a place of fear, abuse, mistreatment, not measuring up, or discontentment? Is home a messy place or a clean, cosy place? Is home somewhere you cherish and feel cherished? Is home full of love, friendship and family or broken relationships? Is home somewhere you long to be or a place you can’t wait to leave?

For each one of us, home means something different. Our upbringing usually has a lot to do with that. We are influenced by what we see on TV and social media, which moulds our expectations of what home means or what it is supposed to look like. For some it’s just a place to visit occasionally, a place of your upbringing but not your current residence as you launch into the world to find yourself. For others, it’s a place that has some bitter and hurtful reminders, and should be avoided at all costs. For others, it’s a place of rest where they long to be, and can never really seem to spend long enough time.

“There is no place like home” – as Dorothy so eloquently put it in the Wizard of Oz. When I think of home, I think of somewhere that I love to be. A place that I can be completely myself, where I can have a bad hair day or a bad mood and not be judged; a place where I can feel comfortable dressed in my crappiest clothes or my finest gown, or nothing at all; where I can celebrate, commiserate, moan and mourn, cry or laugh, sing at the top of my lungs and dance til I drop; where I feel safe and loved; where I am surrounded by things and people who I adore and who adore me in return; where I am nurtured and disciplined; where I am molded and can grow; where I am inspired and encouraged and where I can inspire and encourage others; where I can rest, find peace, comfort and stability.

I love the saying “Home is where the HEART is!” I really believe that is true. Home is not so much about the house or the building that I reside in, it’s so much more than that. Home, to me, is a state of being. My husband is my home. My children are my home. My church is my home. I can be on holidays at a beautiful hotel and feel at home, or visiting with loved ones and again, I’m home. It’s my safe haven. A place of love and acceptance, where I am truly enough, where I belong and can simply be myself..

The Bible tells us that Heaven is our home and we are citizens of Heaven (see Philippians 3:20). I like to think of Church – the House of God, as being our temporal home. The example of what heaven is going to be like. A safe place, full of trust, love and acceptance where we can fellowship, worship and belong. My Church (Hillsong) has coined the phrase “Welcome Home” on the front of all the facilities where Church meets. I love that! I love that we are welcoming all those who want to come in. That they are encouraged to feel at home.

The other day, I had the privilege of having morning tea with my Pastor. She started talking about this subject of home and belonging. I was captivated and inspired as she passionately discussed her heart on this subject. She was saying that everyone – EVERYONE! – should feel at home when they walk into our Church, but they don’t. For many reasons, but mostly that home looks and means so many different things to each of us. We all come to this meeting place with our own story, our own journey, our own mess and broken-ness. We all have different needs and struggles and some have more need than others.

Yet, it is on all of us to make this meeting place our home. To love on others, to serve others, to share with others, to give, to fellowship, to worship, to learn, to flourish, to encourage, to keep it clean and tidy, to invest into it, to lend a helping hand, to be challenged and inspired, to live in it, to grow in it, to find relationship, to feel safe in it, to heal, to belong, to simply be at home. That’s what I believe Church is supposed to be – a home!

Jesus says that He has prepared a table for us (see Psalm 23:5) and He is building a mansion for us (see John 14:2-3) – this screams home to me. He wishes to commune with us. He’s preparing a place of peace and love for us. A glorious place of fellowship and worship. A home where He can be with us. How incredibly awesome is that?!?!

I have felt encouraged, inspired, or perhaps even burdened lately to open my home and welcome people to my table. I love putting on a fancy dinner party and have great desire to host fancy, old-fashioned ladies morning teas (it really is a dying art). And yet, as much as I love the idea of it, I can find many excuses and reasons why I shouldn’t. I mean, come on, I live in a tiny rental house that is at least half-an-hours drive from anywhere important; I have four pre-teen and teenaged children, so my house is never really clean and tidy; I live a busy life – we all live busy lives; who would want to come anyway? what if they don’t like the food that I prepare? what if one of my china tea cups gets broken? (I would be devastated by the way – I am way too attached to them); I don’t have enough time or money; who would I invite and why? – and all the other crazy things that I can come up with to talk myself out of it.

But, I feel compelled to do it! I want to open my house and invite people home. To have them, even for just a moment, feel loved on, accepted and cherished. To feel safe, peaceful and comfy. It’s important for everyone to feel welcomed. God created friendship and fellowship and we need to do our part to work that out on His behalf. It’s our responsibility to make sure that others feel welcomed home in the best possible way.

So, I challenge you! I, myself, vow to hold at least one dinner party and one tea party over this holiday period (from now until end of January) with the intention of making people feel at home (I promise that I’ll post pics). Will you? Will you do something new, take a step, reach out to someone to show them home, to welcome them and show what home truly means? Go on, beautiful one, I challenge you!

I pray that this Christmas season is a time when Home becomes a place of love and peace for you. Where you find healing and encouragement, where you find your true home. To find that place inside your being where you can truly be yourself and feel comfortable. And if you can’t, come on over to my place, and I will welcome you home – with arms open wide, a smile on my face, a listening ear, a feast on the table and a warm place to rest your weary head (or actually, a cool air-conditioned place, cos it’s stinking hot outside at the moment). Welcome home!

More about Conny Stewart

It says on my Twitter profile “God-lover, Wife, Mother, Business Women, Blogger and soon-to-be-Author. Passionate to see Women become ALL God has called them to be!” and well, that pretty much sums me up!

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