I just wanted to see the old house, she said, and I was wondering if the fireplace was still there.
I forgot, for a few moments, how strong memories are and how dear.
To me, the fireplace is one of the most amazing things about this aging home, and so I threw the door wide and welcomed her in.
Only, this home isn't the home that she remembers.
The life that fills it now doesn't look the same as the lives who loved and breathed and filled these places when she was young and the shock came out in words of hurt over so much that had changed.
I wish she hadn't left so quickly. I wish I could have asked about the ones who dreamed up this space. - The ones whose faith marks it so deeply.
It's called a Pastor's Pew.
I had never heard of it, and haven't seen another like it.
But like the pew benches that held me when I was small in that quiet little church that was like a second home, I am wrapped in a feeling of familiarity when I curl up in the corner.
I am held in peace.
There is something sacred about a space used for worship.
Back when doctors still made house calls as frequently as the local pastor, this foundation was laid. And when the cold winter winds would howl and the wise would stay home, there was a fool for Christ who would brave the chill and walk up the front steps to pray with the ones who lived here.
This alcove, flanked on either side by the age old symbol of church and prayer and that one sweet gramma singing off key, it has held the voices of the ones laying their hearts down before the Risen Savior and these pews have held the tears and laughter and words of those no longer here.
The fire may have warmed chilled bodies, but there is rest to be found for weary souls here in the quiet of this space.
I received a text in the dark as I was making my way home.
Just two words with no other explanation and my heart raced in fear with all the possibilities:
Was it my children?
Did something bad happen?
Are you hurt?
I asked all the questions instead of just doing what the text said.
I didn't know that while I had been out, one of our older Madison House kids was in our home. This kid, angry and troubled, was breaking apart and he showed up here, on our front step, cold and undone.
My 3 older children, recognizing his pain, raced to help their daddy get hot cocoa to warm his insides while Tony fed the fire to full blaze and then invited this young man to sit on one of the pews.
And here, on wood that has been prayed over for more than a century, two souls sat opposite one another; one seeking answers, the other holding the Answer.
I walked in to hear yelling.
To hear the broken sobbing of pain,
while my older three all snuggled together in the school room, completely at peace and unafraid.
Mama, they whispered, you need to pray. The boy in there is *really* sad.
And as the questions raged, I heard Tony's calm, sure voice speaking the Name of Jesus, inviting him to come and find Peace.
All I could do was pray.
All I could do was stand in the kitchen, hip against counter and pray.
It was the silence that caught my attention, and it was the two of them kneeling before the fire in the space between the two pews that pulled me to the doorway as I witnessed the holy moment of a fatherless man tenderly lead a fatherless boy to the heart of the Heavenly Father Who will never turn either away.
In the past few days, this home that was ours to rent and then wasn't and then was ours again - this home that God wouldn't allow us to live in until all of my dark had come out...it has become ours officially.
I don't know why it has in the way that it has. I'm overwhelmed at all the ways this has come together, but I am so incredibly grateful at the way God has shown Himself again as Father at the beginning of a season when this word is filled with so much pain.
Our prayer since the beginning has been that this home would be a light in a dark place. That refuge would be found here; that in the middle of chaos and confusion, the clarity of Christ would be seen most clearly.
I think of that family who first saw this plot of land and drew up plans for this house and in the heart of these walls placed a refuge for their souls.
They couldn't have known that all these years later, a lost boy would be found by the One Who knew him before all of time began right in the middle of where they themselves gathered.
The world seems to be spinning out of control. News channels and social media scream fear from all sides and terror turns us wild, devouring one another with words and opinions behind the safety of a screen. Everyone wants to change the world and the views of another.
But, right there, outside my own front door is a young man who needs a Father and a homeless woman stopped with her cart across the street talking with me about Jesus over a cup of water and a granola bar.
Each moment, each place I put my foot has the potential to be a space to build a Pastor's Pew, a meeting place to seek Jesus and the good of another. These moments, where we drop to our knees side by side place us on level ground. There is no scrambling to find our footing here, there is only utter dependence on the graciousness of God.
The fire is burning brightly still in the early hours of this morning as the pews wait expectantly reminding me that there is no one to far gone to come to Jesus,