“There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.”
Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”
I’m home for spring break and I’m treasuring every minute of it. I was so excited to be able to attend church with my family this morning instead of having to head back to Dillon! Plus there’s all of the other “usual” home things that I miss so much when I’m at college. Feeding goats and horses. Talking to my critters. Curling up on the couch in front of the fire. Eating homemade pizza. Saying “good morning” to my mom as soon as I get up in the morning. Eating my dad’s tzatziki. Talking with my sister about college opportunities and where we want to travel in the future. Sleeping in my own bed. Drinking goat milk. The list goes on and on.
I’ll admit that I’m very much a “Dorothy” who just wants to be home. I’m a bit of a hermit (to the annoyance of some of the RA’s on campus) and I like just spending time with my family. I am so thankful for the schedule at Dillon that allows me to come home once a month. I think I’d be desperately homesick otherwise…I get homesick enough as it is!
And yet, God has fantastic ways of helping me find a new “home” in Dillon. He has blessed me in some incredible ways which, since I haven’t mentioned any before, I’ll talk about in this blog post.
The first blessing was Prairie Bible Church. It’s only a fifteen minute walk from campus in a nice neighborhood, and it reminds me so much of my home church. Most of the people are elderly although there are a few kids my age. When I attended the church for the first time, I was shocked by how welcoming the church members were, and they are still just as loving, caring, and warm-hearted as they were then. Most importantly, the pastor preaches the true Word, and he does it in a down-to-earth style that is easy to understand and follow. I look forward to going to church every Sunday morning to hear a sermon, sing praises, see smiling faces, and fellowship with others in an area where the presence of God is clearly felt.
Another blessing is the physical setting of the Dillon community. The town squats in a valley surrounded by low-lying mountains. I can’t see the mountains from my dorm window, but there’s one road I take for walks that leads out of town and up a hill a ways. I’m typically lost in my own thoughts for the first half of the journey, but when I turn around there to head back, I am awed by the mountains rising in all their glory beyond the city. The wind sweeps through the pasture to my left, bringing with it the sweet scents of hay and grass. On my right, fat beef cattle with blinking brown eyes watch as I pass. The wind can have a sharp nip that burns my cheeks and nose, but the cold is well-worth its tingly freshness that seems to wash away so much of my sadness, weariness, or frustration.
Having been raised on ranches and farms most of my life, I am also an animal girl. I love my critters — my goats, my horses, my rabbit, my cat, our dogs, our chickens…. Unfortunately, in the dorms, all I can have is fish, so my bed supports five or six stuffed animals and my walls pasture several calendar cut-out horses. But cuddly toys and brilliant pictures can only go so far. And that’s where God has brought a truly fantastic blessing into my life…He has given me animals. An elderly couple from my church allow me to come ride their horses as often as I like. They own an older Arab mare named Dawn who is an absolute sweetheart and a young Quarter Horse mare called Happy, who certainly challenges my riding abilities but is a joy to ride. Some days, when the sun is bursting over head and my heart is soaring and I can hardly keep from skipping, laughing, and running everywhere I go, the foremost thing on my mind is, “It’s the perfect day for a ride.” And now, if I can spare the time, that’s exactly what I do. And there are few things are wonderful and freeing as riding. (But that’s another blog post.)
Horses aren’t the only animals now in my Dillon life. For my class last block, I was assigned ten hours of community service, most of which I chose to serve at the humane society. I hadn’t realized what a relief and joy that could be. Scrubbing puppy pens and cleaning litter boxes may not be the most enjoyable jobs, but the animals are worth it. The best rewards are brushing cats (who want to sit on your shoulder and chew on your shoes and rub all over you) and walking dogs (or being walked by a dog; it depends on which dog and how you look at it). There’s one dog in particular who is my especial favorite — Gabe, a heeler/boxer who acts just like Lukie at home. He’s an absolute love and walks pretty well — once you run the steam out of him.
A home is any place where you are welcomed, where you feel comfortable, where you find purpose, where you are loved, where God is present. I wonder if somebody without a “home” has any incentive, desire, or strength to live. For me, my most important earthly home is in the Bull Mountains of Montana. But since I have to spend eight months out of the year in Dillon, God has done wonders to make that place my new “home away from home.” His blessings never cease to amaze me. I am so thankful for a church family to fellowship with, mountain scenery to admire, and critters to love.