There's No Place Like Home

Posted by Richard S. Lytle, Ph.D. in Blogs

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
--John 14: 1-4

In the famed movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy learns “there is no place like home.” It’s the “place” where love begins, faith begins, dreams begin, character begins, and courage takes root. “Home” is the starting line for the race of life. Children, grandchildren – take your mark – get set – go!

For people across the globe, self-concept and vision about what matters stems from the “place” they call home. Home is (1) location, (2) family, (3) faith, and (4) work. Together, these attributes form a vivid sense of “place” or “home.”[1] The life of Jesus is no exception. It is recorded he was born in Bethlehem. His home was in Nazareth. He grew up in a family – Mom, Dad and siblings. His parents had deep faith. His Dad worked hard as a carpenter. In these surroundings, Jesus flourished. He “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.[2]

Home is the “place” from which the headwaters of human flourishing flow! And Dads are lead partners in the construction of “places” that matter! The concept, of “place,” is important in scripture, world history, and in modern society. Life is often marked by what happens in a “place.” Athens. Rome. Bethlehem. Nazareth. Jerusalem. Golgotha. Versailles. London. Jamestown. Philadelphia. Auschwitz. Normandy. Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate.

Harold and Diane Smethills[3] taught me about the importance of “place” during our interview near Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Harold is a big man - tall, confident, handsome, talkative, principled, and in his late 70s (my guess). At the time of our interview, He and Diane were developing a 12,000-home residential community southwest of Denver, Colorado called Sterling Ranch. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, Harold explained their vision of creating a unique residential community for the next generation – a special “place” to call home.

Harold said, “People gravitate to strength. Many Millennials lack strength in their lives. Many of them come from broken homes, facing all kinds of problems. One of the reasons they will buy a home from us is because we are creating a reasonably priced home designed for their needs and a secure community, providing roots and a sense of strength.” He went on, “People in this transient world want to put down roots. They’ve been “had” before. They’ve seen businesses lie to them. They’ve seen their government lie to them. They’ve seen their parents lie to them. They’ve seen their spouses lie to them. Who can they trust?”

With deep conviction, Harold continued, “we’ve spent millions trying to define ‘place’ on Sterling Ranch. If you look at the difference between a “project” and a “place,” it is a $5,000 to $10,000 difference per lot. We are going to have 12,000 lots. You run the math. We want Sterling Ranch to be a special “place.” For example, The Broadmoor area at Colorado Springs – now that’s a place. Instantly, you visualize it. So, we are spending our fortunes to create a strong “place” for these young people. We all move toward people who are stable, kind, committed, and convicted. We lean on ideas which stand the test of time. We trust businesses who keep their word and deliver high quality products. We gravitate toward God because he is strong. His word is a stronghold (Ps. 27:1). We can count on it. His ways are right. We can build abundant lives on them. He is not a God of weakness.

DADS STOP! You want your children (of all ages) ultimately to say, “Our home is a special place!” It is a place of strength! So, what’s the difference between family as “project” and family as “place?” For Sterling Ranch, it’s around $120,000,000! Worth it? Absolutely! As Dads we must calculate the cost between family as “project” and family as “place.” The difference lies somewhere between the spoken vow and the broken vow.

Fathers - keep your vows! Your wedding vows – your covenant – are intended to create a safe “place” on earth for your families to flourish. Promises kept are the nutritional food of great families, built on a sense of trust from promises kept no matter what happens! Families suffer from weakness caused by broken promises. Thus, children and spouses struggle to find the “sense of place” needed for healthy nourishment and flourishing to occur. We have all witnessed staggering levels of family deterioration across the globe over the last two decades. The negative family statistics recited time and again cause us to grow a bit numb. Today, only nineteen percent (19%) of U.S. households consist of traditional families (Mom, Dad, Kids).[4] Why? Husbands and wives did not keep their commitments to each other and to God. Eighty-five percent (85%) of today’s U.S. prison population comprises those who grew up without a Dad or father figure in their lives.[5] What happened? Dad left. He broke his promise. He left and is not coming back to take his children to be with him. He left his post. In the military, “leaving your post” is grounds for being Court Marshalled - evidently not in our society.

When family commitment is unwavering we grow, we stretch, we learn, we fail and recover well, we grow in wisdom, and we are significant. When family works right we have a “place” that’s our own - we are safe – we can grow as planned – it’s really quite beautiful. Deep down we all desire a “place” where family commitment is palpable, faith is central, and mom and dad are hard working. These “places” present the greatest opportunity for eternal development – where all members of the family are “urged to live lives worthy of God.[6]

The words of Jesus resonate with us in this regard. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms.” He tells us he is committed to God and he is committed to us. Jesus promised he is preparing a “place” for us in his Father’s home – a great “place” to be. He also promised us he will come back to take us to be where he is.[7] His commitment reveals strength and provides us comfort because we have been promised an eternal “place” with Him forever. Places of strength are built by love and high-quality effort in location, commitment to family, commitment to faith, and hard work. Strength is not about circumstance or vulnerability. Strength is about values, commitment, and conviction. It is about a life well lived – one worthy of respect.

For me, 12822 Brady, Redford, MI 48239 is a special place. As a child, it was my home. My childhood happened in that place. My values, skills, relationships, self-concept, world view, courage, and character all resulted from the place I called home.
I remember well my dad’s last few days on this earth under the supervision of the Hospice caregivers. From a physical perspective, Dad was incredibly weak. However, he was a pillar of strength in my mind. His strength was not a result of his great platform in life. He wrote no books. He accumulated little money. People didn’t follow his blog (not invented yet). He did not have a college education. Moreover, he could not even hear, living with total deafness since he was a little boy.

His strength resulted from his commitment to building a sense of “place” for us. He secured a house for us in Redford, Michigan at 12822 Brady. We lived there all of our growing-up years. He and mom invested in and made our location wonderful to live in. I was proud of our home. We worked hard to take care of it and make it look nice and neat and clean. Second, he was committed to my mother and my brothers and me. He provided for us. He cared for us. He loved us. He spent time with us. He never left us! Third, he and mom were committed to God and witnessed simple faith in front of us all our lives. Don’t hear me say perfect faith. Don’t hear me say mature faith. Hear me say simple, working faith. Finally, he and mom worked hard all their days. Dad worked for 42.5 years on the drafting boards at World Headquarters for Ford Motor Company. He never missed a pay check. He worked a good deal of overtime and a few Saturdays a month during new model development. Mom worked hard managing our home and then went to work as a cleaning lady to help send me to college. Together, they created a “sense of place for us.” Our home was strong, safe, stable, and unbreakable. Not perfect.

It allowed us to be who God called us to be. My dad was absolutely committed to my mom and my two brothers and me. He stayed with us down the entire runway of his life. Just before his lift-off to be with God, he said two profound things to me. He looked me in the eye and using American Sign Language with weak hands and arms, he said to me, “I see God. I see Jesus. I am at peace.” Again, he continued, “You are a beautiful son. I am proud of you. Now, go and take care of your family. I will be all right. Go.” These were his last words to me. While nodding his head, he was telling me it was my time to create a sense of “place” for my family. As Dad, Frank P. Lytle, Jr. showed me and my brothers how to fulfill that commitment all the days of his life, creating a special “place” we called “home.” In honest reflection, I can boldly say, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

[1] Interviews of 70 CEOs, research in process, R. S. Lytle, Ph.D.
[2] Luke 2:52, NIV
[3] Chairman of Hill Equities, LLC, Highlands Ranch, CO.
[4] Daly, Jim, In-depth interview on the campus of Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado (Spring 2013).
[5] Irreplaceable, Focus on the Family documentary film, Colorado Springs, 2014.
[6] 1 Thessalonians 2:11, NIV
[7] John 14:1, NIV

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