Monthly Archives: December 2008

Today’s Home

As I stood at the galley sink washing dishes this morning, I happened to look down and read the bottom of the plate I was placing in the drying rack. Today’s Home, Made in China, it said. I’ve looked at the bottom of that dish dozens of times and never thought about that phrase. But it struck me today that even the bottom of a plate can have meaning if you’re in the right frame of mind. Several meanings, actually.

First, today’s home in America is just full of stuff made in China. Our land house is in a neighborhood built in the 1960’s, sherbet-colored ranch homes with white tile roofs. They look a little bit like they were stamped out in a factory. Made in China is not a compliment. Stuff made in China doesn’t last. It makes me pause and ask myself: am I building a home, a legacy with my family, that will last? Or am I still so obsessed with taking care of my things—buying things, cleaning things, or putting things away, that I forget to focus on the people around me? How upset do I get when the small person assigned to dish duty accidentally breaks my favorite coffee cup (which was probably made in China)? I usually catch myself before I shout something mean or stupid—and say instead, “It’s just a cup. It’s just a cup. It’s okay. It’s just a cup.” But I still have to remind myself, so what does that say about me?  I don’t want a home made in China. I want a home that can handle some wear and tear without crumbling. A little wisdom from King Solomon says a wise woman builds her home, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.  O, Lord, let me be wise!

Second, Today’s Home is a reminder to be content. Wherever home is, be it on land or on the water, I must remember home is where I am right now. That question, What is a home? has taken on a lot of meaning for me as I go between places. It’s easy to feel fractured, homeless even, as we pack and unpack and then pack again. The only definition that fits: home is where my family is. Home is enjoying a book on tape together in the truck on the way to Bradenton. Home is a day working or playing on the boat. Home is tucking everyone into their beds and spending some quiet time in the evening with Jay. It doesn’t really matter where these things happen. The love we share and the burdens we bear together are what make us a family and wherever we are together is home. Today’s home might be in Clearwater, or it might be the Gulf of Mexico. Home is wherever we are today.

Lastly, I must find my home in today: today is home. It is easy to live in tomorrow, its uncertainty gives me endless things to ponder or worry about, imagine, question, or dream up. It’s also easy to live in yesterday. There, too, are things to regret, remember, and wonder: What would have happened if…? I wish I had… I wish I had not…What would I do differently next time? But living in those two places keeps me from living in today. Today is where the youngest child is learning to talk, where the children run in the grass and laugh about silly things, where the sun is shining or the rain is falling, or the cinnamon smell of oatmeal-raisin cookies fills the house. I must enjoy the gift of today, devour it and revel in it, and not waste a minute. I find it interesting that God is called by the name “I AM”—although He was, is, and is to come, his name is given in the present. It is crystal clear: today’s home. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today.

As we get ready to kiss the old year good-bye and greet a new one with hopeful faces upturned, may we refuse to worry about tomorrow or regret yesterday. May we be content with whatever blessings we have. May we build things that last. May we spend more time laughing and singing and admiring the view and less time searching for meaning in the bottom of the kitchen sink.


Everyone knows that the first year of marriage is the hardest: you are unbelievably happy and in love and at the same time you are becoming intimately acquainted with all the cute quirks and irksome idiosyncrasies of your spouse. It didn’t matter that Jay and I had known each other for five years before we got married—there was still a period of giddiness followed by a reality check and then acceptance and finally a deeper and abiding happiness.

It’s been a year since we drove to Fort Lauderdale to look at Take Two, and as I look back over the whirlwind romance, I see that we’re having a bit of a newlywed experience with her as well as with each other.  We still have moments of complete and total silliness as we realize we are living the dream, and that we actually found the boat we always wanted, acquired her and are learning (little by little) to live with her. But reality is also setting in. Sometimes the project list is so daunting and it feels like we’re never going to make it. At other times, living half on land and half on the water makes me feel like I’m disintegrating. We recently met a couple who have lived aboard their boat with two kids the same age as our middle two for the last three years. It was at the same time inspiring and intimidating to hang out with them and see what life aboard is like. We’ve got a ways to go…

During our first out-of-the-backyard voyage we discovered that learning to sail together and live on the boat as a family is also a newlywed experience—at times exhilarating and others awkward as we feel our way through new, and sometimes frustrating, situations. Jay and I had the cliché anchoring argument (how embarrassing), and we had a day of sloppy seas and no wind which wasn’t a lot of fun, but wasn’t terrible, either, and we had a toilet malfunction which meant using a bucket until we could repair the head. There were other small misadventures, but there were also successes: Jay repaired the watermaker, I was able to do a week’s worth of laundry using very little water and a good wind, the kids behaved beautifully, and we docked successfully in a stiff breeze (thanks to a docking class with Captain Josie of Adventure Cruising and Sailing).

I find that I am still in love with Take Two, but I also see all the ways she needs to improve to be a good long-term home for us and a vehicle to take us further from the familiar. Sometimes I still feel the gripping fear of the unknown and want to run home to my hot, high-pressure shower to reassess my life’s goals. Mostly, I want to keep going and learning and working toward our life aboard, even if it is uncomfortable and difficult sometimes. I feel a new appreciation for Jay because he is so steady and realistic—he is the compass that points to true North when I am wobbling all over the map. We are still learning “the dance” on the boat, but because we have an established partnership based on good communication, the steps come quickly. Be it slow or quick, better or worse, we are in it for the long haul.