I grew up in one of the poorest cities in the US. Poverty rate is 43.1%. Roughly one out of every 2.3 residents lives in poverty.
I lived there like a miniature warrior, without fear, focused on fun and forever play. Mom and dad helped me by keeping me busy and distracted from any hardships. My magical neighborhood also helped.
My neighborhood was an enclave of caring parents hosting spare children with ease They imposed rules we respected and dared not cross.
Neighborhood parents were a solid coalition of safety.
So… we played!
We ran under the stars trying to “Kick the Can.” We raced bikes with wild abandon on circle roads.
We gathered in grandma’s field for fierce games of ball. – Hits over the fence (hopefully not hitting the neighbor’s windows) were automatic home runs.
We built forts in the woods. We lobbed crabapple bombs at each other.
We never thought we were deprived.
We were too busy and distracted.
We lived a magical life in our neighborhood.
We grew up there and then, without warning…we all went away.
My parents stayed. The neighborhood changed around them.
A friend once told me my parents are probably the most uncelebrated champions of racial harmony. Other parents fled our changing community. Young folks left for big cities with big dreams.
My parents stayed in a changing neighborhood where they quickly became a beloved minority.
Mom and dad continued neighborly kindness and outdoor conversations. They helped cut grass for those who struggled. They delivered cookies to doorways. They shared flowers from their garden.
New neighbors moved in, some homes were abandoned, but our two homes, my grandparents’ and mine, remained neat and inviting, standing side-by-side with trim lawn and tree-lined backdrop.
For many years, long after their rambunctious children went away, mom and dad hosted reunions. I came back and was married under the big tree shading my grandma’s home.
Then I, too, faded away from my neighborhood.
Daddy followed me in leaving, only his destination was heavenly. He passed into that heavenly place from a bed parked by the window overlooking the long-unused baseball field.
Mama had to leave the neighborhood a few years later. Two homes were too much for a lady in her eighties.
We held an auction to sell the homes. The dismantling and moving of memories was a long hard process. I worked and worked long into the night before the auction.
That night I lay face down in the hallway of the home I loved. The burden of a specific prayer pulled me to the floor. I had a big order for God…a notion which struck me suddenly (as God stuff often does). I prayed fervently for the future of my childhood place.
“God make this a home to missionaries,” I asked through tears,
“Make this a place for a family who cares.”
The day of the auction…God sent missionaries. The missionaries bought both of the homes. Their family moved into what they called our “Anne of Green Gables House.” The little home next door would serve as a base for their ministry.
God is so very good to me.
Last Sunday I went back to my magical neighborhood after almost a year. It was a sweet reunion.
The missionaries and I stood in the yard under my childhood trees. They told me children come from all over to this home to play.
Children bounce balls in a basketball court, run across the grass and find a safe haven there.
I’m filled with joy.
My neighborhood hasn’t changed much.
Little pockets of hope are growing in my old home, thanks to God.
Kids are too busy playing in my yard to notice what they don’t have.
They’re growing up like me…distracted by the magic of the love of a neighborhood…a love inspired by God.
In one of the poorest communities in the country, kids, like me, still play.
That’s a God thing and I am so grateful.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
– Romans 8:28
❤️ If you’d like to help missionaries in my home town, check out the website http://www.cacesl.org or search East St. Louis Christian Activity Center…another place of hope in a special neighborhood. ❤️
15 thoughts on “Going Home”
Brought tears to my eyes, God is still close and cares about our desires no matter how small or insignificant to others. He answers what is in our hearts. Love you
I’m so grateful for Gods provision! Thank you!
What a wonderful message of hope and answered prayers. Love you. Denise
Thank you so much. This was an awesome answer to prayer. I love how God stacks things up!
How lucky we were.
Yes! We were so blessed with buddies and adventure ❤️
What a beautiful reminder of how God gives the desires of our heart when they align with His.💗
Yes! Thank you, God!
Wow! Laurie, what a beautiful story of your life, thank you for sharing it.
God really has blessed you with solid Christ like parents, and Answers to prayers. Even in the hard times, I’m so thankful that you’ve known He was right there with you. You are blessed and a blessing.
Thank you so much, my friend. God has blessed me in so many ways! This was an awesome, out-or-this-world provision. I’m so grateful God provided this wonderful family to bless our home and neighborhood!
You are so right. My lovely parents did their best to keep us safe and, as much as they could, sheltered from the incredible challenges they were facing. I am so very very grateful to them and God for sustaining us. God continues to sustain us. Thank you so much!
That was a wonderful answer to your prayer, Laurie! Your home continues to be a beacon of hope and I love how you’ve continued to be so involved in Christ’s work there! Way to go, warrior!!
Yes! What a huge answer to prayer! I love how God stacks things up!
Oh Laurie, I love this and I too am in tears. Because as you know that was my field, those were our houses, those Hilltop streets probably still hold our bicycle treads, those caverns probably still hold trinkets!
Your dear mother let us trample the field that could have been planted. Our dogs did not know leashes. Our hands did not hold phones.
I am a little jealous in the fall not to have a tie to a high school for football and basketball games. It would be fun to run into classmates.
Memories of last July when I had to turn over keys to realtor still saddens my heart. I wish it has the same life as yours did. But I hurt too bad to go back and see the new occupants. I would have stayed forever and miss my dear neighbors and the visiting cat. I miss the feeling of walking in the door to yu hoos and seeing downtown STL skyline. Our million dollar view.
Anyway, enough rambling for now.
You are beautifully dear Laurie.
Thank you for your blogs
What a beautiful memory, Cheri! The neighborhood looks so wonderful and I am so so happy our old haunts still hold wonder for new kids! The magic lives on! Hooray! Take care of YOU and thank you for following along on my journey! ❤️ Laurie