If you would’ve asked me 15 years ago where I’d be spending Christmas 2017, NEVER would I have told you in a beautifully restored 1926 cottage in the seat of Webster Parish. Never. I said more than once when I left Louisiana I would never return (to live). But a funny thing happens as you get older. Priorities shift, life happens and you find yourself longing for home, surrounded by those who love you most. It’s been almost 4 years since the Lord laid a return home to Louisiana on my heart and just over a year since I traded the palm trees on the south Texas coast for the towering pines of north Louisiana.
Over the course of 2017, I’ve found myself shedding joyous tears, silently whispering, “This was the right decision. This was the right decision.” It was TERRIFYING for me to return to Webster Parish. I’m a totally different person than I was when I left in 1995, returned in 1998, only to leave again in 2001. I worried about where I’d go to church, who I’d be friends with, and acclimating to an area I really only knew as a younger, naïve me. I worried about leaving all the amenities Texas offers. Yet that still, small voice continued to whisper Louisiana into my spirit. And even though the two year wait for my cottage nearly DID. ME. IN., I felt in my bones it was going to work out; and it did! Even better than I expected! All of my fears were unmet (Isn’t this most always the case!?) and returning to Louisiana has been one of THE best decisions I’ve ever made. Words cannot express how full my heart is, for so many reasons.
As I reflect on 2017, it has been an absolute whirlwind. I started this year recovering from (what should have been) minor surgery (but turned into a major ordeal). To be near my parents during my recovery period was TRULY a gift from God and definitely timing He perfectly orchestrated. In the midst of that, major renovations started on the cottage. I’ve renovated and/or built houses in the past so I knew what I was up against, but what I didn’t know was just how SMOOTHLY everything was going to go! What an immense surprise further attesting to the faithfulness of the Lord’s will and timing! I directly contribute this to my team of local, Minden area subcontractors who EACH went above and beyond to exceed my expectations. I had to place my absolute trust in each of them since I was unavailable during the week, most every week, to oversee the project (due to my work commitments). I was in constant communication with them, making decisions, checking on progress, etc. Each subcontractor was always happy to oblige and provide any information I needed. And what has resulted is an amazingly restored, 1926 Louisiana cottage that I’m SO proud of! Sometimes when I’ve been there, alone in the quiet, I just have to pinch myself. “The Wait” was SO long but it was SO worth it!
Even though I’ve always come home to my parents’ during Christmas, “home for the holidays” carries a much deeper meaning this year. Want to know a sad, random fact? I haven’t decorated for Christmas or put up a tree since 2009. That’s terrible, I know. But I found myself rarely home during the month of December due to traveling for work. Then, I typically have come home to Springhill for the last two to three weeks of the month and into early January. So I really couldn’t see the point of “going all out” when I wouldn’t be there to enjoy it. But this year, being home for the holidays truly does mean being HOME. It means for the first time in eight years, I will decorate for Christmas. And oh y’all, my heart is leaping! I cannot wait to cut down some cedar trees and flank the cottage with holly and mistletoe. I’ve literally been playing Christmas music since July!
I’ve always known Minden to go all out at Christmas. I love the soldiers that flank the downtown area and the garland that wraps the street lamps. I love the way the downtown businesses transform Main Street into a Department 56 shopping experience. Directly across the street from the cottage is Academy Park. It’s like a dream other times during the year, but during Christmas, Minden transforms it into a lighted wonderland. I’ve seen it before, but seeing it last year for the first time since owning the cottage, was magical. For at least 6 weeks, I’ll get to stare out of my massive bank of front porch windows, snuggled by the fire, hot chocolate in hand and gaze at Academy Park all dressed up for Christmas.
Christmas 2017 will definitely go down as one of the most meaningful holidays of my life. For the first time in a very long time, I will be home for the holidays. Home in my cottage, which I wholeheartedly believe, was carefully orchestrated for my path long before it was ever on my radar. I’ve witnessed, first hand, divine appointments and bountiful blessings, all directly stemming from this little, white house on the edge of Academy Park. I will be home with my family. Time will be plentiful for cooking and watching all those Hallmark movies with my mom. I’ll be home in Webster Parish for the first of many, many quintessential holiday seasons. I’ll be home for the holidays and my heart couldn’t be more content.