| from Suzanne Phillips |

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:8

October 28th started like any other day, a beautiful fall morning in Milton, GA. As the day progressed, the warnings of a hurricane began to push their way to the forefront of conversation. We live hours from the coast, but it isn’t uncommon to have an occasional heads-up about heavy rain or wind, so we didn’t think much about it. By dinner time schools were postponed with late openings for the next day which was uncommon. Because we have large pine tree’s surrounding our home, we asked Lilly to sleep downstairs and fell asleep knowing we might lose electricity.  

Around 4:00am I was awakened by the rattling of the deck furniture on the other side of our bedroom. I reached over and nudged Lane, asking him if we should run out and move it under the covered porch. He made his way through the house, with me close behind, and opened the back door. Just as he did, we heard a SWOOSH, followed by a deep crack, and then the sound of a large tree crushing the tin roof of the porch and then landing on the roof of the house. The walls shook and the ground felt as if it would give way. Lane ran back in the house as Lilly emerged from the hall to meet us in the den. There we stood in the pitch dark of night only able to see the destruction of our home as the clouds blew past allowing moments of moonlight. 

What next? We were stunned, and scared.

The wind was picking up and the rain was falling hard.

We downsized 3 years ago, choosing a smaller home on more property. For the first time in my life I was living in a home without a basement during a tremendous storm. Our home is surrounded by hardwood and pine trees reaching 60–150 feet high. Every room in the house has windows. No room in the house is out of their reach. Where would we go to be safe? We grabbed the hall rug, pulled it under the door frame leading into the den and huddled together until daylight praying a tree would not reach our house but far more importantly would not reach us. 

For the next hour and a half we would sit in the pitch black hearing SWOOSH ….. THUD ….. SHAKE over and over and over again. The wind would kick up and a HUGE tree would fall. We could hear the sounds from every direction. The ground rattled, and the walls shook. After the sounds subsided, we would have another 2 hours of darkness before we could lay eyes on the destruction. 

Let me tell you it is NOT a great feeling when the walls of your home shake. Home is a place intended to provide security and safety, a tangible refuge from the storm of life. I have studied security for years and challenge myself over and over by asking, “Suzanne, have you placed your security in ______?” 

  • An opinion
  • A relationship or friendship
  • A position
  • The words of someone you trust
  • An achievement
  • A dream 
  • An outcome
  • A gift, a talent, a passion

Only to have my Heavenly Father say, “It’s me dear child, it’s me. I AM your security. You are not known or found by what you do, what you don’t do, or by what others say about you, but instead by who you are in me.” I have worked through this truth a million times in a million different scenarios. However, I have never considered the sense of security found in my home.  

When the destruction from the storm hit it shook the walls of our little fortress and in doing so it shook up our whole life. For the next 5 weeks we lived between friends’ homes and hotels, 4 different hotels to be exact. In and out. Packing up and moving while trying to live life. A kitchen here and there and drive-thru’s in-between. Lilly knocking on our hotel door in the morning to tell us goodbye before she left for school. A lifestyle of chaos, confusion, and inconsistency. I have been in family ministry for 15+ years, believing in the importance of parenting and the heart of the home to my core yet never having given much thought to the significance of the structure, both inside and out, that a home provides.

As I packed up food bags, suitcases, computer bags and book bags I longed for stability, structure and HOME. 

God used this unexpected event to stir up both compassion and conviction in me. The importance of a safe home took on an entirely new meaning. I have cared for and served the homeless community, but I can’t honestly say my heart was broken over homelessness. 

It. Is. Now. 

My heart BREAKS for families who do not have a place to call home. BREAKS. 

And, my conviction? HOME, not just parenting, matters. The heart of the home is absolutely the most important element of family. But, a home that is stable and does not shift, is a good gift. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17.

Mama’s when your dishwasher and washing machine and laundry room and trash cans are taken away and a firewall separates you and your child at night, gratitude for housework and consistency starts rising up pretty fast.  Oh, how I LONGED for the mundane between my four walls. 

Our home is not our ultimate security, our security lies in Jesus alone. He is our refuge from the storm. But dear mama, working hard within your four walls, know this. 

You matter.

Your work matters.

Your home matters.

God ministers and manifests His presence and gifts through people and places on this earth. I am convinced, after a short season of homelessness, that he gives us the privilege of creating and inhabiting a home to be a refuge from the storms of life for our family.  May gratitude for the mundane multiply, desire for consistency and contentment grow, and a fresh wind of enthusiasm to create a safe and secure refuge rise up to bless you and your family in this new year.  

Suzanne Phillips is a storyteller with a desire for connection, a teacher with a heart for transformation, and a visionary with a commitment to the family and discipleship. A season of trauma and the loss of a child led Suzanne to a radical conversion and a passionate pursuit of truth. 

Suzanne is the co-founder of Ignite the Family, a ministry with a mission to help families live out God’s design for the family, that is now the conference division of Celebrate Kids. She is also a co-founder of Legacy Community Academy in Atlanta, GA, a unique hybrid academy and model of education with a vision to launch mission-minded student leaders who shape culture. Suzanne is wife to Lane, mama to Ansley, Ward, and Lilly, and mom-in-love to Will.  At any given time you will find Suzanne with a book in her hand, people at her table, an idea on her mind, and family in her heart. She is motivated by seeing others live out their unique calling and loves serving as an associate for Celebrate Kids.