Home Sweet Home!

Hello from Ohio!!!!!

Yes, the air is crisper, the sky is bluer, the stars more vibrant, (the prices cheaper), and my spirit is absolutely exploding with joy! Maybe that’s because I’m in the Heartland…or maybe that’s because my heart is so full right now.

Yep – right now, it’s Monday afternoon. 3:00 pm. And I’m sitting in precisely the same spot I sat down in at 8:00 am when I began trying to write this post. And my delay is not because of any writers’ block of any sort – no way, no how. It’s because I’ve been having too much fun with my mom, going through the photos from this past weekend!

If you’re following me on Instagram, (then you’ve seen all my fun videos and photos,) and are “in the know” that a particular gentleman joined me for my first trip back to visit my family since Christmas! This morning I took him to the airport, but I will be staying for the rest of the week for a few more days of family time!

So yeah – that is why I’ve been slow to write this post: because I’m having too great a time reliving the memories from the weekend with a gentleman I care a lot about 🙂

We saw my hometown, the downtown, ate at some beautiful restaurants, walked around Findlay Market, but mainly – we just hung out with my family — my brothers, their wives and kids, and of course, my parents. There were bonfires, family dinners, foosball tournaments, and of course, the happiest of happy hours.

And honestly, it was amazing. I wish I had a rewind button so I could turn back the clocks and do it all again!

But there was one episode this weekend that really stood out.

And that was when we went down to church on Sunday morning at the Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati.

It had been the first time I had physically been to Mass since lockdown began in March. My special gentleman and I have been digitally attending Mass with Fr. Mike Schmitz every week, but haven’t actually been inside a church in over seven months. Talk about a shock to the system.

I don’t know if you have been back to physical church services yet, but it was a bit surreal. On the one hand, it felt completely normal…just like putting on an old, worn-in pair of your most comfortable sweat pants. In fact, there were a few times that I would catch myself forgetting that we were even in a pandemic.

But on the other hand, I was completely on edge the entire time. Just the visual of the pews “taped off” for social distancing purposes, and seeing all of the people in masks, was a stark reminder that — a lot has happened since the last time I was in those pews.

And to be honest, I wish I could sit here and say how moving of an experience it was, and share how my knees went weak when I stepped inside and breathed in that “church air.” But truthfully, I was so preoccupied with listening for coughs, or feeling anxious about people singing — even while masked — that I hardly had a “moving worship experience” at all. I mean, for a good chunk, I found myself doing some mental calculations, given the Ohio COVID percentage rate and the number of people in attendance.

However, I will say, that it was really special to be next to my particular gentleman. I found myself being so grateful that he was there, and that we have a shared faith that matters to us. That I will say, really cut through all the mental gymnastics I was caught up in because of COVID.

But there was one thing that the priest said that really stuck with me. He was talking about how we need to be missionaries to each other. He was saying how every single one of us can bring Christ’s light and Christ’s message to everyone we interact with on a daily basis. We don’t have to fly to the far corners of the world to make a difference in the Kingdom of God: we can do it in our own backyards. We can be missionaries right here.

And looking around at all the people in their masks, I thought to myself – this is so needed.

During this time, when human interaction is marred with fear, and distrust, and anxiety and coldness — being Christ’s light to each other is precisely what will get us through this time.

What a difference it would make, where — behind the masks and through the eyes — we could bring His warmth and love? During this time, when we’re all physically unable to be with God in worship at church, and many of us – myself included – are feeling spiritually dry and deserted, offering His love to those we have the privilege of *safely* interacting with is one of the most important works of mission we have right now.

Our spirits are fragile. Especially when we feel isolated, alone, fearful or discouraged.

Together, as one family in Christ, we can strengthen each other up by being His hands and feet, even in a socially distanced way.

So now, if you excuse me, I’ve got a cup of tea to attend to with my mother.

Thank you for all you prayers as I’ve been traveling.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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98 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home!

    1. Thank you HJ!! It is going great! I am so grateful to be home. My heart is so full! Hugs and love xox

  1. So happy to see you happy. I always pay attention to the eyes and your gentleman friend has kind, gentle eyes. 🙂 That is a good sign of a good person; the eyes truly are windows to the soul.

    1. Thank you so much Angie! Oh my gosh I am bursting with happiness 🙂 awww you’re right. He does have kind eyes! 😍 have a wonderful week! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you Ian! That really means a lot 🙂 so grateful to FINALLY be home! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks Joseph! Yes! You’re familiar with the area! I am having so much fun. OTR was so cool! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much! Oh we’re having a great time! Haha yes! What was your flavor of choice? Mine was always peanut butter chip!! Followed closely by pumpkin! Hugs and love xox

      1. I like the mint chocolate chip with its big pieces of chocolate. My older brother eagerly awaited Christmastime when he could have the peppermint ice cream. Thank you, Christopher

  2. This is excellent. I really enjoyed the photos and the words Caralyn. Very well described on your emotions at church and what you felt. Nice to see a happy family.

    1. Thank you so much Derek! So glad you enjoyed it! And yes! I’m feeling so blessed right now. Hugs and love xox

  3. So happy for you that you are finally out of the lock-down and able to see your family. As joy filled as this is for you, I am sure it is every bit as joy filled for them. The thing to remember is that God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Jesus didn’t shy away from lepers and the apostles didn’t run from those who were sick and neither should we be afraid of COVID. They may have layed their hands on the sick and prayed and then washed their hands. We don’t know that last part. So wear a mask when necessary, pray for people when asked, love others and do not be afraid. God has you under his watchful and ever caring eye.

    1. Thank you so much Mel! Yes! I am so incredibly grateful to have been able to come home. And you’re right. We need to be safe but not live in fear!! Hugs and love xox

  4. It’s so wonderful that you finally got to return home, and bring your gentleman love to meet your family!
    That priest is spot on: we can be missionaries to each other—right here, right now. God is looking for conduits for His grace and love. May each of us be the one that’s brings the light of Christ to others. Blessings!

    1. Thanks so much David! Yeah I’m so grateful to be here! And yes! Let’s bring His light with us wherever we go! I hope you have an awesome week! Hugs and love xox

  5. I’m so happy for you, the trip home and the special guest. Thank goodness I didn’t miss this post. I have started back to Mass but I am struggling with being around people so I go on the weekdays at noon. It’s very few people so I stay a good distance away from everyone. My friend said it doesn’t count for a Sunday obligation but I think God understands

    1. Aw thank you so much Alice! That’s such a great idea to go on the weekdays. So smart! You’re right – I think God understands too and appreciates you coming to visit Him 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  6. I’m very happy that your homecoming has been so special so far! Great to see a pic of you and your mom together again!! Thank you for sharing so much of your time there with us. I’m especially glad that things are working out with your new relationship. Someday you’ll be ale to tell someone else who is lonely how you never thought you’d find someone and just had to wait on God’s timing.

    I’m full of warmth right now hearing how well your visit is going. Again, please give your mom my best. Nothing but great memories of when she was here. Julie really enjoyed talking with her too. Hugs and love to you both!!

    1. Thanks Jeff!!! I know – that photo was a long time coming!! That’s so true – God’s timing is always right and always good. I really will. And you’re right! Nothing but wonderful memories in Memphis!! Hugs and love xox

  7. Wonderful! I have not yet attended my church congregation in person, but I join our prayer group online five days a week and for 3 hours every Sunday. I am so glad you had the experience of worship in person. In Christ, we are all together wherever we are.

    1. thank you so much HJ! that’s so great that your church offers such vibrant online options! yes we are 🙂

  8. Good insights. I’m glad you’re enjoying your trip. 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last few months, about how horrible things have gotten here, and so many of my friends have moved out of state, wondering if I should go somewhere less hostile and guano-crazy too. But then I get to thinking, maybe God wants me here to be a missionary to these people. The verse in Matthew 9 where Jesus has compassion on the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd seems to keep coming up for me in that sense. I’m not always the best person to go out and preach, but maybe God will do something through the church plant I’m a part of.

    But then I get to thinking about how I’m not an effective light of Christ when I’m constantly feeling beat down and discouraged… I don’t know :\

    1. thank you so much Greg! oh my gosh i am so so enjoying it! very interesting thought. God definitely works in mysterious ways and has a plan for all of His children. i’ll be praying for you! Hugs and love xox

  9. Cincy is the best! I grew up on the east side but went to UC and have worked in the city as a social worker majority of my career so far. Glad you’re having a good time ❤

    1. Hi Kristen! it’s been fun to connect with you on Instagram too! I didn’t know you were a social worker!!! what an incredibly important line of work! Hugs and love xox

  10. I went to Ohio once and I’m a southern boy. While it was pretty damn cold when I drove there in February 2005 (right after my first tour in Iraq) I loved the place. I had a family that was sending me care packages in Cleveland and I made it a point to thank them and anyone else personally when I got back for all their support. The state has its own feel to it. Thanks for sharing your adventure back home with us! Took me down memory lane

    1. Hi trey! Oh that’s awesome! Yes it definitely gets cold, but it is so lovely!!! Glad this sparked some memories! Have an awesome day! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much! oh my gosh i’ve been having so much fun, and he is a terrific man 🙂 my family absolutely loved him! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Tonya! oh my gosh I am so grateful to be back home. It just feels so right. and how lucky am i that my gentleman friend came too! he met my whole crew and my family absolutely loved him! my nieces were positively enamored 🙂 have a great day friend, thank you for stopping by! love you! xoxo

    1. thank you so much! 🙂 oh my gosh the MOST fulfilling weekend! yeah – he’s a great man! Hugs and love xox

    1. yes!! right where we are! thank you Penny for stopping by! i hope you’re having a wonderful week! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much! Dubai! that’s right! oh my gosh – the other side of the world! thats so awesome. hope you’re having a great night! (or i guess, day, where you are!) hah Hugs and love xox

    1. oh my gosh it is SUCH a blessing! i feel so grateful to be home! thank you for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Amy! oh my gosh we are having so much fun! i feel so blessed and grateful to be with my family, and to have such a great guy accompany me home! Hugs and love xox

  11. Surrounding ourselves with the people and things that add that extra piece of joy to our lives is always a good place to be. Enjoy every minute of it.

    1. You’re so right about that Ms. Wanda! That is so so true! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    2. you’re so right about that, Ms. Wanda! and joyful people are such blessings! that’s exactly how I would describe my gentleman friend – jovial!! 🙂 so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  12. Loving the updates (and pictures of the certain gentleman) as well as the reminder that we are all missionaries if we know Jesus!
    Carry on.

    1. thank you so much Amy! you’re right – we are all missionaries! and haha yes! i’m very grateful that he came with me! he’s a great man! Hugs and love xox

  13. I’m glad you’re having a wonderful visit. Loved all you said in this one. I’ve been reminding my children’s church class to shine His light on repeat!

    1. thank you so much Lindsey! oh my gosh i love that. children are especially gifted at shining His light. so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw thank you so much Patty! 🙂 you’re so right! i am feeling so grateful to be home, and having such a great guy with me! Hugs and love xox

  14. “Life alone is always more risky than life with others. Life alone is always more fearful, more closed to wonder, and more restricted in joy. And life alone will always fail, because only in community can full healing and health happen, as our final story shows.” Dr. Bob Cutillo, MD

    1. oh wow what a powerful quote. thank you for sharing that. yes! we were created for community!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Paula! Oh that’s so great! I’m glad you were able to go!! Hugs and love xox

  15. What a beautiful time to go home and feel at home. Be the missionary God is calling you to be wherever you are physically or virtually!

    1. Thank you so much Shannon! Yes – I love this time in Ohio when the leaves are changing. Such a special time to be home! Hugs and love xox

  16. I am so glad that you’re having such a wonderful time at home with your family– and the special gentleman! Our church here [Memphis] has already stated that they’ll be closed until the end of the year. While I appreciate the time, effort, and love that goes into the YouTube services they create every Sunday, it’s just not the same. Oh, how I long for the day where I can go back to services and events at Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church!

    1. aw thank you so much! i had an amazing time at home! what a blessing. i agree – it’s just not the same. me too! sending big hugs xox

  17. The only town, I’ve seen other than Boston, and New York City, is Providence, which was beautiful, and I was 18-19, and missed seeing it the way you describe your town in Ohio. You prayed with your gentleman? Beautiful. I’ve prayed with someone I loved once, but it was complicated, between us, but we were best friends, and she got married, and has a baby, and we are friends, but with strict boundaries, with more distance between us now. There is so much to look forward to Caralyn, your belief in God, is deep, you musn’t feel guilty for not being devout enough, when you’re living well. I’m not Christian though, but with a Christian education, and I just love this post basically. I teared up. You’ve come a long way. I’ve become a writer, but I don’t know, personally or emotionally, I have a few Gods and Goddesses who protect me, and maybe the Goddesses have a plan, the Devis, but I miss America, though I don’t know so herself, from 90s Rom Coms like Sleepless in Seattle, reading this. Love, shelter, hope, and spades of kindness from me to you for the boy, who seems an innocent 😉

    1. thank you for sharing that 🙂 Aw, i’m so glad this post resonated with you. i’ll tell you what, America is a lot different than the 90’s diner in Seattle, now adays. i do wish that we could go back to those easier and gentler times. but we must live in the now and appreciate every moment and live it fully. Hugs and love xox

      1. I understand, you never know, it may come back, America as a nation is 230 years old! Oldest democracy. It’s seen everything. India’s new, and it’s rollicking, but in America I have faith, that times can change, but there is always some kind of greater normal, which is a life you will see again I’m sure. God willing and in trust. Thank you so much again 😉

  18. Wait, you’re from Cincinnati? So funny. I moved to MD from Covington, Ky in 2019. And just wrote some similar things about going home and then coming home – back in September, with a similar beautiful photo of our beautiful riverfront. IM SO EXCITED to follow you. Small world. GREAT content btw.

    1. Yes!!! Oh my gosh that’s amazing! I love the heartland!! Awww you’re too kind! I’m so glad our paths crossed too! The riverfront is so beautiful this time of year with all the leaves changing!! Have a great night. Hugs and love xox

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