In their 2005 hit Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles ask the question, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” I’m not sure who first said it, but I think it could have been Thomas Wolfe in his novel You Can’t Go Home Again written in 1934 and published posthumously in 1940. But even if Wolfe was the first one to say it, he wasn’t the only one. In a Google search I found at least seven songs with the title You Can’t Go Home Again.

I’m no song writer or novelist, but I agree with Wolfe and those who wrote the songs: you can’t go home again. Earlier this summer Jan and I took a trip to Cincinnati to visit her stepmother who was critically ill. We both were born in the Cincinnati area and lived there until we moved in 1975. We had a great visit—as we always do when we return; but since we left in 1975 it has never been the same on any visit. I actually got lost driving from the west side of town where Jan grew up to the north side of town where I grew up.

Last week Jan and I traveled back to Southern California where we lived for 32 years before we moved this past December. We visited our son, I played golf three times with old friends, we ate a number of meals with some 20 different people, and went to worship at the church we planted and I served as Senior Pastor for 30 years. Like our earlier visit to Cincinnati, we had a great visit and thoroughly enjoyed returning. Most of our meals were paid for, we were welcomed and affirmed at our former church, and even though the heat was unbearable, losing in golf didn’t take away the fun I had. But it wasn’t the same.

In 2005 our family returned to the Philadelphia area when my son play in the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship. I had served a church there from 1975 to 1984. Both our children were born during that time and we bought our first house. We loved the people and it was great to see so many of them after almost 20 years. But it wasn’t the same.

Again, I agree with those who say you can’t go home again. But in their song Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles also ask, “Who says you can’t go back?” I don’t think they are differentiating between “going home” and “going back”, but to me there is a difference. As a matter of fact, I’m sure you can go back; and I know going back can be good, healthy, and wonderful. It certainly has been for us. But “going back” is not the same as “going home”.

Each of three places Jan and I have called home during our lives hold a special place in our hearts and minds. We received much and were greatly impacted by the wonderful people. We also thank the Lord we were able to impact people and leave something as well in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Moreno Valley. We will certainly go back to California and Cincinnati and possibly Philadelphia—places that once were our home, but no longer are.

We have lived in Texas just over seven months and in our own house some four months, but as we were driving from California Sunday and Monday we were looking forward to getting back to Amarillo. There are a variety of reasons why this is now our home, but the primary one is because we moved here and made the decision it would be our home. And the longer we are here, the more it becomes home.

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photo credit: danisabella <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/35213476@N08/4139741974″>Rainbow over Clovis, CA</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;


14 thoughts on “ON GOING HOME

  1. Bob, I agree. Home is where we hang our hat. While it is fun to go back, it is never the same as when we lived there. It was great to see you and Jan. The best of times of where we are from live on in memories and we can cherish those. Glad you had a safe trip home. As Roy Rogers used to sing “till we meet again”.

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  2. Bob, We call home so many different places in our lives, as it progresses and moves forward. And I guess the old saying is somewhat true; home is where the heart is…Your heart has been in all those places you mentioned. Now it is in Amarillo, for various reasons. And I am glad to get to know you and Jan as your heart begins to meld with ours at WACC. You will be a blessing to us and we hope we will be to your family, also. I look forward to the future, that includes the Mink’s.

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  3. Bob,
    Orv and I could certainly relate to what you shared. We too recently had a wonderful visit to CA, enjoyed worshipping at Discovery, and great times of fellowship with friends yet as we made the drive back to TX we couldn’t wait to get back home to New Braunfels. as one who lived my entire life in CA I had not expected to feel at home here so quickly. God is good.

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  4. I agree that going back is not the same as going home. The last time I was in Bridgetown, my brother Dean took me for a motorcycle ride from Harrison to Drew Avenue where the Zip Dip is and the street I lived on for several years and loved. Going back through the neighborhood sure brought back memories, stopping and seeing an old neighbor and then going down to Bridgetown church of Christ sure touched my heart… Actually brought tears to my eyes. And while I truly miss those times, it’s not the same and my home is here in Houston. there may come a time in my life or my home maybe somewhere else in the future but for now this is where I will be. Many many years ago I drove through Victoria Texas with my mom… This is where I was raised when I was very very little and while going back was awesome it wasn’t the same. Thank you Bob for this post.


  5. This was a good post, and so true.Things change and time moves forward. We will always have memories, but our feelings and our realities and sometimes our homes change as time moves on. But thank goodness we have a God who doesn’t change who provides us those memories that we can cherish as our lives change. I miss you Pastor Bob and all the things you did for people out here, but am excited for all the NEW things in store for you! It was good to see you on Sunday, though it was short. Be blessed!

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  6. As another song writer wrote, “all things must pass.” Pam and I have lived in an moved from many places in our 41 years together. As a member of the A.F. we became used to moving every three years or so. We recently moved from California after 25 years there to the small town of Pahrump, NV. Although we go back to visit our grown kids, it’s not the same as when we were there. We’ve stepped through another door in our lives. Best to you both in your new home.

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  7. Home is where the heart is. I have Lived in California 43 years and have never considered it home. It is a place where I live and as Gil said “hang my hat”. It is a place where my family lives, works, worships, and plays, but Annapolis, Maryland where I was born and raised and have great memories of my childhood will always be home and Spa Creek is where I hope my ashes will be laid. It is where my heart lies.

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  8. Really good piece PB. I can so relate to it, I had to go back to Germany a few years ago with Marcus in tow.First of all, we stuck out, our clothing and my tan( not cheese european white anymore)than the language,although I am still very fluent in German, I am at a point where I think in English( bilingual people understand) and all the explaining I had to do to Marcus, what, where, and why. Marcus was just taken it all in but for me it was interesting to see everything through the eyes of a child, everything so familiar yet so strange. Things had changed and yet stayed the same. I guess I took the military saying ” You must bloom where you planted” to heart and made a living here in the US. Yes, I made the US the place where I live, raised my kids and will be buried, but a good chunk of my heart belongs to Germany.

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  9. This really did hit “home” for me as I think for most of my life I have been wishing for a time that no longer exists instead of appreciating and cultivating the here and now–the home that is now. I have lived in the “when/then” mind-set as well. “When this happens then…” rather then being disappointed with the situation not staying the same, I am realizing that God has the present and future in His hands and I need to trust in that assurance. Thanks, Bob! As always your thoughts feed my spirit and resonate with me.


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