By Erin Strybis—

When I think of home, I imagine my childhood bedroom. With sky blue walls and matching sheer curtains, it was my oasis. As a shy, introverted child, I relished my alone time. Sometimes I’d lie on my queen bed and pretend the pastel ceiling was a window to the sky. My actual window overlooked our cul-de-sac and the quiet pond beyond it.

Beside the window stood my white princess vanity adorned with gold accents and crowded with library books and Ty Beanie Babies. In this space, the pressures of school, church and family would dissipate. I was free to lose myself in a book or a story of my own—first through playing with Bongo the monkey and his pals, then eventually through putting pen to paper. Sprawled across the carpet, I would scribble stories, poems and doodles in notebooks.

At school, I struggled to fit in. I’d moved to the area in second grade, and I’d only made a couple of friends in the classroom. Nestled in my room, I could write a different story—one in which I knew I belonged.

There’s holiness infused in spaces where we can embrace our full selves. When we find ourselves at home, grace envelops us.

Now, at my parents’ house, I see dents in the kitchen tile. The countertops could use an update. Come to think of it, the bathrooms could use one too. My family moved here when I was 7 years old; 30 years of wear and tear have aged their home.

Erin Strybis is a lifelong Lutheran, mom of two and freelance writer based in Chicago. She is coauthor of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). Connect with her online at or on Instagram (@erinstrybis).

This excerpted article appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.