My daughter had her Sweet 16 birthday party this weekend. Relatives made their way from different towns and states to gather under one roof for one special evening. Cars lined our street, parked by new drivers as teens in princess dresses and suits greeted one another with hugs and handshakes.


The evening was spectacular. Watching so many lovely young people enjoying the company of one another made me almost forget myself. I was an observer to my daughter’s joy. Seeing her surrounded by the warmth of genuine smiles left me wearing one of my own.


The house was rearranged for the party. Furniture moved; pictures were taken down and decorations put up. Even still, in looking at everyone, this changed space feels like home.


When I think of home, I think of what and whom I love: family, close friends, a sweet pet that often needs a bath, relaxing music, a good attempt at a good meal, and a hot cup of tea. A thankfulness for God’s presence weaves in and through all which makes up my idea of home. Like the thread that hems the house together, God protects, holds, and keeps me His… regardless of the walls which may surround me.


“You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5).


Here I am looking at my daughter as she continues to move from child to young woman. She twirls in a party dress not so different from the Disney princess gowns she wore when I held her on my hip and twirled her around the room, laughing with her until we were both dizzy.


Her laugh is the same. Or maybe, more accurately, the feeling I get when she laughs is the same.


Even though my daughter no longer is carried on my hip, I will always carry her in my heart. I have become more and more aware that my greatest joy is watching her develop her own relationship with Christ – her own home. I can see that Christ has her hemmed in, in her comings and goings, and His hand is upon her.


Even if we share space, we each build our home. We cannot ride into heaven on the coattails of another. A relationship with Christ is as personal as Love Himself. And what a JOY to witness a child living into a love that will last long beyond the life of a parent who loves her with everything she has.


I find myself leaning into God like a child as I watch my own child grow. And as I watch my daughter, I don’t notice someone else watching me – my dad.


His hand slips into mine as he asks, “May I have this dance?”


He leads me into the living room, a space not yet filled, and spins me around the dance floor as he did not too long ago when I wore Disney princess dresses and stood upon his toes.


“You will always be my little girl,” Dad says. “I love you.”


Seeing the tears in his eyes, I recognize another soul who has actively leaned into God as he watched his child grow. This space is filled not by things, perfect words, or even particularly healthy bodies… but by the one thing that outlasts everything: Love.


”And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).


The evening was spectacular. A time where people of all ages opened the doors to their heart-homes and danced through the living rooms of one another’s souls. In this, I came to realize that as much as we are alone, we are each traveling home. And being home with the Lord brings us all together.


“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).


SGLY, dear readers.


(Smile, God Loves You.)


Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram:@tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.