Home Sweet Bittersweet



We’re in St Louis this week. It’s bittersweet to be back. As we drove into town, both Lee and I felt a strong sense of nostalgia and familiarity with this place that I think will always feel like home. It’s funny – he and I lived in Texas for two years and when I return, the memories are fond but it’s not…painful to visit. Perhaps this feeling will continue to dull over time.

When we visited last year it almost felt too soon to be back. The feelings of loss were still so fresh. This year we are in a much more healthy place in Florida. We have community and friends and events on the calendar that have us excited. We have the hope of some dear friends moving down to Florida in the coming months – they will be south of us, but they’ll be in the same state and that makes me near giddy with excitement.

We have a life in Florida now with some roots. The roots are shallow, but they’re there and with a little more time and a little more memory building perhaps Florida will develop that nostalgic feeling of home that feels so strong in this place.


We had such a wonderful day yesterday visiting our old church, hugging dear friends, laughing with people who feel more like family than friends. It was awesome. For me, it was another opportunity to hit the reset button – to touch home base and energize myself to head back home and keep planting, keeping cultivating the roots in Florida.

It’s good for me to come back, even if it hurts a little.

Have any of you ever moved from a place that holds such a special place in your heart that it will always bring a pang of joy and sadness to go back? Does that feeling go away? Ever?

(PS – Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of Disney’s Teen Beach Movie. I draw the winner tomorrow morning.)

They say it takes two years


Two years ago, we played Tetris with all of our earthly possessions, stuffing and shoving and twisting them juuuust so into two giant PODS and the back of our (smokin’ hot) minivan. We waved goodbye to the POD men and began a three month odyssey of moving from one place to the next until we finally found and bought a house.

It’s been a hard, hard two years.

The first year was spent just trying to figure out our place in this new town. We spent a lot of time mourning the loss of seeing and being with people who were more than just friends – they were family. That first year was spent visiting the beach, sticking our toes in the sand and trying to convince ourselves that we made the right choice – that everything would be okay.


The Beach – God’s Glory Land…

“It takes two years in a new town to feel settled,” we heard from more than one person and I’ve clung to that adage these last 24 months. On the nights when we’ve paced the house in the wee hours of the morning fighting hyperventilation and panic attacks, I’ve told myself to wait for that magic two year mark. Other days, as I felt lost in loneliness, I searched out the Facebook pages of my dear friends so far away for some connection to the life I missed, and I told myself it wouldn’t be long before this all got better.

After the first year, I felt like the worst of the mourning had passed and we finally began the arduous task of rooting ourselves to this new place. We found a church, made some friends and looked for ways to plug ourselves into this place that we desperately needed to call home.

This second year has been equally difficult, but for so many different reasons. So many times I have desperately longed for the friends who knew me best to come close, hold my hand and let me cry. Early on this year, I started to get a little lost inside my twisty head and I knew I needed to get out and meet people or things were going to go down hill quickly. So I found new friends who met me for coffee and even though we hardly knew one another, they listened as I let my broken heart roll down my cheeks. Just thinking about those glimmering moments of grace in such a dark time brings tears to my eyes once again.

Moving is hard. It’s so very, very hard to start over, to not be known, to feel like you have to smile when you just want to cry. But one thing our new friends have taught me these last two years is that there’s no faster way to get to know and love someone than to be raw and real with them. I could have stuffed all my sorrow inside and kept it hidden, but I would have been a miserable person as a result.

IMG_1310They let me be real. They passed me notes in church when they noticed my eyes were full of tears. They called just to check on me, to make sure I wasn’t staying in seclusion. When I apologized for crying so much they shook their heads and told me not to worry about it as tears glistened in their own eyes.

These people who were practically strangers felt my pain and in so doing, they took some of it on themselves, relieving me of carrying the burden on my own. 

They say it takes two years in a new town to feel settled and I’m embracing this two year mark. I still miss St. Louis so deeply that sometimes I feel a physical ache in my chest. I miss my friends so very much. Just today I called three of them because I just needed a little more than a Facebook status.

In two weeks, we head back to the ‘Lou to touch home base again. I think it will be perfect timing. Five days won’t be enough time, but it will quell the ache of the heart enough to allow us to continue to grow here – to continue to plant roots and gain a familiarity with this new place we call home.

Yesterday, I woke up, got dressed and it dawned on me that I was really excited to go to church. I was excited to see the people that are settling into that special place in my heart that’s reserved for the closest of family and friends. It’s been two years since we waved goodbye and I think “they” were right.

It’s starting to feel like home.

The normal that is

I didn’t have the chance to speak to my kids at all last week while I was gone. Really, it was for the best. It’s easier on them if I don’t call and…well, it’s easier on me.

Upon landing in Atlanta, I called my family and for the first time in eight days I heard my first born’s voice over the phone. He has always has the sweetest voice and this phone call was no exception. On the phone he is still little, the high pitched nature of his melody singing through the phone and straight to my heart. I would have cried if he hadn’t made me laugh.

“Hey Mom,” he said. “You sound different.”

“I do?” I asked. “How do I sound different?”

“Well…,” thoughtful pause, “You sound Chinese.”

Boys. No matter where you are in the world, boys know how to have a good time and make you laugh.

Scott Williams had all of us fist bumping all week long. Is there anything more universal than the fist bump?

I’m slowly reintegrating into everyday life. We started school today, much to the kid’s chagrin. We’re almost done with the year, but there’s still work to be done.

As we prepared to come home, Shaun warned us that we may experience feelings of frustration, confusion, anger and sadness. I’m so happy to report that I am apparently totally normal because I have experienced every single one of these emotions.

Every. single. one.

Prayers are coveted. For me, for my children, for all the bloggers who went on the trip. Shaun laid out some specific prayers in his post today. My poor children are, unfortunately, bearing the brunt of my emotions. I may, OR MAY NOT, have plopped a glass jar on the counter yesterday and told them they will have to pay me .25 every time they complain about something.

My nerves are a bit frayed.

 Jet lag hasn’t helped.

We will adjust to this change. It’s funny, every single thing around me is exactly the same as when I left (well, except for my house, because my mother-in-law, who is an awesome decorator, redecorated and organized my house while I was gone and Sweet Mercy it looks nice around here). But while everything looks “relatively” the same…

It all feels so different.

Even blogging.

Bear with me Pray for me as I adjust.

Oh, one more thing…

We ran out of Nutella today. THIS DOESN’T HELP THE SITUATION!

That's 12 pounds of awesome that somehow disappeared...


Photos of everything but Nutella by Keely Scott


“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”  Mother Teresa

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  Maya Angelou


This laundry room kind of makes doing laundry sound exciting!

“Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.”  Billy Graham


Yes that's all our yard. Yes it's that big. Yes Lee is frantically saving money for a riding lawn mower. Yes he has to use the push mower for awhile.

“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy

“Like Dorothy, we all long for home.  I think God places this longing in our hearts to remind us of the glory that awaits.”  A wise friend

“Home interprets heaven.  Home is heaven for beginners.”  Charles H. Parkhurst

“One may make their house a palace of sham, or they can make it a home, a refuge.”  Mark Twain

The hedges kind of make me feel like I have a secret garden. This makes me happy.


“Where thou art, that is home.” Emily Dickinson

“We’re Home.”  Some Mom with a minivan and keys in her hand.

A Different Kind of Mountaintop


Roughly a week ago, I stood on the most beautiful mountaintop in Austria and for over an hour I took in God’s creation from the vantage point of a bird.  It was breathtaking.  I didn’t want the moment to end.  As Lee and I hiked to various points of Krippenstein Peak, we commented more than once how we wished the kids were there.  They would have loved it.  I probably would have enjoyed it slightly less, of course, because I would have been too busy envisioning one of them tumbling over the side…

Our vacation was absolutely perfect.  It was relaxing and adventurous.  We had ten days to talk and we didn’t spend all of our time talking about the kids, although we spent a good deal of time talking about them.  It was just the right amount of time.  Not too long, not too short.  It was wonderful in every way and I will forever be grateful that we had the opportunity to do that. 

But I was ready to come home.

Lee is my family.  But he isn’t my complete family.  And walking in our back door to the three little faces that make up our complete family was equally as thrilling as climbing Krippenstein Peak (or…you know…riding up the cable car.  I don’t climb mountains.)

They had wet hair and jammies on.  They smelled better than any flower from any part of the world.  They jumped up and down and yelled “Mommy!  Daddy!  Mommy!  Daddy!”  It sounded better than any mountaintop bird.  They leapt in our arms and squeezed tight…more than once.  It was better than any view from any peak of the world.

After a bit of play time and wrestle time we sat on the couch.  Sloan, my sweet, tender hearted seven year old looked around quietly, then burst into tears.  “I’m sad that you were gone so long,” he cried, big alligater tears glimmering in the corners of his eyes. 

And then my heart tore in two.

“We’re home now,” we assured him as he crawled into Lee’s lap. 

“I just missed you really a lot,” he said, wiping his nose on the back of his hand.  And we got to explain to him about how God has blessed our marriage and about how Mommy and Daddy took some time to just celebrate God’s blessings in our life.

“But you know what?” we told them.  “The biggest blessings of our marriage are you guys.  Sometimes Mommy and Daddy need to get away and be together just the two of us.  But we know that God gave us the greatest gifts of all when he gave you you guys and we are so thrilled to be back with you.”

After we got everyone calmed down and settled into bed, I dragged my weary, jet lagged body around the house and cleaned up a bit.  As I walked back to my bedroom and passed Landon’s open door I heard a tiny voice.

“Mommy?  Tan you tome hewe pwease?”

There is no amount of fatigue that could have stopped me from walking into that bedroom.  I scooped him up and we sat in the yellow rocking chair beside his bed.  He put his head on my shoulder, his little nose nestled into the fold of my neck.  And as I rocked, his tiny hands patted me on the back.

It was a different kind of mountaintop…and I think I liked it best of all.