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.

And Then We Wept

An iron will combined with pure determination make her beauty a little tougher to penetrate.  Life ebbs and flows under her watchful eye and she pours forth emotion only when unaware that anyone is watching.  Fierce love and sheer delight dance in her eyes, though, and it’s here that her tough exterior shows weakness.  The best kind of weakness.


Her white blonde strands dance in the wind and her baby blues swim with concern.  Her brother has just been punctured by a catfish – his first fishing wound.  As blood seeps and he cries, she makes her move unaware of my observance.  She slips an arm around his shoulder and squeezes tight.  Concern.  Fear.  Pain.

She feels it all.

She feels my watchful eye and turns to look at me. I nod, showing as little emotion as I can and for a moment, I see her compassion falter. But a maturity is setting in – one that hasn’t been there before. She is five and a half now. She reminds us every day.

What I see is more than an age, though. It’s God. It’s a given nature settling in, begging to be watered and fed. She is seeking and questioning. Who is God? What is Grace? What did Jesus do for me? She asks and I answer. Then we wait.

“I want to know Jesus,” she says from the backseat. “But I’m not ready yet.” And that is okay. We will let her wait and question and seek, because the time is coming when faith will call and she will make it hers. But it will be in the time that feels right to her. She would have it no other way.

I would have it no other way.

He would have it no other way.

Her younger brother cries. In a fit of laughter he took the corner too fast and head met wall with force. He wails and I look down. Her hand on his ankle and tears in her eyes. She looks entirely surprised by this reaction. Empathy has never been her first reaction. But lately…she’s changing.

“I don’t know why I’m cwying,” she says, her eyes bright.


I say the word to her. Over and over we discuss it. Compassion. I tell her every day now. “You are compassionate. You care. And that’s a good thing.” She needs to know. Because by nature, her independence prefers distance. She likes control and predictability. But compassion…it is unpredictable. You don’t know when it will strike and the tears will flow. Compassion requires surrender.

Late in the evening as a storm meanders off in the distance and the clouds paint the sky in a Master Tapestry of shape and color, she and I walk hand in hand. “Do you want to call her?” I ask. She has been talking about her friend Noelle for several days. I hear the ache in her voice. The tender age of five has not tempered her longing for companionship. She misses her friend.

“No,” she says and shakes her head hard. This is her sign. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to process. The tough exterior is up. We return to the condo and I watch her move.

“Tia. Why don’t you want to call Noelle?” I ask, when the bustling movement of masculinity dashes to another room and we two are left alone. She looks at the floor, then at me. Again her eyes are full and bright and sad. She shrugs. She won’t talk because the emotion threatens and wavers and her first reaction is to fight for control.

“Are you afraid that hearing her voice will make you sad?” I ask. And she crumbles. We lay on the bed and weep together. Me for her…and for myself. I miss them too. The friends and loved ones. I miss them. And so does she. She’s only five, but also…she is five.

We spend some time talking about our friends. We remember all the fun we had with them and we rejoice in the blessing of dear, sweet friendships. Then we pray. She clutches to my chest, her hot tears dripping off her nose and together we plead for new friendships to fill the void. For me.

For her.

And one more time before the lights go out we discuss compassion. I stroke her silky soft hair and tell her again. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to love. She possesses all of these emotions in full but letting them out is the trick. It’s the magic.

It’s what makes her so unique and wonderful.