Looking Back for Thankfulness

Last year at this time, I was not feeling overly thankful. A variety of situations, most of them entirely out of my control, had spiraled me into a place of frustration and discontent. Looking back at my journal from that time, the resounding theme was, “I don’t know what to do.” Getting out of that place required difficult and what proved to be wise yet un-fun decisions, combined with the simple but irritating solution of time.



Photo Credit: Andy Chilton

Comparing our past with our present can be a dangerous game, because things don’t always turn out to be greener on the other side, and while memory lane is a nice place to visit, it’s an impossible place to live. This year though, looking back is giving me a fresh perspective on my reasons to be thankful. It’s both a general and specific thankfulness–I’m thankful life is going better than it was last fall, though much of that isn’t my own doing so much as the circumstances around me happen to different. And specifically, I am so thankful to have a place of my own to call home, a place I chose, I bought, and that I will get to decide when and if I move out of it. After the past few years of moving frequently, it feels like an immense gift to know next fall, unless something really goes haywire, I will still be living in the same place. It’s beginning to feel like real home, and to know I get to continue to build that sense there is deeply, profoundly comforting.

While much of my thankfulness stems from an upturn in life circumstances, there is a spiritual component to it as well. For an undetermined amount of time, I’ve felt an uneasy distance and strangeness in my faith. Though I’ve come to see it as a natural part of being in any sort of long-term relationship, I’ve never welcomed it or been particularly at peace with it. Maybe the season is beginning to change in my relationship with God, or maybe I’ve grown used to this place enough that it doesn’t bother me anymore, but it doesn’t concern me like it used to. It’s not a giving up, walking-away-from-faith kind of change. Instead it’s a peace, however still unsettled, with not fully understanding how the ebb and flow of a relationship with an unseen God works.

None of this is permanent, none of it is guaranteed to be the same (or even better) next year, and there are still plans and hopes I have for life that haven’t shown as much of a glimmer of turning out like I thought they would. Those things don’t go away, but I can choose to not let them detract from this, here, this place and time where I am thankful for what is instead of so caught up in what could be. 

Til next time…


p.s. What has looking back made you thankful for?


Thoughts On Moving (Again)

I am packing books, taking down wall decorations, and loading boxes, for the third summer in a row. In a few weeks, I am moving again.

Some people are good at moving, enjoy it even—maybe not so much the physical act of getting all of their belongings from one place to another—but they relish the idea of a new place, whether it be the same general area they started in or a whole new city, state, or country.

These people are what I have come to think of as “Bird People.” Winged, easily moving from one place to another.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Broo_Am (Andy B), Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Broo_Am (Andy B), Creative Commons

I think I am a tree.

Meant to be rooted, deeply, though with branches spreading wide.

We Tree People don’t do so well with the Moving. Every time, it’s not simply a matter of putting physical objects into boxes and vehicles and transporting them to a location; it’s disentangling my complicated feelings about this transient phase of life I’m in, why I’m in it, how I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to not be in it exactly as I am, but not really knowing how to solve it—or even if I’m supposed to solve it, because maybe I’m just supposed to live it.

Moving is a messy business for Tree People. Even if the roots haven’t had years and years to grow, they’ve started. And each move is a transplant.

Sometimes I wish I were a Bird Person. It would make this moving easier, even exciting, instead of so laborious and weighty. But I suppose there are complexities with that way of life that I cannot see from my view.

It takes me a while to settle in a new house, to hang my decorations on the wall and begin to make the mental shift to know what I mean when I tell someone “I’m going home.”

As many times as I’ve now tried, defining home is still tricky. I’m always trying to conjure up this feeling of home, one that’s not tied to the people I’m with because that is constantly changing as well, but to define it in a way that fits me and where I’m at. Home, for me, is a word I want to evoke feelings of warmth, comfort, and coziness, but I’m not quite there.

I’m still figuring out what to do with these roots of mine.

Til next time…


p.s. Are you a Bird Person, or a Tree Person?

When Home Isn’t Where the Heart Is

Last Saturday, I moved. If you’ve been around this space for a while, you probably know that change is not my favorite thing. But the lease was up, the roommate was getting married, and it was time to go. So nearly my entire family (including a five-year-old and two three-year-olds) descended on my house at 8:30 a.m., and by 11, we were done.

Done in the physical sense, at least.

Photo Credit: Flickr User z287marc, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User z287marc, Creative Commons

But just because your stuff moves from one place to another doesn’t mean that all of you does.

It’s nothing against my new abode (it’s lovely, close to Target, has space for my hammock inside during the winter months, and comes with a rockin’ roommate), but, even after almost a week, I still feel like I haven’t fully detached from the other house and gotten comfortable in the new one. Which feels especially absurd, considering I only lived there a year.

At the root of it though, I think my issue is that I don’t know what home is for me, right now. I’ve been skimming through a book  full of beautiful pictures and inspiration for imperfect decorating in order to truly make a house (or apartment or condo) a home. But when she gets down to giving some sort of definition of home, she loses me.

I realized that no matter what happened or where we went, it would be okay because we would be together. Wherever we were, that was home. Home was us. 

And therein lies the disconnect. It’s a common refrain, to say that home is where the heart is and where your people are, but if true home is people, mine is only very partially in this dwelling I sit in right now.

If “Home is where the heart is,” then my home must be scattered in pieces across the city, state, country, and world, because my heart is scattered in all those places too.

As much as I want to make this new place a home by decorating it and throwing parties in it and spending lots of time in it (and I certainly will do all of those things), I think it will always feel a little like something is missing. Part of it is connected to being single, I’m sure, but it’s deeper, too. It’s a sense of being unmoored, slightly adrift. It’s a very twentysomething thing for me to feel, I suppose.

Last year around this time I wrote, “Maybe ‘home’ is about creating enough of a sense of it within me that I can carry it with me wherever I go.” I’ve had year to work on it, and I’m not sure I’m any closer to figuring out what that looks like.

Til next time…


p.s. How do you define home?

Creating Home

I’m writing this in the basement of my parents’ house, enjoying the Wi-fi that we don’t have yet at my new house (which also explains the lack of new posts lately).

Two weeks ago, before The Great Move of 2013, I wouldn’t have called this “my parents’ house.” I would have just called it “home.”

At some level, it still is. Every other time I moved out, it was for school. It usually only took a few weeks before I started referring to my dorm or apartment as “home.” If I told my friends I was going home, that’s what I meant; but if I was going to my parents’ house for the weekend, I was going “home home.” I’ll still be doing my laundry at my parents’ house, and it is the hub that I and my siblings and their spouses and their children descend upon for holidays and family meals, so at some level it will still be “home home.”

But unlike the other times I moved, this time everything came with me. Bookshelves, off-season clothes, all the little “life-y” bits I’ve accumulated over the years–they all came along. My room here, in this house where I sit right now, isn’t really mine anymore. Soon, my parents will redecorate and it will become the room my nieces and nephews play in and sleep in when they come to visit. When I visit, I will have no room to claim as mine.

This is what is supposed to happen. Kids grow up, move out.

And then, the kids have to find out for themselves what “home” means.

There is an element of it that is physical, of making the house I live in now comfortable and somewhere I want and like to be. I want it to be the type of place where I can invite people over and that they will enjoy being.

“Home” is much more than mere physical space, though. It is a concept, a feeling that is often attached to the physical, yet so much more. The people you’re with can add to, or even become a sense of home. This is, I know, one reason I don’t know what home means for me right now–because my circumstances of moving out at this stage in life are not what I expected.

But maybe my concept of home has become too rooted in the external, and not nearly enough in the internal.

Perhaps feeling at home is a choice of making peace with my circumstances. Maybe it’s about learning to appreciate this season of life God has me in right now, even though it’s not where I would have placed myself.

Maybe “home” is about creating enough of a sense of it within me that I can carry it with me wherever I go.

Til next time…


p.s. What does “home” mean to you?

Deleting Home

According to my cell phone, as of today I don’t have a home. A home number, anyway.

My parents finally decided to get rid of their land line and go completely cellular. Though I live with them, I rarely used the home phone, so its lack of existence doesn’t affect me greatly in a physical sense.

Deleting “Home” from my cell phone sure felt strange though.

“Home” is not a number in my cell phone; I know that.

Nor is it a house, apartment, igloo, or any other structure.


At this stage in my life, I don’t know exactly how to define the concept of “home.” Yes, I live with my parents, and compared to many in the same situation, we get along quite well. In conversation, I still refer to it as “home,” but I don’t always feel like I believe it.


Singing about the idea of home seems to be a popular choice for musicians. Without much work, I thought of 3 songs by different artists, all entitled “Home.”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “Home”:

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is whenever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

I love the song, but their definition of “home,” as being with you significant other, doesn’t  apply to me at this point. Michael Buble’s song Home seems to imply much the same thing, and though I think these definitions of home are valid, they’re not valid for me right now.

If “home” is defined so narrowly as being with a significant other, I know a lot of people who are “homeless.” But I don’t that’s the only way it can, or should, be defined.

Maybe Philip Phillips’ Home gets the closest of any of these three songs:

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Maybe all these songs are onto a similar thread–though traditionally I think of home as a location or structure, it’s more about who you’re with, and what you make of where you are. Maybe home is a feeling, not a state of location.

In that sense, home isn’t external, but internal. I knew “home” wasn’t the number in my cell phone, but neither is it the house I’m sitting in. Pieces of it can be found in my family, pieces of it in my friends, spread over the country and globe though they are, pieces of it can be found in my church, my coworkers, and community as a whole.

Maybe home is what you make it.

Til next time…


p.s. How would you define “home”? Has it changed over time?