Taylor and I are moving into a house this weekend.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about how I want it arranged, what pictures I want to have printed from our life the past year, how I want to decorate the guest bedroom, and what I want my writing nook to include.

But, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the word “home.”

My life has been full of transitions and big seasons of change. I’m an all or nothing girl, and typically that’s how the change comes. All at once, or not much at all.

Right now is one of those “all at once” stages, and things feel a little crazy and out of control. Yet, in the midst of the storm, my heart has centered around the word “home.”

Home has never been simply a physical place to me. My personal definition, the way I understand home goes deeper than that. For me, it’s more about the people in a certain place, and what God did while I was there.

I spent two summers as a backpacking guide at a place called Wilderness Ranch. Six months total out of my life. The friendships I formed there are life-long ones. The community I experienced there is unlike any other I’ve experienced to this point. The way God spoke to me there changed me. He used that place to heal me during my most broken times. It is home more than almost anywhere else.

I spent nine months living in Puerto Rico. Not even a full year. Yet, the friends I made there are the only people on earth who really understand the fullness of what those nine months were like. They know that part of my story on a level that can’t be matched by anyone else. And I will, as long as I live, look back on that time as one of the most sharpening, shaping, molding times of my life. Those nine months changed me forever. Puerto Rico is home.

Almost every summer I can remember, my family has spent a week in Ocean City, New Jersey. I have memories of yelling at the TV during Phillies games, three day long battles of Monopoly, our annual basketball game and boogie boarding until I had no energy left. There were nights on the boardwalk with Mack & Manco’s pizza and Kohr Bros. ice cream that will forever be imprinted in my memory. The house at 5041 Central Ave. will always be home to me.

The apartment we live in now is home- not because we love it, but because this is the first place where Taylor and I began building our life together. It was our first house, and we made it into a home.

Austin, Texas however, for all it’s parks and lakes and festivals and delicious food and live music, has taken a while to grow on me. During college, it felt like home: I had sweet community, was going to school, volunteering for Young Life. I had people and purpose. But, in the last 3 1/2 years since I’ve graduated (WHAT), I’ve struggled with calling this place home. I started over with community when I came back from Puerto Rico. I’ve worked jobs that didn’t fulfill me. In short, I didn’t feel like I fit.

As Taylor and I were talking through a possible move, and places we might want to go, I was excited. I was ready to leave. I felt like God had been slowly moving us to this point, and now it was time to jump off on our own into a new adventure.

And then, God reeled us back in. At first, I resisted. I fought. I lost hope. I didn’t want to stay here. And then: a job opportunity, a house that we have vision for, a community of friends that is so so rare, a band of newly married couples that meet together, taking little steps in dreams, and before I knew it, Austin transitioned from just the place I live, to my home.

As I think about our move this weekend, more than any decorations, I’m thinking about how to press in to this city, to this house, to our community, to our jobs, to our neighborhood. I’m thinking about what it looks like to really invest in a place- not because I feel obligated to, but because I feel ownership.

This is my home. This is one of the places on this planet that God has imprinted on my heart. It’s where he’s put us right now, and I’m going to start believing that it’s exactly where we’re supposed to be. He has work for us here; he has purposes for us here. My actual life is happening here, and I don’t want to miss it for fear that I’m missing out on being someplace else.

I am choosing to say that this is my home. I’m glad to finally be here.

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