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Challenge: What Makes a Family?

Family Means Home

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We are about to move our kids across the country to a new state, a new home, and away from their cousins and grandparents. A part of me is excited and confident in the adventure ahead, but the other part worries about my kids and how they'll handle it.

I moved a lot as a kid. From the time I was five to thirteen, I'd lived in eight different houses.

My husband lived in one home his entire life until we were married. It is the perfect old farmhouse full of memories and the smell of baking bread. Every square inch has a story attached, like the times they rode cardboard boxes down the basement steps, or had food fights in the kitchen. I love their family home; I love the stability it represents.

To me, home has been different than a place with four has been a feeling. It has been traditions, meals, games, and shared experiences.


Growing up we lived in a camper, on farms, and in a cabin without enough chinking between the logs. When I was ten, we moved to the mountains where my dad pastored a church. We stayed in a yellow mobile home on the river. The town didn't have electricity, so we ran a generator for a couple of hours after dark, and then we lit the night with old fashioned kerosene lanterns. We took baths in the river and had an outhouse painted like a small white church. We went to a one room school house where we ate homemade bread and lasagna for lunch and called our teachers by their first names.

A few years later we moved to Oregon, and then to Montana.


I never thought that much about the different houses we lived in. To me, home was sitting around the fire at night reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Oliver Twist. Whether that was in a 12 foot camper or a cabin in the woods it didn't matter much. Home was sharing an entire half-gallon of ice cream four ways. It was heating up old-fashioned irons on the stove and putting them at the foot of our bed at night. It was sleeping on cots under the stars with my brother. To me home was a feeling, not a place. Home was tradition and favorite meals. It was the coziness and safety that can be found indoors on a cold winter night.

This spring we took our kids on a trip around the world. Every couple nights we slept on different beds. When we were out exploring the kids would ask, "when are we going home?" and it wasn't Montana they were referring to, it was where we happened to have settled for the time being. A villa in Thailand, a camper van in New Zealand, a hostel in Australia...all of it was "home" because home was our people, not our place.


So now we are moving from my husband's childhood hometown, from my hometown for the last 17 years, from the place that my children adore. We are taking them 1,400 miles away to a house we have never seen except in pictures. We are going because it feels right and it's a place we've visited and loved.

Do I doubt myself?

Every day.

I can't stop staring at the pictures of the house we are moving to. I'm imagining how I will decorate and where I will put my favorite rug. I picture the fire burning on a cool evening and cuddling with the kids on the couch. I imagine our dog Rex stretched out on the floor snoring his weird puppy snore. I imagine the boys trading football cards and the girls with paper and crayons spread all over the floor. I imagine laughter, I imagine important conversations, and I imagine popcorn and movie nights. I imagine birthday dinners at our new kitchen table and toasting the honoree with glasses full of wine for us and apple cider for the kids.

Those are the things we've always done and won't ever change. They're the things the kids remember and ask about.


All the adventures I had growing up are a part of who I am and I wouldn't change a thing. I never felt unstable or lost, because what mattered stayed. The old farm house and the long red table are an essential part of who my husband is, and he wouldn't change a thing either.

Sometimes I wish we had a home that never changed, and that we could tell a story about the scratches running down the banister, and the trees in the backyard. However, we've chosen a different kind of lifestyle.

My home is not a place with a foundation and a front door, it is my people. It is my husband and my four kids and the moments that we share.

Wherever we are, we are home.


Jess writes at, you can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.


My home.

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