how to find your way home

February 9, 2016 | 49 comments

This did not feel like home, not at first.

I was as Iowa as a girl can get. But I had felt destined for the city, not the farm.

But home snuck up on me, when I wasn’t looking, where I wasn’t looking. I don’t recall the exact moment, but I knew I was home for sure, on the day when an old editor from my newspapering days telephoned me.

We talked about politics, and that day’s headlines, and how we would cover the story if we were still on the beat. This is what old reporters do: we talk business. You can take the girl out of the newsroom, but you can’t take the newsroom out of the girl.

A long series of remember-when’s rushed in: the hanging chads of a past presidential election, our in-depth examination of teacher salaries. I recalled how we brought in the Year 2000. A whole army of reporters sat poised at our desks, in case the prognosticators were right about Armageddon—or, gasp!—the possibility that all of the world’s computers would cease to function on Y2K.

We all survived, and I got to write the lead story telling folks something they already knew by the time the paper hit their doorsteps: They weren’t dead. And their computers still worked.

My old editor and I laughed and reminisced.

For both of us, the click-clack of the newsroom was a distant memory. Which sometimes strikes me as shocking, because I truly believed that I would only and always work in the news business. After all, I had a degree in journalism, had interned at papers every summer in college, and had landed a great job in the business.

But actual life happened, bringing me to a place where pigs outnumber people by a significant margin. No, I never once figured on being a farm wife. In fact, I said I never, ever, EVER would move back to my husband’s family farm.

But my “I never” became my house. And along the way, it became my home.

(The traffic here is brutal, as you can see.)

There I stood, standing at the kitchen window holding a telephone and talking to my former editor, while my feet were planted firmly in my very own “I Will Never.” Years ago, God turned this Neverland into a Promised Land. My husband and I willingly came to the northwest corner of the state to grow crops, pigs, and a family. And meanwhile, God was growing us.

I found God here.

“You seem happy, genuinely happy,” my old editor said.

I told him I was. I was really happy. Still am. And, we noted, he was living in his own “I’ll Never,” too. My editor had become a pastor.

We said our goodbyes, and I hung up the phone. I looked out the window, over these snow-spotted fields, toward my neighbors’ houses. Many of them are living their own “I’ll Nevers,” too. A woman who lives a half-mile south of us went to school in Nashville for interior design, but she is back home, working with her father’s  business. Another neighbor, a former nurse, now takes care of the grandkids three days a week. My husband, a 1996 law school graduate, stays in touch with five of his closest law school friends. Only one of the five still practices law.

I still like to make plans, but I’ve learned to hold them a little more loosely, and then to take care with what comes next. I still believe that God’s plan led me to a newsroom long ago.

But the Good Lord had a few surprises along the way. And I can honestly say, I’m grateful for both: for the days I am living, and for the auld lang syne—the days gone by.

And for now, this is home.

Home is where the people are. We have come home.

Home is, as my friend Christie Purifoy writes, “the place we cultivate with our love.”

“As humans, we roam the entire world,” Christie writes. “We even venture beyond it into space. The whole planet is ours, but the whole planet is not our home. Instead, home is the ground we measure with our own two feet. And home is the place that measures us. Home is the place that names us and the place we, in turn, name. It feeds us, body and soul, and if we are living well, we feed it too. …. Home is the place we cultivate with our love.”


A Book Giveaway

Today’s post is in celebration of our home … and of Christie Purifoy’s beautiful new book, Roots & Sky. Christie and her publisher, Revell, are generously giving away TWO copies of the book to readers. There are many ways to win — Tweeting, visiting Christie’s FB page, and leaving a comment here, telling us where your home is! Easy-peasy. See the Rafflecopter for details.   (Email subscribers click here to enter.)

I was honored to provide an endorsement for this book. My endorsement: “This is not a book. This is a sanctuary. I met God here, in the hushed and unrushed space that Christie Purifoy has so exquisitely created for us. With a lyrical pen, Christie lights the candles, prepares the altar, and helps us see the sacredness of our everyday moments. Step inside and breathe again.”

Find Roots & Sky on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

by | February 9, 2016 | 49 comments


  1. Kris Camealy

    “God turned my Neverland into a Promise Land” You’ve got that right….I love that!
    I don’t need a copy of the book, I just wanted to say how much I love this post, and YOU! XO

    • dukeslee

      It’s pure joy to be a part of spreading the word about Roots & Sky. It’s been so beautiful seeing how friends like you have walked alongside Christie as she gets this book into the hands of readers. You lead with such grace, Kris.

  2. Lisa-Jo Baker

    I want to visit your house and sit at your table and drive through your traffic 🙂

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      You mean sit in the traffic, don’t you, Lisa-Jo?! Loved that photo of Jennifer smack-dab in the middle of the road. 🙂

  3. Ally | The Speckled Goat

    Haha- the traffic is brutal! I snorted at that one!

    I’m very similar– I grew up in a suburb, and grieved when my family moved to rural Iowa. I grieved the loss of an actual mall, of a high school where most people were not blood related, of “culture” and more than five places to eat on a Friday night.

    And now, I can’t imagine any other life. This is home- with cornfields as far as the eye can see. And believe it or not, I don’t really mind not having a mall nearby. 😉

    • dukeslee

      We’re living the same kind of crazy, the same kind of cool. And that makes me smile big, Ally.

  4. Jordan Taylor

    home for me is my college. (Lipscomb in Nashville). I’ve never felt at home quite like I have here. I’m in my last semester of school (a “bonus” semester for me after leaving student teaching) and am trying not to think about life afterwards just yet. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Enjoy this last semester. I loved college. I attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. I was on the five-year plan, so I totally get bonus semesters. 😉

  5. Casey Snyder

    Home for me is a townhome rental with my daughters. I never imagined being here at this point in my life. But this is home for us.

  6. sheila

    Home, for me, is where I never thought I’d be. I am continually learning that home is where my people are, where God meets me, where God wants me — not a place, not a destination, but where my contented heart rests.

  7. Sophia DeLonghi

    My physical home is in Traverse City, MI but my heart goes between my home town in Chicago, where most of my family lives, and Houston, TX where a daughter and grandbabies live, and Africa where we sponsor several children. And I often think of my true home: the eternal one.

  8. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I love this post, Jennifer (poignantly penned, as always), and who of us doesn’t proclaim she will never do something?! And how often does our Maker cause us to contradict our words? I thought I would never be a mother and NEVER, ever change a diaper (did I say EVER?!) Prior to that, I thought I would never leave my home and have a career, and once I had that, I thought I would never give it up. But when you follow the Lord’s plans, what at first appear to be sacrifices, propels you into the only satisfying way to live. I have heard so much about Christie’s book, and I know it will be a wonderful read. Her words are lush and significant. And I love how you described her book as a sanctuary. When God asked me to leave a fascinating, fulfilling career (against which I initially fought Him as I’d said), I began to think of my own little Arts-and-Crafts bungalow, as a sanctuary, and my literal sink as an altar. I called it that…yes, even elbow-deep in soapsuds doing the dishes. Because it was here that I could think and ponder and pray and be baptized by His cleansing and His love. Thank you again for such a wonderful book recommendation (and I am glad that you made the choice that you did. I know Scott and the girls are, and no doubt those pigs, too! 🙂 ) Love you!

  9. Brooke Montgomery Cassinelli

    Home is where my people are… and my Father most of all! Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that sometimes it looks different than what you would have thought…His plans are always better.

  10. Mary

    My home is in Ohio and it has always been home until more recently when most of my family has moved away. I sense inside that this may not be my home for the rest of my life on this Earth. Just something God is asking me to be open to for Him. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Christie’s new book. Her story is one that I would treasure reading.

  11. Stephanie

    Sunny California

  12. Donna S.

    I used to say home was a particular place where I went to college. But rather home is where my people are. Home is where I invite God to come and dwell.

  13. Lyli Dunbar

    Home is where my husband is — says the girl who was single until age 42 and lived alone for 2 decades. God has a great sense of humor. 🙂

  14. Robin Geer Troxell

    I am still a reluctant farm wife. But I’m trying to accept it as home.

  15. Carly

    I love your comment that “God turned this Neverland into a Promised Land.” I love how God leads us in directions we would never have expected. My home is Scotland so I’m not entering the giveaway but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post.

  16. Trudy Den Hoed

    I love your pics and Christie’s definition of home. You are beautiful inside and out. 🙂 My best home is with Jesus, but my earthly home is with my hubby in Sioux Falls, SD. I love it when my kids and grandkids come “home.” I always loved the expression “Home is where the heart is.” 🙂

  17. Michelle Viscuse

    “I still like to make plans, but I’ve learned to hold them a little more loosely, and then to take care with what comes next.” Yes! I loved reading this. Beautiful words and pictures here. Home for me is in NC with my husband and children. Thank you so much for featuring me this week! You have blessed me immensely today! 🙂

  18. Betsy Cruz

    Lovely story. This makes me smile big today. We’re all seen it’s true. So many things we never expected happened! I never thought I’d home school. Never thought I’d end up in Turkey after marrying a Salvadoran. Thanks for your words.

  19. Tyna Begley

    When I was young, I figured I’d end up a single mom living in some shabby apartment. Today my hubby and I (22yrs!) have 6 children and live in a large, comfy home. Jesus saves!

  20. Karrilee Aggett

    Oh my… I have been waiting for this book to release! My Home is right here in this same small town that I was born and raised… living quite literally right next door to my parents and right around the corner from my in-laws. My girlie moved out and recently moved to another apartment and was seriously upset because it was further away from Home (by about 3 minutes!)

  21. Angela Howard

    “God turned this Neverland into a Promised Land” – I love this line and the idea that while we make our plans the Lord determines our steps. We can rest in Him and His love for us!

  22. karen

    My home is in the deep south where I said I’d never live! ☺

  23. Manda

    I honesty feel like I’ve found my town but not my home 🙁

  24. Hollyko

    I never thought I’d live in Texas. I thought everyone here rode horses and owned cattle or at least goats. I never thought I would give my life to Christ. I never thought I would be a Pastor’s wife. I never thought I could be so happy.

  25. Meghan Weyerbacher

    When I was 18 I got married and went off close to DC to live the military spouse life. We came back this way to Kentucky when he got out after 10 years and had 3 kids. I am just not sure about this one. I am such an adventurer and long to travel, do missions full time etc, but right now being in the same town as my family is nice since we are a tight knit family, I just really long to own a home again if we are actually going to stay put a while. We rent right now and it is always harder for me to feel completely “at home” since I can’t settle 100% in and do what I will with the place. But family IS home, and we have a great one. Blessed so much. Our future is in God’s hands! Thanks for sharing this Jennifer. And it caused me to realize there are many of us who think we have life pegged, only to find out we don’t. We are not alone in this journey! 🙂

  26. Michele Morin

    Heavens, if anyone had told me that I would get married, bear four sons, and homeschool for over a decade, I would have thought they were talking about the wrong girl! So thankful that God is in charge of the journey.

  27. JViola79

    Jennifer, it is so true. It took me 5 years to call MA. “home”. I LOVED Roots to Sky. I hope all of your readers will grab a copy. It is a book to savor as you truly don’t want to miss a word of beauty which Christie writes.

  28. Miranda Miller

    Love this post!! I was an English four fialure in high school and now I am an aspiring writer. I never thought in a million years I would be writing. For the physical part I call Southeast Texas in a place named Orange home.

  29. BlessingCounter - Deb Wolf

    Love this! I was never going to marry a minister. Here I am in my own 44 year happily ever after serving along side my preacher man. I do believe God loves showing Himself in our nevers. Blessings!

  30. Julie Burma

    I always told my children their father and I would never divorce like most of their friends parents were. We didnt believe divorce as an option. You just stuck it through and clung to each other in the hard times. Besides we were high school sweethearts and madly in love despite the bumps in the road we had gone through. We were excited the kids were almost done with high school and we would be able to travel and do all the things we had dreamed we would do as young empty nesters. Then one plain old regular morning, after sending the kids to school, I called the hubby to chat and as the conversation progressed out of my mouth completely to my surprise since I hadn’t even thought about it came the words are you seeing someone and he answered immediately Yes. Whoa wait what just happened. So we did divorce and now I am happily remarried with step children and 2 new little ones for a total of 8 kids and now 4 grandchildren. Life always ends up so differently than expected.

  31. Alisa Nicaud

    Jennifer, I love this post! I have learned over the years to never say never. It seems as soon as I say never- God says, “Ok, is that a challenge?” I’m realizing He wants to work those “nevers” out of me. They limit me. They limit Him and all He wants to do in me and through me. Thank you so much for this reminder…. to never say never!

  32. Rachel

    I have a full life, beautiful family, every need and many wants at my fingertips–I’ve planted gardens and relationships, painted houses and little-girl fingernails, but somehow in all my chasing after home, I’m still not there. But as the years pass, Home keeps finding me, bit by bit, claiming new parts of me. When I was young, my “I’ll never” was that I’d never forsake Jesus, never doubt his love, and never, ever feel alone again. But by now I know that’s not how life works, and I see how I run away from Home in stupid little ways every day. But Home keeps calling me back, welcoming me in–and someday I’ll curl up in his arms and never leave. That’s when I’ll finally be home!

  33. Kristi Woods

    Ah yes, Neverland. Often it’s where we trust God the most. Neverland. Enjoyed your post today, Jennier.

  34. Susan

    Have been for almost 28 years with a two-year season of serious discontent (recently)…but we are here and I’m grateful. Contentment is great gain!

  35. Leah Adams

    Oh my! I had an “I will never”. It was ‘I will never move back to Blairsville’, my hometown. God just laughed and called us back in 1999. He knew that my Daddy would be diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in 2002 and I would need to be near to help he and my mom. God knew that the tsunami of multi-infarct dementia would take my Mother from us 8 months before God called her to heaven. He knew…..I really need to read Christie’s book…I keep seeing it around the net and it pulls me.

  36. Kate

    This is a question I wrestled with for a *long* time! Still am, to an extent. After much contemplation and through a variety of experiences, I’ve come to realize that as a believer in Jesus, my true home is tucked away in eternity. For me, home is still coming.

  37. Elizabeth Stewart

    Home is now in Vancouver, Washington after selling our home of 16 years in Portland, Oregon and buying one closer to our church/ministry. This new to us house really is feeling like home, our home, but I’m still adjusting to the change of cities. I grew up in a suburb of Portland, and when we returned there to pastor it was like going home. I’m adjusting to ministry and life in our new hometown still.

  38. Tanya Williams

    Home is in Jamaica, a place that I have always called home is still my home and many days I do not want to be in this physical place, I have fought my mind everyday to let go of where I should be by now but fighting my mind has not gotten me off my Neverland ranch. Now, I have settled in a bit more and am yielding to my process. Just yielding.

  39. Linda Perkins

    As a 3rd culture kid who finally settled down about 25 years ago, I can honestly say that home is family. Most of the time, it is in Houston, where I live with my husband and daughter, and where my mother lives also. But when I go back to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I was born and where much of my extended family lives, it feels like home too. Likewise, my heart wants to go back “home” to Australia, where I spent my early childhood, and to be with my expat “family” I first got to know in Singapore. And the churches and ministries I’ve been involved with along the way…those feel like “family” as well, because we are soul-connected as children of God. To say “home is where the heart is” is the most true statement there ever was for this traveling girl.

  40. June

    I’m looking forward to reading Christie’s book. I’m not living my expressed “I never”, but I certainly never thought I’d be where I am today. God is always working for the good of those who love Him. Amen. Have a wonder-filled week, Jennifer!

  41. Richella Parham

    I once read that home is where you hang your heart, and perhaps that’s true. For sure home for me is where I’ve had my heart broken some times, but mended more often than that.

    I was introduced to your blog this week via your Ash Wednesday post. Surely your church home must be a large part of what has made your corner of Iowa a true home. Thank you for sharing your Ash Wednesday experience (and for the introduction to your book, which I immediately ordered!).

    I’m grateful to be joining you here at #TellHisStory. Thank you for hosting.

  42. Amanda Geaney

    I was born and raised in Indianapolis — that’s where all of my family lives. However, I joined the military at 17 and later at the age of 26 married my husband who was also military. Needless to say, home is where my husband is and where the military sends us. For a time, God has seen fit to place us in Central Arkansas near LRAFB.

  43. Leanne

    I am an ex-pat Aussie living on the west coast of the U. S. and home is … here.



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