Well, obviously I know it isn't January...and am very grateful by the way that it is finally Spring...
But, tomorrow officially marks our one year anniversary of living in Utah. That's right, it has been an ENTIRE year since we moved away from Philadelphia and into Ogden, Utah.
I won't recap the whole year. You can see archived blogs to look back if you want, but I will say that we have seen, done, experienced and learned A LOT since moving out here last May.
One of the most memorable times for me was house-hunting and then buying our first house. The excitement of walking into a house and trying to get a feel for if this is the house for you or not...that was fun. And then the whole year of transition...making it our own. Yeah, you could definitely call that a learning experience. We have transformed this house from a cable-wrapped frat house to a lovely sanctuary of peace and comfort for Ben & I. We have really enjoyed hosting friends and finding furniture piece by piece...and we are still not nearly finished, but this house does feel like home.
Home is an interesting word. I wonder what the official definition is?
1. A place where one lives; a residence.
2. The physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment.
3. A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household.
4. a. An environment offering security and happiness.
b. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.
5. The place, such as a country or town, where one was born or has lived for a long period.
6. The native habitat, as of a plant or animal.
7. The place where something is discovered, founded, developed, or promoted; a source.
According to the above definitions, my house is my home b/c it is where I reside, the physical structure in which I live, the place where I dwell with my husband and
cats...and all of that is true, but I have lived in several places that didn't "feel like home". So number four fits a little better for me...an environment offering security and happiness, a valued place. Yep, I know I will be entering a happy home when I walk up the steps and see any one of my cats in the window meowing at me to come in and pet them. I know that I am secure here in a healthy marriage, not wondering when things are going to fall apart and when I will have to look for my next "residence". And certainly, owning my own home has placed a value on it that I have never known before. Even when I lived at home, we were in rental properties. This is my first home where I (and Ben, of course) call the shots, decide what color to paint the walls, where furniture is placed, what goes on the walls and where. I no longer live in a permanent fixture with changing inhabitants. I am now the permanent fixture and can change my environment to suit myself and my family. How nice! :)
Having said all of that, # 5 jumps back out at me after being away from Philly for a year. Philly will always be home. Mostly b/c we have so much family and so many friends there. Those connections are strong and will never fade due to distance. But it is also where Ben & I were both born, where we grew up, where we learned about life-the good, the bad and everything in between. Neither of us left PA for college (except Ben's semester in Germany) and we returned to our hometowns after graduation. Our roots are there. We are (like it or not Ben) city people. We enjoy some hustle and bustle, we know how to drive in a big city, parallel park, stay out of dangerous neighborhoods at night but not be afraid of anyone who comes from that neighborhood. We love Philly Cheesesteaks and REAL Pizzerias on every corner. We miss some of the sights and sounds of Eastern PA and we miss family get-togethers and hanging out with friends that "get it" without having to explain where you come from. We miss being familiar with everything, if not everyone around us. We miss hearing way too much information just standing in the check out line. haha...you know what I'm talking about. ;) We miss a lot of things, and more than that we miss a lot of people who we don't know when we'll get to see next.
That brings me to #7. Although there are a lot of things to miss about our old life, there are a lot of new things to discover when you take yourself out of your comfort zone and begin something brand new. Ben & I have taken the opportunity to found something, develop it, and promote it. Our new life is full of new and wonderful jobs, scenery, weather, adventures...but we have built new relationships too. Most of our friends are other members of our church. In Utah, the LDS folks all have their Ward (church) activities to keep them busy b/c their religion and practicing their religion is the entire basis for their lives. So they don't need new friends at work, they already have as many from their local Wardhouse as they could ask for. So, the same tends to happen with other church groups. You stick together b/c it is lonely being an outsider. The other friends we have are people who do not subscribe to the LDS faith or culture and are therefore also on the outside. These are few and far between. Anyway, the friends we have are absolutely answers to prayer. They are a source of comfort, stability, fun, reality, and a wealth of knowledge and understanding when it comes to being a Christian in Utah.
Home may have a lot of different definitions, but I know I feel at home when I feel at peace. And I know that peace is of God "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
God desires us to stay in His will, and when we are, no matter what the circumstances are, He provides us with peace. That means that even in grief or pain, we can experience peace because God gives it abundantly to those who obey Him and follow His will. I know that peace b/c God has brought Ben & I across the country, away from our home and everything we knew and allowed us to grow and develop in our relationships with Him and in our own marriage. I have no doubts that we are in His will, that He has plans to prosper us here in Utah and to build His own Kingdom on earth through us.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! AMEN!