Two years ago I started a blog.
When we moved to San Diego in the summer of 2012, I waited eight months for a job that I didn’t know wouldn’t work out. I felt out of place in a big city where everyone had already met their best friend (or so it seemed). I eventually became so restless that I had no other choice but to start a blog.
My first post was about narcissism and the thought of Kevin Spacey in a wig. Things have improved since then.
I mostly started a blog because my friend Justine kept telling me to do it and she has a Midwestern accent that sounds authoritative. Justine is approximately five feet tall and when she tells you to do something you “gash darn” do it.
Coincidentally, my bravest friend Jill started a DIY blog around the same time, which is the hardest kind of blog because not only do you have to write and take pictures, but you actually have to remodel stuff. You can’t just be a blogger; you have to become a construction worker, too. But fortunately Jill introduced me to blog hosting sites and blog etiquette and every blogger’s frenemy: WordPress.
Because our small urban condo made me go a little crazy, I started walking to a nearby coffee shop every day. My favorite coffee shop barista was named Katie and she sometimes sat with me as I drank my coffee and read my bible and stared at my computer screen. Katie had a thick black band tattooed around her right bicep. She told me that it was grief band representing all the loss in her life. We talked about a lot of things on the days I couldn’t find words to write and Katie became friend to me, so I kept going to the coffee shop and settling into a rhythm of caffeinated writing and oppressive self-doubt.
One day I started dreaming about a book and the next day I started writing it. It was truly that simple. Suddenly my coffee shop days were less about the blog and more about a narrative where my stories might act as a window to Jesus.
I drove my husband crazy by staying awake at night worrying about failure and wondering if I was wasting all my time on words that didn’t matter. He invested in lucrative and measurable endeavors like CrossFit workouts and going to work every day. He would read my blogs a second time after I read them aloud to him “Because I want to count as a separate reader on your blog stats.”
That winter I corresponded with a publisher that seemed interested in my book idea. I proposed a book about military life that consisted of short stories highlighting the hope of the gospel. I promised it would be a little bit funny. The publisher seemed initially interested but eventually declined. I hear this is normal, but I reacted as if it was not. I had a wee too much margarita one night and imparted unsolicited life advice to our dear friend Graham. Graham took this advice like a champ and as I write this he is preparing for a solo move to New Zealand for purposes of self-discovery. I’m unsure if that margarita night damaged him forever.
After that rejection (and a whole host of others), I started losing clarity and purpose in writing. Was I a writer or just a journaling enthusiast with access to modern technology? I eventually stopped working on the book and instead took a job as a technical writer for a consulting company. I let my creative writing dreams hibernate for a while and it felt like a relief.
A year and half later, shortly after Molly was born—- at the exact moment I could not have been thinking about writing any less—Mike’s dad email-introduced me to a new publisher friend of his. The publisher invited me to tell him about my book.
My first thought was: What book? I had a newborn and a job and a church and I wasn’t sure that writing was a feasible life choice for me at the moment. So I did what I normally do when I feel overwhelmed. I went for a walk. And looking back I’m perfectly certain that Jesus himself came and walked beside me that day. He gave me hope in the storyline, confidence that there was still a story to be told.
I came home and wrote a new book proposal in an hour.
I realized that I was writing a book about the pursuit of home.
Home, by definition, is where you feel comfortable, where you are established, where relationships are worn in and familiar. It is where you are known, a place to belong, a universal longing, but an elusive destination.
The military life transplants a person so many times. It asks you to move and build community and repeat your name to someone who will inevitably misspell it over and over again. All of us—military or not— live in a relentless cycle of change and transition. But what if all this transience awakens a necessary homesickness in us? What if our hardships and heart breaks and love stories aren’t just challenges to be overcome, but a fast vehicle God uses to draw us to Himself? What if all along He is inviting us home?
Jesus was a nomad, a brave traveler and strategic messenger. If we are called to be like him, then we can anchor our belonging in a purpose not a place. We can be nomads carrying our home within us, not lost at all, but found ones on the move.
Today I signed a contract with NavPress to write that book.
I have a little over a year to finish the manuscript, to write and revise and scrub it clean. I’m told that traditional publishing takes some time, which is alright by me. The publication date is early 2017.
I’m not sure if this is the beginning or middle of the story, but either way there are lot more words on the other side. I might be on the brink of becoming a writer, but it is not because I’m brave. It is because so many people were brave for me– the Justines and Jills and Katies and so many others who were valiant friends to me in the messy process.
It is also because my husband held down a day job so I could dilly-dally at a coffee shop and write words on a laptop that I would later forget on an airplane.
Molly mastered crawling last week and her current hobbies are licking electrical outlets and spitting food in my face. We are still waiting on military orders, our lease is up at the end of the year, and I remain employed as a work-from-home maniac. Now seems like the perfect time to, you know, write a book.
But here we go.
I’m drinking coffee and child proofing electrical outlets and trying to come up with creative metaphors to describe the moment in progress.
I’m coming home and getting closer, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to take you with me.