Tuesday, August 23, 2016


It’s the best way I can describe how I feel right now. We made our way South as I wrote this, the humidity more and more stifling at each stop along our journey. Eva slept and R drove and I was tapping away at the keyboard as the names of cities passed us by.

We were heading back to back to Florida. To the city we call home. Only it’s not really. 

Ever since we moved to Jacksonville, we’ve always known we’d leave. It’s the same with every city we’ve lived in in the last seven years and the same for the city we’re headed to next. We are temporary residents everywhere we go.

Part of the survival tactic of military families, I’m learning, is to be both fully invested as quickly and as fully as you can, always knowing you'll leave in what feels like a moments time. We have to make a new city feel like home almost immediately. And we did in Jax. We found a church and bought a house and met our neighbors and dove headfirst into both our jobs, forging connections with people in each corner of our lives. Then we had a baby, and I found a group of mama’s for support through this chapter. And each new friend is another seed that gets planted and roots us to Jacksonville in another way. And yet, Jacksonville, with all it’s connections and roots we’ve put down, isn’t really home.  

And of course neither is the duty station where we’re headed next. We know it’s our new home, and yet we don’t belong there yet.

And what has been so difficult for me on this trip back to our hometown is that for the first time, neither is Milwaukee. Milwaukee is home base, but it’s no longer home. The ground shifted in the seven years since I’ve been gone and the lives and spaces that I once occupied naturally, I now need to enter back in carefully, so as not to disturb the order of things. We are guests in the homes we grew up in and instead of the ease of organic get-togethers with the people I once spent all my time with, now I have to schedule time with our best friends and our families. Don’t get me wrong, these changes are natural and good. Lives should change and evolve and that’s the way of things. 

But it certainly is bittersweet.

And when you combine the feeling of pulling up roots in our temporary city and not belonging yet in our new city and being a guest in our home city, well, it leaves me feeling…homeless.

As we drove from Milwaukee to Jacksonville, I felt like I was floating. Drifting way above the highway, above the cities, above the country, as I looked down at the map of where our lives have been lived. There below me were apartments and yards and churches and friendships that we had occupied, but we weren’t in any of them anymore. We were just floating. But everyone else was still there, living in their cities and promoting in their jobs and their babies were growing up and going to school together and we were alone, just floating above it all.

And I felt a little panicked. I don’t want floating. I want roots.

And then I looked over to the man sitting next to me, driving highways that crisscrossed the country, together in every chapter since childhood. This man I know so well and who knows me. I looked into the backseat to see our baby girl, her fists balled and limbs heavy, eyes fluttering in sleep, and almost immediately I felt anchored.

He is my home. And now we have a daughter and we are her home. I breathed in. 

My roots run deep here.

He holds my hands when I feel like I'm floating and brings me back down and calms the panic. And I am deeply fortunate that this man is anchored deeper still in Christ.

Because when I look at him and our little family and remember that our faith in Christ is the foundation that we're built on, I remember that I'm not floating after all. I remember that every city and every job and every new friendship and connection is ripe with purpose and meaning. I remember that the roots I put down quickly in a new city only to be pulled up shortly after are not lost, I take them with me, and my life is made richer and fuller and sweeter, despite the bitterness of constant transition.

As we get ready to sell our house in Jacksonville and move this year, I have to remember that I am not homeless. God has given me roots in something much bigger than just a city and a home I take with me every where I go.


  1. Tori Denmark8/23/16, 10:34 AM

    Cari, This made me so sad... We will miss you guys way too Much. Yet, So happy! Thankful for the four of you and the way that God intertwined our lives. We are excited to hear all about your new city one day. Let's see each other very soon.