Friday, December 9, 2011


When I took this picture of downtown Chicago from the airplane on my way to Knoxville I had no idea the depth of emotion/thinking and the length of blog post that would follow.

"I see the road now, I know just what I need.  To find my way back to Tennessee.  I'm going home now, to southern, it's so sweet.  And find my way back to Tennessee." -Billy Ray Cyrus, "Back To Tennessee"

(I laughed so hard when I looked up the lyrics and realized I wrote "southern air so sweet" when really Billy says "southern, it's so sweet".  I am so bad with lyrics.  Like SO bad. Just tryin' to be real here.)

I heard this song for the first time on the 10 hour trip from Knoxville to Chicago when Mom drove me to Moody in August.  As soon as it came on shuffle I knew that it would be what I listened to on my first flight "Back to Tennessee" for Thanksgiving break.  So, at 33,000 feet, I pulled out my journal and my iPod and listened.  Before long I looked out my window and there it was...Tennessee.  

As I landed, I remembered how much I love Tennessee.  I love the mountains.  I love the sweet air (Billy Ray really should have made that the lyric).  I love the people.  I love my house and the sweet family that I found there.  And so naturally, remembering all these things I love about Tennessee, I cried right there on the plane.  Emotion welled up within me the rest of the weekend because not only did I realize how much I love Tennessee, I realized how much I love Chicago.  All of a sudden, I did not know what "home" meant anymore.  I desperately wanted to figure out what "home" meant so that I could feel settled.

I thought about this so often while I was in Tennessee for Thanksgiving.  I was "home"in some sense of the word.  I was with family.  I was in a place I love with people I love.

But I realized that Chicago is home to me in a pretty literal way.  I am in love with this city.  There are many people here that I love dearly.  I love my bed.  I love studying at Moody.  I love making choices.  I love life here.  I love my life here.  

My life here involves having a mini-crush on D.L. Moody.  

It involves a new obsession with books.  I have a book called "The Heavenly Bridegroom and His Bride" with a message written to the recipient that is dated 1881.  The day I got it I think I told everyone I saw how much I loved the eternality of our God.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).  He is with the first and with the last (Isaiah 41:4).  The church of 1881 was just at much His bride as is the church of 2011.  (Moody mini-crush evidence...)

My life in Chicago means my big sister gets to come visit me!  I love her so much. 

My life in Chicago means I get to go into the suburbs to hang out with these girls. Love them to pieces!

My life in Chicago means doing life with my roommate and friend Laur Door.

Life in Chicago includes ladies like this.  And free cupcakes all the live long day. 

Living on my own in Chicago means discovering what it means for me to be confident in the Lord.

My life in Chi-town means picking Mom and Dad up at the airport to see my home.

Life in Chicago means knowing and loving the blessing that is Hanna Campbell.

Home in Chicago means this is my view walking back from the gym at night.

Life in Chi-city is making brownies on the floor in my room.

Life in Chicago is studying in the grass with friends (before it got too cold) while drinking creme soda and feeling so self-conscious about what passers-by think we are drinking.

My life in Chicago involves Melissa running to Navy Pier to surprise me while I study there, walking back to campus with her, and stopping to take a picture with the couple that just got engaged behind us.  They are to the right of tree in the right half of the picture.  We clapped for them.

Having my home in Chicago means last minute road trips with Lauren who I love and Melissa who I love.

Home in Chicago means, you guessed it, more friends and more cupcakes.  Deryn and Allie are some of the most loving, caring people I know.

Living in Chicago means dinner dates every Sunday night.  I've already mentioned how incredible Lauren is (but it never hurts to mention it again-she's great), but I should also mention how much I love Kari!  She is precious and wonderful in so many ways.  I love laughing with her and talking with her.  I love when she does homework in our room.

My life in Chicago means getting to dance on the roof of my dorm with this as my view.

Home and school in Chicago means studying at Starbucks.  Please also note the red Christmas cup.  Joy.

Home in Chicago means getting excited about the first snow and taking a picture to remember the moment.

Home in Chicago is taking the 66 bus to a roommate dinner date.

My life in Chicago includes even more beautiful girls like Alissa.

My life in Chicago means cute coffee shops.

Having my home in Chicago means days shopping in Geneva with a friend who finds joy in little things with me.... 

...And then taking the train home to the city with her.

Life here means friends like Allie and Steph.  Since I've already mentioned Allie, I'll use this picture to express how much I love Steph.  The first time we had coffee together we both cried, realizing how similar our hearts are.  Loving Jesus alongside her has blessed me.

Home being Moody Bible Institute means this sign goes out every time a maintenance man, brother, or professor is visiting the floor.  So epic.

Life in Chicago means not even sore joints can stop us from going out for Fro-Yo.  All you gotta do is borrow a wheel chair.  Problem solved.

As Lauren would say, "We were such a mess."  But I loved every minute.

Home here means working out with these ladies.  Anna (left) is one of my favorite people at Moody.  Her gentle heart amazes me and I love being her friend. 

Life in Chicago means study dates at cute cafes!                                      


Living in Chicago in a building with hundreds of girls means we probably are not the only ones who talk  about boys late at night with squeals and hugs.  But we might be the only ones who take a picture in which we spell out "boys" in sign language. 

Having home be in Chicago looks like this.  Night time in Chicago.  Stunning.

Home in Chicago means knowing Faith (right) and being a better person for it.  She shows me Jesus.  Home at Moody (specifically on the 10th floor of Haughton Hall) means braiding Challah bread with 
Melissa and Faith to celebrate Shabbat.  I love how Melissa leads us in celebrating a day of rest.

Shabbat at home in Chicago means drinking grape juice out of my mug with this girl.

The other night, living in Chicago meant going to a Sara Groves concert, LOVING it, and meeting her.

My home being in Chicago means that when I fly back from my "home" in Tennessee, I follow these signs.

Then I see this as I wait for the bus back to Moody.

 So, as I was "home" in Tennessee struggling with what home means and as I have been thinking about it further I keep coming back to these thoughts.  Tennessee, or where ever my family is, will always have a beautiful, nostalgic, joyful, loving feeling of home.  But my home will not always be there.  Chicago is my home now.  However, Chicago may not always be my home.  I will not live here forever and I will be in Tennessee for some summers.  Does that mean I need to feel confused and unsettled again?  No, because here are the the two main things Jesus has said to me regarding home:

Home is where He has put me to love people in His name and be loved, and

Home is where ever I am with Him.    

As long as I am in a place that I can love and be loved, I am home.  As long as I am with Jesus, I am home.


  1. lovely ches. i think "home" is a concept that will change daily as our lives change. AND i think its okay to have more than one home.

    your chicago stories look and sound wonderful!

  2. I love you beautiful! this was so wonderful to read. And even tho I am not far from my tennessee home...I still feel exactly the same way. My dorm, feels more like "my place", then my house does.
    But I'm so excited to continue to follow this blog!
    Just remember I was one of the first when you become famous.