a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.
From the time I was born until January 2016, my dad was a pastor. Being a pastor’s family (the struggles of being a pastors kid could be a whole blog in itself) often goes hand in hand with moving around. A lot. And that was most definitely true for my life.
When people ask what I was like to move around so much, I often find myself pausing to reflect before I answer.
Half of me wants to say, “horrible.” I don’t really know what it’s like to have friends in your life from childhood into adulthood. I am envious of people who are still super close with friends from elementary school.
When people ask where I’m from, I don’t have an answer other than, “I moved around a lot,” Or having to go to the explanation of, “Well, I was born in Kentucky, but…”
However, the other half of me wants to say, “Great!” As a young child, I learned how to adapt in new surroundings. Many people don’t go somewhere new until college. I got to see so many different places growing up.
For instance, where I lived in Virginia, my family was close to Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. We’d often take off on a Saturday and explore somewhere new.
This constant battle in my mind of contempt and appreciation for my nomadic life got me thinking: how can I be grateful for the way I was raised? what did I learn in each place I lived? what did moving around teach me about life and relationships? I’m going to process through some of these things today. Bear with me, because I haven’t fully formed these thoughts, even now as I’m writing.
Florence, Kentucky. Ages birth – 6 years.
If you’ve traveled south on I-75, you’ve likely seen Florence Y’all. This is where I was born. To be honest, I don’t remember a ton about living here. I remember dance lessons and friends who’s back yards connected to mine. I remember a carefree childhood and catching lighting bugs. I remember learning how to tie my shoe on my back porch. I just remember being a kid. Life was simple.
Sturgis, Michigan. Ages 6 – 10.
When I was in first grade, my dad got a job as a senior pastor and we moved to Sturgis, Michigan. It was a small town. This move was easy. I remember children’s church and choosing to be baptized and accept Jesus as my savior. Though I wouldn’t fully take that seriously and live that out til later in life, I remember my dad baptizing me and getting a bible in front of the church. I was happy. In Sturgis, I learned to love God.
Johnson City, Tennessee. Ages 10 – 15.
In fifth grade, my dad took on a new church in Jonesboro, TN. But we lived about 15 minutes away in Johnson City. Fifth grade for me was 2001. 2001 was a defining year in my life.
August 18, 2001, my older sister got married. That was so exciting but it was also a really big change for me. Her wedding was beautiful and I was the “junior maid of honor.”
September 11, 2001, only a few weeks after our move, as I’m sure many of you remember, was the terrorist attacks on our country. I remember being at school, so confused as to what was happening. I didn’t know what “terrorism” meant. But I knew I was terrified. My dad picked me up early and explained it to me. I remember not knowing how life would ever go on.
December 23, 2001, my parents were hit and my mom was almost killed by a drunk driver. Only 2 days before Christmas. I remember going to see the car in the junk lot and looking at the backseat that was completely demolished. The backseat where I would have been sitting. I remember realizing that I would have been killed.
I remember thinking, “there was a reason I wasn’t in the car. God has a plan for my life.”
In Tennessee, I went on my first little mission trip to Indianapolis where I spent the week painting a house. It was then my heart was opened to missions. In Tennessee, I learned to trust that God had a plan for me.
Abingdon, Virginia. Ages 15-17.
At the end of my 8th grade year, we made a 45 minute move to Abingdon. So I started high school in a new town and school. Talk about intimidating. Abingdon is a GORGEOUS town, rich in history and southern charm (seriously if you’re ever near Abingdon, go there and walk through the downtown).
In Virginia, I started babysitting, got my first job and began to start dreaming of a future. I went on 3 more mission trips to inner city D.C. twice and NYC once. I learned to LOVE missions. Though I was only there for a couple years, I’d say I grew up a lot during that time.
Versailles, Ohio. Ages 17-25 (sorta).
6 weeks before my junior year of high school ended, my family moved to Versailles (Ver-sales, not Vehr-sigh like France). It’s a tiny town of around 2,200 people. Moving at the end of junior year was challenging, but I remember saying to myself, “life is what you make it, so if you want this to be a good move, you need to tell yourself that it’s gonna be.”
From Versailles, I went to college, moved home from college, went to Thailand, Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is why I said “sorta” to the ages I lived in Versailles).
In Versailles, I became a youth group leader. I lead kids church. I learned the ins and outs of ministry and started leaning into what God had for me. In Versailles, I started taking my walk with Christ seriously. In Versailles, I got a job in the field I now love and want to work in for a very long time. In Versailles, I met some of my very best friends (including Haley!!!).
Columbus, Ohio. Present.
My dad left the ministry and we were all living in church house so we had to move out. My parents decided on Columbus because it has always been home to them.
I didn’t have to come, I considered staying and renting an apartment. But in the end, I decided to come with my family and I’m so glad that I did. Columbus has quickly become home for me and I feel like I fit so well here. I’ve found an incredible church and small group, have a fantastic job AND Columbus is an amazing city. I’m so excited to see what God has for me here in Columbus!
At the end of the day, I’m thankful for all of these moves. Each town taught me something valuable. Each move made me inch closer to God because He was the only constant. Each goodbye taught me to be intentional about staying in contact with friends. Each packed box taught me that stuff is just stuff.
Moving was hard. There’s no denying that.
And even though I still struggle — and may always struggle — when someone asks me where I’m from, I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything.