When I returned from my first trip to Europe back in 2013, I vowed that one day I'd live there. Someway, somehow, my husband and I would live overseas.
And I wanted it to be Europe.
More specifically, Italy.
Preferably and impossibly, Florence. (I gave up on that particular city eventually, but the dream of being an expat lived on.)
But after spending years researching every option that I could squeeze out of Google, I began to relent.
Not because it seemed too difficult, or even impossible.
My wanderlust just sort of disappeared, replaced by something new.
Oddly enough, as my desire for the expat life began to wane, my father-in-law decided to build a house in France. Sort of out of the blue, but delightfully surprising, nonetheless. Even more delightful was the moment we found out that he wanted to fly us out for 3 weeks to drive around the French countryside in a camper.
As we readied ourselves to fly across the Atlantic in May, we talked and dreamed of a tiny house on the land one day, visiting Nooch's dad in the south of France every summer, vineyards and baguettes and all the goodies.
But as we traveled around, visiting some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen, I could see clearly what had replaced my wanderlust:
My friends, my tribe.
Baking bread in my kitchen.
The Kentucky countryside.
It's not that I couldn't have those things if we ever decided to move to France.
But the thing is, I already have everything I could possibly want right here, in my home place. It's right here, where we've nested ourselves, just west of the foothills of Appalachia.
It was as if a deep contentment followed me around Europe, reminding me that France is lovely, and home is lovely too, and the Kingdom of God is found on many different soils.
And the best soil is simply where I am called to be.
The problem with that lesson is that it isn't exactly Instagrammable. To be fair, if you went to France, I'd want to hear all about the wine and food and see endless pictures of green hills and people wearing berets. But while I loved what I saw (and failed in the picture taking department) I came back with a deeper love for home, forgetting about the tiny house blueprints, and a desire to stay here and grow roots for as long as possible.
But I guess I haven't been totally honest with you yet.
You see, the wanderlust didn't disappear suddenly —I remember the moment that it began to fade.
It was 2 years ago or so. I was sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop, figuring out how Nooch could get into a PhD program in Europe, opening a door for new adventures and all the dreamy things. Then it hit me —why not pray about it? How cool would it be if God wanted us in Europe? Then my dream would be unstoppable, right?
So I told God what I wanted, and then I asked Him what He thought about it. He answered me gently and sweetly, in a way I wasn't anticipating at all.
"Jeana, you want to live in a perfect city."
He showed me a picture of a beautiful city, full of shimmering cobblestone streets and divinely crafted architecture. More lovely than Florence, than any city I'd ever known.
"But this place doesn't exist on Earth. This longing you have is for my perfect Heavenly Kingdom, the place you were made for all along. Only I can satisfy your wanderlust."
And slowly but surely, the wanderlust was replaced by rich contentment. A new longing for the Kingdom to come, built on my Heavenly Father's land.
And if you still want to be a wandering nomad, I totally get it. Traveling is so fun, and seeing new parts of the world is one of the most enriching things you can experience.
But let us not forget that home has a host of things to teach us too, in the beauty of small moments, where seeds are planted, growing into heavenly places for birds to make their nests and for us to nourish the people we love.
So in the words of Jesus Christ and Pliny the Elder:
"Your heart will be where your treasure is."
-Matthew 6:21, NCV-
"Home is where the heart is."
Amen & Amen.
Safe travels to you, friend, wherever your heart calls you.