Welcome Home

Sunset EditedThe immigration officer with the stamp in his hand had a strong Long Island accent. We’d been up for nearly 24 hours, and our kids were melting down waiting in the first of many lines at JFK, while more English than we’d heard in a long time swirled around us. We handed over our passports, and he asked us questions about where we’d been and for how long. Then he handed them back with two words.

“Welcome home.”

I didn’t expect the lump in my throat.

And a few hours later when we landed into a brilliant orange sunset in Charlotte, I couldn’t hold the tears back.


I grew up rootless – some life in the Philippines, some in Ohio, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina… Fifty houses and twelve schools in the first eighteen years of my life. And now I’m doing something similar to my own kids, hopscotching back and forth between the Carolinas and Papua New Guinea, and spending weeks on the road traveling the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest to visit family, churches, and ministry partners.

One of the great things about being mobile is the relationships we develop along the way. So many amazing friends wherever we go.

But the Charlotte area is unique for us. This is the one place both my husband and I have long history. We have family here and relationships that stretch back well over twenty years. We highly value the friends we’ve made in other places and couldn’t imagine our life without them. But there’s just something about friendships with longevity. There’s a richness and depth and breadth that comes only over a long, long time of shared life and years of memories. There’s a knowing and being known you can’t rush.

When you’ve watched each other fall in love and get married, held each other’s babies just hours old, cried with each other over things that didn’t end the way you had hoped, laughed over stories that don’t need explanation, asked forgiveness and extended grace, there’s permission to just be that grows organically. Nothing to prove. Nothing forced. Just a deep harbor carved out by years of ebb and flow.

In a few months we’ll get back on a plane and head back to our other home, where we’re starting to find natural rhythm with newer friends. And if God keeps us all in PNG for a while, we’ll find long earned harbor in those relationships as well.

Always goodbye. Always hello. The ebb and flow of years that deepen our still waters wherever we are.

Until we hear, “Welcome Home.”

“LORD, through all the generations you have been our home.” ~Psalm 90:1 (NLT)

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