Recently I was in a meeting with a co-worker in Sarasota and mentioned my solo trip home to St. Louis last weekend to see Lydia dance, meet my newest niece, and spend time with family without the rest of my tribe in tow. At some point, he said to me, “You know, it’s okay to call this place home now.” Although I’m sure the conversation continued a bit longer, I seemed to get stuck on that one line. 

 When and how exactly does someplace new become “home”?

A few weeks later now and I’m still wrestling with that statement. There is no doubt that I’m in the middle of a mad love affair with Sarasota; this place takes my breath away daily. I catch myself driving through the city smiling or stopping to snap a picture of some mural or running outdoors in the evening to catch yet another photo of a stunning sunset. Apart from the obvious scenery and perfect weather, I love my job and adore the people I’m working alongside. But, home? I’m just not sure about that yet.

Last weekend when I flew to St. Louis there was thick cloud cover over most of the Midwest. It wasn’t until the landing gear was down that we dropped below that ceiling and I caught my first sight of the winter cornfields below. My heart instantly jumped within me – home! 

From the plane I could see the zigzag lines of country roads, the very country roads I’ve grown up zipping around, taking corners way too fast, whether in my Miata convertible or soccer mom mini-van(s). These back roads tie together the towns that make up the area of the St. Louis Metro-East area that tell my story: the village where my grandparents lived, the town where my parents pastored, the church where my husband and I met and married, the city where some of our babies were born. This is the place where the majority of my family still resides and where they live life together shoulder to shoulder. 

48 years in one place gets woven fairly deep into the fiber of a life; the spot in America where IL and MO touch at St. Louis on the Mississippi River will always be where my story begins. However, Sarasota, with all of its brilliance tucked away in a little cove on the Gulf of Mexico, is the place that holds my next chapters. This fact is becoming clearer every day – and not just for me – but also every member of my family. This is the home where our story continues.

My two trips back to St. Louis since moving to Florida last August are helping me come to terms with the fact that I have two homes now. Maybe I just needed someone to give me permission and gently nudge me into calling this place home too. For the past 6 months whenever we’ve been asked, “where do you live?” we always respond, “we’re from St. Louis, we just moved here”. This week I’m purposely responding differently, now I’m replying “we live in Sarasota, this is our home.”