places we’ve come to love

waves churning off the ship

Man, it’s been a long time.

No excuses, but still, excuses: a new job, a real-person job with an office and benefits and hopefully plenty of trips to Lemonjello’s. And then still the previous jobs, two part-time internships full of preaching and visiting and entertaining children. And on top of that, the real-real job-hunting, the vocation-seeking, with the Skype interviews and the flights to other states and the praying and the thinking and the wondering.

tracy arm again

All that since I last wrote. July has been a heck of a month.

I had wanted to tell you about Alaska, our week there, and Seattle, our three days there. I had wanted to tell you about Marcia, the most wonderful Airbnb host we could’ve hoped for, and all the food we ate while wandering the streets of Ballard.

mendenhall glacier

I’ll at least tell you this: traveling has a way of simultaneously skewing everything and putting it all in perspective.

Mostly the skewing happened in Ballard.

Ballard is the. most. charming. neighborhood. Ever.

The houses, they look like this:

blue house

And the streets, they glow like this:


If everyone’s like Marcia, their sewing rooms look like this:

sewing room

And their patios like this:

little terra cotta figures

Also, there are succulents galore and rosemary plants as big as small Christmas trees.

enormous rosemary

And did I mention the food? Delancey, up the street. Paseo, over a street. And Hot Cakes, where the entire menu consists of variations on molten chocolate cakes. A lively, radiant farmers’ market all year long. Plus, all three of our days there? Impossibly sunny.

molten chocolate cake

In other words, I was ready to up and move to Ballard.

Then I found out that the house down the street from Marcia just sold for $750,000. And those 750,000 dollars reminded me of something else: something I’ve named before, and something I’ll keep naming again and again until it sticks: Tarshish. Ballard is our Tarshish.

It’s the sunny-window-chicken dream. It’s the belief that sunlight and local food will fulfill me.

raspberry bush

I had to remind myself that we caught Seattle at an unusual moment in its life, namely, a sunny one. The sun blesses that part of the country less than two months per year.

So much for sunny windows.


With a very possible move in our near-ish future, I can’t stop imagining myself in these different places. We’re not moving to Seattle, but we’re probably leaving Holland. And I mourn that. This place has been a lovely home to us.

I rehearse in my head all of the things I adore about this town. Lemonjello’s, a dozen restaurants, the library—all within walking distance. A college and its attendant activity. An impressive farmers’ market for a town this size. The lake, though we are not beach people. Holland’s surprising un-selfconsciousness: it hasn’t yet realized how cool it is.

russian orthodox church in sitka, alaska

But I know that Holland is just Holland. In the end, it’s just a place. Seattle is just a place. They are really great places. Really really great places. Places that we’ve come to love, places that will stay in our hearts. (Someone told me that the place you’ll always consider home is the place you lived when you were ten. But I’m convinced it’s the place we’ve had our first home. I decided this while when we passed the Holland sign on the highway on our way home yesterday.)

We’re preaching on Colossians 3 this weekend: your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Ultimately, I’ll never feel at home. I can search in Ballard, I can long for Holland, I can hope for somewhere new and exotic. But my life is hidden in Christ. Only there can my restless heart be stilled.

“Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
—Augustine of Hippo


7 thoughts on “places we’ve come to love

  1. Thanks for this, Grace. In a year when we’ve kept all our stuff in boxes and moved four times, I’ve been looking forward to settling in to somewhere new and making it our home. But It’s good to read and remember your last few words, that Christ is where our home is.

  2. Absolutely beautiful, meaningful, written from the heart and just what I needed. Thank you for putting into words some of my very struggles in life. Keep writing – I love it. You are a blessing many people.

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