I have lived in 5 states in my 24.5 years of life. Fun fact: each of my siblings were born in a different state! Here they are:
Dallas/Fort Worth Texas: This is where I was born (see my Recollections and Memories blog for more), and where a lot of my family lives. Both of my parents' relatives originate here, and most are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. My great grandmother lives in South Texas still. I love Texas! It's a unique entity unto itself. It's like no other state. I feel very at home there, and it's such a joy to visit. In fact, I get to go next week! Aside from visiting my sweet family, this is where I shop for unique "home" things. I love the unique shopping!
Orlando, Florida: I lived here from the time I was 6 months to 4 years old. My sister Alyssa was born here. We lived minutes from Disney World, and it's where some of my first memories are. My dad was the College Pastor at First Baptist Orlando. I also associate some of my first spiritual memories with this church, which you'll read in my next (and last) Answers post, which is coming tomorrow. I remember the weather, the orange trees in our backyard (we had fresh orange juice!), and watching Robin Hood with my dad in that house (random...). And, like I said, Disney World was a recurring theme--haha! We'd go to Epcot just for lunch, because my parents had friends who would sign us in. So much fun!
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma: We lived here from the time I was 4 to 8 years old. Oklahoma is really unique. It has a big Native American influence. My brother Will was born here. A big memory I have is going to church, First Baptist Broken Arrow, where my dad was Associate Pastor (and Pastor Nick is still the Senior Pastor!). This is where I remember Sunday School, Childrens' Choir, and "big church" for the first time. Another big memory that sticks out to me is a drama team that came to our church. We walked into the sanctuary, and the platform was completely trashed. It looked like a warzone. Then, the song "People Need the Lord" came on, and the drama team, dressed as homeless people, came out from amongst the trash. They interpreted the lyrics to the song, and I remember being very moved, even as a very young child. This reminds me that children are SO impressionable! I went to school at Leisure Park Elementary, and had wonderful memories there. I remember realizing that I loved art, reading, and using my imagination. This is where I remember Christmas for the first time, especially decorating the tree as a family. It was a great place to live.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri: Obviously, this is probably a place you're getting familiar with, because I mention it a lot! We lived here from the time I was 8-14 years old. I consider it my hometown. My parents also moved BACK 18 months ago, so it's "home" again. Kurt and I will be moving here in the spring/summer. This was a very defining place to live for me. It's in Southeast Missouri, which isn't the "north" but it's definitely not the "south." I love the people, the city of "Cape" (as everyone calls it) and the memories I have here. This is where my baby sister Andrea was born. Every time I'm here, I drive by my old schools and my old house. Lynwood (which I consider my home church) is so special to me, and I can't wait to serve there again. I could go on and on, but in a nutshell, it's home and I love it. :)
Jackson, Mississippi: This is where my family most recently lived. We moved to Jackson when I was 14, and I will live here with Kurt until this summer. It's the longest amount of time I've ever lived anywhere, but I have never connected with the "south." My friends tease me about this, like I'm too cool to be Southern or something, but I'm just being honest! It's not something I relate to. I will always have fond memories and associations with Jackson, like meeting and marrying Kurt, and of course having Evy. I will also always be sentimental about our first home. I've learned a lot here. My most valued experience (aside from marriage and a child) was definitely high school. I went to Jackson Academy, and it was an amazing high school experience. I made lifelong friends, and my teachers are precious to me. I also spent some time at Mississippi College, where I also learned a lot about life and myself. So, I wouldn't trade living in Mississippi for anything, but I know that I'm meant to settle in another area, if that makes sense.
A lot of people ask me if it was hard to be a pastor's daughter and move so much, but I never knew any different. I consider it an honor and privilege to be my father's daughter, and that wouldn't change no matter what he does for a living. It has its hard moments, for sure, but I've never resented it--not for one second. As far as moving often, we only moved (on average) every 4-5 years, so it didn't feel like we were constantly on the move. It forced me to build relationships, learn to adjust to change, and develop a deep love for my family. Again, it's all I've ever known. I wouldn't know what to do if my parents lived in the same house my whole life--haha!
So that's basically a map of where I've been. And I really do love each place!