How I “Found Home” In Jacksonville, FL

Since the main reason that Sand & City exists is to document my current life status and happenings, I think it’s important for me to touch on the subject of “home,” and what it has meant during this chapter in Colt and I’s life.

There will always be significance to the places we grew up, went to school, met our significant other, etc. There will be places where we prefer to vacation, explore, and even eat (Hello, New York restaurant scene), but our “home” isn’t always one of those spots. So how does one qualify “home?” I believe it’s more than a location. Really, it’s a combination of things.

Until recently, my life has been incredibly straight forward on this subject. I was born, raised and college-educated in the crazy, wonderful city of Orlando, Florida. The entirety of my life took place and “belonged to” that city. That is, until one fateful day in October, 2013. On a family trip to Phoenix, Arizona, I met THE person… Colt Cowdell. And just like that, my heart belonged to more than just my home city; My heart belonged to him.

Fast forward to a few weeks after our wedding, and we’re living in his (now our) home in Phoenix.  The two of us were riding the high of finally living in the same city for the first time in our relationship, and I was loving the sights, restaurants and people that were around us, there.

…But I still felt out of place.  Phoenix represented SO much in my life. It was home to so many people that I loved, but it was certainly not my home. At the time, I think I was dead set on the idea that there would never be a place as physically and emotionally comfortable as the one where I grew up. I knew we would be moving to Jacksonville for Colt’s job, and I knew I would most likely never live in Orlando again, and still, I felt that there was “no place like home.”

Something began to change, however, when I started this blog. I found that the more I recorded my life, and the more that I focused on sharing the sights and activities available to us in this city, I began to fall in love with it. I was, in a  sense, “zeroing in” on my day to day life, and learning to appreciate the small changes and experiences that happened to me on a daily basis. Colt and I bought our first home, sought out/got involved in a church nearby, and I began a job as a nanny in our part of town.  I’m not being dramatic when I say that, literally, everything changed after that.

The family I work for went completely out of their way to encapsulate me with friendship, love and connections (should I ever need them), here by the beach, and in the world beyond. The moment I began working for them, I felt as though I belonged. To what? The city? Their family? Who knows! I just felt… connected.  And despite my lack of diligence in specifically asking the Lord to mold my heart and welcome this city as my new home,  He was SO VERY GRACIOUS in doing so anyway. He placed my employers in my life to give me a sense of peace and “family away from family” (whether they know it or not).  God led Colt and me to a church that has–already– witnessed to our hearts/souls just by existing. He has allowed us to afford a fabulous little home by the beach that we can nest in and host our own family and friends from out of town.

kingsley plantation
Exploring Jacksonville with family
Treating our guest (Colt's mom) to one of our favorite restaurants nearby.
Treating our guest (Colt’s mom) to one of our favorite restaurants nearby.

My “home” for now is without question, Jacksonville. It happened suddenly, and yet, gently. It was a process for everyone involved and it required a God that was bigger than my circumstances, but it happened.  There was so much that I thought I would never get used to or learn to love about where I was, but as I dove in to my current place in life–my “now,” so to speak–I began to feel at home.

And it makes me wonder, where you might be.  Where is “home” for you? Have you found it where you are, or do you feel a constant sense of looking back/ forward to the comforts of a different time in your life.

Are you living in flux? Are you hoping to arrive somewhere, one day, and feel fulfilled? Aside from the fullness that is Jesus Christ in our lives, we will never truly feel satisfied. But even if we aren’t speaking from a completely spiritual level, we, as humans, have an ingrained desire to search, find, and then search again for something better. Its an endless cycle and it is, unfortunately,  exacerbated by modern culture (One look at social media, and you can find a life that is “better” than yours. While fun and exciting, it can create in us a constant need for a bigger, smaller, prettier, trendier, different version of… whatever).

So. You may not be in the city or the phase that you wish you were at this point in life, but I can assure you that you are where you’re meant to be.

I’ll end by challenging myself and you, the reader,  to grow roots where you have been planted. You might move. You might not. But the value and impact that comes from breathing in every bit of our “now,” and living life there, is often beyond what we can imagine for ourselves. I’ve decided that I will commit to finding all the hidden gems that exist in my city and in my life right now.

I can’t imagine what our world would look like if we all learned to be at home with our present relationship statuses, locations, physical appearances, and financial situations. Because we really can learn to enjoy each move and each phase of life, by training our heads and allowing God to train our hearts. Then and only then will we be fully capable of joy, no matter where we are.

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ponte vedra coastline PVB

P.S. I wanted this post to have a more universal appeal with the concept of getting plugged in and “finding home” for everyone. If you’re interested in the great features that are unique to Jacksonville, stay tuned for more posts or follow me on my Instagram account!

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