Friday, December 1, 2017

Almost There by Bekah DiFelice, 2017

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Home, by definition, is where you feel comfortable, where you are established, where relationships are worn in and familiar. It is where you are known, a place to belong. It is a universal longing, but an elusive destination.

Why does life often move us far from this secure, primal comfort? We transfer to different locations or simply live unsettled in our own hometown. We rebuild, make new friends, find new jobs, and forge new ties. Our blanket of security becomes a whole host of unknowns. Underneath it all, sure as the evening taps, there is a homesickness for belonging.

What if this homesickness is not just a series of challenges to be overcome, but a vehicle for God to draw us to Himself? What if God is orchestrating our circumstances to bring us into the knowledge of who He is? What if all along He is inviting us home?

Is it possible to build a home in a life that marches to the cadence of constant change and transition? In Almost There, Bekah DiFelice, a military wife familiar with the impermanence of home, offers encouragement and wisdom to those who struggle with a search for belonging in a world where home is constantly shifting. God, the grand home builder with an eternal guarantee, invites us to build a home that resides in the privacy of our hearts, a settlement that is fundamentally immovable. If we put roots down in a God who is unchangeable, He promises to be a steady anchor in the unpredictability of life.

(192 pages)

I am not a military kid, but people often think I am.

My family has moved eight times since I was born, at an average of every three years or so. When I tell people we've moved because of my father (a scientist), the first assumption for many is that my father has a military job.

All that to say . . . I can relate on a very personal level to DiFelice's descriptions of the trials and tribulations of moving somewhere new every so often. I know what it's like to hunt for a new church, to make awkward small talk with people who might be new friends (or possibly new frenemies), to unpack all my belongings and make an impersonal new house into a home.

Or at least, to make it some part of a home. The whole point of DiFelice's book is detailing her search for home. She was thrust from her childhood home to marry her husband and follow him first to Yuma, Arizona (a tiny base in the middle of nowhere) and then, after three years and every three years after that, to a new location somewhere around the world. She was definitely a lot less prepared for moving out into the world than I am, because she'd lived her whole life in the same place surrounded by family; her quest to discover what home really is was interesting to read (and often hilarious), but I don't know that it was specifically that helpful to me.

After all, I already know where my home is: it's wherever I'm living at the moment. And also with my family. And also, to varying extents, every place I've ever lived. Because personally, I don't believe that home has to be just one place. My home is a physical place and an emotional one–it's every place I've ever lived that I still have fond memories of, it's the house of my parents and siblings who love me (no matter where that house happens to be at the moment), and it's the physical address where I live my day-to-day life at the moment. Home is like a running tally sheet, not a single focal point that almost always stays the same.

And I think, really, that DiFelice reached the same conclusion that I did. She also had some more insight into God's role in things, which I hadn't really given much thought to. But the real reason I loved reading Almost There has nothing to do with the deep philosphical insights: Bekah DiFelice is simply hilarious. I loved the funny, realistic ways she had of describing the experience of moving around and living life. I can't think of much else to say about the book (other than that it's really good and I very highly recommend it!), so I think I'll just end with a quote from her describing the drive to her first home away from her parents, in Arizona:
When night set in, headlights flashed bright and aggressive from the opposite direction. So many people, it seemed, were fleeing from the very place I was headed. I departed Colorado armed with Cheez-Its and gusto, and in the desert I realized that both were gone.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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