20 days ago, I had the opportunity to fly back from where we live overseas to my home in Texas for a couple weeks. Wow. The roads, the wide open spaces, the seemingly endless sky, the houses and businesses I've grown up with all my life, and the people... family, friends, church members, longtime familiar acquaintances, etc.

Most of my life has been spent in Texas. And yet, in many ways, it no longer feels like home. In some ways, it will always have that familiar pull on my heart. There is nothing else like a Texas sunset. Nothing like the Dallas skyline that rises up from the flat land around it. Nothing else like good Tex-Mex in your belly and family at your side. But it's no longer completely "home" for me.

One of the spiritual benefits of living overseas (for me) is having that ever-constant awareness that I'm not "home".

In the places we've lived so far, it is rare to feel completely normal in day-to-day life. Perhaps you're eating food you'd never eat, or using substitutions for everyday ingredients. Certainly you're speaking a different language when you leave your home. People stare. Food doesn't always sit right. Apartments don't have closets. Shoes aren't worn inside. Backyards are scarce (or even nowhere to be found). Furniture looks different. Customs take some getting used to.

But, I'm coming to realize that all of these things are blessings... I can't get too "settled" in this life. The lack of a full feeling of "home" here reminds me that my true Home is with Christ on the New Earth.

We were not created for an endless "this". The sin, despair, hurt, shame, perversion... all of it was brought on by our own sin-- not as part of the original design. The creation intent for us was fellowship with and worship of God, fellowship with one another, and enjoyment of Him and His creation.

Reading Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, several years ago really opened my eyes to what the Scriptures have to say about Heaven. After the judgment, God is going to redeem our earth, making it "home". Gossip, back pain, frustration, weeds, tears, sickness, misunderstandings, and difficult relationships will all be gone. And we will be Home. To our true Home. The home that our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls were fashioned for.

After my visit back to Texas, I'm echoing what my friend Tanya says, I'm "homesick for Heaven".


Erin said...

Being a missionary kid definatly made me long for a 'home', which I will only ever find in heaven.

Vickie said...

Hi Jess,

I found your site from a link on biblicalwomanhoodonline. I look forward to reading more when the little ones are asleep! Great so far, very encouraging!

We seem to have much in common. I'm from Texas and live in China too! (Shanghai:-))

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jess,
I've been reading your blog over the past couple of weeks. Thanks for your insights into life. I've lived overseas the last 8 years - as missionaries in Ukraine. We love our life, but can't really say we feel at home anywhere anymore. This is now part our home - we speak the langauage and live in a small apartment. My kids go to national school ... whe are in deep, some would say. We love it, yet it's not home and neither is American anymore. That feeling of not belonging keeps us fixed on the JOURNEY of Faith with our Lord Jesus Christ. This world is not our home! Blessings to you!

Kyiv, Ukraine

Anonymous said...

Jess why do you always tend to write about something that I'm dealing with...lol!

A couple nights ago I was really upset about the terrible things going on in this world and (crying) I told my husband, "Jesus, at the end of the Bible, says, 'I am coming soon.' Why can't soon be now?!"

I too am homesick for Heaven.

Nichola said...

Hello from Texas! :-)

Good points...

Ouph said...

Wait till your kids grow up having been Third Culture Kids! A TCK myself, the concept of not belonging anywhere yet belonging everywhere is one that is a poignant part of my personality. One of my favorite quotes says: "I have become a queer mixture of the East and the West, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere." - Jowaharial Nehru.

To this day (despite having actually lived in the same city for nine whole years now and in the same house for three - both of which are very novel concepts in my life), I either feel the strong urge to pack up and move every year or so or else I have to completely rearrange our house.

The beauty of being "homeless" though is that you learn (as an adult) or grow up knowing (as a TCK) how to relate to and understand large portions of the world. Talk about God being able to use you!

Joelle said...

We're supposed to go as missionaries somewhere in the world next year, so this was a good post for me as well.
Being a "stranger" or "pilgrim" in this world is a wonderful, biblical concept... may we always view ourselves as strangers on the earth, longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Hebrews 11:13-16 is an awesome passage that talks about being pilgrims and strangers on earth.

Bethany Hudson said...

In the Catholic tradition, many prayers include the phrase "after our exile," or the person praying refers to themselves as an "exile." This helps to remind us that we are truly "in the world but not of the world," that this is only a sort of training ground for our real home: Heaven. Thanks for the lovely reminder, Jess!

Tanya said...

Preach it, Girl!!! Oh you have touched on a passion of mine.

Here is a quote from C.S. Lewis, "Most of us find it very difficult to want 'Heaven' at all - except in so far as 'Heaven' means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it."

Imagine all those times when so many of us feel that "real want for Heaven" and don't recognize it....so we fill it with junk, but never feel fulfilled. How sad it is that those twangs of Homesickness are rarely recognized for what they truly are.

deb said...

Do you realize that you have taken an aspect of your life that most people would complain about and turned it into a wonderful, spiritual lesson?

Laura said...

A sweet and good reminder, Jess. Thanks! :)

Sue said...

Our kids hold both Japanese and American pssports, but don't really feel like either. We often talk about how we are citizens of Heaven.

Living out of our birth culture can really bring this reality home, can't it?

Mom said...

When I was growing up, the song "This World Is Not My Home" was very popular. We sang it a lot. However, seeing things "through your eyes" and being able to visit you once in a while in different parts of the world, has really made that song come alive to me. I remember the words: This world is not my home, I'm just a passin through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore. And, then the next verse of the song talks about the fact that we have no other friend like the Lord. Everything you have said is so true. Love you, Mom

Eldon Kelley said...

I have been reading your blogs for a while now...my wife got me started on them. She wanted me to see what she was reading and what was ministering to her. Little did I know, after reading your thoughts, how much they minister to me as well. Thank you for your insights. As a pastor in a VERY small town, we need to get fed, and thank you for being a part of that feeding program. I actually wrote about this on a blog of my own a while back. Thank you again for speaking words of truth to someone who is not overseas, but yet feels 'not at home' in this world.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm miles and miles away from my family, too - and what your mom wrote reminded me EXACTLY of something my mom would say.

I have tears in my eyes right now, because BOTH of you (or should I say, all three of you - my mom included, lol!) are right.

Thank you...

Aubs said...

Oh how this strikes a chord for me! As a military wife my "home" changes very regularly and will soon be changing as we face a cross country move. Although we are not overseas there are still so many things that are differant and take some adjusting to.

I did a bible study last year called Hope for the Homefront and that is where as a brand new christian i learned of the truth of our TRUE home....thank you for your encouragement thru this blog and for the reminder of yet one more reason why this lifestyle is a blessing!

ps...Gotta love us Texas girls!! (wink wink)

April said...

I can only say that I totally agree with what you've said. Living overseas, I was so anxious to "settle" somewhere and the Lord has constantly shown me that I won't feel settle until I'm fully in Him and with Him in heaven. Isn't it exciting?

Dawn said...

Awesome post! And the comments from other bloggers were wonderful to read as well!

Hubby and I lived in Germany for 3 years (2005-2008) due to the US Army and I will say that we are glad to be back in the USA (which oddly enough we are in the DFW area as my hubby attends UTA in Arlington).

We are only passing through in this world, we shouldn't get too cozy in one place. :-)

Once we reach Glory, we all can finally say 'we are home' with a huge sigh of relief. :)


Blessings from a new reader,

Catherine said...

Thanks for the links! I've never heard of LaCrae - what a neat artist! We love listening to music through the day and always love to find new stuff. :)

janice said...

A few years ago we were evacuated from our "home" in Africa, came back "home" to the States, and were traveling around to see supporters... one my sweet children sighed one night as we waited for dad in the car, "when are we going home?" I thought to myself, "Where IS home?" Through an Amy Carmichael devotional I was encouraged when she said God is our home. Acts 17:28 "in Him we live and move and have our being." and John 14:23 God will "make our home with him." I came to see that the song is so true as your mom said. This is just a temporary stop for us. I'm just reading this today as I (along with my siblings/parents) have just finished a major project in our house (home) which I'm going to leave shortly to return to Africa. The reason for the redo was renters who did not take care of this place and I find myself being really protective of the possessions. A good reminder to me. Thanks. Love ya, almost-relative. :)

HS said...

I don't live overseas ... just on the other side of the continent from the place I consider "home." And yet, what you say resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!