During the last twenty-seven years of my life, I have found myself visiting 12 states and 6 new countries. Within the last year specifically, I ventured to France, Ireland, and the city of Seattle.
Coincidentally, within this last year I have seen a tremendous amount of change and growth in my life. Is there a correlation? There certainly must be. All that I can tell you is that every time I left the comforts of home, I came back a different person. It’s as if dormant parts of me were called out from the shadows into center stage. Those parts of me were finally embraced after their long awaited arrival.
Although I am home, I’m not really home. You see, I’m still wandering around somewhere in all the places I’ve been.
In fact, a piece of my heart will always be at the orphanages in Haiti. I cried my way through those visits about six years ago. I can still hear them singing songs; I can still smell the dust that swirled around us when we opened the door to their classroom.
In Seattle, I found my heart in coffee shop form. Record stores, stages, photography gallery, and amazing coffee all in one place. It was a match made in coffee-house heaven, as if all of my caffeinated dreams finally came true.
I still remember the woman’s face in Mexico who lit up when she heard my name, the same name as her daughter. Five years later, I still recall those bumpy streets, those amazing tacos, and the night sky that always soothed me to sleep.
In France, I remember wandering the streets and feeling the magic of Paris. The fresh rain combined with the magnificence of the city's architecture unearthed the history, the grandness of it all. The university students I was able to talk with held a compassion and drive that still challenges me today.
There’s no place like Ireland. I get the feels every time I think about being surrounded by a sea of greenery and getting lost in the music store I could have spent days in. I remember every student I encountered on that trip, and I pray for them constantly.
I’m still there, in all those places and more. Or perhaps, those places are still with me. The art, the people, the culture, the way of life, all of it so inspiring. They invite me into greater and greater awakenings of myself, understanding God, and loving this world He created.
Now, I crave this life of travel and foreign scenery. I desire to be on a JOURNEY. To visit new places and to come back a different person. But for now, I’ll just reminisce over where I’ve been.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing more about the #placesthatchangeme from this last year. Specifically, I will recount moments from my time in Seattle, Ireland, and France. I hope you take the stroll with me down memory lane, and I would love to hear about some of the places that YOU have been! Visit my "CONNECT" page and let me know your fondest travel memories.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.