More than ten years ago, Bryan asked me to be his wife. To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement. Before we’d even gone on our first date, I was practicing my first name with his last. :) He was handsome and funny and such a leader. I think that’s what I loved most about him… he led. See, I’m a little type-a (ahem, nice to meet you, I make planners for a living)… and to find someone who will confidently and gracefully lead a “type-a’er” like me… is, well, amazing. So when he suggested we live in Tampa (he was currently living in Tampa, we dated long distance for a while) when we got married, I was excited and ready for the adventure. We both knew we’d move home to Pensacola before we had children.
Ten years, two houses, and three kids later, here we are. Leaving Tampa to move home to Pensacola. But trusting this husband of mine who knew, before I did, what I needed... was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My time in Tampa started a bit rocky. I was so homesick it was palpable. My family is very, very close and I missed them with all of me. But little by little, Bryan and I became a family. And, even though I fought it at first, I grew to love Tampa. We learned to be a family all our own... and we learned to depend on each other. We started a business together. We created a home together. We found our community. But it wasn't easy at first.
In my book, Grace, Not Perfection, I talk a lot about community in the last third of the content. Much of those thoughts and feelings came from living in a city that wasn’t home. It wasn’t my city. I wasn’t raised here. My lifelong friends weren’t here. I didn’t have memories here. Having children and starting my own family, creating my own traditions, and making my own friends and memories… changed everything. We began to find “our spots,” “our people,” and “our community.” We found a wonderful church. We made friends who I refused to say goodbye to because they’ve all promised to come visit us in Pensacola like… next week (you hear that, guys!?). ;)
I like to compare the timing of much of our lives with the decision to separate my twins into different rooms at home. I was convinced I’d have them share a room as long as humanly possible. But one day, I woke up, and just knew it was time to give them their own spaces. Moving home to Pensacola was always the plan for us, but we knew that we’d have to wait until the time was right. And one day, after a trip home to Pensacola, we just knew… the time was right. It’s like that gut-feeling, ya-just-know, Holy-Spirit-speaking-to-you kind of thing.
I thought I’d be elated to leave Tampa behind, but I’m a big ball of feelings spanning every inch of the emotional spectrum today. We’re so excited for our new adventure in our hometown — raising our children around loads of family. We’ve been building our forever home for a while now and, though we’ll be renting (the cutest two bedroom beach house) for a bit while construction is completed, we have so much hopeful anticipation for our new lives there with so much family just miles away. I’m also so very sad. Real, true-blue friends are so hard to come by. But I also know that those special friendships stand the test of time and distance.
Tonight, the biggest blessing came to us. The family purchasing our home came to visit -- with fresh baked goodies, the cutest pineapple hand towel, and pool floats for our two month "beach adventure." I may have been all teary eyed talking to the sweet mom who'd be raising her children in this home. It's clear our paths crossed over this home for a reason. Talking to her, I realized all the pieces were falling into place. My office will become a dining room and I'm so excited about that for them. I always thought this space would be beautiful utilized in that way.
Now, after tucking my kids in bed for the last time in this place, I realize that I'm grieving this space a bit. I will miss it so much. We have so many special memories here. But I'm so excited to know it will be well loved once we leave. And I know we have so much excitement on the horizon realizing a dream we've had for ten years in Pensacola.
So... see ya later home we built a family in. See ya later favorite pediatrician (who single handedly got us through “the early years” with so much patience). See ya later favorite grocery store and neighborhood coffee shop and perfectly shaded park just two minutes away. See ya later beautiful neighborhood. See ya later office that held so much growth and so many memories. See ya later great big city skyline. See ya later best airport in the USA. See ya later favorite preschool and elementary school. See ya later best friends of both the grown up and little people kind. See ya later Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes 😩😂.
These adorable hats are from Aviate.
I’ve learned over the past few months that home is truly where the heart is. And sometimes, that’s in multiple spots on the map. We are so grateful to have had ten amazing, trying, growth-filled, fun years in Tampa. And we are so excited to be headed back to a city that has grown infinitely since 2008. It’s grown with new people and new buildings, but mostly Pensacola has grown in spirit — while still maintaining that small-town, Southern culture. We are so excited to be back in the city that never let go of our hearts. And we are SO excited to be surrounded by so much family. We can't wait to be Pensacolians once again!!
Favorite Tampa recommendations:
* Thank you, Tiffany, for these incredible, priceless photos of our family!!!