I’m heading back to California next weekend for a quick visit with friends and family, and I’ve caught myself telling people that I’m “going home” for a couple days; then I pause and think to myself “isn’t it about time that you start thinking of Seattle as home?” And then I realize that finally (after 2 1/2 years), I think I’m getting there – this past week has contained several reminders that we are slowly but surely rooting ourselves here.

Being involved in our church has been hugely meaningful in our connection to Seattle. The small group that we host every Tuesday is a source of so much joy and encouragement (and calories – we’ve shared a number of pretty indulgent desserts over the past few months!). We took a break from our regular Bible study this past week and decided to just kick back and enjoy a movie together. And as much as I enjoy the depth that comes out of our studies and discussions, this night was a reminder that the greatest thing about about this church-based community is that we have really become a group of friends who really like just hanging out together. Six months ago, most of us didn’t even know each other. I also volunteer a couple of times a month in one of the Sunday School classes and got together with several of the other teachers last Thursday. Nothing big – just a couple of hours of catching up with one another and sharing ideas about children’s ministry, but I left that meeting feeling so supported and uplifted. Again and again, I am inspired the passion and sincerity of the people we’ve met at Quest.

Another one of these root-setting reminders came in the form of the wonderful dinner we shared last night with some friends. Thanks to Jack (lawyer-by-day, chef-by-night), the food was incredible. But the conversations we had that night were what sent me home with a smile on my face. We spent several hours at the table sharing about our families, our travel experiences, our restaurant recommendations… We pondered the origins of chapstick, Shane revealed his dreams of opening up a fast-food Indian restaurant, we reminisced about the days of Atari… Good times. It is encouraging to see these much-needed “local” friendships growing and deepening.

And finally, a couple of simple experiences this weekend reaffirmed how much we really love our neighborhood. Shane spent much of yesterday and part of today helping our neighbors lay new sod – not a “fun” task per-se, but still, it’s nice to have someone just around the corner that he can play in the dirt with. And we had our first backyard barbeque of the year this afternoon when our neighbor a few doors down pulled out his grill and called us over for hot dogs. A few other neighbors wandered over and we sat around in our lawn chairs and chatted for awhile, pretending that it was much warmer than it actually was. I love being a part of a community where these spontaneous gatherings are so natural – Shane and I lived in our previous apartment for a full year without meeting anyone else in the building. We have been so blessed here by the warmth and generosity of the people that live around us.

So are we home yet? I’d say yes – actually, we’ve been home for awhile now.