Our true dwelling place: Re-thinking what stability means in parenting

Written by Laura Story
Published on August 27, 2021

As I look through photos of raising our family on the road, I see nothing normal about it. Nothing screams abnormal like those first couple of years with Josie. For one thing, we visited forty-eight states in eighteen months, which must have set a world record! 

She napped in my guitar case. She stood next to me at huge arena events wearing big, pink protective earmuffs, mesmerized by all the haze and flashing lights. 

When the headliner invited me on stage to play a few songs, I’d hand her off to the guy running monitors, one of many tech guys we referred to as her “tour uncles.” 

As an almost two-year-old, she helped the Compassion International representative set out packets about needy little boys and girls from all over the world, calling each one “baby” as she set them on the table. 

Some days we played at churches where she had the entire nursery wing to herself. Other days she picked animal hair off her onesie inside dusty arenas that had played host to a rodeo the night before. We traveled with a small bag of toys, a few books, and a highchair (when I remembered it). 

We were far from home, in every sense of the word. Yet those were such sweet days that mere memories bring tears to my eyes as I type. 

Re-defining “home”

You may read this with great concern, since what I just described goes against every parenting blog about safety and stability in a child’s formative years. If that’s what you’re thinking, you may want to stop reading now because the upcoming chapters are filled with unconventional parenting stories! 

For us, those memories of Josie traveling with me are tiny snapshots of a big God protecting our family. But he also instilled in Josie, at a young age, an understanding of his mission. 

God sustained us. He met every one of our needs. Though Josie’s first two years weren’t spent at home, they were spent in the home we made for her. 

Martin and I were her dwelling place, and God was ours. We were Josie’s stability. Each night she slept in a different bed, but it was always right between the two humans who loved her more than anything on the face of the earth. 

We were her home. 

And in each photo, her goofy, toothless smile confirms that the home we provided was enough. 

Sojourners who are not abandoned

What is your dwelling place? Perhaps God has physically displaced you, calling you from the place you thought of as home to a new place of residence. More often, God simply calls us out from the familiar. And when we make God our dwelling place, we can accept whatever earthly home or new circumstances he calls us to. 

We let the comforts of this world off the hook, believing that the longing of our hearts cannot be met by a place but a person. 

Has he called you to move to a lower income area to share your abundance with those in need? Has he called you to move closer to someone familiar, someone with whom you have been estranged, to become a caregiver or to build a relational bridge? 

Or maybe God is calling you to leave something behind, but the final destination is still unknown. You are in good company—when Jesus called his first disciples, he gave them very little instruction other than, “Come, follow me!” (Mark 10:21). 

Jesus calls all his disciples to live as sojourners in a world that isn’t quite yet home. Still, we don’t have to feel afraid or abandoned. He is our dwelling place. He always has been, and he always will be. 

Josie never truly left home because Martin and I were her dwelling place. Moses came to a similar realization. God was his dwelling place. In all our Moses moments, whenever God takes us to the shore of the Red Sea and a dust cloud of fear threatens to overwhelm, may we be reminded he is right there with us. 

In those instances, may we come to a place of saying So long, home and find our dwelling place in God alone.

Taken from “So Long, Normal” by Laura Story. Copyright 2021 by Laura Story. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.

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Laura Story

Laura Story is a wife, mother, songwriter, worship leader, author, artist, and Bible teacher. Her songs—which have won Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, and Dove Awards—include “Blessings” and Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable.” Her books and devotionals have also found a strong following: What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?, When God Doesn’t Fix It, and I Give Up. So Long, Normal is her latest book. 

Laura has a master of theological studies and a doctorate in worship studies, and has served as a worship leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta since 2005. Her greatest joy is being a wife to Martin and mother to Josie, Ben, Griffin, and Timothy. To learn more about Laura, visit laurastorymusic.com/ and follow her on Facebook @laurastory, Instagram: @laurastorymusic, and Twitter: @laurastorymusic

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