The first piece of property I owned in Denver, Colorado was about fifteen square feet. It was humble, but more than large enough to host all my imaginative exploits. I was four years old, and the space under my grandparents’ basement staircase was hot real estate. I had the monopoly on the market since my cousins were all younger, and I spent formative years of my life down there… taking care of my babies, answering important phone calls, organizing dishes, and experimenting with my fashion sense as it pertained to party dresses and princess shoes.
On Mondays, my day at Grandma’s, I really only surfaced when the plastic pizza slices and fake orange juice didn’t satisfy my mature palate, demanding that I dine out. Grandma made the BEST peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in town. And from my booster seat in her kitchen I’d quickly update her on how the kids were doing and what time tea would be that day if she wanted to stop in later.
When my parents moved our family to South Carolina in the summer of 1990, I decided to rent rather than sell. I trusted that my younger cousins would at least keep the place up… you know… make sure the lightbulb got replaced if it burned out… that sort of thing. My parents said we’d be gone two years… just long enough for Dad to finish his program at the Medical University of South Carolina. But that was twenty four years ago, and at some point along the way we all stopped referring to Denver as “home.”
Life is funny the way the twists and turns seem to overlap, so much so that you feel as if you’re going backward sometimes. I remember the month I spent living with my grandparents after college. Denver is a logical mid-way point between South Carolina and California for a girl who’s decided to take a cross-country road trip, but it was more than that for me. That month I spent living, once again, in the basement of my grandparent’s house was about cappuccinos and conversations about family history with my grandma. It was about exploring the city where my parents both grew up and fell in love… the city where my life began. It was about standing in the doorway of my once-magical land under the basement stairs, the landscape of my early childhood adventures where my wildest daydreams had been within reach, in order to see just how much I’d actually grown. I remember sitting, rather uncomfortably, in the tension of feeling like I’d come so far in life only to end up back where I began… unsure of what was more than a few miles ahead.
Seven years later I understand that sometimes, the only way forward is to retrace our steps. I couldn’t have known then that my journey back to Colorado, the place where I first learned how to dream and imagine and explore, would ultimately lead me forward towards all that my life is about today. I live in California now. I have a husband, three step-kids, and dreams that are too big for that little closet. Dreams to influence cities and nations through the power of Love. Dreams to equip a generation to walk in health and wholeness and hope. Dreams that are starting to materialize.
I turned twenty nine this past summer, and it marked a significant season-shift for me. I had been head-down and focussed on figuring out this whole wife/mom gig for the past few years, but something changed this summer. I felt the grace to lift up my head and look forward and dream broader. I felt permission to spend time outside of the four walls of our home… confident that we had built a solid family foundation capable of handling me building and growing on more than one front. Doors began to open and opportunities began to arise for me to step into more of what I know I was created to do. I even received an invitation to travel out of state and speak at a school on subjects I’m passionate about. I just returned from that most recent adventure. The people were amazing, and the time we shared was rich. I taught on building healthy relationships and establishing foundations for a community of thriving, whole people… all things that I love.
And guess where I happened to go… Denver, Colorado.
And guess where I slept… My grandparents’ basement.
There’s something profound and sweet about going backward in order to move forward. It keeps us humble. It keeps us honest. It keeps us grounded in the reality of who we are and where we’ve come from… a heart-posture of purity that sets us up to spring forward into destiny.