I began writing this book in earnest three years ago, but my heart began telling it to me long before. Ever since I learned how to make a list, I’ve been documenting my life. I used to make lists of all the towns I’ve lived in, all the states and houses, all the schools, teachers and best friends I’ve ever had. It made me feel better to see it all down in black and white and it soothed the fear that I might forget important details. Perhaps I was trying to make sense of all the moving my family had done, and if I only examined the lists long enough I could come up with a formula to help figure out why life was so unpredictable. Then maybe I could solve the equation and figure out how to live the rest of my life with a different remainder.
In a way this book is my answer to the question: Where are you from? Most people answer that with a one-word response but when you grow up moving around a bunch, you have more of a home-base than a hometown -- I always thought of mine as Arkansas -- and your roots are based on the amount of attachment you have to a place, rather than the amount of time you spent there. Like the houses of both your grandparents, or your aunt from Colorado. In the midst of constant change, you cling to what you remember best, and string together paragraphs when one word just isn't enough.
I’m writing this book first and foremost for myself, but I’m also writing it for others like me. Anyone from the land of PK, or the Bible Belt South, or those who’ve grown up “in church”—they’re the ones who understand the language I’m speaking. And they’re the ones I’d most like to tell, "you are not alone."
It is possible to grow up with all the answers and still turn out clueless. It’s possible to have a loving family and faith in God, and still feel sad a lot of the time. Maybe even most of the time. This book is the story of me, a sad little girl who grew up feeling very alone. Then she left home, got married and started having babies…only to end up sadder than she’d ever felt before. It’s the story of how God used all of that sadness to help her find joy, but more importantly hope. The story’s not over yet, and it’s quite certain there’ll be even more sadness before it is. But in the meantime, I’ve learned that God is good, he can be trusted, and he might even love me, better than anyone else does.
It’s my sincerest hope that reading this book will help you learn the same. Of course I still forget from time to time. Oh, who am I kiddding? I'm pretty sure I forget everyday, if not every hour. So maybe this book will also be another list, just to help me remember.