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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Basement Apartment, Wheaton, IL (Guest Post by Anna Moseley Gissing)

Stephanie Amores

To be human is to long forIn some sense, I am currently homeless. I don’t have an address. I don’t have a permanent residence. Most of my belongings are in storage.

I live in a basement apartment, but I’m moving again soon to another temporary location. To be clear--I have shelter and food and a place to sleep. I just don’t have anywhere that’s mine.

This wandering, homeless lifestyle is not my norm. It’s not intentional, not my preference. It’s a matter of circumstance.

I left my family in Pennsylvania a few months ago and drove my chock-full Smart car across several states and through many toll booths to Chicagoland. I started my new work as an editor and my new life in the basement apartment. My family stayed behind in order to sell our house, two mortgages being out of the question.

For a time, we were a family divided and I wasn’t sure where to call home. Is home where my family is? Is it where I have a permanent residence? Is it where my stuff is? Is it something else? My family and my stuff and my house were all somewhere else. And yet, I wasn’t just visiting.

Now my family has arrived but not our stuff, and we still don’t have a home. We sold our other house, but finding a new one has been harder than expected. When people ask us for an address we are in a quandary.

And yet, this new place is quickly beginning to feel like home, even in a basement apartment without our stuff and without an address. I don’t think it’s just the presence of my husband and kids. We aren’t near relatives. We have never lived in the Midwest.

But we have community here. New colleagues have offered to unload the stuff when it arrives. Another has offered us temporary housing. My landlady has welcomed us into the neighborhood, even presenting my kids with ice cream gift cards upon their arrival. A neighbor invited us for dinner last night.

In this place we aren’t starting from scratch--we have relationships here with a few friends we’ve known for over a decade. Instead of seeds, freshly dropped into the soil, we are more like seedlings with the tentative roots.

It’s never easy to switch homes, to move to another state, to start again. But the welcome we have received here is a gift. God is welcoming us here, to this home, through the open arms of both deep friends and mere acquaintances. My son, an anxious soul who struggles with transition, can’t stop smiling. When asked how he feels about the change, he quipped: “I don’t like it more than Bethlehem yet, but it’s off to a good start.”

We believe God called us to this journey, this upheaval, this new home. That doesn’t mean that we are promised ease or comfort. But in this case, we receive the basement apartment and all of the people around it as his provision for home.


Anna Moseley Gissing is a writer, speaker, and editor. Her writing appears in Let us Keep the Feast: Keeping the Church Year at Home and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She loves talking about the Bible and the practice of faith with groups large and small. Married to Jeff, a Presbyterian pastor, and mama to two elementary-aged kids, Anna loves big words, British TV, and any kind of chocolate.


keeping-place-11Welcome to a guest series I’m calling, “Home: Musings and Memories.” I’ve invited writers from all over the Internet to share their stories from home—in part, because I’ve just released a book called, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home (IVP, May 2017). I believe home is our most fundamental longing, homesickness our most nagging grief. Most of all, I believe that the historic Christian faith has something to say about that desire and disappointment.

The story of Jesus is a home story.

Thanks for joining me and these other fantastic writers in our search for home—and the God who makes its hope possible.

Jen