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Around Our Table: Finding Home. Again.

Jeremy always said he married the right woman for the military. Which you would find funny if you were there, on that strained night when I locked myself in my closet so my roommate could not hear. I picked up the phone and cried and told my boyfriend that I can’t get past one thing, I couldn’t marry a military man.

We all know how that ended.

Bri & Beau Married in Forest

We did get married and moved to Florida. Florida was home for 2 years and I have the best and worst memories from that time. Then we picked up and moved to Columbia. Which was mostly lonely until the last year when we fell in love with so many people that I could hear my heart rip open when we drove away.

But I love the adventure and I always look forward to what is next. Every state, every culture is another signature of the One I want to know most.

So now we are here in California. And this move was the hardest. Which is curious because in the quiet of my room at the tumultuous age of 10 I remember thinking to myself, “I belong in California.” I had never been there – actually I had never been further west than Colorado at that point.

But at age 26 I let Jeremy take my hand and I very neatly folded up my dreams for California. And dreams have to be put somewhere. So, I placed it in that back corner of the heart – the exact place where we hope there is quicksand, so things will never resurface. This is where the wild things are.

Never once did I think I made a mistake. I would take Jeremy over a place 1,000 times. But as these stories go, one day, 4 years into marriage, he called me and told me he would be stationed in Los Angeles for our next assignment. Now is a good time to mention that God keeps teaching me about “eithers” and “ors.”

I think, either this or that. He has consistently surprised me with this AND that.

Military and California.

Redondo Beach

It was 20, I think. Twenty homes we looked at in the first two months we arrived in California. In that two months we hopped from airbnb to airbnb and became expert level guests. We lived out of a suitcase and were reminded of how little we need to get on with daily life. We graciously ate at all the local places – trying to remember that we are now locals too.

Chicken wings

Manhattan Beach Post

North Italia in Manhattan Beach

We narrowed it down to two homes and they could not have been more different.

Both were nearly the same price but one of them was much further from the ocean. It was large and had the most up to date appliances. It had a dishwasher and a jacuzzi tub. The walk in closet had enough room for the washer and dryer and I thought, also a guest bed 🙂 This house had a movie room complete with a very expensive and very large projector.

It had a large gourmet kitchen that I nearly drooled over. Jeremy watched me stand in the that space and get lost in dreams of all the meals I would cook here.

Then there was the beach home, the one we live in. The home we could walk to the beach from. It is old and small. Nothing had been updated in awhile. There is no dishwasher. There is one, tiny bathroom. It is across a gorgeous park where there is what we call a doggie meet every evening at 5pm. And right around sundown everyone emerges from their homes and walks to the beach.  

You could not exist in this area without being known. Without being a gracious neighbor.

So we’re here in our home. Our tiny spec of a home. And I love it. Last week we moved in and it was the largest purge of our lives. Everything we had owned and collected over 5 years of marriage went through our hands. Most of it was given away. And the exact moment when I put the last book on our shelf and everything was in its proper place, I felt emotionally and mentally lighter than I had been in a long time. We were nearly stuff-less.

oursavory books

We’re learning to be neighbors again. The kind of neighbor I always wanted to be. Because we live in the top of a duplex and very close to the other homes. So respect and friendship is the name of the game. Our neighbors below us quickly reached out and took us to the cutest wine shop for wine flights and cheese during our first week. We shared life together, in-between bites of fluffy goat cheese on crackers slathered with wild jams and sips of wine. We learned that we have a lot in common. In fact, they assured us that we have the exact right personality type for this beach town. Everyone here prefers to be near the beach over things and large homes.

And from that common trait stems a multitude of others.

I am happy and I am observing. I am trying to remember how to treat a place and its people like home. And not just like we’re visitors.

Also? I am excited to make new recipes in this house and to share them with you!

sweet potato noodles

I am excited to write in this home. In fact this is the exact home I will write my first book. Because last week I signed my first book contract with Thomas Nelson. Which has put me in a state of speechlessness and shocked humility and so this is the best way I know how to tell you. To just tell you.

And I will tell you more soon.

5 comments
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  • Carrie McKoyApril 15, 2016 - 6:06 pm
    YAY!!! I'm squeeling with delight for you, and wishing I had the stamina to run to L.A. and give you a big congratulatory hug! ❤️

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  • Missey CalcuttApril 15, 2016 - 6:34 pm
    Bri!!! This is amazing news! Congrats on the house and I can't wait to read more from you.

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  • Becky GiovagnoniApril 15, 2016 - 6:36 pm
    Oh there are SO many things I love about this post. :)

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  • Meredith Dunn LewisApril 15, 2016 - 7:10 pm
    Love. Just love.

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  • Sandra Heska KingApril 15, 2016 - 7:37 pm
    I'm hungry and drooling over the photos. And that Walt Whitman book? We've got the whole set. I love that you are settled in a sweet little place and in California and on the beach. And we are on our way to Florida with over 25 years in this place and so much to purge. But I'll still be take the entire set of Classics Club books. ;)

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  • Shannon JohnsonApril 15, 2016 - 10:43 pm
    So excited for you Bri! For the home, the relationships, the food, and THE BOOK!

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  • Alana NelsonApril 16, 2016 - 1:37 am
    ♡♡♡♡♡♡

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  • Sheri HudsonApril 16, 2016 - 3:14 am
    love it! So excited for you, can't wait for your book! You!

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  • Bonnie KnowlanApril 16, 2016 - 4:02 pm
    SO happy you are in your new place and happy! Garrett and Meg lived about a block from the ocean when they lived in LA. It was beautiful there :) Best of luck as you all start another chapter in your book of life and love.

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    • Bri McKoyApril 17, 2016 - 4:03 pm
      Thank you so much, Bonnie! I remember listening to Meg and Garrett share memories from LA when we first met them in Florida. And Meg gave us so much advice about where we should look to live and what church to check out when we got here! Miss you. xoxo

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  • Julie RoachApril 18, 2016 - 4:40 am
    A book! How exciting is that!? I will definitely be reading it when it's ready. Missing you, my friend. So happy for you guys, though.

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  • Natalie HallJune 1, 2016 - 11:50 pm
    Congrats on the book and your new home, Bri! Loved your interview on Hope Writers and have really enjoyed your site. May God bless you many times over in the future!

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    • Bri McKoyJune 7, 2016 - 11:51 pm
      Natalie! Thank you so much for dropping by and for your sweet words! What a gift. I am so grateful. xoxo

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      • Natalie HallJune 7, 2016 - 11:54 pm
        We lived in SC - the Greenville area - for most of our lives. Now we're in Alaska, and I miss it still! :)

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hello love...

Welcome! I'm Bri! Accidental home cook. Lover of gathering people around a table over a meal. Author of Come & Eat (September 2017). What I really want is to pull out a chair for you at my table. But until then, I hope you stay awhile and enjoy my stories + recipes! 

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