Back to the Homeland

For those who don’t know, my husband grew up in the flatlands of central Illinois surrounded by cornfields and soybeans.

christopher cornfield

Last Thursday we made the trek north back to his homeland.

rachtopher cornfield

This particular cornfield is just down the street from the house where he grew up.


That’s the house where Christopher grew up (way up ahead surrounded by trees). He really did grow up surrounded by cornfields and soybeans. In fact, he paid for my engagement ring by “walking beans”(clearing weeds out of soybean fields) and being a lifeguard at the pool in town. πŸ™‚


Christopher spent 17 years living in this house before he went off to college. His parents sold the house and moved south during his junior year of college. I will never forget how difficult itΒ was for him to say goodbye to the place he grew up. So every time we go to Illinois, we always stop Β by and see his old house again. Thankfully now that so much time has passed, it’s no longer bittersweet for him to see this house – just sweet memories of growing up here. πŸ™‚


Old Route 66 runs by close to where he grew up. So we always stop to check it out when we’re in town. πŸ™‚


Soybeans for miles. Central Illinois really is a beautiful place.

I have lived in twelveΒ different houses/apartments/homes in my nearly 27 years on this earth. I am no stranger to packing up, saying goodbye, and moving. When we lived in China during my teen years, we would come back to the States for the summers so I grew very used to packing up everything I owned in a couple of suitcases and being on the go. I remember being so confused when Christopher had such mixed feelings about his parents selling the house where he grew up. I empathized with his feelings of loss, but I didn’t understand having them over a house. He knew it was the right decision for them and he was excited to have them living closer, but it was hard for him to say goodbye to a place that held so many memories.

Last year, my grandfather sold the house that he had lived in since my mom was a little girl. As much as I have moved around in my life, that house was always a second home to me. Stable. Solid. Always there for me to come back to. I had no idea how attached I was to it until I found out it was going on the market. For the first time in my life, I really understood (not just empathized) with Christopher’s feelings of loss over four walls and a roof. After a couple of months, though, the bittersweet faded into just simply sweet. I’m so thankful for all the years of memories in that home just as I know Christopher is over his house in Illinois. And now we have a beautiful home together where we get to build hundreds more memories of our new family. πŸ™‚

Did you grow up in one house/place or move frequently?
Have you experienced saying goodbye to a home you grew up in?
Love Rach



30 responses to “Back to the Homeland

  1. I have moved once in my life – when I was 5 years old.
    the house I live in now is the one I’ve been in since 5! insane right?
    I used to think I would NEVER move out of Charleston/my house….but now that I’m getting older it is definitely more of a possibility.
    it is hard to think of leaving behind a place where all of your memories are…but I have friends who have moved more times than I can count and they have a different view than I do (as you do!) and that just comes from different life experience – it is what makes our world that much more interesting!
    (also lovely pictures!)

    • That really is incredible to me. People who have lived in the same place for such a long time. I see so many benefits of it (though I wouldn’t change my story either). I love hearing so many years’ worth of Christopher’s memories every time we visit Illinois. Those memories are precious as I know yours are – especially in that house.

      Side note: are you considering moving?!

  2. Kevin and I were just talking about this over the weekend! His parents have just put the house that he spent ages 8-18 at on the market, and understandably, he’s sad. It’s a hard thing most definitely! He has lived in 7 houses in his 30 years; I have lived in 14. I am, however, very attached to one house that my mom still owns. If we sold it, I know I’d feel emotional.

    Christopher grew up in a beautiful area! I bet he has wonderful memories.

    • It’s so interesting how you can become attached to inanimate things. But in a way, a house is almost living. Scuff marks, photos, and decorations tell stories of those who have lived there. After my grandfather sold his house, I understand that now. I feel for Kevin! I hope there is more sweet than bitter in the bittersweet of this time.

  3. I have moved 15 times in my life (so far), so I don’t really have an attachment for one place.
    I would love to have grown up somewhere as peaceful and beautiful as this though.

  4. I only lived in 2 houses growing up and I definitely got attached to them! I can’t imagine how sad it will be when my parents decide to move. 😦 I can’t wait to have a house of my own one day, and we don’t have to move for a long long time! πŸ™‚

    • It’s funny because when we bought our house, I had the opposite attitude. We had a serious talk about not being “stuck” in one place and how if we decided we didn’t want to live here anymore, we could just sell the house, etc. I was so afraid of committing to ONE PLACE for any amount of time (even more than a year). And now I’ve been in Memphis 6 years and in this house 4 and I can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere else (at least not right now). πŸ™‚

  5. I moved a few times too but it’s always nice going back to where you ‘grew up’ no matter how much time has passed. πŸ™‚

  6. I totally get feeling sad over selling a house! My parents lived in the same house for my entire life, until I moved to college. I got really emotional over them selling the house and moving away (though I appreciate them waiting until I finished high school). In fact, I went back for a visit a few months after they sold it and asked to go inside. It was a big mistake! The woman who bought our house did major renovations to it (which I’m sure it needed…it was an old, outdated house). It was beautiful on the inside, but totally unrecognizable. I started crying and had to awkwardly thank the new homeowners for letting me take a tour and try to get out of there as quickly as possible…

    I’m not a big country music fan, but my dad sent me this song and it really resonates with me and that whole experience:

    • Oh no! I can’t even imagine how emotional that must have been to see everything so different! When we were in Illinois this last time, Christopher mentioned maybe asking the new owners if we could look around the house, but we decided against it in the end. Maybe that was for the better. Also, that song totally makes me think of Christopher’s growing up years! That and “Photograph” by Nickleback. πŸ™‚

  7. optimistichealth

    I agree cornfields are so pretty! I grew up in two homes until I moved across country when I was 18. Since then we are moving machines. Who knows where next?! I guess I agree that my grandparents house selling was much harder and still is much harder to swallow then any I lived in myself.

    • We definitely moved a lot in our first years of marriage (2 apartments and a house in 2 years), but we’ve been in the same house since we bought it four years ago. We bought it intending to flip it and sell it, but we fell in love with it in the process. πŸ™‚ But who knows where we’ll be in ten years!

  8. I grew up (and still live in) the same house my entire life. It will be weird to finally move out, and I hope my mom doesn’t sell the house anytime soon!! I LOVE that he bought your engagement ring with some SOLID hard work. Your photos make this place look somewhat magical, I would love to visit and run these fields, you had me at FLAT! πŸ™‚

    • That’s amazing that you’ve been able to live in one house your whole life! I can only imagine how many memories you have that have happened in that home. How sweet. πŸ™‚ And girl, I hear ya. I love that he worked hard to save money for the ring so he could pay cash for it. He saved that money from the summer of ’06 and we didn’t get engaged until a year and a half later. I love that he was thinking so far ahead. πŸ™‚

  9. I grew up in the same house until my parents moved to Texas the summer after I graduated college! 22years. We were all sad to say goodbye to that house. Btw… I grew up in Wheaton,IL, and went to school in Greenville, so I am well acquainted with the great cornfields of Illinois πŸ™‚

    • Oh wow! You definitely are well acquainted with the cornfields of Illinois! And I’m guessing you’ve driven right by Christopher’s town while traveling back and forth from school to home! He grew up in Chenoa (just outside Bloomington). It’s a lovely area! πŸ™‚

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  11. 12 different houses/places!? Wow. I lived in the same house my whole life and my parents still live there. I know your travels have made you who you are though so you can be thankful for all your experiences!! I saw in your resposne above it’s not far from Bloomington…I was looking into visiting Bloomington Indiana (mainly because of all the Karen Kingsbury books…have you read those?

    • I’ve read a couple of her books, but I don’t think I’ve read any set in Bloomington, IN. My mom really likes her books, though, so I bet she has read them! Though, Christopher’s hometown is actually near Bloomington, Illinois. Confusing, I know, haha! The two Bloomingtons are only 3.5 hours away from each other so it’s a common misunderstanding. πŸ˜‰

  12. That is so awesome that the house is right near Route 66! I love that it looks so serene and beautiful there. I’ve lived in 5 different homes.

  13. Oh I so agree what a beautiful place!

  14. That’s so interesting that you have moved so many times throughout your life–especially to China! (I remember you commenting that on my blog a couple weeks ago and I got so excited because I LOVE China! ha)
    I grew up in a small town in South Dakota and never moved except when I went off to college. Now I am ironically moving down to Normal, IL and I am SO happy that you have good reports of that part of the state. Let me know if you have any nearby travel recommendations! Once I am more centrally located, I plan on doing a TON of traveling!

    Loved your post! πŸ™‚

    • Girl! You are going to be right there in Bloomington! That’s crazy! The next time we’re up there to visit, I’ll definitely let you know! πŸ™‚ As for places to go. Honestly, we are always visiting family when we’re there so we don’t get out and see much, haha! But Chicago isn’t far away and it’s definitely worth the trip. We love going up there! And St Louis is really close too and St Louis is also fabulous! So much there is free so it’s great for a cheap vacation! As for super local to the Bloomington/Normal area… I’m not as sure. We really are hanging out with family and/or seeing Christopher’s old stomping grounds when we’re there. I asked him for recommendations, but he didn’t have much. He said “go fishing? go to the pool?” Haha! Anyway, I’m excited to see all your coming adventures in Normal! πŸ™‚

  15. Okay, Illinois looks so pretty! And I totally get being attached to a place like that. My parents sometimes talk about moving out of my hometown, and I pretty much have a meltdown every time, even though they’re not super serious about it. I just can’t imagine not being able to go home anymore. I think the more time you have with a place, the more it matters to you. Steve and I have lived in our house for four years, and I’ll be a bit sad to leave it, but I think I’d feel more of a loss if my parents sold their house. Which is maybe kind of weird. Haha.

    • No, I can understand that. You have more years of memories in your parents’ house than in your current home. So it makes sense that you’d be more attached to their house than your own.

      We’ve been in our current house for four years too! And I’m already attached to it. I didn’t think I was all that attached to it until we started looking at different houses in the city. Our original plan was to buy this house and flip it to sell. But we fell in love with it along the way, haha!

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