When the trip of a lifetime turns into the trip you make every year


We called it The trip of a lifetime whenever anyone asked. No, we won’t return home for Christmas. We’re going on the trip of a lifetime. We planned and booked and pre-paid and talked it up so much, one might think a trip to South Africa sat on a par with the Second Coming. Our time here is short, we said. We meant to fulfill one last dream vacation before moving back to America next June.

My husband arrived home a few days ago and he said “We need to talk” and he didn’t say it in a way that made me think a date night or a new pair of shoes lie in my immediate future. In the evening, he sat down on the long end of the sofa, and I on the short, and he told me he thought we needed to cancel our African adventure.

He had good reasons, sound reasons, and so we canceled the trip of a lifetime plans and began making new ones. The new plans will involve family and friends and gift cards to the local mall. They will include lots of back and forth in the minivan, into the wilds of suburban America, where we will hang out with wild little monkeys who happen to be related to us in the very best non-Darwinian way. And while we won’t explore the beauty of the African plains, we will explore the beauty of what it means to tend to our roots, to see them grow deeper into the soil by honoring tradition and one another.

I haven’t been one to tend to roots. I leave people and places behind easily, and I cut away at anything I fear may reach out and entangle me. For a long time, I believed roots held me back–kept me bound to a small life. But, as my children grow older, I feel the deeper needs pulsing and drumming below the surface of my skin, beating out a call to return home. I see that roots don’t have to act as a snare, rather they give support to the life that springs up above the surface. They provide hidden strength and hold us steadfast in the soil, rich with memories, fed with laughter, and watered with tears. I expect we’ll experience some of them all.

The trip of a lifetime can wait. In the meantime, we will learn what it means to truly build a life over time with the people and places and traditions we love. After all, our time here is short.

How do you feel about roots? Do you feel like they hold you back or hold you steady? I’d love your thoughts as I’m learning right along with you.


  • sarahannrogers

    If we could combine, we’d maybe find some balance.
    I have a terrible time thinking of moving away, though I know it’s in our future. My husband and I both feel and know we’re supposed to. We’re both firsts in our families, however, and our parents have made it clear that we would break. their. hearts. if we left. Quite a bit of pressure.
    Knowing that we need balance looms over us. I pray that when God moves us, he moves in our families hearts, too. Roots should be safe and stable, a place to come back to, a place to land.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Oh, Sarah. I know this pressure all too well. We are the first (and only ones) to move away. In the early years, it was a necessary and good thing for us, especially knowing God’s fingerprints were all over our move. But there are seasons, and this next season for us involves a returning. Let His peace be your best and most confident guide.

  • I think roots are a little of both for me…thought provoking post, Kimberly. thank you.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      A little bit of both, yes. It’s a fine balance isn’t it?

  • Susan

    Hello, wondering if you can do both? Perhaps visit S.A. in the Spring? We went 4 years ago in March and had a lovely time. The couple we hired as our Safari guides/hosts were outstanding. But, in the big picture – family always trumps travel adventure. And that is how it should be. blessings to you all.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Perhaps we might squeeze it in after all:) Who knows where the wind will blow us in the Spring!

  • Glenda Childers

    It sounds like you will be making a lot of great memories.


  • Becky

    my monkeys may or may not be on their best behavior, but they are super excited to see cousins.

  • Going in the direction God nudges seems wise and right and good.

  • Tricia

    Makes me cry….laugh and all that in between. I sure am delighted you are coming and I can hardly wait for my little monkeys to love on yours! See you in a week…..I’ll be there minivan and all!