Written By:  Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

“What’s your absolute favorite place, Mommy?” he asks, as we sit at the kitchen counter with our toasted bagels and sliced strawberries. When I tell my seven-year-old son that I don’t think I have one absolute favorite place, he’s nothing short of horrified.

“What? Not even the cabin? The cabin’s my absolute favorite place,” says Rowan, referring to our family cabin on the North Shore of Lake Superior. “You need to find your favorite place.”

According to the writer Edward Abbey, Rowan may be on to something:

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“Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.” (Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire).

Abbey’s “right place,” his “one true home,” was Moab, Utah, a spot where he spent many years as a ranger.

My husband, Brad, shares his favorite place with Rowan: the icy lake, whispering aspen and thundering Temperance River of Minnesota’s North Shore.

My dad’s place is the Connecticut River, with the osprey nests swaying atop buoy markers, pines and evergreens jutting from the bank, a hint of salt in the air from Long Island Sound two miles downstream.

But my place? My one true home? I’m not sure I know.

A few times a year the kids and I rumble over the gravel roads to Spring Creek Prairie, an Audubon nature preserve about 10 miles outside of Lincoln. As we walk the grassy hills, goldfinches swooping, grasshoppers humming, I sometimes wonder if Nebraska, with its sea of blue stem and low-hanging cumulous clouds, isn’t my one true place after all.

I think about this possibility when I read these verses from Acts:

“…He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live, and move and have our being.”  (Acts 17: 26-28)

As an unbeliever for more than two decades, I doubt I would have sought God if I’d remained in my home state of Massachusetts. I was too comfortable there, surrounded by my extended family and friends, secure in the job I loved, settled into the familiar routines and rituals of the life I’d carved out for myself. I believe God himself determined Nebraska as the place where, stripped of all my comforts and securities, I would seek him and reach out for him in my loneliness, fear and despair.  I believe God chose Nebraska as the place where I would find him.

Nebraska may not be a typical favorite place. There are no sandy beaches here or crashing surf, no sparkling, pristine lakes or roaring glacial rivers. But in Nebraska I discovered my one, true home. Because here on the Great Plains, I found God. 

Have you ever wondered about why you live where you do? Do you ever think God has placed you there for a specific purpose?

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Michelle Derusha

A Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska a decade ago, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of chickens …and God. She writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at her blog, Graceful, as well as a monthly religion and spirituality column for the Lincoln Journal Star and for a variety of online publications, including The High Calling. She’s mom to two rambunctious, bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and wife to Brad, an English professor. You can also connect with Michelle on Twitter and Facebook.