As most of you know we moved from Orlando, FL to South Dakota last July but I haven’t shared much of the back story on why South Dakota and why then. I figured I would take this opportunity to share a little more about that and how the Lord led us to where we are now.
For the three years we were in Florida, and Chris was attending seminary; I think he had a total of 4 jobs at ONE time, and maybe eight different jobs total. It was a high-stress season of having to get creative with making ends meet while being a full-time student working for a rigorous degree (Masters of Divinity). There came a point at the end of his third school year where we committed to a full-time position in college ministry with the church we attended. We were excited and felt content about the decision. Well… within a week of this commitment the job fell through, AND Chris’s pastoral intern contract ended (and wasn’t renewed) with a church he was working with. Needless to say – we were a little scared and a lot confused. We had very little income and were forced to reevaluate what our next step was.
At right around the same time, Chris reconnected with the pastor he had during his undergrad in South Dakota. They began talking briefly about a possible church planting role Chris could take there. I was trilled at the thought of moving back to the Midwest and tried not to get too overly excited until it was final. Florida was so not for me. I thought the 300+ days a year of hot, humid summer was miserable. This born and raised Wisconsin girl could not adjust! Well, the Lord kept opening door after door from housing, to job opportunities, to leases being done, all of Chris’s remaining classes could be done online, and so much more. We loaded up our things and headed back “home”!
Our year in SD brought endless twists and turns, unexpected downfalls, and more instability. Chris’s church planting position was not what we expected it to be, and he ended up losing his remote sales job that he had for years. He was unemployed when Jack was born. I tease him now about how his low point in life was when his third child was born, he was jobless, and had 20 games of Words With Friends going at one time, ha! He began applying for pastoral positions all over. So here we are, considering moving again but now with a newborn, two year old, and three year old. I was praying regularly for peace that surpassed my understanding because otherwise I would go into panic mode. We even went out to Colorado for a weekend, accepted a job, and THAT fell through too!
Chris came across a part-time position in a small church about an hour from where we were. He was accepted for the job, and he would drive out there every other Sunday to preach and do other ministry work. He asked me at one point how I would feel about living in a tiny rural community and I pretty much laughed in his face. Well, each time I would come out to hear Chris preach at this church my heart would grow more fond of the people. The welcoming and loving kindness was unique, it was genuine, and I could feel my heart being drawn toward this church and this little town. The Lord is infinitely more knowledgeable about what is best for me and oh how grateful I am for that!
We started praying that the Lord would provide the funds and clarity for Chris to be hired as the full-time pastor. With only about 30-40 members we were uncertain if we could be sustained here. While we were praying for that, a member of the church informed us of a family friend that was selling their longtime home in town. My expectations were low for two reasons – the cost of the house was shockingly low compared to what we were used to, and I didn’t know if we could find a home here that I would like. Once again the Lord provided above and beyond what we could’ve asked or imagined. As soon as we pulled up to our house, I was giddy. It was a classic black and white farmhouse style with a huge maple tree in front. I couldn’t believe my eyes – I have always adored white houses with black shutters. We walked in and the gorgeous beams caught my eyes immediately. I pretty much thought – “I’ll take it!” at that point.
The man who showed us the house was the son of the owner and grew up in it. His parents lived here for 50 years, and that right there was a draw for me. For one family to be in a home that long, take exceptional care of it, and raise five kids there told me that it was a good house. A home for memories to be made, for children to be raised, and people to be welcomed into. We slowly walked through the rooms, and there was charm around every corner. The big original windows in the dining room, the beautiful staircase railing, the darling storage cabinets in the bathroom. It was just perfect in my eyes.
It wasn’t even put on the market and by word of mouth was already getting offers. We told him then and there that we would like to move forward with purchasing. This home was the confirmation that we needed to make the commitment to the next season of life. It sealed the deal. A gift we surely didn’t expect or deserve!
In the back of our minds, Chris and I always desired a slower paced lifestyle. We never enjoyed city living. Sure it has its perks, but we were pretty indifferent to what large cities had to offer. Something that helped me make the mental adjustment from big city to small town living was that this town has a great deal to offer. We are just two minutes from a beautiful beach and park. The town really has anything and everything you would need – a bakery, restaurants, theater, lumber yard, grocery store, golf course, and more. There is a lost appreciation for slow, small town living. We are used to having way more then we need and then some. In our month here, we have seen the beauty of knowing your neighbors, the fun of having friends stop by unannounced, and the gift of living a quieter life.
We hope and pray the Lord gives us years of ministry in this little lake town. That we would make an impact for the kingdom. That people would see Christ in us individually and as a family. That Christ would be made more known because of our lives.