That was just September! It HAS been a year for the books. Would NOT have minded if some of it stayed in them, though. Thank God that we know the end of this Story!
Can you imagine the turmoil if you didn’t know that God’s Word said that God is a good God (Luke 18:19), that invites (john 14:17) us to know Him, and wants us to be a part of His plan to reconcile humanity (Matthew 28:19-20; 2nd Cor 5:19-20) back to Him? What an uncomfortable life THAT would be!
So, September was hotter and had a lot more storms than I expected for Wisconsin… We made a lot of sweat while we were trying to figure out Waukesha. The surprise porch repair left us with unfinished steps for the traditional 1st day of school pictures and then Ezra broke his arm on the 1st day of school, Isaac nearly bit off a chunk of his tongue the next week, Josie got a job at a shoe store, we had our 1st family visitors, and we moved into our office up the hill. We had forgotten how “convenient” it was to be already known by at least 50% of the students and 100% of the staff. So many new students to get to know! It has been an unexpected challenge to start from zero, but God has been faithful to provide opportunities and we are making “friends.” We discovered that the gutters were in need of a bit of TLC when the basement “lake” opened up after the rainstorms. We also learned that shopping for a new church to call “ours” is less than fun.
In October, we got good news on Tamara’s eye, enjoyed Josie and Addie’s 1st South HS choir and symphony performance, hosted our “dormkins” pumpkin carving extravaganza, and had alumni visitors from Canada, Michigan, Iowa, and California. It was a “little busier” than we anticipated but we held onto most of our sanity. By this time, we’ve been to about 4 different churches, looking for the one that has something for the smalls, the bigs, and something for momndad. We quickly decided the churches within walking distance weren’t going to be a fit. Waukesha has A LOT of other options, so we went back to the Google, and thought we found one (that we had previously visited, but in a different location?!)
Now, November is when I began to realize that I was going to require some warmer clothing. You know how people in the American SW like to talk about how the heat doesn’t feel as hot, because it’s a dry heat? Well maybe it’s an incredibly dry cold over here, because we regularly feel EXTRA cold! I keep hearing that WI winters are difficult, so we’ll see. Anyway, we had some more alumni visitors for a few days. And then, just before Thanksgiving, we decided to go to a parade. It was going to be our first parade in the new town, and a Christmas parade, too! I know the craziness was all over the news and you’ve maybe heard all you’d like to hear about the Waukesha parade nightmare, but I’ll share the details and our experience if you’re interested. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK. This just didn’t seem like the place. Many of you have checked in on us and we GREATLY appreciate knowing that we’re still on your radar. It was shocking to us and yet also reassuring on a few different levels for which we continue to give glory to God. We were physically spared what many weren’t and have a good support system for the emotional trauma and spiritual stress that we will be working through for a good bit. After the tragedy downtown, we had a couple extra days off school to process things. We were very grateful for this time. It “just so happened that” my Dad and Mom were on their way to our house for Thanksgiving, and to say that they were therapeutic would be an understatement. We had a nice day, with family and friends, being even more aware of some things taken for granted. Their visit closed out the month and all of a sudden, December was upon us and it was time to put up the tree and lights!
December looks like it will be filled with Christmas get togethers and parties and I am looking forward it! I think we have found a church that checks enough of the boxes for enough of us that we can make a home out of it. We’re under no delusion that there is a “perfect” church family, because wherever we go, we bring our own imperfections. We are convinced that there are venues for us to serve the body, and be hands and/or feet to the body of Christ that celebrates fellowship there, and opportunities to challenge brothers and sisters in Christ to further growth in the knowledge of God’s grace.
Year End mental recap:
Moving to Wisconsin has brought a lot of things into the light for us as a family and as members of the body of Christ at work to see the good news get out to the unreached.
We have an amazing network of partners that are praying for us (to our heavenly father) financially supporting us (with dollars and cents) and advocating for us (to our brothers and sisters in Christ) as we continue to do whatever we can to see more co-workers go out to more people groups. Wherever you find yourself in that list, thank you! We depend on you.
We never thought we would actually say it, but… Jackson, Michigan was much more “Home” than we thought it would be. I’ve erased the sentence that is logically supposed to follow that too many times to count, so… I’m just going to remind you to remember that even though this earth is very literally “not our home…” we feel like we left a lot of roots in Jackson. We’d love to see what grows up in the future and realize that it will be God that produces the fruit.
Another thing that 2021 has confirmed in my mind is that I’ve got a great wife and fantastic kids! They’ve worked hard alongside us and been asked to make sacrifices with us. They’ve experienced the confusion and frustration that we have, but without the direct benefit of 40 years of life’s perspective and practice walking with Jesus and the Word of God. Keep them, especially, in your prayers, please!
One last thing that being “away” from most of you has really helped me to see was the tangible way that you all are engaged in ministry with us. We have been able to put together times and activities with students because of your generosity! We needed furniture, you guys let God use you to provide. We needed a vehicle, you let God use you. Food for our bellies, clothes for our backs, Bibles to study with? All the things we use, on a daily basis, and especially when we’ve got students attention, are a result of you listening to the Holy Spirit. It is truly humbling to be your connection to the process of making disciples that can make disciples. I’ll end with the nitty gritty details: We’re still waiting to see how December wraps up, but God’s graciousness has been staggering this year. We hover near 90% fully supported for the year and have seen the value of communicating our ministry need clearly and freely to God’s people. I find that it’s not that our Heavenly Father is stingy or limited with His resources, but I’m too afraid to ask for His provision in His way and in His time.