As 2013 comes to a close, I want to take this time to think back over the year and show how God has shown us so much grace, mercy, and love throughout this past year.
Our year was a year of new beginnings. As much as we felt we were still in the same situation as the end of 2012, we knew saying goodbye to 2012, would be difficult, yet healing. Starting a new year was what we needed. We needed the passing of time, to bring healing to our hurting hearts – to bring healing to the ache we still felt for our two little babies in Heaven. But God gave us glimpses of hope.
God used January as a reminder that He was not done with us yet. That He could still use us. Through God’s grace, we were able to go to Belize on a short term mission trip. Leading up to it, we were wondering if we would be able to go because of the sicknesses, but by the time the trip came around, we both were healthy, ready, and willing to jump into this opportunity.
Belize is where some true healing began. God reminded us that though we had been through a deep valley, He could rise us up out of it to go and make disciples. Even though we blessed many with food, the Bible, and love, it was Dan and I who were even more blessed. We came back different. We came back changed. We came back with a renewed passion for ministry and affirmation that yes, God still wants us to do youth ministry.
While in Belize, Dan heard from this church all the way in Minnesota. It had been a month since he had sent in his resume, so we assumed it wasn’t going to turn into anything. Soon after we returned, Dan had a phone interview, then the next weekend, we found ourselves IN Minnesota, with Dan doing face-to-face interviews. Saturday morning, after Dan met with one of the pastors, he came back in the hotel room and Dan was different. His face glowed. It was a glowing I hadn’t seen in months. At that moment, we realized we might be moving to Minnesota. Granted, Dan hadn’t even done the interviews yet.
When we left Minnesota that weekend, we called our parents and shared with them our excitement. In our hearts, we knew that that was where God was calling us – we couldn’t always put words to our feelings, but we knew. Lo and behold, Dan got the call that they offered the full-time position to him. We did the “political” thing and said that we will think and pray about it, but we knew. Taking a few more hours in prayer just reaffirmed our feelings even more.
Then a week or two later, we were out house hunting, then a week and half later, we moved to Prinsburg, Minnesota. Who would’ve thought? Dan and I NEVER thought we would move here, but God knew.
Ironically, before Dan and I were married, we always said we could see ourselves moving to a small Dutch community around the Iowa area. Little did we know that God was probably laughing at us and saying “you just wait, my child!” Now we live in a SMALL Dutch community, just outside of Iowa. I suppose God puts those thoughts into our hearts for a reason, right?
Moving hasn’t always been easy, but it has strengthened us in many ways. We know people move all of the time. Some multiple times a year. So we know we aren’t any different – but what was most difficult was moving away from all of the support we had been given through all of our loss. We weren’t always sure we were ready to give that up – but we moved into a community who has been ready and willing to give more than support to us. They have welcomed us with loving arms. With arms wide open as tears have fallen as the grief of losing two little ones is all too fresh. They have sacrificed and done more than we could’ve ever imagined!
Shortly after moving to MN, Dan’s uncle passed away. We drove back to Michigan for the funeral, but it was in Cadillac, MI that our engine decided to blow. Through the generosity of so many in Minnesota, we were able to get our vehicle towed back to MN, fixed, and with a new engine. Brings tears to even think that all still happened. During a time of grief, we were blessed so richly.
Needless to say, we feel we are a son and daughter out here. We have “parents” to go to when we need help or questions. And not to mention, we have an incredible amount of support awaiting us in Michigan, anytime we go back. If it wasn’t for the support of our families, this transition would be much more difficult.
We have enjoyed the new opportunities that a new community (and state for that matter) has to offer! First of all, we love our youth group kids! Oh they keep us young! We love the new sights and sounds – bald eagles, massive fish, TONS OF fish, rolling hills, valleys, flat farmlands, fires burning, stars that we have never seen before, crisp cold days that make it hard to even breathe when outside, and the joys of seeing beet trucks take over our roads. Being new, yes, that honestly is enjoyable!
We have enjoyed seeing a dear friend get married in Florida, having a college roommate visit from Canada, going on family vacations, doing a mission trip in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor with our youth group kids, going ice fishing, going on a junior high and high school retreat, staying in cabins on lakes, being introduced to many new faces, walking down the street and seeing familiar faces, taking random exploration trips and seeing what we find, starting new positions and jobs that we absolutely love, and many, many more things as well!
Hard to believe that in March, we will have been here a year! Time flies when you are having fun, right? In our 7 years of marriage, we never thought God would take us down the journey He has, but we are closer to Him and each other because of it. We are parents because of it. We have so much to be thankful for because of it.
Who knows what 2014 will bring. But what we do know is that God has it under control, that He has already written our story, and all we need to do is just keep following closely behind Him. What joy and peace that brings when uncertainty creeps in. What confidence that gives us as we move forward in our life here in Minnesota. Sometimes it is so easy to just sit and wonder what life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. We do wonder. But all God is asking of us today, is to stay faithful and reflect His image. Easier said than done, but what peace that gives!
May God bless you in this coming year. May you stay faithful in His calling on YOUR life. May God use your life to further His kingdom and wow you in ways you never imagined.
Happy New Year!