moving to the woods...

since a new year has just begun and we've just embarked upon a new chapter of our lives, it's time to update the blog. i'm planning to start fresh from this point and be a much more diligent blogger, but first i thought i should share just how we ended up moving to northern wisconsin! it's a wonderful story of God's provision and direction in our lives so bear with me if i get long winded!

in september i got to spend a week teaching a jewelry class at Northwoods Adventure {the week at HoneyRock set aside for Wheaton alum ages 65+}. of all the retreats we've hosted, this group is my favorite. they are up for anything, anxious to meet new friends, and are so full of stories and wisdom. the whole week i felt like i was using my gifts, bringing joy to people and feeling fulfilled {a HUGE change from the way i felt at my job at home}. i kept asking the Lord for more opportunities to serve in this way & to use my gifts upon returning home. by the end of the week we had worked things out for me to teach crafting classes at the retirement community many of these dear people live in. i thought that was exactly the help i needed to return to a life i wasn't excited about. God had other plans.

this was during one of their worship times. recognize that headband?
image courtesy of Ted & Donna Loy, Wheaton College, '61
that sunday, i went to church in town and the youth pastor was giving the congregation an update on the church's youth ministry. it wasn't quite a sermon, mostly informational, but at the end he said to everyone, "i just want to ask you this morning, do you love your life? are you following God's call wherever it leads?"

i sat in the back of the {very small} church in tears. no. i do not love my life! i don't want to go back to my life! but i don't see another option right now! brandon and i had been praying for another job for me for months, but door after door was closed.
after the sermon the interim senior pastor got up and announced that they had a job opening in the church that needed to be filled in the next two weeks and he would be accepting applications after the service.
i was stunned. speechless. and still in tears. immediately {yes, during church} i texted brandon, who was still down in wheaton, and asked what he thought about moving to the woods. in 2 weeks.

naturally he thought i was totally crazy, but we've both been wanting to come back here for 3 years so.... after church i talked to a few people who know us and love us to see what they thought about the idea. everyone was encouraging. i drove home that afternoon and brandon and i talked and i prayed and we talked some more {i was probably a very distracted driver}. that week we decided i would at least apply for the job at church and see where God led from there. there were so many things that would need to fall into place that the whole thing seemed completely unlikely. we had gotten so used to God saying no that we'd forgotten what it was like to hear a yes. brandon would need a job. we'd need to break our lease. we'd need to quit our jobs {brandon had just been promoted}. we'd be leaving our close friends & my family. we'd need to find a year round rental in a place almost 100% full of summer cottages.
needless to say, all of those things fell into place. i met the senior pastor and applied for the church job a week later when we were back at HoneyRock for the 60th anniversary weekend. i interviewed over the phone four days later. two days after that i was extended a job offer. meanwhile, HoneyRock offered brandon a job through the end of winter. our landlords kept our security deposit but didn't require us to finish out our lease. we were researching rental houses when we got an email from friends of ours who were leaving the northwoods {to move to wheaton of all places!}. an offer had just fallen through on their house so it was going to be available. they offered to rent it to us for whatever we could afford. they were moving out 6 days before we needed to move in. we were afraid of the whole thing, but God's leading was undeniable- so we were off to the woods!

God has been so good to us. two and a half years ago when our graduate program ended at HoneyRock we longed to stay here, but the doors were closed. we spent the next two years wandering from place to place, from state to state, try to determine what God had for us. it took two and a half years, 4 states, 3 lousy jobs and countless job applications for us to land right back where we started. our hearts had stayed here in the northwoods and now we're back.

 things aren't quite settled yet. we are only staying in this house until it sells. brandon hasn't found a full time job {this is not the best place to be job searching}. we're still working on paying off the debt we incurred while we were unemployed a few years ago. but God has led so far. He has provided for our every need. and He will continue. 

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1: 4-6

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