Recently, my family and I just moved 1,200 miles! We left our home of eight years in a mid-sized city in southwest Oklahoma and moved to a small town in Northern Michigan. I would love to tell you the entire story from start to finish. A tale that began about two years ago in a seemingly insignificant way, when something small happened. Something I didn’t even think was a big deal. That issue festered and grew and became a full-blown problem last February. The situation was fraught with sorrow for me. I shed a lot of tears, including during a church service. As I sat in my pew, thinking of what great ruin that “little foxes” (as King Solomon put it in Song of Solomon 2:15) caused, the tears fell down my cheeks in sheets. I stared at my husband while he preached and mouthed to him, “I’m sorry” (for crying like baby in front of the church). Everyone was staring, including my kids. Thankfully, that only happened once in public. The private tears and private pleadings with God would continue as the situation only worsened in March, April, and May.
Then, God brought about great change in our lives when my husband began the interview process with a church in northern Michigan.
We put our house in Oklahoma on the market in June, but had no idea where God was moving us at that time. My prayer was literally, “Lord, we don’t know what to do. Your word says to acknowledge you in all our ways, and you will direct our paths (Prov. 3:6), so I’m asking you not to sell this house if we should stay, or to sell it if you want us to go. And if it sells, let it at least cover our mortgage and costs.” I remember signing the contract to sell the house at our kitchen table and thinking, “I hope we don’t go homeless.” and then, “That’s silly, God won’t leave me homeless. But does God promise to house stupid people? Because this could be the most stupid thing we’ve ever done.” But, sign the contract we did, and eleven days later, we had four offers on our house on the same day. We accepted one of the offers, still with no idea what we were doing or where we were going. Our closing date was set at August 19.
Terry began the interview process with Faith Baptist Church in northern Michigan in April. After a few weeks, that process petered out as they decided that Terry was not the man for them. Terry had not said much to me about this church, so when they said “no,” I wasn’t heartbroken. Later, I learned that Terry was very disappointed. But, like always, he takes the “hits” and soldiers on. In late June, we traveled to Wisconsin to meet some folks at a church there. (Our house is on the market, remember, so we had to go somewhere!) Almost immediately after Terry booked the tickets to fly to Wisconsin, Michigan called Terry and said they wanted us again! So we picked up the interview process with them. Terry did a Zoom interview, then the two of us flew up for an in-person interview, then finally, the whole family flew up when Terry preached for a vote from the people to be their new pastor. He got the vote and accepted the pastorate on August 1! Now, we at least had a job, but what about a home? During our five day visit to Michigan as a family, we looked at two houses on the market in our price range. One needed thousands of dollars in work, so that meant we would try to get the other one! After Terry got voted in, we made an offer. I’ll be honest – I fully expected the seller NOT to accept our offer, even though we offered more than the asking price. Homes here (and everywhere) are selling fast, and there are people with deeper pockets than we have. I told our realtor that if this isn’t the house, then God will provide something else. (And, to my own amazement, I believed myself.) On our last day in Michigan before we went home to pack, we got a text from our realtor while we were shopping at Mackinaw Outfitters that the seller accepted our offer! Terry and I hugged in the middle of the store and nearly shed tears of joy and praise to God. We flew home and began packing. The plan would be to move to Michigan around the time of our closing date, August 19, whether we had a home in Michigan or not. Now that we did have a home, the closing date was well past the time we’d have to be out of our Oklahoma home. We planned to just move into the two bedroom parsonage until God put us where we needed to be.
On August 8, 2021, Terry gave a touching resignation from the church we had given eight years of our lives. August 15 was his last Sunday there. Our Oklahoma church had walked with us through tremendous personal heartache, and we had walked with them through funerals, illness, a pandemic, and a plethora of other joys and sorrows. We had planned to be there forever, but God had other plans for all of us. So many things happened that I would have never expected in a million years. In the book of Job, God uses the Sabeans to attack Job’s family and property. God ordained this evil in Job’s life to fulfill a purpose. Joseph’s life is another example of God using evil for good. He still does this today. Any “evil” that may have happened in our lives was all for our good and God’s glory. That truth brings me peace as I try to unpack, find my way around, and adjust to a whole new life in a whole new part of the country. I find joy in knowing that God works through people, and I’m so grateful for the people in both Oklahoma and in Michigan.
I’m writing this from our temporary home in Michigan. We packed up our home in two trucks on August 17-18. A man from our new church flew into Oklahoma and drove one truck to Michigan. Terry drove the other truck which also pulled our second vehicle. I drove the myself and the kids in our Dodge van. We stopped in Tulsa to see our firstborn and have one last meal together before the move, then we visited Terry’s grandma in Mattoon, Illinois, and then made the last leg of the trip into Michigan. We didn’t have any help loading our trucks, but when we arrived in Michigan, there were around 12 or so smiling faces ready to help us unload! And they had already unloaded the first truck for us! Since then, people have brought food, flowers, eggs, and money for pizza. I am overwhelmed with fatigue and gratefulness! Thanks to their kindness, I’ve had time to recover from the physical strain of packing and driving eighteen hours, and to do other important things like ride my bike on the “rails to trails” and write this blog post. Thank you, Faith Baptist, for all you have done for me and my family.
We’ve been here almost a week and have accomplished a great deal. The kids are all enrolled in school, we have a bank account, and Leslie is on the volleyball team. Okay, maybe we haven’t gotten a lot done, but it’s a start.
Lord willing, we will do more, so stay tuned for more of our Michigan adventures. 🙂