When I was 8 years old, my family moved to a small farm near Kokomo, Indiana. We moved because my parents discerned a distinct call to move to this land, not many years before purchased by my Grandpa, for it to be “sustenance for our families”. I, a very strong young girl, only recently a sister, made it quite clear that God was NOT including me in this call, and I have held to that for nearly 20 years.
20 years. 20 years of saying this inheritance was no good for me. That this call wasn’t right for me. 20 years of saying “never”. My final year at Hope I even wrote my Philosophy of Life paper about the life journeys of my parents and Grandpa, admiring their sacrifices for faith and admitting that my faith is messy and beautiful because of what they had said yes to, but even yet I declared no farm for me!
You know what happens when you tell God never?
He waits until you really offer to dig deeper, to give it all, to go anywhere, to do anything, then He laughs and responds with, “Remember that thing to which [‘cause God uses correct grammar, ya’ll] you keep saying ‘never’? Let’s take a crack at that.”
Over the last couple years, influenced by many but in particular the last year’s journey of the Boersma family [read a bit about them at www.caitlinboersma.com], Jeff and I pressed into stirrings of changes ahead. We reevaluated our jobs, our financial comforts, our church community, our family plans, our housing situation, etc but in most places we felt God wanted us to be even more committed to what we already were doing. Now, I see those as times of preparation, slowly becoming willing to give up pieces of our life so that when we were called to change nearly everything, we would be ready.
Well I guess He thinks we’re ready. God’s been bugging us, confirming it through Scripture and the words and encouragement of our community, and we’re saying yes. And now we’re moving fast.
Yup—we’re moving! In July, this family of four is moving in with my parents and brother on R.C. Ripberger Farm in Kokomo, Indiana. We see this housing situation as temporary (and to be honest, quite scary) but, our prayer asking God to prepare a place for us was answered when my parents offered the rooms and showed willingness to welcome our crazy and different lifestyle into their home. Raena is excited to live with her “favorite person,” Grammellow, and “swim in her pool every day!” Most everything else about the move is unclear – we don’t have a vision of what “the point is,” or the long-term goal but just that we are to go and go now. And we’re excited to be near family and explore whatever He does have next!
But let’s be real, authentic, intentional (pick your Jesus-follower buzzword of choice): this is scary, and sad, too. Jeff has had a Holland address for 10 years, and me just two less than that. Here we got engaged, graduated from college, bought our first home, and birthed two children. Our roomies and besties at Hope transitioned with us from late-night-lovin’ young’ns to early-to-bed, job-holding adults – Benjy, Marky-Pants, Mikey, Koon, Fras, Laura/Lola/George, Christy, Jenny-boo. We have attended the same church for nearly 8 years, welcomed into families and led by such gifted and willing spiritual mothers and fathers—Barb and Ross, Terri and Dave, Benjamin and Simone, Bill and Helen, Barbara, Dr. Brouwer, Dr. Portfleet, Joe and Tami. We’ve had great professional and life mentors and job opportunities—Darlene, Katie, Dave, Justin, Dan, Ricki, Ellen, Paul, Barb. And then our body – our home group and what we have called our community dinner group: our people with whom we’ve prayed, cried, laughed and raised kids with! Amy, Sandi, Matt, Amanda and Levi, all seven (make that eight!) Tennants (who’ve welcomed my girls like sisters!). Brent, Caitlin, E, S, and V; Taylor, Brittnee, and Ezra; Craig, Kate, and Thatcher; Aaron and Hannah; Matt and Jana…and those whose births we’re awaiting this year! And there are so many more individuals and families who’ve been essential to our Holland home. A part of our hearts will always be with each of you, relishing the years we’ve lived life together. We love you. We are grateful for you. And we couldn’t make this move without you. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, today and once we’re gone.
Holland will always be dear to me. To us. We’ll visit often and hope you Hollanders will do the same and join us for weekends on the farm!
Hoosiers – here we come! We don’t do life slowly or surfacey– we are excited to jump in and jump in deep. We’re excited to find people with whom we can break bread and drink wine (preferably spicy reds). And to my family in Indiana: a couple times a year just hasn’t been enough. I am so happy that Jeff and my kids will get to know you more and glean from your wisdom. And maybe understand my humor a little bit better…
We appreciate your prayers on this next step. We continue to move forward, having faith that the Lord will provide that Boldness cocktail we’ll need to get through the days:
“For the Spirit of God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)
And, possibly, I’ll remember to never say never again. 🙂