For 36 years, my life has been a series of unexpected events. When I was nine, I was moved from the city streets of Detroit to a much smaller town in Illinois. In the two years we lived there I made some very close friends who were everything to my pre-adolescent world. Then we moved to the “middle-of-nowhere” Wyoming. I was a Midwestern city girl suddenly living in a state full of cowboys, sagebrush, and mountains. I had expected to be spending my sixth grade year playing basketball and cheerleading alongside my friends. Instead, I was navigating the world of middle school mean girl politics without the support I desperately needed. Five years later, I had achieved my two year goal of making it into the elite jazz choir at my high school. I was one out of 16 selected to be in the choir and I was on cloud nine. The next day my dad received word that he had a call to serve at a school and church in southwest Michigan, far away from my Wyoming high school. The day after my 16th birthday he told me that he had accepted the call. Instead of spending my junior year singing in jazz choir and enjoying all of the junior year festivities with my friends, I was starting over at a new high school with new politics and new expectations. I spent the next two years planning for my college future, eager to get out of Michigan and off to Nebraska where I could start over as a freshman with other freshman and have the college experience of my life. I was going to meet a perfect Lutheran boy with a perfect future career in the Lutheran Church and I was going to teach for a couple of years to get us established and then we were going to raise perfect Lutheran babies while I stayed home with them. Instead, I met my future Dutch, Christian Reformed husband in the McDonald’s parking lot after work the summer we both graduated from the same high school (it is a piece of Mrs. S trivia that my students love to hear). Instead of having babies within a couple years of teaching I discovered I really LOVED teaching and I didn’t want to leave the classroom. When we were finally ready to have babies, my body didn’t cooperate, and instead of seeing the words “Pregnant” on pregnancy test after pregnancy test, we kept getting negative results. The month we were told that we weren’t going to get pregnant and we were going to have to try something different, I got pregnant. I planned to raise our new daughter in Indianapolis. Instead, the day after my 30th birthday, my husband came home and told me that he was getting transferred to Fort Wayne in the next year. Once again I was being thrown an unexpected change that I was not ready for. I was happy and I couldn’t see what use God could possibly have for us in any place but where we were. It took five years, but everything is coming into focus.
In a move that took me through a complete roller coaster of emotions over the last five years, I started and completed grad school, I taught college for the first time, we had another surprise baby, I got a job at the high school that I wanted to teach at with less than two weeks to prepare before the school year started, I started teaching AP Language (which I have come to believe I was born to teach), we watched our house go through many changes, I cried, I laughed, I cried, I loved, I learned, and I cried some more. At times it felt like we were in a free fall with no soft landing in sight. Other times we were slowly climbing up the next hill, only to hit a curve once we crested the top. And all along the journey we grew as a family (both physically and metaphorically), we grew professionally, and we made close work friendships that we will take with us. But all of that was preparing us for the next step, a step that was beyond our wildest dreams.
God has a funny sense of humor. After five years living in Wyoming in my youth I was convinced that I was going to return to the West as an adult. I was going to someday live in Colorado, close to the desert and mountains. Instead, this desert/mountain/fresh water Lake Michigan loving Midwesterner is moving her family to wet, humid southeastern Texas close to the salty Gulf of Mexico.
My life has been a series of unexpected events. Someone once said “Man plans and God laughs.” And I still haven’t learned. I haven’t learned to stop planning every part of my life. I haven’t learned to let go of what I believe should have been. I haven’t learned to let go of what could have been. I haven’t learned to “Let go and let God.” But God keeps giving me the opportunity to learn. I didn’t see God’s purpose in turning my life upside down with a single conversation nearly six years ago, but I can see it now. And the last couple months have shown me that I have been where I needed to be. I can see it through the friendships with colleagues. I can see it through my students. I can see it through my children and the experiences they have had and the friendships they have developed.
For the last three years I have blogged about our house and our life in Fort Wayne. Now, as we prepare for a new adventure down south, I have decided that it is time to start a new blog. A blog focused on learning to accept those things I cannot change and learning to trust that God is guiding our footsteps. Everything about my life is unexpected. My life as a wife, my life as a mother, my wife as a teacher, and just my life. Someday I will learn, but until then I will write down the lessons that keep teaching me every step of the way.