Um… Hi old friends….

This is kind of awkward… 

Long time no see…. Right? What’s up?

Did we drop off a cliff? Well… to be honest we have climbed many cliffs, but none in which we have accidently dropped to our doom. We are still alive. We are still here! 

The last Seminary Wife post I wrote was on February 15 – eight whole months ago! I guess I just let the blogging ball drop from the juggling act. There are just so many balls to juggle with my two hands! (Can I get an “Amen!?”)

I wanted to pick blogging back up because our journey of ministry is still steaming along as strongly, unpredictably as ever. Blogging was just one way to log our thoughts and share our hearts. So here I am again. I know you’ve missed me… [insert cheesy smile].

What has happened in the last eight months? SO MUCH! Bobby started a job/apprenticeship at a local church plant, I had a seizure, we moved to a northwest suburban area, we started Minnesota Family Adventure Days exploring the beautiful state, Dolly learned to ride a bike, I started gardening, Waldo started Kindergarten, Lois is potty-trained, we joined a homeschool co-op, and we are now officially in the know for Minnesota lingo like the expression, “Uffda” and the game “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.”  Life is vibrant. Life is so, so good. Minnesota is a dream state. 

God has proven his faithfulness and generosity repeatedly!

I was poking around old blog posts and laughed when I read a line from my very first post. I wrote in September of 2020: “When I hear the word seminary, I hear “marriage-destroyer.” Seminary cemetery is what I like to say… So basically, if it doesn’t destroy our marriage, then I don’t see why it would be so bad!”

We expected seminary and moving would put us in a testing place for our marriage with pangs of exhaustion, distance, stress, loneliness, and chaos. What we thought would be the biggest strain of our lives has proven to be the exact opposite… the greatest restoration and revitalization that our marriage, family, and hearts needed.

We are happy, you guys. We are beyond happy. And if I’m honest, it just keeps getting happier.

How? Why? Where did this happiness come from?! We were supposed to be miserable, weren’t we?

I’m still trying to put my finger on it. There are certainly physical things that are making us happy. The kids and I are smitten by the parks, playgrounds, hiking trails, nature centers, activities, in Minnesota. Bobby seems to actually have more free time somehow. I’m officially homeschooling a real school-aged kid. We get to see our extended family more than we originally thought. And of course, there are spiritual things that are making us happy too. Bobby is savoring all his homework and classes like a kid in a candy shop. I am gleaning from a whole new sphere of Christian community. Bobby and I find ourselves having long, long talks about all sorts of theological and ecclesiological conversations because of a different Christian culture.  We love Minnesota and Bethlehem Seminary, but they really are not the main fuel for our happiness. There’s something deeper going on. There’s something lingering. There’s something stirring. The best way I could describe it would be… God has opened our eyes. 

No one probably would notice it from the outside, but Bobby and I would both agree, we are different. We are together. We are a family. We are seeking with every inch of our hearts the glory of God in every plain-Jane, ordinary facet. All this happiness started when we drove away from our home in Papillion, although it certainly didn’t feel happy at the time. Bobby and I sold that house feeling like we lost three things: 1) our “forever” home, 2) our “forever” ministry, and 3) our “prosperous” family. And we gave up those things, thinking that God would do something epic with us for Him! Yet as we entered our first cozy Minnesota rental home, we didn’t realize God had other ideas for us… other ideas that weren’t the “epic” we were expecting.

Listen to this mini story. Today Bobby came home, ran, greeted the kids, and chased them upstairs. I hear this as I’m cooking dinner:

Waldo: Want to play house?

Bobby: Yes, I want to play house! Let’s go!

Waldo: Okay, I’m the Dad!

Bobby: Got it. I get to be Waldo.

Dolly: No, you are the brother.

Waldo: No, you have to be the robber!

I’m not entirely sure how the pretend play ended up, but that’s my story. Not very “epic” right? Bobby wasn’t cramming himself in his office pouring over books and writing a paper that would change Christian history. He wasn’t out street evangelizing, saving hundreds of souls. He wasn’t preaching his soul out. He was… “just” with our kids. He was playing with them. He wasn’t even reading the Bible to them or anything! But THAT, folks, is one of the “epic” things that God had in mind when He sent us to seminary.

We thought we were a happy family back in Nebraska: stable, mature, and put-together. Ha! What a joke! Like I said… God is opening our eyes. He is teaching us to love each other. No, not just that… God is showing us that we actually LIKE each other! 

But I want to make it clear, our happiness is not simple. Our happiness hasn’t been easy. Our happiness is not self-discovered. And our happiness is certainly not white-picket fence American. We still, half-the-time, don’t actually know what we are doing. We still feel like aimless tadpoles swimming in a giant pond of church networking. We feel homeless. We feel temporary. We feel under-accomplished. We feel like we have gone backwards in life. We go back and forth with career choices, possible residencies, churches, ministry, family dreams, and new and old loves. We are dreamers… maybe a little bit too dreamy. But we also find ourselves frozen… maybe a little too frozen recognizing our inability to accomplish any dreams at all. Every other day is still, “What really are we going to do for the rest of our lives? Who really are we?” The more we pursue those questions, the more we see our shortcomings, our puffed-up pride, impatient irritability, prayerless solutions, meaningless scheming, and hundreds of excuses that distract us from any successful outcome at all. 

Maybe we are really the happiest we have ever been, because for the first time in our lives, we are seeing ourselves as very small. Very small. We have figured out nothing. We have accomplished nothing. Our eyes are no longer fixed on Christian trophies that might give us a higher reputation in God’s Kingdom. Our eyes — surprisingly enough– are focused, for maybe the first time, on our daily bread. Our eyes are being redirected from our pursuits and dreams to nothing really at all; except satisfaction on what the Lord has already done and already has given. We have stopped chasing the wind and have instead learned to sit peacefully in the breeze. We are learning to trust God, not ourselves. Imagine that!

I was expecting seminary would make a beeline straight at Bobby’s career. I thought God would give us our intense ministry calling, asking us to forsake all that was earthly and insignificant in our lives, to follow him into the depths of a hard life of sacrifice. I expected we were going to walk away with greater gusto and passion to do something great for God and great for the world! But instead, it feels like God is pulling us back from searching for some intense, specific, sacrificial life dedicated to ministry. It seems as if God is pulling us back from all our ministry ambitions. Instead of something grandiose, instead of any kind of biography-worthy Christian life, it’s as if the Lord has chosen to humble all our potential. The longer we are in seminary, the more ordinary we are becoming. The longer we are in seminary the less we desire to change the world and the more we want to just sit where God has put us. 

In other words… God seems to be using seminary, not primarily to advance Bobby’s career or ministry, but to change our very souls. Seminary is giving us eyes to see that we might, at the end of the day, be called to a plain, uneventful life of loving God and loving others. Is that allowed? Can we be good obedient Christians in a normal home and in a normal ministry or job? Can our calling simply be: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one…. love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:39b-30). That seems to be what’s going on. At least right now. It might change as we approach year four… And we aren’t at all giving up ministry. We will most likely be in ministry for our whole lives still… but for now, God seems to be telling us, it doesn’t matter what we make of our lives, but what matters is what we do with the life God has given. It doesn’t matter what WE do, what matters is what GOD does with us.

And the result of this peculiar lesson? Freedom! Happiness! It’s as if God has humbled us, and instead of wailing tears, we are jumping for joy that He really is the end-all-be-all! And His will, no matter how “insignificant” it may seem to the world, or to us, is better than our self-glory. We are learning, God doesn’t need us, but we certainly need God! And God is enough. God is 100% enough. 

2 thoughts on “Happy

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