Sunday, February 28, 2010


These days there are plenty of options when it comes to going back to school -- part-time, full-time, online, summer intensives -- if you're willing there's a way. All of these are meant to make it easier and more convenient making use of modern technology.

Knowing this, begs the question, "Michael, why pack up and move the whol family to Grand Rapids for three years?" It certainly seems like the hardest way to go about it. Believe me, I asked that question. After all, I know several people right now, who live in Sioux Center, hold down good jobs, and are either going to seminary online or driving to Sioux Falls a day or two a week. Wouldn't that be easier?

Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of easy. To me, that seems harder. I can't do this by myself -- chatting on online forums, exchanging e-mails, or being hunkered down in the library every weekend reading and pounding out papers in some dark corner.

I need to do this with other people. I need to ask questions, share ideas and see reactions -- facial expressions. I need to hear if someone is angry, see if they're confused. It's hard to do that online.

I also want to be able to hit the ground running. If I'm going to do this, I need to DO it. I can't add it to my already full-plate. I want to be able to pour myself into my study, to focus on it and do it well. For me, that means giving it the attention it deserves.

This means lots of changes for our family. But, as we've talked about it as a family, we wouldn't want it any other way. We couldn't imagine doing it any other way. As the saying goes, "You gotta do, what you gotta do."

So, we're taking our leap of faith, stepping outside our comfort zone, and moving on -- with fear and with confidence.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving On....

Leaving is rarely easy in my experience. One of the most difficult things about this process of deciding to go to seminary has been leaving my current job. I haven't been at my current job in marketing and PR very long -- it'll be 2 years in about 2 weeks -- so in many ways I feel like I'm a short-timer. These feelings gave me alot of doubts about whether this was really what God wanted me to do.

Because of those doubts, one of the hardest things so far about this was to tell my boss (what would he say? think? do?), but he was great about it. He was very affirming and although he was sad to see me go, he 'saw' it in me. I was relieved and grateful for that response.

However, today I learned that two of my other Advancement colleagues will also be leaving their posts this summer -- one retiring and one moving with her husband to his new job. Even though I had no idea about either of these changes (nor they about mine) I still have some guilt about leaving this job behind. I have a strong sense of responsibility and don't want to leave anyone in a lurch. There will be a lot of new people and I know how stressful that can be and here I am contributing to the problem. I'd rather be a part of the solution.

One of my current colleagues asked, "Well, do you feel bad enough to change your mind?" She said it tongue-in-cheek, but it got me thinking. I don't, of course, feel bad enough to change my mind, but I wonder what, if anything, would make me change my mind at this point. I can honestly say -- nothing that I could imagine. I've been very at peace with this since day one and that, in my opinion, is a good thing. That doesn't mean I won't miss my job or these people, I will, but I'm also confident in my decision.

So we'll continue to move on in faith trusting the He will provide both for us and for the Advancement Office. If we believe that the Lord has great things in store for us, then I must believe equally that he has great things in store for those we're leaving behind as well.

In the meantime, we've been getting the house whipped into shape to put on the market next week and keeping a close eye on the Olympics. I'm doing my best to support the Canadians but, if I'm honest, I'm pretty biased toward the stars and stripes. We love the Olympics at our house!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

People Watching

So today it was my praise team's turn the lead Sunday worship. I say 'my' team but I really just mean I member of that team. My job is mostly just to do whatever I'm told to do...and I'm happy about that.

However, it's the first time I've led since I've announced my intent to go to seminary and enter full-time ministry. I found myself wondering if people in the congregation were viewing me differently up there because of that?

I must admit that I was feeling differently about it myself. I felt like that I somehow now have something to 'prove'. I know that's the wrong way to feel, but I'm chalking it up to my fallen nature. I just want to do well and have people feel that God was glorified and if I can be a part of making that happen for people I'm all for it.

Os Guiness, in his book "The Call" talks about living your life for an audience of one -- THE ONE. Something I think we all have to remind ourselves to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

So now that we've decided we'll be heading to Grand Rapids this summer, a number of other things need to get decided -- schools for the older two kids, a new church home, housing, income, even health insurance -- I guess this is what living by faith feels like!

Well, a few weeks back we drove to Grand Rapids and spent a few days taking it all in. We'd done some research online prior to the trip so we were pretty sure we wanted send the kids to Grand Rapids Christian and we knew the neighborhoods we wanted to look at for housing. We stayed with my brother and his family in Zeeland and commuted daily to GR where we visited the kids' schools, the seminary, and spent some time with a realtor looking at housing options.

We had decided that if we could come home with some questions answered about housing (rent? buy? sem housing?) and leave the kids' school visits feeling good, we'd consider it a successful trip. Well, we accomplished that and more by not only getting some housing questions answered, but actually securing a place to live and signing a 3-year lease. It's a big two-story house on a large corner lot. It's only about a half-mile from Zach's school, about one mile from Bethany's and about 2.5 miles from the seminary. It's really close to the bus stop so I'm hoping to use public transportation.

So, with schools and housing decided, next comes income -- a job for Jessica (we're looking into a few leads) and maybe a little something for me. We'll see what the Lord provides. We're still researching health insurance options and we've identified a fwe churches in the nieghborhood we'd like to visit.

For a planner/preparer like me, the Lord is challenging me with the whole living by faith thing! I'm truly learning to "trust and obey."

Here are a couple of pics of the house we're going to be living in:

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Future

So one night (in October of 2009, maybe?) Jessica and I were on our way to Sioux City and I asked her this question: "What would you say if I said I was thinking about going to seminary?" She said, "I'd say it wouldn't surprise me." And thus began the journey we now find ourselves on.

This summer, Lord willling, Jessica and I and the kids will pack all our earthly belongings into a U-Haul truck and make the 700+ mile drive from Sioux Center to Grand Rapids, where I will enroll in Calvin Seminary to begin a three-year M.Div program. The goal is to become ordained for full-time pastoral ministry in the CRC.

In some ways this is a long-time in coming and yet it seems as though now is the perfect time. Those who know me know that I was a pre-seminary student in college so this doesn't seem like much of a stretch, but it is....for me and for my family.

This is an adventure for all of us. We are taking our leap of faith, trusting that the Lord will provide. We are going with the understanding that this is all God's doing and not ours. So, from time to time, I update you on the progress and the process. We're leaving many good friends behind so I'm hoping this will be a good way to keep in touch with everyone....facebook, just longer!

There's lots that's happened the last few stay tuned and I'll do my best to keep you in the loop. In the meantime, your prayers are coveted. Our kids have lots of questions and concerns and we've assured them that Mom and Dad do too!