Our Chicago house finally sold, after four years of trying, in early 2009. This dictated the delightful reality that we would be moving to Michigan! Nate planned to continue working if he could, riding the commuter train that traveled daily around the south end of Lake Michigan and dropped him two blocks from his office in the Loop. I would transform the run-down cottage into our year-round home. Over the years we had both craved more time in the restful atmosphere surrounding this place, and suddenly we found ourselves based there full time. Today is the one year anniversary of that move.
God arranged things as he did, when he did, for good reasons that were prompted by love and orchestrated through wisdom. Last spring he saw down the road to the pancreatic cancer that would arrive in the fall. He also saw Nate’s death, our children’s grief and my struggle with widowhood. So he prepared a plan and began unfolding it by facilitating the Chicago house sale. With that first step, he plucked us from the bustling suburban life where we’d lived most of our together-years and set us down in the stillness of our Michigan cottage.
Step two was three months spent squeezing two houses of stuff into one, unpacking a million boxes. Just after Labor Day 2009, the summer residents left the area for their fall and winter lives “back home” (like Nate and I had done all those years), and we got rid of the last empty box. As the leaves turned gold, an extraordinary peace settled over us at our new address. Unbeknownst to us, we were being strengthened for step three, pancreatic cancer.
When it hit at the end of September, the Lord’s step four brought our family together in miraculous ways. Although it was difficult then to be 110 miles from life-long friends and our beloved church on the other side of the lake, this isolation made family relationships even more precious. And as individuals, each of us became more dependent on the heavenly Father. When God’s step five whisked Nate to heaven, we all understood the victory of that for him and wouldn’t have wanted him to linger as he was, ravaged by disease and suffering terrible pain.
After Nate’s funeral in November, countless friends asked if I’d be moving “back home” to resume life in the Chicago area. But I knew without doubt God had settled me in Michigan for important reasons, so decided not to make any changes on my own but to embrace his choices for me instead.
As Jack and I walked the snowy lanes of our Michigan neighborhood throughout the winter, usually without seeing another human being, the Lord became my new partner. We began a phase of our relationship that might not have been as meaningful, had I been surrounded by friends and enveloped in activity. There was unlimited quiet time to think, cry, sleep and talk to God. He had deliberately relocated us to Michigan, and part of his plan was that I stay put.
Now, after a very significant year, my little cottage has truly become my home.
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Back in 1916, four year old Evelyn offered water to guests in good faith, knowing they’d enjoy a cool drink on a hot day. I, too, am being refreshed here in Michigan, not by toilet water, tap water or even Perrier but by a living water that flows from the inside out, springing from a God who will never let it run dry. I’d be a fool not to continue following him.
”My feet have closely followed [the Lord’s] steps. I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:11a,12a)