The deliberation of a call – deciding whether or not to take the job offer in WI – is tiring and exhausting. There are so many things to consider! And there are so many things I would like to say about this process, but I can’t. This is difficult for me, and even more difficult for my husband.
On the positive side, I have learned a few things from this process. One of them is that I can be happy living just about anywhere. I have loved living in California, and we have thoroughly made it our home. But … I know I would be happy living in Wisconsin, too. I’m adaptable; I can be happy anywhere.
Another positive aspect that JJ and I have thought about (although it isn’t a deciding factor by any means) is how we have been able to thrive despite living far from where we grew up. Not everyone can do that. We view our home here in CA as home. We haven’t spent our time here merely biding our time until our call back “home” (aka. the midwest) arrived. Over our time here, we have known of a number of called workers who served at calls outside of the midwest but were never able to feel at home. We are home here, and that’s a blessing. A pastor recently shared some advice with my husband that was given to him by a former DP (district president) many years ago: “It’s not fair to the congregations you serve [in non-midwest locations] to continually refer to the midwest as ‘home’.” My husband and I realized that point ourselves when Lyd was young; we would talk about “going home for vacation,” and Lyd would be confused, because wasn’t she already home? From that time on, we consistently referred to CA as home. And it IS detrimental to the ministry at a congregation when the called worker(s) can’t see where they are at as “home.” It gives an impermanence and a feeling of dissatisfaction to the work being done at the church. One of the problems at churches in non-midwest districts is high called worker turnover — how can ministry really grow and expand when there isn’t long-term stability on the staff?
Thankfully, we really do love living here in CA, and if we decide to move back to WI, it would likely be a bit of a culture shock for us. Yes, we go back there at least once a year to visit family, but every year we notice differences between CA and WI. We used to go back to WI and say, “We changed so much that we could never manage to live here again.” In recent years, however, we haven’t felt that way, and even though we know it would be different, we realize that we actually could live in WI again. But we would sure miss CA!
However, one big thing we miss by living in CA is the chance for our families to be an active part of our children’s lives. As long as we live in CA, we will always miss that. There are advantages to being on our own, to be sure, but the obvious disadvantages never go away.
I don’t know what the Lord has planned for us. At some point, it is likely that we will leave CA. We don’t yet know if that time is now or not. But while we’re here, we plan to enjoy it to the fullest. We enjoy the weather (most of the time), the wealth of locally grown, organic fresh vegetables and fruits, and the open-mindedness of the people (liberal ways of thinking have benefits as well as drawbacks). We cherish the fact that our nuclear family is so strong (even while we miss that our parents are not able to play a larger role), we enjoy not being submerged into a Lutheran culture (even while we still miss the best of that Lutheran culture, especially good choirs), and we love the fact that our friends come from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. I love my job, and my husband loves the unique opportunities he has at his church. We love living close to the ocean, we love fish tacos at the Flying Fish Grill and salads at Pasta Pomodoro and chinese food at Yan’s Garden and thin crust pizza at Amici’s. We love the alternative medical professionals we’ve found here, and I love my OB-GYN. All of these things could be replaced (more or less, although probably not the good fish tacos!) in a new location, but I think it says something positive that we’ve been able to make a life and a community and a home for ourselves here in northern California.
Whether we take this current call to Wisconsin or whether we choose to remain here, we know that our time here will come to an end. Since we love it here, we’re determined to soak up as much as we can of what we love about CA during our remaining time here, for as long as we can.
Because who knows when it will come to an end?