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A return to slow living

It was a rainy Wednesday night in the spring of 2017 when our lives changed. I remember it was a Wednesday because that’s when we would go to the church down the road for a community meal, an art project that usually included glitter and paint (thank God it’s not at my house) and Messy Worship, a kid-friendly 30-minute church service where our youngest would usually run around barefoot and no one cared.

I had been struggling. We had been struggling.

We were living paycheck to paycheck, most months coming up short and charging necessities like diapers and milk to our credit card. Eric was in grad school two nights a week and I was working 12-hour shifts at the hospital. We were exhausted. We were crabby. We were broke. We were worried.

I could feel the panic bubbling up inside of me as we entered the parking lot of the church, hearing that Eric had just missed the cut for a coveted administrative job at a big high school in the south metro.

“Drop me off here,” I muttered, motioning for the garden of the church. “I need a minute.”

He stopped the car and I got out, making my way in the rain to the garden over looking the lake.

I sat there, my head in hands, bawling.

“Lord,” I prayed. “I can’t do this anymore.”

And then a stillness on my soul: Why aren’t you trusting me?

I stopped. I sniffed. I wiped my eyes.

I had been so consumed with what I thought our lives should look like. I had been adamant and resolute about what I thought we needed. An administrative job for Eric in the west metro so we could stay in our St. Louis Park house with the friendly front porch. Acceptance into the Spanish-immersion school in our neighborhood. More money for our family. If those pieces fell into place, life would be so much less stressful. I could relax.

“Lord,” I prayed again. “I can’t do this anymore.”

And again, that stillness. Why aren’t you trusting me?

I resonated with one word: WHY. Why were we fighting so hard to stay in our house that we could barely afford? Why did Eric need to find a job in one area of the Twin Cities? Maybe…there was more waiting for us.

I ran back into church where my family was scarfing down chicken and rice and sourdough bread.

“Babe,” I said to Eric. “I have an idea.”

That night, we huddled next to each other on the couch after the kids had fallen asleep.

“Clearly, this path isn’t working,” I said, pulling out a notebook. “Let’s have a little fun. Let’s dream a bit.”

We spent the next hour writing out our lives six months into the future. We let ourselves dream. And to my surprise, our life looked a lot…simpler.

We lived in a small town (we randomly picked a spot about an hour north of Minneapolis) where Eric worked as a dean of students. We lived on a farm. I wrote. I helped in the school. We went to football games. We ate dinner together.

We looked at each other after re-reading our excited and sloppy scribbles. And a peace settled between us. We knew what we had to do.

Let go of our tight grip. Trust God. Trust our dreams. Follow that peace.

And three weeks later, I was sitting outside of a red, brick school in a small town eating Subway with the kids while Eric sat inside, interviewing for a principal job.

I could see us here, I thought.

And a few months later, we left our beloved St. Louis Park house with the friendly front porch and moved into our temporary home — a church rectory.

The last 14 months haven’t always been easy, but they’ve been paved with a peace we can’t ignore. My grip has loosened. Material things seem to have less power. And instead of working for status and things and jobs and money, we are hustling for peace, community, love and snuggles.

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