When I first met Phil (nearly 20 years ago!) and decided to move to Missouri to be with him, I had never been very far outside of the heavily populated confines of Northwest Indiana. Lake Station, Indiana was about 25 minutes to downtown Chicago on a good traffic day from the house I grew up in. I was a city girl.
He is a country boy. He grew up on an 80 acre farm in Owensville, Missouri and spent summers fishing on Table Rock Lake in Shell Knob, Missouri. In Shell Knob, nothing was open after 5pm and the nearest Walmart was a solid 45 minutes. We lived with his mom for a few months–so Shell Knob was my first Missouri home. Phil’s mom still lives there today.
It was quite a culture shock for this girl. There are plenty of stories to be told–most all of them making fun of my lack of knowledge of all things country–and you’ll hear them if you ever come have dinner with us.
Today’s story is about how God speaks to me in (seemingly) everyday, normal situations.
When we found out we were moving to Cedar Rapids, I (of course) Googled everything I could think of…including churches. We like to be with congregations that are moving forward, that have up to date websites and social media accounts. I found one with a youth group YouTube video and they were just buzzing with energy and God’s love. I showed Phil and Zane and said I think it’s where we should try first. They agreed.
We had just left an amazing youth group headed up by a couple (they’d moved to Indy to plant a church) who had become two of my closest friends, so to find something with as much energy and love, I knew would be a monumental task, but I asked God for some help anyway…because he’s good at making the impossible possible. At one time, we’d thought God was going to move us to Indy to plant a church with them, but I guess God had Cedar Rapids in store all along.
On the Cedar Rapids youth group’s website, under the “upcoming events” tab, it showed their mission trip for the summer: Indianapolis.
Ok, God. I’m listening.
We’re here and almost settled in. I took Zane to that youth group for the first time last night. We met the youth pastor (Tom,) Zane introduced himself and Tom said, “Zane?! Really? That’s my son’s name!” (his adult son!)
Tom asked me some questions, what brought us to town, what we did for a living, and Tom is a trained artist who doesn’t do art anymore and said, “You must be really good to make a living at it” and was thrilled with the success of Visual Prayer.
I left Zane and headed to Starbucks to work on some word art. When I picked him up, I was introduced to a few other adults and one of them asked if we had any other kids and I rattled on about Jess and Mike and grandbabies and they asked where in Missouri and I said near Branson and they said, “Oh! That’s near where we take the kids to summer camp, have you ever heard of Shell Knob?”
Insert Wile E. Coyote screeching halt.
Are you for real God? Have *I* ever heard of Shell Knob?!
I LIVED THERE.
Out of all the places in the United States could’ve been transferred. Out of all of the churches I could’ve picked to try…the one we pick goes to Indy for missions trips and Shell Knob for summer camp.
You are coming in loud and clear Good Buddy.