This past week I spoke in Chapel at Stony Brook. Using the Gospel passage found in Matthew of the Wise Men visiting Jesus, I related the journey of the Magi to the journey my family took ten years ago. On December 26, 2003, the Brummeler family left Chicago, Illinois, and headed to Vancouver, BC, so that Brad could begin a Masters program at Regent College. And that was just the beginning of the adventure!
As I worked on this message, I could hardly believe a decade had passed. Yet, pictures don’t lie!
Brad was thirty-five, I was thirty-three, Jacob was seven and Anna was four. Below is an excerpt from this talk.
“In the months leading up to our departure, we put our house on the market and eventually Mr. Brummeler quit his job as a computer consultant. We said our goodbyes to dear friends and tried our best to explain to others why we felt this was the next step for us, even though it meant uprooting our family and giving up a certain amount of financial security.
After Regent, we knew that Mr. Brummeler would apply for PhD programs and we would move again to some unknown place. While there was certainly excitement surrounding this new chapter in our lives, there was much that was unknown—particularly when our house in Chicago would sell. I shared in Chapel a couple of years ago how difficult that time was for me. It took eight months for our house to sell. Five of those months our house sat vacant while we lived in Vancouver, paying a high rent there and continuing to pay a mortgage. I struggled to fight off despair and anxiety about our financial well-being during those months. Had we made a mistake? Were we foolish to move before our house sold? Those questions and others rolled around in my head on my dark days. Yet, God was faithful, and at just the right time, our house did sell.
On June 1, 2006, we left Vancouver and drove for five days to Waco, Texas, to begin another new chapter in our lives. Mr. Brummeler was accepted into Baylor’s PhD program in Philosophy and for the next five years Waco would be our home.
While life certainly contained elements of permanency during those years—we bought a house, Mr. Brummeler attended class and eventually started teaching as part of his program, and I taught school—always looming in the backs of our minds was the question, “What’s next?” Will there be a job at the end of this journey? Where will we end up? I found myself trying to imagine, for instance, what state we might live in. I’ll be honest, New York never crossed my mind. Not because New York was somehow awful, but, well, I didn’t know anybody in New York. I take that back. We knew the Rileys and knew they were at this place called Stony Brook and that it was a boarding school or something like that??
I can still recall the day in March when Mr. Brummeler called me. I was at the orthodontist’s office with Jacob when my phone rang. Mr. Brummeler’s opening words were, “What do you think about New York?” New York??? That conversation set in motion the next leg of our journey. July 2011 found us driving from Waco, Texas, to Long Island, New York, beginning another chapter in our family’s lives.
Last summer marked the 25th year since I graduated from high school. Yes, I know—it sounds old! If you had asked me as a high school senior where I thought I would end up twenty-five years after graduation, I would never in a million years have been able to predict all the places I have lived. Sometimes I wish I could say I have lived in the same place all my life. I don’t know what it is like to feel that deep connection to a particular place because of having lived in one spot all my life. Starting over is hard. Building friendships takes work. I know what it is like to be in a group of people and feel lonely and wonder, “Does anyone here really know me?”
Yet here’s the truth about my journey and the journey you are on as well: God is with us—Emmanuel has come. This baby that attracted scruffy shepherds, angelic hosts, and wise men from the east, dwells among us and goes with us.”
As 2014 unfolds, may we seek Jesus, knowing that a journey with Him is the best kind of journey because we have a constant companion. Our steps may falter, our paths may dim, but the one who leads us goes with us every step of the way.