We love us some Michigan vacations. It’s the week we look forward to most each year – renting a lake house with family, digging in the sand, dodging the mosquitoes with incessant incest repellent, swimming out to the sand bar, picking blueberries, treating the a/c like it’s a god, riding horses through the woods, visiting lifelong friends, praying for tics to stay clear of the dog’s thick curls, strolling quaint lake town streets, trapping unsuspecting fireflies….it’s dreamy and muggy and delicious. Tim and I both grew up visiting western Michigan regularly. Tim’s family had a cottage on the lake and my extended family, on both sides, lived there. Still do. It’s where we went to an outstanding liberal arts college, Calvin, and laid eyes on each other for the first time at a kegger the first weekend of freshman year. It has definitely been a version of home in nostalgic ways for both of us.
When we moved to Denver, that nostalgia didn’t hold notable significance. We were mere babes, shaping a life for ourselves here and developing our own version of family. We brought our babies home and spent a decade raising those little humans in sunshine and mountain glory. Every inch of our years here has been divinely blessed. Family has come on jet planes to visit and share in our Denver world and we’ve soaked in those visits. Trips back to the Midwest were really frequent for years, Michigan being our favorite landing spot. The older the kids get, the more difficult these trips have become with a kiddo who thrives on regularity and predictability. “Home” is the easiest place to be for our family as a whole. And, as the kids get older, “home,” without family support, has begun to feel more isolated and challenging in our role as parents.
Reagan and I took a recent trip to West Michigan for a difficult family funeral. We saw dozens of relatives I grew up knowing, including two grandmas who are in their 90’s. We spent time with cousins, aunts and uncles, kids of cousins, parents and grandparents. We took my nephew to a country zoo and shopped at stores I stalk on Instagram. We drove through forest after forest. And my soul felt a happiness and a peace thats been missing for the past year. Until that weekend, I wouldn’t have been able to put my finger on where the void was. But there’s been a noticeable void and a desire for more space and connection and support. The void was Michigan. Within an hour of talking through the weekend back in Denver with Tim, we both knew. Michigan. It was our next thing and as much time and space as we’ve allowed ourselves to question it and doubt it, we haven’t wavered.
We’ve told most of our people, Denver and Mid-west, about our decision. Its been incredibly fun and incredibly heartbreaking entering into these conversations. I’m leaving my people here. My home team girls are here. They know me better than anyone on this planet and shockingly, love me regardless. It’s an achy feeling when I think about living 1,200 miles away from them. Leaving our church family will also ache. That place and those people have shaped us and changed the course of our faith. I won’t drag on with all the million things we’ll miss about this Colorado existence. There are so so many. And I won’t obsess about the sunshine. God bless us with the lack of sunshine that’s in our future. I’ve already ordered UV lamps for every room of the Michigan house. Not kidding. The conversations with our people East of the Mississippi have been quite the opposite. We have a welcoming committee two-fold, which makes this all so much easier. And if there’s anyone with a heart beat in the Midwest who we haven’t told, my parents took care of making them aware. Nana and Papa, here we come!
We couldn’t have imagined making this decision even two years ago. It wasn’t time. The pieces of our ever evolving family puzzle were still being shaped and have slowly joined to create a picture that is now crystal clear. Our log cabin on 4 acres is a picture of what we’ve longed for the past two years. The trees are begging to be outfitted with Ninja Warrior courses and slack lines. The property is patiently waiting for a pole barn to be built where we’ll operate our Airstream rental company from. The basement will host our Denver family with ease. The Christian school BOTH our kids will attend is what I’ve quite literally screamed, beat my fists and prayed for since our son entered the 1st grade. The town where we met and started the life we’ve evolved into will welcome us back and we can hardly wait to see how God will bless all of it.