Karen and I were married in 1975. To make room for my bride, I kicked the guys out of the White House. The Brotherhood was blessed by God for five years–until Luthor, Willie, and I got married. So much for a brotherhood.
A few years later, through the generosity of Trinity Lutheran, we purchased the home Larry Christenson had lived in. Then Karen’s parents retired from 38 years of mission work in Japan. We said, “Move to San Pedro. We aren’t going anywhere.” They did. And we moved away. That wasn’t the plan, but Larry called me a few years after they arrived and asked me if I was sitting down. I said, “No, but I could.” He said, “The Lutheran Renewal board would like you to take over Lutheran Renewal.” It had never occurred to me that I would follow Larry again. We expected to stay put the rest of our lives. I have a cemetery plot to prove it.
I asked for a month to pray. Halfway in Karen said, “Shouldn’t we start praying?” I asked, “Do we need to?” She answered quietly, “No.” She was giving up precious time with parents she had left 30 years ago to go to college. And we were going to raise our youngest, Karis, with her sister Miriam’s daughter Kristina. Hard on Karen, but she said “yes” to the plan of God.
We had never been house-shopping before, but we flew to St. Paul to find a house for ourselves and five of the six children. Andrew stayed to finish college. We had two days. At the end of the first, we had seen nice homes but none we felt like we would be living in. Then we saw 1707 Lydia Avenue West. Big home. Older than the ones we had looked at. Lots of wood on the walls. I said to our realtor friend, “I’ll be right back.” I jumped the creek running through the property and ran along a wooded path that ended at a lake at the U of Northwestern. I asked myself, “Would my children like to grow up here?” Our yard in San Pedro was 1/60th the size of this property. I came back and whispered to Karen, “I think this is it.”
We had one more day to look at houses. Karen asked that night if I wanted to review the specs of the houses we would be seeing. I answered, “No, I don’t need to.” She stayed up–and pondered. Then she prayed, “I want to follow my husband, but I want to hear from you, Lord!”. She thought that what we had just seen looked more like a retreat center than a home. God spoke to her and said, “It’s not just for you.” She quietly said a “yes” to the holy will of God. “Retreat Center” comes close to describing what “the Ranch,” the name given by the young people who have lived here, really is. Non-stop young adults from the get-go, up to ten at a time living with us. Then Gabriel and Drew started a young adult community in 2005 that met on Tuesday night–and grew to 160 in our basement. (I counted them!).
Karen said two hard yeses to the will of God. And now she is more than stunned by the goodness of God, with five married children all living close–and having babies!! Her “yes” was followed by God’s strong YES! No regrets from us, only gratitude for the overwhelming kindness of God. You need not fear saying “yes” to the good and perfect will of God, even if it’s tough! (I love you, Karen!)