I came across this print in my art room this week. I hadn't seen it for years, but it triggered all kinds of emotions and memories.
When I was a senior at UW-Milwaukee in the final stretch toward my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, I took a printing class. We were introduced to many types of printing, and always made extra prints of each design to trade with others. One older woman in my class made this lithograph of her daughter, and it was my favorite. Even though I loved this print, it was tucked away because it never quite fit into my decor while I was in school, at our first apartment, or in our first home on Vandenberg AFB in California. While we were in California, Robby was born while Bob was completing a 2-year rotation at the base hospital. When Bob's service was complete, we chose to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to family and set up his dental practice.
We thought we were all set to go. He was to join a dentist in Appleton and my parents scoped out a duplex for us there. But one night right before the movers were scheduled to arrive, Bob woke up. God impressed on him that he was not to join that practice and we were not to go to Appleton. He just knew. Bob and I were Christians, but still young in our faith. We were learning to listen for God's voice. Bob was confident he heard from God so we canceled our move to Appleton. Our parents thought we were a little crazy to give up the opportunity, but we felt peace over the decision.
Unsure of our next steps, we put our household goods in storage and returned to the Milwaukee area to stay with my parents during our transition. We prayed and talked with a dental supplier who gave us some leads. There were many small towns in Wisconsin that were looking for a dentist at that time. Leaving 18-month old Rob with my parents, we hopped into the car and literally began driving around the state to check out opportunities! We continued to pray and stay alert to what God whispered to our hearts.
After visiting several small towns, speaking with people seeking a dentist, we found ourselves in Wisconsin Rapids. The recently built River Hill Dental Clinic housed a small group of men willing to invest in a young dentist and help him launch his practice. Bob felt in his heart that this was the community we were to settle in. This was where we were to start his practice and raise our family.
We took a couple days back in Milwaukee to pray and then returned to seal the deal. This was to be our new community. That day we looked at 6 homes in our price range, and purchased our current home on Lovewood Drive. It was at our highest price point so we agreed to leave it "as is" until his practice picked up some traction. I blinked and suddenly here we were, unpacking boxes and working on settling in.
It was the fall of 1976. That year it got really cold really fast—and the days were cloudy. We only had one car so most days I was tethered to our home, as it was too cold to be out meeting neighbors and I did not know anyone in town besides the dentists and their wives. They were very nice but in different stages of life than me. We were three hours away from family. I found myself getting lonely, a bit overwhelmed, and kind of depressed.
One morning Bob left for his new adventure at the clinic, and there I was, at home unpacking and amusing my "Little Mr. Destructo,"as I fondly referred to Rob back then. As I unpacked boxes, all kinds of thoughts ran through my minda d doubts crept in. Had we heard right? Were we really supposed to be here? Is this really where God wanted us?
I opened the next box and there it was—my print of the girl with marigolds. I had forgotten all about it! But now it caught my attention and drew me in. As I stared at it I heard God whisper "Look up." As I lifted my eyes I realized I was standing in front of my kitchen sink, and the wall behind it was dancing with brightly colored marigolds! The print in my hand couldn't have coordinated better if I had planned it.
Suddenly I knew. Deep in my heart I knew. Yes we had heard right. Yes we were supposed to be here. No God did not forget about me. This was part of His plan for me—a plan that He had in place long before I was attracted to this print and traded for it. Peace settled over me and I rejoiced! I quickly rummaged through boxes, found a frame, grabbed a hammer, and placed the girl with marigolds above my sink.
That little print became a constant reminder that Jesus had not forgotten me. I was right in the center of His plan. He would help me settle in. He would take care of us. And yes—He cares about even the small things. I chose to have a positive attitude of gratitude, settling into my home and into our community. Haven't looked back since—I love it here! And God has been faithful through all lives ups and downs over the past 44 years.
[Note: Here's a blurry pic (Circa 1980) of the wild wallpaper that I never would have chosen — with our daughter Katie modeling her hat made with shapes cut from plastic dish soap bottles that were crocheted together! Fun times on Lovewood Drive! As you can see, our home remained "as is" for quite awhile—a promise is a promise. ]