What do you think of when you think of Kansas? Do you flash back to Aunty Em’s dour face, Dorothy’s naïveté, and Toto’s fluffy little face? Maybe you envision endless miles of flat farmland broken up by the occasional small town, complete with a single stoplight. Or maybe you think of destructive tornados and giant tumbleweeds. Perhaps you even think of an almost defunct rock music band. I get it, I really do. That was my line of thinking when I heard we were moving from California to Kansas. I mean, the area in which we lived in California (northeast of Sacramento) was rural enough. I assumed Wichita, Kansas would be even worse.
I could not have been more wrong.
Kansas is indeed mostly flat farmland, with some small towns and notable points like the world’s biggest ball of twine. But as anyone who has never been here will never understand, Kansas grows on you in ways that are difficult to explain. Wichita, Kansas is actually the biggest city in Kansas, and the little suburban town of Derby – where we lived – is growing quickly. It’s the perfect place to raise a family. Great schools, a friendly community, tons of stuff to do and see. It has its own share of problems, sure, but by and large it is a wonderful family community.
When we got there, I was almost eight months pregnant and had just left active duty military service. I was a relatively new wife, soon to be a new mother, and I knew no one. We scrambled to find a house, moved in within a week of my due date, and started to unpack. My daughter came one week later – ON her due date!
Just over three years later, we leave knowing that Kansas will always hold a special place in our hearts. We had two kids here. We truly became a family here. We brought both babies home to our little house in Derby, and we took each of them in turn for their first swim in the little neighborhood pool just three lots down from our house. We dedicated them both at our wonderful church, just five minutes drive from our house.
We found the first church family where we fully engaged as a family. Our daughter spent a sizable portion of her first three years in the children’s wing and she loved every minute thanks to their phenomenal ministry team. We found friendship and fellowship in a small “lifegroup” composed of wonderful couples in similar stages of life. I even attended a fantastic MOPS-style group that provided fellowship and mentorship for young mothers.
We grew in every way possible in Kansas. We learned to love the sunflower fields and the powerful storms and the community that embraced us so graciously. God blessed us tremendously in Kansas and we’re more than a little sad to close that chapter of our lives. The future holds so many unanswered questions right now. We take comfort, however, in knowing that God has an incredible plan full of blessings and growth in store for us.
We know this for certain because that’s what He had for us in Kansas, and in every chapter before that. We may be sad to leave Kansas, but we anticipate wonderful things in our future home. We don’t know where our income will come from, or where we will live, or how long we will be there. But we know the One who has all those answers, and the answers to many questions we have yet to ask.
We’re deeply grateful for our experiences in Kansas. We look forward to new adventures in Washington.