Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Franci 5

Just in case any newbies are wondering, what is the Franci 5? The Franci 5 include me, Nick (my husband), Zoe (our daughter), Revis (our dog) and Spencer (our cat). (Before Zoe, we lovingly referred to Revis and Spencer as our fur children, as they were a bunch of babies, always begging for our attention.) We use Franci, instead of Franises (plural of Francis), as we were given the nickname a few years back from a group of loving friends who we got together with every week. It stuck then and carries on now (Love you guys Keen LG!) Hence, the Franci 5.

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas everyone! This year has been a crazy one for our family and I wanted to share our end of the year letter with you. It was my first year doing Christmas cards with the end of the year letter, and as such, I kept my goal small to just 16 cards. Next year, I'm going to try to double my accomplishment this year...we'll see how it goes. So, without further ado, here's the letter and family pictures...

Expect the Unexpected

This has been our mantra for this past year! It’s been quite a year for the Francis household and we want to let everyone know how God has been working in our lives. So, here we go…

In early February Nick stepped in as an interim Manager of the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s while I eased my way out of working full-time at Barnes. The location of the church plant the following year had been decided, so we were looking for jobs for Nick in the Quad Cities. In the back of our mind, we really wanted to do travel nursing again, but with me being pregnant and Nick having taken a management role, this was out of the question. By May, I was home full-time, studying for my advanced certification exam and preparing for our little miss while Nick was still working. On our due date we went for a hike and talked over the possibility of travel nursing again. Our discussion centered on the possibility of traveling specifically to Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Crazy, right? Who would move across the country with a newborn for 3-6 months and then move back to the Quad Cities for a church plant? Yep, crazy. We continued to talk over the pros and cons and the feasibility. The more we talked, the more we felt it was the right thing to do. We decided to continue praying about it. The next day I went into labor and the following morning Zoe Ruth Francis was successfully born at home, thanks to the support of my husband and our core group of birthing friends (Thanks Abbe, Taylor, Ashley and Jordan!)

The following weeks were a whirlwind. Nick was on a rotation of day and night shifts at work, hoping to be able to keep his position until we left, while learning what the new role of Dad meant. I was blessed enough to be able to embrace full-time motherhood, knowing this was my new job. It was hard for our family to adjust at first, but we soon got our groove back and just about that time, decided that we were definitely being called to go to Seattle. Nick got back in touch with his travel nurse agency and we quickly found a job near one of the Mars Hill Church campuses. After we found our location we relayed our plans to almost everyone. Most of you thought we were a little crazy (and probably still do), but we knew that if God wanted us to do this, He would provide. All that was required of us was obedience.

So, a few short weeks after Zoe’s birth, we heeded the call from the Lord and moved across the country to Seattle to attend Mars Hill Church. Our initial plan was to learn as much as we could from the leadership at Mars Hill and about their successful church planting process. We attended our first service the day after we arrived and went to our first Community Group (small group) that same week. We figured if we were only going to be here for 6 months, we needed to get plugged in right away. Nick started work as a travel nurse the same week and I embraced my new position as a stay-at-home mom. Immediately, we got plugged in on service teams and began spending time with our community group. We knew we didn’t have much family in the area and needed support, so we embraced our new church family as they embraced us. Our community group leader was quick to challenge us to stay longer than 6 months if we really wanted to learn what God had for us here. It’s funny how our plans and God’s often collide, causing a firestorm of glory for the Lord if we allow it. Nick and I decided to allow God’s plan for our lives to overtake our own plan.

In the following months, we leaned on the Holy Spirit for guidance. We told our friends that we weren’t going to be coming to the Quad Cities church plant in January, Nick’s brother and his girlfriend moved up, and in an act of grace and provision that we never could have seen or expected, I went back to work for 3 months. At the same time, Nick applied to school in Seattle and Portland for his master’s as a Physician Assistant. He enrolled in a refresher course at the community college and started apprenticing as a CG leader, all while still working full-time. In October I finished my contract and was able to come back home to Zoe full-time. Nick completed his class this last Monday (12/12) and spent Tuesday (12/13) interviewing with the master’s program in Seattle. We’ll know in January whether or not he’ll be accepted.

It’s been a busy time, and as we wrap up this season of our lives, we realize it’s not over. As Nick continues in his apprenticeship, he is growing as a leader, husband and father. I’m learning to shepherd women, and though I have no idea what it looks like, there are many Godly women who want to show me. We continue to grow as each day passes.

Though it has been a crazy year full of things we never expected, it’s been a year that God has provided in every way. We’ve seen his blessings at every turn and are growing closer to Him every day. We’re learning and teaching that Jesus is alive and embracing Him in our lives daily. We have no idea what’s in store for us next year, but we have faith that God is good and Jesus is alive. We hope your faith is in the same.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We miss and love you all!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Catching Up With The Frani - Nick

Wow...I knew it'd been a long time since I posted last, but I had no idea it's been a month!!! That goes to show how busy we've been on this side of the US. It's been a hectic, crazy, trying to orient ourselves few weeks, but I'll give it to God, we're still all being taken care of better than we deserve! Here's a better run down for each of us.

We've decided that after this extension, Nick will sign for a full-time position at Auburn Regional Medical Center. We're deciding between an 11a-11p shift with the opportunity for consistent attendance at our Community Group (small group) and charge nurse opportunities or a 2p-2a shift with every Sunday off and a little more cash flow thanks to the differentials. We know that it's never all about the money, but since I'm half way through my contract with no desire to re-sign (yes!) we have to be more conscientious of our choices regarding finances. Even if it means sacrificing in one area to pick up the slack in another. We'll keep you posted on the job front when we make a decision. I'm rooting for the 11a-11p, but we trust that God will lead us to the right decision for His glory.

Nick has also shared a desire to go back to school. This isn't anything new; Nick is a great nurse, with so much potential to lead better than staff or charge nursing allows. He's also one of the smartest people I've ever encountered, storing all the knowledge he's ever gained and recalling it all in the time of need. It's been a fun road to navigate as he has had to decide between a APRN (Advance Practice Registered Nurse - Masters in Nursing), CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) or PA (Physician's Assistant). In the end, he decided that the role of PA is where he would be able to serve and use his talents best. With that decision underway, he's now on the long road of applying. He's working on the application process and will have everything in to University of Washington by October 1st. Yep, we're staying up here!

So that's the next big thing going on for Nick. We moved up here to gain leadership experience before moving on to the midwest church plant. Since arriving and seeing God work in our lives up here, it's been made clear that we need to stay up here and continue our leadership training with Mars Hill for the long haul (next few years or so). We've talked it over with our friends Tim and Rachael, who are leading the midwest church plant, and they understand and support our decision. Right now Nick will be preparing to apprentice as a Community Group (CG) leader and eventually he will lead a CG. We did something similar to this in St. Louis, but the training for the leadership roles here at Mars Hill is a much more formal process. With that, we're in the process of becoming members of Mars Hill and Nick will continue heading in the direction of Eldership. Whether he will become an elder at Mars Hill or elsewhere, we're confident this is his calling and he's working with men of God to grow in his abilities to one day act a a leader in a church.
That’s about all for Nick. He's staying busy and taking care of us!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And just a few more...

Zoe's favorite sleeping position. She wiggles and squirms until she gets those arms free from her swaddle blanket. It's pretty interesting to watch.

Us dancing to "Switch" by Will Smith.

Our big hike in Olympic National Park. Over 8 miles, and that was just to the trailhead and back, thanks to snow blocking the road. We all had a great day!

And, of course, her in the kitchen. She wouldn't be my daughter if she didn't get started creating early!

A few pics to tide you over!

Us at Panaroma Point in Olympic National Park.

Zoe looking her oh-so-cute self. She's finally figured those hand out!

Nick and Zoe resting after a 4 mile uphill trek.

Zoe taking in the sites of the Cascade Mountain Range during our break.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to Work

Monday was my first day back after "maternity leave". We originally planned for me to stay home with Zoe full-time, but after several discussions and some calculations, we knew we could finish paying off all of our debt if I took a 3 month contract as a travel nurse. (Many of you know that Nick and I have been steadily working away the last 2 years to pay off all of our debt. We know we will be better able to serve God if we're not slaves to those we owe, and we know that God has provided for us, in many ways, to achieve this goal. When we got pregnant with Zoe, we took a slight detour, but we never lost sight of the prize at the end.) We were able to find a job in Tacoma, about 20 minutes from our apartment. The position was like my job at Barnes, recovering open-heart patients and managing their care. The best part - it was days only! No possibility of working nights, which I cannot and will not do. The unit is much quieter than Barnes and it's pretty straight forward, which is refreshing. So far, I like it a lot and can see myself staying her to keep my skills up-to-date (working 2-4 shifts a month to stay in the loop).

Lauren and I talked before her and Dane moved up and she agreed to watch Zoe for us. It has been a huge blessing! Nick and I can go to work knowing that Zoe will be well cared for in our home. We both agree that had Lauren not been here, I never would have tried to go back to work. We didn't feel comfortable leaving her with someone we didn't know; being new to the area makes it a bit hard.

I started Monday with a 4 hour orientation. It felt good to get back into the swing of things at work and I was really comfortable leaving Zoe with Lauren; no tears and no worries all day. Nick was home the next few days, so he and Zoe had fun Daddy/daughter days while I worked 8 hour orientation shifts. When I left her for 12 hours on Thursday and Friday it was a breeze. I knew she was in safe hands and Lauren wasn't having any problems taking care of her. I feel a little guilty that I'm not upset or sad when I leave her, but I also know my personality and know that I'm probably overly rational and under-emotional (I could have an accident just as easily as Lauren). I will say though, that I'm really happy to be at home when I get there; seeing her in the evening makes my entire day!

So, with my first week completed, I can say that I'm glad to be working for my family, but also glad that it's only for a short time and then I'll be home with Zoe for good! We know that God provides and also gives us situations of difficulty so we can lean on Him. Though work is good, it does make it harder at home but we know that endurance and reliance on God is built this way. 1 week down, 12 to go!

First Camping Trip = SUCCESS!!!

Sorry it's taken so long to post... a lot going on right now. But here are a few to keep everyone up to speed.

Last weekend Nick, Zoe, Dane, Lauren and I went to the Olympic peninsula and enjoyed the area, with Olympic National Park, the ocean and peacefulness all around us. It was amazing. Zoe was a little shy of 3 months old, so we were a touch worried about how she'd handle camping for the first time. We had no need to worry; she did GREAT!

We arrived on Friday morning to a first-come, first-served campsite on the ocean. We were hoping an early arrival would secure us a campsite, and our theory paid off. The only spot open was overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca (the Pacific Ocean) and across the straight was Canada and the Canadian Cascades. It was beautiful. We could hear the waves crashing against the bluff all day and night. The Lord really provided for us. We set up camp on Friday and headed to Olympic National Park that afternoon for a quick hike to Panaroma Point. It was beautiful and full of wildlife. We were within feet of mountain goats, deer and marmots. The views were spectacular. It was a lot of fun and helped us get ready for the next day's hike!

We arrived to the campsite around sunset, so the boys made dinner while Lauren, Zoe and I took a walk to watch the sun set. We found a great little rock beach and went back so the boys could see it too; Dane got some great pictures. We were pretty tired after dinner, so we put Zoe to bed (she just fell asleep in her swaddle blanket by the fire, so we put her in her car seat to sleep and let her rest in the tent) and hung out by the campfire until it burned out.

The next morning we woke up prepared for our 10 mile hike into the valley. Nick was carrying his pack with all our supplies and I was carrying Zoe in the Moby. We got to the park, took a long winding road on the side of one of the mountains when we found a gate blocking the road. We soon found that the road was closed the rest of the way due to snow, so we ended up re-routing. We were to make it to the valley, but found ourselves needing to hike 4 miles, one-way, to arrive at our starting point. So, we decided to continue the hike. We made it 4 crazy miles uphill to our starting point, but we wouldn't be able to hike into the valley. We enjoyed some great views from Obstruction Point and played, again, in the snow then made our way 4 miles back down. It was a long and hard hike, especially with the full packs and Zoe, but it was a ton of fun. Dane and Lauren make great company and we're so happy they're here with us to enjoy this all. By the time we got back we were exhausted. Another campfire dinner, Zoe to bed, s'mores and we were all out! The sounds of the ocean were great when Zoe woke up to nurse, and they lulled us all back to sleep.

The next morning we relaxed at the campsite. After breakfast we took a stroll around the campsite. There were historical sites of old Salt Creek forts from WWII and a few small trails. We then made our way down to the tide pools and played for a few hours. We made our way back, cleaned up camp and headed home to our next adventure; me returning to work!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Start of Something

Nick, Zoe and I at Panorama Point on Mt. Rainier. Picture taken by Dane Francis.

Hello everyone! Thanks for heading over to check out my new blog. Since we're in the Seattle area we wanted to keep everyone up to date on what's going on, Zoe and her crazy growing up and just the generalness that one misses out on when living away from friends and family. So here we go...

We've been up here about 6 weeks now and it's been a crazy time. The drive was amazing and such a joy; a true gift from God after a few crazy weeks preparing for the move. We arrived in Federal Way (a suburb between Seattle and Tacoma) on a Saturday and Jim (my brother who is stationed in Tacoma) helped us unpack and set up shop that day. We went to Mars Hill (the church we moved up here for) the next day and immediately met some great people. We were invited to a community group (similar to a small group, but with people that live in your literal community) the next night. Nick started work on Monday and we attended our first community group (CG) that night. Since then, it's been the same story each week, and we're loving the way we're growing in Christ, in this community and in our family.

The model of Mars Hill church is different from anything we've ever experienced; the organization of the church, the training of the leaders, it's focus on Jesus, teachings of the truth from the's been an incredible learning experience so far and we've just started! We came up here to prepare ourselves to better lead in the upcoming church plant, and we know that God has us here for a reason. I feel that this season of our lives is a season of growth; our family has expanded, our spiritual lives are growing, our skills as members of the church and community are blossoming and our marriage is gaining even more strength. The community group that we're a part of has members that are wise, learned and willing to share their gifts with the group to grow each of us in our relationships with Christ. Attending the church has been a huge blessing in our lives and we're excited to be a part of it, serving on teams and participating in the culture that this church is.

At home, we've decided that I will be going back to work for 3 months to finish paying off our debt. Most of you know that we were on the path to have it paid off this year, but after getting pregnant and my work schedule changing, this seemed impossible. But God provides! We were offered a travel contract in Tacoma (10 miles from us) and since Dane and Lauren (Nick's brother and his girlfriend) have moved in with us, we have a great babysitter in house. Though a little different from the original plan of me staying home full-time, we know that this is a God-given gift to be out of debt to serve and be on mission without restraint. The blessing of Lauren watching Zoe has made a huge impact in this decision for us; if not for her being here, I would not be going back to work. After the contract is completed we will return to the original plan of me staying at home with Zoe. And speaking of Zoe...she's already getting so big! She's sitting up in her Bumbo several times a day, cooing and babbling up a storm and making our lives more enjoyable just by her presence. Everyone says it, but there is no other love like that for your child; it's immeasurable! We're traveling all over the northwest and she's going with us every step of the way. We've been to Yellowstone, Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Rainier, downtown Seattle, the beaches in Tacoma and we're heading to the Olympic Peninsula this weekend. She loves being outside with us and we love taking her. We're pretty sure hikes are her favorite; she loves being outside more than anywhere else. Nick and I have gotten back into rock climbing and she goes to the gym with us and watches us take turns climbing. The staff at the gym say she's the best baby, and she really is. She just watches everyone and hardly ever even whimpers. Family time up here is going really well. Having my brother so close is great, especially after him living so far from family for the last several years. We try to get together once a week to catch up and hang out. Dane and Lauren moved in 2 weeks ago and it's a welcome addition to our sometimes quiet home. Spencer and Revis are happy to have more people around to love them and they're pretty much adjusted to the weather up here. (It's cool, all the time. During the day it's 75 on a warm day with sun, 60 on a cool day with clouds. At night, it's in the 50s and always feels almost cold)

So, that's how we're rolling right now. We'd love to have prayers for continue growth in our spiritual journey and following God's will while we're up here. We know that God has a plan for us; it's abundantly evident every day. I'm going to try to post once a week or so, and I'll have pictures posted too. Love and miss you all! I'll leave you with part of a song lyric that's been in my mind for several weeks now; it's speaking to me and my journey in where God's taking us.

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
Forgetting all I'm lacking
Completely incomplete
I'll take your invitation
You take all of me now