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!