When Lee and his wife Ann drove from Minneapolis to Tomah in a December snowstorm to start a new life, they didn’t see God’s “detour” sign.
It was 1991, and they were excited. Finally, Lee would be able to work on a farm, something he had been dreaming of for years. He loved working with tractors and in the fields, and had some experience with that type of farming. For the past two years, the Minneapolis, Minn. couple had visited farms and researched the idea.
“My job had become almost intolerable,” Lee says of his factory job of 11 years. “I almost hated getting up in the morning, and I never dreamt that life could be like that.” Even though Lee says it was hard to leave the job security of good pay and benefits, the couple decided to take the risk. They sold their house in preparation of moving, and a job came along that looked promising.
Lee gave his notice at the dark factory he longed to leave, and the couple loaded the U-haul for the 160-mile trip to a Wisconsin dairy farm. They cleaned, painted and moved their furniture into the rented home and Lee started working with the cows. Ann remembers being alone in the farmhouse, feeling like she was at the edge of the earth.
“I remembered the verse that says, ‘if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’”
After only one week it was clear that Lee’ss dream of farming did not match the reality. “I learned in a short amount of time that I wasn’t an animal type of person, and that this was not going to work,” he says. “I was pretty idealistic about farming and the time commitment.” He knew he wouldn’t be able to meet the farmer’s demands, so after only two weeks, the couple decided to move back to Minneapolis.
It was just before Christmas when they drove away from the farm in a big U-Haul with all their belongings, no job, no home, and a four-year-old girl. “We were in shock,” Ann says. “What were we going to do next?”
” They stayed at the home of Ann’s parents for a short time, and then a friend suggested caretaking an apartment building. Lee, being quite handy, checked out the idea and found a caretaker job that provided an apartment and extra money.
“I was just calling out to God and doing what I could,” Lee says of that time. He’d always wanted to get a Class B commercial driver’s license, so he used the time to do so. About a month after they moved back to Minneapolis, Lee began work as a truck driver and eventually earned his Class A license. For the past 18 years, he’ss enjoyed various truck driving jobs.
“I look at the whole episode as God getting me out of a rut,” Lee says. It’s so easy to stay in a job even if you’re not happy there. I also think the Lord was preparing me to make a change, because not long after I left the factory, it folded.”
It wasn’t an easy transition, Ann says, “but God provided, and in the end we were glad we took the risk.”
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Psalm 16.9 (NIV)