Beautiful Chaos.

Joanna Zuidema2 Comments

Masterpieces often look like chaos when we only see life through the narrow view of our own eyes.

Last spring, Lane and I seriously considered moving back up north to where Lane had been working prior to us getting married. Planting ourselves in the Twin Cities was intended to be a short term plan; we needed be here just long enough for me to gain experience so that finding a job in the northwoods would be easy for me as well. 

3 years later, we were still here and asking ourselves why.

We needed an answer and prayed for a sign to stay or go, a sign that would be absolutely unmistakable.

We were one week away from renewing our lease when I had my annual review.

Lane and I had discussed potential raise amounts and what we would need to see in order for us to stay. I told Lane what I thought was reasonable, and he, being significantly more confident in situations like this, gave me a higher number.

I went into my review planning on using his higher number merely as a starting point, mentally preparing for a negotiation. 

It turns out that the preparation was unnecessary; the initial raise offer was the exact number Lane and I had discussed. 

I called Lane as soon as I left the office.  

"How'd it go?" 

"We're staying." 

It was clear that God wanted us in the city, but we still had no idea why. So we waited.

Then, on Friday, July 1st, my decision to take a pregnancy test (at the race track, mind you — a story for another time) resulted in the best surprise of our lives.

Finding out we were going to have a baby reignited our location questioning, however the discussion had changed from an immediate move to simply our desire to raise our children up north. Sure, we were fine with having babies in the city, but we both preferred the idea of seeing them grow up in the country.

Motherhood has always been my #1 life goal, and I wanted to be well-prepared. I had been fascinated by pregnancy and birth well before becoming pregnant – reading endless books, blogs, and practically turning our Netflix 'recently watched' list into a childbirth education class.

(I should explain – before Lane and I got engaged, I hadn't given a moment of thought to what I wanted in a wedding. Because of that, wedding planning became significantly more overwhelming than it should've been. I refused to let that happen with motherhood.)

We thought we had it all figured out: God had kept us in the city so that we could take advantage of the extensive resources available; I could have the perfect natural birth(s) of my dreams and then we could continue on with our happy little life plan to raise our family surrounded by the beauty that is northern Minnesota. 

The thing we forgot to take into account is that God's plans are not ours.  

On November 3rd, we had our first ultrasound. That was when we realized the irrelevancy of our 'plans'.
That was when God and Norah both said, "Hello."

If we hadn't been living here, so close to the world-class medical team Norah required, the time we had with her would have looked very, very different. Instead of short drives, an incredible continuity of care, and holding our daughter in her NICU room only 1.5 hours after my C-section, there would have been hotel stays, medical transportation, and much, much less time with our beautiful baby girl.

Our time with Norah was invaluable.

Thank God we were in the city.

Norah and God have been teaching us that trusting in God's plan can often make no sense and requires us to experience life in a way we never would've chosen. What we're beginning to learn is that what comes from that trust is so much better than we anything could've imagined. 

And while we are grateful for the lesson, we never expected to put our learning to the test so soon.

The same week that we celebrated the life of our daughter and laid her to rest, we found out that my mother has stage IV lung cancer. 

Welcome to chaotic masterpiece that is life.

So what now? 

We say thank you, again, to God for giving us Norah, and thank you to Norah for continuing to teach us. 


If it wasn't for Norah, we wouldn't have this new, deep faith and trust in God.

If it wasn't for Norah, we wouldn't be able to come up for air.

If it wasn't for Norah, we wouldn't be able to earnestly say in the midst of all of this that God is still good.

We held her hand for 5 short days, but she'll hold ours for the rest of our lives. 

And baby girl, we can't wait to see what you and God have in store for us.