My Kind of Town

litchfield family photo

August 2014: A family photo with the Litchfield sign, just like I always wanted. You may notice that some family members are happier about this than others.

“You have to be open to the call of the whole church.”

That’s a thing they tell you before you start seminary. It means, “You have to be willing to go where the Spirit sends you, even if the Spirit sends you somewhere really tiny or really far away.” Also, the Spirit works through people–candidacy committees, call committees, synod staff members. These people do not and cannot always get it right.

When I started seminary, I was sure  I knew where the church would call me: right back to urban ministry, maybe even right back to my beloved Milwaukee. When I finished seminary, I knew that I just wanted to be a pastor. The where was not as important as the what.

Even so, I was a little stunned to end up in Litchfield, MN, population 6800. (For a little context, the population of my high school was 3200.) But I loved life in Litchfield and ministry in the two country churches I was called to serve. I began to see that in the context of southwestern Minnesota, Litchfield was a pretty big small town.

But: “I’ll never go anywhere smaller than Litchfield,” I said.

You know where this is going, right? After five great years in Litchfield, I moved my family to Saint James, MN, population . . . 4695. Which, as it turns out, is several thousand people smaller than 6800.

If you had told me eleven years ago, when I started seminary, or even seven years ago, when I graduated, that I would one day live in a town of fewer than 5,000 people, and that I would like it . . . I am pretty sure I would not have believed you. But as we close in on two years of life in St. James, I have to say: I do like it. I really, really do.

In the weeks to come, I’ll share with you a few of the things to love about St. James. They include: Schmidt’s Bakery, the library, the Princess Theater, and of course, the Dairy Queen.

I have stopped saying, “I’ll never live anywhere smaller than Litchfield / Saint James / fill in the blank.” But I do maintain: “I’ll never live anywhere without a Dairy Queen.”

saint james home

October 2014: Sold on St. James. We made sure the realtor left the “Sold” sign up until we could get a family photo in front of our new home.


What big or small surprises have you found lately?

What are your moving must-haves?




Filed under Minnesota Nice, Never Had I Ever

4 responses to “My Kind of Town

  1. marilyn lux

    Great to have the blog back!


  2. Emily

    Now I kind of hope you get called to the Fargo-Moorhead area at some point. The Moorhead Dairy Queen on 8th street is my favorite Dairy Queen ever.


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