You’re moving from Florida to Wisconsin in January? That’s crazy!” My family and I heard these words many times after announcing that my husband had accepted a call to serve as a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. At times it did seem crazy. We would be leaving behind so much: a beloved congregation, many dear friends, the only home our four kids had ever known, and all this in beautiful, sunny, warm Florida. Of course, the reason we were moving had nothing to do with the
weather; it was about serving in God’s kingdom in a new way and in a new place. While we were unsure what the “new normal” would look like in our new home, we trusted
in God’s promises as we moved from Florida to Wisconsin (in January!).
One and a half years have passed since our move. As I reflect on all the unexpected blessings of the past year and a half, I am most thankful for the home, neighbors, and fellowship we experience here on campus with the other professors and their families. Our cross-country move was made easier by not having to search for a house; a spacious move-in ready home was waiting for us when we arrived. In addition, a knowledgeable and skilled maintenance staff is available to help with home repairs. What a blessing to have our physical needs cared for so we can spend more
time focusing on ministry tasks!
Our new neighborhood is a unique place where professors, their families, students, and others from the outside community connect daily. I needn’t have worried about my kids making friends after moving. On day one, a gaggle of seminary kids assembled at the end of our driveway to introduce themselves and meet the new kids. Endlessly creative, this friendly group takes full advantage of the beautiful eighty-acre campus that is their playground. In winter, they sled down the hill or play basketball in the gym. In summer, they build forts in the woods, draw chalk creations all over the road, and fish for crayfish in the creek.
The kids aren’t the only ones enjoying the fellowship opportunities readily available in our new neighborhood. When my husband and I walk our dogs on campus, we can stop to chat with other professors and their wives. On summer evenings, many of us find ourselves having an impromptu gathering in a backyard around a fire pit. As we celebrate birthdays together or share our favorite books at the faculty wives’ book club, we build relationships and encourage one another. When I told friends in Florida that we would be living on the campus where my husband would work, more than one person commented that it sounded like we’d be living on a compound. Yes, this is a unique living situation, but so are the blessings that come from living here.
There’s another group of neighbors living on campus: many of the seminary’s students. We wave to each other as we pass on the road driving in and out of campus. In nice weather, we gather for a cookout in the seminary courtyard. Many professors invite students to their homes for a meal. We see students outside kicking a soccer ball, going for a run, or working on the grounds crew. As a pastor’s wife, I enjoyed getting to know the people my husband served in the parish. Now, as a professor’s wife, I am blessed to meet and get to know many of our synod’s future pastors.
Jill Russow teaches at Christ Alone Lutheran School in Thiensville, Wisconsin. Her husband, Joel, is professor of systematic theology and counseling.