I’ve spent many evenings watching the sunset from my tree stand, but I have never felt my soul renewed in the same way that a sunrise from the same tree stand makes me feel. My favorite bible verse to meditate on while in the woods is Psalms 143:8. It says, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Each morning, whether it be from the old maple tree that my stand is in or from the 6 am morning traffic in the Chicago suburbs, I find myself thankful for the new opportunities each sunrise brings.
I grew up on a small hobby farm, right off a dirt road in a fairly remote part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My dad and my grandfather are the two people who helped me understand the importance of seeing every morning as a new beginning. When I was a junior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for work once I graduated. One day we had a representative from the local college come to our class to talk to us about skilled trades classes that they offer to seniors. During this time, I had my three close friends John, Dylan, and Andrew. We all decided to take their welding class just so that we didn’t have to be in school for half of the day. Once I realized how fun and rewarding a welding career could be, I knew that it’s what I wanted to make a career out of, I packed my bags and said goodbye to my parents. The time had come for me to begin a new chapter in my life.
I accepted a third shift welding job in a small Minnesota city called Detroit Lakes, about an hour east of Fargo, North Dakota. Here is where I experienced a completely new process of welding. When learning welding in high school, they only taught us the absolute basics of welding. I was ecstatic to learn the new way to weld, and I put my welding hood down every night, eager to hone my skill. One night when welding production was slow, my shift lead pulled me into his office and asked me to help out in the tubing department. With the same amount of drive I had for learning welding, I now put into learning how to use tube bending machines. I knew that the more new types of jobs I could learn, the better my resume would look. Plus, it got me out of my welding cubicle and into a new part of the building. I made so many mistakes while working in the tubing department, but that didn’t stop me from loving the benefits of learning new skills. Throughout the one and a half years I was working here, I was also dating a beautiful girl from south Florida, her name is Erin. We had met when I was 15, and she was 13 and began dating my senior year of high school. One day I realized that I didn’t want to date her from such long distances. So this snow-loving, forest exploring welder once again packed up his bags and moved to the concrete jungle of Cooper City, Florida.
To provide for myself while looking for welding jobs, I had to take a landscaping job. Now, everyone else that has lived in South Florida knows that landscaping is probably the last job a Florida resident would want, let alone some kid from Michigan who would run around in the snow with no shoes and only a pair of shorts on, for FUN. It didn’t stop me; I was on top of the world. For the first time in my life, I was living a few towns over from the girl I loved. I worked insane hours in the Florida sun. Finally, after six months of job searching, I accepted a welding job working on multi-million dollar yachts. This is where I again experienced a completely new process of welding. With this new job came a whole new opportunity to learn all over again.
After about two years at that job, I gathered Erin and her two cousins along with John, my best friend from high school, and his girlfriend, and we went down to the Florida keys for the day. Everyone but Erin knew the real reason why we made such a special trip. As Kristina (Erin’s cousin) and I placed candles in the shape of a heart, my actual heart was beating a million miles an hour. Was I about to ask Erin for her hand in marriage? Am I ready for such a new stage of life? Of course, I was, so with her father’s blessing and her family’s approval on the evening of January 3rd, I got down on one knee, and through a flood of tears and snot, I somehow managed to ask her to marry me. She said YES! Now came all the wedding planning. And on a cold rainy day on August 20th, in the front yard of my grandparent’s house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Erin and I, along with her family, my family, and with a few of our closest friends, we exchanged our vows. After our honeymoon, we resumed our lives in South Florida. Erin graduated from the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale with an associate’s degree in graphic design. Only one month after she graduated, we found ourselves packing all we owned into a U-Haul and moving across the country to the Chicago suburbs.
In the suburbs of Chicago, we are only a short six-hour drive to my parents’ house and an even shorter three-hour flight back to South Florida. With completely new territory came a whole new set of beginnings. Erin got a job doing what she went to college for, and I found a new welding job. You guessed it! My new job consists of a whole new process of welding. We had to find a new church, which took some time, but we are finally at a church where we feel at home. For my most recent “New Beginning,” we recently found out that Erin is pregnant with our first child. I have never been so excited about a new stage in life than I am now. As I look back, all of the early mornings I found myself in my tree stand praising God for a new sunrise, a new day, a new opportunity. I see that there is no better time to start new than in the morning. I hope you’re not afraid to fail when encountering new beginnings because there will, for sure, be a new opportunity to try again in the morning.
For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges