by Ann Shepardson
“My name is Ann Shepardson and I am a resident of Rochester, Minnesota.”
This is not a phrase I thought I would ever say. I was born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I loved the snow and outdoors and cross-country skiing on the bay by my house. When I went to college in Sheboygan, Lakeland College, we used to slip out at night and go sledding at the golf courses. How we got through the snow in a rear-wheel drive sports car, I still don’t know.
If you don’t know where Lakeland College is, look it up on a map. We used to say it was at 4th and Cornfield. When you are in the middle of the country, you learn to make your own fun. We’d sit by the ponds in the warmer months and have snowball fights in the colder. If you were lucky enough to have a video game system, your room was the place to be in the dorm. When I graduated, I stayed close by because Brent, my husband, was still in school. We lived in Kiel and Sheboygan, Wisconsin, for the first 5 years of our marriage.
At this point, the cold weather and massive amounts of snow were no longer fun. We decided to pick up our lives and move to the “Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix, Arizona. Everything fell into place for us to make this move when we started thinking about doing it. Since you don’t have to shovel sunshine, this was an unbelievable change for us. Opportunities opened up to both of us while we were there. It afforded us the chance to be homeowners and make lots of friends at our church. My parents would come from Wisconsin to visit every winter for 2-4 weeks and fell in love with the climate, as well. In 2013, they bought our house from us so we could move closer to work. They still live there, which was the hardest thing we had to consider when thinking about moving back to the Midwest.
In October of 2021, everything changed. Brent’s job was eliminated, and we had to think about what was next for us. After 20 years of living in the sunshine, Brent thought about his dream of working for Mayo. He applied for many positions in Arizona and Minnesota. He didn’t tell me this at first because he knew I loved living in AZ and did NOT want to leave. Did I mention my parents live there too? As the interviews started rolling in, ALL of them were out of state. Most were in Rochester for Mayo. As I was NOT moving anywhere, I started to pray about what might be next for our lives. I went from absolutely not moving, to maybe Rochester wouldn’t be too much of a change, to whatever I needed to do to be obedient. All of the stress about the next chapter went away when I chose to trust God with our future.
In January 2022, after 3 months of searching to the day, Brent was offered a job at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. We now had 2 weeks to get him here and to sell our house there and buy a house here. That was extremely stressful being in separate states across the country trying to do this. Once the moving truck showed up and the house was empty, it was much more peaceful than I thought it would be. I absolutely loathe change, but this time it was just like waking up in a new place and moving forward. No crying, no regrets, just knowing we did what we were supposed to do.
After living in a large metropolitan area for 20 years, I wasn’t sure what it would be like to live in such a small town again. I know Rochester is not small, but going rom 4.6 million people to 120,000 was a change. We have found that Rochester has everything we need, except amazing Mexican food. We have met some amazing people that have helped us transition to the Midwest life again. I have been able to do things I have always dreamt about, like horseback riding, because of people’s generosity. I have learned to not hate the snow and cold, but to enjoy the beautiful seasons that Minnesota life has to offer. We are looking forward to planting a garden and adding some flowers to our yard this year. You forget the things that you missed until you come back and live here again. Please never take for granted the beautiful things God has given us here in the Midwest. It is a great place to live and be a part of.
Ann Shepardson is a part-time stay at home mom to her 3 cats, 3 dogs and husband Brent. She also teaches a few music lessons out of her home during the week to keep herself musically sharp. She’s still finding ways to fit in at Calvary.