As I write this month's column, I am awaiting the arrival of my friend Karen. We met 13 years ago while living in Bismarck, N.D., and our friendship has lasted through the years.

After we had lived in Bismarck for 10 months, my husband was transferred to a different state. He came home on weekends while I remained behind with two young children to sell our house. It took a year! During that time of waiting, my mom tried to encourage me by saying that one day I would look back at our time in Bismarck as just a speed bump along life's journey, but I really struggled to understand why it was taking so long. As I reminisce 11 years later, it is so obvious to me that our Bismarck years were completely and totally a part of God's perfect plan.

In Isaiah 46:9-10, God says, "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'"

With those words in mind, I'm setting off on a journey of remembering God's faithfulness and how He used experiences in Bismarck to shape my life today.

It was in Bismarck that I read a book called When Mothers Pray and first learned about Moms in Touch. There weren't any Moms in Touch prayer groups in Bismarck at that time, so I started one for my son's school. Today there are five active groups in Bismarck, and I pray with the homeschool group in Ahwatukee.

From Lamentations 2:19: "pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children..."

During that second year in Bismarck, the Lord called us to homeschool, and we are still homeschooling today. My oldest child will be graduating in a few months!

Deuteronomy 6:5-7: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

It was with our church in Bismarck that I took my first foreign mission trip.

Mark 16:15: "He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'"

I got to know Karen on that trip to Haiti as we helped people find the right prescriptions for the hundreds of eyeglasses we had brought along, and I saw firsthand how the eyes of the blind were opened.

It was in Bismarck that my children began attending AWANA. So many verses I helped them memorize still encourage me today.

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

It was in Bismarck that I first went through Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God," one of the most powerful Bible studies I have ever done. I happen to be going through that study again right now, and I am reminded over and over of God's faithfulness.

If not for the year of waiting to sell the house in Bismarck, we would not be living in Ahwatukee today. I would not know the people I do now or have lived through the experiences that I have over the past 11 years in Arizona.

I could go on and on. God is always orchestrating things, even though it may not look like it to us. When I felt forgotten on the frozen tundra, He was working on my behalf. His timing is always perfect. Although I still prefer a Bismarck winter to a Phoenix summer, I am so grateful that I can trust God to be in control.

Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. Reach her at

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