In the midst of the energy boom in North Dakota there are numerous negative headlines. Increased crime, homelessness, drugs, sex and scandal. Sky-rocketing housing prices. No access to affordable daycare. The list of negatives you read about is long. But the positives are many and they are not often told. My sister and brother-in-law left the comforts of their first post-college career jobs in eastern North Dakota a few years ago to take a chance on the western North Dakota oil boom. They sold their first home, left their jobs and settled in oil country.
They didn’t start at the top of companies. They started where they could find the best job and worked their way up through hard work.
They bought a house, fixed it up and made a home.
Last fall, they had a baby, my first niece, named after our maternal grandmother, Nola. This winter, my sister went back to work and found a daycare center for Baby Nola to attend that was reasonable to pay for and provided her an opportunity to still visit Nola over her lunch break because it is so close to her work.
Nola isn’t like all children of parents taking a chance on a new life in the oil fields of North Dakota. She has cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents all within a three to five-hour drive of her home, versus 1000 miles away for families that have relocated to North Dakota.
We drive a couple hundred miles to see each other often and rarely miss “moments”, like this past weekend when Nola was dedicated in my sister and brother-in-law’s church. Our son, Hunter and my husband, Nathan were at small group music contests of Hunter’s and then at a Minnesota spring basketball tournament. But otherwise, both of my brothers, my sister-in-law, parents, brother-in-law’s parents and his best friends, who moved to North Dakota from Oregon and now are our friends all came together to celebrate.
I suppose it was your usual family gathering. Games. Visiting. Too much food. But what it hit me as this is: The American Dream. In North Dakota. In Oil Country. Where media tells negative stories mostly. Those stories need to be told to create change. But what about the people creating positive change? Who and where are they? Where are the stories about the positives?
They are right here, in North Dakota, firmly planted, if you look for them. They are raising up a next generation in church that serves a homeless shelter in their community and volunteers time to a local Indian Reservation town to meet the needs of the growing community’s infrastructure. They are serving to create positive change. They are living their American dream.
If you are living your American dream 1000 miles from your original home, there are churches like the one I visited this weekend that have small groups, Bible studies, a school and a network of families willing to step in and be your network, your support and your community.
As Nola was prayed for in her church in oil country of North Dakota, I took her picture. She was looking up and I couldn’t help but look with her. It was there I knew God’s hand was over this baby, her parents and their American dream. He is guiding. He is protecting. And now, Nola, my one and only niece is a part of God’s plan and a grand American dream.
But is God a part of this entire boom? Absolutely. With a new population, new jobs and new dreams, there is a new hope I believe and a faith that can grow in the midst of it.
People are working to make it happen. And as Nola saw, there is a grand hand over it.
I am proud of anyone willing to take a chance on a big dream and make it a reality. I am proud of those willing to make America better through domestic economic growth and jobs. I am proud of the churches and communities working to meet the needs of boomtowns. I am proud to see God’s work in the midst of it all.
You have what it takes to achieve your own American dream. Pray about it. Chase after it. Work for it. Live it. Love it. Believe in it. Celebrate it.
…“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26