How This Alumna Managed Marriage, Kids, and Nursing While in College
By Chyelle Dvorak
You don’t have to stress about being perfect for Jesus to love you.
You don’t even need to be the best in your field of study for God to use you.
Dianne Houfek stands firm on the truth of Jesus’ love for her through an incredible journey of becoming a nurse, wife, and mother of two children. Houfek graduated from Crown College in 2017 and currently works at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Her journey into nursing was challenging, but for Houfek, many professors and mentors encouraged her through her trials — reminding her that God was calling her into the medical field for a reason.
Long before she came to Crown to pursue nursing, Houfek knew that she wanted to comfort people as they go through traumatic life experiences.
“I knew somewhere in high school that I wanted other people to feel the closeness of God even in the darkest times of life,” says Houfek. “When I was 11, we had a foster baby die in our home. He had complications from a heart tumor and a brain tumor. I remember the pain of the loss in that moment. Yet God comforted me so deeply. I knew I wanted to go into the medical field where people are in that vulnerable moment of life and death or chronic illness that beats them down.”
Houfek lived in Montana surrounded by family — she has five siblings and is close with all of them. During her years as a child, Houfek learned a lot about God from her father.
“My dad was a very instrumental part of my faith-walk growing up,” says Houfek. “He took all of us kids on 10-year-old dinners growing up. He shared things about money, budgeting, and religion. My dad helped me recognize who God is.”
When it was time for Houfek to research colleges, she realized that she wanted to attend an affordable Christian college with a nursing degree. Houfek looked for a school that combined her love for others with her desire to deepen her faith.
“I researched a lot of schools and I wasn’t familiar with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA),” says Houfek. “My heart has always been inclined towards going overseas to help people who maybe don’t have health care or people who are living in hopeless situations. Crown College was the only school that was Christian, affordable, and had a nursing degree.”
Life at Crown
Houfek grew tremendously in her faith while she attended Crown.
There were many joyous moments during her time in college, including marriage, the blessing of her two children, and graduation. But not everything came easily. Her most life-changing experience almost didn’t happen.
“It was spring break, and a bunch of us were going down to Omaha,” says Houfek. “I was going to meet my brothers there. But the girls who were going announced that their car was full around a week before we were supposed to leave. I remember them telling me, ‘Well, there’s this guy named Micah who’s driving down… maybe you can go with him.’”
“I replied, ‘Well, I’m not going down there with some guy I don’t even know.’ One of my friends said, ‘Oh, I know him, I’ll go with you.’ So, I just walked up to him in the cafeteria when he was talking with his friends. He didn’t even notice me at first so I was standing there for a while. Finally, he turned around and I said, ‘Hi! I have a question, can you take me to Omaha?’”
During the car ride to Omaha, Houfek and Micah ended up talking for five hours straight. Houfek’s friend, Karen, fell asleep in the back seat for most of the ride.
“Micah says that’s the only time he’s ever believed in love at first sight. He always says that somewhere along the ride God told him, ‘You have to marry this girl.’”
Soon afterwards, Micah and Houfek started dating. However, not everything came easily. Life became more difficult during the fall of her junior year. Houfek failed one of her nursing courses, ending up with a C- instead of the minimum requirement of a C+ to pass. But before Houfek heard the news, something even more tragic happened to Micah.
“Right before I found out about my nursing grade, Micah and I were hiking at Minnehaha Falls,” says Houfek. “We were being stupid. It was only four degrees outside, and we decided to climb to the top of an icy cliff. Once he reached the top of the cliff, he turned around and said, ‘Okay, I’m ready for you.’ Then he slipped and fell past me, breaking his back.”
Houfek says it was during this time that she realized that she didn’t want to live without Micah. They were engaged a few months later and got married a few months after that. After witnessing Micah’s accident, Houfek had to figure out whether she would continue in nursing.
“The week of finals, fall semester of 2013 was one of the most painful weeks,” says Houfek. “Micah fell off the cliff on Sunday, I took all my nursing finals on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I found out that I failed on Wednesday. Then, I flew home to my family in Montana. I knew that my failure in the class was directly related to my study.”
Luckily, Houfek’s dad shared some tough words of wisdom with her when she came home.
“My dad literally sat me down and said, ‘Well, I don’t know if you want to be a nurse,’” says Houfek. “He continued by saying, ‘If you want to be a nurse, this is it. You chose a field where you are not going to be the best.’ My dad said that very lovingly, but it was true. At that point it was very serious, and I had to decide if nursing was worth it for me.”
Not only was Houfek’s father there to help her, but many professors and mentors from Crown were also speaking into her life. When Houfek came back to Crown, Professor Darcy Nelson encouraged her to continue down the path of nursing.
Houfek remembers, “Professor Nelson sat me down in her office and said, ‘I still believe in you.’ “I said to her, ‘But I’ve done so bad on many of your tests.’ She said, ‘No, you can do this.’ When Professor Nelson told me that she would want to be a nurse alongside me, I cried. That meant the world to me.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone during the moments you don’t believe in yourself, Houfek said to find someone who will encourage you. When life is difficult, it doesn’t mean God is telling you to change your career path or give up on your dreams. Sometimes it just means that life is hard. Houfek listened to the encouragement of her family, professors, and friends, finding hope in the midst of her trials.
“Mentors have always had such a huge impact on my life because they see so much further ahead than I see,” says Houfek. “Kathy Wiggins, Kelly Ripley, and Dr. Kuhn all helped me when I was going through difficult times. I think some students might struggle more because they don’t verbalize their struggle and their need for help. I saw time and time again that people isolate themselves when they struggle. But you aren’t meant to do it alone.”
Life as a Nurse
Houfek works at Abbott Northwestern Hospital where she cares deeply for her patients both physically and spiritually. Every day she goes to work, Houfek is surrounded by people on the vascular floor who are in desperate life situations.
“A lot of my conversations have happened because these people are in the depths of despair,” Houfek explains. “We do a lot of amputations. That’s really scary to lose a part of your body. People tell me about their problems and that’s when I can ask them what their source of strength is.
Patients often give Houfek an entire range of answers to that question, sometimes saying their strength comes from tobacco, their spouse, or maybe their children. By talking with patients and offering to pray for them, it opens the door for Houfek to share her faith.
“When you know what someone’s source of strength is, you can go from there,” says Houfek. “In most of my conversations, I can either offer for them to see the chaplain or offer to pray for them. Then in my prayer, I can talk about Jesus and feel free to say whatever I want. A lot of people will accept prayer even if they wouldn’t accept Jesus.”
Plans For the Future
While Houfek spends her days working and being a wife and mother, she would love to work as a missionary in the future. As of now, she is focused on living in the present moment and waiting on God’s timing. Houfek would love to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it before.
“Having a heart for missions was one of the things that drew Micah and I together,” says Houfek. “Micah was an Intercultural Studies major at Crown but ended up changing it and graduated with a Youth and Social Ministry degree. We are still praying about it, but we’re closer than we ever have been before. Micah and I would love to go overseas someday. At Crown, I got an education that made me closer to God and more prepared to be a missionary today.”
Houfek and her family attend a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) church in Minnesota and is connected with mentors at her church, women of faith who speak into her life. As Houfek reflects on her years in college, there is something she hopes students will remember, especially when they are facing difficulties.
“I would encourage students to see those moments of difficulty as opportunities to abide in God,” says Houfek. “Spend time praying to God, walking outside with Him, and reading your Bible. These are all ways to abide in God and ask Him to be part of your life. Having a mentor is extremely important. Just listen to their stories and learn from them. They will listen, see where you’re at, and remind you that there is more in your future.”
A verse to encourage anyone facing their own challenges:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf” (Hebrew 6:19-20a).
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