You’ve heard people say, “Don’t blink. Time is fleeting.” Especially when you begin having kids. You blow it off as if these phrases are reserved for elderly use only (as a person in your early 20’s, elderly is anyone over 40.) Then, you become that person!
I had a recent day dream moment when I was taken back in time to 16 years ago to that reality-screeching-to-a-halt moment when I “asked her out” on the phone (Yes, kids. You actually had to TALK to the PARENTS and ASK to speak to THEIR child! Crazy, huh?!) That day’s vivid memory is forever placed in the treasury of my mind. I thought back to that day as I stood next to my smokin’ hott baby mama, Kelly, at Living Stone Church’s one year anniversary service on January 17th. As we stood on the front row of our church together during worship, I couldn’t help but chuckle quietly as I mentally scrolled through the rolodex of memories that helped get us to where we were standing.
Like when we pulled up to our first ministry interview for a youth pastor position at the newly-married all of 8 days age of 19 in our 1993 Mustang coupe with the words “if the car’s a rockin…” still written on the back windshield with shoe polish. (Yes, we still got the job.) Or when we bought our first car and how we felt the world was coming to a grinding halt as we made that momentous, life-altering decision to pay $3,400 cash for our little black Chrysler Cirrus (model discontinued.) One of my favorite memories is when we took a 2-day camping trip to Oklahoma and we didn’t check the weather first. Leaving a sunny, 60 degree Dallas in the rearview mirror not knowing we were going to wake up in the middle of the night shivering uncontrollably to find out that a snow/rain/sleet/wind storm had arrived in style. Yeah, we spent the night sleeping in the car with the heater on that night. We so smart.
Then there are the serious memories. Such as the time I confessed my addiction to pornography to Kelly at the beginning of our marriage and observing her grace, love and support through our time of honesty with each other. Or going through the traumatic roller coaster of telling your entire family you’re expecting your first baby, not knowing that the child has already gone to be with Jesus in the midst of the countless phone calls of joy. Then fighting in prayer harder than you’ve ever fought when your 1st child is born not breathing, then seeing Kelly’s eyes wider, brighter and with more sparkle than ever as she held Kaylen for the first time in the NICU. Or sitting at our kitchen table talking through and solidifying our decision to open a new, life-giving church in San Antonio.
These memories ran a relay through my mind as I stood there that morning next to her. She then walked up in her blue/black blouse with those hott-mama black pants like a rockstar to welcome everyone at church, pray over them and then invited them to greet each other. How am I supposed to remain coherent and collected when she does that every week…looking like that every week? 🙂
All kidding aside, I just thought to myself – we’ve had a pretty busy 11 1/2 years of marriage! Joyfully knowing that we’ve only gotten started.
We’re one year into being Lead Pastors at the greatest church in San Antonio (I might be slightly biased.) I remember reading (ok, I read the Cliff’s Notes…) A Tale of Two Cities, specifically the quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” This year God has led us through a few of those stages. In which all of the lessons have taught us to greater rely on Him.
This year has been the best year of our lives and also the most difficult year of our lives. I meet with and talk to a lot of pastors and church planters every week. When I ask them how things are going and their response gets all ‘TBN’ on me and they’re too, “blessed to be stressed” / “I’m the head and not the tail” I wanna knock ’em out with my 10 pound New American Standard Key Word Study Bible (available online at Family Christian Bookstores.) I’m all for words of faith, but dude…ministry is hard. Drop the veil and quit lying, or pass whatever you’re smoking this way. My apologies if this is too behind-the-scenes, but there are some great Oprah videos on YouTube if you want “The Secret” to happiness. (No, this is NOT an endorsement for the Law of Attraction.)
We have to come to find that those most successful in ministry are the most real, open and honest people we’ve met. They’ve shared their hurts, pains, struggles and successes with us. We want to be like that, too. I’ve never needed God’s grace more than I’ve needed it this year (and Kel, too, for putting up with me!)
Looking back through those memories on that beautiful sunny day on January 17th, I was reminded of God’s direction, protection and discipline through them all. Abundant was the realization of just how GOOD He has been to us! We are increasingly grateful to pastor our great church, raise our three amazing children and serve our God. We’re one year in and we’re living our dream. Think back through the memories of your last decade, chasing down the God-lessons in them all. He’s been there and He’s promised to be there. It is our prayer that the occasional sneak-peek into the life a church-planting family helps build your faith and encourage your walk.
Excited for your future and ours,
PS- Don’t forget to enjoy the ride! Do your best to enjoy the process, reflecting back to how God took you through it and WHO He used to help get you to where you are.