9 Months After Moving To Colorado

Well, it’s been 9 months since we moved to Colorado Springs from Georgia.  There has been A LOT that has happened in that short window of time.  This has been the most difficult stage of my life in 25 years of marriage and ministry…hands down!   A few months ago I wrote a post about taking a break from blogging for a season.  I’m still not blogging regularly until December, but I felt compelled to post this update.

Colorado Springs is amazing!  It is beautiful, has very few bugs, and virtually zero humidity.  I see the majestic Pikes Peak every day…multiple times a day.  But simply living in a beautiful place doesn’t necessarily make the experience beautiful.

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You see, when we moved to Colorado I left behind a son, an incredible church family, and a ministry career that had become my identity.  I didn’t know it while traveling across the country in a 26 foot U-Haul truck, but I was about to spend the next 3 months lost, confused, and depressed.

First, the family unit split in two.  We originally thought we were just moving with our youngest two sons.  Then just hours before hitting the road our oldest child asked to move with us.  This is her story so I’ll allow her to tell it on her own another time.  But this is a huge reason God led us to Colorado.

Our oldest son had a career and friends in GA and decided to get his own place and stay there.  My wife and I blessed his choice to stay, but I really struggled (honestly, I still am) moving without him.  I guess it’s a natural part of the whole ’empty nesting’ thing….but it really sucks!

Once we arrived here, I began working at a popular coffee shop.  Every coffee-lover’s dream job, right?  I have also been working hard to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology online.  After working there for about a month or so, I hit a wall.  For 2-3 weeks I remember feeling anxious and emotional driving to work.  There were even a few times I had to pray that God would strengthen me to overcome the flood of tears so I could perform like a ‘normal’ barista.  Those tears were sure to come later in solitude moments in my bedroom.  One evening here, another there…just me and Jesus.  Real men do cry, so don’t judge.

It was in this brief season that I realized that I had allowed ministry (being a pastor) to become my entire identity.  Loss of title, income, and the comfort of knowing a job well.  When you’ve done nothing besides pastoring full-time for over 20 years it’s not the easiest thing to transition out of that world and into retail coffee at 45 years old.

Slowly, I began to realize that God had me in a new, very specific, season on purpose.  First and foremost, I was to enjoy really being there for my wife and kids without the demanding work schedule of ministry.  Second, He was aligning  co-workers and customers at the coffee shop for me to interact with…to live my faith out for them.

In March of 2016 I had the honor of speaking at a Children’s Pastors conference in Kentucky.  This was a true gift directly from the hand of God to me.  He knew I needed this.  I loved it!  I got to share my ministry experiences with young leaders, and then encouraged them after each talk.  This rekindled a fire for ministry in me.

Yes, we left an amazing church in Georgia, but God led us to another one.  (we thought this would be impossible).  My wife, Cailey, is serving PT on staff there now working with kids and equipping leaders.  I am volunteering in the Connect ministry to help people discover a meaningful and fulfilling place of service in God’s community.

Most recently, the Lord provided me with a new job working with a medical bill sharing ministry.  Another new experience, but I’m trusting God in it completely.  Cailey and I have also begun co-writing our first book.  We welcome your prayers with this.

What does He have in store for me in the next 5-10 years?  I don’t have a clue and I’ve given up trying to figure it out ahead of time.  I used to have this quote hanging in my church office.  Now it is mounted above our couch in the living room.

“The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

This has proven to be true in my life and I’m confident it will be in yours as well.  My Jesus is faithful, he knows what he’s doing, and he really does care more about my personal success and happiness than I ever can.

Here’s to another year of adventure, obedience, and remaining in Him!

 

 

From Pastor to Barista

Well, it’s been 28 days since my last post.  I hate that.  But that’s what transition tends to do, right?  It can throw our daily routines and normal practices off track.  If we’re not careful those things will not realign.  This can lead you and I to a place of unhealth and confusion.

I want to share with you 3 discoveries I have made since transitioning from a Campus Pastor to a Barista…and since moving from GA to Colorado Springs just 9 days ago.

Routines are easily disrupted during transitions | Before we moved, I had a solid morning routine with God and my wife (Cailey).  I would have my coffee, spend really good time in God’s word and prayer, and then pray with Cailey as she headed out the door for work.  I was also going to the gym regularly.  We enjoyed doing life with an amazing community group on Friday nights.  We had a crazy-awesome church.  All of that has been tossed in the air and fallen in scattered pieces all over the floor.  I’ve had to be very intentional about locating all those pieces and reorganizing them to fit the new life I’m in now.

Transitions will almost always make you question your identity | I think there is proof of this in a previous post I wrote as part of my processing journey.  Nearly 6 years ago I left a spiritually-devastating situation at a church and moved across the country (yep, we’ve done this before) as Cailely became the Children’s Pastor at an incredible church in GA.  I wallowed in my own pain and pity from the prior church hurt for seven months.  Shortly after that, I started working at LifeWay bookstore.  After being in full-time ministry for the majority of my adult life, working in retail again really challenged my integrity.  By that, I mean my identity was placed under a high powered microscope.  I didn’t know it at the time, but God was doing a work in me.  He was preparing me for my next season in ministry (even though I had already told him I was done).  This time I was more prepared.  I’m much more confident in my identity.  I’m still a pastor (at heart and in calling), but I happen to also be a Barista at Starbucks.  Leadership is influence…and I simply know that God has me where I am to be an influence and reflect him.  One final comment on this one.  I love podcasts.  It was a real blessing as we traveled for 5 days to Colorado as I listened to an episode by Lewis Howes.  He was interviewing Brad Lomenick on his new book.  Wow…I was blown away hearing how Brad had gone through his own transition and identity issues after stepping down from leading Catalyst.  His book is next on my reading list for sure!

It can become easy to get self-centered | Really!  For example, I have a new job (so does my wife).  I have just moved across the country (so has my family).  My emotions are all over the place most days (so are my family’s).  See what I mean?  If I’m not careful, I will neglect my place of husband and father.  The very real challenge is recognizing when I’m focusing on myself and then to intentionally reach out to them.  I’m still figuring this one out.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not an expert on this topic.  I’m still growing through this new season…and I know there will continue to be more as long as I have breath in this life.

Can you relate to any of these?  How have you weathered through these seasons in the past?

Today, may the Lord bless you in whatever changes you are going through.  Remember, they are never pointless.  God has a purpose, and it’s usually going to shape or grow you for something.  Look at it as training camp.  You want to be prepared, right?

Comments are always welcome.

 

I’m Moving To Colorado Springs! What???

I have a Love/Hate relationship with change.  How about you?

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In the Fall of 2013, it was revealed at our staff retreat that my wife and I were going to step out of our staff roles at the time to launch the first multisite church campus of Christ Community Church. Fast forward to Nov 8, 2015. On this Sunday we announced that our campus would be changing our video teaching model to offer live preaching. Not only did this change not include my wife and I (change in leadership), we also announced that we were moving to Colorado Springs in 4 weeks.

This has all happened so quickly.  We really have seen the finger prints of God all over this…not only in our own lives, but for the health of the campus as well.

So, this is basically a journal entry reflecting on my thoughts with this transition:  What I FEEL vs. what I KNOW.

What I feel | There is personal loss attached to big life transitions. Loss of close friends, co-workers, family, culture, and familiarity.

What I know | There often needs to be loss if God is going to bless us with new blessings. It’s His way of making room for the new. I have seen this over and over in my lifetime, so I’m not sure why I don’t get more excited at the onset of changing seasons when they pop up.

What I feel | 18 months is too soon after launching a new church campus for the leadership to move on. Ok, it’s too soon for my comfort level. There, I said it. I really thought I’d be shepherding this body of believers for at least 3-5 years. And that was my problem. I presumed God’s intentions more than I should have.

What I know | God’s timing is always perfect and always better than mine. On God’s clock, late and early are non-existent. This is so comforting (and frustrating) to me.

What I feel | Its not fair that I don’t get to be a part of this local church body in its next chapter. I want to see it grow. I want to meet all the amazing, new people. I want to celebrate with the new believers and disciple them.

What I know | God’s calling on my life (and yours) is never about fairness. And it is not about our personal wants. It is, however, always about obedience, faith, and a larger Kingdom purpose than my own little world.

What I feel | I worry about how my kids will weather through this change. Our 2 oldest are staying in GA, while 2 of our boys are moving with us. I often think, they did not ask for this life of ministry….constant change and moving from place to place.

What I know | They are only mine for a season and for the purpose of training them up in faith and life. Ultimately, they are The Lord’s. When we dedicated them to Him as babies, we were placing them in His care. As they have grown older, I have had to constantly re-visit those moments and ask myself a question. Do I truly mean today what I meant back then? Thankfully, the answer has been ‘yes.’ But I do find myself constantly rededicating each of them to God’s care and providence. This is mainly for my own sanity.

What I feel | If I’m going to be really authentic here, I’d have to admit that I’ve said to God (more than once) that I didn’t ask for this calling of ministry in my life. I’ve often thought what it would be like to go to church at the same time as everyone else does. Or how it would feel not to have to live completely by my calendar. Or not having the heaviness of knowing so much of the pain and struggle many of our church members are enduring each week.

What I know | While that all sounds appealing on the surface, I know better. Yes, ministry is demanding and hard. But (there’s a huge ‘but’ here), it is also rewarding beyond words. The innumerable experiences, tragedies, joys, challenges, victories, and relationships God has gifted me with….none of them would have come to be if I had said ‘No’ to His call on my life. I would have forfeited the past 24 years of partnership with God. The thought that I could have given all that away to someone else makes me cringe.

“This is God’s universe, and He does things His way.  We may have a better way, but we don’t have a universe.”  – Dr. J. Vernon Megee

 How about you?  How have you maneuvered through major transitions in life?  When have what you FEEL vs. what you KNOW collided?

This has been the quickest, healthiest, and craziest change in my life to date…..and I’m really looking forward to it!

9 Insights To A Lasting Marriage

Leadership requires selflessness, mentoring, learning from others, patience, persistence, and the willingness to grow through your mistakes.  These also apply to making a marriage work.  And not to simply ‘work,’ but to THRIVE.

Today (August 31) marks 24 years with one AMAZING woman of God!  Both of us have had to lead ourselves and each other through some pretty challenging seasons.  But we have both learned that marriage is much more than a ‘relationship status’ on Facebook.  It’s a life-long investment in a journey together.

Here are 9 lessons on marriage I’ve come to realize over the years.

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Honeymoon | 1991 | Leavenworth, WA (Bavarian Village)

Marriage Insight #1 | Celebrate well, and remember often.

Turner Field | Our first MLB game
Turner Field | Our first MLB game

Marriage Insight #2 | Experience new things together.

Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR
Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR

Marriage Insight #3 | Cherish your family traditions while you have them.

Gloria Jean's Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years
Gloria Jean’s Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years

Marriage Insight #4 | Don’t forget to travel down memory lane now and then.

Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN
Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN

Marriage Insight #5 | Travel and explore together often.

The 'Chick-fil-a' of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA
The ‘Chick-fil-a’ of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA

Marriage Insight #6 | Experience good food together.

Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR
Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR

Marriage Insight #7 | Family memories are priceless.  Protect them.

Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA
Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA

Marriage Insight #8 | Invest in your relationship.  Otherwise it will run dry.

Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach, SC

Marriage Insight #9 | Don’t be afraid of displaying your love for each other publicly.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor. 13:7

To Cailey, the most incredible and beautiful woman I have ever known….Thank You!  Thank you for loving me, especially at times when I’ve been unlovable.  Thank you for patiently waiting for me to learn what it looks like to be the Spiritual leader of our home.  I still have much to learn here.  Thank you for being a loving, guiding, teaching, and nurturing mother to our children.  And lastly, thank you for constantly challenging me to become a better husband, father, and church leader.

Happy Anniversary…I Love You!

6 ‘Easy’ Ways To Begin Leading Your Home Spiritually

If you’re like me, this DOES NOT come easy.  In fact, this topic is overly common among men.  It is also increasingly difficult for single mothers, because in the absence of a father this responsibility (privilege) defaults to them.   All children need (deserve) spiritual leadership and guidance.

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Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:23-24)

Now men, this scripture is NOT something we’re entitled to.  It is something to be EARNED!  It is also not something meant for us to LORD OVER our family.  The intent here is simply to give us the platform to lead our wives and kids into Biblical and authentic living.  We are to do this through love and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at a few ways you can begin leading in your home:

1. Pray with your spouse | For many men this can feel quite awkward.  But I can tell you from experience that it’s easier than you think.  Before you part ways each morning, try just giving her a hug and whispering, “Lord, bless my wife today and keep her safe.”  Simple, but powerful…and very meaningful to her.

2. Look for teachable moments | Not every Spiritual moment needs to be a Bible study.  There are TONS of ‘life lesson’ out there.  We just need to find them.  Hear your teen comment on a  questionable post online?  Maybe your 7 year-old walks into the living room and asks why bad things are on the news channel?  These are those moments.  Run with them.

3. Be authentic | You’re not perfect!  Neither am I.  And it’s ok (even healthy) to admit it often.  When you snap at your wife because you had a bad day.  When your kids notice you falling short of the Sunday morning message.  Simply acknowledge it…ask them to forgive you, and move on.

4. Lead yourself well (in the open) | I don’t mean to be ‘showy’ here.  Simply be visible when you exercising, reading your Bible, or praying.  This is a powerful way to model right living indirectly to your family.  Let them actually SEE how you are leading yourself.

5. Engage online | Let’s face it.  Social media is here to stay.  So when you come across a meaningful Bible verse on Instagram or a great quote on Twitter…share it with your wife and kids.  Doing this communicates to them what you find to have value.

6. Model Jesus | Ok, so this one isn’t exactly EASY.  But I couldn’t exclude it.  Your wife and kids will learn more about the character of Jesus by observing you than they will by you teaching them a Bible lesson.  Jesus taught much more by example than he did by preaching.

Don’t tackle all of these at once.  Start with one or two and work from there.  It really does get easier and more natural with time.

 

What would you add to this list?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.