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.

 

It’s Not a Witness Protection Program

A witness protection program is offered by the government in exchange for testimony that could convict a dangerous or most wanted criminal. After testifying in the courtroom, the witness is given a new identity. The protected witness’s new identity includes a new name, Social Security number, birth certificate and place to live. Every effort is made to ensure that the person’s prior identity is destroyed so a new ‘safe’ life can begin. The intent is to protect the individual, who essentially goes into hiding…maybe even permanently.

This is NOT the case in the Christian life.

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When you and I witnessed the grace, love and mercy of what Jesus did on the cross for us, our identity changed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

No name or driver’s license number was altered, but our entire being was transformed. God gave us a new life and new eyes to see things the way He sees them.

Unlike the witness protection program, our new identity in Christ is not intended to protect us. The opposite is true. God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Instead of taking that new identity and keeping it from everyone, you and I are supposed to share it everywhere we go. In fact, our story involves telling others about both of our identities…past and present. Why? Because there is power in transformation. People tend to take notice of a changed life.

Many people are lost and need to be transformed. God expects us to go and share the gospel message with the world around us. Instead of hiding from the world, we are called to abide in the Word. His Word says to “go” (Mark 16:15).

Your ID badge labels you an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Your new life creation involves a new mission. This transformed identity moves us away from a life of self-serving, and into a life of serving God and others. Who can you share your identity in Christ with today? Maybe a better word here is …who ‘should’ you…?

How drastic has the difference been in your new identity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment.

 

photo credit: http://www.redstate.com

 

 

 

Where’s Your But?

Recently, I was attending the FAMconference at Azusa Pacific University in CA.  Leading worship was Tim Timmons, and he opened one session with this question…”What identity did you come here with tonight?”  He clarified by asking what about the many different titles/labels we take on or allow to define us.  This question really got me thinking during worship.  So, here it is….this is who I am.

I am a son & child of divorce.  I am an older brother to two siblings.  I am a former Jehovah’s Witness (until age 10).  I am someone who endured years of bullying as a teen.  I am the son of a former alcoholic.  I am a grown adult…who found legal trouble as a teen in High School.  I am deeply flawed example of a father and husband.  I am often prideful and selfish in my motives.  I am a minister who often struggles with feeling insignificant and under-qualified.  Comparison is my Kryptonite.

BUT…

I am a Child of God!  I am chosen by God on purpose to do what I am doing…despite the fact that I am not what most would consider the ‘type’ He calls to ministry.  I am able to put a smile on the face of my creator simply by saying ‘yes’ when He calls on me.  I am loved deeply by the great I AM!

Who are you?  What identity do you take on?  And after pondering all of that, where’s your BUT?

Comment below and join the conversation.