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!

 

 

Stop Searching For The ‘NEXT’ Thing

Have you ever found yourself wanting something new?  Specifically, I’m thinking of a new opportunity, experience, or career.

Or maybe you have recently stepped out of something, but the next ‘phase’ of your life lacks clarity.

For whatever reason, most of us do experience longing for a ‘NEXT THING’ at some point in our lives.  And it becomes even more difficult waiting for what that next thing is when we think we have an idea what it might be.

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Recently, after nearly 20 years of working in church ministry, our family moved across the country to Colorado Springs.  My wife accepted a position with a Christian publishing company, and I am currently working as a Barista at a popular coffee shop.  Shortly after moving and starting my new job, I quickly started speculating.  I noticed that I was trying to guess what God’s next assignment was going to be for me…as if my purpose were on hold.

But there was a huge problem with this.

I was already in that assignment!

I received a random text from a friend last week.  It read, “I was praying for you today, and God wants you to know that you are right where he needs you.  Invest your all in it.”

This almost brought me to tears.

The lesson I am learning in all of this is very simple…BUT equally challenging.  I am to accept where God has placed me as my primary ministry focus.  Period!

Then this scripture hit me right between the eyes.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

 I was seeking God, but not with ‘all’ my heart.  A large portion of my heart was dedicated to seeking my next calling….job…opportunity.  I was peering into the future, into a season God has not allowed me to see yet.

God may very well be working on details for me somewhere down the road, but I am really excited to pour my life into the HERE and NOW of what today consists of.

 Can YOU relate?  Does any of what I’ve shared resonate with you, or am I really the one one?

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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!

You Don’t Need To See All The Details Today

Have you ever wished that God would stop holding out on you and simply show you his plan for the next season of life?  I mean, we want to step out in faith and all that good stuff.  But why can’t he just let us in on the secret?  Give us the details?

Something caught my eye while traveling out of town recently.  It was a horse trailer, and the horse was wearing a mask like this.

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PHOTO CREDIT: WWW.HORSETACKCO.COM

I do know a little bit about horses, and there are two common purposes for having a horse wear a head mask like this while they travel in a trailer.

  1. It protects them (mainly their eyes) from insects.
  2. It helps to keep them calm.

That’s right.  The mask has a calming effect on the horse when it can’t see all that is going on around it.  The horse’s owner will remove the mask when the environment is mostly free of harm and distractions.

Meanwhile, the horse still needs to respond to the owner’s guidance.  It doesn’t just stand there.  It follows it’s owner even though it cannot see what it is walking toward.

Sound familiar?

Check this out:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  – Isaiah 55:8, 9

If God is leading you somewhere and you can’t see what it’s all going to look like, that’s O.K.  There is usually good reason.  In my own life, I can think back to many times when I would have not followed him if he had shown me the plan before the journey.  Why?  Because it would have scared me to death!  He has bigger, better plans for you and I.  He provides and equips us as we need it every step of the way.

My encouragement for you today is this.  Be grateful!  What he’s asking of you today may seem like an incredible step of faith, but it’s likely to be just one of many baby steps toward something too amazing to wrap your understanding around.

Could this encourage someone you know today?  Share it online.

Perhaps this was something you needed to hear in your own life today.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Today, may you be able to fully trust God even in the absence of big details.