Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Our Ministry Journey

I didn't know I was marrying a preacher.  Much less a pastor lol!  I was marrying a young man who I loved with all of my heart.  I couldn't wait to get down the aisle before he changed his mind!  

    We were married for two years before we even started turning back to God.  We honestly hadn't even talked about him much before that.  We were at a breaking point in our lives, and had made a huge mess of our lives and our marriage.  We cried out to God, turned back to him, and finally began to mend.

  We slowly began to build our lives back together walking in his direction.  We started listening to radio pastors, started to pray...  we really tried.  The issue that we had was finding a church that we could go to.  We must have visited a dozen churches, and we met some wonderful people, we just could not find our 'home' church.  
   We finally moved right next door to a church three years later.  Stephen started attending regularly, and I started to see so much change in his life.  It was at that time he told me that he thought maybe he was called to preach... but he wasn't sure, he would have to pray about it.  He sought out Godly mentors, and found a few here and there.  We were trying, we didn't have a lot of direction, but we were trying.  It seemed strange thinking that he would preach someday, we had a long way to go...  but all I was focused on was somehow, someway figuring out this life that we were living.  It wasn't perfect, but it was far better than where we were.
   One day he came home from work and looked so beat down.  I remember he took his white shirt off (he was a customer service manager at a local grocery store) and he sat in the grass in the back yard with tears in his eyes.  It was at this time he told me he had lost his job, for something he didn't even do...  and he was so confused.  We were doing the right things.  We were headed in the right direction, why did this happen to us?  
   At the time, we didn't understand that sometimes God will use your brokenness to mold you as you should be.  We were about to learn this for the first time.
   Because he lost his job, he wasn't at work that Saturday.  Because he wasn't at work Saturday, he came with me to a wedding that I was doing photos for.  The ceremony was running way behind, so we spent a lot of time wandering around the yard and house.  The preacher there was one I had met at a wedding before, and thought he was very nice.  I remembered he had talked to me about homeschooling his kids, so I mentioned it to Stephen that he should talk to him.  Hours and hours of conversation later, I left early to get the kids while my husband stayed to finish up.  He called me on his way home to tell me we were going to his church the next morning, and he was so excited.
   That was the first time we found a "Home" church as a family.  That first morning was homecoming.  Hudson threw up in the fellowship hall lol, but they already were treating us like family.  It was in that church and under Pastor Jody's leadership that my husband submitted his call to preach and started preaching, in that church.  He served as his youth pastor, and grew in his faith and preaching.  To this day Jody is one of Stephen's dearest friends and mentors.  He along with Stephen's uncle ordained him to the ministry in 2014.  

   A few years down the road life took our dear Pastor and his family on a new path and ministry direction, and we visited some other area churches.  Finally God lead us to a little church in Pineola.  Stephen really enjoyed the pastor, he was so knowledgeable.  After a few visits he began to start to pull Stephen aside and began to invest in his ministry as well.  We found out that he had graduated from Fruitland, the Bible college that his Uncle and other mentor, Buster had graduated from as well.  One August morning Pastor Rufus and Stephen took a trip to visit Fruitland, and I, out of fear enrolled my kids in private school the same day.  We ran hard from that calling.  One day in September I was in the bath reading and praying, when the conviction poured hard over me.  I got dressed and went into the living room, and asked my husband "Do you ever wonder what it would have been like if we would have moved to Fruitland in August?"...  and I knew then.  I just knew.

   By January, we were at Fruitland.  We had moved our entire family two hours away and were living in a two bedroom apartement on campus that was orange lol.  It was completely out of my comfort zone, as we literally shared a back yard with someone.  I remember the first big snow was maybe two weeks after we got there, and Sawyer was sick.  I called Stephen at work and he coudln't come home.  A few minutes later one of our neighbors showed up on our doorstep with a bag of popscicles for my little guy.  Goodness how loved we were there!  The one place I dreaded, the one I was so scared of, will always have the most special, loving memories, and such a special place in my heart.  I loved Fruitland.  So very much.  

   While at Fruitland, Stephen began to serve at a much bigger church than we had attended before, as youth pastor.  We learned a lot there about church administration, and reaching a bigger church family.  We learned about breaking into small groups to make it work, and a lot about the programs associated with the Southern Baptist...  GA's and RA's, Mission Friends and Children in Action.  We learned a lot in the year that we were serving there, and have some wonderful memories.

   In March, right before our Disney vacation, we were called by the pulpit committee of a church that Stephen had prayerfully sent his resume too.  We were scheduled to come April 2nd for his first trail sermon.  My heart could have burst out of my chest that day we drove 400 miles across the state for the sermon.  I was so anxious and afriad of the unknown.  

    By June he had preached his second trail sermon and was voted unanimously as Pastor.. and here we are!  The rest, the best, is all yet to come!