I have been in a very reflective mood lately; maybe it is the thanksgiving holiday, maybe it is all the changes that have been going on around here or maybe it is me just getting older, either way I have been reflecting and have been overwhelmed by God's love, grace, faithfulness and sovereignty.
I am sure that the journey to now started a very, very long time ago, but I want to look back about seven years ago (yes I know it is a long journey and if you don't want to read it all that's fine, I really just want to get the story/testimony down and out of my head so as to not be forgotten). Chris and I were just married. At that time we did not have a regular church to attend. We just sort of bounced from one to another trying them out and never really found one that felt right. After some coaching from some friends of ours, we traveled from Point Loma to east county San Diego to attend their church; about a 30 minute drive. We liked the church, a lot! Over the next couple months, we went there off and on but would only commit to "visiting." It was too far to make this our home church. Within a month we ended up buying a condo in east county, not in our original plan (and frankly seemed a bit sudden). The church became our home church.
We kept from getting too involved though. We had planned to leave the San Diego area (we figured it was very expensive to live here and would not be able to afford it) as soon as I graduated from grad school. The time came, I graduated and despite applying all over the place the only offers that came in were here in San Diego. The job I got was at a top district, I thought the interview was horrendous and cried at my performance once I got in my car, and yet somehow I got the job. The same day I accepted the job Chris was offered a job at a big ad agency, he had not been looking for a new job, they contacted him. We figured God had something in mind so we stayed.
The youth pastor at our small church left; at the time there really wasn't any kids. Eventually a few boys started coming. Chris and I talked about working with youth, but felt that at that time it was unrealistic and we could not devote the attention it deserved. At the time Chris was working about 60-80 hours a week. Another guy stepped up in the ministry spot. I got pregnant, was put on bedrest. The youth group grew. The guy asked Chris to help him out here and there and to plan the winter retreat. I had Ethan, we praised God for keeping us here, close to a fabulous children's hospital that has specialists there for his exact diagnosis (there isn't alot of them). Ethan was only a few weeks old when we went on the first winter retreat with the youth. Eventually Chris' role in the youth group got bigger and bigger. When Ethan was 6 months old my babysitter (can I call you that Silla? you were and are so much more) moved. Chris' Ad job took him away from home a lot, he and rarely saw Ethan and me, and he had to work on Sunday's quite a bit. After much discussion and prayer we felt that it was time Chris quit his job and opened his own business from home. So Chris became a stay at home dad and worked on building his own design business and got more involved in church.
Eventually Chris became the head of the youth group. He went to the youth pastors conference and came home and told me that he felt God was giving him this calling, it wasn't just him helping out anymore. I felt the same but feared saying it out loud. I knew too many pastors kids who had become prodigal children, I didn't think I could handle that, in my mind we were just helping out and that was all I wanted to commit to. The pastor and his wife invited me (and Chris encouraged me) to go to the pastor's wives conference. I resisted for a bit, but after praying I took the time off work to go. I was humbled. Lady after lady got up and spoke about their prodigal children or the tragedies their families faced in ministry (the overall theme was that God is good in ALL things!). I heard about these kids who died tragically, or got wrapped up in drugs and alcohol, all the things that I was afraid of. I prayed, I cried and in the end knew that I had to admit that God is good in all things and that God was calling us to ministry. I came home and we talked about it and we continued to work with our youth kids waiting for specific direction from God.
A tragedy hit our Church family and rocked Chris and I to our core about 6 months after that. Chris and I had an honest conversation about getting out of ministry. In my human mind I didn't think God could redeem the situation. So many people were hurt and broken it would be easier to walk away and forget that it all ever happened. But in my spirit I felt comfort in the crisis. I can't explain it, I knew that some how some way good would come from it, God would be glorified and we needed to press on. It was a time of great emotional conflict.
It has been a year and a half since the tragedy. In that time we were in a holding pattern waiting on God and what He would bring. It was a time to be still and listen and know that He is God. I can tell you God has indeed been glorified. The negative things that everyone thought would happening as a result didn't occur. The church is stronger today than it ever has been and is growing. It is different than it had been but God has been glorified in ways that were unimaginable.
About 6 months ago, after lots of prayer and counsel we felt that God was us...to more ministry. We weren't sure what that meant at the time, and still don't totally know. We just know we are open vessels for Christ. Two weeks ago our church added staff members to it (prior to now there has only been one staff person, the pastor), Chris was added to the staff on a part time basis. It has been awesome to see where the Lord has taken us in these last seven years and how God's hand was in it all. We don't know what the future holds, we are looking to God for guidance and waiting for Him to direct the rest of our path. Who knows, maybe one day Chris will be in full time ministry with his family serving by his side to God's glory. I am truly humbled by the things God has done for my family and I can honestly say that God is good in ALL things. I have seen it!