I'm not who I was.
It has been a long time coming!
I’m not really 100% positive, but I think it has been something like 5 years. (There are a few things I am terrible at remembering. Names and dates are at the top of the list).
This weekend, the Rev will FINALLY be graduating with his Masters in Youth & Family Ministry. #hallelujah #praisetheLORD #happydance #ibelieveinmiracles #ThereWasMuchRejoicing #yay #AnyOtherRelevantHashtag
We are so blessed and grateful that God planned our family and ministry the way that he did. I was 15 & about to start my junior year of high school when the Rev & I met. He was 18 and about to begin his freshman year of college. Don’t ask me when we officially were “together” because the line is kind of blurry between friends liking each other and officially more than friends, and to this day he hasn’t officially asked me out. (Although he did ask me to marry him many moons ago, and as you can see I said yes.)
When we met, the Rev was already working part time in ministry as the youth intern at his church. Not long after I met him, I started going to his church. (I had recently begun a new church anyway which did have a wonderful student pastor, but I wasn’t long-established in that church or anything. Irony: my student pastor then is now the student pastor at the church the Rev was at. But that has nothing to do with this story. That was for free. You’re welcome.)
Commandeering students probably isn’t the best way to grow a student ministry, but what can we say, God was up to something wonderful :).
We were married in August of 2002… over TEN YEARS ago. I was 19, he was 22.
(Now, before all parents of teenagers get their tinsel in a tangle out of nervousness that their children will use this as licence to claim their husbands in teenager-hood, let me just say that the Rev had graduated college with his Bachelor’s in Religion. We had been “together” for 4 years. And because I sometimes tend to be an over-achiever to the point of insanity I somehow managed to graduate high school at 16 and started college when I would have started my senior year of high school. I overloaded all my courses except for the first semester by taking 19-22 hours a semester plus summer school and I only had 1 semester of school and 1 semester of student teaching left at the time we were married. I also only had a small amount of school that wasn’t covered by scholarships left to pay for. I will not however [potentially to the chagrin of some] say we were “too young” or we wish we had done it differently, or it was so much harder, because that would be a lie. For us, it was just God’s will and THE right thing. Life was less stressful, and I am SO grateful and humbled that God set things up in the wonderful way he did. That being said, I recognize that everyone is not “us”, that most 19 year olds aren’t in the same walk of life, and that children should honor their parents. And everyone should seek God. End disclaimer.)
Back to the Rev. He didn’t go straight on to graduate school after getting his bachelor’s. From the time we met to 11 months after we were married, he was immersed in student ministry, mostly part time, as an intern, as in interim, and as an associate student pastor (all at our home church). We were called to his first full-time position just slightly less than a year after being married, where we remained for 8 years. Part-way into that tenure and a couple of years after the birth of our daughter, thanks to the generosity of our church the Rev was able to begin working on his master’s degree. Again, we realize that this may not be the best route for some. This time I will say that school is definitely more difficult to accomplish while holding down a full-time job and a family, especially when travel is involved. However I am also very grateful once again that God orchestrated the Rev’s hands-on experience from the get-go. It may not be this way for everyone, but in the Rev’s case I think that it has helped him to be a much more effective and in-touch student pastor than the straight-through-school route would have allowed for him to be. It has also allowed for him to apply what he was learning as he was learning it. God is so good to us.
Now, over a year and a half into our second full-time ministry tenure & just days before our little girl turns 7 *gulp*, the Rev will walk across the stage at Southern to accept his Master’s Degree. I am so proud of my husband. There will be no more days and weeks away from home or stressful late nights of studying or redoing papers that the computer ate due to school. For that, we are all relieved.
Way to go, Rev. I am greatly blessed to be your wife & the mother of your children. I am awe-struck as I observe the positive spiritual influence you have on the lives of so many students ripple out and have fruitful effects for the Kingdom. I am humbled to sit under your leadership and beside you in ministry at inLIGHT as God speaks powerfully and effectively through you on so many Tuesday nights. It’s my happy place. I am excited to see what else God has in store for his glory through you!
As the aforementioned student pastor from our youth would say (and still says as I heard when I was back visiting our home church a few weeks ago), “Give ’em heaven.”
But please, don’t do his lawnmower dance across the stage. 🙂