Friday, February 18, 2011

Finality part 2

Please take time to read the last entry Finality for all of this to make since. Patrick Phillips is a long time friend and great blogger. I truly appreciate the opportunity to respond. Thanks Patrick!

Patrick says:

Knowing nothing of this particular situation, other than the fact that you are no longer there, I can't help but wonder why a staffing change in a church requires a severing of contact that makes one feel "cut off."
It hardly seems what one would expect from the "family of God." I've known of other pastors who've separated from their churches and the contact just ended. Completely. 
Why should one have to lose "the intimacy of accountability and ministry?"

The finality is my realization that God has moved us on to other things. As far as the accountability and intimacy, it is only hindered by the proximity of the people involved. All of the ministerial and support staff are the most loving gracious friends I have, but because I'm not "in the office" anymore, I miss our impromptu conversations, last minute lunch and coffee, and just being in the same building as they are. When someone leaves a church staff, even on good terms, it's still a loss and void for all involved. We all know God will fill the void. That's what He's teaching me now. I told a group of students the following about 4 years ago. "God will not take anything away that He won't fill with Himself." But as that happens, I have to empty ME. That's the hard part and it's on me. I love them dearly and they will always be family. I have been SO fortunate to work with 2 church staffs who share that connection. It's a testimony to like mindedness and Christ likeness. Thanks for helping me process my brain!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It seems too real. We have closed the book on almost 9 years of ministry at Trinity and 20 years in student ministry. It hit me a few days ago when I stop receiving church emails hospital and prayer lists. I still have the account sitting on my laptop, but today I got the message my username and password were no longer valid. I help set up that email account. It seems insignificant, and I hold no animosity toward the staff, but it's bitter sweet for me. It's hard to make a cold turkey clean break, but I know it's best. I enjoyed my time in the office. There were deep friendships, deep accountability, and a lot of learning. Ministry took place among the ministerial and support staff in a special way many churches never experience. I know friendships will continue, but I already miss the intimacy of accountability and ministry.
This is just one piece among many that includes missing the band, small groups, retreats, midweek worship and all the students and leaders who have poured into and drawn out of the goodness of God through the ministry. I look forward to the days ahead, but I miss the days that were. I guess God's still working on me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Struggle: What I Should Be Vs. What I Am

Preface: I wrote this recently while struggling through some family, job related, and personal issues of faith. God is providing so much right now through our immediate and church families. We are very grateful. Kim will be going through surgery this Friday and I will be taking a few weeks off to be hubby and daddy. Please pray for us and HE directs our path. Thanks.

So 2011 has started off with a bang (from a 2x4. I feel like Chris Farley asking David Spade about the red mark across my face in Tommy Boy). There are so many uncertain things right now. I KNOW God has it under control. It's all in His hands, but what I feel in my heart and follow with my mind is far from knowing He's got this. I struggle with uncertainty, fear, what-if's and might-have-been's. I fight with my own shortfalls of not trusting.

So here are my options.

1. Fake It.
Pretend and try to convince myself everything is alright. Act like it, refuse to think about negative outcomes, and just "leave it to the Loh-ard!! Dontworrybehappynow!! Put on my happy face because I'm happy and I know it and I'm gonna shout to the lord because I can only imagine when I lift Your name on high what a day of rejoicing that will be...
Yeah, I can't fake it. I would love to appear spiritual and mature, but I would rather be real and transparent.

2. Embrace it.
Take my lumps. Blame it on myself or everyone else. Become the suffering psudo-servant martyr and waller in self loathing and pity. I'm really good at this sometimes. GLOOOOM, DISPAIR, and AGONY ON ME... WOOOOAAAAAHHHHHH (yeah, how many Hee-Haw fans in da house wootwoot SAAAA-LUTE!!)

3. Accept It.
It is what it is. These issues are transitions in life that include every aspect of my being. It will effect my family, friends, future, and, and, and (dangit, I can't figure out another "f")...
FAITH!!!! Yeah, that's it. FAITH!!!
I enjoy asking people about God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22.
God is all knowing, right?
God knew the outcome of Abraham's decision, Right?
Then why did He ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
To see what Abraham would do? NOPE
TO see what Isaac would do? NOPE
Just to play with Abraham's head and freak him out? Maybe...
The test was not so God could see what Abraham would do. He already knew. It was so Abraham could see what Abraham would do. God brought Abraham to a major crisis of complete trust, and he passed the test. It made him the father of a nation (father Abraham had many sons and many sons had father Abraham, shake a leg, wave a hand, lalalala).
For those not knowing the outcome of Genesis 22, you should read it. PLEASE READ IT... NOW!!!

So, this is my process. I go through all three options, back and forth and back again. I don't know what the future holds. I'm concerned, a little worried, nah, outright scared. In the back of my mind and heart I know it will all work out, but I'm ready for it to get out of the back of my mind and heart and take over all of me. God's promises do so much more that come to pass, they transform me into the image of Jesus. It's time for me to stop fighting the transformation and let God put me to the test.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Change Is Inevitable

What defines a year? Is it the events, stresses, conflicts, successes? We've seen them all. Here are the HUGE ones in chronological order.

1. Change?
After 20 years in student ministry God is leading us to focus His church on worshipping Him individually and corporately.  Leading worship has always been a passion along with leading, teaching, and mentoring students, but the desire for the full time change of focus is finally in place. It is very exciting. God starting moving our hearts in this direction in March of this year. I am grateful for Trinity Baptist Church. The pastoral leadership is allowing us the opportunity to transition into this new calling by leading worship on Sunday mornings. We have been able to pray and offer input on whoever comes into TBC as the new the student pastor. God's timing is always perfect and we look forward to seeing God place the right person in the position at the right time.

We started the process with fear, paperwork, anticipation and FEAR about how all this would end up. On August 5th while at a theme park with my students, we got a call saying a birth mother had chosen us to be the parents of her unborn baby girl. We met with her, started an awesome relationship, and awaited the coming of Sara Elizabeth Clair Stilwell. She was born on September 9th, and has changed our lives forever. After 16 years, 2 miscarriages, and numerous tests, this little girl is definitely worth the wait. More on Sara Beth later.

3. The Passing of my Grandmother.
Memaw, Elizabeth Day Sparks, 90, passed away on thanksgiving day. Her health had been steadily declining over the last year and a half. She got to meet and hold Sara Beth, her namesake, before she passed. She was surrounded by her family when she left this life, peaceful, but tough to swallow. I have no more grandparents. I think it hits me a lot harder than I expected

4. My AWESOME Wife
Kim has been fighting female health issues along with fibromyalgia since July. Within the last 2 months, she has become pretty much incapacitated. It is very disheartening to her because she is so excited to be MOMMY, but it has allowed us the awesome opportunity to pull together as a family, with our parents, siblings, and their kids, to take care of Kim and Sara Beth. I am so grateful for all our family. We are prating for a resolution and hopefully will get a treatment plan in place when we return to the doctor next week. I will withhold all the details until then. Please pray for us as God shows us His incredible love, patience and endurance.

So that's it in a nutshell. It may not seem like much, but to us, this year has seen MONUMENTAL CHANGE. All of it hasn't been pleasant, but all will be beneficial when it's all said and done. Change may be good, but it's tough. I'm looking forward to a new year, a new ministry, a new little girl, a renewed dedication to my awesome wife, and growing in Godliness. O yeah, and I think I'll blog a little more. I know, you don't believe me...

Monday, August 16, 2010


It has been an incredible summer. Kim and I started the adoption process in June along with a packed schedule. We were initially expecting a 6 month to a year process to find the right match with a birth mother and we were told if we were set on having a little girl it may take even longer. Our homestudy was jammed unexpectedly in the middle of 2 retreats with very little time to prepare or even catch our breath. With that done, we hoped for a baby by Christmas but expected much later.
Fast forward a few weeks to my last big event of the summer at Carowinds with 25 students. Our lawyer calls and says we have found a match and the little girl is due to enter the world at the end of September but she may come a lot earlier!! That was August 5. We went to GVille on August 8, went back this past weekend to move the birth mom into an apartment, and we are eagerly waiting the arrival of our precious Sara Elizabeth.
The whole experience has been a whirlwind, but we have seen God's hand in every step. The birth mom is a precious young lady and is grateful to be giving us the gift of life. It's been 16 years in the making and it's finally coming SOON. We are excited!!! Gotta go paint a nursery!!!