One year ago, my life changed completely.
My family had traveled from Tampa, FL, where I served as the preaching minister for the Northwest Tampa Church of Christ, up to Lebanon, TN, my hometown. We were there to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. However, we had other plans for while we were “up north.”
One thing we were going to do was go on a family vacation to the Smoky Mountains. I’ve never been good to take vacations. To be honest, I’ve never really had good vacation time offered by my employer, and having to use vacation time to go see family since we lived so far away was difficult. So it left me with few “vacation” days. We were excited to get away.
While I was up here, I also visited with the Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville, AL. They had decided to add a new staff position, and I had been recommended for the job. I was conflicted. I had been preaching for 9 years full time after serving as a youth, worship, and associate minister for the previous 11 years. In the ministry world, reaching the level of “preaching” minister is one that a lot of people aim for, and once they get there, they rarely leave.
I entertained the idea of moving into a different position, considered my options, and decided it would be a good opportunity. I came to visit Huntsville, and interviewed with the committee on June 27. It was made up of a few elders, a minister, and some other members.
The interview went well, and on June 30, we met with all the elders after the committee recommended me for the job. As I sat there amongst 13 shepherds, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. They were so encouraging, so loving, so kind. They had a big ship to steer, and had done so with humility and wisdom. They had put together a staff of about 14 ministers that were amazingly skilled in their areas of service.
One year ago, my life changed completely.
Sadly, this meant leaving some dear friends in Tampa that we had grown to love over 5 years. But it also meant packing up and moving 12 hours, and we didn’t have much time to do it. Unfortunately, my wife and daughter’s Christian school had filed for bankruptcy and was closing it’s doors, but that also made the transition away from Citrus Park Christian easier.
My wife was also offered a job at Madison Academy doing what she loves, working with pre-school age children. She was introduced to her assistant, Angel, and immediately fell in love with the school.
Right as my wife and daughter was about to leave, my daughter fell off a horse and snapped her arm in two, so on the day before they were headed up here, we instead had to visit the operating room. She has since made a full recovery.
Who would have known what would happen over the course of a year?
My wife came on to Huntsville, my daughter had to stick around Tampa for an extra week with me to go for a follow up. Once she was cleared, she came to Huntsville to start her new life. Along with the challenges of a new school, she also had the challenges of being without the use of one of her arms for a while.
And then I got the horrible phone call that my brother had suffered a heart attack, and had passed away, just two weeks before I was to move to Huntsville at the beginning of October.
We lived with in-laws for a few months, which presented challenges, especially the hour long commute one way.
We finally found a wonderful home, got moved in and settled, celebrated our first Christmas.
Our president went through an unsuccessful impeachment hearing.
And then we had news reports of a new virus coming out of China. We watched as all that unfolded, and as it spread to all parts of the world. Students and teachers were sent home. School was now done virtually.
Churches stopped meeting in their buildings, and transitioned to digital services only.
All of a sudden, we all had to learn the art of movie making in order to teach and preach.
And then, my father was told he needed open heart surgery, at the worst possible time, and went under the knife to have bypasses done.
Then, we saw civil unrest due to injustices towards our African American brothers and sisters. Protests erupted, which unfortunately led to anarchy in a lot of places.
One year. A lot can happen in one year. It makes me wonder, what will this next year look like?
Will the virus go away?
Will the presidential election cause more protests and riots in a deeply divided nation?
Will the murder hornets come out to play?
If you had told me a year ago that all of the above would have happened, I never would have believed you.
So here it is a year after I was offered a job to come work at the greatest church i’ve ever had the opportunity to know.
I know God is still in control.
I know who holds tomorrow.
Yes, we’ve gone through challenges. But guess what, there’s more on the horizon. But there will also be victories. We will get through all of this, one way or another.
As for us, we never plan on leaving Huntsville or Mayfair.