Reflecting on Life-Changing Conversations From a Year Ago

A year ago last week, Susan and I spent our anniversary weekend in Manhattan. Because we lived so close to the city, we never had the experience of staying over, so with her parents watching the boys, we decided that our birthday gifts (both of ours in December), Christmas and anniversary gifts would be a weekend in NYC. We loved it – the city, the weather, even Priceline was good to us.

We ended up having a conversation at one of our favorite restaurants, (Dos Caminos!) that would not only change the direction of our year, but introduce a new chapter of life. We talked about a number of things ranging from marriage and ministry to a possible third child to perhaps moving on from the life we enjoyed in Jersey. Being our anniversary, the conversation had more of a brainstorming-dreaming out loud feel but in looking back, it’s become a turning point and served as a springboard for what would happen next.

We enjoyed our time away, thanked and sent off my in-laws and started to settle back into the new year. But everything changed when later that week Susan took a pregnancy test and said, “You’re not going to believe this. That conversation we had speculating on whether we wanted a third child – well, I was already pregnant when we talked about it!” I was excited, that conversation honestly revealed how I felt – I was excited to have another child, provided that she would be a girl, able to secure a full scholarship at a desirable school and promise not to bring in country music into our home. Susan was also excited too, I imagine for different reasons though.

There’s nothing like the news of having a baby to get you moving off your butt. We needed to create a plan that could adapt to multiple possibilities. There was a bit to lose, our life in Jersey was fairly comfortable, though not sustainable in the long run. We loved our church, loved our friends, loved living outside one of the most exciting cities in the world but staying contained a different set of variables that we left us unsettled. For a while, I didn’t know if it was a lack of faith, wisdom, or diligence – soon we would be praying for all that and more.

There was a lot going on in my mind that I’ve been hoping to blog about. Many things I was loving were feeling that they might be coming to a close. For instance, I loved youth ministry, loved trying to invest in the lives of young believers and seekers but some of my other ideas were not going to work in youth ministry and I started to wonder what that meant in terms of my calling. A large part of me thought that I could stay in youth ministry for another season but through a series of conversations and events from trusted people, another voice emerged that said perhaps something different was happening. Maybe more on that another time.

Of course there were other factors going on, like the fear of living in parsonage for 10 years, not creating equity and then trying to move on (we had just crossed the 5 year mark) and things like health insurance realities and a few other uncertainties. These are the conversations that many ministry-types are having. Many wonder of the goodness and difficulties of being bi-vocational, seminary-trained, the sustainability of small, mid-size and large churches. Indeed, so many people in so many vocations are having similar discussions – may God give us wisdom.

In all honesty, I was finding myself a bit overwhelmed. My prayer-life took a different direction around then. I even started fasting weekly and this would include different types of fasts: meals, technology and other forms of consumption. I know that sounds really spiritual and wonderful so let me also say that many times, the stress and frustration would get the best of me. Many days, I would find myself angry and pre-occupied which highlighted the need to be in prayer.

It was in this tension that I believed that the Lord spoke to Susan and I in various forms including conversations with close ones, potential employers, career placement services, rejections, invitations and that hard-to-describe “inner voice” that eventually becomes direction. This season became one of the healthiest times we’ve had and were feeling pretty good about the home our boys were in and eventually a baby girl.

Of course, I didn’t realize it would be my last winter in Jersey, but these days as I pick out particular sweaters and click through pictures from last year, I have this thought, “Wow, a year ago, we were ….” And I guess that’s part of why I’ve been thinking about this post.

The other reason is that it’s just about every week that I talk to someone about life-change. And while there is no such thing as a perfect-life, we are very grateful to be where we are and where we were. It’s my hope that anyone reading this seeking change consider two things. One, to not be afraid of the possibilities and two, to prayerfully move forward. Feel free to message me if I can be of any help.


  1. What’s wrong with country music?

  2. Lol – I’m just not a fan of country music and I like to pick on it.
    The more interesting question is are you a fan? Didn’t see that coming if you are ;)

Speak Your Mind