Recently, a page turned in our lives. My husband Tripp completed his first full year as a lead pastor at our local church. It has been a privilege to walk alongside Tripp and see him grow in areas I never would have anticipated years ago when we met. I've had the opportunity to reflect on the character differences in Tripp, myself and in our marriage from then to now a lot this year. With honest family, friends and mentor relationships we have actually both found ourselves in deep waters of fear and grace. As pastor and pastor's wife of our local body, I feel confident we have been given a truly loving and vibrantly caring church. This year has been an undeserved gift.
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So how's it going?
You'd have to sit down with a couple different folks to get the full picture, but I really like the direction the church is going. Our associate pastor has been able to receive a 'promotion' to full-time compensation and giving to missions has been up. Though we can't take credit, three group ministries are flourishing; nursing home evangelism, women's ministry and global outreach, all thanks to incredible servant leadership. Root groups (small groups) share meals and build relationships with Jesus and one another weekly. We can't regularly attend, but the few times we have its been really encouraging. Tripp no longer carries any responsibility concerning financial management, that also falls on the capable shoulders of a very gracious leader.
Sunday service volunteers could literally sue the church to compensate their many, many hours of labor. They've revamped the flow of the morning and it's very worshipful. Church graphics for all seasons, sermons, events and identity are unified with custom photography and typography by one talented artist (and occasionally I help). Children's ministry volunteers effectively teach all our spirited young people (who make up about 20% regular attendance). Hot coffee and heavenward gratitude is still consistently served by Jimmy. Faithful greeter's have a new responsibility to direct attenders attention to a QR code found in the bulletin to download an electric copy. And finally, set-up team is once again growing with strong volunteers.
Overall, we need more people to do the work of the church – but we are trying to trust God to provide and we are asking Him to grow us in those that need to know His love for the first time. Good friends remind us in moments of criticism that we're to simply to cry out to and wait on our God. And while we wait, we love Him and love those He's put in our life. While we know that the God of the bible is not a genie in a bottle, and global need persists, we trust that He is as good as the bible says He is. Psalm 145:8-9 tell us about His goodness:
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
There's much more I could say about the challenging aspects of this year. Handling criticism and navigating loss of relationships continues to be the hardest for us. So many dear friends have had to move on. We really struggle to stay hopeful and not give into cynical feelings. God has definitely provided in some of our lowest moments and we're finding it's key to be honest and ask for help.
How is your family doing?
If it were up to me, our family would be exhausted and stretched thin - but thankfully Tripp and most close friends and family really help us find balance. Tripp would probably like more time and focus to give sermon writing, but overall he's feeling positive about the amount of time it takes. He has to write during lunch at work, post-bedtime and sometimes weekends but that's when I'm generally doing freelance work. We both struggle to prioritize prayer over tasks and but we know it's our lifeline. I'm hoping in the future we can become one of those families that wakes up early and prays together. We've tried a few times to set that habit in motion. Still God has been merciful to us!
Since my third trimester began this summer, our social life naturally slowed. It's been a tougher transition for Tripp but we have had a lot of family time together with the boys. I get to see most of my friends during day times or on a week night here and there, but Tripp could definitely use more buddy time. We're not sure how much the lack of friend time is due to ministry or due to life with little children. I'm thinking more the latter. That said, we do have a few really great babysitters and have felt very lucky to get out to some great events and dates.
The boys are growing up into very expressive and social little people. They love playing with and pummeling one another. Judah's first stop after he climbs out of his crib every morning is David's room where we here his exclaim, 'Hi Dabid, I awake!' They fight like territorial dinosaurs so I try to get them out as much as possible. I'm hoping with Hudson's arrival soon, we'll have a lot of winter play-dates at our house. Summer felt really busy, so I am looking froward to slowing down and being home more.
One year down, another begins and we're looking forward to what God is going to do.