“I’m all in”

That was it, three words. Not what I expected from someone as artistically blessed as my wife, especially considering she is such a gifted wordsmith. She had written just three words inside that card….”I’m all in,”  – and therein lies the beauty of her writing… knowing her audience. She had handed me the card as we were driving out of Dallas into the great unknown of our future. It felt as if everyone we had talked to about our plans had nodded and agreed it would be fun, but always with that knowing look of “those poor kids have no direction…” Who could blame them? We were moving to the foreign country of Virginia…. We had two small children, one of which would be starting school that year and the other still in diapers.  We knew nothing about where we were headed, and we had no strong relationships with anyone there (this is significant because I travel extensively as an evangelist and it is very difficult for my family when I am gone if there is no support network around them) and don’t even get me started on the cost of  living in Northern Virgina!! It just looked like a crazy thing to do, but in our hearts we both knew that we had to give it a fair shot. We planned a sojourn of three months. We would live in a hotel room, all 4 of us, for those three months then head out on the road for the summer and hopefully make a decision by August where we  would live. I had been working as a server at Logan’s Roadhouse and they had agreed to transfer me to the Manassas,VA restaurant. This was the only thing we knew for sure when we left.. that I would have a job. We honestly didn’t have an earthly soul  to lean on as we pulled out of the Living Oaks Apartments in Red Oak, TX – but we had each other, we had the Holy Spirit, and we had the comfort of knowing that we were all in!

Don’t get me wrong. I love staying in Hotels. I spend almost half of my year living in hotel rooms, campground cabins, and other rooms not decorated by my wife. But LIVING in a hotel room for 3 months with the whole family was not starting out quite as we expected. It never crossed my mind that Jade and I would have to go into the bathroom at night and sit on the floor and talk until the kids went to sleep. Once again though God showed His grace to us. Within weeks of us arriving we knew we were home. There is no other way to say it, this was home. This is one of the most beautiful areas of the country! After a year in Texas we had almost forgotten what trees looked like…lets just say there are more than a few trees in Virginia and many of them have seen pilgrims, the Revolutionary War, The Civil War…  There is something here that speaks loudly to each of us. I have the mountains an hour from here where believe it or not there is a bear hunting season, Jade can be at the Beach in three hours, Washington DC is 30 minutes by rail so we can take Zeke to look at dinosaurs at The Museum of Natural History – New York City is 4 hours by train – and as we all know the bigger the audience the happier Anya is… Our new church, The Sound, embraced us and welcomed us in. Our pastor – Pastor Barry Phipps – is exactly what I believe the Bible defines a pastor to be. Within weeks of our arrival we not only had new friends, but a true support network around us. This was exemplified when Jade had to rush back to Missouri for her dads emergency surgery. I was scheduled to work all weekend and we couldn’t afford for me to take off or for the kids to fly with her. Our church family stepped in and not only offered to help watch our children, but worked out the schedule and all the details of where they would be staying and kept me informed throughout. This completely removed what would have been another unneccesary weight during what was already a difficult time. We had a church, great friends… now all we needed was a home. We started looking for apartments in early April and quickly found the one we wanted. We were told it wouldn’t be available until the first week in June – another 8 weeks in a hotel…gulp. Again we trusted that God would give us grace and we put a deposit down to hold the apartment when it opened. We received a phone call a little over a week later from the apartment manager asking if we would be interested in moving in earlier… an entire month earlier!!

Let me jump to the end. After a total of 10 weeks in a one room hotel, we now have a beautiful new place to call home. Zeke and Anya now actually sleep in a different room than Jade and I. They love playing outside in their yard. They love going to Church on Sundays. God has given me great favor at work (which I will discuss at length in an upcoming blog) and I am now a corporate trainer for Logan’s. God has blessed our ministry and it continues to grow. In my last blog I stated that I believe that if you are seeking God’s will then you are in God’s will. He has shown me over and over again how faithful He is. We now know that what was drawing us out here was the Holy Spirit. My children will grow up Virginians, I too am now a Virginian. (although I will alway root for my Chiefs, Cardinals and Tigers….and hate the Jayhawks) Although I don’t yet know the reason for God leading us here, I do know that we have never been more at peace, or more on the same page as a family than we are right now, and if I can quote my favorite writer…. I’m all in!

We all grow up having dreams of the adventures we could go on. Starting in the 4th grade, after Marty Stone turned me on to The Hobbit, mine usually involved strange foreign lands – large ugly creatures and me defeating them all to save some poor beautiful girl. After I rescued her from the grasp of some grotesque yellow gnome she would stare up at my 6 foot tall muscular frame and long flowing Sebastian Bach hair and show me her gratitude by checking the yes box in the note I passed her at recess…. It didn’t take long for reality to set in. I never reached six feet – or even 5 and a half feet for that matter – I think I might have been somewhat muscular at some time, but I have no proof and I’m thankful now to even have hair.

One part of these dreams did come true though, I did end up with the beautiful girl. Jade and I have been married for 8 years now and truly every minute of that time has been an adventure. A little over a year ago we left our home in Columbia, MO and moved to the foreign land of  Texas. We moved to work with Wayne Northup, Chris Mancl and Answering the Cries Ministries. Over the course of the past year I’ve had the opportunity to travel with Wayne from California to South Carolina and everywhere in between for retreats, services and school assemblies. After spending the first week of the summer with Wayne at the Oklahoma District Youth Camp – I was sent out and had the opportunity to preach a total of 5 camps in New Mexico, Washington State, Tennessee and Indiana. It was amazing to see God move! I’ll never forget the look on one students face in Tennessee as God completely healed him of nerve headaches he’d been suffering from for months due to a football injury. God’s sovereign hand moved in this way every night of the summer – I could go on and on listing healing, revelations and testimonies of what God did. I’ll never get used to that – I don’t want to get used to it. Each night was new and each day has been new since.

 This past year has been an adventure to say the least, and at the end of our time in Texas we assumed we would be moving back to Missouri, and initially that was our plan. As time drew close to begin making preparations we just weren’t settled in our hearts. There was something in us drawing us to Northern Virginia… yeah I said Virginia! and I’m not sure I can tell you what it is. We don’t have any family and very few friends (only one to be honest) anywhere close to the area. Northern Virginia could be filled with grotesque yellow gnomes for all we know. Honestly we are tired of moving, Zeke starts school next fall and we want to have  a home by that time – but I guess that leaves us with time for one more adventure. Last week we packed everything we own – half in a storage pod and the other half in our new Dave Ramsey certified minivan – and drove to Virginia.

For the next 3 months we are going to be a part of the Sound Church – a church plant being led by Pastor Barry Phipps (my one friend out here).  We will be using this time to seek God’s face and His will. I will be traveling doing some retreats this spring, and to fill in the gaps I will be making tents at a wonderful job that God has provided me with. I want to tell each and every one of you thank you so much for your support and prayers. Each and every one of you has a part in all that God is doing through this ministry. As we seek out our home base for this ministry and for our family we ask that you pray with us. I believe that if you are seeking the Lords will, you are in the Lords will. So either Virginia will become our new home or we will move back to Columbia, but either way we are going to have an adventure.

This was originally published about a year ago on Facebook – I was just reading back through it and kinda got a kick out of it. I’ll post this now and maybe do a new one soon… enjoy
I have avoided this thing forever – but like a stinky diaper – I knew I would have to deal with it at some point, so here goes.
25 random things about me:

1. I used to color code my hangers – long sleeve dress shirts on blue hangers, polos on red hangers, hoodies on black hangers, etc… – my wife just bought me all wooden hangers and now I’m kinda confused.

2. I believe that Tortilla chips were made for salsa – Fritos were made for bean dip and French Onion Dip was made for PLAIN potato chips and these can not be intermingled. If you stick a Tortilla chip in a can of bean dip you have just ruined the bean dip….. but I don’t mind double dipping.

3. I still wear a watch that hasn’t run in 4 years.

4. I think Ted Nugent is a genius.

5. The only thing I hate more than shaving is having a beard.

6. I believe that Coca-Cola still has Cocaine in it… or at least that’s how I explain my addiction.

7. I have built an AR-15 rifle from parts I purchased on the internet. I purchased everything from the barrel to the smallest spring as seperate parts and assembled them into a working rifle that looks like something off of Halo.

8. I played soccer in Europe after High School.

9. I think when you cook a vegetable you kill it!!! How could you do that to Bob, Larry, Archibald and Jr.????

10. When I was 8 years old I was shot in the foot with a broadhead hunting arrow – as I was going in for surgery I told the Dr. to please leave a scar so I would have something to show my grandchildren (true story!!!)

11. I have solo skydived.

12. I was in attendance at the last baseball game ever played at the old Busch Stadium – the playoff game against Houston that we lost.

13. I took my son to a Cardinals game when he was 12 weeks old.

14. I have never been to the hospital for an illness, and i don’t know who my Dr. is.

15. I collect Coca-Cola “stuff” – at one point I had over 700 different collectable bottles – I have since gotten rid of most of them because my wife said they are too hard to dust.

16. I have never dusted.

17. I like to read the Grizzly Industrial Tool catalog for fun.

18. I had played golf in over 20 states before I owned my own clubs

19. I am a full time youth evangelist – side note, I had a high school english teacher once ask me in a condescending tone if I thought I could just talk and crack jokes for the rest of my life and still feed a family… guess I showed her.

20. I have been known to cry at the occasional country song

21. I still think the North Side rules!!! (just representin for my North Side Peeps)

22. I would rather be standing in rubber boots in the middle of a pasture surrounded by cows than be on a beach 

23. One of my nostrils is bigger than the other – next time you see me just ask, I’ll show you…

24. I was 25 before I ever took a Tylenol – now just taking two will make me a little loopy (you should have seen me on the Vicadin after my knee surgery – I swear I had a conversation with little fat flying men – they had wings and everything – but I can not share with you the secrets they told me…….)

25. I usually get up a few times each night just so I can watch my children sleep – one of my greatest joys in life is knowing that they are sleeping peacefully and that they feel safe.

26.  I married my wife Jade when I was 30 and I have been amazed by her everyday since.

27. I use under-eye cream, but I’m not sure why

28. My face moisturizer is more expensive than my wifes.

29. I am not a metro…. I am an Uber

30. I just found out that when I was in childrens choir at church in elementary school they would schedule a parent to come in each week just to watch me…. 40 kids in the choir and and I required my very own supervision!!!

31. I like when my wife picks out my cloths.

32. I am a total guy – I like sports, cars, tools, blue jeans and T-shirts and building stuff!!

33. If my wife lets me, I would like to one day build my own house with my own hands.

34. I don’t believe in Global Warming

35. Jesus loves me

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