Happy New Year! My favorite holiday of all. The day my life changed forever, after I answered a pastor's call to kneel by my pew and surrender my life to Jesus. I thought I had done it a dozen times before, but that night, 39 years ago, God knew I was giving my all to Him!
New Year, the time my life changed, again, when I exchanged vows with my love, and I walked into the new year as a young wife. This year end we celebrate thirty-five years of God's mystery for marriage, two-becoming-one.
This New Year holds another big change. For in 2018, we celebrate the launch of Light Church, pastored by my son and his wife. (Click the highlighted links to read more).
Looking back, I can see the hand of God in this exciting new undertaking from the day my son was born. Although, I cannot tell you all the workings of God in my amazing daughter-in-law's growing-up years, I'm well acquainted with God's leading in my son's life. And this post is a little of that story.
From the first time they placed him in my arms, I knew this child was destined for ministry. I don't know how to describe it, except to say, I felt it in the depths of me. And, I treasured this knowing in my heart.
From a very young age, it seemed, my son knew this calling too. Yet, besides this knowing, we were a pretty ordinary family with full and busy lives, an often too frazzled mommy, and a loving home full of kids.
An Everyday Ordinary Boy:
It was hard to imagine my little, two-year old biter would grow up to be a ministry leader one day.
It was hard to imagine my energetic preschooler who hated to read, and who couldn't sit still to be read to, would one day love to read and study and preach to others.
It was hard to imagine my winsome boy who could charm his way out of most any trouble, as well as weave a tale that would cast blame on his siblings, would grow up to be a forthright and trustworthy man of integrity and uprightness.
Just an ordinary mom:
As a mom, entrusted with four precious gifts, I blew it a lot. One evening, as I read aloud to my spirited little boy and his book-loving, big brother, I finally lost my cool! I yelled at my young wiggle-worm to "just sit quietly and listen!" He did. But I knew, I had crushed his curiosity to read with my angry outburst that night. Back then, I never could have imagined that my child, who really never liked academics, would grow up to be an avid reader, an eager student, and a dynamic preacher of the good news.
Even now, I can hear myself ordering my future preacher, during the noisiness of our large family, "Benji, could you please stop talking. Could you please stop singing. Please, please, be quiet!" Then, one day, I realized he was quiet. He had stopped talking and singing. In the depths of my heart, I knew, I had quenched a gift God had given to this child. Grieved, I asked the Lord's forgiveness, and I began to ask my son to talk and speak and sing. Then, I gave him permission and space to do so. I never imagined that God was preparing the boy who loved to talk and chatter and sing, all the time, to lead others in worship and praise, and to eloquently teach and preach the Word of God.
An extraordinary God:
When my son was four, our little family of six moved to San Diego. A good friend recommended we have his speech evaluated. We heeded her concern and, when he was five, we began our twice weekly commute to speech therapy. This weary mama, never could have imagined, twenty-seven years later, that my grownup boy and his wife would begin a new church in the very same neighborhood where God began to train his tongue to speak more effectively.
I never imagined when my son was in middle school and I felt the Lord's gentle leading to step down from leadership in ministry, that it was for my preacher son. I wrestled with my decision, but finally, God won. Soon afterwards, God made it very clear that we were to home school, again. After much prayer, my husband and I shared the idea with our kids. I was positive our second son would resist the very notion. Instead, he cried! I watched as a nearly tangible weight lifted from his shoulders, and he said, "mom, you would do that for me?" God knew my son was in a battle, and needed a break from the front lines for a while. So, I surrendered my plans to the Lord, and I schooled my son and his siblings for a season.
The years flew by, filled with sports, music, travel, school, homework, family and friends. Our home was full and fun, and we almost always had to add chairs to our dining room table for family dinners. We moved, within San Diego, quiet a few times (a story for another day), yet, except for the first year, our church community stayed the same. I never imagined how stratgically God had placed sunday school teachers, youth leaders, teachers, friends and mentors into each of my children's lives to help shape and point them in God's direction for their lives. These men and women instilled in them kingdom service as they participated in missions trips and ministry opporunties. And, ultimately, they helped lead my second born son to the Bible College he knew he was to attend.
As a college student, I watched as my son's weak areas matured into tremendous strengths. We rejoiced when he met the love of his life, his dream come true, and the one who would partner with him in the call to ministry. And from the start, we knew they were a match made in heaven, as we delighted to see them grow and serve in ministry together.
Although, I couldn't imagine all the Lord was doing in my risk taking, music loving, surf/snow/skateboarding enthusiast, I did imagine one day that my son would travel to mission fields faraway. So, I remember the day my son told me, "I'm surprised how much I enjoy being a pastor." And, we watched how God used him and his beautiful bride to serve in the poorest parts of Los Angeles, then in northern San Diego, and, recently, much to our surprise, in our own church. During their transition and preparation to begin Light Church, our son and his wife became our worship pastors. And, we were overjoyed as they have led us, and our church community, in glorious songs of praise the past year.
Now it's the New Year, and the sweet time with our kids will soon be done. But, we celebrate with them the beginning of a new church in town. Everyone is excited for the new ministry of Light Church, which begins this month. However, the people in our community are also sad, because they have enjoyed their time with the little boy who many of them watched and prayed for and cheered on to become the pastor he is today. They tell me how much they will miss him, and what a good job I did as a mom. Then, I cringe a little. Because really, I know it was all about an extraordinary God at work through an ordinary mom to raise up a pastor son!
Happiest New Year dear ones! Please pray for Light Church, for my son and his family, and for all those who God longs to bring to be a part of this new kingdom community.