For the past six weeks, Traci and I have been on a roller coaster ride of change. Uncertainty about a job, a house, a future ministry etc... has been challenging us each day. I want to thank each of you for supporting us during this journey and for all of your words of encouragement, your prayers and your genuine concern as we’ve navigated this season. While the changes aren’t finished, we are excited to report that a few issues are starting to come into focus. Let’s start with what we can’t tell you. We still don’t know where we’re going to live, although we really want to stay local and keep our kids in school at least through the end of this year. When we came to Michigan in March of 2013, we pulled our kids out of school, mid-semester, and moved across country. The school change was tough, and our hope is to avoid the mid-semester change if possible.
Our housing prayer right now is two fold. First, we’re asking God to give us a temporary housing solution to navigate the remainder of this school year. We would be happy to stay close to Lake Ann if that was possible, but we would be fine if it meant Traverse City (about 15 miles east of where we live). Secondly, we are asking God to provide real clarity about where we will be long-term. (This of course reminds me of a blog I once read about God loving grand entrances or some non-sense like that!)
That brings us to what we can tell you.
This April will mark the four year anniversary of the launch of Overboard Ministries. While Overboard debuted as a publishing company, Traci and I have talked about a number of aspects of the ministry that include serving couples, pastors, parents and students. The publishing arm of Overboard Ministries got things started, but in our hearts we have longed to expand the work even more, and to one day use the publishing arm to fund other facets of our ministry.
Over the four years since then, we’ve drawn up more plans and ideas. I’ve spent a lot of time consulting with leaders, pastors, mentors, businessmen and entrepreneurs to start casting a larger vision for this idea God has rooted in our hearts. Of course, during this time Traci was working her own passions and business, and I was blessed to finish up 12 years as a youth pastor in Salem, Oregon, and 22 months here in Lake Ann, MI.
As Traci and I have prayed over the past six weeks, we have come to conclusion that it’s time to take Overboard Ministries full time. As Traci said, “It’s time to take Overboard...overboard.”
Before I was let go on January 16th, God had already allowed my path to cross with dozens and dozens of ministry leaders throughout Michigan (and beyond). One such man owns a retreat center about 90 minutes from where we currently live. 25 year ago, he left a thriving youth ministry in Florida to return to Kalkaska, MI and build a camp from the ground up! Starwood Ranch is an 85-bed facility that groups rent and run their own programs (whereas the camp we’re leaving primarily runs it’s own programs in summer and winter, and does group rentals in the off-season).
Steve (the owner of Starwood) would love to partner with Overboard Ministries to explore ways to expand Starwood’s ministry to churches in the area, and to create a win/win for both Starwood and Overboard. In one very real sense, there is no official job being offered. In other sense, Starwood will become the geographic launching pad for what Traci and I believe will be a long-term relationship (even if we end of up leaving Michigan down the road). Ministry to couples, to pastors, parents and students will be high on our priority list, and Starwood will allow me to use my gifts now, while implementing the vision for Overboard in the future.
So, in order to launch Overboard Ministries and begin a partnership with Starwood Ranch, Traci and I are confident that God is leading us to raise our own support. This is both exciting and terrifying (“Excitifying!”*), but we have no doubts about the next few steps God has put in front of us. Next Monday we will role out a short video explaining how we will be raising our support, the details of our support and how you can jump overboard with us! God has connected us to a great ministry -- called Ripe for Harvest -- that will make donations a snap and fully tax-deductible (they are a 501(3)c).
One chapter of our lives has definitely come to a close, even though it was shorter than we had anticipated. Another chapter is being written. I can honestly tell you that God’s Word has been such a help through it all, and in particular, almost from the beginning, Psalm 143:8 has been one of my regular prayer requests: “If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice, I’ll go to sleep each night trusting you. Point out the road I must travel; I’m all ears, all eyes before you” (The Message). God has pointed out the next road we must travel, and we can’t wait to see what He has in store for us next. Stay tuned.
Go ahead and take the plunge, even if it’s Excitifying, because life is always better on the water!
*Like its sister word, "Territhrilled" (see entry in Overboard blogtionary), Excitifying is compound-emotive word, linking two strong sentiments together. "Exciting" indicates a happy, thrilling, adrenaline pumping moment like when a person is preparing to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. "Terrifying" indicates a strong feeling of adrenaline pumping horror, like when a person who is about to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet realizes what 10,000 feet above the ground looks like! Often there is no sound uttered when a person is Excitified, as both the potential thrill of success and terror of failure combine to remove all vocal capabilities.