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My entire life my mother has said that her greatest claim to fame is that she has raised 5 nice and normal children. None of us have been in prison or rehab. We all have families of our own and have experienced various levels of success in our chosen fields. When I was in school my mother always said that I should, “shoot for all B’s on your report card. Don’t aim too high, you’ll stress yourself out. Aim too low and you’re wasting your potential” she would say. Funny thing, I graduated from high school with a 2.98 GPA (just missed the straight “B’s”). Maybe that’s why when I was married and about to have our first child that I stated that I wanted my children to not be “SO” anything. I had grown tired and to a degree bothered by every parent I knew or observed saying that their baby was “so smart” or “‘so big” or “so alert”. Older children brought parents that were even more inflamational in regards to their kids abilities, “He is sooo advanced” or “He is really an amazing little athlete” sometimes “She is the most creative girl”. No. I just wanted…nice and “normal” kids for my nice and normal life.

Well, my life has not been nice and normal lately. After 12 years in youth ministry I felt God calling me to leave my position. Then, I experienced a betrayal by one of my closest dearest friends. A local church asked me repeatedly to candidate for their open Senior Pastor position. I finally relented and sought the Lord’s will and prayerfully applied. It came down to me and one other candidate who was from over 1000 miles away in a town that had nothing in common with our area. He got the position. I was then told that a Christian graduate school was not “Christian enough” for me and that I was not accepted into their counseling program (despite my 12 years of ministry, prior counseling training, and my 3.47 college GPA…I guess I overachieved in college, sorry mom). I was then turned down for 3 slam dunk other full time positions that were “perfectly” suited for me. Finally, I followed the Lord to another local church where I assumed the position of Executive Pastor on a volunteer basis. I knew at that time that the Lord had called me to that church to succeed the Senior Pastor who was very open with me about his stagnation and desire for help. God moved in great and mighty ways in the next year. Things were great and I had a home. The worst case scenario would be me gaining valuable experience in a “quasi-unpaid internship” kind of role. Well, that was all I ended up with as the Senior Pastor left and the search committee deemed me to not have the necessary undergraduate bible college degree to be their Senior Pastor. Professional struggles are fine and experienced by many. Yet, another thing happened in that last year that has left its mark on my wife and me.

On Christmas Eve 2010 our third child (2 year old son named Trey) was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer. Trey had been not well for about a month and we had been trying to get him properly diagnosed. Well, I guess I was finally successful at something as he most assuredly got diagnosed. What has ensued since then (including not getting the Senior Pastor position) has been nothing short of breath taking, both good and bad.

I’m sorry mom. I have failed you. There is nothing “normal” about my life. I am nice so I guess you were half successful with me. Take heart though, my kids are “SO” just about everything. So smart, so funny, so mature, so loved, so tough and so…on. So I suppose neither of us got our wish. I walk through life with Rachel, my wife of 11+ years. She is the person that God called me to love and to be loved by in the most perfect of ways. We are battered, bruised, and oh so blessed.

I suppose it’s now that I should probably explain one more thing. If I were to be completely honest with you, I’m probably not all that nice. I do, say, and most assuredly think things that prove otherwise. Yet, if you were to be honest with me, your life looks more like mine than most would freely admit. So maybe my life is quite normal after all.

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