“Blessed is the man who gets the opportunity to devote
his life to something bigger than himself and who finds himself
surrounded by friends who share his passion.”
— Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide
On July 7th, 2008, I embarked on a journey full of adventures I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I simply knew two things:
- God gave me a burning passion to influence faith, hope, and purpose into the lives of young people in Seattle. I’ve always had a heart for youth ministry and the opportunity to impact youth in a city that battled Seasonal Affective Disorder, The Seattle Freeze (it’s legit, y’all), and a disdain for faith organizations was a challenge I was ready to face and embrace.
- I felt a strong connection to Westside Church and wanted to pursue ministry there. I had previously visited the church (among others) during a pre-move trip to Seattle and it was the only church that I checked out that gave me the same sense of community as I had back in Texas.
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill that passionate calling through serving as volunteer youth pastor (building from the ground up) at Westside, and then additionally stepping into a part-time paid position as the Children’s Director/Graphic Design Assistant. Being offered the position of Children’s Director was a new adventure altogether because youth ministry was my first love, but I decided that helping them to rebuild the Children’s Ministry would be worthwhile if I could set it up with a structure and strategy to provide easier connection between kid’s ministry and youth ministry, so I took the gladly took the job. Over the past couple of years, through serving as both youth and children’s pastor, God had birthed a new vision and passion in me—one that played even more to my strengths and opened me up to new challenges. That freshly sparked passion pointed me in a direction to develop myself into a Family Ministry Pastor (aka NextGen Pastor) to help connect each age and phase from birth through college with strategic programming and leadership to build a more lasting and more meaningful faith for ministry leaders, children, and families.
In the middle of ministry pursuit at Westside, I felt that I was in a good place in my life to begin the fostering journey of training and discovery, which I did. At the beginning of this year, the senior leaders at the church decided it was time to transition me out of the Youth Pastor role completely and have me focus solely on being the Children’s Pastor. I felt like this shift in leadership was my go-ahead to pursue the next step in bringing JoJo into my home to foster. Through that season of life, not only did I love fostering and leading at the church, but those passions to pursue a future as NextGen Pastor increased. Although I did my very best—above and beyond—to be the parent that JoJo needed, it didn’t work out for us. So I was left grieving and picking up the pieces of a broken heart. In the middle of that, I discovered that despite the pain and the strange new season of ministry life, I was still very passionate about two things: foster care and being a NextGen Pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids ministry and I love our Westside Kids, but the dream and passion for something bigger always left me feeling like I had some big energy inside that was being contained in a soda can. I knew that I would never be able to reach my full potential solely in the Children’s Director role. Once I picked up pieces and let the dust settle from all that had happened after losing JoJo, I prayed with open hands for God to guide me to the next right thing and I strongly believed it was to pursue that NextGen Pastor role. However, through many conversations, meetings, assessments, and experiments, over the past year and a half (and more importantly, the last month or so) I’ve come to discover that there is no such role for me in the future at Westside Church.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dan Matlock (who I had served under back in my hometown of Austin, TX before I moved out to Seattle) gave me a call that opened a door to a new adventure! I had left Austin on great terms and with full support from Dan and his wife, Kelly. We had stayed in touch over the years and they even came to see me when I was recovering from my horrible wisdom tooth surgery fiasco. A few years ago, Dan and Kelly started a church plant in the San Marcos, TX area called EIKON CHURCH. Through the years, Dan and I had many conversations about strategy and leadership development for kids and youth ministry and also shared life insights/struggles, etc. He valued my insight and respected my role in NextGen ministry leadership. So after wrestling with what the future of this burning passion would look like now that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do at Westside, I was relieved to get the call from Dan who presented me with an amazing opportunity. He offered me a full-time ministry position as their Youth Pastor for a season with direct advancement into the NextGen Pastor role. I love Eikon Church—their mission, values, leadership team, beliefs and practices—so after serious thought, prayer, deeper discussions with friends and mentors, I decided to sign on the dotted line and accept the position into the next great adventure that God is leading me on. That new adventure officially begins at the beginning of September, which allows me to wrap up the next couple of months here with Vacation Bible School and special moments with dear friends before making the drive down to Texas over Labor Day weekend. God has completely opened all the doors to make things happen for this next step and I am equal parts excited to pursue what’s next and sad to say goodbye to people that I love.
With any big transition comes and onslaught of questions and mind games. I wanted to take some space here to clear up some possible questions/thoughts you might have in light of this big move back to Texas:
- This move is NOT because I don’t love the people at Westside Church. I have been able to build community connections that are so deep and lasting that people aren’t just friends, they’re family. I love the kids and the youth and the families at Westside, but it’s just not a possibility for me to serve them in the capacity that I want to. I believe that God is going to bless Westside with a new Children’s Director who will help to build on what’s already begun and make it even better.
- This move is NOT because I lost JoJo. I know that she is in a loving, caring, safe, environment where she can get the care that she needs to have a truly successful future. I will miss her dearly and I love her with every ounce of my being, but I know that there are better things ahead for her and I rest assured that God is watching over her and surrounding her with love and healing. I don’t regret parenting her for the season I did and I’m not disappointed in her or myself despite the circumstances. I will continue to pursue foster care outlets in Texas and move toward getting licensed as a foster/adoptive parent there.
- This move is NOT because of the recent passing of my grandma (Mamo). This decision was actually made before her passing, and while it will be nice to be closer to my family, they are not the reason I am making the move. I will be living with friends in South Austin, about 30 minutes away from Eikon Church. So while it will be nice to drive up to North Austin where my family is on the weekends, I’ll still be able to have space for personal/ministry life.
This move is simply about following God’s direction and pursuing a passion for ministry in a place where I will be able to fully pursue it. This is an exciting season of life and I hope to be able to leave Seattle with even more treasured memories, and to set Westside Kids up for success under the helm of a new leader. It’s been an honor to serve families at Westside and to be part of a greater family of friends here in Seattle. I hope to come back to visit each year and keep everyone updated on adventures over time through this blog and social media. I would appreciate any and all prayers during this transitional season as there are a lot of to-do’s and changes up ahead. Let’s just remember—I’m not dying, just moving a couple of time zones away!
Don’t say goodbye, just say “Good Journey”