We are now to our third and final installment. It’s the year 2006 and we have just moved to Cleveland, Tennessee. We began serving at a church and after eight short months, the church decided that all the reasons why they hired Lance were also all the reasons why they should fire him. It’s icky and I’ll spare you the details. They’ll only make both of us mad.
Now there were several dozen folks that approached Lance on that Black Sunday (the day he was voted out), the folks that believed in what he taught, his methods and his passion for creativity in church. They asked us if we would consider staying in Cleveland and starting a new church.
Now, to be quite honest, about 98% of me was like, what the heck are you talking about? Where’s the door, I’m outta here. But also the prospect of staying and doing church they way we really wanted to without all these ridiculous roadblocks, AKA those who draw Social Security, standing in our way. So we stayed.
For six months we had an awesome time. We learned how to start a church, the folks learned to be adaptive. We taught God’s Word in fresh and innovative ways and it was so amazing to be a part of that. There was just one thing. Neither of us were at peace. We struggled almost daily with whether or not we were doing the right thing. Either I would doubt, or Lance would. Neither of us could feel content.
So after six short months, we talked with our little band of believers and shared our deepest feelings. They, in turn, shared theirs and we all came to the mutual agreement that while what we were doing was GOOD and RIGHT, it was just not the RIGHT TIME. One main lesson we all agreed on was that you cannot, CANNOT, start a church while being in debt.
Ok, so here’s where the story gets really good.
A few months into our new church, a friend of Lance called us up and told us that he wanted to donate something to our ministry from his church that he had started. So one day, he and his wife drive up and park a little trailer in our parking lot and say “It’s yours!”. We were blown away by their kindness. Well, that trailer never got much use from our little church, but when we all decided that disbanding was the right step for us, they immediately offered us the trailer. We were able to pack up and move using that trailer (and some extra car and truck space of some obliging folks from the church).
So we knew we weren’t destined to stay in Cleveland longer than a year, but where to go? For several months, Lance had been bringing up the possibility of moving the apartment on top of his parents house. I was 100% against it, not because of my in-laws (because I totally am down with them, yo) but because the apartment is one bedroom, one bathroom and just a little under 900 square feet. There are four of us, and the prospect of squishing us all in one bedroom with absolutely no privacy or peace was just about the worst proposition I had ever heard.
Now, let me just have an aside with you and explain one little fact about me. I have a tendency to be a little slow on the uptake in just about every major decision I’ve had to face. Our family pattern is, Lance knows exactly what we are supposed to be doing and I finally get on board roughly 1-3 years later. Sorry Lance, did you by any chance pray for patience??
Ok, so back to the story. Let’s recap-we move to Tennessee, get hired and fired in less than a year, start a church, disband that church…ok, now we’re caught up. So it’s Thanksgiving and we are downstairs my in-laws house and I look over at Lance and I kind of sigh (because I’m also down with the melodrama, yo) and say “Ooookkkkaayyy, let’s go check out the apartment…” So we truck upstairs and, it’s amazing- once I’m upstairs, I can just SEE us living there. Just sort of ENVISION how it could work. So we drove back to Tennessee and sold/gave away every non-essential material possession and packed up the rest.
Once in Alabama, we were so relieved. We just sort of needed a TIMEOUT from life, from ministry, from failures. We gave ourselves a few days to just relax and then it was time to find jobs. Now, as fate would have it, Lance’s uncle fell and broke his ankle while doing construction work with his son. So for two months, Lance took his place and had a quasi-steady income. I found work at a law firm just blocks from my girls’ schools. Lance enjoyed hanging out with his cousin and doing all sorts of manly stuff like caulking and crawling under houses and coming home filthy, but what he really really really wanted was to work at the new Apple store that was opening in Huntsville. He had actually applied before we even moved, but because Apple is notorious for being HUSH HUSH about everything (and I don’t mean they go around singing Paula Abdul) we had no idea when the store would even open.
After a couple of months, Lance traded power tools for his laptop and built websites for people. We have yet to be paid, ahem, but it proved a worthwhile venture and may be extremely useful in the future. But as despair so easily trickles in like the cow patty perfume into our tiny abode, we began to once again feel the pinch.
Remember that trailer? Well after we unloaded all our earthly positions and crammed them in the apartment, it just sort of sat there, doing nothing but providing the flies one more surface on which to poop. So we sold it (after washing it, because we are down with the cleanliness, yo) and we were able to live off the proceeds until our tax return came in. Then we lived off that. But that kind of living is very stressful and not an existence I recommend.
There were two job opportunities that fell into Lance’s lap. One was at a chicken restaurant as the manager and the other was facilitating an organization that helps elderly folks to remain independent as long as they can. For whatever reason, both jobs fell through. We noticed just last week that the restaurant had closed down. Thank God Lance didn’t take that job.
Just when we began to throw up our hands in despair, Apple contacted Lance. To be honest, I had forgotten all about them. Several weeks later, Lance was hired and let me just say, his job is tailor-made for him. He loves it and he’s good at it. He’s got a spring in his step again and I’m so so grateful this worked out for him.
This may be a kind of paltry final installment, but the last few days I’ve attempted to look back and see the hardships and the victories in hopes that I can remember in the past how we’ve been taken care of, despite all odds, so that when I turn around and face the future, I have faith. It’s awfully fun to sit on the mountain top, but we’re not meant to stay there because things don’t grow so well up there, so we get booted off and wind up right back in the valley.
But isn’t that where we bloom the most?