When I met Sean he was living in Warren Hall at Whitworth University. He loved Warren Hall with everything he had. He was dorm president and somehow managed to be dorm counselor as there was always someone in his room for prayer or conversation. He told me he wanted to finish his master’s degree and return to be Resident Director of Warren Hall. “Wouldn’t it be cool to live in the apartment here and hang out with all the future students?” I didn’t know someone could be so all-in, committed, heart tied to a dorm.
(Yes, this is us in Warren Hall. And yes, this is pretty much what it felt like when Sean was knocking...er...sweeping me off my feet.)
When we got married we had to move out of Warren Hall and into an apartment. Our first year married was the year of radio. Sean started with the school radio station and then landed an internship at the local Christian radio station. He loved radio with everything he had. He dreamed about a career as a radio d.j. and explored different radio markets. After graduation when job options were slim, I suggested we move out and move on. It tore Sean apart to imagine leaving radio. He was all-in, committed, heart tied to radio. I matter of factly responded with, “You can stick with radio but we either have money for one month of rent or a U-haul. Go ahead and pick.”
Ultimately the U-haul won out and we trekked out to Lynden, WA. The goal was to make ends meet as quickly as possible so he landed a bartending job our first week living in a trailer in my parent’s driveway. Sean threw himself into learning drinks, studying technique, and watching Cocktail. He loved bartending with everything he had. It was the challenge, the people who would hang out until after hours pouring their hearts out, and the dynamic of something completely different. The last thing I had expected was him to be all-in, committed, heart tied to what was only intended to be a summer job.
The pastor of a new church in town came to the bar to talk to Sean about youth ministry. He was enthusiastic and had vision for what Sean could do to propel a nearly-new youth program. He was ready to hire Sean on the spot. When Sean came home to talk about it, he was hemming and hawing a bit. “I don’t know…do you think youth ministry would be a good fit?”
I raised my eyebrows. “Umm…yes. For sure. Yes.”
“That means I’d have to quit bartending…”
A wry smile from me. “Yes, but I think that’s ok. I think you’d like youth ministry.” I had a hunch that he might love youth ministry with all he had. I had a hunch he might be all-in, committed, heart tied to youth ministry.
I was right. It took all of two weeks for him to declare he had the best job ever.
For fifteen years Sean has loved youth ministry with all he has; all-in, committed, heart tied. He has grown from an optimistic, fun, zealous, mentor who throws huge concerts and builds epic youth rooms to a strategic, community building pastor who teaches students to have passion for Scripture. He is a dad who understands trauma, hard lives, and comes alongside hurting students. He used to work to inspire students. Today he works to disciple them.
*Adapted from a message I gave at a retreat Fall 2016
Scripture tells me Jesus is preparing a place for me in heaven. Well, since God knows the desires of my heart and the way He’s wired me, I’m sure the place He’s preparing reflects that. So then, let me tell you how to find me in heaven:
My place will be the one with the split rail fence. It has a long driveway lined with willow trees and probably resembles a Craftsman. The lawn is cut Lynden style–edged properly, golf course green, with immaculate mower lines. There are sunflowers and hydrangeas, a wrap around porch, hammock out back. The coffee pot is always on. Around me are fields, acres, quiet privacy. No one’s mansion is too close. Heaven is plenty big for me to have ample space, right? I’m a bit of an introvert. I’m independent. I’m self sufficient. I’m an American, dang it!
Just throwing myself out there a bit...