What if Martin Luther King Jr. Had a Dream, came off of the Mountaintop
And went home?
What if he caved to the pressure of self doubt
And journaled his thoughts instead in some quiet quaint safe place, smiled deeply, closed the front cover, put down his pen, and tucked his journal neatly in his bottom left drawer under some papers?
What if Martin Luther King Jr. stayed away from crowds because of the noise and lounged long evenings on his chair in front of the television, his dream kicking up air somewhere in the back of his mind, but settling there as he drifted off to sleep?
What if he knew he was right, but was just too tired to try fighting Goliath?
The horizon of passion kindled in his blood when he said yes to every dream. His vision grew clearer, the passion brighter, his following stronger.
*Unbury your journal. Wipe the sleep from your eyes and worry from your quivering chin. Dream again. I dare you.
Twenty years. Twenty years is a long time. As our twentieth anniversary at GCC has been approaching, I have been amazed at the comments people have made. Ones like, “No one does anything for 20 years anymore.” Or “Did you start ministry when you were 10?” Generally people have been shocked, not realizing Rob and I have been at GCC for that long.
I was 19 when we came to Granger, Rob was 21. Mark and Sheila Beeson have given us a place and space to grow and change over the decades, finding ourselves, finding Jesus, and leading others in the Jesus way all the while.
Last Friday night, we celebrated our 20 year anniversary with some friends from GCC in literally “The Party Of The Century.” We were humbled, amazed, honored…there truly are not enough words in the human language to express the way our hearts exploded with the outpouring of love from the staff, friends, and family who came along to celebrate.
Several friends sent video messages, Pastor Paul Wirth from Relevant Church in Tampa, Florida, Dustin Holiday from Christian Fellowship Church near Washington DC, and Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California. Rajendran from India recorded a message about how grateful he is for Rob’s faithfulness when it comes to serving the people of India…it was all so very meaningful.
There was an amazing media piece with stories from our lives told by others, photos someone had stealthily stolen from my house (with a little help of 3 young accomplices) draped on a clothesline at the GCC property. It was stunningly artistic, and took our breath away.
Our girls had made a secret media with the help of Elle White and Kristin Baker. It brought both Rob and I to tears. It was so beautiful and funny…we are so grateful.
Rev. Dan Gute, our youth pastor made a surprise appearance, speaking words of life and hope into us, and his lovely wife Dianne came too. We could not believe it. Both sets of our parents came, along with Rob’s sister Lisa, our brother in law Jim, and our niece and nephew. What a blast to have all of us in the same room together!
The Senior Management Team each took a minute to say a kind word to Rob and I, and we were humbled by the gracious things they said. The Culps made a special Rob and Michelle tribute, and we laughed so, so hard. I was touched when the Culps were transformed back into Dan and Lisa, and they sang the Song “Captivate Us” by Watermark, and played the You Tube video I made of my Instagram pics. It was a fabulous surprise.
The shock of our lives came when Trace Rorie and the GCC band began playing an old school Petra song. Those who know Rob well know what a huge influence Petra was on his early faith in Jesus. Whenever he tells the story of how he deditcated his life to Jesus, he talks about the Petra songs that sunk deep down and made him think, change, and grow.
As Trace began singing the song, all of the musicians started looking sort of nervous. I felt bad for them because I thought these old Petra songs must be “new” to them and they might not know them so well. I felt even worse when they really messed up and had to stop the song. Then it clicked. I put my hand over my mouth as Trace said something about “Four time Grammy Award Winning Artist…” and JOHN SCHLITT FROM PETRA WALKED ON THE STAGE!!!!!”
I don’t know if either of us will ever be able to recover from the shock. John Schlitt is a super-mega-famous Christian Rock star, and has been for decades. BUT, to us, he’s way more than that. We went to his concerts as high-schoolers and middle-schoolers ourselves, acted crazy and had fun…but always left profoundly impacted by Petra’s love for Jesus and their compassi0n for kids like us. John Schlitt was the guy who sang to us while we worshipped Jesus alone in our rooms, or listening to headphones while walking to high school. Petra’s songs literally ignited our faith and gave us courage to stand up for what we believed in. The voice of Petra brought each of us to our knees in countless moments of standing before Jesus.
John Schlitt’s presence with us there on Friday night was so symbolic of our lives coming full circle. It was crazy.
I have to tell you, one of the funniest moments of my life is captured in this photo below, where Pastor Dan (our youth pastor), and Rob’s mom are talking with John Schlitt. His mom is telling John how she “put up with that loud music” for so many years, and Dan was telling John how he used to drop us off at Petra concerts and drive around the block about a thousand times so he wouldn’t have to stay and listen to the loud music. John just laughed and laughed and thanked them over and over again for doing a great job in raising us.
I respected the man from afar for all these decades, but when I saw him speaking to these two, I was deeply moved. I was standing next to John when he spoke to my own dad. He spoke to my dad like they were old friends. He thanked my dad over and over for allowing us to listen to his music growing up. He said, “I know Chicago was a dark place to grow up. Thank you for allowing your children to listen to our music, hopefully we brought a little light.” His words were profound and heartfelt. He spoke to each of our girls with respect and admiration, thanking them for how they celebrated us as their parents through their words on the video, and the letters they had each written us.
John’s humility and compassion were so obvious, and we are so, so blessed by the staff of GCC for allowing this to happen, and for everything they did to make us feel loved and honored.
Our worlds were rocked…literally…on Friday night. Thank you to each person who came and celebrated with us, and those who celebrated with us by watching the service live stream at gccwired.com . Our lives are permanently rocked by this amazing celebration.
You all certainly didn’t let me off easy with your questions. I was talking to Rob last night, and he laughed and said, “You asked for it!” Yep, I did. I hope my answers shed some light on what it is you wanted to know.
What is the biggest challenge your marriage has ever faced and how did you overcome it together?
I think it was the first year after Isabelle was born. Belle was hospitalized at 2 months old, and had lots of early delays. Immediately after she was born, I had some pretty serious complications which required a few surgeries, and lots of rest. Having 3 kids under 5 left no time for rest, so it took me a long time to get better. Quite plainly, we stuck it out together, nothing heroic. We just did it with all the love and grace we could, and came out stronger in every way on the other end.
How has your marriage lived up to your expectations of what it would be like 17 years ago, when you were engaged?
We knew that our relationship was exceptional back then. We got married knowing we were signing up to a life of ministry together, and we were in it for the long haul. It’s what we were made to do. We also knew family would be important, and that Jesus was the most important person in our lives. We’ve grown a ton, but the basics haven’t changed much.
What advice would you give a couple considering marriage?
I would say to them that being married is awesome, but it is daily work that you’ve never done before. It takes practice just like anything. I would say that you need to go into a marriage realizing that “it’s not all about me”, and figure out ways to be sacrificial and giving to your spouse on a daily basis. These small things are what keeps a marriage alive.
What advice would you give to a couple who has been married 5 years and has 1 toddler and 2 baby girls?
I’ve never had twins, but I did have 3 kids under 5, and it was the biggest challenge of my life. Like I said earlier, just do it. Do it with gladness when you can, but know that Jesus is in the mix with you , and his strength is perfect for the most trying moments. You might not see that He was there the whole time until you are out on the other side of the craziness, but He’s there. Just trust that He is.
In what practical ways do you build hedges around your marriage?
- We never go anywhere alone with a member of the opposite sex. Never.
- We say “I love you”, and “I’m sorry” all the time.
- We try to go on regular date nights and at least one over night get away every few months
- We laugh a lot
- We don’t have any secrets
How are you able to keep your identity and not just be Pastor Rob’s wife?
I could most certainly fill an entire book with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the answer to the “identity” question. The truth is that there are moments of each, so I’ll answer as honestly as I can:
- The good: I have a front row seat on the work God is doing in Granger and around the world. I’ve been here since 1992, and have watched this movement of God unfold. I wouldn’t change the past 17 years for anything.
I’ve never felt pressure to be anything or do anything I’m not comfortable with. I’ve been allowed to just be me, and everyone is fine with that. There has always been room in our marriage and in our ministry for me to be who I am.
- The bad: On the flip side, as the church has grown, there is less of a need for “average” people like me to help with the really exciting stuff. I used to do drama, teach classes, go to important meetings, etc. As time has brought a phenomenal amount of people our way, there has been a phenomenal surge in amazingly talented people. To put it plainly, I feel left out a lot. Part of my own perception of my identity has been squished because of this.
- The ugly: I’ve lost more friends than I can count because of Rob’s job. It’s strange really. I am not sure of many jobs that make you lose friends faster than being a pastor, or pastor’s wife. When someone disagrees, they leave or block you out of their lives. It’s painful, and identity squishing also.
- The great With all the change at GCC, I have been able to refine my focus, and sharpen some skills that are important to me, which would be lost if I was doing all I was doing before. It’s been a bad thing that really has turned great, but it’s still hard every now and then.
How do you handle being the “neighborhood mom”?
I love it.
How have you been able to carve time out just for the two of you and keep the relationship strong with such such great kids?
It’s hard work, and it costs a lot of money. Getting a babysitter is always a challenge, since we don’t have any family in the area. Time away is so important for us. It’s worth adding childcare into the budget to get out on a date together. We also take advantage of the times when all 3 kids are at school occasionally to go out to coffee and talk. Next year it will be easier to do this, since all of them will be in school full time.
If you only had $15.OO to spend and it was date night where or what would you do??
We would probably go for a hike somewhere , then spend the $15.00 at Starbucks.
Name one thing that you disagree on.
There are no major issues that either of us disagree on. We get along very well on a day to day basis. I think it’s the teeny tiny details that we disagree about, like:
- where to put area rugs
- where to hang towels
- I’d rather play now, clean later. Rob would rather clean now, play later
- We don’t like the same kinds of movies
We agree on way more than we disagree on, and I think that’s a good thing.
Rob and I celebrated our 17 year anniversary last week. I realize that 17 years most likely sounds like an eternity to those of you who have just been married few years, or are dating, engaged, or not even thinking about that yet. I also realize that anyone who has been married more than 17 years has an entirely different perspective than I do, and our time married is like a drop in the bucket compared to however long you’ve been married.
But, I do think that we’ve learned some stuff along the way. Our circumstances are unique, but aren’t everyone’s?
I want to know what you want to know about our marriage. Got any questions? I’d love to hear them and field them as best as possible.