Maybe it’s because I am reading more introspective books but I have to admit, I have had a pretty good first half of life. There is still that one thing that confuses me and, well, is downright hurtful and saddening.
Let me begin with the good stuff. From baby on I have been raised in a Christian home by two wonderful parents that to this day remain married. Both are in their 70’s. I have an older brother that remains one of my best friends. He has allowed me the awesome honor of being an uncle. My parents raised me in a church that I never “strayed away” from. The Assemblies of God has been nothing but good to me and to this day I am still a part. I still hold my ministerial credential with them because they are (in my opinion) the best. From my very first job as a toy store employee to the days of working in Christian bookstores, I have enjoyed life. It was during those bookstore years that I had many opportunities that were very unique. From preaching the chapel services pre-race at the Milwaukee mile to being Reggie White’s personal page while he spoke at the governors prayer breakfast in Milwaukee back in the day...it was awesome. My youth pastors gave me many excellent opportunities as well which I am forever grateful. I gave up EVERY Friday night from the age 18-21 to be the DJ of Milwaukee’s largest Christian skate night held every Friday night hosting 400+ people a week. I have had many opportunities. My uncle Nat Olson was the one that inspired me to become a pastor and quite honestly...he inspired me to be an author as well. Being a full time youth pastor at the age of 22 was certainly a highlight for me. I got married a few years later! This has been truly my proudest moment next to adopting two great children. While being married I have spoken at Cornerstone music festival twice, Lifest once, the Royal Ranger 50th anniversary Pow-Wow (yes I still call it that) and so much more. I have been able to officiate over 30 marriages and helped families through funerals as well. I could go on and on about all of the adventure and blessings I have seen so far in my life. There still remains though that one thing that leaves me hurt, confused and quite honestly sadder and sadder the older I get.
Isn’t it ironic how scenarios play out in this ongoing drama we call “Life”? I am a pastor and get to do many baby dedications. My wife is a neo-natal intensive care unit nurse and works with babies all day every day. She even sacrifices her time on days she could have off to make sure these little premies have the best start. There is still one area I have yet to experience with my wife...that is having a baby naturally. I adore my kids and am thankful for the day God brought them into our life to be adopted...it truly is a God story. James and Emma are biological brother and sister. We got James at 9 months old and Emma only 4 months later. They are my pride and joy, yet...there is always two questions I have. First question is, what would my biological kid look like? The second question is, what gives, God? That whole Genesis 1:28 talk about being fruitful and multiply? Yeah...it’s not working for us. I cannot tell you how hurtful it is when people tell me “don’t be discouraged, you are raising a bunch of spiritual children as a pastor.” No...I am helping people on a faith journey. Tracy and I are always wanting to celebrate with those who announce a pregnancy but just like the scene from “Julie and Julia”, Julia Child’s gets the letter that her sister is expecting and responds “Oh, I am just so happy for her!” Meanwhile her husband gets up from the dinner table to hold her because she is also crying due to the fact they cannot have their own. It becomes more and more of a reality that as I am turning 40 in just over a year that this simply may not be a path I will get to walk down in life. Each month that passes, I tell my wife “I really thought this was going to be the month.”
I have experienced a lot of hurt in my life...who hasn’t? From poor decisions in my single days to storms no pastor should have to walk through. I have had friendships ruined because people forget the number one rule “THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY” and all they hear is one and instantly are swayed. I lived through a house explosion that defined my call into ministry and on and on the list goes. The blessings though are even more numerous. None the less life goes on.
So there you have it. Yes, “St. Sunshine” (a name given to me on Facebook) has one thing that is always jabbing him in the heart. Sadly though I am finding it to be true as I reach the second half of my life and coming to grips with it that some things are not meant to be...even if you were raised thinking they were a promise in the Bible. I found out very quickly that not all the promises in the Bible are for us today. So I will keep on loving my wife...the very reason I get up in the morning. I will keep on adoring these two little munchkins running around my house that want me to wrestle with them and button up their jammies at night. It is my joy and honor to continue pastoring a great church in Waupaca that I have been at for almost 10 years now and love with everything in me. I will continue to take the hits as they come but as the great blues artist Rev. Dan Smith sang “take every knock as a boost, every stumbling block as a stepping stone. Lift up your head and hold your own and just keep going on.”