On my twentieth birthday (1974), I was head over heels in love with my future wife…living at home…and three years into my seven-and-a-half year bachelors degree program at San Diego State. A year earlier, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. At age twenty, I was just confused.
On my thirtieth birthday (1984), I had been married nine years. Almost ten years! For five years, I had been the youth and family minister in a big church. I was a full-blown marriage expert…in my own head. I was the father of a two-year old and over my head in the deep end of fatherhood. So what did do? I decided to go back to school and study for another master’s degree. It seemed perfectly logical, at the time.
On my fortieth birthday (1994), I was in a pretty deep depression. We were broke and deeply in debt after four years on missionary support. Our house needed tons of repairs. I no longer belonged in the circle of friends we had grown close to. I had dozens of options, but nothing fit what I knew I needed to be doing. I was lost and felt completely powerless. It was a bummer. But my anchor was Wanda. My joy was Chris and Corey. And my faith became more real than it had ever been.
On my fiftieth birthday (2004), my life was completely different than I thought it would be thirty years earlier. Living in Texas? You gotta be kidding me! Corey had just graduated from high school and was preparing to go away to college. Chris had moved out and was living his life on his own…apart from me. I was sad most of the time because I had lost my ESPN buddies to their own lives. 2004 marked my decision to step away from youth ministry and become that dreaded thing I had made fun of my whole adult life: a senior minister. Ugh.
What you don’t see in this short post is what happened in each of the decades separated by my birthday celebrations. If you were to evaluate the whole of my lifespan by the condition of my heart on each of those four days, you might conclude that I had a pretty miserable life. But nothing could be further from the truth.
My life is not defined by the “markers”, but by what happened in-between. And it has been amazing.
I send out a huge thank you to all of my friends…from high school…from my days in college…from our spiritual formation years at Pacific Christian College and Anaheim First Christian…from the incredible decade in Huntington Beach…from our years with Amor Ministries and Community Christian Church…and from our nearly twenty years here in the Great State. Wow. You all have been part of shaping and defining me. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Tomorrow (or today, when you read this) will be my sixtieth big one.
I’ve settled into this “senior minister” gig. I definitely miss the days of youth ministry, but the trade-off has been worth it. I absolutely love the unique, quirky, hilarious, loving, and totally amazing group of overgrown teenagers I get to share life with now as the North Point Ringmaster.
My knees are shot. My ankles are ok. Bowling has replaced softball. An elliptical has replaced running, but I could still throw a round of BP, if somebody asked me to. I only play guitar for myself…the talent of others has lapped me a dozen times. I love naps, but I still rock and roll.
I have two unbelievably gifted and loving daughters-in-law who stepped into our lives seamlessly. Two beautiful grandsons and a Farra GRANDAUGHTER on the way! Oh no…what are the Farra’s going to do with a girl? My boys could not have made me more proud. Wanda is still the greatest gift that God has ever given me, short of my redemption.
I could go on, but let’s just say tomorrow will be the best birthday ever.