When one door closes, another door opens. Or should I say “doors?”
Have you lost something you cherish? Has a door closed on you that ended an opportunity?
On Sunday, March 17, 2019, the door closed on 29 years of ministry at North Pointe Community Church in Edmonton. We loved our roles. Jocelyn was the Women’s Pastor, and I was the Lead Pastor. We were fulfilled, happy, and we looked forward everyday to raising up leaders. Our church family loved us and we loved them.
We knew God was calling us not from something but to something. An unknown next. We were too young to retire.
Finishing well and handing off a healthy, prevailing ministry to younger leaders was the best farewell gift we could give to the church. Jocelyn and I boxed up my office and closed the door.
We shared a settled assurance that somewhere, sometime soon, another door would open to us. We should have pluralized the word “door.”
The Promise of Hope
Monday, March 18th was bittersweet. On Sunday we were responsible for 3700 people in the orbit of North Pointe. Twenty-four hours later it was just us. It felt like a cliff drop. What had we done?
That moment held a reminder of hope. One year previous, March 18, 2022, Jocelyn received a phone call from her doctor that no one wants. “I’m so sorry. You have cancer. I’m so sorry.” A month later, Jocelyn underwent major surgery. Her medical team reported they successfully removed the cancer. She was going to be OK. Follow-up visits one year later confirmed that she was cancer-free.
Transitioning out of North Pointe we held on to the same hope that we would be OK.
The snow on the ground in April couldn’t take away the feeling that we were in the springtime of our lives. Spring is planting season in Alberta farm country. Sowing requires patience and risk. It’s a gamble to plant good seeds with nothing more than the hope of growth.
That week we planted REVwords.com. The site is a platform for hope, where people without a voice can share their story. It was our way of following God’s prompting to live and write as hope dispensers. Four years later, REVwords.com is read in 86 countries around the world.
You’re Going To Be Ok
I started writing my next book. The inspiration came from Jocelyn and the experiences of ten other women we love and admire. Each one of the women faced cancer, sexual abuse, mental illness, or loss. And all of them found hope.
“You’re Going To Be OK” was published in June. It’s a book of hope for fighters from fighters. Glori Meldrum’s story was positioned in the first chapter. Glori is a survivor of all four traumas. She was sexually abused as a child and suffered PTSD as a result. She lost her family when they sided with the abuser. Glori was diagnosed with cancer in her 40s and faced depression as a result of her prognosis. Her resiliency is extraordinary. God helped her fight through.
Writing the stories of women who battled for their mental health opened the next door. I serve on the Board of A John Cameron Experience. We are committed to making real advances in mental health in Edmonton, from diminishing negative stigmas to funding programs and scientific research. I pitched an idea for a book on reducing stigma and raising awareness about mental health to the chairman of the Board. He liked my idea. “Get Loud” – a book chronicling the stories of sufferers, their families, and the frontline warriors is underway.
Then Glori called me. She read “You’re Going To Be OK” and asked for my help as she worked on her biography. “Warrior” is Glori’s life story. A childhood sexual abuse survivor, wife, mother of 4 children (two adopted children), and successful entrepreneur. She founded Little Warriors and Be Brave Ranch – world-class initiatives for the treatment of child sexual abuse. Her story arises out of sexual abuse, but it focuses on healing.
Taking shape in my mind is a book about the process of becoming real. The classic story of The Velveteen Rabbit is a context for describing my leadership journey. I transitioned from feeling comfortable to live as a hermit to becoming a pastor of thousands. In the process, I discovered the courage of vulnerability. The title of the book will be, “The Velveteen Pastor.”
And then another door opened.
I was invited to become the interim lead pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church in Barrhead, Alberta. Their pastor of 16 years retired in July. On August 1st, I started work as a transitional pastor. Supporting Bethel’s leadership while finding the next lead pastor was my priority. Bethel is an awesome church family of gifted leaders, devoted volunteers, and a vision that their best days are ahead. And they have a vision for their community. I drove to Barrhead weekly for nine months until a new lead pastor was found.
And then COVID hit and we were all sent to our rooms.
In May 2020 the retina in my right eye detached. Despite three surgeries the nerve damage was too great. I can still drive but my pickeball game is sidelined.
In January 2020 I started a full-time job as a coach with the Alberta and Northwest Territories District of the PAOC. The days are filled with coaching connections, developing cohorts, writing, weekend preaching, and helping to organize events for ministry leaders. Our team swings for the fences. We want to reverse the trend of decline in Canadian faith community communities. And we’re seeing hopeful signs of progress.
Our little family has grown. Jocelyn is the much loved “Gramma J” to five grandchildren. We get to enjoy family time by the lake at our cabin.
We could never have imagined the path before us when we left all that we loved at North Pointe. God is faithful.
How about that!
The freshness of spring is in the air.
Please join the conversation below in the comment section. Thank you.
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