In 1964, on my fifteenth birthday, I went to live with my Dad in California. A few months later he got a job working for Lockheed in Saudi Arabia. Suddenly I was on my own. I had my Dad’s financial support, but from strongly regimented everything is black and white Alabama grandparents ... to no supervision, anything goes in Southern California was, well, quite a culture shock.
I don’t think anyone is helped by recounting a laundry list of sin. Suffice it to say that two divorces, an over dose in the occult and a problem with alcohol had a major impact on the way I was raised by a Southern Baptist grandmother. The impact of every Sunday trips to church faded in the peanut shell covered dirt floor bars of West Texas. This would probably have been my final phase of degeneracy, except for Lily.
On 7/20/83 Lily walked into my life. Her car had two flat tires at the same time in front of the store where I worked. Who has two flats at the same time? Two days later we went on our first date. She made it clear we had no future unless I changed. I said good-bye to the bars and alcohol and we were married 11/15/83.
God is still using her to change me by how she responds to unkindness, selfishness, thoughtlessness and worse. She very frequently says “God is our portion” when clients cancel an appointment or someone takes financial advantage. Almost as frequently she says, “Let it go.” After 35 years of hearing her make these comments and knowing she believes them ... all I can say is, “I’m blessed.”
Lily worked in various positions at Sears in Washington and California for almost nine years. From replenishment to Department Manager to inventory and point of sale management she excelled in everything she did, but when they started pushing her to go into general store management she left in 2004. Shortly afterwards she went to work for herself, cleaning people’s houses. Word of mouth recommendations, including requests for pet / house sitting keep her busy. She can only take on new clients if and when someone moves.
M-Div, but not a pastor
I was in my last interviews with Home Depot and Target for a General Store Manager position when the opportunity to go to seminary presented itself. Lily and I discussed it and talked about how our lives would change going from a six-figure income to almost nothing, but we believed this was something God wanted us to do and we wanted to trust God.
While in seminary, Dan Brunner, one of my professors at George Fox, asked me why I wanted a M-Div if I didn’t want to be a pastor. I believe my past disqualifies me from being a pastor. I really want to love God with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind and with all my might. I thought seminary would help with that goal. If God will enable me to do that ... it is enough. Meanwhile, this web site is my effort to hopefully help others.
Since 2003 our path has not been a path that Lily or I would have chosen for ourselves, but through it all, as Lily has always said, God has been our portion. He has blessed our marriage with love and health and God has met our needs. Not only has God met our needs, God has blessed us with healthy sons and daughters-in-laws and ten healthy grandchildren.
... and now
Lily and I are now what society calls empty nesters. We are healthy, un-medicated, and not ready to retire; physically, mentally or emotionally. We understand that who you are is NOT what you do or what you have. Most people think living the good life is somehow tangled up with what you see on television; career, nice house, car, money in the bank ... you know the narrative. I would certainly like to have those things for Lily, but God has finally brought me to the place where I understand that truly, when stuff is more important than your spouse, children, grandchildren, friends ... then your last breath and words will probably echo a dying Saul, “I have played the fool.”
I was on staff at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, now Portland Seminary, as a spiritual director from January 2009 till July 2018. In 2013 I was invited to do spiritual direction for Psychology PhD candidates at George Fox University. I still work with private clients and skype and facetime with long distance
I consider Lean-into-God a ministry, and though donations are appreciated ... if this web site is a blessing,... I am not a 501 and donations are not necessary. As Lily says, "God is our portion."