Milestones: #3 SoFL Living

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me.  - Psalm 103:2

In this challenge to set up personal milestones as an altar of worship & thankfulness, I come to the 3rd of 7: a blessing from Christ that was life changing.

Years ago, Shelly & I would visit my parents over the holidays.  My dad was given to watch the Weather Channel, especially in those winter months.  I would look at that map of the U.S., showing the blizzard threats, the freeze warnings, the some-what milder yet cold temps of the south... and then there was South Florida.  Most of the country ranged from 0-45 degrees, but South Florida registered temperatures in the 80s!  And sunshine!

I remember clearly thinking (and praying), "God, why can't I live there???"

To be completely honest, I detest Winter.  I don't even really like Fall.  Every year I attempt to keep these feelings to myself as long as possible, as I have come to realize that its pretty frustrating for people who keep asking, "Aren't you glad we're having cooler weather?"  Usually, I'm not glad at all about it.  I prefer year-round Summer, with maybe a dose of "Summer Lite" and some Spring.  The color changing of the leaves does absolutely nothing for me. Oh, it's pretty, but you know what is even prettier? GREEN!  Green grass.  Green trees. Year-round green is perfect for me!

To that point, I had been blessed to live in some great places: Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma.  As beautiful as they were, and as much as I have truly enjoyed each place I have lived, they all interrupted my year with cold weather,and in several cases - snow (yuck!).

So, I would sit with my Dad, watching the Weather Channel over Christmas vacation, dreaming and praying, "God, why can't I live there?"

As life unfolded, I found myself at the beginning of 2005 sending out my resume to churches seeking a full-time youth pastor.  One of those was in Coral Springs, FL, a part of the Ft. Lauderdale metro area. It turned out to be my great joy to serve as the Associate Pastor of Coral Springs Community Church for nearly 3 years!

During that time, Jesus did so much in my life.  He helped me discover things about myself that I didn't know... or that I was in denial about.  Jesus met me in the middle of the mess going on in my heart & in my head, and brought healing to me spiritually and emotionally.  In the time we lived in South Florida, Jesus absolutely changed my life! I learned to rest (Sabbath) in Him, not in the opinions (or my perceived opinions) of others, nor in my own ability to produce results.  I learned to serve in a church full-time, while preparing for what was next (a Lead Pastor role).  I learned to find my fulfillment in my connection to Jesus, instead in my attachment to people and things.  I learned to forgive without being asked.  I learned to put God and my family before the ministry.

Also, I learned quite a bit of conversational Spanish (which I have pretty much lost since then) and to love Colombian food and Cuban Coffee (both of which I still partake in as much as I can)!

And, I learned to love the Ocean.  So very, very much.

I am tremendously thankful for the years Jesus guided my family to live, work, and play in South Florida.  While I am falling more and more in love with our new home in Natchitoches, LA, I may still have moments... on very cold days... if I happen to see the Weather Channel... and think...


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