Last month, Joleen and I celebrated 18 years of marriage (Really?!). It’s been quite an adventure. Everyone has challenges, and we’ve certainly had ours!
The first 9 years of our marriage were intense enough—married in 1994, graduated from seminary and moved to PA to co-pastor a small, dying church in 1995, moved to Williamsburg to live with Joleen’s mom in 1997, transitioned into the United Methodist Church in 1998 and began the long ordination process.
In 2003, halfway through our marriage, our journey took a detour and became much more intense. Five years into the ordination process, we hit an unexpected snag when we learned that the seminary we graduated from, which was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, was not on the University Senate’s list of approved schools. As a result, our M.Div. degrees did not meet the educational requirements of the Discipline.
This snag delayed our ordination five years (it was to be six years, at the time, but a change to the Discipline in 2008 shortened the commissioning process by one year). We hit that snag during interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry on March 3, 2003. By the next day, we decided to continue to work toward ordination by completing D.Min. degrees, and by the end of the year, we had begun at Asbury Theological Seminary.
After 4.5 years of fast-paced, intense work, we graduated in 2008—but not before adopting Ethan from Korea. We began the adoption process in January 2007, the same month we began work on our doctoral dissertations. The day after we both submitted our first complete (but unpolished) drafts to our faculty mentor, we got the call that Ethan was ready for us to pick up in Korea. We traveled to Korea in February 2008 while our mentor read drafts of our dissertations. Over the course of the next 4 months, we polished and successfully defended our dissertations, graduated, and then moved to new church appointments in Clearfield.
If that wasn’t enough of a whirlwind, several months later, we decided to pursue the adoption of a second child from Korea. We returned to Korea in October 2009 to pick up Sarah.
Since then, we’ve been adjusting to this new life with children, while also trying to be transformational leaders in our churches. We discovered that it’s taking a long time to fully recover from D.Min. programs, the 13-year ordination process, the adjustment to parenting while also serving as full-time pastors, and new appointments in the midst of it all!
Well, while we’re not ready to say we’ve fully recovered, we both said recently that we feel like we’re finally starting to recover. We’re regaining some energy for basic-but-important things like reading and the spiritual disciplines. In fact, in the last six weeks, I’ve even restarted weight training, which fell from the routine four years ago right before our first trip to Korea!
Life is an ascent, an uphill climb. At times, it’s downright tiring. When it is, understand that it will take time to recover!