Closure

Closure

Two and a half months is not such a long duration for a house sale. I’ve heard stories of people having their house on the market for 6-9 months.

When Lee and I listed our house on March 14, we had high expectations it would both sell quickly and also at the original asking price. Getting slapped in the face with reality is never fun, but the good news is our house is officially sold. We closed on the paperwork this morning.

The last 79 days have been rather hectic and frustrating and riddled with pockets of anxiety, but today we completed a step that further solidifies God’s plan for us. Being house-less makes our move to the Dominican Republic that much more real.

And Yay God for that!

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Mourning Eutaw

As a follow-up to my post from yesterday where Lee and I met with Bob and Joan Galasso, I wanted to share a realization that came to light as part of our discussing our move into mission work.

I mentioned to Bob and Joan how when Lee and I first felt the calling to do full-time mission work, my heart was to do so in Latin America. D.R., Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica; any place in which I could utilize the fact I am bilingual. It was also based on the fact we’d served in Eutaw, Alabama, and the idea of doing full-time mission work there scared me.

Lee’s heart, however, was for Eutaw, and following last summer’s domestic mission trip to Alabama, she desperately wanted to end up there when the time for us to transition came. I spoke to my pastor how the idea of Eutaw terrified me, and Paul reminded me how Lee and I had the opportunity to mend fences, build bridges, and be an important part of racial reconciliation for that town.

Following that conversation, I felt the Holy Spirit stirring in me. I felt my attitude change. Not only was I coming around on the idea of serving in Eutaw, I was full steam ahead with the idea of church planting in Eutaw. So much so, I started developing my introductory sermon series for the community of Branch Heights.

With the opportunity to move to the D.R. and become directors of the children’s home for Advocates of Love, I was left wondering why God stirred those feelings and dreams in my heart the way He did. As I explained it out loud to Bob and Joan, I said, “I know I can do this, and I know I can do it well. I’m just not sure why God changed the assignment all of the sudden.”

…and as I was saying it, I realized what I was doing. The look on Joan’s face confirmed it. There were many “I’s” in my statement. There was a large focus on what I could do, and no mention of what God would do. It was very prideful and very arrogant. As Joan went on to explain, perhaps the assignment changed because God didn’t need me to rely on me. God wants me to rely on Him.

Bob went on to explain that losing a dream is not unlike losing a friend or a loved one. There are emotions that need to be dealt with, and I had to mourn the loss of that dream. I had to come to terms with the fact that everything I wanted to do for the families of Branch Heights, using my position from the pulpit to serve them and hopefully create betterment in their lives, would not come to fruition. I had to mourn that loss.

So here I am, writing somewhat out of catharsis in order to say goodbye to that specific pastoral dream. I write that knowing that although our role in the D.R. will be mostly operational in nature, there is the potential for a lot of pastoral-like services. The thing is, I have no idea what that looks like. I do not know exactly how will be received or if the families there will be receptive to the American couple in their neighbourhood. The beauty of it is I don’t have to know. All I have to do is let go of my pride, trust in God, and know that I will be where He needs me to be.

Reignited

For the last several weeks, I’ve been feeling very bummed by my current situation. I am happy to act out of obedience to the Lord and move into full-time mission work. Still, it was my expectation assumption our house would be sold by now, and Lee and I would be settling into our new place in Samaná.

Instead, there’s been a lot of waiting (and waiting and waiting) while I mire in this interim stage in my life that is no longer employed in corporate America but not yet actively involved in non-profit America. I feel I’ve geared up for the big game but God has me riding the bench for now. There’s a whole lot of, “put me in, coach!” going on in my head these last several weeks.

Needless to say, those feelings of curiosity have morphed into frustration, and my need to trust in God has waned. I’ve become impatient and at times found myself lost in little moments where I had to remind myself I am a missionary.

So it was with great joy this morning when I spent 90 minutes on the phone with my new boss (the head of Advocates of Love). He was recapping for me his recent trip to the D.R. (a trip, BTW, on which I would have participated if not for my car accident).

To hear the enthusiasm in his voice about some of the barrier-breaking experiences he had on the trip definitely lifted my spirits. To hear him speak about the wonderful, new possibilities for AOL made my heart pump faster and faster. By the end of the call, I was jacked once again about my new role as Director of the children’s home in Samaná.

I will try to keep this feeling going through the duration God has determined it will take to sell my house. And if I’m excited now, just imagine how I will be feeling once Lee and I are on that plane for good the D.R.

Brad GIF

Framily

Framily

I would not be where I am today if not for the wonderful friends I’ve made as a result of the band Sister Hazel. I refer to them as my music family, and I’ve met these individuals either directly or as a result of my being a music fan.

Lee and I are living in the pool house of our friends Jeff and Lindsey. We met Lindsey back in 2006 at a music event. She and I even jumped out of a plane together one year later. We’re living in their pool house because we’re selling our house in Tampa so that we can transition to mission work in the Dominican Republic. Our introduction to Advocates of Love, the non-profit through which we’ll be working, was through my other friend Jeff whom we met – again – through a music event. We were even introduced to our church in Tampa through a friend we made via our music community.

To me, these people with whom I share my life are more than just friends. They’re family. They’re inner-circle confidants whom I trust with any struggle I may be facing. They are individuals I can call at any hour of the day should I need help. They are people with whom I have traveled for vacations, concerts, and religious retreats. They are my Framily.

Framily2

It was great to have one of our framily members stop by this evening as she’s on her way to be with her daughter who is expecting. Lee and I first met Michelle back in 2006, and we’ve shared a wonderful friendship over the years. It still baffles me to think her daughter Chloe, who was eleven years old when we met her, is now married and on the verge of being a mother.

To share time and experiences with those close to you is what life is all about. To see children become adults and to be a resource to them as they continue to mature is a basic version of what discipleship is. I love my framily, and I love how they’ve been there for me every step of the way on my journey. And I love we got to savor that again to tonight.

Rev’d Up

Rev’d Up

It was a strange and almost surreal experience, standing up in front of the congregation while my Pastor spoke loving, kind, and supportive words about me and the faith journey I am on. It was all part of the process of being ordained through my church and carrying with me the fully certified and recognized authority that comes with the title.

My new faith journey began in June of 2009 when my wife and I attended Relevant Church for the first time. Since then, Lee and I plugged into service ministry, small groups, volunteer efforts, and mission trips. I feel our spirituality has grown exponentially since we discovered: faith is about a relationship and not religion, faith is meant to be done in community, and that through our individual faith in God we are stronger together as a couple.

So as Pastor Paul completed the presentation of the certificate of ordination, I felt Lee’s name deserved to be on that certificate as much as mine. I would not be the man of Christ I am today if not for her guidance, direction, and support. I would not be on the cusp of moving to the Dominican Republic if not for her shared enthusiasm and determination to do God’s work. I may have attended the classes at Trinity College of Florida, but Lee was with me every step of the way.

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It is an honor and a blessing to be able to celebrate this milestone in my life, and I owe a world of thanks to everyone who also helped make it possible along the way. I feel I am a reflection of the collective love and support I’ve received from my friends and family, and I hope I will continue to be a positive representative of this loving community in the years to come.


On a completely separate tangent, I sent a photo of me to our Technical Director Jarrett asking him if it could be included in the service. It was a picture from my First Communion, and no, it did not end up as part of the service. Although Jarrett wanted to use the pic, Pastor Paul was not on the same page.

Those in attendance at Relevant may have been deprived of this glorious artistry, but you won’t be. So please, enjoy!

Gil FC

Real Talk

Real Talk

In this process that is transitioning to full-time mission work, things got a lot more real today.

It started this afternoon when Lee and I met with our realtor. Referred by my new boss, our realtor Jeff was very nice and we found him to be confident and personable. After we showed him around the house, we sat down to discuss the details of the house, what additional work needs to be done in order to list it, what the right price point is for the house (given various factors), and the expectations Lee and I should have in terms of timelines and processes.

The experience was informative and eye-opening. On some aspects, Lee and I were right on with what we thought the answer would be, and Jeff’s concurrence was reassuring. On other points, however, Lee and I were way off. So it was a bit of a learning experience, and one we can step through with confidence knowing Jeff has our best interests in mind.

A couple of hours later, we fielded a call from my aforementioned new boss and we discussed the missionary agreement the non-profit put together for us, as well as a possible option for living accommodations in the Dominican Republic. It was a constructive and informative conversation, and one that has brought us one step closer to the reality of becoming full-time missionaries.

After it was all said and done, I took a moment to process it all. Selling the house, moving out, finding an interim solution until we can move to Samaná, and figuring out all the logistics and timelines of actually getting to the D.R. For the first time since we thought about making the move into mission work with Advocates of Love, I felt the weight of this new reality bear down on me. For the first time, I had to take a deep breath and deliberately remind myself to trust God.

It’s not hard to trust God. It’s hard to remember to trust God. And for now, that is what I must do: remember to trust in Him. I know this is a process, and I know I cannot determine all the answers myself. Instead, I will pray for continued patience and wisdom, and I will lean on the words of Proverbs 16:9.


In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

– Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)


What’s Up, Doc?

What’s Up, Doc?

In July of 2016, while on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I suffered a relatively gruesome foot injury. While walking backward as I carried a mattress that would be used for a bunk bed we were building for a family in the village of Quisqueya, I slipped. As I attempted to plant my other foot, it caught on a large rock and I ended up rolling my entire leg underneath my body as I fell. It’s a miracle nothing broke, but the pain was intense nonetheless.

The initial prognosis by the doctor at our mission facility was ligament tears on the top of my foot. When I returned home, my podiatrist confirmed the diagnosis. He said my injury was a good news-bad news situation. The good news is I suffered no fractures. The bad news is with injuries to ligaments, the recovery time is more than double that of fractures.

My foot in 2016. Honestly, I’ve never felt sexier.

In January of this year, I went in for an MRI on my foot. More than a year and a half after the initial injury, I am still experiencing pain and swelling in my foot, especially on days when I’d be on my feet for long periods of time. I did not know what to expect, but I knew I did not want to eventually move to the D.R. with lingering pains for which I had no explanation.

I met with my doctor today to discuss the results of the MRI. The good news (again) is there is no nerve damage and the ligaments appear to have healed well. What I am experiencing, however, is a result of inflammation of the tissue at the base of my toes (I forget the name of the tissue but it’s something in Latin). This inflammation is a result of the injury I sustained in 2016 and will heal with the passing of time.

The Yay God moment is all of this, however, is twofold. First, Yay God I have access to quality healthcare as well as the means to have an MRI and see my physician. The second is there is no long-term damage to my foot. I was concerned the MRI would show injury to the nerves which could mean they would never truly heal. Rather, I continue to manage the discomfort with Ibuprofen and ice, activities that are now a habit for me since the injury in 2016.

I am relieved my foot is not something I’ll have to worry about once we move, and it’s such a blessing to have this situation resolved.

Now I just need to make sure I watch my step going forward (and backward).