A New Life in Southern California
This is the next installment in my story. To read it from the beginning just go to the “categories” section on the right and find “my story.” It will bring all of the posts up to read. Simply put, this is my attempt to chart how I went from being raised in the Plymouth Brethren section of Christendom to a Southern Baptist pastor who is missional in his intentions and practice without being weird (though that last point is debatable).
When I last told my story I just arrived in Los Angeles. I was driving a huge Hertz-Penske truck with a car trailer behind it. To my right, stuck to the nasty vinyl seat was my very pregnant wife, desperately trying to stay cool without air-conditioning. After experiencing traffic jams (L. A. style) we arrived at the house we would stay in for a couple of months on Tula Drive in Saugus, California. There was a huge sense of anticipation as we were starting a completely new experience–Bible college and then seminary with the view to full time pastoral ministry. It was in this new land we would build a new life, have our children, and gain a vision of what we might become in Christ. Giddy and scared does not begin to describe my heart at that moment.
We had little time to get situated. I attended The Master’s College and found a part time job at Camping World. Kim settled into making new friends and preparing for the baby. Our friends in Houston seemed so far away and for the first time I really realized the value of friends. Minor memories abound of this early period of Southern California. We experienced the first wildfire of our lives, watching the flames from our front porch. I killed my first and only tarantula in the utility room and found out that they squish like a water balloon. We learned that when you are house sitting there is no guarantee that the owners will not suddenly announce they are returning a lot sooner than agreed upon and that there is nothing you can do about it. I found out you can move a ton of stuff in a Volkswagen Beetle if it has a sun roof and you take out all the seats but the driver’s. Unlike Houston, TX, apartments in our new town did not come with a refrigerator, putting a young college couple quickly into debt. And lastly, when a train goes by the said apartment you can think you are in an earthquake the first time.
But I wasn’t in Southern California to squish bug or move stuff around. I was there to learn the bible. I didn’t really know exactly what that meant but I knew that I wanted it. The Master’s College and Seminary were a key part of that training. But it was also my time as a member of Grace Community Church that helped define for me what biblical preaching and biblical knowledge looked like. But it was not all happiness and sunshine. There were many hard lessons to learn and in a sense I ended up losing my way in the ten years I was there. Next time I will explore the good, the bad and the ugly.