I saw a pastor friend at a conference after I moved to Atlanta this year. He took one look at me and, rather than saying, “hello” or “how are you”, he bluntly asked me, “What the *&^# are you doing in Atlanta?”
This took me back a bit because I thought it was incredibly funny coming from this guy I’ve respected pretty highly for several years. It was a good question, though. I thought I’d tackle this question as a year-end blog post to explain (as best I can) what’s been going on in my life and in my mind. This won’t be a short post, but it’ll definitely answer a lot of questions people have had, but few have asked.
What led to the move?
A couple of years leading up to my move to Atlanta were pretty rough, to put it lightly. I spent $80,000 dealing with issues ranging from my upstairs neighbor’s pipe busting under my foundation, to my car dying, to problems with my business, etc. etc…
I felt like I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the recurring dings on my finances. My only hope was to sell my condo and move to a less expensive state and hope that the problems would stay in California.
I grew up in Houston, Texas. In 1985, at the age of 15, I moved to California as a result of the oil crisis that tanked the Houston economy. We were like Lot getting out of Gomorrah. While I’d been gone from Texas for 35 years, I’ve always had a desire to get back to the South. The reason I chose Atlanta over Houston was I have friends who moved to Atlanta. I knew that would make the move even better.
What happened in Atlanta?
- My amazing friends let me stay with them while I got settled. I thought that would take a couple of weeks, but it wound up being about 4 months.
- I continued operating my company (Mission Shirts) from Atlanta. I hired a friend in California to make deliveries for me.
- I found a job to create W2 income so I could buy a place to live
- I found a temporary room to rent while I continued working toward buying a place
- I started attending North Point Church, where Andy Stanley pastors.
- I began serving in the Junior High ministry at my church.
- I spent time touring around the South, visiting neighboring states.
- I kept in contact with my Bible study students in California.
- I took part in Bible studies at my church and went through Financial Peace University to understand money better.
- I paid off all of my debt.
Life in Atlanta was coming along great!
Why did I move back to California if Atlanta was so great?
For the last 25 years, youth ministry has been the most important part of my life. Even though I had moved to Atlanta and had new students, I still cared for and stayed connected with my students in California.
At summer camp, there were some issues they faced that got me very concerned. Some of the boys were sent home.
I came back to California the week after camp for vacation and to reconnect with the students. During our time together, I realized it was important for me to come back and help them through their Senior year.
What happened when I moved back?
Some California friends (the son is a student of mine and the mom orders T-shirts for her school from me) gave me a place to stay until I got settled.
The funny thing is I’m a slow learner. I thought, like when I went to Atlanta, that it would take just a couple of weeks to find a place to live. About 3 months later, I finally found a place.
I’ve continued running my business and even worked as a seasonal worker for UPS for the last month. That was great exercise. Speaking of exercise, I’ve also decided to get back in shape. I’ve lost 35 pounds so far. Woo hoo!
Most importantly, I’ve been leading my Bible study again alongside two co-leaders (who were students of mine when they were in high school).
That’s the million dollar question. I’m going to keep leading the Bible study until the boys graduate in June. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I might move out of California again. I might stay in California, but move to a different area. Who knows? I may even stay where I am.
However, at this point, and this is big for me… I feel like this might be my last year in youth ministry. We’ll see what happens. I love doing youth ministry, I think I need to figure out what’s next before I can think about starting a new group in the Fall.