I’m sure you remember being asked as a kid, “What do you want to do when you grow up? Like many young boys, I grew up wanting to be a cowboy, soldier, or a race car driver. As I got a little older, I began dreaming of becoming a Park Ranger. I thought it would be cool to put on a uniform with a badge and a hat and give tours in a national park, answering people’s questions about our history, and maintaining the trails and property. Sadly, I never got a chance to wear a park ranger uniform with a shiny gold badge and a hat with a wide brim. Hmmm….Halloween is just around the corner!
As high school graduation loomed, I asked myself the question, “What do I want to do when I grow up? I graduated college with an Associates Degree in Recreation Land Management and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Recreational Therapy. I worked for six years as a Recreational Therapist in a psychiatric hospital. While I loved what I did, I often found myself thinking, “What am I going to do when I grow up?
So I quit my job as an RT and moved my family to Chicago to attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to become a pastor. Four years later I had received my Masters of Divinity and moved overseas to Poland as a missionary/church planter. Sadly, I discovered missionaries don’t get to where a uniform with a shiny badge and a hat. After six years of ministry in Poland, Brenda became very ill and we had to return to the States. We struggled with feelings of failure and shame for not being tough enough to make it on the field as missionaries. Once again the pesky question of what am I going to do when I grow up flooded my mind.
Thankfully, Eastern Hills Bible Church hired me as an Associate pastor. For the next 15 years I married, buried, baptized, preached, counseled, and cared for the folks who attended the church. I loved my job. It fit me. I was good at it. I was making a difference. And then our lives were turned upside down. David began to lose his vision, we got the diagnosis of Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses or Batten Disease, and for the next thirteen years we became David’s caregivers as this horrible disease robbed him of life. David died on October 22, 2009.
I remember sitting on the couch after leaving the hospital the night David died asking myself the question, “Now what?” It’s really a shorter version of the question, “What am I going to do in light of our thirteen years of caring for David?” Thankfully, Brenda and I made the decision to pay forward the hundreds of ways people had cared for us as we cared for David and we started David’s Refuge. As founders, board members, and as the Executive Director, we began to build an organization that loved and served parents who were still on the journey of caring for their children with special needs or wrestling with a life threatening illness.
Fast forward seven years! Brenda and I now live in both Florida and Wisconsin where I volunteer part time at church and in the community. I am no longer the Executive Director or the Board President, and David’s Refuge is on the verge of becoming a nationally recognized organization that empowers moms and dads to lead their families with strength and grace. And once again I find myself asking the question, “Now What?” What am I am going to do when I grow up? I’m not a Park Ranger, Recreational Therapist, Missionary/Church Planter, Pastor, Executive Director, or Board President of the organization Brenda and I started. So now what?
To be honest I don’t know what’s next. I have been at times overwhelmed by anxiety and angst trying to answer the question. But I have discovered a couple things that I want to share with you next time I write! So stay tuned.
PS: If anyone has a Park Ranger uniform they are looking to sell, please private message me! 🙂