Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday's Announcement - The Back Story

Associate Pastor of Worship Committee Report from FBC Keller on Vimeo.

This past Sunday morning was quite an exciting day.  After a year-long search process at FBC Keller, the Associate Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts Search Committee announced the proposed candidate....and it was ME!  Needless to say there were a lot of surprised, but thankfully, happy people at church.

Now, I know what you were thinking...I thought David wasn't a candidate...I thought he was going to teach after he finished his Ph.D.  After all, he told lots of people that.

Yes, you are correct.  That's the path that I have pursued for many years now, but God did an amazing work of clarifying my direction and clearly showed His will both to me and the search committee.  I plan to share this story next Sunday night, but I wanted to go ahead and share it now here as well.  Prepare yourselves...I'm writing a dissertation in my spare time, so I'm in the writing mood!  :)  I want to share the whole story...if for the benefit of my memory alone. 
It starts about three years ago...

After graduating from SWBTS with my Master's degree in Church Music, Lindsey and I faced a crucial decision point.  After graciously providing housing to us in our first years of marriage, the church had informed us a few years earlier that we needed to move out of the house on Lorine Street and make other housing arrangements.  Faced with the decision of whether to stay at FBC Keller and buy a home, or move on to another area of ministry, after much prayer, we felt God's calling to stay at FBC Keller and for me to pursue my Ph.D. at SWBTS.

Ph.D. Studies
For many years I have felt God's calling to serve the Church, and in keeping with the gifts and interests that God has given me, I have pursued the avenue of teaching and preparing future church musicians.   For the past 3 years I have had the blessing of pursuing my doctoral studies at SWBTS and have learned so many tremendous things.  This time has helped shape my philosophy, theology, and approach to ministry.  At the same time, I have continued to serve as the Associate Minister of Music at FBC Keller.

Beginning in the December of 2009, I pursued several teaching opportunities in colleges and universities in Texas and other states in the southern U.S.  After a time of no response, soon I was engaged in second and third interviews with several institutions.  Needless to say, Lindsey and I were both excited and filled with a bit of trepidation at the thought of moving.  By this time, we were expecting our first child and were unsure of how much life would truly change.

January 2010
In the first few weeks of January 2010, John Parker, the Worship Pastor of FBC Keller accepted a call to serve at Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  While all of us were sad to lose such a great musician and faithful minister, we were excited for the ministry opportunities that God had in store for John and his family in Baton Rouge.  I immediately went to our pastor and shared with him the teaching opportunities and interviews that we were already engaged in and told him that we were going to pursue them and not be a candidate for the newly opened position at the church.

As soon as John left, many church members approached me concerning the prospects of serving in this new role and I shared with all of them the same story...that I felt God calling me into the teaching profession and that God had me at Keller to help the transition to our next Worship Pastor.  The first few months were a whirlwind as I sought to balance school and new responsibilities at work and prepare for the birth of our son.

April 18, 2010
Things changed dramatically for us on the morning of April 18, 2010.  Lindsey's water broke nearly a month early...on a Sunday morning at church no less!  Will was born later that night and it was truly an amazing experience!  It is absolutely mind-boggling to consider the many ways that our precious son has changed our lives, marriage, and spiritual walk in the 10 months that he has been with us.  Suddenly many preconceived ideas about life, careers, and ministry had a much different perspective as I was now a father.

Summer of 2010
We continued along the path to which we felt God calling us and as the summer began we had two very promising opportunities to teach at wonderful institutions in other states.  In July I traveled to one of those schools, interviewed, and was offered a faculty position in Church Music and Worship Arts.  Here it was...the type of teaching job I had worked so hard a great school...but we didn't feel God leading us in that direction and we declined the offer.  Needless to say, it was a struggle to understand but we remained hopeful because a different school was still interested.  Without giving all the details, after much promise that opportunity suddenly ended and Lindsey and I were forced into another time of prayer, conversation, and discernment.

Fall of 2010
These seeming disappointments did have a silver lining...after months of uncertainty, wondering if we were going to move in the coming weeks...we were able to take a deep breath and commit to staying in Keller for at least another year.  That was the real beginning of opening our hearts and spirits to what God was doing.  All the while, our precious son continued to grow and change us in dramatic ways.  Quite simply, we were becoming different people than we were at the beginning of the year.

I successfully completed my Qualifying Exams and began the dissertation phase of my Ph.D. studies and prepared our church for all of the worship and musical opportunities of the Christmas season.  It was at this time that God began to work in my heart and get my attention.  Several very special members of our church whom I hold in tremendous regard privately came to me and asked me to reconsider (non-search committee members for the record!).  While many at the church had done so already, these few people caught my attention with some of the words they spoke.

I wrestled inside for weeks before sharing with Lindsey...

What about the call I had felt for so long?
I've been so vocal about the direction of I'm going to change?
Will people think I'm trying to come in at the last minute?
Am I considering this just because it is the more "comfortable" option? (i.e. close to family, not having to move, wonderful church...)

All of these questions went back and forth in our minds and conversations.  I committed to a time of prayer and focused on the tasks that God had given me at the moment and resolved to let God work out the other future details.

Search Committee Process
One of the blessings of this entire process has been the wonderful Search Committee tasked with seeking God's will for the position at FBC Keller.  I can honestly say that not a single one of the members approached me to convince me to become a candidate.  I knew that they were faithfully seeking God's will and resting in God's timing...even if it meant waiting.

I firmly believe that anyone's call to ministry is a two-sided affair.   There is obviously a call from God on the individual's part (although often not in dramatic "Damascus Road" style).  There is also a recognition of this call by the local church (as in ordination and ministry service).

After months of seeking God's will, Lindsey and I felt that the next step in our journey was to share with our Pastor our struggle in seeking God's will.  The uniqueness of the situation is that FBC Keller is our home church.  Lindsey grew up in this church and I have served here for over 10 years and have lived here basically my entire adult life.  We believed that God would work through the Body of Christ to reveal His will for our lives and the church...just as He promises to work in the scriptures.

After sharing with the Keith and the search committee of our desire to covenant together in prayer concerning this opportunity, I asked the committee that we take December "off" so that I could focus on the many services of December and spend the time in prayer.  They agreed and we all spent the month seeking God's will.  I was fully prepared to come back after that month with a renewed call to the teaching ministry.  In fact..truth be told..that's what I expected to happen.

But the more I prayed and sought God's will, the more it became clear that God had been working in my life for the past 10 years to prepare me for this opportunity of ministry.  I won't go into detail, but experience after experience was brought to mind and God revealed His purposes behind them.  He also showed me that my desire to teach was His idea but that it was a manifestation of my love for the church and a desire to serve the church.  I am fully convinced that I will have that opportunity at some point in my life, but now, God was leading me to serve FBC Keller in this way at this time.

After spending a much-needed vacation over the Christmas holidays, and after seeking out counsel from our family and several incredible men of God who had no connection with our church, we felt that we should pursue this opportunity.

It's hard to describe the overwhelming sense of peace and assurance that I have had since the month of December.  The past 3 years have been filled with anxiety about the future...some was the unhealthy kind Paul warns about in Philippians 4:6...but most stemmed from my desire to get to the next stage in my ministry.  For so long I have felt like I was in preparation for something...always on the cusp.  Of course, that might stem from being in college for 15 years now!

Throughout the month of January, the committee and I met, discussed, and prayed together concerning this matter.  I can't describe how amazing it is to see God work in the lives of your fellow church members and brothers and sisters in Christ to reveal His will.  It quickly became apparent that this was the direction in which we were all led.  This has been confirmed in numerous large and small ways over the past 6 weeks.

It's been so hard to keep this quiet the past few weeks!  We have been bursting at the seams with excitement and anticipation with all of the things that we believe God will do through the Worship and Creative Arts Ministry at FBC Keller!

So...that's a long answer to a short question.  Simply put, I'm a different person than I was a year ago at this time.  Becoming a father, finishing my doctoral studies, becoming quiet before the Lord and listening, learning to hear God's call as a couple and not simply as a single person...all of these have led us to this point.

Regardless of the outcome next Sunday, it's been a blessing to see God work in our hearts.  I now truly understand the words of Deuteronomy 4:29 that I learned so many years ago as an aria from the oratorio Elijah.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and will all your soul.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Weather Pic/Vid Post

We are seriously falling behind in the blogging world.  So I thought I would take advantage of our winter weather lockdown to post some pictures and videos of Will.  Our little boy is growing up so fast!  In the past few months, he has gotten 3 teeth, began eating lots of food, learned how to stand up, learned how to crawl, and is beginning to make some sounds that are a lot closer to words.

Here are some of our favorite pictures and videos.

Our Family at the Pumpkin Patch 
You have to love that smile!

Always looking for adventure!

All bundled up for the cold weather.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

6 Months Old

Yesterday was Will's 6 month birthday.  It's hard to believe that it has already been 6 months since the day he came into our lives.  To say that our lives have been changed is an understatement.  It's hard to imagine being able to love someone as much as you love your child.

Will is continuing to grow and develop each week.  We began feeding him rice cereal and sweet potatoes in the last few weeks and he loves them.  He opens up his mouth like a little baby bird.  It's the cutest thing ever!  He still hasn't started crawling yet, but he's starting to get more comfortable moving around on the floor.  Last night he slept in his crib for the first time instead of his bassinet and he did great!  We have our 6 month check up on Thursday and can't wait to find out how much he has grown.

On a side note, David has finished his written doctoral exams and did well on them.  Yay!  His oral exams are next week and then he is done with tests forever.  Lindsey continues to spend most of her time playing with Will but still finds time to be involved in church and recently started working in the childcare during the weekly activities.

Ok, enough about us.  We all know you are here to see pictures of Will.

Our First Family Picture

Playing in my swing
Love that smile!

I want to swim Mom!
Ready to Trick or Treat
Geaux Cowboys!

Ready for Work

I love my Daddy!

6 Months Old

Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Exciting Weekend!

Will had so much fun this weekend!  This Labor Day Weekend will definitely be one that we won't forget for a long time.  It all began Saturday with Will's first LSU football game!  We have been preparing him for weeks by getting him used to wearing LSU attire.

After lunch on Saturday, we all got changed into our LSU Outfits.  We
won't talk about how poorly LSU played in the second half, but Will is convinced that they started playing badly after he went to bed!

After getting up early on Sunday morning, we all got dressed up to go to church.  This morning was a special day because we dedicated Will in the 11:00 a.m. service.  Will had so many of his family members there to celebrate the special occasion.  

The verse we picked out to celebrate this day and pray over Will was Colossians 3:16-17.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 
Here's a video recording of the dedication.  Thanks to everyone for making this day such a special one for our family!

First Trip to Louisiana

Things have gotten really busy around the Toledo family lately, so we have some blogging to catch up on. At the beginning of August, David, Lindsey, and Will made a week-long trip to Louisiana.  This was Will's second out-of-state trip in four short months!  As always, he was a trooper with the traveling.

The car usually puts him asleep right away and he slept from Keller to Shreveport!

When we made it to Pineville, Mimi, Pops and Pa-Paw were there to greet us!

After spending the night, we drove to Baton Rouge where we got to visit Grandpa and Grandma Toledo!

Will, Mom, and Grandma had a blast swimming in the pool!

While we were down there, we got to visit with Mrs. Kristin and Karter!

We then went back to Pineville where we spent a few more days.  Aunt Casey got to meet Will for the first time!

On our way home, we visited Mr. Matt and Mrs. Sarah and, of course, our friend Gracie!

We had a great trip and we love all of our family and friends!  Will is blessed to have so many people who care for him!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Six Years and Counting

Six years ago today, I woke up with a million things to do and lots of excitement as I prepared to marry the woman of my dreams.  It's hard to believe that it has already been six years.  So much has happened over those years, but it has surpassed even my wildest dreams.  God has been so faithful to provide for us and this year has been the best.  As we left the church that afternoon in August, we could have never imagined the joy we would have when our first child came into the world.

I'm excited about the coming years and know that they will be even better than the past six.  Happy Anniversary Lindsey!  I love you so very much!

Here's a quick look back across the past few years.
Buca da Beppo with friends

Engagement Photo

August 14, 2004

Just Married!

Honeymoon in Mexico

Buying our first home

LSU/Arkansas Game

Washington D.C. Trip 2008

Disney World Trip 2009

Five Year Anniversary at Emeril's in New Orleans

First Family Picture
The Joy of Our Lives - Will

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bath Time

These are just too cute not to share!