As I’ve mentioned in previous entries on Deck Log – A Virtual Diary, coming to Texas was a huge step for us.
I’ve already laid out a bunch of the framework, which took place behind the scenes of our move here, but for this particular Deck Log entry, I’d like to add an additional layer of detail.
Detail which will give you the reader a better understanding of the Divine hand which, when we have a yielded and open heart, is able to weave together the life events we walk through with vital connections to key people.
Around February/March of this year, I received my orders to San Antonio, Texas.
As soon as I got those orders, I reached out and called an established, very successful San Antonio realtor, in order to get the house buying process started.
This was not just a random connection made via an internet search or through the broad scope of real estate apps.
Nope, it was a Divine connection made from being humbly submitted and committed to the process of stewardship and accountability to dynamic and relevant relationships and leadership.
So, in order for you to better understand how this particular Divine connection was made, I’ll need to take you all the way back to the first week of August 2016.
It had been a little over a year since Elizabeth passed away.
My family and I were in engaging, full speed, onto the new course of healing and growth. We were deliberately staying plugged into fellowship with people and leadership, who were actively helping to push us forward into using our personal life testimony for a Higher purpose.
During the first week of August 2016, Wave Church was hosting its annual Wave Conference, which is a three-day event where a panel of established and renown leaders of faith come and speak their insights on topics of leadership, relationship and personal faith development.
One of the keynote speakers came on stage to present his message. There was something about his cadence and rhythm that captured my attention. I wanted to know who he was.
Checking the event/program handout, I saw his name: Pastor Rick Godwin, Senior Pastor of Summit Christian Center, San Antonio Texas.
I nudged my wife and whispered, “Pssst…Hey honey, look. This guy’s the pastor of a church in San Antonio.” We gave each other that certain look you give when you find something too strangely convenient to be real…we both knew what each other was thinking. We thought that maybe someday, when we get to San Antonio, we could go to this guy’s church. But that seemed like such a long way off and felt like an uncanny coincidence.
Now, at that point, our desire to move to Texas had been just a prayer of faith. It was during that first year, following the passing of Elizabeth, the vision for moving to Texas as my final tour of duty, had started to come into focus.
On day two, of the three-day Wave Conference, I attended one of the workshops. At that workshop, Pastor Rick Godwin was, once again, the keynote speaker.
When the workshop concluded, while the rest of the attendees went to the lobby for a coffee break, I stayed. As the crowd thinned out, I made my way up to the front and introduced myself to Pastor Rick.
I had only a few minutes before the next workshop kicked off, so I made my introduction brief.
After I shared a quick synopsis of my professional military background and personal life journey, Rick made the gracious offer of getting together whenever I was back in Texas.
And just like that, a connection was made…a Divine thread was woven in.
Then about a month went by.
My wife and I were attending the Wave Marriage Matters Seminar; a two-day marriage retreat for couples.
During that event, Pastor Steve Kelly and I spoke for a few minutes during a coffee break. I told him about the conversation, that I had about a month prior during the Wave Conference, with Rick Godwin. Steve said that I should reach out and contact Rick, at my earliest convenience. What unfolded, from those short few minutes speaking with Steve, was a direct result of, what I call the Law of Stewardship (FYI…be on the lookout for an upcoming instructional article on this topic, under my Leadership section).
I knew that what my family and I was carrying, needed to be submitted to senior leadership: submitted for guidance, direction and stewardship.
I knew that in order for God to use the turmoil for a testimony, my family and I had to be engaged using a holistic approach comprised of professional grief counseling (which we were already actively working), a relationship with fellow believers (which we had via church life) and the mentorship of seasoned, experienced and impactful leadership (which is why I spoke with Pastor Rick Godwin at the conference a couple weeks prior, and why I was engaging with Pastor Steve Kelly).
Following that conversation with Pastor Steve, during the coffee break at the Marriage Matters Seminar, I was on his calendar for an in-depth, one-on-one meeting scheduled for that December. Another connection was made…another Divine thread woven in.
In late September 2016, I drafted and sent a letter to Pastor Rick Godwin’s staff. I spelled out in succinct yet meaningful detail, my professional and personal story. I mentioned that he and I had spoken during the Wave Conference and wanted to take him up on his generous offer to connect, during the next opportunity I was in Texas.
Three days later I got a reply.
Pastor Rick’s schedule was open on December 21st and was he excited about getting together with Erica and I, for a couple of hours.
My family and I were getting ready to head down to Houston for another Christmas vacation. Sure, we were going down there to visit with family for the holidays, but this time, our purpose for being there had a much deeper meaning. It was as if our Divine purpose was the real reason for us going to Texas that Holiday Season…spending time with family at Christmas was just a side benefit.
December 21st, 2016 fell on a Wednesday, so that Tuesday Erica and I drove out to San Antonio, so we could have a head start.
We reserved a hotel for the night and spent the day exploring the San Antonio area. A place that, through the eyes of faith, we believed was going to be our future home.
Wednesday morning around 10am, Erica and I met with Pastor Rick, in his office at Summit Christian Center. Over the course of almost three hours, Erica and I had the opportunity to ask some questions that were weighing on our hearts as well as share our story, testimony and vision.
Pastor Rick patiently listened, gave us practical and sound counsel, strongly encouraged us and generously offered his help in making our anticipated relocation to San Antonio, as smooth as possible, when that time came. Realtor, schools, etc.…If we needed connections, he was willing to help make the connection.
Fast forward: it’s late February (maybe early March) 2018. My OFFICIAL orders to San Antonio finally arrive.
After thanking God, the first thing I did was reach out Pastor Rick Godwin; it was time to start making those connections he and I had talked about, over two years prior.
I send off an email. “Good afternoon Pastor Rick, I got my orders to San Antonio…”. Less than 24 hours later, his team replies, providing me with connections to the #1 realtor in San Antonio and to the top private school in the area.
Wow! That was fast! That’s the power of being connected…the result of abiding by the Law of Stewardship.
I called the realtor and introduced myself. During the hour-long conversation, I got to know Judy Rodriguez and shared some of the background story about our move to San Antonio.
With strong confidence and reassuring patience, Judy answered every question that I had. I knew that my family and I were in expert hands for our upcoming home buying needs.
Over the course of the next 3 ½ months, Judy kept in regular contact with my wife and I. She provided us with the most up-to-date listings that fit our personal specifications.
As our transfer date drew closer and closer, I told my wife, that it was time to narrow down our house-hunting focus to her ‘Top Five Favorites’, based off of the home listings that Judy was sending us.
June 19th, 2018.
We’re in Texas and about to complete the final phase of our move to San Antonio. During that first week we stayed in Houston; visiting with family.
Although I wasn’t due to report at my command in San Antonio until June 22nd, I wanted us to make a pre-site visit at least a couple of days prior, so we could get a look at the houses my wife had put on her ‘Top Five’ list.
We drove out from Houston, and headed to the Alamo City for our one day field-trip. Judy was going to meet us at her office. My brother-in-law and my nephews rode in the truck with me; his wife and my niece rode in the car with my wife and kids.
This was the another micro-step into our next season; the revealing of a paragraph in the book of my family’s life.
It was about a three-hour drive from Houston to San Antonio. As the pre-arraigned time drew closer, Erica called Judy and confirmed the exact meeting address and time, and then texted me as she received updates.
Finally, sometime shortly after lunch, we pulled into the realtor’s office.
My brother-in-law, nephews and I climbed down from the truck. Erica, our kids, my sister-in-law and niece parked beside us and followed us to the front door, where Judy was waiting to greet us.
After all the back-and-forth emails and phone calls over the last few months, it was great to finally meet!
A seasoned and highly successful veteran of the San Antonio real estate business, Judy had her plan of attack already formulated and ready to execute. She knew she only had us for a few hours that day. Being a master tactician, Judy had every prospective house mapped by route and region; all we had to do is follow her and survey the properties as she showed them to us.
After a couple of hours, viewing prospective homes one-by-one, we were starting to narrow our focus on what we wanted. Even though every house was a gem in its own way, we weren’t quite settled on anything we had seen up until that point.
As late afternoon/early evening drew near, Judy wanted to show us one more house.
It was on the other side of town, but she insisted that it was worth us taking a look at before we headed back to Houston for the night.
Judy gave us the address. It was a new construction home, nested in a beautifully planned neighborhood. We pulled up to the model home, where she introduced us to the home developer’s representative.
There were actually three houses Judy wanted to show us in that neighborhood. We went to the first house and I immediately recognized it as one of the houses that had caught my eye from the listings she had emailed us a couple of weeks prior. As soon as we walked in, I was already in love with the place. Everything about it said ‘Welcome Home’.
We looked at the other two houses just for comparison, but I knew in my heart that the first one (which we had just looked at) was the one for us.
Once we had seen that last set of houses, Erica and I told Judy that we were pretty solid in our choice, but we still wanted to think and pray about it. During the three-hour drive back to Houston, Erica and I talked it over.
With a peace in our hearts, we made our decision. We called Judy the next day and let her know…we wanted the house.
Now that we had found the right house, the next month would be spent making final preparations to move into our new home. Things like arraigning delivery of our household goods (which had been in storage since late March), enrolling our younger daughter in school, setting up utilities, etc. etc. etc.
It was a busy time.
Mid-July 2018. We close on the house. With keys in hand, we unlock the front door and walk into our new home in San Antonio, Texas.
We finally made it!
After believing in something for so long…
After traveling so far…
After going through so much…
After losing our child…
After putting our hearts in God’s sovereign hands and stepping out in trust and faith, we had seen that through it all and in it all, He had made perfectly timed connections with key people who would be the vital links in piecing together the pages of our next season.
There’s an old saying that hindsight is 20/20. Looking in the rear-view mirror at the last few years, I can clearly see how moments and encounters are perfectly stitched together with a Divine golden thread.
A thread that takes every instance and weaves them together for our good.