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25 Years and Baby We’re Just Getting Started

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I cannot believe that this month my husband, rock, love of my lifeeeee will celebrate 25 years in full time ministry!  It seems like yesterday that we were saying “I do”, packing all of my belongings in a u-haul and screaming a great big “YES” to whatever God had in store for us.  Ronnie has always had one prayer, that God would give Him a voice to impact our generation.

People often ask the question “How did you end up here?”

Our best answer is, “By making a habit to simply say yes every time Jesus asked.”  I remember the first time that we met.  I went to hear Ronnie preach a youth revival at Pastor Tommy Bates church in Independence, Ky.  Pastor Tom had placed a call to his parents the same week Ronnie rededicated his life to the Lord.  He called to ask Ronnie to come stay a couple months in Kentucky and travel with him as he evangelized.  God’s timing is so perfect.  The encounters he had with the Lord while with Pastor Tom were so instrumental to who He would be.  A couple days after the revival service I attended, I was 18 years old and a Freshman in college at Northern Kentucky University.  Ronnie came to campus to meet me on my lunch break and he looked across the table from me in a noisy cafeteria and said, “I am called into full-time ministry.  Right now, I am the Youth Pastor and Music Director at my Dad’s church in Norman, Oklahoma…but tomorrow I could be in Africa.  There are so many things I am looking for in a wife, and I think you are it, so I just need you to know that up front.”   (You think I’m joking?  I promise those were his first words to me :)). What a journey it has been!  24 years later and I would say a resounding “yes”, all over again!

We were just 2 young people who loved Jesus, and wanted to be found working in His fields.

How about this?  1 week after we returned to Norman, Oklahoma from our Honeymoon…we took our Youth Group to Barbourville, Kentucky…and spent the week in separate BARNS chaperoning our kids.  Is there anything more fun than youth camp though?  Boy have we had some life changing moments & fun memories made around altars and late night talks on cots.

We spent about 6 months in Oklahoma at Ronnie’s home church and then we received a call from a man we had loved and revered for years, Pastor Derwin Ward.  He asked us to join him and his wife in Central Valley California.  So we packed our 600 square ft. apartment and headed off to Modesto to Youth Pastor at Key’s Assembly of God.  That time was so amazing for us as a couple.  We had each other and that was it.  We learned a lot about who we were going to be during the 2 years we were there.  Derwin & his wife Terri and daughters were amazing.  The influence that Derwin had on my husband, was one I will be eternally grateful for.  He instilled such a love for studying the word, digging out revelation, reading and practicing the disciplines of the people who had paved the path for revival.  Derwin helped shape the gift God placed in Ronnie.  Derwin & his family were called to a new season, and we returned to Norman for a year.  We love Oklahoma.

Returning home was exciting…we weren’t the same people who had been there before.

Serving in ministry with your family is the most incredible life ever.  Ronnie’s parents, Ronnie Sr. & Sandy, his Grandparents, Sisters, Aunts & Uncles were all there.  Just typing this brings me to tears.  What a rich heritage.  My favorite memories at Norman Tabernacle were powerful prayer meetings, Youth Choir Tours, big hair, & there never being a dull moment.  On the last 2 week summer youth choir tour we took, we attended World Harvest Church.

We were in awe.

While we were in that service, they asked the youth choir to sing a couple songs…I can still remember how small we felt in that large tabernacle…but God was up to something.  A couple of days later, Pastor Rod Parsley called Ronnie Sr. and asked if he would be willing to allow us to come to WHC to get the music team ready for Raise the Standard Pastor’s Conference.  To make a long story short, we stayed for over 12 years.  I will have to devote an entire post to that length of time…he took us in as his kids and there isn’t anything he didn’t teach us.  We traveled the world with Pastor, served in every area of ministry available, and what a ride it was!  All 4 of our babies were born while we were in Columbus!  Oh how we love Pastor & Mrs. Joni!

Relationship is the currency of ministry.

…and God has always brought people of divine connection into our lives.  Pastor Tim & Gayla Bagwell have been so instrumental to the last 8 years of our lives.  Our lives have been fully impacted by God’s best!

Taking territory.

The last 8 years have been full of fierce faith, leaving everything and stepping out on a word, we launched the grass roots ministry that is The Kingdom Center.  These have been the absolute best years of our lives.  It is incredible to watch vision come to life.  When God breathed this vision into us, He gave us the promise that He would send us “men & women whose hearts He has touched!”  He has and is still fulfilling that promise!  There is no place on earth we would rather be!  I have stood beside my husband and with everything in me I honor him as my Pastor.  Y’all should see inside our home.  Because that’s truly where he shines.  The way he pastors us is beautiful.  I am convinced that his greatest sermons aren’t preached on platforms, rather inside the walls of our home.

For 25 years His prayer has never changed, only increased in ferocity.  Ronnie mentors young Pastors, is passionate about souls, loves serving people, and has a strong conviction about who & whose we are.  He works diligently and is intentional about creating culture where signs, wonders, and miracles exist.

Kingdom life is the best life.

Ministry is one of the most fulfilling and challenging vocations on the earth.  I am thankful that I have had the best seat in the house to take account of the last 25 years.  Absolutely impossible for me to adequately express the adoration I have for my husband, my best friend, my Pastor.  For every time you call to the deep in me, pray over our tribe, fearlessly lead us into our next…I love you!

 

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