I used to tell Kelli that by the time she turned 40 she would have been a wife for 21 years, a mother for 15 years and in full time ministry for 20 years. Keep in mind that this was a “far piece” down the road then. Now, it’s just around the corner (Sunday the 16th of November).
With just a few days before Kelli’s 40th birthday, I want to share a little bit about her extraordinary journey. She married me at 18 (after all this is Kentucky) and followed me to graduate school. I worked 40 hours, carried 12 graduate hours, and Kelli worked at Burger King and other places to help make ends meet. The first night she came home from the BK job I let her know she smelled like a Whopper. Our tax return that year showed that we grossed just over $3,000 but we would have told you we were rich and having the time of our lives getting ready for future ministry.
Amazingly she was only 20 years old when we accepted our first full time assignment in ministry serving as youth and associate pastors in Savannah, Georgia. She was only 22 when we assumed our first responsibility as senior pastors in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The ladies from that church said they wanted to lock her up in a cage because they were concerned that folks would “eat you alive.” She was just 26 when we moved to Murray to serve in our present capacity. Only the grace of God and Kelli’s phenomenal love for God and character could explain how someone so young could handle the complexities and pressures that come with modern pastoral ministry (let alone the challenges of dealing with type “rabbit” pastor husband).
After we moved to Murray, Kelli decided to return to school to pursue her degree at Murray State University. Immediately after completing her bachelors in public relations she began pursuing a masters in organizational communication. It’s never easy for a non-traditional student to return to college. It’s even more difficult to pull this off while being a wife, mother, and while serving in full time ministry. Since then she has served as a workplace trainer and college lecturer teaching courses in public speaking and group processes.
I’m very proud of her accomplishments and so very thankful for her partnership in this ministry. She has served the Church in the most profound ways but most of all by ministering to me and my son. Thank you for joining me this week in wishing her a most blessed birthday. I would like to open the comments on this posting for you to share an encouraging word for her. I know that would mean so much to her. Kelli, Tim and I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know. Happy [blessed beyond measure] Birthday!