Two weeks after my wedding, my wife and I moved to a new city to start a new career and live together as husband and wife.
Our denomination appointed us to pastor a small rural church in southwestern New Jersey. I read the farewell brief from my predecessor and nothing stated it was in debt. I was relieved. But my wife opened a drawer and found a stack of bills. We owed $38,000 on an annual budget of $56,000. We didn’t get paid the first five months we were married. We worked very hard to keep the doors open.
When things got better, we were transferred to north Jersey to an inner-city church. We faced new challenges. As we got the programs up and running, we learned my wife was pregnant with our first child. A few years later, she was pregnant with our second child. At that time, we were transferred again.
Our final appointment was to church plant. We did it out of a funeral home. I had to roll the body out of the way so I could preach. Our second child was born. Then we learned my daughter had a severe vision problem. While dealing with that, my wife became pregnant a third time. Our last two children are 12 months and 18 days apart.
We left the ministry and started our life all over without owning a piece of furniture. Eventually, we bought our first house. Our children entered school. We moved to Washington, DC to lead a rescue mission there.
Our kids were a little older. We operated a summer camp. We got a dog. A few years later, we moved to Charlotte to lead Charlotte Rescue Mission. My mother moved in with us. Children were in high school activities including swimming, color guard and ping-pong. I don’t count ping-pong as a contact sport.
Our teens were considering colleges and being enrolled. I should receive an award for “enduring” three student/parent orientations at our local university. We learned about something called, “the five-year plan.” One wanted to try the “six-year plan” but I said no.
I traded car payments for tuition payments. One month, I paid off our van. The next month, I started nine years of non-stop tuition payments to our local university.
We were juggling cars (plural) in the driveway and four people on a cell phone bill. I got good at negotiating with our local cell phone provider to keep the price down.
When that season was over, we found ourselves launching our children into the real world. They told us they had found the loves of their lives and we were into the wedding season. Lots of family drama when you combine the words “Italian” and “wedding.” You can’t have an Italian wedding without drama. It’s illegal.
In November, my last child got married. We began 2018 and it was “good.” My wife and I sat at the dinner table or in the living room and “just talked.” We didn’t talk about anything; we just talked. That’s when it hit me. I married this incredible woman who got lost in the process of being married, starting a career, having children, establishing a home, and on and on. She was never a stranger as when people talk about the empty nest. She was someone who got lost when we were trying to keep up with being married.
Let me encourage you not to lose your marriage in your marriage. All those things will be there. Never lose sight of the one who still takes your breath away.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.