Here it is ladies and gentlemen the Lytle 2008 year in review. I have linked a few of my old blog posts within my review, so feel free to reminisce. Also, because of the length I have decided to post in two installments. Here we go, grab a cup of coffee or an ice cold Squirt – sit back – and enjoy.
I began the New Year in New Orleans. Leading a trip of 14 people from Revolution Church I had to come face to face with the realities and pains of not only the still broken city but also my own broken heart. Leanne and I were able to gain a certain amount of closure as we faced the realities of our lives…in just over two months I would be thanking God for allowing me that closure since life was getting ready to be turned upside down again.
Also in January Cloverfield came out. Love it or hate it that movie had the best marketing EVER! I personally loved it…so to all you haters out there – feel free to enjoy the simplicities of My Little Pony while some of us enjoy creative genius. Granted, I have a bit of a man crush on JJ Abrams but still…it was a good flick.
India, India, India. Most of the beginning of the month was spent trying to prepare for our two-week trip to India. 19 of us were going to make the trek to the other side of the globe to serve our partners Harvest India. My stress level was out the roof, mostly because I was having a real difficult time accepting that I was going to be away from Leanne and Bella for that long.
The week we were to leave I got all kinds of sick…bazooka style. (For those of who do not know what that means…you’re lucky) It wouldn’t let up and I was allowing my weakness and the stupidity of others get to my head…I got the all clear from the doctor to go the day we were supposed to leave. Heavily medicated and sitting next to a small Taiwanese gentlemen apparently provided much humor for the 18 hour first leg of the trip.
Eventually we arrived in India and I was able to see God do some pretty incredible things…of course I saw Satan do some pretty incredible things also…more on that later. It is a sobering fact to see people with nothing be content while people here who have everything are always striving for more. I never got a full opportunity to reflect on India because of some specific circumstances but what I do know is that many people’s lives were changed on that trip…including my own.
I got to talk to Leanne and Bella once while I was there…and I cried like a little girl. Thankfully, the only person around to see it was Jon Gaw (good peeps) and the Indian guy who owned the phone who just stared at me with a sense of wonderment…I don’t think they see very many large men sobbing uncontrollably.
When we arrived home I was so happy to see my family…and then all hell broke lose.
There’s not really an easy way to segway into March…only to say that the Lead pastor at the church where I am serving decided it would be a good idea to leave his family for another woman, and cause as much damage to the church as possible in the process.
I remember sitting on my bed staring out the window the morning I had to tell the people at our campus. I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone. Never in my life did I think I would have to stand in front of people and tell them that the person they had put there trust in allowed himself to get so trapped that he just ran away…and in the process of destroying his own family lifted a giant middle finger to the people he was leading.
After the initial shock came the inevitable fallout. People leaving the church, the former pastor doing stuff intentionally to make things worse, and a staff of people trying to pick up the pieces and help in whatever way that we could. As you know if you have gone through sudden loss sometimes you make inappropriate comments. My wife and I were no different.
In our quest to help we had our own anger and bitterness to deal with. So we thought it would be a good idea to steal the marketing from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and take out bus ads and billboards that said things like…You do look fat in those jeans __________ ____________. My mom always hated you ______________ _______________. And of course, You suck ________ ______________.
Although it would make us feel better and cause us to laugh a little bit we decided it would be a bad idea to do the ads. We decided it would be a better idea to focus our attention on the people we were serving and allow God to handle ¬¬¬the rest.
March wasn’t all bad, Bella turned one. We had a birthday party over at grandmas and it was a good time. Also in March Bella took her first steps. So although life was crazy there were still some pretty amazing things that were happening.
The fallout continues. Because of all the stuff going on at church we had to miss our friend Jamie’s wedding. We saw some pictures and it looked beautiful.
April was the month where things really began to sink in…and the ensuing turmoil became apparent. A mini lesson for all you church planters out there – when a church is personality driven – what happens when the personality leaves?
I do well in crisis so I felt more utilized then I ever had before and the pastoral side of me got some exercise. It is not an easy thing to walk people through grief when no one actually died…they were just really stupid. As prayers continued most did the only thing they could do. Entrust everyone involved to God and do whatever he or she could to make sure the church didn’t fold. Which meant we had to close one of our campuses. After only a year Revolution Downey closed it’s doors. Lots of sadness, learnings, and great relationships made. 18 people came to know Christ and many more where encouraged and challenged. It was difficult for me because of my own pride but in the end it was the best thing to do at the time.
Also Leanne turned 28, the Summer Movie Preview came out, and American Idol was in full swing. I had my favorites…they didn’t win…but at least neither did the grandma and tween magnet that was David Archuletta.
May was just one of the months that was super busy. I turned 29 and Leanne threw me a kick ___ surprise party that was Lost themed. Seriously, how cool of a wife is she? When I was bumming because Lost was going to be off the air until January 09 (only a few weeks left) she threw me a surprise party. It rocked.
Also in May I was Mr. Mom for a week and in the process gained a new appreciation for single parents. Good Lord, I don’t know how y’all do it. On the first day I somehow managed to watch my, now walking, child fall into a metal plant stand…I suck.
May was also the month that we were preparing our volunteer appreciation Murder Mystery Dinner. It was awesome! We even made a silent movie. The bummer about May was that throughout the month I began a downward spiral. Everything had caught up to me and I was pretty depressed. I did’nt really know how to love on so many people and help and serve and lead and still take care of my own soul. I needed a break and the reality that I might not get one was crushing me.
Lastly, May brought the beginning of the Summer Movie Season and yes I saw Iron Man on opening day…I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Our Appreciation Dinner went super well. And then the realities that we were going to have to make staff cuts came into play. Another example of how life isn’t always fair. Sometimes you don’t realize how much fallout there is going to be and how many people it really effects.
The good news was that in June, the young women whom the lead pastor left his family for went back to her husband and began the process of reconciliation and restoration. She is, in my opinion, one of the bravest people I know. Even amidst the drama I am honored to know her and her family and am continually amazed at how God is healing their family and using them for His glory.
That bit of good news was an incredible lift to my spirts and it opened up my eyes again to the realites that God can handle it. That even if things do not work the way I think they should ultimately things are handled.
June also brought a much need vacation. Leanne, Bella, and I jumped on a plane and headed out to Baltimore to visit her family. It was good for my soul. I got to sit and watch thunderstorms and fireflies. I got to hang out with family I don’t often get to see. I got to gain some perspective. And I got to just do nothing…It was awesome!
While we were there Leanne and I got tattoos. That’s three for me and one for her. It was our Katrina memorial tattoos that we had long said we would get but never did. Leanne was getting ready to lead a team from Revolution to go help the recovery efforts so it was fitting that she got it before she left.
At the end of June was Vacation Bible School. Always a good time Jenny and her team did a great job of pulling off a wonderful week even amidst the insanity that was happening. I realized that week how greatful I was for the experiences God has brought me through…I don’t think I could have done it if had not been for the experinces of the past. Half way through the year and our lives had been turned upside down. The dust was finally beginning to settle and the realities, both good and bad, were coming into light. Thankfully the next six months weren’t as painfully exhausting as the first…but definitely still interesting.