Sam and Jen met in the summer of 1997. Jen broke all the dating rules by asking Sam to go out (Sam’s version is that Jen begged him to go out). Sam and Jen had four great dates and then Sam asked Jen to marry him on the 4th day. Yes you read that correctly.
Sam and Jen have been married for 17 years. They have three kids and two dogs. Together, they have been on this wild and crazy journey with Jesus trying to serve Him to the best of their abilities. Sam and Jen have served in three churches, two in Texas and one in Florida. Now they are off to Montana to serve in their fourth church.
Sam’s sweet spot for ministry is preaching and visiting the sick. Jen loves running and has found her calling being with people on there weight loss journey and/or training to run their first race. She loves to help people get past their negative self image so they can see themselves through the eyes of their creator. They both love being with people and developing friendships.
I cannot say that there has ever been a time when I did not know who Jesus was but I definitely did not really know Him. In 1997 I met a pastor and got engaged. I began to get nervous because I was not 100% sure what this Jesus thing was all about. I knew He was moving in me, I knew He was changing my heart, but I did not know how much He loved me and wanted the best for me.
One night I went to a woman’s service at church after teaching aerobics. I was rushed and not really feeling very spiritual. I sat at my table feeling grumpy when the songs began. As each song progressed I felt my heart softening. When the lady, my sweet friend, got up to speak it was as if everything was spoken just for me. My questions were answered, my heart felt alive and I had an overwhelming peace that everything was going to be ok.
That night the five ladies leading that service all sat around me, laid hands on me and prayed. It was the night I was forever changed. I walked in knowing of Jesus and left experiencing Jesus.
Since that moment our life together has been a whirlwind to say the least. We have now served in three great churches, we have three kids and two dogs. And best of all God has surrounded us with some of the most amazing friends and mentors we could ever ask for.
I was blessed to be born to wonderful, faithful parents, my father is a retired Baptist minister and my mother was a nurse. My conversion to faith in Christ happened when I was nine years old. A movie about a young woman called ‘Joni’ was shown at my home church. At the end of the film, my father stood up and simply invited people to respond to God’s stirring in their hearts. I found myself unable to hold back this sense of overwhelming joy mixed with a sense of dread. The next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the church with several other people, many of whom were weeping. I was asked if would like to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. quickly responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
Life in the Manse was both exciting and challenging providing many lessons in pastoral ministry that I now realize prepared me to follow God’s call for my life. Growing up within the church I was constantly made aware of God’s grace. Like most children, and particularly as a teenager, I constantly wrestled with the Lord for authority over my life. I wrestled until my grandmother confronted me and the Lord convicted my heart through her words, “it is now time to choose.”
I began preaching at the age of fourteen and by the age of eighteen I had preached in many different area churches. At age sixteen I sensed a call to fulltime ministry. After completing my studies I began working to gain life experience in the “real world.” Some years later I sought ordination to fulfill the call God had laid upon my life.