This Is Our Story…
This is our story. It is an honest story. It is a story about redemption, love, and new life. Some of you might know it already, others may be a little surprised. But it is a story we think needs to be shared. Josh and I have talked long and hard about it and we agree…we want our story to be known. And just maybe, it could be an encouragement to you.
Many of you know my family pretty well. You know that we are close-knit, very involved in church and do ministry for a living. It almost feels like the “Hill Family” has a reputation…one that sometimes makes it seem like we are perfect or have it all together. This can be a suffocating reputation to maintain at times, feeling as if I must keep up this face for all to see. So this past winter when Josh and I took a pregnancy test and it came up positive, I honestly felt like I was the biggest failure in the world. Here I am, a Hill child, my father used to be the director of a pregnancy center, my mom used to direct a teen mom group. And here I was, 21, unmarried, and pregnant. What a disappointment I was.
My dad was out of town for a week after we found out so we had to wait for him to come back before sharing our news. That week may have been the hardest week of my life. We went to our local pregnancy center, “Choices” to have the pregnancy confirmed. They asked what we wanted to do, but for us there were no other options. No matter how absolutely terrified we were, we had a child growing inside of me and we were not going to give him up. After the reality of it set in, all I could think about was the conversations that were to come. My parents. His parents. My siblings and his siblings. Our close friends and family. Our church homes and bible studies. It was overwhelming and terrifying. I felt ashamed and disappointing everyone was my biggest fear. However, that week was also a week of learning how to totally depend on God’s grace and strength. Because there was no way we could have done it by ourselves. Our entire world was completely shaken. Every plan we had, our entire future, got turned upside down. We had no clue what to expect, we had no choice but to cling to the promise of God to love and forgive and trust that He had a plan, despite the mistakes that brought us to this place.
Honestly, many of the conversations we had with our loved ones are now a giant blur. I remember physically shaking, clinging to Josh’s hands, tears all around, and most importantly: immense love and grace. It seemed like every single conversation we had ended with us realizing we were NOT disappointments, that mistakes are part of life but do not define us, and that we are incredibly loved by friends and family alike. And excitement and joy at the realization that a new life is being developed. There is never ever shame in that. The way we got here might not have been the wisest and we are the first to admit that mistakes were made. But what we learned over and over, is that this growing baby inside of me is NOT a mistake. He is a blessing.
Another aspect of this story is Josh and I. Let me just say, God knew exactly what He was doing. Our story isn’t perfect (we are both incredibly stubborn) but it is our story and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As school ended for the semester last December, we began to look to the future. We had a big question. Would Josh leave Chattanooga next fall to attend culinary school in Charlotte while I stayed here and finished my bachelors in early childhood education? Or would he stay here and wait for me? And naturally, this brought up the question of where that left our relationship. At that point we knew that we had found the one we were meant to spend forever with. The only question was when? Of course being the logical thinkers, we decided that when I finished school would be best and Josh would work here until then. When our scary wonderful news came about it changed very little of our plans. The only thing that changed was the date. We wanted our son to come into a family, not an “about to be” family. And we couldn’t be happier. We had a lovely ceremony that was God-filled and celebrated by all our friends and family. It has been two and a half weeks now and I can’t wait to see all God has in store for us.
This has been, by far, the most exhilarating, terrifying, wonderful, challenging time of my life. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Neither of us would. August 22nd, 2013, a lovely little boy, Everett Reid Williams, is expected to come into this world. Already he has taught us so much. That anybody can make a mistake. That God uses our mistakes to make something incredibly beautiful. That sometimes those mistakes can cause us to grow closer to God than we ever imagined. That we have incredible family and friends that have shown us how to love like Jesus does. That we love each other more than we could have known. That hearing your child’s heartbeat for the first time is the most wonderful feeling in the world. That feeling him kick is incredible, and so was the look on Josh’s face when he got to feel it for the first time. And most of all, we learned to appreciate the most precious things in life- new life, family, friends, grace, and true love.
As you have read our story I hope you have found encouragement. I pray you have read this with grace and that it has spoken to you. That you too can realize how important it is to love. How important it is to extend and receive grace. And most importantly, I hope that through our story you can see the power and love of our God to turn the messiest people and the messiest stories into a greater more beautiful picture then our own eyes could have ever imagined. This is our story.
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:18-19
As a Youth Minister, on one hand this can be your greatest nightmare. Yet God has taught my Wife Julie and I so much through the period of time. I believe that our children are on loan to us from God! It is time to take that gift and love it and love it unconditionally.
My wife Julie and I have four children, now ranging in age from 28 to 15. Our lives have looked anything but normal to those on the “outside” of ministry. We have served with Youth for Christ for over 26 years. We’ve made several big transitions, all in the States, but anyone who has ever moved from the North to the South of the US knows that it’s still a culture shock. Our home life has looked different over the years – with one baby at home, Julie just came along and joined in with all the youth activities. With two it became more difficult, but with three we began a season of mom staying home and supporting from there. We’ve had periods where Julie worked part time, and I arranged my schedule to be home during those times, and periods of time where Julie worked full time. We’ve sent our kids to public school; we’ve homeschooled, and everything in between. We’ve packed up our belongings, put them into storage and taken off for a new ministry without really knowing where it was going to be (we fondly refer to this as our homeless and unemployed period).
I would love to say that through it all we’ve had a great, amazing plan for raising our kids, but the truth is that most of the time we were not super intentional about one practice or another. The one thing we were purposeful about, was letting them know that we were following God’s leading, and that we trusted Him to protect, provide and preserve us on our path, no matter where it leads. We figured out early on that we absolutely didn’t have what it took to be perfect parents, and that we would continually need to lean on Him for strength and wisdom. Each of our children are unique, and just when we would think, “we got this!” another challenge or situation would arise and bring us to our knees. We are learning that when it comes to following Christ, and parenting our children, we will never “get this”. But God gets it, and daily gives us the strength, wisdom and love we need. Thankfully, God is more than enough, and where we fall short as parents, we can trust Him to be All in All.
We hope these next few days are filled with Gods presence and Grace.
And the angels said fear not for behold I bring you good news of a great joy that shall be for all people For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace I need a silent night, a holy night To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here AMY GRANT - I NEED A SILENT NIGHT LYRICS
What do we do with our anger over the the horrible events that took place last week at the Sandy Hook school in Conn. I know for me I just felt helpless..I wanted to do something, I wanted justice, revenge, to hear the media had it all wrong. But there it was, staring me right in the eye’s, the most unimaginable had just happened. I am a father of four, granted they are all pretty much grown, two in college, one married and soon to be DAD, and one itching to get her drivers permit. Yet in my eyes they are my little children.. my precious little children who I would give my life for. So as a Dad, as a youth guy , I felt HELPLESS.. The most I could do was to hit my knees in prayer.
Yes Prayer, my God was there, in spite of what some pretty popular Christian leaders and Pastors might say, MY God Was There! Not sure how you kick God out of anywhere, we just don’t have that much power. You can remove prayer, you can even remove bibles from school, but GOD? I don’t think God is into being checked at the door and wait until the school bell rings to rejoin his precious children.
I like you want something to happen, for someone to be punished, someone to blame, to just know the question of WHY! However, at this point in time the most we can do is pray for the community and families. As Christians there is no more powerful of a tool than prayer and compassion. Maybe there are answers down the road and maybe there are some steps we can take to protect our kids, but I for one do not believe that our God was not there, just not his Style!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Do you feel that way? We all do at our house, though we have an ongoing
debate over when to start the Christmas music! Christmas gives us a chance to stop, to slow down, and to interrupt our
usual routine. After Christmas we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next. We take the time to look
back, and we plan and dream for what’s
This year we will need to take some extra
time to look back, as it’s been quite an
eventful year for all of us! We’ve had some
monumental changes, closed one chapter
and opened another in the story of our
lives. Scottie graduated from high school,
Mackenzie finished eight grade, and we
moved across the state, to Chattanooga!
Many of you know that Katie had been
studying at the University here, and Scottie
has also decided to pursue his higher education here. He
spent his summer as an intern for Manna Café, a non-profit
group dedicated to feeding the hungry in Clarksville, and has
decided to major in Non-profit management. Katie is within a
year of graduating as an elementary school teacher, is
working as an intern in a first grade class this semester, and at
least once a week we hear her say, “I can’t wait to be a
Mackenzie has also started something new! This year, she is
attending school at a “higher learning” co-op, where she
attends classes just three halfdays
a week and works at home
on projects and classwork the other two days. She has done a tremendous job adjusting,
making friends, and managing her schoolwork. God also provided an amazing job for Julie,
working as an early interventionist, which is what she had been doing in Clarksville. When
she is not out visiting families and children, she works from home and enjoys the blessing of
a flexible schedule. Sadly, we left Tony and Melanie back in Clarksville, along with Julie’s
mom and dad. However, we’ve discovered the trip back can be driven fairly quickly. That’s a
good thing, since we recently got the happy news that in May, the Hill family will grow by one
as Tony and Melanie welcome their first child!
Ministry: Being in Chattanooga puts me
closer to several of the Military Bases that I
work with, and that means more time to
spend loving on and equipping these
wonderful men and women who minister to
our military youth. As the war continues on
the more and more hope is needed in so
many of these kids lives. Julie and I are
looking forward to a new year of ministry and
the opportunity to serve our lord and Savior.
Thank you for keeping our family in your
prayers and thoughts, we can’t even begin
to tell you how much that means to us.
Year end giving plays such a big part in our funding for the year. Would you prayerfully
consider a year-end gift to our ministry to military youth and their families?
Reaching youth for Christ,
For the ministry of:Rog & Julie Hill Account: 25488
Serving as YFC Military, East Coast Director
Donation Information: Give online at www.yfc.net/give/hillrogjulie
If you were to add up all of the years that my wife Julie and I have spent on hard bleachers of volleyball courts and Baseball fields it would total up to 20 plus years. You would not believe the some of the things that we have heard over the years from the stands of these Hard Bleacher seats. Here is a sample we heard the other night at a fall
baseball game for High Schoolers, a 16 yr old kid is up to bat, the count is 3 -2
( a Full Count ) the boy swings at a high pitch and hits it straight up in the air making for a easy catch for the first baseman, and then from the hard seat bleachers his dad stands up and yell’s ” Terrible, just Terrible, what is wrong with you” heck I was just impressed that he got the bat on it, but to this dad, and I use the term loosely, the son was a flat out failure at the plate! A few innings later, the same young man was playing third base, and there are runners on first and second, a sharp hit ball comes screaming towards this kid, and I cant beleive it, but he fields it perfectly ( I would have ran the other way ) and touches third base and gets the lead runner out! But for dad, that is just not good enough, he felt his kids should have made a Major league play and whip the ball to first base, so the dad stands up and starts yelling at the poor young man and made sure that he knew his father thought he was stupid for not making the throw! I can go on and on with these kind of stories from the baseball fields and volleyball courts all over Tennessee, Washington and Oregon, but I think you get the picture. Thinking of this poor 16 yr old kid, it occurred to me that in 2 years he would be off to college and becoming a man. Is this what this dad wants to communicate to his kid on the last few years at home ” you are horrible, you are stupid’. I have already sent one daughter one son out the door and my 17 year old son is down to his last 8 or 9 months at home with his mom and I. I want my kids to know that when they leave the house and jump into this world on their own that they are LOVED, they are SMART, they are WONDERFUL, they are my pride and joy. Something tells me this
16 yr old boy is not hearing this, but the opposite ” terrible & stupid’ . I just don’t get it, do we really believe that our kid is going to be the next Josh Hamilton? Do you realise that if you added up all of the professional athletes from the big 3 ( baseball, football & basketball ) there are only 2,050 in the country! Sorry dad, but the odds are not great! So, is it really worth hurting a relationship over? Basic
ally these kids, our kids are on loan to us from God… so how about we just sit back and enjoy watching our kids have FUN, even if they strike out!
Oh, by the way I am not just talking about non christian dads here, no I have seen some very Godly men, even Pastors do and say some crazy stuff. Please relax and enjoy, these seasons of life are way to short! Lets be our KIDS NUMBER 1 FAN
It is bittersweet that we say goodbye to Rog Hill. For two years, Rog helped build and lead the team that carried out the Serve ministries of Grace in his position as Serve Pastor. Through Rog’s leadership and willingness to delegate and build teams, Grace is now heavily involved in missions and ministry in Clarksville and around the world.
Rog is not leaving Grace Community Church; he’s simply leaving our staff. Rog and his wife Julie spent 25 years in youth ministry with the Youth for Christ. Recently Rog has sensed a call to return full-time to those efforts. In Rog’s new position, he will manage and train youth leaders around the country with Youth for Christ. His specific focus will be on those groups, which work with military bases. When Rog isn’t traveling, you’ll see he and his family continuing to serve in a volunteer basis at Grace. We wish Rog well as he continues to pursue God’s call on his life.
The above note was written by Ron Edmondson. Ron is a good friend who was brave enough to actually hire a dreamer who does things his own way ( not saying that’s good) but he took a chance on me by hiring me as the Serve Pastor at Grace Community Church here in Clarksville,TN. For two years I was privileged to learn and grow in my leadership abilities under Ron, and for two years I learned what serving in a large church is like. I HAD NO IDEAL! I will be forever in awe of these men and women who pastor in our local churches, to be honest, I am not sure how most of them do it…always on call, constantly putting out fires, never really pleasing everyone yet loving those very people with all of their heart. These guys are truly Gods heroes, and they are mine as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, my 2 year church experience was great, as I said, I learned so much that I can apply for years to come. I think what really stood out to me was “PASSION” it has been a while sense I have seen people minister with so much passion as the staff at Grace Community Church. And it was that very passion that made me realise that it was time for me to get back to my first love and passion, Youth Ministry. So here I am, back for another 25 years of ministering in my PASSION! And back to fundraising… but if it your passion, it is all worth it.
Thanks Ron & Chad and the Staff at GCC
There are 5 core values that I try to live out in my life & ministry. I would love to say that it was a part of my life everyday, but….. well I would be lying to you. As a matter of fact I keep these five core values posted all around me, but it usually takes me getting on the edge of burnout, frustrated, tired or just down right mad at ministry or people. So this week , I am pretty sure I experienced all of the above, and in the mist of my little pity party I rediscovered my famous core values.
Five Core Values
1.PLEASE GOD, NOT PEOPLE
2.TAKE CARE OF MY SOUL AND MY FAMILY BEFORE MY MINISTRY
3.BE A LEARNER
4.BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT MY DECISIONS
5.WORK HARD TO BE AND DO THE THINGS GOD HAS CALLED ME TO
Nothing real earth shattering, but it has been a good reminder of what is really important in life and ministry