My husband, Lauro, and I are planners. Like, big time. We love schedules and order, visions and goals. We find value in the details. After taking the DISC personality test (which is about behavioral preferences in peoples’ natural and adaptive states), we found out that we both have a high “C” score: we prefer procedures, standards, and protocols. Neither of us were surprised by that. We are all about quality control, always striving for excellence. These preferences play themselves out in every area of our lives, especially in school, work, and our ministry. In short, we love being in control and knowing what’s going to happen, and oh what a blessing and a curse that can be.
I’m pretty sure God has been chuckling at us and our schedules and life plans, especially in the past several months.
This past December we were made aware of a job opportunity for Lauro at a church plant called Thrive Church as the Worship Arts Pastor. Our dear friends, Julio and Krystal Cruz, are a part of this church plant, Julio being the Associate Pastor and Krystal a part of the hospitality team. This family has been a huge part of our lives! Julio has been mentoring Lauro since he was an eighth grader, he was our former youth minister back in our hometown of Dodge City, and he officiated our wedding ceremony. I can’t even begin to try and count how many times they have opened up their homes to us. That being said, when their church’s next step to take in order to keep growing was to hire a worship minister, Lauro got a phone call from Julio saying they were wanting to hire someone as soon as possible, and that he was a very likely candidate for the job.
My jaw hit the floor when Lauro shared that with me, and it stayed there for a while. Why would God move us from our comfortable little corner of Southwest Missouri this early? Why would we leave when Lauro still has one more year of school left before he graduates? We have experienced a lot of stability living in Joplin. The cost of living is extremely affordable, we live less than five minutes away from Ozark, and we both have very secure jobs that take really good care of us. Travelling home to Dodge City is a six hour drive, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that bad. Even more, we thought why would God lead us to another church when our ministry and relationships at our loving and gracious church in which we currently serve have really turned a corner, and we have recently been seeing more growth than ever before?
You see, in our minds a job opportunity like this wouldn’t come up until after Lauro finished college, because that’s how it’s “supposed” to go. When you graduate high school, you go to college for four years, maybe go to grad school or seminary, and then go out into the world and start your career. In our minds, we could see ourselves in worship ministry at a church plant alongside the Cruzes further on in the future. It’s been a dream of Lauro’s to serve in this way, but of course it wouldn’t happen until after he graduated college. There we were, though, sitting in our living room after that phone call and thinking, “This is really happening. This is really happening right now.”
Our schedules and life plans were very quickly and very obviously being knocked off course, and our planning personalities went into overdrive.
January came along and we arranged a weekend to go visit the church plant and go through the interview process for this position. We hopped on a plane and upon our arrival, walked outside to a sunny and 80 degree day in the middle of January (this Kansas girl’s DREAM). After several conversations with the church leadership, meeting some wonderful people from the church, and leading worship for their Sunday morning services, we came out of that weekend with a job offer for Lauro to be the Worship Arts Pastor at Thrive Church in Lake Nona, Florida.
“THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” It seemed like no other thoughts could occupy my brain except those for several days after the trip (and sometimes even to this day). And so we came back home and continued to saturate this opportunity in prayer. We prayed for wisdom, for clarity, and for direction. Our days were filled with LOTS of thinking and LOTS of prayer. We knew that either way we chose that God would be glorified and his Kingdom work would continue, but we still had to choose: would we stay or would we go?
By no means was it an easy decision. I could write pages and pages about all the details of this situation; the pros and cons seemed to be endless and the stakes miles high. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our own reasoning to make big decisions like these in our lives. Through our praying and our seeking God was opening our eyes to see how this has been a part of His plan for not only several months, but several years. It was because of the mentorship that Lauro received from Julio that he decided to go into worship ministry when he was a sophomore in high school, and eventually study worship ministry at Ozark Christian College. Through meeting Lauro in high school, transferring to Ozark, and getting married and becoming a minister’s wife, God gave me a heart for ministry. Little by little, God was opening door after door for us to walk through, leading us along to where we are today. Looking back it makes sense and is truly a beautiful journey, but in those moments we had no idea that those milestones, hardships, and yes even the small moments in our lives were all going to be a part of God’s plan for us in ministry. Gradually God opened one door after another, and one step at a time we walked through them, saying, “Yes, Lord,” and followed His leading.
Several weeks ago we were standing in front of a wide open door to worship ministry in Florida, and it was one of the hardest choices we’ve had to make. Unlike the previous doors in our lives, this door was bigger, riskier, and scarier than ever, but it was also the most exciting, rewarding, and life-giving door. And so we decided to say “Yes, Lord,” once again, submitting to HIS plan and not ours, and Lauro accepted the position of Worship Arts Pastor at Thrive Church!
We are SO excited to be a part of this new church plant and on board with their vision to spread the Gospel message to Lake Nona and the surrounding area. We believe that God has called us to this church to use our gifts and talents to build up the Thrive congregation, and to do His Kingdom work in the community so that we can show people the immense love and fullness of life that is found in Jesus. We know that church planting is extremely hard work and that this move to Florida is not going to be all sunshine-y and vacation-y and a life lived in paradise. This will be a difficult move for many reasons (financially, moving further from our families, leaving our amazing New Life Church family and Joplin friends, etc.). At the same time, we also know that God is our faithful provider and source of strength. As we follow the scripture from Matthew 28 when Jesus tells his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations,” we have confidence that as we are going God will provide everything that we may need and continue to lead and guide us as we serve Him.
The next couple of months for us are going to be BUSY, to say the least! We are scheduled to move to Lake Nona in the middle/end of May after Lauro finishes this semester of school and I walk at graduation for my Associate’s Degree in Christian Ministry. On top of everything going on normally (work, school, church) we will have to prepare to move across the country and complete some fundraising. Because Thrive Church is such a new church plant, we will have to raise financial support for a portion of Lauro’s salary. There is a short-term goal that we must meet before moving and a long-term goal to raise over the next 3 years.
Will you be in prayer for us as we prepare for this huge transition in our lives? Below is a list of prayer requests that we would love to pray for alongside you:
- Pray for the preparation of our hearts as we transition into a brand new ministry and community. There will be so many changes relationally, financially, culturally, and emotionally. We praise God that He will be constant through it all.
- Pray for a smooth moving process in May. We still need to find a place to live, as well as a full-time job for myself.
- Pray over our future ministry at Thrive Church. Pray that we will allow God to work in us and through us as we move from working in an established church to a church plant. Our desire is that God will be glorified in everything that we do, no matter how big or small.
- Pray for our support financially. We are determined to raise as much as we can prior to our move, along with additional funds over the next 3 years. We believe that through God working through generous donors that this will be provided! Pray that we will have faith and trust in our God in this area that can cause so much worry.
If you are interested in donating towards our short-term and/or long terms goals for financial support, please click here or visit the “Giving” tab on the menu at the top of this page. We need to raise $12,000 a year for the next three years and must have $6,000 of that already raised when we arrive in Florida. When you follow the link to our donation page, please select “Lauro Soto” under the designation drop-down menu.
We would love to talk with you in person, over the phone, or even via FaceTime or Skype to answer any questions you might have and to share more about our vision with Thrive church and how you can be a part of it! In the meantime, we will take all the prayer we can get! Prayer is so powerful and we believe that it works. I cannot wait to see how God answers these prayers in the upcoming weeks, months, and years.
Thank you so much for visiting this blog post and my new blog! (Whooo!) My goal with this blog is to regularly update it to share our journey from Missouri to Florida and keep you all up to date with our lives before and after we move. I know that along with the physical journey, our spiritual journey is also going to be eventful with lots of mountaintops, valleys, and GROWTH. I am excited to see how God works in us and through us over the next few months and years, and to share these experiences with you so that His name will be glorified.
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