Creative Nonfiction

6 Years: Sharper than Ever

Forasteros Wedding-406-MOTION
Our fantastic wedding party, 6 years ago today – click to see them in action
Last day at House Clarkasteros
Last day at House Clarkasteros

Today is the 6th anniversary of the day Amanda and I stood before God and our community to enter into the covenant of marriage together. And without question, this has been the most tumultuous year of our marriage since our first.

One week to the day after we said our vows, we moved to Dayton, OH from Columbia, MO. We had been living in Columbia for six years – it’s where we met and fell in love. Where we had both learned our love of ministry. We had an incredible community, most with whom we still remain close, and none of whom we see nearly often enough.

Leaving Columbia for Dayton was as painful as it was exciting, but we did it together.

New House in TX
New House in TX

Dayton was incredibly good to us. The church we served was filled to the brim with amazing people, and both of us grew as individuals and as a couple. It didn’t happen right away – friendship never does – but over time we developed roots, lifelong friends who were really family to us. Plus, Dayton is a fantastic town.

At the end of May last year, we began conversations with Catalyst Church in Dallas about me coming to serve as their Teaching Pastor. From the first conversation with Jonathan Sprang – who is now my co-lead pastor, I felt in my bones this was right. A big part of that was that I knew if we lived in Dallas, Amanda would finally be able to use her Spanish full-time, every day.

We got an 80 degree day in January, so we went to the park with our new housemate, Clay
We got an 80 degree day in January, so we went to the park with our new housemate, Clay

By our anniversary last year, I had been interviewed by the Catalyst Leadership Team (via Skype) and they had invited us down to interview in person. We were more convinced than ever that we’d be leaving Dayton in the next couple of months. We had begun the painful process of telling our close friends, grieving over and over again. It was in the midst of that long goodbye I wrote last year’s anniversary post.

We knew our 6th year would bring big changes yet again, and yet again we knew we’d face them together.

At Amanda's 30th Birthday, several of her new friends dressed like Amanda
At Amanda’s 30th Birthday, several of her new friends dressed like Amanda

Catalyst loved us and we loved them. They asked us to come and we said yes. And so, not quite two months into our sixth year of marriage, we packed up our life and moved to Dallas, TX. I started at Catalyst and Amanda began searching for a job. For the first time in her adult life, she could do literally anything and use her Spanish. She got a job at an ER and liked it well enough – she had done a little medical translating in Dayton. But she only got to speak Spanish about 25% of her day, so she kept looking.

In the meantime, I began settling into leadership at Catalyst. I began building a lay preaching team, which has long been a dream of mine. We began to dream about the future of the church, of how we can continue to announce the good news about Jesus and invite our neighbors to follow his way in language that makes sense to them.

The Alamo Drafthouse is always showing amazing movies, like Rocky IV on 4th of July!
The Alamo Drafthouse is always showing amazing movies, like Rocky IV on 4th of July!

And slowly but surely, we began to put down roots here too. We found movie buddies. Fellow roller derby fans. People who know what good BBQ is. Southern hospitality is slowly, inevitably transforming into friendship.

We began to fall in love with the city of Dallas, getting to know how to avoid traffic, the best neighborhoods to hang out and building a new family both at Catalyst and in Dallas.

And now, we’ve almost lived here a year.

Dallas gets awesome concerts - like Sir Mix-a-Lot
Dallas gets awesome concerts – like Sir Mix-a-Lot

Amanda has just started a new job as an agent for Family Protective Services, where she’ll be speaking lots of Spanish and helping families in Dallas learn how to live together in peace. We’re surviving our first Texas summer (which is really rather lovely all things considered).

We love our new church – we both feel as though we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. As our roots in Dallas continue to deepen, we are learning to call this place home now, too. Because home is wherever we are together with friends who become brothers and sisters. It has been Columbia, MO. It has been Dayton, OH. And now it’s Dallas, TX.

Our sixth year of marriage was tumultuous but there was never a moment we didn’t have each others’ backs. We did it because we did it together. The traditional sixth anniversary gift is iron, so I thought it’d be appropriate to close with a verse of Scripture that sums up the Forasteros marriage 6 years in.

Here’s to 6^6 more years, my love. If we’ve made it this far we can make it anywhere.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17

By JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.