Where You’re Supposed to Be – Tommy + Kelsey
TOMMY: I lived in Naples for a few years before finding first Naples. Kelsey and I were engaged and dedicated to making our long-distance relationship work. I would make the visit to VA every few weeks and she would visit Naples every few months. On one of her trips we visited an Saturday Night service and really enjoyed it. I was either in IL or VA every weekend for a few years and never made it back after that. We would visit a church in VA when I was there to stay connected to God’s Word.
At this point, we had not set a date for our wedding because we wanted to make sure that we could at least live in the same state at some point in our future. We both had custody hurdles to settle before we could put our future plans in place. We prayed about our situation and were sure that God would give us a path if we were patient. Late in 2022, one of the hurdles was cleared and Kelsey was able to move so we got to work planning a move for her and Kymber, December 26. We packed up and, the morning after Christmas, we were in a truck headed to SWFL. Nothing like 11 degrees to 85 in two days.
We knew the situation wasn’t perfect, but we made it work. Soon after we got settled, we started attending First Naples regularly. Kelsey attended the Women’s group and I attended the Men’s groups on Wednesday nights. She met an amazing group of women and was introduced to Shannon. There she opened up about our journey and where we were in life.
KELSEY: Shannon said something that will stick with me for years to come that had a big impact on my decision to move forward. She said,
“Don’t become comfortable in your convictions.”
TOMMY: We were dedicated to one another, and we were convicted with our situation living together but there was no possible way for Kelsey to live here on her own. Shannon recommended the upcoming midweek classes and we found the Christian Community class with Andy and Jodi Wells.
In February, we were able to welcome my son Tommy to Naples full time with us.
KELSEY: Our children immediately fell in LOVE with the church! How do you say “no” to kids begging to be at every service?
Up to this point we were doing everything we could to get connected in the church. We knew the only way this move would work is if we had community. God was at work.
TOMMY: This class was our first time attending anything like this and we really enjoyed the fellowship and openness of the group. We learned how to open up with everyone and discuss various parts of our lives, our journeys, our trials, our victories, our testimony, and various thoughts with others in a positive and uplifting way.
The Holy Spirit was certainly moving in that class in many areas. I walk the floor at work daily to see how our staff is doing and what I can help with. For a few days, I noticed that one of our team members seemed to be slow and dragging each morning. There was something bothering him and I could notice. It may have been the 3rd day when I was coming through, I stopped and asked him what was going on and he replied that he was just tired and had a lot on his mind. Well, I didn’t take that as a final answer, and I wanted to know more. I asked if there was anything else and he said yes, he had just found out his girlfriend was pregnant and they had been arguing and he was unsettled. Without hesitation, I asked if I could pray for him and he said yes. I had never done anything like this before but, right there in the middle of the production floor, I put my hands on his shoulders and I prayed for him, his girlfriend and their unborn child.
I realized I had a moment when the Holy Spirit moved through me to help someone, and it was amazing.
Part way through the class, we knew that God was moving in our lives and we felt confident that He had put all these things in place for us. We set our wedding date for July 29th and with only a few months to plan we had our work cut out for us.
We did our premarital counseling with Steve as part of our journey. He was an amazing resource and helped us understand that we were not much different than many other divorced couples. We had a blended family with teenagers but most importantly we had one another with love and a true commitment to our life together. We learned the difference in our communication styles and how they can work for and against us if we aren’t careful. Placing God first in marriage was the key to a strong and healthy marriage. Our union is a blessing to God and we must make sure that we glorify him first in everything we do. This has been the focus of our marriage.
God First is the only way.
KELSEY: Kymber LOVES kids ministry. She has enjoyed attending Surf City along with class on Sunday mornings but her favorite is Awana. We love how the leaders pour their love into the children and you can see God working in this ministry. This year at VBS she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We are looking forward to her professing her faith in baptism in the near future.
TOMMY: We sent Tommy to Middle School groups; there he met Pastor Josh and his small group leader, Tim, in the ministry and a multitude of new friends. Josh was very informative answering the flood of questions I had and was very responsive and understanding of his inquisitive mind.
Moving into his freshman year, he discussed going to summer camp with Daniel. He was very interested but anxious about being away from everyone for a week, but he was able to attend with his sister Rachel. During camp week, he was very nervous but met a few friends in the first few days which made him relax and adjust. Zach (student leader) prayed with Tommy and taught him more about the Bible and shared some of his testimony. Tommy was moved by Pastor Alan at camp and talked with a leader about accepting Christ; this was the first time he had discussed it with anyone. Then he talked with Steve about salvation and what it means to be a Christian and He accepted Christ with Steve. He was baptized at Camp with his friends and family.
Tommy continues to grow in his walk with Christ. He joined FCA and played JV football with Barron Collier. He has connected with the football team; the coaching staff and students pray together and have discussions on how God is first in everything.
While Rachel is not here in Naples, she had a very positive camp visit and learned that there is more than what she knows. She met a lot of new friends and is looking forward to returning for other church related activities during her visits.
It is hard to describe the feeling when you know you are where you are supposed to be.
This is something we often talk about and are in absolute awe of what God has done for us. It wasn’t until we were obedient to his design that the pieces started to fall into place. We are surrounded by a great group of Christian friends, serving in the children’s ministry and First Impressions, and continuing discipleship with spiritual mentors.
None of this would have been possible without God’s provision over our lives.
We have been so blessed by the leadership and friendships at First Naples.