by Kelly Johnston
“I started coming to Lakeland in 2001 when it was in the movie theater.” Steve cocks his head to the side as he reflects on the beginning of his journey with Lakeland, a slight smile on his face. “Some of my favorite memories are when we first started here. Pulling trailers…”
His voice trails off and he glances at Tracie. “I’m going to cry more than you,” he says with a bashful laugh. When he looks back at Marta the smile remains, but his voice has quieted to a gruff murmur as he recalls someone who played a very important role both in his life and his walk with God.
“That’s something I got to do with my dad and it was really special. We got to grow in faith. It was really neat and the camaraderie between the small groups, they really opened me up spiritually. That’s really where the whole fire started with me, spiritually. It was the defining moment of me and what Lakeland was to me and still is.”
When prompted about the individuals and small groups of people Steve has gotten to know at Lakeland through the years he leans forward, his passion for his church family evident in his speech.
“There’s this family, a group of people that know everything about you and I can turn to them at any point in my life. They walk with me, pray with me, men that aren’t fake about their lives. I know these men and that’s different. That’s my thing with Lakeland, it’s always been that way. We’re getting bigger, but we’re still that way when you look for it. There’s real people here and that’s what Lakeland is to me.”
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
ABOUT MY STORIESEvery month Pastor Marta Gillilan and members of the Lakeland Social Media Team interview an individual, couple or family. From struggles in faith to joyful events, Lakelanders are sharing their stories through the “Humans of Lakeland” blog series. Get to know the people who call Lakeland home.
by Kelly Johnston
Tracie McCary sits on the couch in the Lakeland lobby. She’s sporting red sneakers and a shirt that reads “Happy,” a suitable adjective for a woman with bouncy curls and a quick smile. Next to her sits Steve Thompson, a fellow Lakelander and Tracie’s fiancé. His manner conveys confidence, but like Tracie he has an easy smile that spreads across his face under his salt-and-pepper goatee.
Tracie and Steve have both been attending Lakeland for almost 20 years. Both have experienced hardship, ranging from an arrest of a spouse to the loss of parents. But now there is joy in both their expressions as they talk about the path that led them to their upcoming marriage, a path that started at Lakeland.
When asked about how he proposed, Steve chuckles.
“She didn’t say yes immediately.” He reaches over to grab Tracie’s hand as she laughs, a light blush coloring her cheeks. “She just sat there and I wanted to have her parents involved so I asked her in front of her parents. I ask her and she seriously sat there quiet for 10 seconds and it was the longest 10 seconds. It got so bad and so unnerving that her mom went ‘Well?’ And then she started speaking again.”
“I was shocked!” Tracie says with a grin.
“I was shocked!” Steve replies, his smile growing as he remembers the proposal. “Ten seconds is a long time; for a guy in that spot it was an eternity. If it hadn’t been for your mom I don’t think you would have spoken at all.”
The two share another laugh, their fingers intertwined.
“Three things will last forever: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
ABOUT MY STORIES
Every month Pastor Marta Gillilan and members of the Lakeland Social Media Team interview an individual, couple or family. From struggles in faith to joyful events, Lakelanders are sharing their stories through the “Humans of Lakeland” blog series. Get to know the people who call Lakeland home.