I heard about Stacey Mullins long before I ever met her. The Mullins are those kind of people. The “your reputation precedes you” kind. I remember hearing about how loud and crazy Justin is and how sweet and fun Stacey is, and I remember meeting them and thinking that everything I had heard was exactly right. A good number of my interactions with Stacey in Louisville were in passing, at kids birthday parties or at periodic leader trainings or gatherings. And yet I remember enjoying it immensely and walking away encouraged every single time I had an opportunity to interact with her. When Stacey was pregnant with Hank, I had the chance to babysit Zoe (and Hank eventually!) from time to time, and it was a sweet privilege to get to know Justin and Stacey by getting to know their kids. One of my favorite Louisville memories is spending Eliza’s very first Christmas Eve with Stacey and Zoe and Hank, while Justin and Tim were both at work.
When Justin and Stacey “signed on” to plant with us in Pearland, I responded in disbelief (again). I remember telling Tim, “Um, they can’t move to Pearland, they are waaaaaay too cool for Pearland.” And it’s really true. Justin and Stacey are way cooler than the rest of us could ever hope to be…. And it is one of the many, many reasons I am so thankful they have been with us. Justin and Stacey have connected with people who would have been incredibly difficult for the rest of us to connect with, and their vision for making disciples brings an endurance to walk alongside people for the long haul that is truly awe-inspiring and has been so instructive and encouraging to me.
Stacey is a faithful disciple-maker. On numerous occasions over the last five years, Stacey has lovingly challenged me with the command Jesus gave his followers to make disciples. I have learned so much from her as I have watched her faithfully make disciples, often in the midst of her own difficulty and struggle, never using her situation as an excuse to not encourage and spur others on in their lives of learning how to follow Jesus.
Stacey has so much perseverance. Loving people and walking alongside them in their journey of becoming faithful followers of Jesus is a long road. It can sometimes (or often) seem like you are standing still or even going backwards. It requires a long view and a great deal of endurance to not give up or lose hope. Being able to see and rejoice over baby steps and tiny evidences of grace is a gift and a much needed one. And I have had the privilege of seeing all of this lived out before my eyes as I have watched Stacey and listened to her talk about the people she is loving and enjoying and walking with intentionally.
Friend, I am still sometimes amazed that you are here with us. I know the sacrifice of being in Texas has been costly and often painful for you and your family, and the tripping and stumbling and face-planting through trying to figure out how to plant a church and love people faithfully delivers its own set of bumps and bruises too. Watching you quite literally sacrifice daily your own preferences, your own comfort and your own desires in order to be here, pressing on to be grace to those God has placed in your path and care for those he has given you to love, has been humbling to me and has caused me to question how and in what ways I am making similar sacrifices for the sake of following Jesus. The times I have spent praying with you and listening to your heart have been some of the sweetest gifts the Lord has given me. I am so thankful for you and love you and your sweet family so much.