Meet Travis and Jessica G. I've known Travis since school days, and have yet to have the privilege of meeting Jessica, his beautiful bride. But one of these days.A few words about Jessica: I can hardly wait to meet this woman. She and I have been facebook friends for only a few months, but we love so many of the same people it was bound to happen. I love watching her show up in my newsfeed. I love the way I see her fiercely love God, her husband, their three beautiful kids, and their community. There's a lot of "love" in all those sentences above, but that is what I feel when I think about Jessica. I can tell she is a woman of passion and strength with a zeal for the life she's been given, and clearly a glorious sense of humor because she married one of the funniest guys around. I hope our days, months, and years ahead include conversation over cups of coffee. A few words about Travis: Um, there's a lot that could go here. It's just so funny to think about people who you've known since you were the age your kids are now. Travis and I went to school together. We shared a lot of the same friends. Whether he believes me or not, I really only have good memories of Travis. Our sophomore year we were in a gifted Geometry class (and with three other sophomores - Susy D., Wendy S., and Kevin B.) and a room full of smarty pants freshmen (that was the only class my parents ever begged me to get a 69.5 in just so I could pass it and get the heck out of gifted math classes). I remember laughing a lot. My most vivid memory of Travis from those days is from the night our class graduated on our school's football field. I spent our senior year living in the Philippines with my parents, so I did not graduate with our class, but got to attend the graduation. It was surreal and bittersweet. But after graduation I remember seeing Travis and him giving me one simple hug that in that moment just seemed the right combination of thoughtful and sympathetic and sincere. He may not remember it, but I do. Recently I got to talk to Travis for a few minutes and hear his story from essentially the time after school to now. His transparency is rare and refreshing.
Travis and Jessica lived away from our hometown for some years. They have been back for several now, planting a church and building relationships that love people toward Jesus in the most genuine and authentic way. There's no manipulation, just real love for people. No hidden agendas; they just believe people are a treasure. We are "in ministry" like Travis and Jessica. Their faith and work and love for our city nurtures mine. I once read Tim Keller write, "First of all, there is no better way to renew the existing churches in a town than to plant some new churches." That's what Travis and Jessica have done in the planting. I feel renewed. Without further ado, their interviews . . . 1. Occupation? Jessica: I am the mother of 3 and the wife of 1. We attempt to pastor a group of amazing people called The Awakening. I also work for a group of physicians in the area in the form of an Independent Physician Organization called CAAP. In short, if you go the doctor and they are “in network” with your insurance company someone had to get them “in network”. We help with that process. Travis: Pastor/personal trainer
2. How did we meet/how do we know each other? Jessica: We don’t really “know” each other. We have never met. We have many of the same friends. You went to high school with my husband as did your husband. I feel like we should be sitting on one of our couches sipping coffee while children run and scream in the background, but that has never happened. We pray many of the same prayers for our city and our friends and the body of Christ. I love you and I have never hugged you, weird! Travis: We grew up together and graduated high school together.
3. Single or married? Jessica: I am very much married for 11 ½ years and so thankful I am. My husband is the most amazing person I have ever encountered and he wins my heart more and more every year! Travis: Happily married.
4. What’s the greatest thing about being single or married? Jessica: Travis! He knows me, likes me and continues to choose me. We fight, we make up. We laugh a lot! He really is my best friend and the benefits are amazing, too! Travis: There are lots of great things. Jessica loves me for me. She loves me warts and all. She likes the fact that I'm actually introverted but can ham it up when I need to. She loves all the little quirks, weaknesses and strengths about me. Simply not having to play the dating game is awesome. Having great sex with the love of your life is a big plus as well. Yeah, I said it.
5. What was your first vehicle? Jessica: I am not sure the year, Chevrolet Silverado step side pickup truck, navy and tan. I loved it especially after I had Dale Earnhardt’s name and number stickered to the back windshield. I was quite a redneck. Travis: 1991 Ford Taurus. It was a great car till 150,000 miles then it started deteriorating fast.
6. Beach or mountains? Why? Jessica: Both! The beach represents fun and freedom for me, and now it is so fun for our family! The older I get the more I love the relaxation of the mountains, too. Travis: Both. I love the water and I love swimming in the ocean. I also like being tanned. The mountains are more adventurous and peaceful to me. The mountains tend to call out the warrior in me a little more. The beach calls out the fun-loving, dolphin personality in me. Ha! Weird self-description.
7. Darkest time of your life? Jessica: 2008 was a very hard year for me. I transitioned from one to two children. Travis and I were trying to find our feet, so to say, as parents and people! I will say we learned things in 2008 that have helped us immensely the past 5 years. Beauty for ashes! Travis: 2008 was really hard. I was having chronic health issues, financial difficulties, marital tension, a new child, transitioning from Fort Worth, TX to Athens.
8. Happiest childhood memory? Jessica: My childhood had many fun aspects: camp outs in cotton trailers, training cows to be ridden like horses, grass salads, and mud pies are a few. The times that were the best for me was when I would saddle my horse and ride for hours even until I fell asleep and she would bring me home. I felt as if there were no worries or fears when I rode. It was my happy place! Travis: Playing basketball with my brothers, the wars that took place on that court, coming inside to sweet tea drenched in sweat, resting underneath the ceiling fan and not worrying about a thing. Just playing!
9. What would people be surprised or shocked to know about you? Jessica: I had homebirths with 2 of my children and one (Zuri) was born at a friend’s house, as we were in transition moving to Georgia. Travis: I love brand new tires and windshield wipers. When I walk through parking lots, I look at the tires on the cars to see how "fresh" they are.
10. What work of art (book, music, etc.) has heavily influenced you? Why? Jessica: I don’t read many books. Most that I have read influence me equally. Although, I have been reading the Bible for many years and it has been my road map, a place I find comfort, direction, strength. It is a love letter from my creator to me His daughter. I read it from a very personal perspective and it is precious to me. Travis: I love the Bible. It has the best stories in the world. The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldrege taught me so much about how a boy becomes a man. It taught me a lot about myself and the Lord and about how to train my son up in the way of a warrior.
11. Favorite place you’ve traveled to? Why? Jessica: In 2005 Travis and I took a 15 day road trip out west. We started in Fort Worth, Texas and drove to the Grand Canyon then to Sequoia National Park then up to Yosemite National Park then to Bethel Church in Redding, California; next we went up Hwy 1 to Oregon and camped on the beach where whales were migrating north. We went up through Washington State and over to Montana’s Glacier National Park down to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. Then we spent a night with some friends in Colorado Springs and headed home to Fort Worth. We tent-camped most nights except for 2 hotel stays and 1 night at our friends'. We made our meals out of a cooler in the van, saw amazing sights and had so much fun. Travis: Redwood National Forest was awe-mazing. Makes you realize why Paul wrote Romans 1.
12. What brought you to the city you live in now? Jessica: Athens is my husband’s hometown; I am from Dublin and Appling, Georgia. After living in Fort Worth, Texas for 6 years and having 3 children we were excited when God called us to start a church in Athens as we would be closer to our parents who are all AMAZING grandparents to our sweet children. Travis: God sent us back to Athens to plant a church called The Awakening.
13. What is your favorite trait about yourself? Why? Jessica: I love people, I love learning about who someone is and enjoying and learning from our differences. Travis: I don't give up unless God wants me to. I once had an elder in our church back in Texas describe me as "stalwart".
14. Vintage or brand new? Jessica: Brand new – I want to be a part of making it vintage! Travis: Brand new.
15. Fill in the blank: It’s quiet and no one is around. I think I will _____________. Jessica: . . . sit for a moment and listen to the silence, and then I might read a bit. Travis: . . . watch a guy movie that is about being a warrior and is too grotesque for Jessica or the kids to watch.
16. What would you describe as one of your biggest triumphs in life? Jessica: I believe if I put my mind and heart into anything it is possible. That being said, sometimes my biggest triumph is getting out of bed in the morning and sometimes it is being kind to one of my children who have pushed my buttons one too many times in one day. Sometimes it is loving the person in front of me, learning a new skill or obtaining a new job. All of these and more are triumphs. I am just not sure I would say one is bigger than another. Travis: Bagging Jessica and the subsequent consequences of such an action: my three wonderful children.
17. City or country? Jessica: Country Travis: Country
18. If today was your last, what three things would you do? Jessica: This question is making me cry. Maybe I would make videos for my children. I would spend time with my parents. Hold my children really tight and rest in the arms of my love, Travis! Travis: Ask every stranger if they know Jesus. Hold Jessica and the kids until I slipped away into the Father's arms.
19. Fast food or “just say no”? Jessica: Just say no to the stomach ache that follows the indulgence of fast food. Travis: Just say no. It's not even appealing anymore. Pumpkin bread has taken its place.
20. If you got a tattoo (or another one) what would it be? Jessica: I spend all my tattoo energy convincing my husband that he really doesn’t want a tattoo. I think he is now convinced. Whew, relief. Travis: There is a picture in a book (I forget the name) of a lion. In the lion's man is an army. That tattoo would be rad but I don't want to pay $400 for it.