Tales from the Skipped: Skipper Reneau on Holding On to Your Rear End
*Note from the Broom Factory: This is the first in series of posts by Skipper Reneau. The Communications Manager at Summit Ministries, Reneau stopped in to inspect the factory and give the manager, an old college chum, some outside perspective. We’ll soon be introducing a new line of teak broomsticks in his honor.
First, let me say that there are plenty of men my age who aren’t married and don’t have kids not because they’re avoiding manhood, but because manhood — at this particular stage in their lives — doesn’t look the same as it does for me. That’s the beauty of God being sovereign. He gets to decide how certain things look in certain people’s lives. Many of my single, childless, male friends are just as adultly (part of being a manly adult means I get to make up words) as I am: they don’t have families to support yet, but they one day will, so they’re earning and saving money any way they can. They’re pouring themselves into the vocation they want to use to one day support future families. They’ll never be married or have kids of their own, so their contributing positively to friends/family around them and to society at large by working well in all the spheres to which they’ve been called. With all that, I just wanted to clarify that I don’t think being manly necessarily means you get married and have kids. It means you take the responsibility laid before you — whether that’s the responsibility of a single person or a married person — bravely. This whole theory falls apart if there is no sovereign God, who has authored all this to begin with.
To my own story: I’m a 25-year-old father of two boys (21 months and 4 months), husband for four years, communications manager for a non-profit in Colorado, freelance writer, and homeowner (and since the house is in Tennessee, also a landlord). My wife, Julie and I, were married a week before I began my last semester of college. She had been out of school since the previous spring and had been working, waiting on me. I asked her to marry me a couple weeks before she graduated, and we wed the next January. Before the wedding, we knew we would need some extra income besides hers, so I began looking for part-time jobs I could handle while taking a full course load. A few weeks before the wedding, I heard about a part-time opening at the local newspaper (my degree was in journalism). I interviewed and was given the job before Christmas. So, our first few months of marriage, Julie worked full-time, and I worked about 30 hours per week at the newspaper. (On paper, at least. In reality, I worked 35-40 hours per week.) I was taking a full course load, and about halfway through the semester I was elected by my classmates to deliver our class’s commencement speech, which went through several drafts. Most of my days began at 4 or 5 a.m. and ended sometime after midnight. All I can say is: Thank God for youth and coffee.
After I graduated, we both continued working and stayed in the same town in Tennessee. A few months later, my editor quit, and the newspaper publisher’s plans for a replacement kept falling through. After two months without an editor, a colleague and I were promoted to jointly handle the responsibilities of the paper’s editor while still maintaining our previous positions. So, at age 22, I was a husband and the news editor of a small, community newspaper. I’m pretty sure I was the only 22-year-old newspaper editor in the country at the time.
A few months later we decided to buy a house. True to the predictions of all our friends and family, about six months later we were expecting. We were committed to Julie staying home with our kids, but we knew we’d never be able to swing it on my salary alone. So, I began looking for other work. The months rolled by, and on Easter Sunday 2011, we welcomed our first son, Jesse Thomas Reneau, into the world. Since I was still at the paper, not making much money, these days were trying and full of many tear-soaked prayers for provision on my part. We scrimped and squeezed every penny from every paycheck to make ends meet while staying committed to Julie being home with Jesse. When she went back to work part-time hours in the evening, I’d pick Jesse up from her office, let her work, go home and take care of dinner, Jesse, etc., for her to come home in time for a late meal and to put Jesse to bed.
I was finally offered a job managing communications for Summit Ministries in Colorado, so in September 2011, we packed up all our stuff and made for the foothills of the Rockies. A few months later, Julie was pregnant again. On September 29, 2012, we welcomed Miles Paul Reneau into the world, albeit a few weeks prematurely. He stayed in the NICU for two weeks before we could bring him home.
So here we are, renting and still trying to sell our house in Tennessee. Julie lives her dream job everyday — staying home taking care of our boys — while putting up with me all the while. We have taken on much responsibility in our first four years of marriage, but sometimes you don’t have a choice but to listen as God commands and to hold on when He kicks your rear end through a door.