The Great Adventure, Part 4

The Great Adventure, Part 4

God had some work to do in me. In us. And the processing that we began on that trip to Boone was the beginning of what I think God was looking for from us. We asked God for wisdom, and for a WORD. We told Him to get our hearts where they needed to be. We basically put ourselves on the chopping block in a way that we hadn’t before. This was a deep work – down in the depths of everything we were, and this season required it.

As we began to navigate through these waters over the Christmas holiday, God took me to Isaiah 33:6, and gave it to me to cling to as the verse that would wave over us like a banner as we walked through this crucible. It says,

“He will be the sure foundation for your times;

A rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge.

The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

Well, it was wisdom and knowledge that we needed. And it was fearing the Lord in the sense that we weren’t as open as God needed us to be that kicked us into higher gear seeking His plan for our lives. And at that point, our own plans seemed so futile.

Christmas was good (despite both Angela and Lily Kate having the flu, and me wandering aimlessly everywhere we went with a blankness that I can only call weird). I was strangely emotional through Christmas. Angela had been emotional, too. It felt like grief. Everything would be fine in the moments that we were immersed in the Word and prayer. But many times we would be awakened at night or caught off guard during the day with a deep sadness or state of panic. Each time we went to the Lord, these feelings would subside. And we were honest with each other about our feelings all along this journey. This stretch of time was even more proof that I have the most amazing wife ever. Good grief…her perception and wisdom and evenness. Our hearts were so unified in sizing up where we were, and what we needed to do to navigate through the next few phases of this journey. Granted, I don’t think at that point she totally saw what was coming (neither did I), but we were on the same page, which was all that mattered to me. I knew (or, thought I knew) that all of this was about the Lord growing us in areas that we needed growth in, and not so much about us picking up and moving to Jackson ( I find it funny when we presume what God’s work might be…when we put words in His mouth. Funny.).

As time passed over the holidays, I felt like my heart was going to explode. Not good and not bad. Just so very intense. I kept asking God for His easy yoke and light burden. I would get relief in moments, but for the most part I was obsessed with thoughts of possibilities. I stayed in the Word more than I had in so long. Just looking for Him…and listening for His voice. A strange thing happened during this period of 3 or 4 days. My heart began making a shift. And I gotta say, it literally felt like a huge ship turning around and heading a new direction. As I began to ponder the possibilities, the thought of NOT taking this call began to feel more heartbreaking than the thought of leaving Franklin. I don’t know why. I just began to feel compelled to take up this call.

I wasn’t fearful of losing anything about my ministry as it was. I saw in the physical realm how it could all fit together in a great way, and was thankful that Pastor Ben was embracing the things that I am already doing in kingdom work. God tells us that our boundaries fall in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6), so I didn’t have any hesitation about that stuff. And as I began to think along the lines of the ‘how’s’ and the ‘what’s’, my thoughts began to change from broad stroked questions and feelings to specific things…like dreaming of pastoring a choir again…leading a team of other worship leaders…raising up the next generation of worship leaders…jumping into a college community and leading those kids through those 4 (or 5 or 6) years of their life and sending them out closer to God than when they arrived…investing in a community and dreaming with a pastor of crazybrave things to do for the glory of God in that community that was ready to dive in.

Still, I was a mess, and needed to get a grip in the worst way.

Angela and I continued to talk about it over our travels. And Ben and I continued to talk too. We thought it might be a good idea to get the four of us together just for a visit. No big discussions or anything. Just to get to know one another. The best time seemed to be New Year’s Eve. So, Ben and his wife Lynley left their 4 kids with her parents in Arkansas where they had been for Christmas, and came to spend New Year’s Eve with us.

So, they arrived at our house late afternoon on New Year’s Eve. We played games and ate and did nothing much. We all rang in the new year together. It was a fun night. Lynley and I completely dominated Ben and Angela in Sequence. No surprise there. The girls went to bed and Ben and I stayed up until 3:30 or so, talking about ministry, vision and a bunch of ‘what if’s’. We got on our knees and prayed for God to make Himself clear.

The next morning we all got up and enjoyed a slow morning. At some point while we were in the kitchen making breakfast, Ben began to ask Angela some personal questions about this possibility. It was a good moment, but also hard. He asked things that of course Angela and I had talked about together, but it was a hard moment because it was the first time we had talked about how this possible move would affect us to anyone else. Angela is so grounded and so wise. I am the touchy-feely ball of emotion, and she is the discerning, practical, wise side of us. She asked him questions too. We got to hear his story about how he came to be the pastor of this big church as a 29 year old who had never pastored before.

As the morning ended, I was conflicted. I was happy that we had all talked openly about possibilities and dreams. And I was happy that Angela seemed to have a light spirit about it. But at the same time, I felt down. It seemed like there were so many questions and obstacles, that the chance of it happening was minimal at best. By this point in the story, I had already begun dreaming of leading this people. So with all the questions flooding in, I was pretty sad. But ultimately I trusted God, and was just anxious to get to the answer.

Lunch time came around, and that meant it was time for them to hit the road. They had plans to go to the Cool Springs mall and shop for a while before they left. So we decided we would follow them there and have lunch with them before they shopped. As they were packing up to leave, Angela and I asked if we could pray for them and and for their travels. So we huddled up in our den, with our kids lined up on the couch taking in all in.

Then it happened. Prayer happened.


  1. Julie on February 19, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Please don't leave out the "Walk the Line" reference in Part 5…that's my favorite part!

  2. Dionna on February 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I can't wait to read the next entry.

  3. all4boys on February 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I love the suspense. Seriously. You could write a book. I already know how it all turns out~I have friends in Jackson and I attended the concert where you first met Preacher "Doogie Howser" as you called him. He sounds phenomenal, and I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Love, in Christ!


  4. fuzzytop on February 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

    …you're killing me Tavis! Are we going to have to wait until MONDAY to hear the rest of the story??? (LOL at how Paul Harvey-ish that sounds.)

    And I've never met her, but I can tell Angela is something special.


  5. fuzzytop on February 19, 2010 at 11:07 am

    P.S. Sorry I misspelled your name

  6. ksue on February 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Yes Travis, I agree with Julie about the movie part. And all4boys, "Doogie" is phenomenal! The 2 of them will do amazing things for God and His Kingdom (as if they aren't already!).

  7. CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD on February 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Alright Cottrell you are really killing me here I need the WHOLE MEGILLAH on the next one this had been a big suspense so spill it dear brother. just do it Lord do it Lord we are praying. So I will wait upon the Lord wait upon the Lord, for the next entry hopefully it will have the Megillah.
    Love ya brother

  8. Dorinda Peyton on February 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

    "Carol Livin for God" is CLEARLY a woman who does Beth's studies! I loved the whole Megillah comment!

    Travis- I am loving this story and just adore how God put his dreams of you leading these people in your heart and made them yours. What a sweet loving God we serve!

  9. Sarah on February 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I love so much what you have been writing, I have been praying about it as well. I cannot wait to hear the next entry……………..Go God Go………….

  10. Melissa on February 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Ok, I don't official know what the end will be here, although I can pretty much guess from some of the comments. As I was first reading over this exciting drama, I kept screaming, "NO! NO! NO! Don't go! Don't take my sweet Angela and the chances just to be in the same places as you at church…" But just today as I was reading this part, I realized a small version of this is what has been going on with me. I was presented with an "ideal job situation" and kicked and screamed about it for several months. Then when I opened my eyes and saw the big picture it became quite clear to me how silly this was to think I wouldn't do it….I just love how God works, even when He doesn't always do the way we want. HeeHee! If indeed this is going where I think it is, the people of Jackson have no idea what the Lord is about to unleash. I will be very jealous.


  11. Randall on February 19, 2010 at 11:53 am


    Your Great Adventure is closely mirroring what God is doing in my life as well. God is encouraging my heart through you. You are an anointed worship Leader my brother. I pray that one day I will get to meet you. I know without a shadow of a doubt that we would be awesome friends. If you're ever in Des Moines, IA, please look me up.

    I love you in Christ bro.

    Randy Beridon
    [email protected]

  12. Cheryl on February 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    How much further Papa Smurf?!!!

    Kidding! I'm enjoying reading this and thanks for sharing it with us!

  13. Fran on February 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I'm hanging on every word. I love this!

  14. Anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm


  15. Karen on February 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    What? We have to wait for a part 5? Oh, the agony of waiting…..

    Lord, I need patience!!!

  16. Tiffani on February 19, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Dear Lord,
    I know it's Friday, but PLEASE don't let Trav leave us hanging through the weekend. May he get to blogging ASAP.

    In Your Name,

  17. Anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Wow! This is a wonderful story, can't wait for the next episode..
    Carol in NC

  18. connorcolesmom on February 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    aaah yes indeed
    Prayers happens
    And God never fails us

  19. Linda on February 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Ok, this is just plain mean. Mean in the worst way. Are you going to take a bloggy break and stretch the torture out over the weekend … making us wait to read the next installment in what is becoming a novel? Or will you have mercy and compassion and keep up with this adventure tomorrow? Please … I can't stand the suspense!!!

    PS – now I know why I love Angela so much.

  20. Anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I am dancing around the house singing, "I found the video, I found the video" My kids think I'm crazy. It was hard research but, "I found the video". It is so awesome to see God move and direct peoples lives. Take care you all and God bless. This part 1 and part 2 and part 3 thing was just too much for me!!!

  21. Jennifer in CT on February 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I'm exhausted just reading about it! This is really grueling. You poor, sweet, emotional thing. I hope Part 5 finds you all on a relaxing vacation.

  22. on February 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I can't even read the comments because some people already know how it ends. Don't tell the ending to us! I am on pins and needles.

    I have been praying for direction from God on a job issue. I am a stay at home Mom now with 3 boys. Your example of being ni the WORD and really seeking HIM has moved me to step it up a little.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Henrietta, TX

  23. Melissa Lee on February 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    If you don't finish this story I am going to choke you.

    Its like the longest ABC Aterschool Special ever!!


    PS. I sure do love you both, though.

  24. dailythread on February 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    You don't know me at all…I'm just a sister in SC…worshiped with you at Deeper Still in Greensboro last summer. I'm on the edge of my seat with this adventure! Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for you…like Carol said, give us the whole megillah! :0)

  25. Anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I knew when I heard you say "Walk the Line" what you were gonna say. Must be in Part 5. I'm excited about what God is doing in our Church!!!!!

  26. His Jules on February 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Come on Travis, although we can all pretty much tell from the comments that the people of Jackson are now doubly blessed – you must give us the rest of the story!! I can't wait to see how God worked all this out!

  27. Leigh on February 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    This is the best book I've read in a long time!! And I just know it's going to have a great ending! Can we get it soon?!

    May I add, selfishly, that I'm very thankful that you mentioned continuing as worship leader for Living Proof!! What a blast that time of worship always is!!

  28. Toknowhim on February 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    This post reminded me of your song "the Deep" 🙂

    Can't wait to hear Part 5…

  29. Yankee Mama on February 19, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I am ready for part 5 now-I goofed on twitter-sure you never saw it any who! Can't wait to hear the rest!

  30. Georgia Jan on February 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Travis: You know how much I love and appreciate you, your family, your ministry.

    My husband attend the Metro II worship leaders conference last week in Little Rock, Arkansas – and came home talking to me about YOU – I guess the guys had heard about this.

    You are so special – and that Angela – she is my kind of girl. Your description of you and Angela parallels me and my husband. Must be something about you music men…

    Love and Prayers to the Cottrells,

    Georgia Jan

  31. happymcfamily on February 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Take this for what it's worth:

    This may sound terribly hokey, but so often God uses my daughter to bring people to my mind when he wants me to send up a prayer for them. When I can't shake them from my mind, I pray. So the other day we were walking into the mall and out of nowhere Juliana says, "but Moses doesn't WANT to go in the burning bush". I'm sitting here thinking "RANDOM. What on earth is she talking about?" With further prodding we figured out it came from when she got to go with us to your concert in Knoxville. You did that dramatic Moses song (and although she keeps begging to go to a TC concert all the time, to this day she insists that she doesn't like that song. I think she thought it was scary, but it obviously made an impact on her seeing as she is pulling it out of the air several months later, haha). Once we figured out what in the world she was talking about I tried to do a little correcting that Moses didn't go IN the bush but God talked to him from the bush, etc.etc. That was the point that got me thinking about the TC family. So I prayed. Anyway, Moses may not have gone *in* the bush, but he certainly protested to the things that God had called him to from that bush. Yet God used him mightily in his obedience, and I'm sure he'll do the same with you.

    I don't pretend to know God's will in this and I'm sure that you probably had come to whatever decision you are going to make prior to now, but just know that your family is prayed for amidst it all. And I'm certain that God knows what he's doing 🙂

  32. Leah @ Point Ministries on February 20, 2010 at 3:33 am


    AS I have read ALL FOUR of these installments..eagerly waiting for the grand finale, it occurred to me that this is very much what the Lord does. He doesn't give us the whole plan at once. He calls us to walk the thing out–moment by moment, trusting His heart all the way.

    That's what we–your faithful readers, followers, etc–are doing with this story. Just waiting in faith that you do have a grand finale!! LOL!!


  33. Charity on February 20, 2010 at 3:35 am

    amazing to be on a joy ride with God!! Praying for situations as this for my own husband and family- and Praying that God brings it all to fruition in your life, family and ministry!! CANNOT wait for the rest of this story- and journey!!

  34. Holly on February 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

    May I just say that it is such a beautiful picture to see two men of God (in my mind's eye) on their knees seeking God? Beautiful!!

    Chris is home today due to weather. He wants to know if you were named after William B. Travis. He says it's a good Texas name 🙂 Random, I know.

  35. Deirdre on February 22, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Pastoring a choir….oh how that phrase makes me ache for my old choir director. our current guy is good, but I don't think he sees us as his flock and I miss that.

Leave a Comment