I was born on September 11, 1977 in a small town in southern Indiana. For as long as I can remember, I was always taken to church. In fact, I can’t ever remember a Sunday not ever going to church apart from being sick or out of town growing up. I am so thankful to have had parents who love the Lord and saw the importance of taking their children to church to hear the Word preached. They also believed in finding the most scripturally sound church they could, because believe it or not, not every church out there teaches on the whole Bible let alone believes that it is the inspired, God-Breathed Word. They still, to this day believe in the importance of finding the right church to worship at and am thankful to have parents that have remained faithful to God and to each other.
I have had one older brother named Eric and one older sister named Sherry. My sister is still alive and well, however my brother Eric unexpectedly, was taken home to be with the Lord at the young age of 8. He was a believer because he put his trust in Jesus less than a year before. He passed in March of 1985. I was 7 at the time. At that age, I didn’t fully understand what had just taken place. Mainly why he died. I truly miss him and wonder what would had become of him if he were still around. However, I know that God ultimately had a purpose in his passing. Lives were changed by and through his death. Shortly after he died, about a month or so, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I knelt down on the floor next to my Mom and Dad’s bed and they led me to Jesus. When I finished asking Jesus into my heart, I immediately had a sense of peace and a calm come over me like I had never felt before and I knew right then and there, that had I died I would go to Heaven and not only spend eternity with Jesus, but also be reunited with my brother.
Well, in a nutshell, I spent a lot of years moving around from city to city and had a rough time fitting in to the different schools I went to. I often asked myself and thought why we had to move around as much as we did. My family and I did get to meet a lot of wonderful people that have been truly loving and supportive of us throughout the years, but it was at times particularly hard for me to find where I fit in.
My dad’s profession was a full-time Southern Baptist Pastor. Wherever we moved to, it was never for more than like 5 years, often times less. It wasn’t until we moved to St. Joseph, MI that I truly found something I was good at and that was singing. I joined the freshman choir at St. Joe High and eventually the Concert Choir the following two years. Between my Junior and Senior years of high school, however, my Dad was called to a church in Ypsilanti, MI and I felt like the wind was just taken out of my sails. It was there that I found an awesome Concert Choir at Ypsi High, where I continued to get more experience in singing.
It was at this point that I began to see God at work in my life despite all the various times and places we had moved. I could see that He had continued to care for me and direct my life into music by allowing me to be part of two wonderful choirs and grow in my talent that God had given me. I’m truly thankful to Him for giving me a voice to praise Him with and I definitely give Him all the credit and glory for it.
After graduating in ’95, I attended Community College for a few years taking just my basics, but not really taking it very seriously, as a lot of college students do. I really couldn’t see any type of field that I really felt strongly about one way or another. I don’t know if it had to do with moving around so much or not really caring about school that much or a combination of both. I believe the effects of moving around a lot caused me to not succeed very much in school and to find out which subjects I was really good at and enjoyed. I did know one thing, I still loved to sing. I really couldn’t see myself at the time pursuing a career in the music industry or field. Yes, I loved to sing in church, but in public in front of a lot of people terrified me and still does to this day sometimes. But I truly thought that if I “worked” in the music field, that I would lose my love of music and begin to resent it.
Looking back, I believe that that was a lie orchestrated by the devil and carried out by the various struggles that I went through growing up not getting along with people I went to school with. I definitely did have my struggles in school by people picking on me and generally loving to get on my nerves. I took it fairly hard and often times blamed myself and kept all those resentful feelings inside and never really relied on the strength and comfort of the Lord to help me.
I’d say most of my life growing up, I was sort of a baby christian not really knowing what it meant to mature in my faith. Much like school, I didn’t take my relationship with the Lord all that seriously either.
Well, a few years after high school, I met a girl who I thought at the time was my “soulmate” introduce me to a book by Joshua Harris titled “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. It was a book that was changing her life and she was trying to encourage me to read it as well. It was basically about turning your love life over to God and trusting in His perfect timing for a relationship. It also emphasized waiting until you are ready for marriage before getting “romantically” involved with someone. Basically being friends with people of the opposite sex and getting to know someone really well in various environments where you could see the genuineness of their faith in action. At the time, in ’98, I was blinded by the idea and consumed with the very thought of this girl being the “one” for me that I clearly missed God speaking to me through her and didn’t read the book.
Well, much to my disappointment, she wasn’t the one that God wanted me to marry. It took some time to accept that and was often in denial. I tried many times to try the dating thing and look for girls online with which I had things in common. I met a few of them in person, but most of them I only met once until I found out that they weren’t who they said they were or who I expected them to me. Little did I realize, I never stopped to think if I was really who I said I was. I didn’t want to meet anyone unless they said they were a christian and we liked the same type of music. I thought that if I could find someone with whom I had a lot in common, then she would be the “one” and there would be instant chemistry. Ha! Boy was I wrong.
I did meet one girl in person after chatting and emailing each other that God used to play a pivotal role in getting me back to where He wanted me to be. Her name is not as important as what she did. After meeting her for a round of putt-putt, I got a letter in the mail from her. What I found inside would totally blow my mind and would be undoubtedly from the Lord. Inside was a fully photo-copied chapter from “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and a short note from her telling me that this book had touched her heart and that she just felt like she needed to send me that. This was like 2 years after my initial introduction or exposure to this book.
I finally got the hint from God telling me to read it, so I went out shortly thereafter and purchased a copy of it. It wasn’t till after reading it through probably 3 times, that I took what Joshua Harris was saying in it seriously.
Not too long after that, I found a book that sort of followed up on “I Kissed…” titled “Boy Meets Girl”. In it Josh shares his journey through “courtship” with his wife and the various ways that God matured him in his faith. After reading it in around the fall of ’01, before Sept. 11, I finally realized that I was not living a pleasing life to the Lord, mainly with the issue of my love life. I was not finding my soul’s satisfaction in Jesus first. I didn’t realize until then that if I couldn’t be content being single, then I wouldn’t find contentment being married. It was then that I rededicated my life to the Lord and truly started living for Him and growing in my faith. Before then, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about getting married and being married that my focus was not on Jesus but on that one dream or goal. It’s not very often that a guy will admit that or that you could find a guy that has spent a considerable amount of time and energy thinking about marriage. But I was one of those guys and I knew that I needed to surrender that part of my life over to God and trust Him that He knew what was best for me…….
Part II to follow…….