I figured it is about time I shared my testimony with you, so here it is: I grew up an only child to a single parent mother. My father died before I was born so I grew up lacking a positive, engaged male role model. My mother loved me dearly but tried to compensate for a lack of a father by being far too lenient and buying me anything I wanted. This was the era during the 70's and 80's when all the new age parenting rubbish that was out.
Spiritually, I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran and went to a private Catholic elementary school. These churches used the traditional model of focusing on teaching scriptural head knowledge as a way of maturing believers. So, I memorized a lot of Bible verses and Bible stories, attended church twice a week, youth group too. I went through Lutheran confirmation and Catholic CCD. I served as an acolyte and actually wanted to be a pastor when I was in elementary school. (I thought it would help me get to heaven?) However, my spiritual growth was focused solely on filling my head with Biblical knowledge and stories rather than filling my heart with Jesus, trust in the Lord and how to apply Scripture to my daily life. I don't fault the churches, this was and is still, how many churches/denominations were historically taught to approach spiritual development and discipleship.
During my teens, all the church attendance stopped, as I hit my rebellious phase. Next followed minor criminal activity, suspensions from school, quitting of sports and jobs, experimentation with alcohol, drugs and sex. I was the kid you DID NOT wanted your kids to hang out with or your daughter to date.
Oh, did I mention I was also selfish, manipulative and a great liar.
Things changed a little in my life when I was age 17. I was given the vision to start working on altruistic/non-profit causes and actually founded and built my first Non-Profit Foundation. I learned some leadership skills, became somewhat outward focused but ultimately grew tired of small town life and wanted to escape. So, I decided to join the military and see the world. I proposed to my high school sweetheart, promising to be the best husband ever, and proceeded to leave the small town life in the Midwest for new adventures in a progressive, West Coast city.
The city life bombarded us with drugs, clubs, excessive alcohol, easy money opportunities, atheists and a progressive worldview. My leaders, role models and peers indulged in infidelity, had terrible marriages and worshipped a "hedonistic-type" lifestyle that placed personal success and pleasure as the ultimate goal and status symbol in life.
To top off our wonderful new lifestyle, my wife and I got pregnant.
Now, throw in a hurried parenting lifestyle - Mom going to work in the corporate world with the same environment (affairs, alcohol, drugs, bad role models) and we outsourced our parenting role to constant daycares and babysitters.
Does this sound like trouble brewing or what?
During this time in our lives, we attended a Lutheran church periodically and somehow had both of our children baptized. But one day, I started reading books on skepticism and atheism and over time decided God and religion was a man made lie to control the masses. My conclusion was that churches were guilt based, money greedy and their congregations were filled with judgmental, hypocritical people who did not bare any Fruit of the Spirit, so what was the point?
At about this time, financial pressures and debt started to mount while I started a new corporate career with a flashy title while also attending a largely liberal state college.
This ultimately led to marriage issues, emotional abuse and verbal arguments between my wife and I. This led me to using pornography and attending strip clubs "with the guys" which obviously did not improve our marriage. I was the king of stonewalling/ignoring my wife, just to be left alone in peace and not have to fight with her another night. I shut down emotionally or lashed out in anger spouting something about "being the man" and "working hard."
Then came another pregnancy, more financial pressures, and more marriage fighting. Longer daycare hours. The downward spiral goes further.
A "friend" of mine noticed my wife and I were having marriage issues and decided this would be a good time to try to entice her to sleep with him. He concocted a story about me cheating on my wife in hopes that my wife would want revenge...with him.
Finally my wife had had enough.
After hearing this story from my great "friend", which seemed plausible given our marital state, my wife called her parents and told them to come and get her and the kids. She went to a friends house to stay and we didn't talk for 3 days (I didn't know about my "friends" story or her parents coming either). I thought we were just taking a break. On the fourth day, I came home from work to find her parents packing up everything in our apartment, my wife said a quick goodbye (as I tried to explain this was all a misunderstanding) and she took my kids and left me moving a few thousand miles away.
That night the gravity of the situation hit me. In our apartment, they left me a bed mattress, one blanket, my clothes and a TV. Literally nothing else. Not one fork and not even a pot to cook something in. Oh, and did I mention this all happened on my birthday?
Looking back, I can now tell you that I deserved it. All of it.
That night it hit me like a ton of bricks!!
I sat on the floor in my apartment with no furniture, 2 months behind in rent, my car engine had just gone out and I had quit my job out of frustration.
I cried my eyes out all night and wondered how in the hell did I get to this place in my life?
I had a beautiful wife, 2 beautiful children (Ages 1 and 5 months at the time) and I had a promising career. Now it was all gone.
At about 2:00 AM, I started looking around the apartment to search for anything else that they may have left behind. In a closet, I found the Bible I received at my Lutheran Confirmation.
That night, I got down on my knees and prayed for the first time in two years. I asked God to forgive me for all that I had done to Him and my family. I asked Him to help me somehow get through this situation and to help me get my wife and family back. I told God if he helped me, I would spend the rest of my life glorifying him and trying to be the best husband and father I could be.
I started reading the Bible immediately and praying daily. A few thousand miles away, friends and family started praying for me too - many against their better judgement. Then my wife's new church started praying for me too and our marriage.
Within a week I found a new job. I worked 3 months straight with no time off working 18-20 hour days. It wasn't easy and there was still some setbacks involved but I was at least heading in the right direction.
After a few months, I got caught up on rent and bought a used car.
A thousand miles away, my wife started going to counseling and I started going locally as well.
The first six months of our separation, my wife and I had almost zero communication. She would not talk to me, only yell and hang up the phone.
Every one of her friends and family told her to give up on me and file for a divorce. She had already filed for a legal separation and I was paying child support.
We both, unbeknownst to the other, continued to pray, read the Bible and go to counseling. After six months, she finally started talking to me on the phone.
After a year, she and her counselor agreed to have me come to where she was living for some marriage counseling. My wife's counselor (who was a feminist and hated my guts) told her every week for a year to divorce me and move on. I was up against all odds. During these sessions, I admitted to my wife that I was wrong, selfish and apologized for all that I done. I told her she had no reason to trust me or give me a second chance but if she did, I would try to be the husband and father she deserved - The best husband and father I could be.
It definitely wasn't easy, but after a year and a half of individual and some joint marriage counseling, more apologizing and me working very hard on changing my life and proving I would put my family first, my wife started to believe change was possible.
We were against all the odds and everyone assumed we would divorce. But, God is great and all I can do all things through him who gives me strength. God laughs at unbeatable odds.
18 Months after my wife left me (on Valentines Day) I quit my high-paying job, packed up what I could fit in my small car and drove across three states in hopes of being a with her and to be a husband and father again. I didn't tell her I was coming or I didn't even know if she would accept me or not, but I was determined to try and would not give up on our marriage and family.
I drove back to my home town as a failure and faced ridicule and anger by many friends and family due to what I'd put my wife and kids through. Everyone told her to forget me and that it was all a trick to get her back and in a few months, I would only go back to my old ways again. But, my wife saw something different in me and decided to follow her heart.
I had a long uphill battle of forgiveness, trust and repentance ahead of me but I decided my wife and family were worth it.
The changes in my life were gradual at first with some minor stumbling along the way but slowly I continued to pray, be humble and change. We started attending an evangelical church and I refocused my life on a career path that had safety and security for my family rather than the craziness and financial hardship I had put them through in the past. My wife agreed and followed me although somewhat weary.
A few years went by and things had gotten much, much better - relationally, financially and spiritually.
In 2003, we got pregnant again. Although it was unexpected, we bought a big SUV and prepared for a new addition to our family.
14 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby miscarried. My wife was devastated and felt personally responsible. Emotionally, she was falling apart inside.
I, however, felt calm and somehow as if this was God's plan. For the first time in my life, I realized that I am not in control of everything - God is. I realized that I need to stop acting like I'm in the drivers seat.
We worked through the miscarriage with the love, grace and the support of a new church family that barely knew us, but embraced us with all the love and grace and of old family member. God somehow used this tragedy in our lives to strengthen our family and our faith and trust in Him.
I begin to realize that God had a plan for us and a reason for this miscarriage, even if we couldn't see it at that time.
After all this, I begin to truly submit to God daily and ask him to guide me and show me what he wanted me to do for His glory.
God answered and things changed dramatically. Finances got better, our marriage and family life went to all time highs and I begin to see that with God's help, anything is possible.
In 2005, we started attending a new church that reflected God's love, grace and acceptance rather than rigid legalism and or the first time in my life, I heard and understood the Gospel message. Shortly after we started attending, we rededicated our lives to God, repenting of our sins, accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior and asking him to have a daily, personal relationship with us. We started living our lives as Christians and associating with other strong disciples.
This transformation has continued to flourish and God has given us new guidance and plans.
Since 2005, God placed a burden on my heart to share my story, my mistakes and my journey to be the best husband and father I can be with others. I resisted this Calling for months and tried to tell God I was not the right guy for this job. I didn't have the right degree or titles and I was not some Pastor. But God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things and he persisted to call me and place a vision on my heart. As a result of God's nagging, Legacy Dad was created.
I now look at my life as an example of faith and this ministry as a record and testament to the glory of God's grace and mercy.
Legacy Dad is the journey of my own salvation, my walk/struggle as a follower of Christ and the spiritual legacy I will leave behind in my children and the lives of others I can touch for the glory of God's Kingdom. I'm just a nobody, trying to tell everybody about the one true Somebody.
I hope my past doesn't scare you, but give you hope. Maybe some of you right now are dealing with the same issues and dark clouds I was dealing with years ago? Maybe some of you are just wanting to get to the next step? Maybe some of you are wondering why 60,000+ people would read stuff from a guy like me who can't even use grammatical correct English most of the time?
Bad Marriage, Pornography, Infidelity, Temptation, Cheating, Lying, Chasing Success, Manipulation, Self Esteem Issues, Poor Morals and Values, Lack of Humility, Selfishness and Control Issues.
These are all very real temptations and our lives are constantly bombarded with these options as the easy roads to take instead of the path that Jesus offers us. The world is not always on our side but we have a choice to make.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
- Robert Frost
I've made the decision to take the road less traveled, it's not always the easiest or most convenient but it is the correct choice for me, my family and my children.
If you like me, you probably sometimes feel like something is missing in your life? Your true calling has not yet happened? Why can't I be or find more happiness?
I decided to take the path Jesus left for us instead of believing the lies society, the media and Hollywood feeds us - which has only led me to more emptiness and pain. For me, Christ has made all the difference.
I hope you decide to come with us and see what this is all about.
Esse Quam Videri