This is my story

I grew up in a mid-sized brick ranch house with an acre of yard near 65th and Allisonville Road in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Most days existed of hopping on my brown wheelie bike (the kind with a banana seat designed to resemble a chopper motorcycle) and riding around the neighborhood to friends' houses or heading to the local pharmacy in search of candy.  They were the wonder filled days one might expect having growing up in the 70’s.

My world changed at age 9 when my parents split up and then shortly thereafter my mom was in a life altering car accident. I remember her rehabbing for such a long time. My teen years were filled with bouncing back and forth from my dad’s house to my mom’s house.  It wasn’t long before I went off to college in Holland, Michigan to study  pre-med in hopes of being a doctor one day.

During my first year of studies in Holland I began to feel the strong call of God on my life.  I tried hard to push it all back, but God was like a monkey on my back I could not shake. I finally submitted to His claim over my life.  I remember traveling down to Naples, Florida to tell my dad that I was dropping out of pre-med, enrolling in a Bible college in Southern California, and that I was getting engaged to the girl I was going to marry.  I had hoped for a strong affirmation from him that day but got a lot of questions instead. Being a father of recent college graduates I understand my dad's questions a lot better today than I did then. He loved me and was acting in my best interest.  In his mind, finishing pre-med was what was best for me. To have a fall back in case ministry didn't work out.  But for me, there was no plan B. I needed to venture out on my own to be faithful to this strong spiritual calling on my life.  It was at that moment that I shifted my trust from my earthly father to my heavenly father.  And looking back, I realize God was orchestrating all of what was happening.

So I moved out to Fullerton, California at age 19 and spent the next 3½ years focusing on an undergraduate Bible education and learning hard life lessons after another being 1,800 miles away from where I grew up. During that time, I also was a youth pastor at a smaller church and then interned under the senior minister of another church in Anaheim.  Every experience was formative for my future. Carol and I got married while still living in Southern California and started our life together in a tiny studio apartment. It was humble beginnings for sure.

After graduating, we went from Orange County, California to the back hills of the Appalachian mountains in East Tennessee.  Talk about a culture shift!  But we soon fell in love with both the people and the beauty of God's creation there.  I was working my way through a Master of Divinity degree in a Christian Seminary while preaching in a country church. Carol was earning her Masters of Marriage and Family Counseling degree at a state university. We have such fond memories of these formative years of life before kids.  We both finished our graduate degrees and I was ordained at age 27.  We moved to Columbus, Indiana where a youth pastor position awaited for me.

Soon after I began that ministry in Columbus, Carol was pregnant with our first son. The blessing of children is pure joy.  Soon after we had our second son.  We tried for a third for a long time, but never received that blessing.  It's true that children are a gift from God.  A church family is another amazing gift from God. Not living near to our own family, people in the church became our family. Even to this day, we still have close ties to surrogate grandparents in both Tennessee and in Indiana. With no plans of moving, God called me to go to Illinois to another church to use new gifts that God was growing in me.

Sad yet excited, off to Rockford we went. I was now 33 years old and part of an executive team of pastors at a larger church. I loved the collaboration and friendship of being on a bigger team. I quickly learned how important it was to surround yourself with wiser and smarter people. I was being stretched. I was learning about myself, about ministry, and about the Holy Spirit during my time in Rockford. I can look back now and clearly see that God was preparing me to lead a church.  After the economic downturn of 2008 the church began to feel the effects finanically. The team decided to downsize the pastoral staff and I was let go.  Being let go was a huge injury to my ego. I was 39 years old and father of two preteen boys and without a job for the first time in my life. But it gave me opportunity to be very introspective and open to God's leading.  I'm still learning that God’s timing is always perfect. God is sovereign and was orchestrating everything for His greater purpose in my life. God forced my exit from the church in Rockford. I would have never left the comfort of that position had I not been forced by God. God kicked me out of the nest so I could fly. From Rockford I went to lead a church in Fortvcille on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Praise God for His constant discipline in my life. God used me and my gifting to begin to heal a hurt church in Indiana.

And as lead pastor in Fortville I have fallen in love with so many families all over again. One thing I've learned serving the church for over 30 years -- the body of Christ is thicker than blood!  Being a pastor is so challenging but I love being a pastor. I was made for it -- to the glory of God! Every day I get to continue to foster my relationship with God. I get to put my trust in God all over again every day. I get a front row seat to watch the Holy Spirit working supernaturally in people’s lives. The stories I have to tell! There's never a dull moment! I cannot imagine doing anything else other than pointing people to Jesus and encouraging them to take next steps of faith in their life.