My Story and My Testimony
I felt compelled to write and share my personal testimony and life story with everyone.
Hopefully this will be an encouragement for others to share their own as well as for some to look to Christ and find hope in otherwise hopeless situations and lives.
This is a long one so make sure you have you popcorn and drinks...
I was born 2 lbs and 1/2 oz in Columbus, MO USA. Back in 1982, that was not much to go on. Today, it is completely different story. My lungs were under developed and my eyesight was something to be improved on, even today. So I grew up with Asthema and Bronchitis. My father's continued smoking didn't help to say the least. Sorry about that dad, simply laying out the background info.
Due to me being born my father had to go into the military in order to take care of his family. I was around 6 months old when we 1st moved from MIsouri to Austin, Texas USA. There my middle brother was born, August 'Joey' Joseph. He had normal eyesight and normal lungs... lucky... We lived in Austin for a couple of years and we continued to follow orders and moved to Germany. He lived in Wiesbaden and in Kaiserslautern or 'K-Town', which it is commonly called. There my last brother was born, Andrew 'Andy' V. (Don't ask what the 'V' stands for, I am sure he doesn't like it much. At least he didn't when he was younger.)
Growing up as a child (brat) of a military (ARMY) father and stay at home mom, we had multiple 'adventures' through the years as we travelled from state to state and country to country.
Family security, although scarce, it was there at some percentage but not 100% and if it was there it definatly was not often. I can't blame my parents or others around me, it was what it was. My two brothers and I had to work with what we had.
Just a small example as to what I mean by ' family security' is this: as every military brat knows of the horrible fear and possible truth of a loved one to go to another country, far away from their family, and not be able to come back to and never see or hear from them again. After my father's station in Germany was done, we were stationed in Georgia and then in Tampa Bay, Florida shortly afterward. My father went to Operation Desert Storm and Desert Sheild (Gulf War back in 1990-1991) soon after. As a child, seeing the gunfire, rocket and missle launches, bombs, and other life threatening ocurrances over the media, gave me a source of fear that I may never see my father again. Then as the job in keeping us three growing boys out of trouble grew harder with age, for my mother was on her wits end often times as pretty much raising her kids without her spouse, pretty much a single parent arrangement at times. Nothing could be done about the situation. My father enlisted so he had to go.
Although at times it was difficult to stay focused on the task at hand, we somehow grew up with some basis of moral and value code. As we found out growing up of the activities of my parents and their friends sometimes gave an open door to further unsecure paths spiritually and ethicly, some of which I found out after we moved from Florida to Augsberg, Germany.
While going to school there I helped a homeless man while on a fieldtrip to one of the Christmas Markets, I wonder if he was ever able to leave the place he was in and move into a better life. Not sure if giving 20 Deutsche Marks would allow someone to do that but you never know what a small seed can do. I felt blessed by helping the man. I hope that at the very least he didn't use it for boos and had a good warm meal. Then to Schinveld and Neerbeek, Holland we moved.
The tension on my mother was increasing the longer her marriage was going. This was easily seen by their children as they got older. Each of my brothers grew up differently although we were in the same home, we took everything in a different manner, no suprise there. We all have our own POV. I've eventually come to believe in God and Christ as I moved away from my family to make my own family, where as my middle brother tends to believe in gods or whatever, leaving no hope for an afterlife future apart from a dark and hopefully quiet death, and the youngest brother who seems to be agnostic, not knowing what lies after death. Neither of us hadn't had much of a chance to talk after we moved apart from the family.
As we all grew up, we obviously got older and our views changed with our growth. Although I didn't appreciate the wonderful and beautiful land that Europe has to offer, I appreciate it now and hoped to one day take my own family to see the land of our ancestors, both me and my wife have German/Dutch ancestory.
Although I can't speak for the rest of my family, as I was dealing with the insecurity of a possible broken family, I've always felt a presence. Like someone was watching over me, making sure that I do not get any major injuries or find something too damaging to my mind and spirit. Although I did find several things during my childhood that would make a child want to leave the family or simply 'break away' for a while. (I am sure that if my parents read this that they would have questions... gee, I can't wait...(Sarcasm)) Again I can't blame my family/parents for anything. We simply have to deal with things as we grew older.
As my family got away from the military life when I was around 16, we moved from Holland to Idaho as my father retired from the ARMY, the growing fear of a lost father and family came to fruition. As I do not know the complete truth, my father was shot in the head with a .357 Magnum handgun from under his chin. That was a dark day in my life as it would bring the "monster out of the closet" that I feared growing up. Soon after, my mother filed for a divorce while he was still in the hospital. The fear had grown up and became reality... my family was broken, the monster was rampaging through the city of my life.
My brothers and I left with my mother as my father was in the hospital, although alive and recovering, he was not able to go to court as of yet, so he was given the divorce papers while at the hospital, I believe, that I am not even fully sure of... no matter... As my father got out we had to deal with court duty and visitation between the two. I had a hatred for my father from the time of 'The Shooting' until I found Christ. I forgave him and anything else that I didnt like about my family. It was questionable as to whom shot my father, but I came to the belief that he did it himself. Again not sure if it is true or not it is what I thought was true at the time. During this time my brothers and I went to see counselors and the like, not even sure if it did any good then or even now.
Still growing up, then serperated from any sort of security, I looked online for a way out of my own life, finding a 'second life' in the chat rooms of Yahoo! and threw myself in the virtual world and storylines of video games. Had an awesome time while playing and chatting, but when I came back to reality, I simply wanted to get back into them and stay for as long as I could. I had countless nights without sleep due to those games and chatting.
Something that I grew up with since I was 10, I had the option of excelling in computer technology and support. At that time, living in Idaho, I signed up for a Computer course while going to school at Caldwell High School, Technical Support is what it is called now. I met my teacher, Mr. Darryl 'Scott' Wilson. We had an awesome time when I was in his class. It added a joy to my weekday and to my life, the joy of a father figure who more than enjoyed in the same topic of computer repair and support. Sometimes I would go to his class during lunch hour, before school started and ocassionally after school. It came to the point where he trusted me enough to allow me to assist in supporting the school property in their computer related needs. It showed me the possibilities of a career in helping others as well as continuing to grow and learn in a topic that I loved. It is obvious that I continued down that same road.
While chatting online I met several people that both contributed and took away from my life. It was not long before I got into trouble in the 'real' world. Racking up phone bills that my mother could not pay, and ignoring her warnings. As the talking died as that person could not stay in touch any longer I looked for companionship while at school which lead to a very life changing relationship, experiencing the topic of abortion. I pray that she is OK and has accepted Christ. I will see my unborn child in Heaven one day. To make things more difficult, my spiritual life was being damaged. I had made friends with those of the Mormon faith. Good people, but a difficult, different and secretive faith. I came to a point where I accepted Mormonism and was baptised, but it was however more of a show of acceptance from my friends as opposed to a belief in the faith. I went to church, had meals with friends, nothing felt completely right. I felt a presence that was not welcome either by me or the other presence that accompanied me through my life. The one I've felt growing up, protecting me. I was in conflict with myself while practicing Mormonism.
Also, while living in Idaho, a close friend, Andrew 'Drew' Maxwell and I spend a lot of time together, mostly outside of school. We spent countless hours in front of game consoles and rampaging through Caldwell, Idaho with nothing much better to do. Although it was a close and friendly relationship, marijuana was part of it, although it was never the focal point of our relationship. It was just something we did on ocassion. It allowed us to leave the hectic world we lived in and go to a place that was like a dream. With obvious harmful side-effects taking effect after taking the drug several times, I stopped it all together and didn't participate afterwards. We were still friends until I moved away from Idaho back in 2001.
Before I left Idaho, while online in the same place I met others, I met someone by the chatroom name, or handle, 'Chinadove' which would later be 'Chinaedove' as her account had issues and she could not get back in, I think... She felt different. She offered hope and with a kindness like I have only played in games, seen on TV and in movies and have yet to have only heard about. She saw past my cursing and clear deception to my parents, brothers and others and saw that I had a heart for others. Plus she thought I was good looking and liked 'some' of the things I did. She made me feel like I was in my own reality away from everything else. Was it reality? Was it too good to be true? It is real. It is true. And it is everything that I could have hoped for and prayed for growing up.
As we chatted online and eventually grow to talking on the phone, we let ourselves turn from a guy and a girl simply talking about nothing, to talking about a bright and wonderful future that we both seemed to desire. I met her online on January 22nd, 2000. She, along with her mother and brother, came to visit on Christmas Day of 2000. What better present can be delivered to you than the person whom you've grown to love and may spend the rest of you life with. Someone who can help to provide the future you've always dreamed of.
I proposed to her two days later on the 27th of December, 2000. She of course accepted and is my one and only wife even till today. We had tried to spend every waking moment with each other no matter who was around or what was happening. We spent more quality time with each other than a lot of couples do in month's of time, and some in their entire relationship. Although she had to leave with her mother and brother on the 31st, she had to go. On that day I seemed to lost my fiance, but I still had hope for a wondrul life together. My mother and her boyfriend on that same day, kicked me out of their home since I didn't come home the night before, among other reasons. (Since my fiance and I only had one night left to spend with each other, we decided to spend it together around the city.) At that point I had no one of my family to depend on after being removed from the house. I went to live with a close friend, Elliott Jack. At that time I worked at KFC so I brought home a lot of chicken and other food, which they eventually got tired of chicken every night being stockpiled in their fridge. As my fiance and I talked using phone cards and my friend's phone, she acquired enough money to buy me a plane ticket. Which I took to Dallas where they picked me up. I was being selfish and spent the money I made working on good food everyday as opposed to saving it to help. This was in Feburary of 2001.
I lived with her, her mother and brother. At which point her mother looked into who I was and why I had my sights on her daughter, can't blame her for wanting to look after her child. Soon enough she decided that I was taking advantage of her daughter and sent me back up to Idaho on a bus. I was not taking advantage of her, just so you all know... Three days alone talking to various people from various walks of life made me think. When I got back home, my mother took me back in and Sonny, her boyfriend, gave me a good talking to a couple of days afterwards about getting a job and sticking to it. So I walked 10 miles and found one, working for Idaho Pizza Company, an awesome pizza place. Good food at a decent price. Eventually I found another job working for RadioShack. Maybe it was the other way around but either way I worked for both at one point in time. Once I gathered enough money to assist my fiance with our first home and for a ticket for me to come back down to Louisiana, we did so in June of 2001.
The next day after I arrived we moved into our 1st apartment. It was perfect for our small starting family. A year later on June 15th, 2002 we married and were officially husband and wife, and with our 1st child on the way and due that November, 2002, we would begin a real family, child and all. Prior to us being married we lost our car, we both were working for CrackerBarrel at that time, and we had to find another local place to work. My wife started to work for her father, whom picked her up, and I found Merlin Computers in Shreveport, close enough for me to walk to. A small but functional computer repair shop with a decent client base after being established for almost 5 years, solely by word of mouth. I worked for them for almost two years. I learned from them some very good computer troubleshooting skills as well as a 'bendover backwards' attitude for customer service and satisfaction. During the time I worked at Merlin Computers my fiance, at that time, and I acquired an old 1990 Chevy Astro cargo van from her father who she worked with to pay it off seems how we didn't have the money to buy a vehicle nor afford a payment each month.
When I was working at Merlin, God worked through my wife and her family to show me what family is all about, love and fellowship with each other. Eventually my family and I were going to church at Spirit of Truth. We met several wonderful people there and I gained the friendship of the co-pastors Desi and Cathy Sprawls. It was there that I 1st believed in God and Christ and also where I was 1st baptised in the Christian faith. I eventually was supporting the church technilogically and I built their website, as a beginner in HTML and webdesign it was something very simple but it did the job well enough. I also built for them a new computer for their home. I was proud to be of assistance.
Still working for Merlin Computers I acquired another job with a lot of help from a friend who worked for Merlin Computers just before I started. I started working for the Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City. I got to get my hands wet quickly and had a broad range of platforms to learn from. There I learned more about Windows based systems and networking and Active Directory to using SCO Unix, AIX, the Micros POS platform, Slot Systems and other busniess related hardware and software. I had the awesome oppertunity to work with good skilled people and have the supervision of an awesome manager/director. I worked there for about a year and half. It was when I was working here that my family moved to another home and where my 2nd daughter was born on June 26th, 2004.
Then I took another job where I acquired my Dell and IBM training. Left there and went working for BellSouth to learn about their DSL internet platform and their products. When my previous manager from the Isle of Capri saw that I was looking for another job and saw that I had acquired multiple skills and training she hired me back.
Again while at the Isle of Capri, the 2nd time, my 1st son was born. He was our 3rd child. He was born on October 7th of 2005.
I continued to work for the Isle of Capri until our property, and the Lake Charles property, were purchased by Legends Gaming, Inc in August of 2006. At that point I worked with the rest of the team to migrate from the Isle of Capri Casino to the DiamondJacks Casino. I left in Feburary of 2007.
The Legends Gaming, Inc. company was not treating their employees nor their customers as they should have been. They lost employees and customers by the handful. Due to this mistreatment I filed a charge against them on religious and retalitory reasons to the EEOC. Nothing came of it as the EEOC supposedly found nothing to support my claim... oh well.
From there I got a job from a staffing agency, Comsys from Houston, Texas, working in Tulsa, OK for EDS. The contract didn't last long, around two months. When it was time for me to renew my contract, it fell through the cracks that EDS was creating due to contract renegotiations and changing of their contractor policy.
While living in Tulsa, OK, I found a church home for the time being due to my realtor, Theresa Watts from Chinowth and Cohen Realty. She led me to go to Father's House in Tulsa, whom have now moved from 41st and Memorial to 92nd and Harvard. There I truefully accepted Christ into my heart and opened my eyes into deeper things of God. It was also there where I also recieved the gift of tongues. All the while living alone waiting for us to find a home for my family while they were still living in Louisiana, for around 6 months. That was very difficult but it turned out to be a complete blessing. We were able to find the perfect home for us and in a great location near everything that we need. While I was alone I grew in my character, faith and in my love for God, Christ and my family. God lead me to create the website that you are reading this on. He lead me to use my gifts given to me to assist others in a more broad area, more than simply locally. It will continue as long as God leads me to.
Once I was finished at EDS I worked with Tek Systems to get the job I currently have working for ARINC Inc. ARINC is a good company and I enjoy working for them. Since we've lived here we have had another child on December 3rd, 2007.
During this whole time of growing older, my career, my family and my faith has grown as well. I have come to find several very interesting but very truthful notions about Christianity, faith and family. I have learned that God created all. Christ was sacrificed to give us peace on earth as it should have been. That God loves us so much that He gave us the same joy that He enjoys, a family and love. It was becuase of love that we are here and that we continue to grow in our understanding of this universe and that His hands are all in it and that His signature can be seen everywhere. I, and the world, are finding that the Bible is true to each word as discoveries and truthes are found each day. Ironically discovered by our pursuit for knowledge and truth... science. That the neverending hope and desire for love are met only by Our Father, His Son and His Spirit.
As for that presence that I've always felt, it was God's hand on my life, protecting me and leading me to my wife, my jobs and through the rough road of life. God leads us in subtle ways that if we only listen He can make our lives as blessed as they can be. And with Christ anything is possible.
Now you have heard my story, seen my faith and you will continue to see how God works in my life as this story grows. I pray that you will one day see the love, peace and internal harmony that I have which can only be gained from the only, Christ Jesus, the Son of the only Living God. Our Father who is in Heaven.
God bless you all,