While living in Garfield Heights my parents got divorced. After the divorce, I moved to Bedford. Had there been no divorce, I probably would have gone to Garfield Heights High School in instead of Bedford. Could I still have met Neil Brooks? Possibly, but it definitely occurred in me going to Bedford High School. I was able to get involved in the high school “BBC” ministry in because of this.
I was not at all planning on going to Kent State University but God led me there and I moved into the ministry house with Eric Kinnel, Mark Michalek, and Eric Schoofs. I got a pretty nice paying job at Chipotle as soon as I moved to Kent (I kind of screwed up that job 3 years later).
I went to graduate school, which was a really tough time in my life. The schooling required a lot of time and there was very little time to work. I also sacrificed a lot of relational time and went into a rut where I became disconnected and really felt like I had little to offer. I felt like people did not really see my value any longer because I was very disconnected.
In early 2007, I also exited the Word ministry after my main disciple left and I considered it a failure. God did teach me a lot through this. It wasn’t really a failure as the cell group I led with my disciple did produce some fruit during its short existence. It was in that group that Mikey Hudock and Justin Duchaine started coming around. Exiting Word was probably a good thing as I needed to collect my thoughts at this point. It’s kind of weird because soon after leaving, the “promotions” jobs started coming that would have been impossible to do with the obligations of Word.
God got me tied into the “promotions” scene that many of you know about, which was an amazing way to keep myself afloat. They were high-paying jobs with low commitment. It’s kind of amazing that God even seems to award my most frivolous desires. Right after I got my master’s degree, I started working at every Indians game for two months doing a promotion there and making nice money. I watched batting practice daily and still have bag filled with Major League baseballs that I caught. I was missing some meetings during this time but I was also at a point where I really didn’t want to relate with anyone and wasn’t really enjoying or serving anyway. This promotion lasted for two months, and soon after I ended, I amazingly received a promotion job that lasted 6 months working for AT&T. Very few people in the promotional world have had a job quite like this one that paid as well, lasted so long, required so much responsibility, and was completely local (other than a few short trips to Indianapolis to help out there)! This job helped pay off a lot of debt I had incurred from not being able to work much during my time in graduate school. Again, I was missing some meetings, but honestly it did not really matter because I wasn’t going to serve anyway. God taught me so much more than going to home church could have done at the time.
Around this time, I was meeting with Dr. Morscher for weekly breakfast sessions. He was feeling me out and seeing what I was thinking. Although there was little progress in my spiritual life during our meetings (as he duly noted), I really appreciated his time and effort and adopted an “I will not let you down” attitude. I needed time, however. I also had a lot of tough conversations with Mark as I my presence in cell was phantasmal.
I always had a dream of being a traveling businessman. You get to travel on someone else’s money and you do not have to maintain consistent relationships if you are frequently away. God let me dabble with this through promotions and showed that although traveling can be fun, it is largely miserable when gone for extended periods of time. I do enjoy these trips because I love exploring, but being away from the Body of Christ does suck. Amazingly, God showed me my dream through these jobs so I would know it wasn’t what I wanted. Because of this, I’m not wondering right now. Also, God will still hook me up with small jobs like these once in a while because he does know I enjoy them and like exploring new places!
As the AT&T promotion was ending, God got me a job as a substitute teacher. Although this job does not pay great money, I really think there was a reason for being a substitute for 2 years! Yes, I was not rolling in the dough (although I was still able to supplement my income through promotion jobs) but my responsibilities after work were virtually nonexistent. As God knows, being a first year teacher is extremely difficult and time consuming as one must learn the content over again and preparing lesson plans from scratch. It would have consumed a great deal of my time. I needed the time to get right spiritually again. I needed the time to spend in relationships and taking baby steps to repair them. I do not act quickly so I needed a long time do this. It was frustrating at this time but I was never really too worried about money. God has shown me time and time again that Matthew 6:33 is true: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “ I didn’t have ton of money coming but still wanted to make sure I fulfilled my pledge to the church. Just this past September, I put a big check in the “hat” to fulfill my pledge even though the money could have gone elsewhere. It seemed like right after that money started pouring in as I got paid for a lot of my promotional jobs around the same time. I also received a call from a virtual school for a job interview!
I found out about virtual schools through someone I was working with on a promotions business trip in North Carolina. I applied for one in Ohio and astonishingly ended up getting the job in October. I now get to work from home and have tons of flexibility in doing that (including listening to music and talk radio all day which is great). I was blessed with this amazing job that only 6 social studies teachers in Ohio have. I am extremely grateful for the job that God has given me and I can still have plenty of time to relate while doing it because the job saves so much time over a regular teaching job. I do actually travel within Ohio for my new job, and although it’s usually in my least favorite city of Columbus, it is sometimes Toledo or other places and it’s still fun and I still feel like it’s something God gave me.
After getting the time to get my life back together while substituting, I began to get the feeling that “I’m back.” I regained an ability to relate with people and really felt appreciated and just felt like my old self again before regressing. I’m in the Chill ministry once again and enthralled to be there. Now I am sitting here on my birthday feeling really loved by all of the birthday wishes, and I feel that to an extent that it is representative of better relationships and am really thankful for the love. Now it is a theological conversation to discuss whether this was God’s plan all along, but I do know this: God definitely uses so many negative things for good.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”