My life before I met Jesus:
I was born in Tampa, FL to wonderful caring parents. We moved to Clarksville, TN when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I grew up in Clarksville. My dad was a plumber and my mom was a nurse. I’m the oldest of four children. I have one brother and two sisters. Growing up I went with my dad to help him in the plumbing business. As I got older I watched him and learned how to work with things and people. He told me a lot of stories about his life as a Merchant Marine and building ships during World War II. As I entered high school, I wanted to go the Naval Academy.
How I came to accept Jesus into my life:
Growing up in a loving family we went to church all the time. When I was 9 year old we went to church to hear a special speaker. He told me a lot of things I had heard before, but for the first time I was really listening. The speaker told me that I was lost as a sinner. I knew that I had done some bad things. He said that Jesus had died on the Cross for my sins and rose from the grave. I asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins and come into my life and He did. As a young child, I became a follower of Jesus.
My life since Jesus came in:
The first thing that I did after receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior was to be baptized on the following Sunday night, which was Easter Sunday night. I promised the Lord that I would do what He asked me to do. However I was not faithful in that promise. As a high school student, I drifted away from church. I became rebellious to my parents. One night I nearly killed a classmate of mine in a truck accident. He was riding in the back of my Dodge truck. I made a quick turn as he was moving from one side to another. He was thrown out of the truck onto the street. As I looked back through the rear view window, I saw him lying in the street. I thought he was dead. I prayed to Jesus to forgive me and to restore his life. He was rushed to the hospital and became conscious again. X-rays revealed that he had only a slight concussion. I was grateful for both prayers being answered that night. As a senior in high school, I felt God’s call into ministry. After 1 ½ years at Austin Peay, I transferred to Belmont in Nashville. I met my wife there and we were married in 1964 after she graduated. Just two weeks after our wedding, we were serving as student summer missionaries in WI. During those 10 weeks we stayed in 12 locations in the state. It was a great experience. We liked WI so much we prayed for an opportunity to remain in WI. Mary Lou, my wife, taught school as an elementary teacher and I went to Carthage College part time and worked in a local Baptist church as Associate Pastor of Music and Religious Education. Life as a follower of Jesus has not been easy. Decision making and the will of God for career, family, and places to serve have been challenging. After seminary in TX, I returned to WI as a church planter. We were foster parents for 3 ½ years. During those years we cared for 76 children. Although their stay with us was designed to be short term, we found that having three warm meals a day and letting the children know they were loved had an impact regardless if the child was 18 months or 18 years. As parents of two children, we had our own struggles. After several years of marriage we needed help of a third party to get marriage back together. We had a major crisis when our 9 year old son severed his left hand in a rope accident. Separations in deployments as a chaplain in the US Army made me miss a lot of significant events in my daughter’s and son’s life. Caring for aging parents, dealing with personal and career disappointments have challenged my faith. Conducting our son’s wedding when he married his wonderful wife and walking down the aisle with our daughter when she married her Godly husband causes me to give thanks to God for His mercy and grace. Being “Papa” to two delightful grandchildren is a blessing God has given me and it is beyond description the joy I have with them. Working on the staff at First Baptist since April 2001 has given me the opportunity to use the skills, talents, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, which have been tested and tried. It’s been over 55 years since my journey began as a 9 year old boy. I have found Jesus faithful to forgive my mistakes. He continues to lead and bless me in my relationships as a son, brother, nephew, cousin, husband, father, grandfather, pastor, chaplain and a friend to other followers of Jesus.
I was born in Lakeland City, Florida. While I call Florida home, we moved quite often living all over the world. I was raised in a very loving family, most of the time. My father is a wonderful family man who never missed an opportunity to take me fishing on a Saturday. My mother, a teacher, always made sure that my homework was completed. I have one brother who is 10 years older than I am. It was a typical cat and dog, brother and sister relationship. I was the little sister always in his space while he was the cool older brother beginning to wear aftershave. Needless to say, he felt it was his mission on this planet to teach me where I fell in the food chain. I believe he settled on the flea level.
Childhood was not always easy. There were happy memories. I asked Jesus into my life and became a Christian at the age of six. However, we moved several times. Fitting into a new school is never as easy as it appears on television. New friends, new language, new styles of clothes, children who have been in the same school together since kindergarten, I could not wait for college.
When I got to college, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I was going to be a teacher like my mother. I love children, and I am one of those teenagers who always preferred babysitting to going out. Half-way through college, I began to feel that being a public school teacher was not what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I was lost. Being a teacher was what I had always wanted to do, and I had never imagined anything else. After a lot of thinking, soul-searching, and praying, I knew that law school was where I was supposed to be. I took the LSAT (law school entrance exam) in all honesty not believing that I would score high enough to be accepted. I could not believe when the exam results came in.
I met my future husband Jamie three months before I began law school. He inspired me. He is legally blind, but had never let his physical limitations impede his dreams. Hearing his stories of the challenges he faced in the public school system gave me a desire to make sure that no child ever experienced that kind of discrimination. Throughout law school, my goal was to become an attorney who works with children with disabilities ensuring their legal rights. I was very blessed because upon graduation from law school I was hired at my dream job working at the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities. I enjoyed my practice, and I loved working with the children.
That is why when I felt that I was being called into full time ministry I fought for a long time. I had my plan, and I was on the track. When I was too tired from fighting, and I listened and obeyed I have never been happier. That does not mean that life has been perfect. When my husband and I moved, it took over a year for our house to sell. We are still trying to recover from that financial hit. Thankfully, I have a healthy family and a terrific home in Clarksville, Tennessee.