my Early Years
My living years
My wise years
I am born. Born in Oklahoma City, OK in 1957, my parent’s and I lived in a small brick cream-colored ranch in Del City. As the first of three, all too quickly welcomed a brother born 18 months after me, followed by a sister 21 months later. Our home was filled with love, laughter, and sibling rivalry. As a natural nurturer, and I 'helped' with the care of my siblings until they reached about two.
My parents were very religious and seriously devoted to their church. Raised in the Nazarene Church, my third-generation upbringing contributed to my proper training and ethical values. We rarely, if ever, missed church. There are two church stories that must be told to provide a platform from which I was raised. 1) When my brother was about two, we were on our way to church and he announced that he needed to pee. My mother told him he had to wait, but his need superseded her desires. Sitting in an archaic car seat loosely anchored to the bench front seat, he took out his business and peed directly into the air conditioner. We failed to attend church that Sunday. 2) Again, this story is a brother story. While leaving church, my father took a stumble down the front steps. The pastor, his wife and my mother all raced to his side. My brother stood there with a puzzled look on his face while the others gathered around. After a brief pause, he asked, “Aren’t you gonna say sh*t like you usually do?” My parents looked at him with an embarrassed pale. The pastor and his wife just laughed and helped him up.
The one edict that mattered in our house was, ‘you can act however you want at home, but you’d better not act up at church.’ We lived inside of a ‘looking good’ environment; one that would take its toll in the future.
We would visit my maternal grandparents’ house almost every Sunday dinner. Memaw & Grandad’s house was usually overflowing with cousins, aunts & uncles. About every six weeks, we would travel to Dallas, TX to visit my Dad's family. Since we were coming from a distance, the family gathered to view the prodigal. Unlike the OKC family, Mamaw & Papaw's house pulsated filled with great-aunts and uncles, uncles and aunts, cousins, 2nd cousins and even a 3rd cousin every now and then.
I attended East Oak Terrace Elementary School just down the street from our house. School was a mixed blessing. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hunt was a woman in her late 40s. She treated me like I was the most special person on the planet. Actually, she treated everyone the same. She was just the perfect reflection of love.
My first-grade teacher and I were mortal enemies. Miss Snyder was about 30 and looked a lot like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched, but not as attractive. She and I butt heads almost immediately. There were a few times where I know her attitude toward me changed my outlook toward what is possible.
Incident 1: By the time I entered 1st grade, I was quite adept at arithmetic. I could add, subtract three-digit numbers, multiply and divide two-digit numbers. It was her job to teach according to the book, so when we were adding 2+2+2, I wrote on my paper 2x3. When she walked by, she glanced down and grabbed up my paper, crinkled it up, slammed the paper on my desk, and screamed, “We don’t do this here!” Stunned by her reaction, my six-year-old mind told me that I was wrong and that I was doing it wrong. From that point forward, I had a mental block for all thing’s math. Incident 2: I was rather sociable and one day I was being chastised for being too social. After telling me to shut up several times, I let out a Tarzan yell much to the delight of the entire class. Her reaction was almost malevolent as she grabbed me from my seat, put me on the dunce chair, and put the conical hat on my head. She berated me for several minutes, calling me a disappointment. I was then sent to Mrs. Johnson, the principal for my first spanking. Incident 3: I had an immediate need to go to the bathroom, and Mrs. Snyder refused to let me go. After several requests, I could no longer hold it and I peed down my leg and onto the floor. The girl in front of me started pointing to the growing flood and announced my embarrassment to the entire class. Mrs. Snyder rushed to my desk and blamed me for intentionally peeing. I was mortified. I was sent to the principal’s office and they called my grandmother, who was on duty for kid patrol that week. She came into the office with a spare pair of pants in tow. When she asked what had happened, Mrs., Snyder commented that I was a troublemaker and that I had done this to cause her trouble. Memaw got right in her face and told her that a child doesn’t do things like that. She was the adult and she should have used better judgment. For a tiny woman, she was a very power force. Memaw took me from my chair and took me home. I was pampered and praised for the rest of the day.
As I entered 2nd grade
blossomed with my second-grade teacher,
and rallied with my third-grade teacher.
My father worked at Tinker Air Force Base, and the summer of 1966, he was given an opportunity to advance his career by transferring to Japan. I was completely stunned by a totally different culture, not to mention the language barrier. Our first year, we lived off-base in Fuchu, across the street from a mental institution. Living among the Japanese, I was immediately immersed in their culture, and soon realized that language was no real barrier for kids, because we always find a way to communicate. I had as many friends off-base as I did on. When I turned nine, I realized I wasn't like the other kids. I fit in and was popular enough, but there was something intangible, strange and unexplainable. I could sense things that let me 'see' more than was immediately available. I wanted to tell someone, but I didn’t know how to say it at that time, so I kept it secret, starting a lifetime of holding the family secrets. A year later, we transferred to Hayama. The most interesting tidbit was our vantage point to Emperor Hirohito's arrival and departure from his summer palace which was directly across the street from our house. There were more American kids to play with there, and I quickly adapted to the environment. I began to experience a few more 'intangible moments' which caused me to withdraw just a bit more. Our final transfer took us to Yokohama. We lived on-base with a view of Mount Fuji out our back window and the entire naval station out the front. There were more restrictions living on-base and as a burgeoning teenager, I resisted limits. It was in this environment that I met Michelle, the girl next door, and John, the bad boy down the hill. Closing in on thirteen, I learned a lot about myself, some of which I liked and some I didn’t understand. As we ended our time in Japan, my gifts began manifesting unchecked. I had multiple unexplained events that let me know I could no longer ignore what was happening to me. With no one with whom I could talk, I stuffed all my feelings deep inside in a desperate need to be normal.
We moved back to the States during the summer of 1969, and this move brought new challenges. Grandad died soon after we returned. My mother was devastated, as were we all. We stayed in Oklahoma for a few weeks while Dad got things settled in Springfield, a suburb of Washington, DC. As the oldest, my parents always expected me to lead the way and act a certain way. It was my job to be the role model for my brother and sister. However, I was dealing with my own demons. Everything in my life was far from normal. We had just moved across the world and everything I knew myself was changing; my voice, my body, my thoughts, and my desires. Middle school was brutal. I was surrounded by hundreds of kids going through the same changes, and every adult expected us to act like nothing was going on. My emotions were explosive, and I was dealing with raging hormones. I didn't know what was happening to me, and I didn't like it. I eventually found a couple of friends from school with whom I had a common interest, and I felt less volatile.
A few weeks after we arrived, the family began church shopping. Since we had attended various denominations in Japan, my parents were determined that we attend a Nazarene church. Initially, we attended First Church in downtown Washington, DC, but after attending discovering Arlington Calvary, a family vote nixed the long drive into DC. Attending church seemed to settle my restlessness and I started to find my voice. I made a few friends at church with whom I could share my thoughts and I began to feel normal. As I began eighth grade, my secrets resurfaced with a vengeance. I sought out a small group of friends where I could explore the secrets inside of me. On top of everything else, I started hearing the voice that I believed was God. I was brought up that we talk to God, He doesn't talk to us. I talked to my parents and our minister about it and I was warned that the devil talks to us with hope of tempting us away from God. That explanation didn't make any sense, but I was fifteen, so I went with it.
Just before ninth grade, we moved from Springfield to Fairfax and I transferred to another school. I had a circle of friends that I had to abandon with the hope of finding similar friends at the new school. My once exuberant love for school flat-lined. I hated going to school and I especially hated having to find new friends. It took almost a year before I found my new circle. These few were the outcasts and fell into the nerd category. They accepted my openly and we became fast friends. Everyone in the group was brilliant and I really liked that. Although we all had different interests, we were alike in the fact that we were so different. While some pursued academic pursuits, others were interested in these new things called computers. I loved music, so I pursued choir.
I became lead tenor and was one of ten in the madrigal group. Although talent led the way at school, the New Beginnings choir at church was a popularity contest, where I was one of forty-five. New Beginnings had a scheduled summer tour in 1973. The 14-day tour included a luxury bus trip began at the church parking lot through the deep South to Orlando, Florida with a side trip to Disneyworld. The trip back was similar, but with less anticipation. We stopped at about eight down and the same back. Although the churches and their locations were a blur, there was one in South Carolina that changed my life forever. We gathered around the altar and prayed before each upcoming performance. As I knelt in prayer, the voice began to speak. However, He wasn't talking to me, but with another voice which was clearly not the Voice of God. I do not remember all the words exchanged, but they seemed to be arguing about to whom I belonged. At the end of my experience, I fell forward onto the altar and when I opened my eyes, the choir members directly near me were staring at me. My best friend whispered that I was speaking audibly, and although no one understood what was being said, I spoke in two very distinct voices. Embarrassed, I pretended like I'd been playing around, but their faces told me they didn't believe me. The remainder of the tour is a blur as I spent most of my waking hours trying to figure out what was happening to me.
By the time we got home, I realized that I was being called to the ministry. I didn't want to be a preacher. I wanted to be a singer, an actor, or a writer. I wanted to be something that would make me rich. I didn't know at that time that the choices I made then would impact me for the next forty-five years. Starting my junior year, I recognized I had ignored my education and I chose to focus on academia and creating a career that would be the opposite of the calling. I buried myself in my studies, and at graduation I'd raised my GPA from 1.4 to 3.6.
I was on my way to living the life I’d always dreamed of.
I attended Bethany Nazarene College for one semester and then moved to Dallas to be with my Dad’s family. I had the best intentions in attending Bethany but being there was a constant reminder of what I was avoiding. I attended community college in Dallas and worked part-time at Sears. After about six-months, I decided to return home to DC. While preparing for my departure, my appendix enlarged and sent me to the hospital. The following day, the symptoms subsided, and I was scheduled to leave at noon. I went to enter the adjoined bathroom and the door was locked. Waiting a few minutes, I tried again and this time when I pushed open the door my appendix ruptured, causing me pass out, bursting through the door, hitting the sink with my face, breaking a tooth and cutting open my chin, and landing in the bathtub. One emergency surgery later, I recuperated from my various injuries and returned to Virginia.
Upon my return, I registered into community college and went to work at various places until I got a job at the local telephone company. My lofty plans for fame and fortune were put on the shelf while I started a career path. Being a telephone operator provided me with a flexible schedule and offered me opportunities to pursue my own interests. I advanced quickly within the local company and was selected to transfer to AT&T (American Bell) in 1980. With the failure of that division within a year, I transferred to the main office and expanded my success from there.
I dated but didn’t find anyone with whom I want anything long term. In 1982 I met Sarah. She was eight years my senior and had been married twice. She had been the first woman I’d felt truly connected. There was one time when we were looking at one another that mini lightening bolts danced between us. We were both stunned, and a little scared. It was intense and seemed to seal the deal. We married on December 11th in a very opulent event with all the bells and whistles. Since I thought it would be my one and only wedding, I pulled out all the stops. Sarah gave minimal input, as it was her third walk down the aisle. As excited as I was, I discovered my marriage had one significant flaw. Within three days, she told me she had only married me because I had been the last person to have asked. She didn’t seem to think this announcement was a big deal. She told me we were lucky that we were such good friends. Emotionally crushed, I decided I was going to make the best of a bad situation. I knew from a very young age that I was born to be a father, so I set out to fulfill on my purpose. We welcomed Josh on October 25, 1983 and Jordan on October 25, 1985. During our eight-year marriage, we struggled to be civil, but with each passing day it became more difficult. We moved about every thirteen months, as it was her hope to find a better place. Unfortunately, no matter where we moved the same old people were there. In August of 1990, she decided she was in love with someone else and told me she was leaving. At that time, we were living in her aunt’s house in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. I was surrounded by her family, and now, her new lover. She ended the lease and told me I needed to find somewhere to go. I told her I would gladly leave, and that I was taking the boys. She told me I wouldn’t last two months, even though I had been a househusband for the last six months.
I packed up my things, explained as best as I could about what was happening to my boys, and we moved out. The boys were 4 and 6 when we left, yet it took years for them to deal with their anger and disappointment. I don't know if they will ever get over their mother choosing to leave. Following our separation, we moved back in with my parents. It was a difficult adjustment period, but we worked our way through it and grew as a family. Now a single father without a job or prospects, I struggled with who I was as a man, father, and son. I wondered if I was being punished for saying NO all those years ago. Because it was a condition of being back, the boys and I began going back to church. I joined the choir, and the boys got involved with children's church events. Within a couple of months, I was fully integrated back into church.
I eventually was hired as a Technical Writer on the Veterans Administration contract in October 1990. At first, I felt like a fish out of water, but I found my footing and found a level of success I hadn’t felt since I left the phone company. I advanced quickly. I attributed my successes to my assertive self-management. I was finally enjoying life. Work was accomplished, and I thrived at church. I heard the voice again on March 31, 1991. As remarkable as it was, I continued to deny His messages. On February 9, 1992, God spoke in a way I could no longer deny His intention.
Our one combined memory was our six-week trip across the country in 1995. We visited every amusement park across the country...and back and stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Our new van was filled with music. For my sanity, I worked out a deal that with every hip hop or rap CD played, we also played country, easy listening (mostly Barbra Streisand), jazz, pop and rock. Our all-time favorites were Michael Jackson, Queen, and Abba. My sons still remember that trip fondly, and their taste in music is eclectic to say the least.
The following year, I had a lot of me moments. I accepted a lot about myself that I had been denying for far too long, and I found and lost the love of my life. It was that one experience that opened my eyes to the possibility of forgiveness. Unfortunately, that realization came a few years too late.
In February 2001, I registered in my first Landmark Education course, The Landmark Forum. I had no idea into what I was walking, but I got a lot out of those three days. The conversations are raw and confronting. I left that course with the intention of completing all the courses. I completed the Advanced Course in July and the Self Expression and Leadership Program in August. I registered into the Communications Program and quickly took the Access to Power and Performance and Power Courses. I immediately enrolled into the Team, Management. and Leadership Program. As the other courses are a weekend commitment, the TMLP program required one year with quarterly travel to the North American weekends. I found a place where I fit. Who I was expanded into my work life. Completing the first year, I took on the second with vigor. During the second quarter, I was asked to be a regional statistician. I didn’t know what it entailed, but I accepted the challenge. As my second year came to an end, I was asked by the Global Statistician if I wanted to be the North America Statistician, which allowed me to continue with the training and participate at a leadership level. Fast-forward one year and I was asked if I wanted to become the Global Statistician. I was now at a level I never expected to achieve. I was responsible and accountable for the growth and effectiveness of the TMLP program with approximately 850 global participants in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Israel. I ensured the accuracy of the performance reports for every team and reported the global results to the program leadership. I led weekly conference calls with representatives of each of the regional centers to empower the resources and opportunities for growth and transformation of communication on the planet, and I participated in weekly calls with the program leadership body and communicated with struggling centers to coach them in achieving reduced attrition rates. Over my 12 years as Global Statistician, I implemented the transition from spreadsheet to online reporting system and generated the space for the program’s increase to 1,250 and welcomed India to the list of global participants.
My tenure with Landmark led me to my only Federal Government position. One of the participants approached me when she heard I was unemployed. In a flurry of miracles, I started my job in three weeks from the day I applied.
I've spent a lot of my life standing on the edge of greatness. My choices tended to be safe and cautious. I've had a level of success, but I haven't had the level of greatness I thought I might at this time of my life.
I held positions in the Federal Government, State Government and Fortune 500 companies, yet none of them satisfied the yearning I had deep inside. I started businesses that failed because they skirted the edge of what I was born to do.
At the age of sixteen, I had an experience that would change my life forever. I was on choir tour with our church, and we had a practice to pray at the altar prior to a performance. At one South Carolina location, I heard a voice that beckoned me to choose. I struggled to open my eyes but they were sealed shut. I could see two shafts of light dancing in front of me. Both of these lights seemed to be entities vying for my attention. There was a brief moment when I seemed to lose consciousness and when I opened my eyes, those immediately around me were looking at me strangely. One of my friends told me that I was speaking in different voices.
Following that incident, I felt called to the ministry. As I do so well, I put off thinking about it. That cooling off period lasted 45 years.
I have gifts that I cannot deny, yet they are God-given and I have been using them for my own fortune. As a result, I failed.
I am committed to fulfilling my Life Purpose, Listening for the Voice of God Within. This leads me to step past my own desires to expand my purpose to the 7+ billion souls on the earth. We are all here for a purpose and having some acknowledge and live within their purpose will promote others to explore their purpose, and so on.
Shepherd's Way Ministries is not a typical organization. It is a growing organism that will adapt to the circumstances brought forth. God can handle all situations when we lay them at his feet.