I’m proud to say I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was raised in a Pentecostal household, and was blessed to had been part of a church with a great Pastor (Ronald Overly) who really make the word of God come alive inside me. I was reborn as a Christian a week before my 11th birthday when I felt God leaning on my heart. It was and still is the best decision I’ve ever made.
As I grew, we changed churches, and as I entered adulthood, I drifted away from the church. I was a Christian, but not one who evangelized it out. I just lived a quiet Christian life with my wife and kept God to myself.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve gotten married to my wife Janette, a Christian, and we had two sons, Billy and Joseph. My first son William was blessed to be born healthy and whole. However, when we were pregnant with my youngest son Joseph, we found out during the first ultrasound that he was going to be born with a few birth defects. Although the news hit us like a train, God was with both my wife and I and we felt his love as we learned about what bi-lateral cleft lip and palate entail. He reminded us of his power when we learned that the best, most cutting edge therapies for these types of defects were right here in Western PA. I told myself “God never gives you more than you can handle”. During his first 6 months, my wife took Joseph down to Children’s hospital in Pittsburgh once a week. He had two surgeries in the first year of his life. Many nights were spent carrying him around the house doing anything we could do to help him sleep with a device like a retainer lodged in his mouth.
During this time, we noticed Joseph wasn’t making a lot of eye contact with me or Billy, and didn’t seem to be motivated by the same things my oldest was when he was that age. This pattern continued for a few years, until we learned Joseph was Autistic. This is where I know God was there with us and in our lives. Not only did he help us find the right doctors and therapists to help get him talking and interacting, but he revealed the real BLESSING he gave us. Joseph is the most kind, most loving, most caring little man you will ever meet. He is virtually always happy and joyful. Where I initially saw trials and tribulations, the Lord reminded me that he is in control and has a plan. The Lord also allowed us to see the blessing in my oldest son as well. Billy is the perfect big brother for Joseph – caring, accepting, and protective.
I’ve seen this in my professional career as well. Back in 2011, I was at a crossroads professionally and was looking for the next big role to help me provide for my family as the provider for my house. I prayed repeatedly that God would let me find something in Western PA that would allow me to continue to provide for my family. I never wanted to relocate outside of Western PA, and neither did my wife. However, I got an email out of the blue one day from a leading Seattle technology company asking if I wanted to interview for a job. I almost didn’t reply. When I told my wife, she felt God speak to her that I needed to pursue the role and pushed me to do so. I was shocked, because I knew she was even more dead set against ever moving than I was. When I asked her why, she said “I feel like God is putting this in front of you, and you shouldn’t let it pass by”. I went through the interview process, and had the best interviews of my life and 2 months later, was relocated to Seattle growing my career 10 folds and earning significantly more income for my family that I had ever before. When a few years later, we decided we wanted to get closer to family, God revealed a role with my company that would allow us to move to Madison, WI. Early this year, when we decided we wanted to come back to Western PA to be really close to extended family, God provided me with an opportunity still with the same company to lead a new office that had opened 3 months after I made my mind up to move back to Pittsburgh and leave that company to do so. (There is way more to this story, but I’ll summarize by saying there was a sequence of about 10 things that happened in succession that the odds of them happening on their own, in the way they did, was probably the same as winning the powerball lottery twice).
When we returned back to Western PA, we again started looking for churches to come home. This time, God led us to Brent Alliance Chapel in Volant, PA. Pastor Jeff Hawthorne really spoke the word of the Lord, and did so in a humble and honest way. The congregation welcomed my family with open arms. After the first service we attended, both my wife and I knew we had found our new Church family. Again God demonstrated to us that he was in control, and had a plan to lead us to a small country church that would be where we would establish ourselves.
I’ve seen God’s hand in my life repeatedly, and constantly remind myself to be humble and remember I’d have nothing without his influence in my life. I’m also constantly humbled by God – whenever I’ve been challenged I can look back and see how God was using that challenge as a way to set me up for a blessing that I wasn’t anticipating. God is in the world around us all the time. He still works miracles. You just need to chose to see them and open yourself to marry the words in the Bible to what is going on around you.
May the Lord be with you and bless you as he has blessed me. If you don’t know God the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, and want to know more, please come join us for fellowship. I’d be happy to share my story with you.