I was raised in a Christian family. We were involved in a very legalistic Conservative Christian Church. Not only in the church, but the second son of an ordained pastor working in a Christian children’s home. Playing cards were not allowed in the house. I lived in fear that my death might come between the commission of a sin and my next chance to ask forgiveness. Every summer I went to camp where they would spend the last couple of days trying to scare us straight. The legalism never made sense to me. I eventually began to see scriptures that contradicted the legalism that some of the church leaders were pushing.
I have studied myself out of man-made legalism. I have a personal relationship with Jesus. That relationship isn’t perfect. No relationship is. I get the idea He’s OK with my faults.
I was also raised on music. Our family sang together. I still remember the first time I was “forced” to the piano to join the rest of the family in a rehearsal. I don’t know why I didn’t want to do it. I think I just wanted to make the decision. Before the end of that session, I was in love. I loved how my voice blended with my family. I loved choosing harmonies and playing within the structure of the chords. We sang together at church. We sang at community events. We even sang for a major convention in Dallas. I played the trumpet in band. I chose the trumpet because my older brother played the trumpet. I didn’t necessarily idolize him. It was just an easier choice. It worked for him. It would work for me. Band turned out to be the best decision I made in my entire school career. The teamwork, friendship, hard work, and musicality made high school worth it.
I met my wife on the stage of a community theater. We were both in a musical production. She tied my bow tie. I gave her daily hugs (I was a smooth operator). We talked at the end of the closing cast party. She let me know that she was scheduled to sing a special number the following morning in her church. When she told me she didn’t know what she was going to sing, I offered my services. We hopped in my truck, drove up on top of a remote hill, pulled out my monster speakers, and rehearsed several songs together. By the time we had chosen and rehearsed a song, we were mere hours away from our performance time. That began a long relationship of singing together that continues today. The major improvement is that instead of singing with cassette tapes, our daughter accompanies us. Big improvement!
I grew up in the country. The ministry where my parents worked was located in the hills of Northeast Oklahoma. I ran around all summer wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. I played in caves under the ground and in sycamore trees 50 feet above the ground. We lived for a few years in town, but Dad quickly found that we were not city people. He bought 5 acres in the Illinois River Valley. Once again we were able to run free wearing little clothing.
I’m the second of 5 boys. People ask my mother how she handled it. She usually responds with some remark that expresses her preference for raising boys instead of girls. The fact is that she raised both. As house parents in a children’s ministry, my parents experienced parenthood under many interesting conditions. Being the second son I experienced being a younger brother as well as having a younger brother. We were rough on each other. While my wife tells stories of screaming door-slamming fights with her sisters, our fights usually led to blood & bruises. Many times, Mom would interrupt our fights with a big spanking for all involved followed by banishment to our shared room. We didn’t see the genius to this strategy. She had played on the biggest instinct between brothers. She attacked us from the outside. By spanking us and sending us to our rooms she gave us a common enemy and time to share our distain for that enemy. Genius!
Today, all five of us live within 20 minutes of each other. Our favorite times are our times together. We occasionally have a poker night (no money), a “Jeep” night, or a trip to the off-road trails together. We’re pretty tight. I think it’s safe to say that aside from my wife, my brothers are my best friends. We even have a running group text. My wife says we’re worse than a bunch of women for all the chatting.
I’m a gun owner. Part of that comes from living in a rural area. There are critters that must be dealt with out in the country. It is necessary to have some sort of gun. I also have a teen-aged daughter. Doesn’t every stereotypical father of a teen girl need a gun? Our neighbor called one day and recommended that we check out the sex-offender registry. We found that one of our neighbors that we hadn’t met is on the list. Of course there aren’t many details about the person in the registry, just that they’re on the list. A lot of things go through a guy’s mind when he makes that kind of discovery. Our daughter was old enough to stay home alone. We would make sure that my parents (they live next door) were going to be around if she was staying home alone. Still, it bothered me.
I had been talking to a friend at work about guns. He finally said, “I carry a gun all the time.” I was initially shocked, but then logic took hold. That makes sense. Concealed carry means no one knows unless you let them know. I began to quiz him about his gun ownership and his license to carry. As it turns out, it’s a reasonable process in Arkansas to get a concealed carry license. He was showing me his gun and how well it conceals. I expressed an interest in it, and he told me that his brother had one just like it for sale. I made arrangements and bought it. I thought it would feel “shady” buying a gun from someone in a parking lot. The reality is it was just like buying a car from an individual. He showed me the gun. I liked it. I paid him for the gun. We parted company. No big deal. I took it home and began practicing with it. One night sitting in the hot tub with my wife, I mentioned that I would like to go get my concealed carry license. She immediately responded that she wanted to go too. I was a little surprised. She told me that if anything happened to me she wanted to be able to handle herself. After some training together, we both took and passed the class. I have carried almost every day since. She carries when she travels and on certain other occasions. We are now gun people.
In college, I helped my mom run a screen printing business. I would cram all of my classes in to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I would work all day Tuesday and Thursday as well as evenings Monday and Wednesday (Friday night was for play). My Econ teacher told me that he didn’t expect to teach me much since I was living the curriculum. I learned that the harder I worked, the smarter I worked, the more money we made. Government involvement in our business always cost us money. If we could bypass government regulation we made more money. Just to be clear, we were not breaking any laws. We just looked for business practices that were not regulated by the government. My brother is in screen printing now. The government has since closed those loop holes. My mom finally sold the screen printing business. I have since worked in a small business, a university, a church, and now another small business. I love free market. I hate government interference.
I’m a geek. When our family had the screen printing business, we made the transition from manual design and layout to computer design. I became the primary designer simply because I was the one who understood the Mac computer and software. Technology makes sense to me. I went from screen printing design to computer graphics and animation for video production. Before long I was producing videos, engineering editing suites, and overseeing large venue event productions. From there I stepped into a university environment as the Coordinator of Classroom and Event Technology. When I left there I became the Director of Audio Services for a church that ran about 10,000 in weekly attendance through 10 fully equipped and staffed auditoriums. Now, I design and install high-end audio, video, and control systems for commercial and large residential customers. I have a wall full of industry certifications.
I mentioned that I met my wife on the stage of a community theater musical production. We have been married over 20 years. We are more in to each other now than we ever have been. Seeing her be a mother to our children is a real turn-on. As far as children go, we birthed one and bought one. That is to say our son was borne to us naturally, but our daughter was adopted. My wife will tell you that neither process was easier than the other. My parents have 15 grandkids (and a few great-grandkids). Of those 15, 7 of them were adopted. I know, this is unique. We’re not normal. I doubt you’ll ever hear any of us claim to be. The bottom line is that we are family. Family values are important to us.
So that is a general introduction. When I write something later, you can come back to this and gain some understanding about why I believe what I believe. This should give a lot of insight into my point of view. These things are foundational to me.
Good stuff, my friend!