I grew up in Asheville with my mom and dad and two older brothers. I had a lot of great friends and we had a lot of great times as we did stuff together like playing Little League baseball and riding dirt bikes in the woods. For the most part, it was a happy childhood. But I did have one big problem that grew worse the older I got: I was a follower and not a leader. I often ended up doing the things that others around me were doing. Peer pressure ate me up. As a result, I struggled with lying, stealing, cheating, horrible language, lust and pornography, and on and on. All the way through adolescence, I followed this same pattern. At times I would think there was a better way, but I didn’t seem to have the power to change.
I figured out what was missing in my last couple of years in college at Chapel Hill. I had moved to an off-campus apartment and left behind all of my dormitory friends. It turned out to be a lonely period where I had time to do a lot of thinking. One thought was that I just didn’t like who I was. But I also started thinking about some lessons from my past. My mom and dad had always taught me that Jesus loved me and died on the cross to take my punishment for all the bad things I had ever done. They taught me that God had raised Jesus from the grave to prove He was able to change my life. They taught me that if I would turn from my wrong behavior and put my trust in Jesus and what He did for me, He’d forgive me and change me and give me eternal life. There in that quiet apartment, I put my trust in Jesus and surrendered my life to follow Him and no one else.
He immediately began to change me. The first change was that I lost the urge to follow others. It was ok not to be like the crowd. It was ok to be alone for a season. It was ok to be “different.” After college, I got married to a beautiful, blue-eyed girl named Tricia. We’ve been together now since 1985. Even with Jesus leading the way, things haven’t always been easy. After having a healthy baby boy named Jared, we went through the agony of three straight miscarriages. When the reality of that first miscarriage hit us at the doctor’s office, we were in shock. We stumbled to the car and collapsed into each other’s arms; I didn’t think we could cry that much. Numbers two and three weren’t easier but even harder; those were our babies that we would never get to hold on this earth. It was a painful, confusing season. But even in our brokenness, God showed up and got us through it. He even blessed us with a wonderful second son named Seth. Now we’re celebrating the birth of our first grandchild. We moved to Rocky Mount in 2011 and really love being here. I’m still not perfect but Jesus is still changing me!