Looking For Home:Chapter 1-9

                                             Chapter 1

The fall of 2003 was a very pivotal time in my life; and the life of my family. I was looking for something. I had not been able to pin-point just what it was. Something was unsettled in my spiritual life.

As far back as I can remember, second grade, I knew who Jesus was. I knew that He was God’s son and He had come to earth, born of the Virgin Mary, and died for my sins (as well as others). I never questioned that. It all made perfect sense to me. I knew I was a sinner and the only hope I would have of being forgiven is the atoning death of the sinless son of God.

Later as a teenager attending a Christian school, it was explained to me that I needed to ask Jesus to be my personal Savior. I needed to ask Him to forgive me of my sin, and ask Him to come into my heart and life and save me from eternal damnation and live with Him in heaven. I prayed a prayer to that effect, and I knew something was different. It was a feeling, but more than a feeling, ya’ know?

It was maybe a week, maybe a month later, when I was baptized at the Baptist church I had been attending. I was wanting and longing to grow in my new-found faith, but discipleship was nowhere to be found for me. I just kept hearing the same old “hellfire and brimstone” sermons, and Sunday School had no substance at all. Any way, the fire of the Holy Spirit was soon quenched in me (by myself and the lack of discipleship I received) and I went back to life as I had known it before.

                                   Chapter 2

 From my mid-teens until my mid-twenties, I practiced what I called Timism (doing what I wanted to do). This was not a pretty sight and without going into a lot of detail, it’s only by God’s grace that I lived through that time. I was on my way to becoming an alcoholic, and the downhill spiral was spinning faster.  

When I was twenty-three I met Deanna, who is now my wife. Our relationship started as a friendship initially, but as time progressed, our fondness for each other grew into love and one day I asked her if she’d like to move in together. She said yes and I was ready to start looking for an apartment. A few days later, she told me she couldn’t move in with me, because if she did that, her parents would disown her. I said okay, and really started thinking that if I was willing to commit to living with her, why not just get married? It’s not that much different, right? And if it doesn’t work out, we can always divorce, like so many others do. So in this half-hearted way I asked her to marry me, and she said yes.

I must mention here that prior to our marriage, Deanna and I found ourselves in the position of an unplanned pregnancy. Again, feeling that her parents would disown her, we opted to abort our child.

So together we moved forward with our plans to get married. During our pre-marital Counseling (to be married by this preacher, this was a prerequisite) I got reacquainted with God. Something inside me just knew that if I didn’t put God in the center of our marriage, that I would end up like most of my extended family…divorced. So I rededicated my life to God, asking Him to help me be a godly husband for my wife.                     

 Deanna and I were married on May 6, 1989. I had a new bride, a new relationship with God and a new start. I was so excited and ready to set out on this new adventure.

                                                       Chapter 3

Well, time passed and in March of 1993 on the 13th (blizzard Saturday) our first child was born. Our daughter Dylan Taylor. Saturday evening when I got home, Deanna still being in the hospital, I wrote a song for Dylan. The song is called,”She isn’t even born (as she grows)”recalling the previous nine months until her birth. In doing this, my abortion experience came flooding back to me in this great emotional wave. I prayed then and asked God to forgive me for the awful sin I had committed.

When we had decided to abort our child, I knew it was wrong. I knew it was a sin. Yet, I did it anyway. I knew I could not ask God to forgive a sin I was about to commit. Afterwards, I knew I would have to wait awhile before I could ask forgiveness. You just can’t commit a sin that heinous and, a few minutes later, think you can be forgiven. First I had to experience  remorse, and for the first time I had. Through the writing of that song, the experience of seeing Dylan born, the realization of what I had done and the remorse for my action, my heart melted. Now I knew I was forgiven. It wasn’t until twelve years later that I was healed of the experience but I’ll get to that later.

Dylan being born is one the most special days of my life. She will always be my first-born (we have that in common). My first daughter. I never had a sister, never been around girls growing up. I was scared to death. Would I be a good father? A good teacher? Provider? Protector? Would she love me? Would she be proud to have me as a father? I was scared! I knew I needed to rely on God, now more than ever.

                                                      Chapter 4

As Dylan was growing, I too was growing in my new role as a father. It really gave me a different perspective on life. I had been so used to seeing life from the child’s perspective and now, for the first time, I was seeing it from the parents perspective. As the father, I would look at her and wonder if this was how God saw me? Was I the whiny baby? or was I crying out in legitimate need? It really changed the way I thought about fatherhood and children.

A couple of years went by and in 1995 on May 3, our son, Zachary Harrison, was born. He was born with a touch of colic and that was tough on us but, thanks to the swing, bouncy seat on the dryer and of course good old fashioned medicine, we survived. Early on he had quite the personality, laughing and playing. When he would laugh, he’d stick out his tongue and wave his hands in the air, saying “Haaaa, Haaaa!”, and he still, to this day, has that same personality. What a blessing!

This was also the time when Deanna and I, started discussing and praying about her staying home with the kids. Sending the kids to day-care would take all  of her pay-check, except for $20.00. So, we decided that if we couldn’t trust God for $20.00 a week, then how in the world could we trust Him with our eternal salvation? So, in the summer of 1995, Deanna became a stay-at-home Mom.

I continued to grow in my faith and the knowledge of God’s word. After our marriage, we had joined a small Southern Baptist church. The pastor there was a great teacher and the church had adopted the “cell group” or “small group” church growth plan. Deanna and I really liked this approach, it was different, laid back and informal. It was biblical, based on Acts 2:46 (“meeting from house to house”). It was also teaching me ( helping me) to live out my faith at home, in a better way. If there was one thing I was determined to do, it was to not play any religious games. I wanted my faith to be real, active and practical. After all, I was the father of two now, wanting to be a good example for my children in the spiritual life as well as our family life.

 Having a son, I think, that’s when I started putting pressure on myself to be the “perfect Dad”, really wanting him to see a better example than what I thought I had growing up. My Dad was a good Dad, I just thought I could be a better one! Also, with Deanna staying home, I was the sole bread-winner and I was scared I was going to fail. Fail at providing for the family, being a good father and a good husband. The only thing I could do was to cling to the promise of scripture,”I have the strength for everything through Christ who empowers me,” Phil. 4:13.

                                                        Chapter 5

Well just before Zack turned one year old, we had an “opportunity” to buy this house (actually on a rent to own plan) from a previous supervisor of the employer I was working for. It was an older house and I’d go by there after work and help him fix different things, paint this and sand that. One day He asked me if I’d like to buy it. I told him I’d mention it to Deanna. Well, we go to look at it, and she just fell in love with the place! Maybe it wasn’t so much the house as it was a house. You see, at the time, we lived in a mobile home. But, she really did tell me that this house reminded her of the house she grew up in. So we sold the trailer, and moved into our “dream house.”

Well, our “dream house” turned out to be a nightmare! We still, to this day, refer to it as the “hell house” because, while we were there, our lives turned into a living hell!

I remember two things, very vividly, about those days. The rest I just try to forget! First I remember, Deanna and I just desperately praying for God to provide our needs. At this time, things weren’t going the way I thought they should, so I prayed,”Lord, You tell me in Your word that You will never give to us more than we can bear. Then Lord, You are a liar! I can’t bear this any longer!” I have since, repented of that prayer.

Secondly, I remember being exhausted one night, and Dylan (who was three at the time) asked,”Daddy, will you come pray with me?” Oh I was so tired! “Dylan, can’t you please, pray by yourself tonight? Daddy is so tired.” “But Dad, I want to pray and ask Jesus in my heart. And I’m not sure what to say.” I was thrilled! I was thrilled, tired and later I got mad. I went in and prayed with her, and she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior.  I was thrilled because this was what we had wanted for her, for her to know Jesus. I was mad because I had almost squandered this opportunity.

I am so thankful that through our experiences in the “hell house” that there is at least one precious memory. Though I’m sure there are more.

                                                         Chapter 6  

The worst part about this time was that Deanna and I were drifting apart. It seemed whatever we did, it was the wrong thing, or at least it turned out wrong. I had left a job, making decent money, for a sales job that I absolutely STUNK at! So, I got a part-time job stocking groceries over night, while still trying to sell during the day. Deanna even took a part-time evening job. Our whole world and our short-term plans, were turned up-side-down. The things we thought were right, were turning out wrong and we couldn’t seem to trust each others judgement. I found out later that, this was a symptom, of a much bigger problem (more to come on that).

This was also the way I felt toward God at this time (things going wrong, couldn’t trust His judgement). I was even contemplating giving up the faith. Remember my prayer from the last chapter? The associate pastor from the church we were still attending, came by one day to talk and to try to encourage me as we faced all these difficult circumstances. He said, “Tim, you know Joseph suffered hard times in his life. Being sold into slavery, by his own brothers. Accused of a crime he didn’t commit. But through it all, he trusted God.” I just looked at him with a cold stare. “My name ain’t Joseph and this ain’t Egypt,” was my response and I showed him to the door.

The more I thought about giving up the faith, the more I thought about the children. See, it’s not that I didn’t “believe” in God anymore, I was just tired of all the mess. If my life was gonna be screwed-up, I could do that own my own, I didn’t need God’s help with that. The effect it could have on my children, that’s why I didn’t give up the faith. If they’d have seen me give up, then they could use me as an excuse later on, when things got tough on them, and with any situation in life. I could not live with that! I would not live with that!

Now, Deanna and I decided maybe a change of venue would be good for us. Let’s go to another church. One we can “hide out” in for awhile. Not serve, teach lead or anything . Just sit, sour and soak. It would be hard on the kids, leaving all their little play buddies, so we decided to go to the same church my brothers family went to. His kids were about the same age as ours. My mother also went there, so we could surround them with family as they adjusted to their “new” church. And it worked! We ended up staying there for about 7 years.

We also decided, or had decided for us, that we would move out of the “hell house”. So, we loaded up the truck and moved into a 3 bedroom apartment.

Deanna and I both breathed a great sigh of relief at being rid of that house, and the time in our life it represented. This was going to be our “clean slate”.

                                        Chapter 7

After we had moved into the apartment and transitioned into our new church, things seemed to settle down a bit. I was still struggling with my feelings toward God and even toward Deanna (though the change of venue helped to ease the outwardly tense feelings somewhat).

I had gone full-time with the grocery store by now. My career as an insurance salesman had been a complete failure, and probably had a lot to do with the way I thought of myself and the way I treated others. I felt like a complete failure. I was miserable inside (again symptoms of a bigger problem) but as we continued going to our new church, God was using this time as preparation for me. Slowly, I would start to hear things in sermons that I’d not heard before. Read passages of scripture I had read before, and get it. God was peaking my interest to grow. Grow in my faith and my relationship with Him, in a new and deeper way.

While all this was taking place on the inside, I had very little (if any) outward signs of interest in the church or it’s activities, other than for the children. Like I said earlier, I wanted to hide out for awhile. I didn’t want to get involved with church activities, helping, teaching, doing anything! Just let me sit here and get fed.

After a few visits to different Sunday school classes, we decided to go to the Pastor’s class. This turned out to be highly significant in my life, as well as in my spiritual development and maturity. I had commented earlier that our previous Pastor was a great teacher and I learned a lot from him. But, this Pastor could bring things out of the text, that I’d never thought of before. This may sound silly, it does to me now, but I remember vividly a Sunday in his class where we read the passage in Mark, where Jesus calls the 12, and the Pastor asked the class,” Do you think the disciples were young or old? Why?” I’d never thought about that before. I didn’t know if it was because I just didn’t care, or if it was because I’d just looked at the Bible as a storybook (though in a real sense) with characters that were ageless and faceless for the most part. Whatever the reason, I was becoming intrigued with the deeper content of the Bible. Historical background, culture, religious practices. All the extra things that were certainly intended for the original readers to grasp, but had eluded me.

This brought me into a new dimension of Bible study. And at about this same time, the Lord brought to us the blessing of our third child; Samantha Nicole, born on Super Bowl Sunday, January 25th 1998.

                                           Chapter 8

What a surprise this was. It was a welcomed surprise, but, a surprise none the less. I don’t think I mentioned this before, but our children were HUGE! Dylan was 10.6 pounds when she was born, Zack came in a close second at 10 pounds even. Samantha was the smallest, she was also about two weeks early, and still weighed in at 8.6 pounds. My wife is quick to point out that she still got the better end of the deal between her mother and her grand-mother, they gave birth to 13 pound babies!

Anyway, back to the story. By this time, I had stopped my sit and soak mentality and had started getting involved. I talked my brother into playing bass for the praise band and I would play guitar. Deanna was starting to sing, and teach in the AWANA program. Our kids had adjusted well and our oldest girl was baptized. Things seemed to be going great.

Our pastor had started a week-day morning bible study and we met at 6 a.m. once a week. I can’t remember what day we met on originally, but it started out with about 8-12 guys. As the weeks went by, the numbers dwindled down to four, including the pastor. This Bible study, will also play an important role in my faith formation, and be an oasis in the times that were fast approaching.

I was learning so much, growing in my faith, playing guitar, singing. Things were even going well for me at work. I had started overnight stocking with the grocery store at minimum wage, when I realized I couldn’t sell insurance. I worked my way up to the meat department and became a certified butcher. I then, transferred to the Produce department where I was making twice as much as I was when I first started. Things were going very well.

Deanna and I still had our issues, but I think we had just learned to tolerate each other. Our issues ran so deep, and we didn’t know how to deal with them, so we just suppressed them even more. Little did I know that shortly, my whole life, my whole world and my whole Christian experience, were about to change .

You’ve heard the old saying,”It’s always darkest before the dawn?” Well, it was about to get pitch dark! And Deanna and I, wouldn’t know what hit us!

 In the middle of all this spiritual growth, this service, the studies, in the midst of it all, the pastor was having an affair with the pianist. The church was in shock! I was in shock! How could this dedicated man of God do something that was so blatantly against all he had stood for, all he had taught, all of these years? I understood that he was “just a man,” but it had to be something that ran much deeper. This man, who I respected as a teacher, as a friend and as a pastor, had betrayed me. But, not only me, but the whole church. And it sent the whole church into TOTAL DISARAY!

Looking back now, I can see that so many people, including myself, bestowed so much honor on him that virtually any misstep, would’ve been a major set-back for the church. But this, this was devastating. And no one knew what to do. No one. Our deacon body, may have had an idea, and a few followed the instructions of church discipline, but most did not.

Well, someone had to do something, and I knew the Lord had picked me to do it.

“Oh God, why me?”

                                          Chapter 9    

The Sunday the pastor resigned, is a blur. He and his wife exited the building, after his announcement, and I didn’t see him again for 5 years. His wife and children, continued to attend church there. There was a small group of people who really loved and supported her through this time. We even started a special time of prayer with her, for her husband at the church on Friday nights. We would all take turns praying for our ex-pastor, his wife and children, and for the woman he was sinning with.

Though we were hurt, angry and confused, we still loved him. And this was especially true for his wife. She never gave up hope. Yes, there were tears, and Satan made her doubt at times, but she never gave up hope. She was an inspiration to Deanna and myself, in all that she was going through, and she stayed strong and not only kept the faith, but continued growing in it and persevering through all the trials. It was truly amazing to witness! And as an update on this part of the story, this couple was reconciled and re-married about 2 years ago, and things are going very well. She would be the first one to give the praise and glory to God for this, and so we shall. Amen.

Getting back to the story, I spent the next 3 weeks studying what scripture had to say about church discipline. I started in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 18:15-17 and other related passages concerning mostly removal from the fellowship (1 Cor. 5:13, 2 Thess. 3:6, Titus 3:10-11). Also, within these few weeks, I attempted to meet with the chairman of deacons and was finally able to, for about ten minutes on a Wednesday night before prayer service. The meeting seemed an exercise in futility, but in his defense, he was a rookie deacon at least in the chairman position. I would even dare say a pawn, placed in that position by a deacon body who knew that something was about to go arye. To protect themselves and buy some time for an interum pastor search. Now this is only my perseption, this may not be the reality, it’s just the way it appeared to me.

Well armed with the Word of God, prayer and preparation, I was prepared for our monthly business meeting. This would take place after our Sunday night worship service. Right before the end of the service, I told our ex-pastor’s wife what I had been led to do, and that I was letting her know ahead of time, in case she didn’t want to stay or to send her children out during the meeting. Well, she stayed and she did send her children out. 

When the issue of new business came to the floor, I stood up and presented the teaching on church discipline, it’s use, it’s purpose and it’s desired effects. And due to the fact that these two particular individuals showed no signs of remorse or repentance and were continuing in their affair, we should remove their names from the church roll. So, I made the motion that we do this. This was our (as a church) last course of action. To stand for righteousness, to not allow unrepentant sin to take a foot-hold in our fellowship. The motion was seconded, and it was voted on. It could only pass with a 3/4 majority vote. And the vote failed. This church body had decided to retain their membership. I couldn’t believe it. For a people who claim to follow the Word of God, they not only ignored it, they blatently disobeyed it! Two of it’s members were openly sinning and they refused to do anything about it!

As I said after the meeting,” We’ve just slapped God in the face! I wonder how long it will be before He removes our “lampstand from it’s place?” (Rev. 2:5)

13 Responses

  1. Hi Tim,

    I love both of you like you were my brother and sister. I just cannot wait until you write more of the story!

  2. There’s more to come, I promise.
    And we love you, too!

  3. I really want to read the ‘more-to-come’! 🙂

  4. I also am looking forward to more of the conversion story. Also, nice job on the wonderful blog.

  5. Thank you, Father! It’s great to have you come by for a visit. You are more than welcome anytime.

  6. Thanks for adding more to the story. Can’t wait for “the rest of the story!” 🙂
    ~Debi

    Debi,
    Thanks for reading. 🙂 Hopefully, some more this week (Fri. or Sat.)
    His blessings to you and the family,
    Tim

  7. Loved reading this. makes me miss you even more, if that’s possible…lost your addresses and phone #’s…..
    HOpe you are doing good…..

    love
    Dad

  8. My goodness! I have only read ‘The Conversion’ and I love it. Your style of writing is honest and sincere. You admit to your feelings towards God that most people will not, even though we have all gone through this (or are still doing). Tim, I can not wait to read more of your life; may I put you on my blogroll? Even though I haven’t many readers, I feel that your wonderful honesty needs to be spread.

    I am can not wait to read more. May God bless your children and your wonderful wife, Deanna.

    Harlequin

  9. Thank you so much Harlequin for the compliments. I’m glad you find my story interesting, and yes I wanted to be honest as to help encourage those who may feel the same as I did at times.
    Yes, you can certianly put me on your blogroll, I would be honored. May I blogroll you as well?
    May the Lord God bless you and your family, too.
    Tim

  10. Please do; however, be warned that God hasn’t washed my mouth out with soap yet. 🙂

  11. Tim,

    You story (what I’ve read so far) is a wonderful witness.

    I do have one question though. You did give your dad your address and phone number didn’t you?

  12. Ha Ha!! 🙂
    Yes, Richard. I gave him our address and phone number!
    Thanks again for the comments.

  13. Hi Tim!
    What a testimony! Trials are part of being in Christ, and He never said we would be without our trials! Thankfully, we can count on Him to help us through them, to discern what it is they are telling us about ourselves and how we can use it to enhance our faith.

    We also have to keep in mind, even pastors are human…and sometimes, we all slip back into our flesh. Sadly, however, some of those who slip aren’t repentant of that slipping. But even still, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to still love and help that fallen bretheran come back to Jesus.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    DiscerningtheWord.com

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