As with most people, life has been quite a journey so far, some good, some bad, some ups, and some downs. But all and all I have had a very blessed life.
I have always been very driven. My father taught me at a very young age that nobody would ever give you anything in life. Anything that is worth having is worth working your butt off to get. So I have done just that.
After high school, I spent a stint in college only to realize that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I was wasting my own time and money.
I decided to get a job for a while, to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and get some ‘real life’ experience at the same time.
It would be another 5 years before I would go back to college, and then it was doing something I was passionate about.
At the age of 20 I was married with a son. Within the next 4 yrs I would have two more children, and by the time I was 25 I began to live a very FULL lifestyle.
That was about the time that I really began working in the ministry, and became very passionate about the work of the Lord.
Not only did I return to college to pursue a degree in Christian Ministry & Theological Studies, but I also began to become very involved in the work of ministry.
Keep in mind that I was also working full time with a wife and three young children.
Things have changed a lot over the past 9 years, but to say the least, my life is still very very full.
One of the biggest reasons, I believe for my being so busy, is that I have never been content being just a part of anything. No matter what I do, I have a deep desire to be the ABSOLUTE best at that given task.
My wife Lacey, is much more grounded and would prefer a much slower pace than I do.
I truly believe that has been a saving grace for me, because she is there to tell me to slow down when I am getting ready to go over the proverbial edge.
Some say that I am not content with what I have. I jokingly say that I have ‘SUCCESSFUL A.D.D.’ But regardless of what it is, I very much enjoy being an integral part of everything I do.
To me, if something isn’t worth giving your all, it probably isn’t worth doing at all.
So over the past 9 years, I have been very successful at leading pretty much everything that I have been a part of in life.
Here is a list of some of the things I have been able to do:
1) Professionally- I was a machine operator at a plastics factory from the time I was 19 until I was almost 25.
I was up for a promotion that I felt like I had more than deserved.
I did not receive the promotion, and when I asked the production manager why, he basically said that it was his decision, and there was no explanation needed.
I said that without the promotion, it didn’t seem like I had much more of an opportunity to move up in the company, and that it may be time for a change.
The Production Manager said, ‘You are a factory worker, and there is very little out there. If you leave here you will come crawling back within 6 months.’
I think that was meant as an insult, but I took it as a challenge.
Within a month I had left the company, and was hired on as an inside sales associate for a building supply company.
Within 2 months I was promoted to Warehouse Manager, and I became very successful at that.
After about 1.5 years, I received a phone call from my previous employer, asking me to come back, because they had a new dept, and they could not find someone that could troubleshoot the process like I could.
After making them beg for about 6 months, and at the same time realizing that I had grown about as much as I was going to at my new company, I returned to the production plant.
Needless to say, the production manager who told me I would come crawling back, was no longer there, as he had been fired sometime before for making ‘poor management decisions’.
Once I returned, I figured I would probably end up staying there and making a career out of it.
However, after being away for 2 years, I realized that I no longer had a desire to work 16 hour days, and come home exhausted and dirty every day.
I had sort of evolved from a factory worker, to a manager, and I soon realized that by staying in the factory, I was limiting myself.
I left the company again about a year later, this time on great terms.
Over the next couple of years, I spent time in sales and management, and then an opportunity at BBSI opened up as a recruiting manager.
I have been with BBSI now for just over 5 years.
I loved the company, but thought that the local branch could be much better than it was in every single aspect.
So I eventually began to work in Business Development, and as of this past July, was offered the position of Area Manager for all of Delaware operations of a multi-billion dollar company.
2) Spiritually – I went to college to pursue a degree in ministry, not because I wanted the degree, but because I wanted to learn as much as possible about what I was passionate about.
I have been a part of many ministry teams at the church, and have started several community based programs as well.
I have been a youth pastor, children’s minister, men’s minister, marriage counselor, couples ministry director, outreach pastor, prison fellowship team member, transitional housing director, youth and young adult mentor, and now Associate Pastor (Leading all internal church ministries and outreach initiatives).
In addition I have started several outreach programs including adopt-a-block, faithful servants transitional housing ministries, Operation Christmas Kid, Young Mens Mentoring program, and most recently we are working on expanding Fellowship for Christian Athletes into Laurel School District.
So all of that sounds great, but about a year ago I realized that as much as I had succeeded in life already, I was failing at the same time.
I was allowing my busy schedule to keep me from being the dad and the husband I really wanted to be.
I would work day and night to reach a professional goal, but I would be so exhausted that I would forget to spend ‘daddy time’ with my kids.
Even when I wasn’t working, I was working.
I would get so busy doing ministry ‘stuff’ that I would be exhausted, and though I was helping others get through tough times in life, I was neglecting to spend time with my wife.
Reality struck when my wife Lacey looked at me one day and said, ‘You are so interested in helping everybody else, and fixing everybody else’s problems, and being there for others that you seem to have forgotten about the people that are supposed to mean the most in your life’.
I went to bed that night and truly wept.
She was right.
I felt like a horrible excuse for a husband and a terrible father.
I had heard that ministry and business has a way of taking a toll on a family, and that’s why there are so many successful yet ‘divorced’ professionals and so many ‘messed up’ pastors kids.
I was doing everything I could to be the best I could, but I was failing as a father and a husband.
I asked forgiveness from my wife and kids, and because they loved me so much, they were quickly able to forgive me.
Since then I have made a concerted effort to work just as hard at being the best dad and best husband as I had already worked in being the best leader in my professional and spiritual life.
I have also since given my wife permission to hold me in check when I get too far ‘out there’, so that I can make sure I refocus on what matters most.
So that brought up the next big problem that I would face.
Work is going great.
Church life is wonderful.
I am finding the time to balance all of that, and still take my wife out on a date at least once a week.
I am finding the time to balance all of that, and still spend ‘daddy time’ with my kids.
I don’t miss my daughters ball games, and my youngest son and I take the time to read, watch tv together, or just wrestle around.
But something was still not right.
I soon realized that all of the hard work I had put into ‘being the best’ at everything in life had done some major damage to me.
I was happy, I was blessed, and was living the American Dream.
I had even found a way to balance everything so that I was not neglecting anything or anyone.
The problem was, I had left time for just about everything in life, except for myself.
This past spring of 2013, my family and I moved to a new house with several acres of land.
My kids were thrilled, as they had never had such room to just run and play before.
I was thrilled to watch them do just that, as I had grown up in an area with just as much room, where my brothers and I could run around to our hearts content.
Shortly after moving in, my then 8 year old asked me if I would come outside and play with him.
I said yes, and went outside.
He wanted to ride bikes, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, so I said ‘maybe another time’.
He wanted to run around the yard, but after just a few minutes, I was exhausted.
So he settled for a game of badminton.
After just a few minutes of moving only a few steps from one side to the other, I was sweating profusely, my chest was pounding, and I was exhausted.
I said ‘Son, daddy has to go in the house for a while, because I don’t feel good.’
It wasn’t that I was sick, I was exhausted.
I had ignored the fact that I had put on over 100 pounds over the past 14 years, because I was able to convince myself that ‘I was in pretty good shape for a big guy’.
However, that time had passed.
As I went into the house, I looked in the bathroom mirror.
I was humiliated at what I saw.
I was a huge sloppy man, who could barely breath, and got winded just walking up a flight of stairs.
I was successful, I was good at so many things, people looked up to me and I was loved by so many.
Yet, I was totally embarrassed at who I had become.
Mentally, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually I was grounded and confident.
However, when I looked in the mirror I was humiliated at what I had become.
I remembered the athletic guy who was in great physical shape.
I remembered being the guy who was stronger than most.
I remembered being the guy who thought he would live forever.
Now, as I stared in the mirror, I was the guy who was embarrassed to go the beach or swimming in a pool, because I would have to take my shirt off.
Now I was the guy who couldn’t play with his kid for 20 minutes without needing to lay down or ‘take a break’.
Perhaps the scary thing is that now I was the guy that was afraid to go to the doctor, because I knew he would want to put me on some kind of blood pressure or cholesterol medicine.
Then it hit me. If I don’t do something soon several things were going to happen:
1) Though they are in great shape now, my kids were going to think it is okay to overeat, to lay around and do nothing, and to allow themselves to look like I looked.
I was a horrible example to my kids.
2) As successful as I was, and as bright as my future looked, I was killing myself.
I have a long history of heart disease in my family.
My uncle died at 41 of a massive heart attack and my grandfather died at the age of 43 or so from a massive heart attack.
That is less than ten years away.
At this rate, not only was I headed for major health problems, but I was going to cut my life way short, and any future success I may have had, would mean nothing.
3) Lastly, and what hurt me the most was that I was likely going to leave my kids without a father.
I would not see my youngest graduate high school, and my wife would grow old by herself.
The fact of the matter is that when I think about life and death, I rarely think about myself too much.
Death has never given me any fear, because I am confident in a glorious afterlife.
However, the thought of leaving my wife and children without a husband and father scared the hell out of me.
Here this entire time I have seemingly been such a giving person, and have been so concerned with helping others succeed, growing companies, and growing a church, and giving every ounce of my time to anyone else other than myself.
The truth of the matter is, I was being selfish.
Selfishly I neglected to take care of my wife’s husband.
Selfishly I neglected to take care of my children’s father.
Selfishly I neglected to take care of the one that so many looked up to spiritually and professionally.
As selfless as I seemed to be, I was just as selfish.
The thought of leaving my wife to raise 3 kids on her own horrifies me.
The thought of my kids growing up without me scares the hell out of me.
The thought that someone else would walk my daughter down the isle one day is sickening.
The thought that my youngest son will have no one to go fishing with chokes me up.
As I write this right now, I am frankly a bit misty eyed.
I want to live a long life.
I want to see my kids grow up.
I want to be an old man that wakes up in the morning and sits on the porch with my wife watching the world go by.
I want to die one day surrounded by friends and family, children and grandchildren, friends and loved ones who could say that I was a huge part of their lives.
I want to be successful, I want to be a world changer, and I want to be the best at everything I do.
But if I am sickly or worse, no longer in this world, none of that is possible.
So Why Am I Doing this?
I write this today as a reminder that in order for me to be a part of all of this, I have to take care of ME.
I told my wife back in July of 2013 that I was going to take the next year to get myself back to the me I used to know.
I was going to get my life back by doing whatever it took to shed the weight that I had put on while seemingly becoming who I am today.
I graduated high school at the age of 18 as a ‘fit’ 225 lb man.
As of my 34th Birthday in July of 2013, I was 350 lbs.
I spoke with Chris Gray, who I had met through business networking.
I told him my story.
I bared my soul.
He gave me this promise:
If I would remember why I wanted to do this, and I would give him a year of hard work and dedication, he could help me gain my life back.
I have been training with Chris and Karen since mid-August of 2013.
As I write this letter, it is December 15th 2013.
Chris and Karen Gray have quickly went from being my trainers to people that I truly consider friends.
I firmly believe that by my 35th birthday next July, I will have regained my physical health, and met my goal of losing 100+ lbs.
By then I also believe that I will have the foundation necessary to continue to maintain this lifestyle for years to come.
As of now, I am off to a good start.
I have lost 36 lbs, and currently weigh 314 lbs.
I feel so much better than I did just 4 months ago, and I am re-motivated to make this thing happen NOW.
Chris and Karen are helping to give me my life back through training and accountability, but more importantly they are reminding me that I am in charge of my life, and I decide how I am going to live it.
I am glad to say that I am able to do more with my kids now than I have in a long time.
However, I am focused on the day soon coming that my kids have a hard time keeping up with me.
I am focused, motivated, and determined that I will succeed at a being a great husband and father.
I will succeed at being a great businessman and spiritual leader.
But in order to do that, I am going to have to focus on taking care of myself. If not for me, for everyone that needs me.
So as I continue to this sometimes painful and inconvenient journey I am reminded as to Why I Am Doing This. So the answer:
Question: WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Answer: Lacey, David, Abigail, & Ben