I’m not sure how to do a story. I have never spoken to more than 3 people at a time in my life. I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
My parents were orphans. We were very poor. It wasn’t like it is now days when you had some family member you could get money from if you needed something. Back then if we didn’t have it we didn’t get it. And it was often we didn’t have it. We lived in a 4 room shack with no walls on the inside. I remember every year before school started I would get 3 new pair of pants and one new pair of shoes. If I tore them up I wore them anyway.. By the time school was out everything I had was covered in those iron on patches. I remember many times wearing shoes the bottoms out and holes in them with socks in the bottom and tape patched around it. Mother did the best she could to keep as fed and clothed and she sewed a lot of my clothes but we still went out dressed in torn and ripped up clothes and shoes quite regularly.
We Had a wood burning stove in the living room that we used for heat and to boil water on to put in a bath tub that we had in the kitchen and we pour that water in the bathtub and that’s where we would take our bath. I remember I was a few years old three maybe four mother was boiling water for a bath. She would get it very hot. She was getting ready to remove the water from the heater and she turned around and my brother had walked up to her and she spilled the tub of boiling water on my brother. He was a year old. I will never forget that scream. I was too young to know what was going on. But I knew it was bad. I knew he stayed gone from home a long time. I knew they had a big celebration the day they brought him home on a pillow from the hospital sitting on a pillow. I know now he almost died. My family to this day has never talked of this again. That’s the way my family is. We don’t talk about things. To this day nobody in my family has ever told me that they love me. I was also super shy. I would look at the floor in the presence of adults.
We lived out away from other people for the most part. Lots of untouched and unexplored woods behind our house for miles and miles. Really no other kids around. So I would be out playing all day long by myself. I had an unlimited supply of rocks to throw. I would throw rocks all day. I got to where i could sometimes hit a flying bird. I would also throw a ball I had at a target on the back of our outhouse. I was always throwing or hitting something. I would do this all day pretending I was a famous baseball or football player. At 5 my dad signed me up to play baseball. Right away I was a good baseball player. I made Allstars every year I ever played. I made Allstars of the allstars. I was on a level above my age. God blessed me with athletic ability but all those rocks I threw and hit really helped to. Sports was my life. It was all I had.
As I had said we were poor. I always had wore out and tore up sports shoes and gloves and bats. I was a pitcher and I would drag my foot and I would wear the toe out. I was always taping the toe. I might play 2 years in shoes with the entire toe out and 2 sizes too big. Taping my bats. Tying my gloves up. Holes in my glove. Most everything I had was wore out before it was ever given to me. And everything I had was give to me.
My mom would carry us to church. And I loved it. Be around other kids. Do things was not aware existed. I once made it 2 years without missing. I made friends there. One of my friends had started getting to do some work with a local guy. He seemed to always be buying stuff. Nice bicycle. New glove. I thought if I could only do that. Man I could buy me something new. I would beg him to try and get me in on it. He would tell me if they ever needed anybody he would let me know. One day I saw the guy at the gas station. He asked me if I would be interested in helping him some. I said yes!!! Please!! He said he would let me know.
Next week my buddy asked me if I wanted to go. I was so excited. I will never forget that day. Beautiful spring day. We had about a 6 or 7 mile bike ride to get there. Got there and he had a car he was going to paint. He showed me how to sand it. He wanted me to sand. It was hard work for a 8 or 9 year old boy but I was working hard. I was going to make sure he was pleased with my work. It wasn’t much longer I was grabbed from behind. I realized he had no clothes on. I knew it wasn’t right. I screamed for my buddy. He was gone. It did not go well for me. I will never ever forget my bike ride home. Once my front tire came off. I was peddling so hard and my bike was pieced together. The shy, innocent little boy died that day. The seed of the devil was planted.
I never told a soul what happened until last year. I was damaged. Bad. I tried so hard to wash off the feelings. The dirt. Worried that he was really going to tell everybody “what I did to him” as he threatened to do. I became even more quiet and isolated. I continued to play ball and excel. At 12 I was playing allstars baseball. Little league. I had got the flu and mother sent word I couldn’t play. We didn’t have a phone or car and depended on others to get me there. Usually me and mom. But late that evening the coach came by and was asking mother was there any way I could make it. We were playing a team that was highly regarded and would eventually go deep in the world series. I begged her. Please mom. Please. She finally said yes. Got there I had a 102 fever. They almost didn’t let me play. But play I did. I pitched a no hitter against them. Struck out almost every batter. Got a big write up in the news paper the next day. The Pleasant Grove coach, and also a coach from 31 North , discussed with my dad about us moving to their district to play for them. I was making a name. Also hit two long home runs the next day. Future was bright.
The next sports for me was high school after the all stars. I was going in the 7th grade. After practice I made number one starting pitcher. But something was different. In high school they used dressing rooms. I could not do dressing rooms. I would panic. I quit. I walked away from sports. The only thing I ever had. I was changing fast. Physically and on the inside.
It was at this same time I got introduced to drugs. I liked drugs. A lot. I would come out of my shell i had always been in. No more shyness. I was bulletproof. But I couldn’t figure out how to get as much as i wanted. Then as I worked at the store I finally realize pumping gas That I could pay for some of the gas and I could put some of the gas money in my pocket. And oddly enough nobody ever caught on. I kept getting more and more and more gas money. It wasn’t long I could afford all the drugs I want it. I had friends from everywhere. At my age (16) to be able to get all these drugs I was a super friend. People wanted to be around me. The older kids looked for me. I loved it. I was a big dog.
During these early years I kept my drug use in check. I just enjoyed the party. It wasn’t the drugs it was the party atmosphere. I did this for the next 19 years. I would go to school and I would have drugs and alcohol with me in class. Numerous times I passed out in class. And nobody ever once mentioned I had a problem or try to help me. They let me do whatever I wanted to do. That has been the story of my life. I still managed to graduate with an advanced academic diploma and putting absolutely zero effort in. I never dated in school. Scared to death of thinking I wasn’t good enough for the girls. I was poor and none of them were poor. I had a teacher tell me she had a girl that wanted to go to the prom with me and if I would go she would give me an A. When she told me who I remember trembling. No way she would go with me. She chased me for a long time but I wasn’t about to get caught.
After I got out of school I ran away from home. Got an apartment with my cousin. Didn’t see my family for 6 months. I ran wild during this time. I would sometimes be high and sit by myself and cry for hours. I had met two guys and we became a team. We did everything together. But one was a serious diabetic. His doctors kept telling him he had to quit the partying or he would die. He would try but I wouldn’t let him. I would come by partying all the time. He would tell me no and I would be there the next day. He always caved in to me. I don’t know how much what I did had to do with his death or not. It wasn’t long he was diabetic coma and died. I did not even go to the funeral. I let guilt consume me.
My other buddy on the team that I was super close to. We did everything together too. But for some reason he idolized me. He went in the service and had to go to Korea. On his trips home he could only bring a few things with him. He always brought things for me. And we would party til he left. He would have done anything in the world for me. He would give his life for me. I had a girlfriend at this time. & I wasn’t treating her very good. We drink together and party together. That’s about it. One night him and her had a conversation about something and i was drunk and acted up got stupid threatened him. We had never had a disagreement in our life. The next day i thought i need to go fix this. I heard he was really upset about it. But I didn’t go. The next morning I got a call he had shot himself. To this day I still think it’s my fault. And again I was too sorry to go to the funeral.
These were my friends and we were a team and they were gone . After this my party and got out of control. It got really bad. You might be able to find me at a bar in any state in the southeast. With anybody. And by myself. I remember one night we were partying and one of the guys just dropped to the floor. We drug him over in the corner and forgot about him. People came and went. Latter somebody came in and sad they thought he was dead. Sure enough he was. I was buying drugs one night. I had just paid for and got my drugs and the dealer got shot in the forehead. I went to another dealer real early one morning and they were out but said sit down and they would run up the street and get more. As they pulled on the street they were hit head on and killed them both. Death was all around me. I have been shot at on 3 occasions. I have shot at on 2 occasions. I partied with the grim reaper at least 250 times. Called names all around me but never called mine.
I had a local cop that hated me. He was searching us one night and fell face first in the mud. I laughed. Hard. He was so furious. He was in my face screaming. Myself and a buddy used to go to hockey games and get drunk on cheap beer. One night they asked us to leave. We said we decided we would stay. My buddy was a big guy. We’ll they left. Came back with 8 more. We were drunk. We thought odds were in our favor. Turned out we were wrong. It made local TV news. Next day my head looked like a golf ball. As I was getting put in jail my buddy cop that hated me so bad showed up. He decided to punch me a few times. Glad he did. Would up getting all my charges dropped. The next week right up from my house he was in a car accident and was killed. And the next week my buddy was found mysteriously dead. Never found out what happened. Just heard no drugs and alcohol was in his system. So many died. And my addiction to adrenaline was possibly my most powerful.
I had people many times when I was high tell me I looked like the devil. Probably over 10 times. Strangers. I didn’t look like the devil, I was possessed by the devil. I remember mother telling of how I would be back there asleep and she could hear the demons outside my window trying to get in to me.
I have been in hundreds of bad situations. Hundreds and hundreds really. Bars, shot houses, dope houses. In some of the darkest most dangerous places around. Usually always by myself. I have never received a scratch. Never received a punch or a threat. Once i was in the passenger side backseat of a car that got shot 8 times. Hit my seat. Back rest. Head rest in front of me. Floor board by my feet. Didn’t scratch me. Times I would be on the streets. I have slept in trees probably close to a hundred times just to be safe through the night. I have saw things normal people could not comprehend. I stayed in trouble all the time.
But things were about to change. I got busted for drugs. I went to court and got probation. I had to go check in with a probation office. I was sitting in the lobby. One of the guys there started taking. He found out it was my first time and asked who I had to see. I told him. He said good luck. That’s Sarge. She’s a retired Air Force Sargeant. Shell have you locked up for anything. I saw her and left. Gave me instructions. We’ll two weeks later I got busted again. And before I went to court on that I got busted a third time. With a large quantity. I was in deep trouble.
The third time the police found the drugs but they were not on me. I was looking at 15 years to life in prison. I had decided I could not spend my life in prison. But I had had enough. I was sick of life. The cops were looking for me. If they got me me i would get no bond. I was done. I thought suicide was my out. I decided I did not ever want to be found. I walked all night through the woods to get so far out I wouldn’t be found. I made my way to a hilltop under two big pine trees by early the next morning. I was leaning up against one of the trees thinking out my life. What a mess. How I had hurt s many. My family. I left a tail of destruction every where I went. I was extremely distraught. Finally after a while I decided that it was time. I picked up the pistol. I leaned my head back. I opened my eyes and the sun absolutely blinded me. Took me a while to recover. So after a little while I looked back up and the sun got me again. I was caught off guard. For what ever reason I said
“Is that you God?”
I said God if that’s you tell me what to do. And something came over me. I said God you help me here and I’ll do this and I’ll do that. Made a list of vows. And it came over me to get up and put down the gun and walk out of there and go face my issues. So I started walking. I forgot how far out there I had walked. Took me til late afternoon to get out. And I got twisted and went the wrong way. I had went down and got saved and baptized as a little boy but I never thought I was saved. No way somebody like me could be saved. I finally made it to a road. Didn’t even recognize where I was. Way out back road.. Didn’t know where to go. I decided I was going to try to get to a nurse rind who had tried often to help me. Less than 5 minutes on the road a car came and asked me if I needed a ride. I said yes. Told him where I needed to go. He said you ain’t going to believe this but I’m headed to the same street. Dropped me off at her door. Never asked me what I was doing. Why I looked so bad. Where I had been. I was bloodied from thorns and stuff. I got to her house and she said the cops had just left looking for me. Said take a shower and she would call a friend of hers involved with treatment. Said I couldn’t get in there because I had no insurance but she might know what to do. I got through showering and she said come on. She said she can get you in. Somehow. We got there and she was busy. We had to talk to another person who said no I couldn’t get in. Had to have insurance. We’ll she tried a few times to call her friend. After a little while she got her. Said she would call somebody. A few minutes later the desk lady said I don’t know who you know but they are going to take you. This would be my last day to ever do drugs.
I made a decision in treatment to stay clean at all costs. I made a decision to completely remove all people places and things from my life that I had during addiction except my family. I shut my life down to nothing. But I stayed clean. I did not know how to live. I was lost. I had nothing. I began to build a life. It was hard. But I worked hard. 7 days a week. 12 hours a day for months at a time. Things started to get better after a while.
I had been in a few short relationships. But I had to learn how to do that too. I was always looking at myself. I would be quick to admit and apologize when I made mistakes and learn. After several years I met someone I really liked. We were married. Our first 15 years of marriage were beautiful. We hardly ever disagreed on anything. Ni yelling and fighting. Beautiful new home. New cars. Several vacations a year. Things were good. Then we got away from church. The next three years storms came. Many storms. Deaths. Sickness. Financial hits. Life changes. We drifted. I never saw it coming. I came home from work one day and there was a note on the counter. I am filing for divorce. I was blindsided. Crushed. I had loved. And deeply. Poured every ounce of everything I had in this relationship. I love hard. I never even once thought of another person.
After a month or so I knew there would be no reconciliation. My heart was ripped out. I could not eat or sleep. At times I was so bad I feared a heart attack. And I was under conviction from God. I had always thought that my salvation had not been real. I often felt dirty and consumed with guilt and shame. After one night of sleeplessness, not from my divorce, but from God, I made the decision to make sure I was saved. Tha day something in me change. I mean a big change. I knew I had to make a public profession. But I had been living as a Christian and was not wanting a big to do o it. I was thinking where I would do this. I thought of a small curch I was aware of of about 25 people. I thought this would be perfect.
I was up early Sunday morning. Excited. Turned on the TV and Gardendale First Baptist Church was on. Something came over me that this is where you will go. I was like oh no Lord. Not there. That is a big church. Really big. But it soon became clear that I was supposed to go here. I thought ok I will sit in the back. This was a mistake too. Made for a long walk down the aisle. But I did it. Wasn’t bad at all. I was very emotional though. I met a few really nice guys. But that day something in me changed. I was a different person. My heart was changed. My outlook on things changed.
I still had to deal with my divorce. And my heart was still badly broken. I was in a bad way. Kept thinking I was gonna have a heart attack. One day I felt I was on the verge of collapse. I thought back to that day years ago up on the hill. I made promises to God. And he delivered. I went into a filthy bathroom near where I was. Got on my knees in a filthy stall. Hugged a filthy toilet. I said God you know my heart. You know if I deserve this. If you will lift this off me I will serve you until the day I die. I will give freely. I will be a volunteer. I will help others. I will lead a Godly life. I will lead a Godly home.
Later that day one of the guys came over and said you look better today. Glad to see you doing better. I hadn’t realized it. I was better . I wasn’t feeling the pain. And unbelievably the pain never came back. At times I felt bad about it. I thought maybe I was supposed to hurt a little bit. But God knew my heart. I had been on a mission to clean my heart. Purify it. Find a soft and gentle spirit. I wanted to be known as a sweet and kind man. A giver. Some one you can trust.
Cleaning my heart was work. My actions cleaned easy. But my thoughts was another story. I sated every week or two of making a list of people in my life or acquaintances that I didn’t like and started praying blessings for them. I had to go back and redo this a few times. I prayed fr them but my heart wasn’t pure. After a while it got much easier. And I also noticed that I had trouble making a list. Seems I had learned not to dislike or judge people from the start. Accept people for who they are. Love them and pray for them. Huge changes had taken place in me.
Decided to get after volunteering hard. And I did. I was way over doing it. Soon I found myself tired. After months of not getting to sleep late I knew I had a Saturday coming with nothing scheduled. I looked forward to it all week. I was excited. Early Saturday morning my phone rang. A lady was needing help. Badly. Somebody had told her to call me. I thought I am not going. I am not going. OK I’ll be there in 10 minutes. I got there and she was scared to death. Scared of me. Desperate. Broke. Had nobody to call. I helped her. I spent money on it. Afterwards she just Hugged my neck. Made my day. Made my week. Made my month. Years ago I had been in a fantasy football league. Winning paid $500. 2nd $250. 3rd $100. In 12 years I had never won a penny. In 1999 I won the championship. But the commissioner skipped town that year with the money. I never got my winnings. After I helped the lady on that Saturday morning in late 2016, I went home and in my mailbox was a check from the commissioner for part of the money. He said he would pay the rest later. 2 weeks later he did. The amount of that check that day was exactly double what I had spent on the lady.
When we clean our heart and live by the commandments things start to happen. I have had so many prayers answered. I am truly blessed. Miracles have happened for me. I had somebody send me a message recently asking for prayers. She was in a mess. Somebody had told them if they needed prayers to make sure they got me to pray for them. Told them I had a connection to God and they had seen it personally. I said sure I’ll pray for you. After I sent the person a message and asked what were they talking about that they had seen it personally. I was reminded of some prayer sessions we had when I was in the midst of my storm. I had prayed for things. I had forgot about these prayers and moved on to other prayers. Sometimes we need to be still and wait on God. But they remembered. And saw that God had answered my prayers which I hadn’t even noticed. We talked and this person also had some things going on. A mess. Recently they called asking me to pray for them. I said that situation hasn’t been settled yet?? They said no. They were down to one chance. They had been rejected over 20 times. Only one chance left. Pray for them before they tried the last time. We prayed. About an hour later I got a call. Screaming happy. They got accepted. Now they really think I got a connection to God… lol
And maybe I do. I want everybody to get some of what I have. But you can’t live in sin tomorrow and yesterday and expect God to answer your prayers today. People constantly ask me why I won’t take money. It’s because my God pays me back every day. I know I’m gonna be taken care of. He is not gonna bring me through all He has to drop me now. The devil threw everything he had at me . He can’t throw anything any worse at me than he already has. I’m a winner. Winners of the world will be those that achieve peace. Nothing material. I worked so hard for so many years to get things and have things. And poof. One bad day can wipe it all out. My wants in life have changed. The things that are important are free. It’s free to everybody. Just reach out to God.