My family growing up consisted of my older sister, me, my younger brother, my mom, and my dad. My dad was a construction worker and a member of the PA National Guard, and my mom worked at the local Mini Mart. My mom took us kids to church every time the doors were open. My dad only went on occasion, but he always made sure we accompanied my mom. I must admit I didn’t enjoy going, and I made sure my mom knew it with my behavior.

My sister was always an obedient child, studying for hours and never getting into trouble. My brother, on the other hand, discovered ways around the system. I, on the other hand, didn’t care enough to either work hard or come up with creative schemes. I was your stereotypical middle child. I played sports and chased girls. My dad tried to motivate me to study and set goals. My mom tried to get me to follow Jesus. I wanted neither of those.

I’ll never forget my high school graduation. I remember throwing my cap in the air and thinking, “What am I going to do?” My friends went away to college, and I was working at the same store as my mom. I decided to date a girl I had gone out with in high school. She became pregnant with my son, and at age twenty, I became a dad and a husband, with little hope of providing for my young family. One day my mother and I were having a conversation, when she suggested that I take my son to church. I replied that I would never go back because I was made to go my whole childhood.

After a few years, our family grew with the addition of a second son. On the outside, everything appeared pretty good, but behind closed doors, our family was hanging by a thread. One night we had a huge fight, and the next day when I came home from work, my wife had moved out. Our family was spiraling. My older son escaped into an unhealthy relationship, and my youngest spent most nights crying uncontrollably.

My mom had taken my sons to church one Sunday, and when she brought them home, she asked if I would like to speak with her pastor. I said yes. My mom’s pastor called that day, and the funny thing was, I knew exactly where that call would go. He asked me about my marriage and my sons, but then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “I want things to work out for your marriage, but even more than that, I want you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Then we prayed together, and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

I’d like to say that everything after that was heaven on earth and that I never experienced any more problems in my life, but that isn’t what Christ promised. He promised to be with me through those struggles. I’ve dealt with a granddaughter who had cancer, my sons walking away from God and me, and the death of my father. I can tell you that if I hadn’t made that choice to follow Jesus, I would not have handled those situations, but I can tell you He has shown up with each one of them.

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