About Me

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I’m from New York but my driver’s license lists that my address is Ohio. My passport has a number of stamps in it. I’m the youngest of six, yet oldest son. I have a number after my initials, but not my name. I like music. I drink coffee at all times of the day. I am a follower of Jesus. I own my own business. I watch bonus features on DVD’s. For four months each year my wife and I are the same age. “I pledge allegiance to a country without borders, without politicians.” I am an ordained pastor. I’ve eaten raw horse meat. I’m fifteen inches taller than my wife, but I look up to her. I still prefer buying CDs to downloading music. I’m a night owl, who doesn’t mind getting up early. I like to shop, and my wife doesn’t. I like to play games. I moved to another country nine days after my wedding. I sometimes quote random lyrics. I believe in miracles. I prefer desktops to laptops. I like listening to audio books. I listen to hockey games on the internet. I have five sons. I'm living life mid sentence.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Churches, Jobs and Dealing With the Politics

After graduating college I struggled to find a local church that I could connect with. My work schedule made it difficult for me to attend a number of services throughout the week, and when I was able to attend I didn't feel that I was really connecting with others around me. Sunday mornings weren't a time when I was joined together with other believers, and I didn't have others opening up to me so I could help them carry their burdens, and I had no one whom I could open up to for me to share my burdens with them. That period was a dark time for me, and during that time I wrote a blog entry entitled Starbucks Vs. The Church.

After a period of searching I was able to find a local body of believers where I was able to plug in and be involved in the lives around me. At times I was able to be of spiritual encouragement to those I worshiped with, and more often others were of spiritual encouragement to me.

Skipping ahead a couple of years I found myself in a different position, having moved to a foreign country with little to no options when it came to churches attend. Not only was I outside of a "Christian" environment, but I also was in a country where few people spoke the same language as me. Some Sunday mornings my wife and I would attend a small Christian church, but with the sermon being in a foreign language we got little to nothing out of the messages.

After returning to the U.S. my wife and I quickly got involved in her home church. While the denomination was new to me, I was able to get involved in working in the children's ministry, and was able to connect with others who were my age. For the first time in years, and in some senses the first time in my life I truly had a church family that I could call my home church. My church truly takes to heart the N.T. command to carry each others burdens, and on more than one occasion has helped my wife and I out, when we were in need. Unlike other times I've experienced helping hands, when it comes to those at my church I do not feel that their gifts are out of a sense of obligation, but instead out of love.

Here is where I face a dilemma. In the past I worked for a Christian organization, and part of me would like to return to work for that organization in the future. But that organization has a policy that includes prospective workers must be members of churches that share similar doctrinal background as the organization. If I were to return to work for that organization now I wouldn't have too much difficulty, because I never withdrew my membership from the church I attended when I previously worked there, but if I do not move back to the area of my former church soon I would like to join the church I've attended for the past 11 months.

While I do not hold to some of the doctrinal positions of those in my current church, for example I believe I am the only Calvinist there, it is a godly group of believers that I am able to worship and minister with. This week I read an article online which got me thinking about why I haven't joined my church. I'm inclined to think I should join the church and deal with any subsequent issues later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mr. Ugly

Today my wife was finally able to meet some of my friends from N.Y. For the past 13 years I've known Dan and his wife, through working with him in the summer of 1996 and the summer of 2001 Dan and I became good friends. I still remember one of my first meetings with Dan, when a little child mispronounced his last name and called him "Mr. Ugly." While time and duties have limited our contact since 2001, I have enjoyed the times when we were able to catch up.

Over my 30 years I've only had a few friends like Dan, who I could be real with without having them look poorly on me as a result. While he may not agree with all the decisions I make in life and I may not agree with all of his decisions, I'm glad for his friendship. I need more men like Dan in my life.

Goodbye, Goodbye Home

Eight years ago last month I packed many of my belongings into my parents van and my parents drove me to Ohio, and I returned to college. After a two and a half year break from college I started back. Little did I know that January morning in 2001 that I was moving out of New York, not to return--except for short vacations.

Durring past trips back to my old stomping grounds I was hit with a sort of sentimentality, missing the place of my childhood. On a few occasions I even started looking for jobs in the Western New York area, and hoped deep down that I could return to the place that held so many memories for me. However as time moved on, the draw to return to Buffalo seemed to fade away.

Since ariving in Buffalo yesterday I have been struck that this is the first time that I've come to Buffalo as an outsider. No longer is this my home, but rather, for the first time, I am coming here as a visitor. While there are still things I love about this area, this area is no longer my home. And I'm ok with that. While my parents and two of my siblings still live in Western New York, I now realize that this area is not my home, but rather my home is where my family is. A city or state doesn't make a home. Nor do old hangouts. I've come to realize that I am more at home in the arms of my wife, and in the presence of my son, than I will ever be at any destination.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Randy Mix Large

Tricia large

Reuel Mix Large

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
~George Bernard Shaw~

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Woman of Influence...Version 2009

A couple years ago I began to think about a number of individuals who have had a profound impact on my life. After spending a little time thinking I came up with a list of five women who played a role in bringing me to the place I am today.

The first female to have a great impact on my life is was my math teacher from high school. Heading into her class my freshman year I already had a love for the subject but mathematics does not hold the answer to her influence over me. Though small in stature, she was a giant in the realms of education, both the kind that is found in textbooks and the kind that no curriculum can contain. On numerous occasions an entire class period passed by without any instruction in mathematics because something weighed heavy on my teacher’s heart, or on the heart of one of her students, and so she would preempt her academic plans for that day to address the matter of greater importance. As I look back at my high school years the greatest lesson I walked away learning was the importance of not missing the important things because we are too busy doing those things that are required.

The next woman that had an impact on me was a girl I dated when I was 21. At the time I dated this New Yorker I was working a decent paying job but the job was not very fulfilling. When many individuals around me encouraged me to be thankful for the great job I had, the girl I was dating encouraged me to pursue my dreams even if meant taking risks. Through her encouragement, I began perusing my dream of returning to school and eventually I went on to obtain my education as well as find my dream job. I am thankful that even though the advice I was given was not popular, someone was willing to encourage me to peruse my dreams, and through the encouragement I finally took the first step towards fulfilling my dreams.

As time moved on the next woman of impact came into my life. This west coast girl was unlike any of the friends I had had in the past. While she was fun to be around, her impact on me came from her willingness to risk personal rejection by opening herself up to share the deep, dark secrets of her soul with me. Some have said of me in the past that my life is often an open book, but this was the first time that someone was willing to become vulnerable with me by sharing things that we are often left to carry alone. By showing trust in me, our friendship was able to move past the realms of a casual acquaintance and eventually she became one of my closest friends. And in time, through her example, I was willing to confront issues that I had locked in the closet of my soul.

The fourth woman of note was a friend I met at college who helped me discover my true personality. For years I had grown accustom to giving people what they expected from me but this southern belle, through accepting me for who I was, helped me to embrace life and live it to the fullest as God had intended. Through her encouragement I finally moved outside of the safety of my own personal domain and was able to enjoy life and what it has to offer. At some point in each of our lives I believe we all need that someone who will help us enjoy life by giving us the encouragement to take part in the things that would not necessarily do on our own. In my case, once I overcame the limitations I had established for myself in my own mind, I was finally able to realize that there was a whole new world around me that was there for my enjoyment. Through my friend’s encouragement, I learned that I actually enjoyed many of the things that I had always shunned, and ultimately I learned how little I actually knew about my own self.

And the woman who has had the most impact on my life is the 5 foot tall woman that I never stop looking up to. My wife has taught me so much, and has loved me unconditionally through the easy and difficult times. Her encouragement has spurred me on spiritually, and her friendship has kept me sane in the difficult times we have faced over the past few years. She is the smartest woman I know, and is not willing to take things in stride, but continues to stretch herself mentally and spiritually. She’s a companion that most guys only dream about, and the one that I was lucky enough to find. I never dreamed that I’d find a woman who challenged me spiritually, mentally, encourage me to be the best version of myself, enjoy sports, like the same music I do, and at the end of the day ask me if I want to play a video game with her. My Love is the true pride and joy of my life. Not only is she an amazing, godly wife, but she’s also the best mother I’ve ever been around. God has truly blessed me through allowing me to cross paths with the greatest woman in the world. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

For the past four years this post has remained as a document on my computer. The document was labled "DO NOT OPEN." But, at last it's time to face my past and shed some light into the dark corners.

At first there is a thrill, a sense of accomplishment and above all the feeling that I got away with something that I shouldn’t have. You almost feel like you’ve conquered the world but the only problem is you can’t tell anyone about it. But, as you move past the first experience onto the second and beyond all the excitement fades as the shackles of addiction tighten their death grip.

I was around the age of 14 when the lures first began to appeal to me. It started off as swimsuit magazines and biker magazines in my local grocery store. They did not usually have any nudity and so they were not covered or in special wrapping and so as a young teen I had access to them. Then after revealing my interest in such material to a friend, I was shown my first pornographic magazine. It was the summer of 1993 and I had been spending a lot of time with an older friend when he showed me a Playboy magazine he had bought. At that point my innocence was gone. After that summer I lost a lot of my contact with the guy who showed me the magazine and for about five years I stayed away from pornography but allowed some lust to dwell in my mind.

Years later I was a twenty year old Bible college graduate when my next experience took place. It was typical fall afternoon in my hometown on the Saturday I went shopping to pick up one of my favorite artist’s new album. Little did I know that choices I was about to make would alter my life. After buying the CD I began the drive back home. I don’t recall if the thought was already in my mind or if it was during the drive that it came to mind but either way it set into motion a series of events that I would do almost anything to take back. I remember stopping at a gas station with intentions of browsing their magazines but the excitement, and fear, overcame me and so I quickly bought a candy bar or something and left without making any other purchases. But my curiosity had been peaked and I had already purposed in my heart to go through with my thoughts and so I made a second stop. My heart was pumping so hard that I am sure those around could hear it as I purchased my first issue of Playboy. It was the college girl’s edition for 1998. Once I was back in my car I took the magazine from its wrapper and made sure none of the post card advertisements inside fell in my parent’s car to leave a trace of what I had acquired. I was back on the road and headed towards home when I began to think that I couldn’t take the magazine into my parent’s house so I had to look at it and destroy it before I made it home. I remember stopping on a side street, in my hometown, and looking through the magazine for a few minutes and then continuing on until I made a second stop at a little gift shop. I sat in the parking lot flipping through the pages until a title of an article caught my eye. It was written by a pastor talking about the harms of pornography addiction (to this day I’m not sure why Playboy had the article in it). I read the entire article and felt very dirty and decided it was time to get rid of the magazine. I put the magazine inside of a plastic bag and threw it out in a garbage can outside of the deli and drove home. My guilt stayed with me for a little while but as time went on it began to fade.

Time slowly passed until my sister was given a computer that she brought home. After a little while we had the internet and it was only a matter of time until my curiosity got the best of me and I was looking up pictures of Pamela Anderson. The funny part is that I never found her all that attractive. Yet still I looked. At first I stayed away from any nudity, but then I gave into to nude pictures but only of females. As time went on soft-core pornography was losing its appeal I started searching for pictures of couples (male-female or female-female). I was working a few jobs at the time, and was getting next to no sleep, but it didn’t keep me from spending time online when I got home from work online fulfilling my desires.

In the spring of 1999 I was home alone as everyone else had gone out of town and I rented my first pornographic movie. It was soft-core, because I didn’t want to risk being seen at a real porn shop, so I got the movie from Blockbuster. I watched the movie almost two complete times that night after I got home from work and I watched part of it again the following day before returning it. By the time I rented the movie I was starting to admit that I had an addiction but I still was enamored by the whole secrecy and so I wasn’t willing to talk to anyone about it.

Skipping ahead a couple years, I started back to college and while I continued to have a problem with lust, my porn viewing had all but stopped. I had not stopped over a great awakening or out of moral concerns, but rather do to the fact I lived in a dorm, had no transportation and I was smart enough not to look at pornography on the schools computers. In the summer of 2001 I went back to New York for the summer. In the first month of the summer I quickly picked up where I had left off before and was spending an hour or more searching porn each day. After being home for a month, I started working with a Christian ministry for the summer and some sense of moral responsibility persuaded me not to look at porn during the weeks, but instead Friday and Saturday nights would have to suffice. I kept up with the pattern all summer long until it was time to return to school.

Living in an apartment off campus that fall gave me some opportunities for pornography but I did not have internet access and so I had to stick to the R-rated movies that the town library had. The occasional movies were all I had until I got a car in January of 2003. Other than the first Playboy I bought in 1998 and a few Penthouse magazines in New York, I had only stuck to free porn until the winter of 2003. Over the months that would follow I bought several Hustler magazines at a liquor store (I drove about 30 minutes away from where I lived so it would be less likely to be spotted).

In the fall of 2003 I moved into another apartment and my rollercoaster of pornography picked up momentum. That fall I bought a few more magazines, and for the first time I bought DVD’s. They were soft-core DVD’s, once again I did not want to risk being seen near an adult only store, and so I bought the most risqué videos I could find at a music and video store. In addition to the magazines and videos, my pornography viewing on the internet gained momentum and before I knew it I was looking at it for upwards of two hours a day. I was only working part time and my room mates were all in school so I had a lot of free time and I would lock my door and search and search.

When I moved in January of 2004 into my fourth apartment, I determined that I was going to change and for a month or two I did a fair job. In March I drove down to visit my sister in Alabama and on the trip down I passed several strip clubs and adult book stores and even though I did not stop they set my mind on breaking my commitment of staying away from internet porn and when I got back to Ohio. From the end of March through the summer I spent hundreds of hours viewing online pornography as well as watching R-rated soft-core porn movies from Blockbuster and another video store. What had started out as curiosity years earlier had spurned out of control and with no end in sight.

I cannot continue on with this addiction because I know it is not only ruining me but also a future marriage if I do get married. I do not want to carry this burden alone but so far I do not know who I can trust to share this load with. Someday soon I hope to find someone who will be willing to walk along side me and help me bring my personal life and my spiritual life back to where it should be and help me to realize that I do not need to be a slave to this any longer.

I wish I could say what I’d written described rock bottom, but I can’t. A few months later my viewing habits had spiraled out of control and I got to the point where I downloaded a hardcore porn movie from the web. That night God broke my heart. I don’t remember exactly how it happened but I remember that I started crying, while the movie was playing, and I turned it off. God showed me several things that night that started me on the road to recovery. He showed me that what was being shown was a cheap substitute of what He created as something special.

Looking back, nearly five years after I left off writing, I am dealing with mixed emotions. Now a married man, most of the time –with God’s help, I am able to keep my past lust problems under control. But there are times when my sin nature gets the best of me. Why do I risk what is real, my relationship with my God and my wife, for what is a cheap imitation? While God is helping me deal with past issues, and making me into the husband and father He wants me to be, I still have a lot of growing to do. At the end of the day I can’t help but recall the lyrics to a song I’ve grown to love: “I can never take a chance, of losing love to find romance.”

“Create in me a pure heart, oh God.”

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Letting Go

Thursday evening I was at home when I received a message from my sister about the Continental plane that had crashed, close to my parents home. Being the news junkie that I am I have read dozens of news reports on the crash, and have watched a number of newscast about the tragedy.

In watching the story unfold I learned about Beverly Eckert, the 9/11 widow who was aboard flight 3407. Ms. Eckert was heading to the Buffalo area to meet up with friends to celebrate what would have been her late husband's 58th birthday.

Nearly seven and a half years after Sean Rooney's death his widow was still holding birthday gatherings for him. A question that came to my mind was at what point does it become necessary to let go? While grieving is a healthy, and often necessary part of life, allowing yourself to hold on to the past can be unhealthy. To remember a lost one is one thing, but to hold on and not move on from a tragedy is letting the tragedy win, and is likely to leave those left behind continually feeling empty.

In life I believe it's important to have a healthy view of the past. A healthy view would include remembering the past, and using the lessons learned in the past to improve oneself as we live out our daily lives. Some time ago I heard a saying that goes like this: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But, on the flip side, if we spend too much time focusing on the past it becomes difficult to carry on in the present.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to dance. While mourning, and reflecting on the past is necessary, there must come a time when one moves on, and lets go of the things of the past and embraces the present and future.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What To Say

Today I was talking with my wife about how I should respond if my former employer, who laid me off, calls me back. Let me give a little background. Before I was laid off I made it clear to them that due to some decisions that had been made at the company I was looking elsewhere, and would only stay there as long as it took to find another job. That being said, if they do recall me after this layoff, asking me to return to work, do I eat humble pie and return as if nothing happened, or do I agree to only go back if I am not under the person they had placed me under, which had led to the problems we'd faced? I really don't know what to think. I'm hoping, and praying that I will find another job before they call me back, but if I don't, do I set my foot down, and risk being fired, or do I just look past the ethical issues and personality conflicts that led to my looking elsewhere in the first place? I guess time will tell.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Is Now The Time?

For the past few days I've been wondering about the pros and cons of returning to school at this point. I have thought about going back to school to get my masters, and possibly doctorate in Theology, and would love to teach theology at the university level. Part of me is wondering if this would be a good time to go back to school, since the job market is basically non-existent. Even though that would mean more debt, considering I still have debt from my undergraduate work, I'm wondering if it would be a wise use of my time. I need to put some serious thought and prayer into the issue, and see where things go from here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Every New Beginning Comes At Some Other Beginnings End

Sometimes there is solace that can be found in anonymity. A number of years ago I began blogging as a way of getting thoughts out of my head, and out there. One of the things I enjoyed about blogging was that I was virtually unknown, and I could share my thoughts without having to be careful not to offend those who may come across my blog.

On my blog I was able to be honest, to be myself--my real self. But over time more and more people discovered the other blog I was writing at the time. No longer were there a handful of people who read my blog, but a couple dozen, then a hundred. While not all of those who read my blog read every post, I eventually had to treat every post as if each and every one of them were reading it. After a while I was no longer to really share what was on my mind. I was able to write some, but what I felt able to write about no longer carried the appeal. No longer was my blog an online confessional of the thoughts and ideas that were swimming around in my head, but instead my blog had begun to look more like a boring Christmas letter. It filled in the facts, and shared some of the events happening in my life, but it had become canned. My blog became a watered down version of me.

I still had thoughts that I wanted to blog about, and still felt like I had something to say. But having to proof read my thoughts, and edit and re-edit them to make sure they wouldn’t be misconstrued, or held against me in the future, eventually left me with little desire to blog. Part of me felt like the band that poured out there heart’s cry in a song and sang:

Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a fucked up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be

Most people who heard the song thought it was horrible that someone who claimed to be a Christian used the word "fuck" in a song. What was overlooked by most was the attempt to truly share where I was, and what was on my mind, much like those who wrote the lyrics above.

Just as the person who wrote that song isn’t perfect, I am not perfect. I’ve made mistakes, and some of those mistakes came on my blog. After having some of my flaws thrown in my face I eventually decided that honesty wasn’t worth the price, and I all but gave up blogging and in some regards reverted to my introverted ways. I was able to remain open and honest with my wife, but apart from my relationship with her I felt my ability to open up about my thoughts had been taken away once again. That was until I decided to return to my roots and blog here where I could under a cloak of anonymity, just as I did when I first started this site. I don’t blog nearly as much as I did five years ago, but I do find it rewarding to be able to share things that are on my mind, and once again not have to worry about what the naysayers might have to say.