I am now at a truck stop hoping to get a ride north through Utah and all the way to Washington, which is the only continental state I had never been in. I loved being at the mission and I was grateful for their kindness and help, but I couldnít sit still just yet and I had been on the road so long I felt compelled to remain there. At least this time I felt that I could use money and receive help and assistance from others. That made all the difference for me and I was eager to begin a new chapter in life, although at the time I only saw myself as living a life on the road. That would soon change.
At the truck stop I panhandled for money for food and coffee. I decided to pick up smoking again as well. I didnít feel as though God would be angry at me for it, in fact at the time I felt like God was telling me to do something that brought comfort and pleasure. It had been so long since I had really enjoyed life that I didnít feel a lot of guilt over it, but I donít want to go as far as to say God gave me permission to take up sinful habits. Iím just saying I felt that He was very close and I felt his mercy and patience with me.
I didnít get a ride right away so I began walking on 89 North. I could feel Godís presence as I walked and I sang songs to Him. I was very grateful to be alive and to be free from the yolk I had been under for so long. Iíll never forget those times alone with God when he poured out that Living Water all over me and I felt consumed by the Glory of His Love. Nothing compares to it and there is no where in this world that I would rather be than walking along the road looking up and singing praises and hymns to Him. These are the precious memories for me of my time alone with God.
Eventually I got a ride with a trucker and I was on my way. He took me all the way to Salt Lake City. I walked around downtown looking for a shelter or rescue mission. I found a Gospel Rescue Mission and I stayed there for one night. They had a chapel service before supper and that was where I learned the words to the song ďAmazing GraceĒ, a most beautiful hymn that has become quite personal for me. I left the next day and I got a ride all the way to Idaho. From there I had to walk for a couple of days before I found a ride with a trucker all the way to Spokane, Washington.
In Spokane I found another Gospel Rescue Mission and that was where I stayed for a week or two. It was really an amazing facility and place for rehabilitation. If I had stayed, I think I would have been in a good program with a lot of strong Christian leaders, but I was becoming homesick and staying at missions and being on the road, even though I was accepting help from others, was getting old and I wanted to see my family.
I called home and my mother told me that they had kept all my disability checks and that some of them were still good. The ones that were more than a year old had expired. She sent the good ones to me and I cashed one and bought a bus ticket home. In June 2004 I began the 3 day bus ride home from Spokane, Washington all the way to Baltimore, Maryland. I had been gone for 21 months.
It was good to be home again. I was so excited to see my 2 year old niece, Cora who was 8 months old when I left. I have great parents and two very cool brothers as well. This time I agreed to go on medication so that I wouldnít relapse again. I did it mostly for my parents, although I think I was at the point too where I didnít want to take any more chances with my mental health and my life. It was June 2004 when I came home to Maryland.
I was at home for 6 months recovering from my illness and spending time with my family. I did start smoking pot again with my brothers, I hate to say; but I gave it up for good in August of 2005 and I havenít touched it again since. It took some time before I figured out what I wanted to do with myself and how to live out my faith. My brother and I, both of us having nothing better to do, went on the road again together for about a month. We went through Mardi Gras in Louisiana, and then went to the big Gem and Mineral Festival out in Tucson, before he took a bus back home and I traveled west alone to Southern California. It was the last time I would travel like that or live that lifestyle of wandering and homelessness until in February, I flew back home for good.
When I got back home my brother Matthew found me a job with a friend of his installing replacement windows. We both did that for about 5 or 6 months and we both continued to smoke pot even while we were at work. I really liked the job and the people I was working for, but for several reasons the job didnít last and we both found ourselves out of work in July or August. Almost immediately we found work again with another company that did windows and doors and it was about that time that God began convicting me for smoking pot and for not being a part of a church. I was in a place where I was serious enough about my relationship with God that I acted in obedience to the conviction that he placed on my heart.
In August of 2005, I began work at K and P construction and I gave up smoking pot. In the same month I began looking for a church and I began visiting different churches near where I lived. I attended a few until I found an old fashioned Methodist Church in Taneytown where my parents lived. What I liked about that church were the people, especially the pastor, who went the extra mile to make me feel welcome and comfortable.
So I was making strides in my relationship with God and felt were pleasing to Him. It felt really good to me to be responding to Him in obedience to what He was speaking to my heart. The desire of my heart was to please Him in every area of my new life. I had a new stable job; I quit using drugs, and I began attending church all at the same time. Here is where the miracle happened. During that same time I decided to try Christian Internet dating and I put my profile on a Christian singles website. I had not been in a relationship with a woman for 7 years, and after what I had been through, I wasnít too sure that this was going to work, but I thought that I would try to meet a good Christian woman.
The very first response that I got on that web site was from a girl who sent me a message saying ďHalo, thatís an angelic way of saying Hello.Ē We began talking through e-mail and then we exchanged phone numbers, and when we spoke, I knew that she was a very special and godly woman. She was the first and only girl I dated on that web site. In October I drove to Wilmington to meet her and we knew from the beginning that God meant for us to be together. Her name is Cortney and she is my wife.
When Cortney and I spoke on the phone we shared with each other our struggles and the trials that God had lead us through. She told me about her daughter Hannah, who was born premature and had sustained a brain injury at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cortney told me that through her pain and sorrow she had found God and that through a relationship with Jesus Christ she found the grace and strength to carry on as a single mother.
After a few months of dating, Cortney and I decided to get married and we set the date for April 29, 2006. We had the wedding at the Methodist church I attended in Maryland and then we had the reception at my parentsí home. It was a beautiful wedding and it was put together with love by so many friends and family members who chipped in to help put it all together. We didnít really have a honeymoon, just a stay at a nice hotel for one night. A few days after the wedding Cortney and I packed up all of my things and our wedding gifts and I moved with her to North Carolina to start my new life as a husband and father.
The greatest gifts that I have ever received besides my relationship with Christ Himself, have been my marriage to Cortney and getting to be Hannahís dad. Hannah is a most amazing child. When I first met her she was 4 years old and she only had about 4 words in her vocabulary, which were momma, cookie, Nanni, and Papaw. She has come such a long way. Now she speaks in sentences and paragraphs. She has a smile that lights up the room and a most amazing gift of making us laugh. Even though she is wheelchair bound we continue to pray and believe for physical miracles of healing. No matter what God has planned for her we know that he is going to use her to bring hope and healing into peopleís lives. She is a remarkable child. They are both more precious to me than life itself and I give thanks to God everyday for bringing these two angels into my life.
We have been together for almost 6 years and it hasnít been all that easy, but God has always provided and held us together by his presence and protection in our lives. I have worked in construction ever since moving to Carolina. From 2006-2008 I worked for a company that built sun rooms and then from 2008- 2011 I worked for a commercial and industrial construction company. Iíve enjoyed my work and the people Iíve worked with. I have felt a sense of pride and dignity that with Godís help I had been restored in my life and had the strength to help provide for my family. Cortney has been working since 2008 as well and we have managed alright. We were even able to buy our own home in 2010. God has been soo good to us.
I have brought our lives up to date and I know that God has his hand upon our family and our future, but I want to share with you again about the struggles that Cortney and I have been through during the last year and a half.
In May of 2010, under my doctorís care and because I believed it was Godís will, I went off of the medication I had been on since 2004. I was hoping and praying that my illness was entirely spiritual and that God had healed me completely. I believed that I could live without my medication and that being free from it would allow me to be free from some of its side effects, namely the weight gain and the sedated, sluggish feeling I sometimes had. From May until October I did really well. In fact, I felt better in general than I had in years. I had tremendous confidence and motivation. I was doing very well at my job and I felt really good and close to God as well; but in October I began to feel some negative energy creep back in and I recognized it as being a kind of demonic invasion. I remembered having had the same feelings years ago which were both physical and mental, so there was paranoia as well as a kind of unpleasant physical sensation that I can only describe as an unwanted physical presence in my body.
I told my wife what was going on and we prayed hard for deliverance. The other thing that is worth mentioning is that I had been carrying in my memory and subconscious the remnants of the delusions that I had dealt with all those years on the road. In other words, I had suppressed these feelings and fantasies of ungodly relationships from my past as well as some distorted beliefs about the nature of reality which didnít line up with Godís Word. I know that is a little vague, but basically Iím saying that I had some suppressed delusion and it was being brought into the light so that it could be destroyed. We prayed the prayer from (2 Corinthians 10:5) ďCasting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.Ē
We fought and prayed hard for another six months, but I could not keep myself from sinking back into paranoid delusions. We tried everything from prayer, to fasting, to going back on medication. I even gave up the cigarettes for good in October. Nothing seemed to help and in May of 2011, I ended up back in the hospital refusing to eat or take medication. I laid there in the hospital bed praying, fasting and crying out to God. Cortney suffered alone, not knowing what to do. My parents came down to North Carolina to see me and to comfort my wife. I did see them but I was delusional and wouldnít eat. Their attempts to reason with me were futile because I didnít trust anyone. After 23 days of starving myself, my wife had to take guardianship over me so that they could put me through ECT treatment, which was how they basically tricked me into eating again.
The amazing thing is the ECT treatment worked and although I was out of sorts for a while when it was over, I was restored to sanity. In a matter of days I went home after being in the hospital the entire month of June. As I recovered, I was so grateful for my family, especially my wife, who had stood by me through such a painful ordeal. The other amazing thing was that I was finally free from delusion. The distorted thinking that had been lurking in the back of my mind like a demon who had been hiding in the dark confines of my memories and had found a way to stay there even though I had committed myself to Christ, had been forced out and squeezed like a festering boil from the attics of my mind. This is a difficult thing to explain, but trust me, I had lived with unrecognized hidden delusion for twelve years and now it was gone. That was where I saw Godís hand in the matter, demonic strongholds had been torn down and I was free from a very long imprisonment.
The thing that I struggle with now is that I have to take medication at this point in my life to ensure that I remain healthy and stable. I want and I have prayed to receive a complete and final healing that would enable me to be free from the side effects of anti-psychotic medications and to finally cast off the label of schizophrenia. I continue to believe that the illness is primarily spiritual and has a great deal to do with demonic possession and oppression, but I cannot tell why I have been unable to live without medication. The illness remains an enigma in some ways; perhaps there are real genetic, physical, and chemical reasons why I and others are still unable to achieve a complete freedom from the scourge of this disease.
If it had not been for my last hospitalization, my wife would never have reached out to you for help. In her distress she sought God and his people. Your website, your story, your prayers, and your friendship, have been an instrument of Godís healing for our family. Sometimes I struggle with doubts and fears about Godís plans for our lives and our hope for the future, but I am reminded that God has said, ďI will never leave you or forsake youĒ. He also says in (Jeremiah 29:11) ďI know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.Ē When I look at what has happened this past year and I see what has been taken from us and the war that Satan has waged on us, I try to remember all the blessings and provisions of God over our lives and there are so many. I still have my wife, my daughter, my family and friends. I still have a home and two cars and the means to pay the bills. Thank God for his mercy and his goodness. Thank God that the fiery trials that we go through help to purge us from sin and ungodly thinking. Jesus said, ďAnd the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.Ē(Matt 7:25). Jesus is our Rock! We have withstood the attacks of the enemy and we have survived as a family because Our God loves us and will never leave us. Thanks be to God! Praise the Lord! The Lion has prevailed! Jesus is our Hope and Our Future! AMEN!