The Real Beginning:

I grew up in a traditional, evangelical home.  My parents were apostolic Christians until they left the church before I was even born.  From then til I was around 13, my family attended an evangelical Mennonite Church called Eureka Bible Church.  I grew up going to church weekly as well as attending Wednesday night programming.  For most of my childhood, Wednesday nights included AWANAS, a bible-verse memorization program that I can attribute most of my memorized bible verses to.  While I may have dreaded the moments when I really did not want to learn anymore verses, I now realize that those moments were invaluable toward my later experience as a leader in my junior high and high school youth groups and even now in my experience as a youth minister.

During the beginning years of my life, my mom tried to balance caring for my younger brother and I with home-schooling my older three brothers.  Because it became too much work having a two-year old and a newborn and trying to home-school, she sent my older three brothers to school.  As soon as my younger brother and I were old enough that she did not have to watch us during every moment, my mother pulled my next older brother out of school so that she could continue home-schooling him.  My oldest twin brothers stayed in school because they had reached the age that they could finally play sports in school.  When we reached the age in which we could begin participating in extracurricular activities, mom sent us to school because our local school system did (and continues to) not allow local home-school students to participate in extra-curricular activities.  I will most likely discuss more on this point in my future post about home-schooling.

While home-schooling can be a very controversial topic, I will not give my current opinion of it in this part of the blog.  I will leave that for a future post.  Continuing on,  I started going to public school when I was in fifth grade.  I joined band, excited that I would be learning to play the coronet (a smaller form of the trumpet).  Music (or the fifth grade form of choir) was also a favorite part of my day at school because I loved (and still love) to sing.  My mom and dad both sing and have always encouraged all 5 of us boys to learn to sing well.  In fact, what was so fun about singing during these first few years in school was that my voice had not changed yet.  I could sing higher than my mom as well as most of the girls in my class, which I guess sounds kind of weird, but I loved to sing, so it didn’t matter to me much.

Also at church, mom and dad encouraged us to sing in the Christmas plays and children’s choir, which was a lot of fun.  Often though, I was made fun of because I could sing so high and because I loved to sing with everyone.  No one could comprehend how I could enjoy it so much.  These thoughts were the beginning of my struggle, not only in church but also in school, over the longing to belong with my friends and the longing to do my best.  Because of my “perfectionist” nature, I always wanted to do my best in all of my subjects at school and in my extra-curricular activities.  I failed to realize, though, that my classmates and friends at church would not be as encouraging as I had hoped.  In fact, they would often discourage my pursuit of music and academics.  I will also elaborate more on this point in a later post about some problems that I notice with the current school system (I know; everyone has problems with the education system).

So in spite of all of the discouragement, I never quit my learning in music.  When I was in 6th grade, my mom got a n acoustic guitar.   I had taken lessons earlier in my life when my parents had gotten me an electric guitar, but I had set it down for a while because my fingers were too small to play well at a young age.  When puberty hit and I started to grow, I tried to learn again by playing worship songs that my parents knew well from church.   My dad was worship leader at the church while my mom played keyboard, so they knew many different praise songs.  I remember the first song that I learned to play.  It was “Lord I lift your name on high” in the key of G.  For those guitar players out there, the chord progression for the song was G C D C G for the entire song, except one time when the composer throws in an Am and an Em.  I played those chords over and over and over and over until I could finally play the song all the way through.  At the same time, I was also trying to sing along with my playing, which often made the playing more difficult because I had to focus a lot on how I was moving my fingers and strumming.  I remember my brother telling me to go upstairs because he was sick of hearing those same chords over and over again, but I kept going and kept practicing.  Now that I’ve been playing guitar for nearly 9 years, I realize that every moment that I practiced was worth it.

While it was very time-consuming, playing guitar has become an integral part of my life as well as another avenue to touch other people’s lives. to be continued…


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