Because I get a ton of question on different topics that I cover on the radio show, my personal facebook page, and through other media outlets, I thought I would revive the “interview series” from a while back so readers could get a better understanding of my mind, heart, thoughts, and opinions. For the most part this is just me taking some of the more popular questions and comments I get and giving my answer or opinion on the subject. So sit back and enjoy as I will do my best to entertain and enrage.
Shawn thanks for joining us, as usual we want to give the readers a great interview and as of late you have gained a ton of new readers so please give us a little background into your upbringing:
Sure. No problem. I was born in Pennsylvania (I totally spelled that right on the first try!!!) and lived between there and New York state for the first 10 years of my life. Growing up we were pretty poor as my mom was a single mother and my dad was never in the picture. We had family but for the most part we were the black sheep of the family for a long time. In the early 90′s my mom reconciled with my Grandparents and we moved to the Northwest Florida area where I spent my middle and high school years. I actually claim to be from Florida as I really grew up there, or at least I have the most enjoyable memories of my early life during that time.
After high school I moved to Arkansas for Bible College where I met my wife just a semester before I was to leave. Arkansas was great as I made some lifelong friendships and got to really search for God out in the country. It was a difficult time but great one. After college I stuck around to build the relationship that Kaitlyn and I had started which led me to moving to Baton Rouge in 2003. I have been there ever since and I love it!!
You said your mom was a single mother, what was that like growing up?
It pretty much sucked really!! I remember being really poor and being on welfare, which I hated because I was picked on in school. We didn’t have the nicest or newest things so I was bullied some growing up. I ended up just getting in fights to stand up for myself and my family, which led me to getting the label of “trouble maker.” I remember times where my mom would not eat because there was not enough food for her, my brother, and I. It really had an effect on me and still does. It still hurts sometimes thinking about the pain I saw my mom go through during those times.
Would you change anything about that time?
I’m not sure I would change anything as I am the man I am today because of my past. I think I would like more answers on some things but I am not totally sure if I would change anything.
Answers on what kind of things?
Well, I would really like to talk to my biological father and see what happened between him and my mom. Why did he split and never come around. I would like to know if he tried to get to know me and my mom wouldn’t let him be a part of my life or if he was just a loser during that time who couldn’t get his act together.
I think I would want to know why my Grandparents and mom took so long to reconcile and if they knew that she was struggling why they did nothing to help. Maybe they did and my mom refused. I’m not sure. I would just like to get the other side of the story sometimes.
What do you think the answers would be?
I have no idea really. I’m sure there is another side to the stories but I would just be speculating on what was going on. I was too young to know then what was really going on but now that I am older I just wonder if things could have been different.
What is you best memory before moving to Florida?
That’s a good question. Probably the Mother’s Day that we lived in Limestone, NY and I rode off on my bike to collect sea shells (don’t ask me how sea shells got that far inland) for my mom for Mother’s Day but I was to far away to hear her call for me and I was gone for a long time and she ended up calling the police because she thought I was kidnapped. I ended up rolling up with a bucketful of beautiful white sea shells for my mom and her crying her eyes out because she thought she lost me.
She cried her eyes out when I told her I was trying to get her a Mother’s Day gift and that I was sorry for being gone for so long. She wasn’t even mad. She was to relieved I think to be mad. To understand why that was such a big deal, I had an older brother and sister who was kidnapped by their real father when they were 5 and 3. My mom was always scared that would happen to my brother John and I.
You had a brother and sister that was kidnapped?
Yeah, it is a long story but the gist is that their dad and my mom got divorced and he took them for the summer to Denver for his visitation and never brought them back. Back in the 70′s it was hard to prove kidnapping and even more so for a poor single woman.
Have you ever talked to or heard from them? Your brother and sister?
Yeah, I have connected with my brother. I haven’t talked to my sister.
What caused you to move to Florida?
My mom and Grandparents reconciled after it was discovered that my Grandfather had terminal cancer. He died on Dec. 31, 1990 and we traveled to his funeral. It was the first time I actually met some of the family I didn’t even know I had. A few months later my Grandma and an Aunt came up to Pennsylvania and asked my mom to move to Florida after school let out that year. She said yes and the rest is history.
Where you glad to leave Pennsylvania?
Care to elaborate?
Let’s just say that looking back it was the best move my mom could have made and I am glad she did. We were going nowhere as a family and we needed a new start.
How would you say the move to Florida changed you and your family?
Well, for starters my mom met and ended up marrying my step-dad. That changed everything and I must say that the way he handled everything was amazing. He didn’t try to rule me or my brother but set boundaries and allowed up to grow in our relationship with him. I ended up changing my last name to his because of all that he did for us.
You changed your last name?
Yeah. I thought it was fitting for the man who raised me to get the opportunity to have his name carried on. My dad (I consider him my dad because he is the one who raised me) really changed my whole life. He allowed me to grow and try things that my mom would have never let me do. Not that they were bad, he just allowed me to have more freedom to find myself.
What else changed because of your move to Florida?
It was in Florida that I really began a relentless pursuit of God. I had gotten “saved” when I was 8 years old in New York in a little home church Sunday School class (I can actually close my eyes and recall the events of that moment like it was yesterday), but it was in Florida where I really began to seek after God, or should I say where God really began to grab a hold of me.
What happened that caused this “relentless pursuit of God.”
Honestly it was just going back to church the summer before my freshmen year in high school with a friend named Eddie. I started attending regular service by myself as my family was not into church at that point and I just ate up reading the Bible, prayer, and anything I could read or study on God. I fell in love with authors like Max Lucado, Phillip Yancy, and others.
For about 2 years I went to First Baptist Church of Crestview, FL where I learned the SBC way of faith. Things like grace, God’s love, and a love for the Bible. One summer night just before my 11th grade school year I went with a friend to First Assembly of God of Crestview, FL and the rest is history. I experienced God like I had never before that night. It was amazing. A few days later I went to the Brownsville Revival for the first time and for the next 4 years I went pretty much every weekend.
It was an amazing time in my life. I saw God move in me in ways that I never thought possible. I loved it!!
Talk about culture shock!! You went from a Southern Baptist to Assembly of God overnight?
LOL!! Yeah pretty much!!
What was that like?
Honestly it wasn’t that bad because I wasn’t changing because of a bad experience, I was changing because I had experienced God and wanted more of him. I knew that staying where I was would not allow me to continue to experience God like I wanted to and I felt like God was calling me to pursue Him in a new direction.
Did others follow you?
No. Not really. My best friend Eddie stayed at FBC. We stayed friends and still are. There were a few friends I met who came to my church and to revival with me from time to time but overall it was a fresh start for me. I wasn’t really looking to take others from where they were, I was just following where God was leading me.
What was the Brownsville Revival like?
It was amazing. I had never experienced God like I did during that time. Looking back I wish I was a little more mature going into the whole experience as I wouldn’t have taken it for granted like I think I did a lot. Being in the midst of something like that you don’t think it will really ever end.
Did it end?
Yeah, but that was a few years after I left to go to college. I think what I mean is I wish I could have handled the sacredness of the whole thing a little better. Being young I couldn’t believe people didn’t want to experience God like I was experiencing Him and I offended some people I cared about back then. I just didn’t understand the denominational differences between the different Christian sects back then like I do now. Overall, I pray that I see something like that again in my lifetime.
What caused you to move to Arkansas to go to Bible College?
Honestly, because I tried twice to get into the Brownsville School of Ministry and something always held up the application. I took that to mean I wasn’t supposed to go and was talking to a friend about it who told me to try the college he went to. I called and got an application and loved what I read about it being a place to “get away and seek God.” I applied and got an interview which led to me getting accepted. I knew once I stepped on the campus that I was supposed to be there.
What was your biggest motivation for going to Bible College?
I knew I needed to learn more about God and ministry before I could really step into a ministry role. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of ministry. I had been studying theology and the like for a while, I was more looking for hands on training.
Did you get that?
Sort of. I got the change to do a lot of behind the scenes things. Little did I know at the time that ministry is about 90% behind the scenes and about 10% preaching and teaching. I thought it was the other way around back then.
What was Bible College like for you?
It was both good and bad. I went to a very small college where we lived in the country on a 560 acre ranch. We were away from life so we could pursue God and in so doing we found where we had rough edges we had to deal with so there was a lot of pruning and growing. I loved my time there as I got to learn so many new things but there were times I hated it to. That is just part of life though. Sometimes you love it and other times it sucks!!
Would you go back?
With what I know now, yes. I wouldn’t want to go back and redo everything hoping for a different outcome but if I could go back with the understanding I have today I would do it in a heartbeat.
Because I would be less selfish. There was a lot of times where it was all about me and my vision for life (that I thought was God’s vision) and had I just been humble I think I would have had less heartache in the growing process.
You said you met your wife Kaitlyn in Bible College, how did that happen?
Honestly, it was my last semester of school and I had a bad case of “senioritis” and spent a great deal of time in my dorm room studying, sleeping, and waiting for my time to get out. When I did come out I would run into her in the kitchen and found that she had a cute little accent (she is from New Orleans). I loved it. That and she was a bit mysterious. She was shy and didn’t really talk much so it was hard at first to get her to talk with me, when she did she didn’t say much so I had to pry things out of her just to hear her accent.
What caused you to take notice of her?
Actually I had sworn off girls for the rest of the year after getting burned in a relationship that probably should have never happened. I just wanted to chill so really I wasn’t going after her I was just being friendly. She seemed really nice and didn’t give me the “Bridal College” eyes right off the bat so it was nice to talk to someone who I could just talk with and not need or have an agenda.
“Bridal College” eyes?
Yeah! You’ve never heard that Bible College is really “Bridal College” because girls go to school and find their “perfect man of God,” and end of getting married to someone from school.
I have never heard that.
Really? I can name like 10 couples who I know that met in Bible College who got married.
But we digressed.
How long was it before you started dating?
Officially we couldn’t date until she was finished with her first semester. That was school policy, so we didn’t really end up “officially” dating until sometime the next school year because we both worked the Brookhill Ranch Summer Camp together and as a councilor you have no time to have a relationship. We got to see each other and talk but couldn’t really go to deep as time was limited. We ended up passing notes to one another all summer. Which was nice.
What ended up causing your move to Louisiana?
Well, being that I need to do some work let’s cover that and more topics in Part 2.
Sounds great!! Look forward to hearing more from you in Part 2.
Until next time.