It's Never Too Late...God is Always Moving

I was born and raised in the Kansas City area.  I grew up in a pretty normal Midwestern home where both parents worked, and we attended a local church in Raytown.  I grew up in the church and it provide a solid moral foundation along with strong parenting in the home.  At the age of six, I discovered my love for the game of soccer from backyard games with my brother.  I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a goalkeeper and play like the "big kids". 

At the age of ten, my life dramatically changed when my parents divorced and my brother moved.  I was fortunate in the fact that my parents made my development a significant priority of their life.  However, I started to develop internal insecurities about my own personal life.  Was I to blame for my parent's divorce?  How could I help them?  

My escape from this reality was the game of soccer.  I dedicated my life to the game, and it became my identity as a person.  Everything I did revolved around soccer, and my parents supported my ambitions.  In conversations with my father, the outcome became, "Can I get to a point in my development that I might be able to 'cash' a check?"  I believed my life now had a clear goal and purpose.  I also developed the idea that achievement of this goal would be pleasing to all parties involved.  Unfortunately, I was moving way from my relationship with God and growing in my insecurities.  

My identity from high school to my professional career became a soccer player.  What I failed to understand was that my identity in soccer was leading to greater insecurities.   I continued maintain my work ethic, earned many accolades, a soccer scholarship, and a degree.  On the outside, I looked like the "All-American kid."  However, on the inside I was a mess.  I was consistently comparing myself to other people, involving myself in many intimate relationships, and had the pride to go with it.  Soccer provided and identity and my value was determined by my relationships.  I did not understand that I was a broken lost person.  I fell into Satan's "bait and switch".  I believed that in order to be a success, I had to train hard, go to class, compete in matches, have tons of friend, date beautiful women, and party hard.  The priorities in my life were completely out of control, and even when God attempted to intervene, I was too busy to open the door.  

After 3 seasons, I retired from soccer, and I started a new life as a teacher and coach.  On the surface, I was a great person, but I was still harboring insecurities on the inside.  I thought marriage would solve all my issues, and I would truly be wanted as a man.  I was married in 2005 and divorced in 2006.  I finally hit rock bottom in the winter of 2006.  I was the most insecure person I knew, and I turned to my old habits of alcohol and pleasing people.  Little did I know, God never left me, and was working in the background.  

That spring, I met Nikole Antonnucci on a dating website, and we married on 2 December, 2006.  Our marriage was decent, but I still held on to my insecurities, and I became defensive when Nikki exposed them.  Our marriage was on a plateau for about the first 8 years.  We went through the honeymoon stage, and were clearly in the stable phase.  The birth of two of our children were the best part of the marriage, but we were growing apart.  

God moved in the summer of 2015.  On June 5, in the middle of the night, we received a tragic phone call concerning the death of the daughter of a family friend.  The young lady was a student at LSHS, and friend of the women's soccer team.  This was one of the worst nightmares for a coach.  We handled the situation as best as we could.  We leaned into our friends, and my wife began to attend a local church with her best friend.  Nikki encouraged me to attend, because "the pastor talks about things that you believe in."  Eventually, to satisfy Nikki, I attended, but guarded.  That first service at Abundant Life blew me away.  God was speaking directly to me.  It was a message of redemption no matter how "messed up" your life was at the time.  It was the first time in my entire life that the Gospel made sense to me.  The turning point came, on 9 August, 2015.  On my daughter's 1st birthday, I attended service by myself, God really spoke to me that morning, and I prayed as I had never prayed before.  After the service, I felt as if a huge burden was lifted, I called Nikki in tears, and apologized for all of the pain I caused her over the last 8 years. 

My life has changed from selfish insecurities and doubt to understanding that I am a child of God who has been redeemed because of what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross.  This knowledge has lead me to a much more clear understanding of who I am in Christ, as a husband, a father, a son, a teacher, and a coach.  The last 3 years has been a bumpy road to redemption.  Everyday I feel blessed to know that my Lord and Savior will never leave me, and that I am redeemed through him.  

My message is simple, it is never too late, you are never too "messed up", and there is a God that loves you unconditionally.

God Bless, and thank you for reading.