To God Be the Glory
This is dedicated to God, Linda, and my boys Shawn, Travis and Adam, and all of my students that make it what it is.
It was the birth of our three sons that made me think about my physical condition. I wanted to be able to do everything they could do, not matter what they were doing. I was worried about my age and thought about it often. When my youngest son would turn 18, I would be 42–I wanted to participate fully in their lives and I didn’t want age to be an issue.
I had always had this inner passion to learn the Martial Arts; I remember as a young boy I would hurry home every day after school to watch Kung Fu with David Caradine. I shared this with my wife Linda many times, and for my 26th birthday her present to me was to start taking Tae Kwon Do lessons. Little did I know that this passion would become an obsession that would almost cost me my marriage.
I found Tae Kwon Do to be a great stress reliever, a way to deal with the stress of the day with work, home, marriage, everything about life. I could focus on performing and the perfection of the movements without needing to think. This became the driving force behind my passion.
Class attendance became my top priority. If I was sick, sore, or injured, it didn’t matter. Working out was more important than anything else. I was a perfectionist and was going to do everything I could do to be the best that I could be.
At this point Linda took some Tae Kwon Do classes to see what it was that was consuming me. She began talking to me about how my extreme involvement in the Tae Kwon Do school was affecting our relationship, but I turned a deaf ear. I didn’t want to hear about the strain it was putting on our marriage. I was preparing to test for my black belt and was entirely focused on that goal. I told her that after my testing I would cut back on the time I spent at the school. Then, a surprising thing happened.
Just after I earned my black belt, my instructors told me they were giving me the school. This is when the real journey began. I accepted the school without question, without any family discussion, and no mention of it to Linda except to call her at work and inform her of the news.
I took over the school and was determined to be the only instructor. I took it upon myself and taught all the classes. Working full-time in addition to teaching 12 hours a week, my dream came true and I was in control.
Again change was in the air–this time it would be truly life-changing. The thought of God, or religion never meant much to me, I just went about life doing what I wanted to do. God, and religion, was a check in the box type of activity for me. The children were baptized, they were confirmed, we went to church on special occasions but I never allowed God to direct me. Life choices were always my choice. Then a friend asked me to attend a drama presentation at her church called Heavens Gates, Hells Flames. This play was a life-changing event for me. I realized I had a choice to make, and that night I surrendered my life to Christ. I’d like to say that immediately my priorities were set right and I started putting my wife and family first, but it didn’t happen that way. I was still as involved as ever in the school, teaching and managing the business, though I began to talk to Linda about God and what I was learning. She listened to what I was saying and took time to ponder what I was talking about. In 1997 Linda gave her heart to the Lord, and she began praying for me, our marriage, and our family. She would cry out to God and tell Him, “You’ve got to talk to him. Only You can change him.” I believe this was my diving appointment and my ears were opened to hear what He was telling me.
There are many stories about how God has been teaching me and shaping this school into what it is today. God changed my temperament from what it was–rude and obnoxious–He’s changed everything about me. I know that I had to change so that the school could become what it is today.
First, I had to realize that this school is not just mine, it is God’s school. He gave it to me and my wife; I had to give up total control of what I thought was mine. Even still, I have to allow God to mold me; I still make mistakes and receive His guidance all the time.
This school is not just me setting rules, I am using others and their knowledge to work together to find the best way. We can look at the knowledge base and work together to find the best way. It is not just about me, but about learning to give responsibility to other teachers and watch them succeed and grow into who God wants them to be. The school’s mission and vision is to “Help people see themselves as Jesus sees them. To help people see the beauty God has put inside of them and let the beauty blossom from the inside out”, and our school’s verse is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Finding the Factory Street location for the school shows God’s hand in directing our footsteps. My goal was to have a studio with affordable classes so that families could participate regardless of income, so we started the hunt. There was a close call with a property we were considering for the studio. For the first time, Linda and I were working together. We were looking at a place we thought might work; just before we were going to sign a contract and some paperwork for that location we went to take one more look…we found an inch of standing water covering the floor of the building! We are thankful God intervened before we got too far into that mess.
So the search continued, until we heard about the Factory Street facility. We looked at the place, and what a mess! It had been an indoor paintball field and there was paint everywhere. There was Floor Dry on the floor several inches thick to soak up the wet paintballs when they broke. There were holes in the walls, and the windows were boarded up. It would be a project. But what an awesome space! I had been hoping for a 3,000 square foot space with a bathroom, and this was 7,000 square feet full of potential. It was such a blessing, better than I had ever dreamt. I brought my three boys to take a look at the place, and they thought I was crazy, and as for my wife, she told me, “You know, God does have a sense of humor!” The owner and I talked about working out a deal so he could purchase the materials needed for repairs and I would provide the labor. He kept his end of the deal and I got to work.
The last part of my dream was to go full-time teaching Martial Arts, and when the time came, God spoke to Linda and I clearly about what was to be done along the way. What He was asking us to do was hard, and we did not know how everything would turn out in our minds, but God kept telling us to trust Him. When we took a step of faith and followed Him, everything worked out just as He told us to do. His Word tells us in the Bible that we walk by faith, not by sight, and that is exactly what my wife and I did and God has blessed us beyond measure.
One month before we were to open the doors, God told me that I was to make a wooden cross, so I built one. Next, He told me before I began classes, I was to pray over the school and all the students that would be coming through the doors. That is why I hung the cross where I did, because I want everyone who enters our school to see Jesus first and then the school. The cross is an essential part of the school and will be there as long as I am in business.
Our lives are a journey and we have choices to make. I am so grateful that God intervened in my life when He did and how He did. I look back and see how He used different people and different situations to teach me and mold me into the person I am today–and I’m not done yet. I have more learning to do, more people to meet, more classes to teach. God is good, and faithful, and walking with us on our journey. I pray that you will open your heart to the call He has put on your life and choose to walk with Him into eternity.
To God be the glory in all things