Monday, January 31, 2011

Another Setback . . . But Then . . .

1997 - I'm back in Woodstock, Betty has moved on and soon so would I. It's the kind of thing one would see in a movie, but I tried it and it actually worked. As part of the scoring system at the bowling center it was possible to send messages to bowlers on individual lanes. And so I did. We'll call her Angela (these are not real names, just a reminder). I asked her when we would be going out and to my surprise she walked up to the counter and said "You tell me" and smiled. Well . . . needless to say I was overjoyed. A few dates later we were inseparable. She lived in Carrollton, GA and I was a fixture in Carroll County for the first six months of 1997. Thinking I was Ross Geller from Friends naturally I proposed and she accepted and I really thought this was the end of the search. Well . . .

Change of subject . . . On June 9th, 1997 on lanes 17-18 at AMF Woodstock I bowled my one and only 300 game during league play. It's an experience I'll never forget. But the joy didn't last very long, not long at all . . .

Two weeks after I bowled that perfect game I was alone again and I quite literally went nutty one night, I lost it. (I'll spare details, I'm embarrassed by my behavior, not toward anyone but myself). As quickly as it had begun it was over. Angela was gone. I would lose my job and then I would get it back a few weeks later, but I was just aimless, completely aimless.

Enter God and an old friend (Thanks Mark) with an invitation to be a counselor for a youth retreat in Panama City Beach. Almost immediately my friend seemed to regret bringing me. I was reserved and quiet (those of you who know me know if I'm quiet, something's wrong ;)). But one night on the beach I looked up into the sky and said, "alright, that's it I'll do what you have called me to do." When I get back home I'll enroll in a Bible college and prepare myself for life in ministry." From that point on the retreat was a pleasure. I opened up and was told I was a great asset to the team.

When I got home I did as I promised. I applied and was accepted to Atlanta Christian College. I would start in the Fall of 1997. It looked like everything was finally heading in the right direction.

But September and October of 1997 would provide two events which could have very easily derailed my life. And they almost did. God reached down and pulled me out. It wasn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last. More to come . . .

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1996 and Beyond

Well . . . following the heartbreak of late 1995 I resumed my career in the bowling industry with a new company and a new location. Brunswick Azalea Lanes in Austell offered me an opportunity to come in as their Control Counter Supervisor which quickly turned over into another opportunity to be an Assistant Manager and enter their Management Training Program which brought great promise for me, workwise that is. I loved my job, working late, sleeping in. This was the advent of Cosmic Bowling, where the lights went down and the music was turned up LOUD. I have fond memories of some very good times.

In the summer I was given an opportunity to work at the Olympic Bowling Center at Georgia Tech where the athletes would come to relax and have some fun. Thank God for the shoe size chart which crossed nearly all nationalities. Conversation was minimal but the experience was fun. I was the only Assistant Manager there. It was a real honor.

It seemed that all was going well . . . but deep inside I had a massive hole in my heart. I was lonely and I was living in disobedience to the call which God had placed on my life. I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe, Betty and I would get back together but it never happened. 1996 rolled into 1997 very quietly. My bowling game was improving, my stock with Brunswick was on the rise and then one night . . . I didn't want it anymore, I just couldn't take another day of this grind. I don't think it was the job, I loved the job. I just got bored and wanted to do something different. So after I closed the bowling center on a Saturday night and I left a note (terribly unprofessional and irresponsible, but I was 23 going on 15 and didn't really care) telling my boss that I was through. Another year, another job . . . no peace. I worked for a little while at the Bowling Center in Douglasville where my dad and I bowled just to make a little money but then I was on my way back to Woodstock and that bowling center which still to this day has a very special place in my heart.

1997 was the turning point though regarding my call to ministry. But of the twists and turns that were to come. The question was simple . . . Where and in what/who is my faith located? Stay Tuned. I promise I won't wait three months before posting again.