20 September, 2007

Small Town: Synopsis of Life as Mike

Small Town
(Synopsis of Life as Mike)

There’s a song from 1985 by John Mellencamp entitled “Small Town” that I could have written.

Some of the lyrics are:

“Well I was born in a small town;
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town;
Used to daydream in that small town;
Another born romantic thats me”

I am the first born and only son of a small town grocer and his stay-at-home wife. I was raise with 3 younger sisters in East Tennessee. At twelve years of age I became fascinated with radio. I used to daydream in that small town about being a disk jockey. Most of my nights were spent listening to far away stations like WLAC in Nashville, WLS in Chicago, WOWO in Fort Wayne.

At 15, I landed a weekend job at the local AM radio station where I listened Sunday mornings to hour upon hour of preachers. Some good – most bad. It rankled me as a teenage. Having been taught the fear of Jesus in a small town, this marked the beginning of a long season of separation from church (I now worked on Sunday mornings), theological disorientation and ultimately started my rebellion from God.

We moved to a bigger small town between my Junior and Senior year in High School. I remember being so ready to lose that small town! I landed a job as an afternoon drive announcer at a top 40 station and kept it through high school and college. I never finished college because the folly and trappings of being a “radio personality” were much more attractive.
I worked afternoons on the air and at night I worked as a DJ job in a local bar. An “adoring romantic, that’s me” and one night, I was captivated by a young lady. Six months later, she wore my wedding ring. Six months from now, that lady will have been my bride for twenty-five years! Our wedding was the first time in years that I acknowledged God’s presence in my life. .

Two years later – 1985, the year “Small Town” became a top 10 hit for John Mellencamp - Dana became pregnant with Alison. You can't raise a family as a radio announcer in a small town so I took a job in radio sales. To clue you in to my priorities at the time, I started the job during Dana's last trimester of pregnancy. She lived with my mom and dad while I commuted 300 miles away to Charleston, South Carolina. I would make the six hour drive home on weekends. Thankfully, Alison was born on a Sunday! Two weeks after her birth, we moved to coastal Carolina.

It was as if I hit a vein in broadcast sales. I was a rare specialist and we caught a ride of success that lead us from Charleston to Denver - in just 2 and a half years. I went to Charleston making $12 thousand a year. I went to Denver making $80 thousand a year. We were living large in a large town. And it was all empty. Dana’s boss was a preacher’s wife and through a lunchtime bible study, Dana gave her heart to Christ. They prayed me to a Steve Green concert one night in 1988. That's where I gave my life to Jesus. As the Lord began rearranging our priorities, my thinking morphed from success to service.

Through a new desire to “downsize” our lives, an opportunity came to move back to a smaller town, Lincoln NE. When we moved in 1990 Dana was pregnant, Josiah (#2). We plunged into a growing church and learned there how to minister to couples, leading a young married’s Sunday School class. That’s where we learned of the FamilyLife Marriage Conference. We attended that conference in 1992. I tell people we went in with a good marriage and came out with a godly marriage. We returned to the conference in 1993 realizing God had prepared us for the call He gave us that weekend. When we came to FamilyLife expressing a sense that God wanted us to join staff, Dana was pregnant with Brianna (#3).

We moved to Little Rock ten years ago to serve in the broadcast area at FamilyLife. God has been good. When I arrived, FamilyLife produced one radio program heard on 200 radio stations by about a million people each week. Today, we produce eight programs, heard on over 500 stations by over 9 million people each week. Ministering in large and small towns.

And the rest as they say, is history.

Things came full-circle with us earlier this year as we launched our first born in to marriage with a former FamilyLife staff kid. We’ve been able to see the impact of FamilyLife’s ministry in a whole new and even more powerful light!

In our ten years at FamilyLife, God has blessed us with friends, purposeful ministry and even a bonus baby, #4 – Kimberly (#4) who just started 2nd grade. I'm truly grateful for both the large and small towns God has used to reveal Himself to me over the years.

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