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My Story – covered in His fingerprints….

8 Sep

Hmmm…my first entry on my brand new blog. This must be how a writer feels, when they have an idea for a story bubbling under the surface…and they sit down, diet coke on their left, crisp new stack of paper on their right, and a brand new pen in hand.

I feel like I have a lot to say. Whether or not anyone will read it, TBD (to be determined). Whether or not it will do anyone any good, TBD. But I have something to tell you, and I might as well start at the beginning.

Once upon a time…no, too cliche.

Deep breath…big sigh…here we go.

I was born in Bloomington, Illinois. Not a big town, but it didn’t really matter. We didn’t stay there long. As a matter of fact, we didn’t stay anywhere very long, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I was the first child, sister number one came along about 3 years later, sister number two about 2 years after that. My dad was in sales, and he was good at it. So good, that he’d get promoted about every 3 years or so. Great, right? Except that with every promotion came a move.

The first move (and we moved in 1976, 79, 84, 87, 90, 93…you get the picture) of significance to me was the one in 1987. We moved from Overland Park, KS to Shoreview, MN. Up until this move, I’d always been a pretty popular kid. Lots of friends, lots of activities, healthy self-esteem. If I had to look back and pinpoint where the problems started, I would have to say Shoreview, Minnesota.

I’ll never forget my first day of Jr. High in my brand new school. I was a middle-of-the-year transplant, in a town where no one ever moves. Everyone seems to marry their high school sweet-heart, and everyone’s been friends since kindergarten, if not before.

And then there’s a new girl. A student-aide walks me to class…it’s choir…about 3 times the size of a normal class. She opens the door, and we walk in. You hear the needle screeching off the record, the room falls silent, a collective gasp rises from the crowd…..ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but that’s how it felt to my poor, 12 year old brain. Nothing I did or said helped me to blend in, either. Up in Minnesota, my mid-western way of speaking was like a foreign language to them. “Oh myee gash…whyee do yoo have such an accent? Where are yoo frahm? Loo-ee-see-ah-nah?” By the way – it’s hard to write in a northern accent. You may have to just use your imagination. Guess overalls had been all the rage in Kansas…but when I wore my prized possession up there, they called me farm girl. That was the middle of 7th grade. It took until the beginning of 8th to really make any friends.

High school wasn’t too much better. One girl in particular made it her mission to keep me from having many friends, and she succeeded pretty well. When my parents broke the news at the beginning of my 10th grade year that we’d move to Colorado over the Christmas break, I wasn’t too heartbroken. Part of me really looked forward to a fresh start, a clean slate, if you will.

If I were to say nothing good came out of living in Minnesota, it wouldn’t be the truth, though. In 8th grade, I went to a retreat called “Quest,” and that was my first experience with Jesus Christ. Up until then, I had kind of seen God and Jesus as one (I know they are, but I didn’t really differentiate them at all), kind of floating up in the sky, granting the wishes of some, and not others. I guess I thought of God as a big, cosmic Santa, except not nearly as jolly. More judging, and quick to punish me for every missed step. At Quest, I got to know God on a more personal level, and I got to know His Son. At the end of the retreat, they gave us a copy of the New Testament. I took it home and started to read it, and I started to pray. It’s very interesting that God chose that time in my life to call me to a deeper relationship with Him. It’s very comforting to see that He was there, even when I felt so alone.

I’m not sure if it was my freshman or sophomore year, but the follow-up retreat to Quest was TEC – Teens Encounter Christ. This one was a little longer, a little more in-depth, but otherwise very similar. At the end, we got a copy of the full bible. I still have it today – and it’s very precious to me. It’s in two pieces, ragged, tattered, underlined, notes on many of the pages…loved. That bible has been with me, perched right there within reach on my night stand, ever since.

So we moved to Highlands Ranch, Co., and I loved it there, but the damage was done. I had self-esteem issues, weight issues, eating issues…..pick an issue, any issue, I probably had it. But I did have a fantastic group of friends. We got into quite a bit of trouble, but we lived to tell of it, and we all seemed to turn out in the wash. An interesting side note, though. The “trouble” I got into (and don’t be mistaken, there was QUITE a bit of it) coincided perfectly with my decision to stop going to church. It was nothing against God at all. But I just wasn’t going to be the new kid again. So other than Christmas and Easter…no church.

Fast forward a few years…I’m a nervous freshman swallowing back tears as her mother and grandmother drive away from GSP…an all-girls’ dorm at the University of Kansas. Since I didn’t want my potential friends to see me crying, I hid in the bathroom for a good 30 or 45 minutes, trying to compose myself. Just when I thought I had it together, I’d break down all over again.

But college proved to be fun. I joined a sorority, made lots of friends, and changed my major 3 times. The first year. I guess it was my sophomore year when my mother called me, and wanted to talk about the classes I was taking. Since I had grudgingly decided I wanted to be a track coach and a health teacher (I know…me?? Teach?? This is where you can take a moment to LOL), I was loaded up on classes involving math, science…everything I’m terrible at. My mom asked me if I had ever thought about radio or tv. I can hear her now, God bless her. “Really, Rebecca…you have such a nice speaking voice, and you do love to sing. And you know, I always said you were a good writer. Call the journalism school, you’d be very good at this. Really honey, do it today.” Well, my mom ended up calling the dean, and made an appointment for me. My mother would deny this, but I really believe that was at the Lord’s nudging. God had a plan for me, just like He has a plan for you. But I stray.

So I went to meet the dean, and right there on the spot, he just enrolled me in all of my classes. I didn’t have to apply for the school or anything. And thus began my love affair with radio.

I love radio so much. I love everything about it. I love the way it sounds when you’re talking up the intro to a good, fast song, and you just nail that post (if you’re a radio person, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about). I love it when I have an idea, and then I see it escalate into something on the air. I love the laughter, working with other people, playing music for a living. Its a good gig.

So I graduated with my BS in journalism (so appropriate by the way – a BS degree in radio, I love that). But before I move in that direction, let me tell you a little bit about where I was personally. I’d moved out of my sorority house before the start of my senior year, and was living in an apartment with my 3 best girlfriends. I was working full time, studying full time, interning part time (felt like full time), and partying the rest of the time. I was also the only one out of all my friends that didn’t have a serious boyfriend. Insert my mother’s voice….”Oh Rebecca. The ONLY one? I’m sure you’re not the ONLY one.” No, I was. The ONLY one. So young, so lonely, so ripe to meet the perfect jerk.
The perfect jerk came into my life right before my 21st birthday. I didn’t succeed in removing him from my life until after my 24th birthday. But again…I stray.

So I pose a question to you. What do you do when all of your friends have moved away and gotten married? What do you do when you’re a 22 year old emotional mess who drinks a little more than she should and makes terrible decisions? Don’t move to Texas, where you’re parents live! Don’t move back home, save money, pay off debt, and try to get a job at a radio station! For heaven’s sake, no! You stay where you are, you get a job that you hate, and you move in with the perfect jerk! Take your parents advice, ha! I was going to learn myself, and I was going to learn it the hard way, thank you very much for caring.

So that’s what I did. I took my flimsy self-esteem and my warped body image, and I got a job at a plastic surgeon’s office (if you need to LOL again, feel free. I can’t hear you). Because that’s what you should do when you really need a lesson in loving the body God gave you. You look at fake parts all day.

So here’s a fun way for me to spend the day. I can pull out my journal from those days and read the entries. “Dear God, I know this relationship I’m in is a mess. Please fix it. Please give me a sign if I’m not meant to be here.” And then my parents would call me……”Rebecca, the radio stations down here are wonderful! You’d really love Texas, move in with us. You won’t have to give us a dime.” No thanks mom and dad. I’ve got a great life up here, really. “Dear God, I’m miserable up here. I’m getting my heart broken on a daily basis. Please give me a sign if I’m not meant to be here.” And then I’d get in such an awful fight with the perfect jerk that my voice would be lost and my dignity destroyed. “Dear God, I just hate my job so much. Please help me to find a job in radio. And please give me a sign if I’m not meant to be here.” And I’d wreck my car. Do you get the picture?

I was begging God for signs (seriously, I have a whole prayer journal and a half of them), and He was giving me billboards. We make a serious mistake when we come to God with our will and ask Him to bless it. How could God bless my life at that point? I wasn’t honoring Him with my life style at all! Nothing I was doing was according to His word. Instead of asking the Lord Almighty to bless our will for our lives….lets come to Him, offer up our lives to Him, and ask Him to show us His will. If I’d have done that in the first place I would’ve saved myself a lot of heartache, but my story wouldn’t be nearly so juicy.

So lets fast forward a tad. You know how you’ll have a weird dream, and you’re going from place to place and you don’t know quite how you got there? One morning, and it was right after another horrible fight with the perfect jerk, I woke up, and just lied there staring at the ceiling for about an hour. Then I got up, and I got my suitcase. I wasn’t thinking…I was just moving. Almost like some unseen force was guiding my motions…..ok, now open the suitcase. Ok, now open your drawer. Ok, now put some underware in it. I was just kind of floating along. Then I packed up my car, and went back inside. I called my boss and left him a message that I’d be gone for awhile. And then I left. And I drove south.

Olathe, Kansas is right off of I 35. The same I 35 that goes through the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and the same I 35 that goes through the DFW area. Up north, it splits into I 35 E and I 35 W. Same with Dallas/Fort Worth. I’d given my parents a little heads up that I was headed their way, but I was a little out of it when I did it. It never occurred to me that I had no idea where they lived. I knew it was Keller, and I thought Keller was closer to Fort Worth than Dallas, but that’s about it. I never started crying until I got to Denton, and saw the signs for the I 35 split. Then…I lost it.

I found a pay phone and got a hold of my dad. Poor dad. He answers the phone and all he hears is me crying so hard I’m hyperventilating. But he gave me directions and I was on my way. You know the story of the prodigal son in the bible? How the younger of the two sons doesn’t want to wait for his inheritance, goes and blows it, and then comes back ashamed and hanging his head, just hoping for a servant’s position? And his father honors him. That’s how I’ve always felt about my move to Texas. I didn’t listen to my parents. I made foolish decisions. I was going to show everyone that I could do it my way, all by myself. And then, as I’m driving home to see my parents, I realize I don’t even know where they live.

And there was my dad…outside…waiting for me to pull in. He opened my car door, pulled me out, and held me while I sobbed as if my heart had been ripped in two. It hadn’t, of course. It had just been stomped on and then ripped into a million pieces.

Too make a long story less long, I went back up to Kansas after a week of letting my parents just love me and take care of me. How like God they were. They’d forgiven me before I’d even asked for forgiveness. They gave me grace before I even realized I needed it. They just celebrated my return. Don’t be afraid to let God do that for you, if you need it. One of my favorite bible passages is Jeremiah 31:19-20….”‘I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’ ‘Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?’ asks the LORD. ‘I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.'” Isn’t that AMAZING? Even when we turn away from God…He LONGS for us. He doesn’t just love us…he longs for us. Meditate on that for just a moment. Breathe it in…and accept it as truth in your life. He longs for us…and surely will have mercy on us. Lord, I thank you for that. I thank you for your love and your mercy. Amen.

Once I finally realized that I could no longer live in Kansas, I did what I had to do. I packed up my stuff, said goodbye, and left. Did I look back? Of course. Was it easy? Of course not. But God never told us His will for our lives would be. Was it right? Oh yes.

Back in Kansas, every door I knocked on was slammed. Or just not opened. I couldn’t get a job in radio to save my life. And Kansas City isn’t a major market when it comes to radio stations. Dallas is. It’s the fifth biggest market in the US. And when it comes to country music, it’s the most important market. If you want to work in country radio…you want to work in Dallas/Fort Worth. I moved there October 11th, 1998. Two weeks later, I had a job at 92.5 KZPS running the board on a Sunday morning show. Two weeks later, the news director at 570 KLIF called me to see if I was interested in filling in on news when the full timers were out. They also needed weekend producers. They happened to share office space with a country radio station. I got a job in promotions there, and then spent the rest of my free time in the studio, pulling cd’s for the dj’s and asking questions. I just drank it in. Then, on Easter Sunday of 1999 the program director called me and wanted to know if I’d ever dj’d before. There’d been a jock who’d no-called, no-showed and they were pulling him off the schedule. Could I maybe come in at 10pm and work until 1am? Could I!?!?

After that, I got a position as a part time jock on that station. After doing the overnight shift for roughly 3 months, the program director called me in again, saying he wanted to pair me up with another girl to do a night show from 7pm to 11pm. 2 and a half years later, my dream came true. I went over to 96.3 KSCS and joined Terry Dorsey and Hawkeye to be part of the Dorsey Gang. I’ve been there since August of 2001.

Do you see God’s fingerprints in there? They’re everywhere. Do you see how much better His plan was for my life? Look at what I was praying for. And God said, no child. I have something prepared for you. Something so much better.

Another one of my favorite bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11…..”‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”

If you’re hurting, or hoping, or searching, or frustrated….I hope this can be of some help for you. God’s plan in my life continues to unfold. As of this blog post, I’ve been married to my soul mate for 5 years. I have two beautiful, precious children. When you’re in the middle of the storm, you can’t see the clearing ahead of you. It doesn’t matter, though, because God can. And He has big plans for you….plans for good and not disaster….to give you a future and a hope…..

 

 

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