Here's part 2 of our Q & A series: Getting to know Steve. Once we finished answering all these questions, it totaled 10 pages! So, we're breaking up this section. Half of the questions for you here today, and the rest tomorrow. We don't want to put you to sleep all at once!
1. I'd love to hear Steve's life story :)
Life story… well, I think I will spare you a ton of time and a good nap and cut out a lot of the details that you probably don’t care too much about – but hopefully you will get to know a little more about me and begin to see how God intertwined mine and Vee’s lives to bring about redemption and healing.
I grew up in Anderson, Indiana where I lived until I moved to Rochester Hills after our wedding. My childhood was pretty normal – it was an all boy home (minus my mom) so we did a TON of sports, camping, hunting, and fishing. My parents were great examples of love and selflessness and made sure my older brother and I were well plugged in to a good church home. Although life was all around pretty good, it was flecked with episodes of depression from my dad who had been abused as a child. Watching him struggle with self-worth made me want to “do something” to help. It was from this early point in my childhood where I began thinking about spending my career as a counselor helping those who had been through hardships and giving them hope. In addition, when I was in my early teenage years I developed a love for the Bible and began thinking about a career as a minister when I grew up.
Unfortunately, as you will probably see from my writing, I was much better at being a class-clown than a top-notch student and consider myself pretty blessed to graduate high school and really had no serious thoughts of going to college. With no college degree there was little hope of being a counselor or minister, so I spent several years working various jobs: childcare, engineering, janitor, home repossessions, maximum security prison guard, etc… you name it, and I have probably done it once, or twice. But the truth was, none of these things was what I felt like God had called me to do and I felt like I was missing out! After several years of debating whether or not to go to college, I finally took the plunge and got my undergraduate degree with a double major in Psychology and Social Work in 2003 shortly before the birth of my second daughter, Reagan.
At the same time I began working for a church in Indiana and after I finished my degrees I began working 2 jobs, one as a youth minister and one as a mental health counselor. While I originally loved my job as a mental health counselor my heart began to grow restless to help people in another setting and it was not too long before I had found myself working as a bereavement counselor and chaplain for a hospice in Indiana. In addition to working full-time as a bereavement counselor, working part-time at a church, I also began to work on obtaining my Masters in Pastoral Theology which I just finished a few short months ago.
2. Did Steve lose his wife?
Is the mother of Steve's girls in the picture?
Did Steve suffer a spousal loss? I was wondering how you met, and thought maybe that is what brought you together.
You've hinted at the fact that tragic circumstances led to Steve being single. Was he also widowed? Again, I hope that isn't insensitive or too nosy... Just curious about Steve's backstory, if that's a possible topic to touch on.
I know there has been many questions as to whether I lost my spouse, or was divorced, or spent some time in the circus as stand-in for the bearded woman during her lunch break (ok, ok, no one has really asked the last one but I figured it was going to come sooner or later…). Before I begin I must tell you that this is one subject that is the hardest for me to talk about or put into words for others to read. I am divorced. My ex-wife is still living and gets to spend a little time with the girls each month. While I know there are probably a ton of questions about my divorce, what happened, and all the curiosities that come along with that – I have to be honest and tell you up-front that for the sake of my daughters, I have been and will continue to be very selective about what I say in reference to my divorce as I know that the things I say and write impact the way my daughters think and feel about their mother. This has not always been an easy stance for me. On one hand, there is a part of me that would love nothing more than to expose all the truth - a sort of revenge for the past the girls and I went through - but deep down inside I know that's not really beneficial or the kind of person I am. On the other hand, there are people who want to know, who feel they have a right to know to "make sure" I divorced for the "right reasons." (I even had one brazen person call me on our wedding day to warn me I was making a mistake since I had been divorced - as if that person knew anything about what me or my daughters went through) While the thought of vindicating myself and gaining support sounds nice - when I factor in the negative impact that it will have on my daughters, it's just not worth it! I have support from Vee and from those who know the truth and I am comfortable with that.
But, for those who have inquiring minds, here is some information I am willing to share with you…1) I tried for a very long time to make things work – 12 years – and attempted to seek both professional and lay counseling for many years to make our marriage work, but my ex-wife was unwilling to do the same. 2) My ex-wife became very unhealthy in many facets to the point where I felt it was no longer healthy for me or the girls to interact with her on a daily basis. 3) At the time of my divorce I was employed by a church and I worked with the leadership of the church to try and resolve issues, I met with them, listened to them, and allowed them to speak into my life, but together we were unable to resolve the issues that had plagued my marriage. 4) My ex-wife willingly gave up full legal and physical custody of the girls to me at the time of our divorce. 5) Vee and I have the girls with us the majority of the time and we, along with many other people who have known and loved my daughters for many years, agree that’s in the best interest of the girls.
I apologize if this information is too vague for you – but I hope you understand that while I am no longer married to my ex-wife, I never want to do anything that would cause my children to see their mother in a skewed light.
3. I would love to hear Steve's perspective on where he and his daughters’ life were at when he met you.
Honest and transparent – while its not always pretty, this is what you get…. I got married to my ex-wife at a very early age – too early! The kind of early where you don’t understand that people think and feel different than you about important issues in life, relationships, love, honesty, parenting, etc… The kind of early that people might just say exactly what you want to hear in order to make you like them – only to find out later that they are not the person you thought they were, but someone else. Anyway, I say all of this to state that the divorce was not something that happened over-night, but something that happened many years ago. I realized within the first week of our marriage that there were going to be issues – not normal, everyday issues, but serious, troubling issues. Issues that I could not fix, counselors could not fix, and I could not continue to deal with and keep my own sanity. Because of these issues, I was use to taking care of the girls hygiene, homework, etc. by myself, spending the evenings by myself, and going to bed by myself. For many years I felt like a single dad long before I ever filed any paperwork. By the time I had filed for divorce, I had long, long since worked through the anger, guilt, and hurt that comes along with a divorce – because I realized that we had not been “married” for a long time! I know it may sound bizarre, but when the divorce finally happened, I walked away without any anger – all that was past me, I walked away relieved and confident that God would take care of me and the girls whatever our future would be.
So, that being said, while I still have some hurts and emotional scars from my previous relationship (which is normal, considering) I felt as though I was in a better place than I had been for years. As with most children, the girls were hurt by the divorce. I remember having to sit them down, by myself, and tell them that their mom and I were getting a divorce. It was hard for them at first, but honestly after a few weeks, they seemed to be adjusted quite well. They were already used to spending almost every night at home with just me anyway, me being the cook, bather, hair-dresser, etc… so not much changed, other than they knew what to expect from each day, which really seemed to help them.
When Vee entered the picture, it changed all of us! I was ready for conversation, affection, and a relationship that I never really had. At the same time, the girls had missed the same thing. I remember clearly how the girls loved (and still love) to crawl up in Vee’s lap and let her hold them, read to them, do their hair or nails, and just spend quality “girl time” with them that I could never really give them. Vee understood that this was something the girls really needed and has always gone way out of her way to give the girls her time, attention, and affection. While every transition has its challenges, ultimately the process of Vee and I dating, getting married, and blending our family has been overwhelmingly positive not just for me, but for my girls as well.