Neighborhood Restaurant Group
MAG Real Estate
Indian Hill HS
Arizona State University
I would say, the most impactful moment or part of my journey took place in late 2008. I had been married for 2 years, and my mom had been battling all kinds of health issues all alone, or so I thought (I will explain later). I was a new father of two beautiful and healthy kids, Piper (2) and Scout, just a newborn. I was also in the 17th year of being in business with my dad and my older brother which had always been tumultuous, even in the early years of its inception. This particular year was exceptionally difficult due to the above-mentioned stressors.
On an early evening one night, I most likely picked a fight with my wife. Though neither one of us remember what the fight was about, this one became the Gamechanger in both of our lives. For me, it took me straight to my rock bottom. I had never felt so low and disappointed and could not imagine living a life with so much rage. I never wanted to put my wife and kids through something like that again. For those who might be wondering, I’d like to put everyone’s mind to ease in that I didn’t lay a hand on my wife that night, but my aggression was enough for her to threaten to call the police. Verbal abuse can be just as bad or even worse than physical abuse, so I am not trying to make excuses or trying to make myself look better. I am just being honest. The following morning, I decided! I was done thinking I could fix all my issues with booze, gambling, working out and pornography. I needed to try something else. As I stated earlier, my mom was battling several illnesses in Lebanon, Ohio all by herself while her three sons and ex-husband lived in Arizona. We all had been trying to get my mom to move out to AZ over a 19-year period, but with no success.
My mom had surrendered to her Lord and Savior when she was 40 years old, and I can only assume it was because she realized there is only one way to live in a flawed world, as a flawed person and still find joy. That way is through Jesus Christ. Can I get an Amen? Sorry, I love saying that. So, the point is, my mom was never alone as she had the most important relationship with the Lord. At this point in my life, the only faith in my life was my mom sending me articles written about God fearing people who she felt I could relate to. She never threw a Bible at me or told me I was going straight to hell because I was a sinner. Instead, she led by example. In other words, she walked the walk instead of just talking the talk. My mom must have prayed for all her children and her ex-husband nonstop even though we did not deserve her prayers. Eventually, her health had taken a turn for the worst and moved out to AZ, which by the way was the same year my life was crumbling right in front of me. Accident? I do not think so! It is all in Gods timing, but he can and will make miracles out of messes. The following morning after my life changing and not so great evening with my wife, I went straight over to my mom’s house which was about a block away. At this point in my mind I was done with how I was living my life and I was willing to try anything in order to get a different feeling. Knowing what my mom had been through as well as what she was going through did I ever see her feel sorry for herself, get angry or blame anyone. It was quite the contrary. She was always happy and always put others needs in front of hers. So, why wouldn’t I go to her for help? After arriving at my mom’s house, I sat at her kitchen table where I immediately started crying. It seemed like an eternity when I finally could articulate to her how my life was falling apart. With a big smile on her face, she reached over the table and grabbed my hands. She then shared the Good News with me and lead me to Him where I surrendered my old life and became born again. Can I get an Amen? Sorry, I cannot resist. Remember, I grew up with zero faith or religion in my household, so I was scared, nervous and I guess excited too! I remember once we were done, I asked my mom what happens now? Should I have felt something go through my body? She started cracking up. As sad and upset as I was, there was my mom sitting across from me, calm as a cucumber smiling ear to ear.
As years went by, I finally knew why that was. God had answered her prayers. God did not want to see me sad or upset nor did He want me to get into a fight with my wife. This was the only way He could get me to my knees and surrender to Him. If that is not love, what is? My life was forever changed after that morning. My mom passed away 3 years later in 2011.
Shortly after, I confessed to my dad that I could not continue trying to be who he wanted me to be. We were running a restaurant business together which I was basically the director of operations over 13 restaurants. For the most part, I was treating our management in a way that would make my dad happy but would make me feel horrible. God gave me the strength to confront him. All things are possible through God. In 2015 after praying a lot and having many discussions with my wife, we decided it was time to leave the family business. We were both very adamant about not wanting to raise our children in Scottsdale AZ. At this time, we were also waiting to be matched with our two kiddos from Haiti. I will describe the process of me leaving the family business as the closest thing to a living hell, though I do not know what hell is like, I can’t imagine it being very pleasant. I left a multimillion-dollar company that was and is continuing to grow and was paid 50% less than what my share was worth. That stung, but I had to remember that all things are possible through Him, which included my situation! Woe is me, right? It took me some time and quite a bit of forgiveness to realize how God has blessed me. It wasn’t just the amount of money I received or my health, but that I also had a family of 4 kids who love the Lord and a woman that loved me for who I was, even with my flaws.
We brought our 2 kids from Haiti home with us on March of 2018 to Traverse City, Michigan where we live in a great house with lots of land where all 4 kids and myself can play. My wife runs our real estate business which she hates, so we will be making some changes soon. I currently work at the school where three of my four kids go, as an assistant in the special education department. I love my job by the way. It does not quite pay like my old career did, but I am happy now. Let me be clear. My life is not perfect, nor is my marriage. I am also not always proud of how I father my children either, but one thing I do have is a God who loves me and has a place for me waiting in heaven. Can I get an Amen? 😜
First and foremost, you are not alone. Whatever you are going through, many have also gone through in some shape or form, so don’t ever compare. Just because you see others' highlight reel on fb or other social media outlets doesn't always tell the tale. Don’t try to be someone you're not. Just be who God has created you to be. You only have one person to please in your life and that is God. There is so much more to life than what we see on TV, social media, magazines, with our neighbors, etc. Lastly, love isn’t a feeling, it's a decision and make sure to pray.... a lot!
Mark, I can't thank you enough for humbly sharing your story. It's not easy to share and be that transparent but it's so encouraging that you did that because there are many others who need to hear everything you said. I too was in a similar boat with many of the issues you shared as I was always looking to cover over some of the tough things in life with a high in some form or another. Of course, when we go after these highs, there comes a time of reckoning when we no longer can get that temporary high and we crash. Many times it takes us to crash, be humbled or have our lives rocked in some way in order for us to change. Your Mom Sharon loved you so much and I know is proud of you for sharing this as she's up in Heaven living the BEST LIFE! I'm hopeful that there are others who have tried going through life in such a way that resulted in little or no lasting peace and will be encouraged by what you shared in finding it through a relationship with Jesus. Thanks again Mark, Gary.