No one was home. I checked all the rooms and found no one. But then my brother, Tommy, appeared. We didn’t say anything to each other. I was worried, a little scared. I started making phone calls but none went through. Then it hit me. My family — and everyone I knew — had been raptured except for me and my brother.
I woke up that morning with a silent, heavy mind — confused, strangely alert. I quickly replayed the dream, downloading it into my mind. I didn’t want to forget it because I didn’t fully understand it.
The thought of being left behind didn’t scare me, it just awakened me as a fourteen-year-old. The dream was vivid, convicting. It was like a light bulb had flickered on in my mind and heart that morning.
I had grown up in a Christian family. My parents became believers when they were in their twenties after a life of growing up in New York City. They were used to the rough streets, doing what they could to survive financially.
It’s my choice! If I want to die, let me die, she cried bitterly.
My dad grew up most of his life without a dad. So when he met my mom he made sure to be the dad he never had. They had my sister when my mom was 18.
Tommy was born five years later. Me, ten years after that, and my youngest brother — Matthew — four years after me.
My parents got saved when my sister, Megan, came home from a local church’s VBS. Dad had okayed the free babysitting a week before.
She found my dad sitting in his chair squawking at a Yankees game, sipping his third beer.
Dad, she whimpered in tears.
What is it honey? What’s wrong?
I’m know I’m going to heaven.
… That’s good news, isn’t it? He gave a playful glance at mom, who stood curiously in the doorway. Why are you crying?
Because you’re not going to heaven, sob.
He lost it. Who told you this, he demanded as he stood up, eager to straighten the crook who brainwashed his ten-year-old.
Megan innocently confided, amidst sobs. My dad simmered and waited for an opportunity to confront the pastor. A couple days later, he followed little Megan into the church, on the prowl.
Hours later he came back to the house, walked in the doorway with the pastor following behind him and greeted my mom.
Do what you did to me to my wife, said my dad, with wet eyes and a hopeful smile.
That’s how it happened for my parents. Soon after their conversion, my dad decided to become a pastor; then I was born, then my little brother. We lived in Connecticut and my dad pastored youth for a small church. Growing up I remember having youth group kids at our house all the time. I was born into a Christian home.
Before I had that dream at 14-years-old about the rapture, I had thought I was a saved Christian. I went to church, I even sang in church; I tried hard to be a good person. At a young age, I concluded that I was a good person.
When I had that dream, I was staying at my sister’s house in Wooster, Ohio. She’s 14 years older than me; she has a family of her own. I used to visit them for long bouts to babysit their four kids.
That morning I realized that I was a Christian, but that God wanted to shift my thinking. He wanted me to know that apart from Him I have no purpose in life.
At that point in my life, I knew I had chops; I could sing. Harmonizing came perfectly natural to me at a really young age. Every time I sang I felt right. But until that dream, I had not realized that God wanted me to use that gift for His glory.
That morning I decided to live a life dedicated to giving Him glory with my voice and musical talent. I realized I was a sinner and that I needed to confess it. Jesus became my composer that morning.
Because of that dream, I pursued a vocal performance degree with an education minor at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. I turned down the near full-ride scholarship at Radford University in Virginia.
When I graduated, I was approached by many schools that wanted to hire me as a music teacher. One in Hawaii, one in Peru.
At this point in my life, God’s peace had become like a familiar blanket to me. I recognized His peace. Both choices didn’t wrap me in His peace.
Sure of myself, I refused an opportunity to do what I love. But I couldn’t help asking God why. Why couldn’t you make that work, God? I love learning new cultures, meeting new people. I have adventure in my heart and a voice that’s been described as an angel. Why couldn’t you use me there? Where do you want to use me?
I started working for a start-up church near my sister’s home in Wooster. It was great — they had me in charge of the worship ministry and gave me secretarial duties. But I soon found that that wasn’t where God wanted me longterm.
I started working for a friend’s sausage and ice cream stand. We traveled to festivals and fairs all over Ohio for a summer. And as another part-time gig to pay off school loans, I worked at a clothing store. Then they offered me a job as a manager at their newly opened purse store. I accepted and moved to Mansfield, Ohio.
Now I was just confused. I felt the blanket, faintly. But I was getting hot.
Why a purse store, Lord? I can’t sing and play piano there. It’s not a church. It’s not a school. It’s the furthest from what I thought I’d be doing.
Just do your best.
That’s what he told me. So for seven years and counting that’s what I’ve done. And slowly, I cooled down enough to want to feel the warmth of that blanket of peace; he has me wrapped up.
And there’s no place I’d rather be.