My Wordspace

A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

My Bio

Posted by Iszi on June 17, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

I’m betting you’d probably like to know a little about this person whose Blog you are reading, eh? If not, then just move up to the next post, if there is one yet. As my profile will tell (the little that it does) my name is Jacob, I’m male, 22 years old (today, woohoo!), and live in Florida.

I’ve lived in Florida all my life, barely changing location any further than 60 miles from where I was raised. I am the firstborn of three, second of which is my brother, third my sister. My school life started in a private pre-school affiliated with a local Baptist church. I went there from K-4 through 2nd grade, after which my parents could no longer afford for us to stay there. My grades were mostly solid-A’s at the time, and the only extracurricular activity I can remember is a children’s ministry called AWANAS. Life was pretty good, for the life of a 7-year old I guess.

After the private school, we were transferred to a local public school. Things quickly went downhill from there, scholastically. The last time I can clearly remember having straight-A’s was the first quarter of my 3rd grade year, and I was the only one in my class. From there I went downhill and was averaging C’s and D’s by 5th grade. In retrospect, my parents and I had determined (sometime during my late-elementary/early middle-school years) that the cause was boredom. Turns out that the public schools teach at a much slower pace than the private school I was used to, and while the class was still reviewing the topics of the previous year (or from before the most recent vacation), my mind was ready to move on to the next. That not happening, I got bored and stopped being productive.

During my time in Elementary school, I was active in the school chorus and WEBELOS scouts, although my social status made a slight drop from the “generally accepted” to the “generally picked-on” category. I still had a good group of friends and neighbors that went to the same school, but there was always some jerk bully looking to have fun with me too. Never anything physically painful, more or less just a load of jeering and insults, which may as well have been the same. Aside from the bullies, things were still pretty okay. Then again, that’s how things in your past, your “carefree” years, when you’re more “grown up” and “responsible”.

After 5th grade came Middle School. (Grades 6-8 where I live.) The particular school I was sent to for my 6th grade year wasn’t quite the greatest to be in. In fact, some of the teachers I had actually remembered my father. So, the place was rather dilapidated from its age and, although the staff was decent, many of the students I ran into weren’t. I still had a good handful of friends, but the bullies were worse in this new place. I found myself making quick friends with my Guidance Counselor, as I was often coming to her with reports of the most recent incident with a guy named Josh who, at the time, was becoming the bane of my existence. He never did anything to leave a bruise, but the harrassment, again, was more than enough to make up for it. This, I believe is when I officially got my social status marked as “nerd”, and found myself becoming a bit of a recluse from it.

If I recall correctly, this was also the year my parents divorced. If not, then it was the next. I’d like to believe I took it well, as I don’t usually make a big deal of most things, although I do remember missing my father deeply for awhile after he moved out, although he was only a few blocks away. My chorus and scout activities were traded in for Chess Club and Band. (I played the bassoon.) Aside from any classes that could actually hold my interest, my grades began to settle to D’s on average. I was just keeping them high enough to pass through the classes, although I could still ace any given test at the drop of a hat.

The next year, a new school closer to my house opened up, and I was transferred there, where I stayed for my 7th and 8th grade years. Still kept up with the Band and Chess Club activities, but never made much improvement in my grades. Josh still lived in my neighborhood, but he’d moved on to High School, and any other bullies I happened to meet generally didn’t quite seem so bad. At the worst, I’d gradually learned to either just ignore them, or actually trade a few insults back, which made theirs not seem so bad. Still saw the Guidance Counselors enough to recognize them, but it was mostly just for scheduling issues rather than bully issues. Still had a group of people I considered friends, although I only saw them at school.

Aside from Chess Club or Band, any after-school activities generally consisted of whatever the rest of the family was doing, or whatever fit my interests. This was also the time where those interests gradually started to shift into the computer world. My dad’s always had a computer, even if it was just a VIC 20, and when the schools started teaching typing and internet searching skills, it just helped things along.

I think I was in my 8th grade year when my mother re-married. My step-dad seemed like a good guy to start, but as I moved further into my teenage years, the relationship became rough. It didn’t help that he was constantly having to butt heads with my insubordinate little brother. My little sister was always a brat in the way only little sisters can be, but she never seemed to have any big issues with him.

Next came High School. (9th-12th grades out here.) I think these are the years evreyone wishes they could go back to, if not to just live out again, then to do over again and fix. I’m no different. My grades started slipping to the occasional F, and I failed and had to re-do a few classes in these years. In my 9th grade year I was in the Marching Band and NJROTC programs (played bassoon in Concert Band, but had to stay in the “Pit” for Marching Band since bassoons can’t march), but was removed in 10th grade because of my grades. Still stayed in the Chess Club, and used the time that would otherwise have been occupied by Band and NJROTC to take computer-related classes. Still knew my Guidance Counselor well, although now it was exclusively for scheduling issues, which somehow seemed to be constant and unrelenting, probably due in part to the fact that the school had just shifted to a new scheduling format. At this point, I still carried the “nerd” label, although the jeers and insults were fewer and farther between, and I can’t recall actually having any bullies that actually persisted for an extended period of time. So, I became slightly less reclusive, and kept a good several friends through these years, although I was still antisocial enough that my after-school activities (aside from anything with extra-curricular organizations) rarely involved them.

In 10th grade, I noticed that my World History teacher always seemed to have some form of a meeting with a group of studients in his classroom on Wednesdays before school started. Naturally curious human that I am, I soon found the group was known as the FCA, or Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Now, I had been raised in a Christian home all my life, usually going to one church or another on a semi-regular basis, as my mother’s schedule (or occasionally, my energy level – as there was a church within biking distance) would permit. However, at this point, I believe I felt as if it was just something I kinda had been going along with. I really only knew just enough to tell you that going to church was a good thing, God was a good person, Jesus died on a cross and rose again, and we should follow His rules. So, knowing this little bit that I did, I was intrigued enough to go ahead and get involved in this FCA thing. At the time, I didn’t seem to have much better to do before the bell, aside from an occasional chess match in the media center, but that was irregular enough to be disregarded.

Through FCA and, later on, another organization called Student Venture, I started to learn a bit more about why Christ died and His plan for the salvation of mankind. I believe that I’ve always had Christ in my heart, so I won’t say that I accepted Him at this point, just maybe that I got to know Him a bit better. Kinda like if you rent a room out in your house to someone, but don’t get to know them well due to separate work schedules or something, then you both actually take a little time off to find out more about each other.

This, coupled with my still-growing interest and savvy in the world of computers and the Internet, is partly what I believe led to my meeting the woman who was destined to be my wife. I’d gotten pretty attached to this program called ICQ, which was IMHO the best Instant Messenger client at the time. I also loved to have some fun with its “Random Chat” feature. Clicking through the various options, I chose to look for someone in the US (so they’d be online close enough to the same time zone for me to interact with regularly), speaking English (I speak nothing else), in my approximate age group, interested in (among other things) Christianity, and Female (I had a hard time getting along with guys at the time). After bouncing through a few profiles that didn’t quite fit someone I’d be interested in talking to, I found a nice one and made contact. A month or so later, we decided we were interested in each other, and started considering ourselves an online couple. However, it ended up that we weren’t quite that serious about it at the time, and in November of 1998, after the school day started taking its heavy toll on the amount of time we were able to interact with each other, we broke it off.

Life rolls on, school life seems to get better, although I still showed no improval in my grades, despite my parents’ attempts to encourage me otherwise. (Groundings were their favorite treat, which seemed to go equally for my brother and sister when they had problems – so there was usually some form of a “I won’t tell if you don’t tell” deal to work around when parents weren’t home.) In 1999 I got my first job in a local Fast Food restaurant, which I held for 8 months before walking out along with a couple other employees. (A mistake I plan on not making again.) Fortunately I had another job in the works anyway, which I got hired at four days later, a direct competitor of my former employer. I stayed at that job for a year and a half. Meanwhile, as the school year moved along, it became quite apparent that I wasn’t going to be graduating with my class. It also appeared that, at the rate I was going, a regular fifth year wouldn’t quite do it for me, either. So, my Guidance Counselor recommended a program the High School had in cooperation with a local Technical School, called “GED Exit Option”. Sounded easy enough, so I went and took the preliminary tests and got myself in for the next year.

Meanwhile, in ‘net life, my former flame and I had been keeping contact off and on this entire time, although more off than on. Summer of 2000 came along, and our online schedules started coinciding more often than not again. Then, we decided to actually swap phone numbers, and start communicating more that way. Fortunately, I still had my job, and didn’t have any bills to worry about (never got a car or full driver’s license), so I generally had enough of “my own” money to devote to paying Mom off for the phone bill, and/or buying mass quantities of el-cheapo phone cards. (You’d be surprised how many minutes you can actually get off those 1.9 cent cards when you spend them on only 3 or 4 connections.) Later on, I came across a company on the web called SpeakZero, with a $30/mo. unlimited long distance (to U.S. and Canada) plan that helped cut costs a LOT. So, in June of 2000 the inevitable happened. We decided to give this long-distance relationship thing another shot. Only this time we were going to be more serious about it.

School kicked back in, and now I was actually somewhat interested, although that still did little to fix my set-in habit of all-tests and no-classwork/homework. Fortunately, this time, it was all about the tests anyway. Instead of going to my High School, although I was still enrolled as a student there, I went full-time to the local Technical School. For the first half of my day, I was put in an academic course that was geared towards teaching me everything I needed to know to pass the required tests for High School graduation (HSCT/FCAT) and the GED test. Fortunately, I didn’t need to know much if any more than I already did, so this was generally extra time to catch up on sleep lost in phone conversations from the night before. Second half of the day was a technical course of my choice, which was (what else?) Computer Electronics Technology. After the first half of the first semester, we were given the opportunities to take the aforementioned tests, and pass our way out of the academic class, and get full-time into our technical course. Always the one ready to ace a given test, that’s what I did. Unfortunately, old habits kept me back in the technical course, and I finished the year just passing well enough to still get my High School diploma. (They call it GED Exit Option, but it’s still a full diploma, pretty cool eh?)

Meanwhile, on the work front, in Fall/Winter of 2000, coming around to my one-year anniversary with my second job, the new manager at the store decided to cut back my hours. So I was working 3 days instead of 5. Still not too bad, considering my limited expenses, but at this time I had decided to move in with my Dad, who had started charging me rent (I was 18, so he could do that.) in order to teach a little responsibility. It was only $100/month, and I had to cover my own food (otherwise, he was living in the house on his own and rarely ate at home, therefore little was kept there.) and phone charges, and I didn’t mind at all. Like I’d mentioned previously, relations with my stepdad did have their rough points during this time of my life, and this had been the point when I decided I’d had enough and had to get out. So, now having to keep up with rent, food, and phone bills, along with emergency supplies for my bike pack, and batteries for the headlight (which it ate about as much as I did in food), I found myself needing that extra two days on my schedule just for a little comfort zone in the paycheck.

Fortunately, there was another fast food spot nearby, where I’d gotten to know the manager from my regular dinner stops, after the food at my own job got too monotonous. Turned out that around this same time, he was looking for some weekend help on closing shifts. Closing shifts for this place, however, ran until about 3 in the morning on the weekends. Fortunately, between the two jobs, I was still able to keep a regular Sunday/Monday-off schedule, so that didn’t interfere much more than usual with my school-necessary sleep. However, it did do a bit to reinforce a tendancy that my body already had developed towards nocturnalism.

Graduation in 2001 came along, and my girlfriend flew down to see the ceremony. She’d had a previous visit for Christmas/New Year’s 2000/2001, so this wasn’t the first time, and it was at this point we decided we definitely wanted to be married in the future. So, I got her an engagement ring/wedding ring set, and she had a promise ring for me, which would later become my wedding ring. Mom was still trying to figure out how we could be so young and be so serious about this internet thing, and Dad just kinda seemed to go along with it, although he was always there to remind me what kind of responsibility I was inviting upon myself, when I needed it.

Later on in the summer, I had planned to take some time off work to fly up to meet her family and get to know the bunch of people up there. However, school now being out, and me working solely on closing shifts at both my jobs, my sleep schedule gradually became purely nocturnal. This became an issue when the manager at my primary job, out of nowhere, and knowing full well my schedule at the other job (where closing ran to 3 in the morning) threw me a week solid of opening shifts. Never being a great morning person, even when I was a day-dweller, the short-notice sleep schedule change didn’t work out at all. Tardies built up quickly and led to my termination halfway into the week.

Since I was out of school, I figured now was going to be a good time to start looking for full-time work. I found an opening at a local 24-hour dine-in on the late-night shift that looked good, and jumped on it. I gave my manager at the other job two weeks’ notice, and he told me to just take it off so I could jump into this new job. Unfortunately, the new job bombed in that two weeks. The same night I came to the definite conclusion that I wasn’t fit for it, so did the manager, and I was released. Shortly after if not during this little stint of a job (can’t remember for sure), my dad felt the need to “boot me out of the nest” in hopes to move me along in life. Part of this came also from the fact that my brother had come to a point where he could no longer tolerate my step-father, and wanted to come over to Dad’s house. Him still being a minor, I guess that gave him a little precedence. Fortunately, that also left a room open at Mom’s house again, and we just pretty much switched spots. The time separate had made things better for my relations with my step-dad anyway, as did my services as in-house tech support for his somehow-constantly ailing computer.

This time period was close enough to my planned vacation up north and I’d had enough saved up that I gave little concern to finding a job immediately. Besides, who would want to hire an employee just to have them leave for a couple weeks immediately after training? I actually gave my “mother in-law” (quotes, because we still weren’t legally married yet) a call one night, with barely 24-hours’ notice, to see about coming up early to surprise my fiancee. It cleared with her, and I went up and spent nearly a month getting to know everyone there, and to better know my fiancee. Then came 9/11/2001. I was still up there, on a buddy pass from one of her relatives, so I was informed I had to fly home within a week or risk losing my return ticket. This wasn’t too far off the original schedule, so it wasn’t a huge put-out. What was, however, was the job market after returning home. Christmas came around and there still didn’t seem to be much out there that I could qualify for or get to easily, although my former manager from my 3rd job (The one that I left from on good terms.) said that, if I would have had a car, he would have hired/trained me for a shift manager at his new store. Uplifting as that was, it still was nothing tangible.

Around Christmastime, my fiancee came down again for what would be the final time. We’d decided we couldn’t stay apart any longer. She got a transfer from her job up north to a place more local to my area, and my aunt had a room in her house that she typically rented out, which was vacant at the time, so we moved in and started paying rent to her. My fiancee’s job holding us up for the most part, I eventually found a job at a pet store that lasted about 3 months before the owner and I mutually agreed that that wasn’t the long-term place for me, and I should move on. Unfortunately, moving on meant back to fast-food, due to lack of experience and qualification elsewhere. A few months after that new job started, I was terminated over a schedule misunderstanding.

So, I went back to work for one of my old employers, the one I was at for 1 and a half years. A few months into that job, we discovered my fiancee (who was still in her full-time job) was pregnant, due late-August 2003. A couple months later, the morning sickness had been taking such a toll on her, that she was constantly having to call in to her job from the ER because of dehydration. Her company eventually terminated her for these attendance problems, although they only did so two weeks after it had cleared up. About a month later, my manager and I got into a disagreement over whether or not I was going to participate in various serious violations of health code in foodservice, and (having made the mistake of allowing the discussion to take place in front of customers) I was terminated over that, also.

At this point, the job market in our area appeared slimmer than ever. Especially with someone having my work history, or her health condition. (Who’s going to hire someone who’s been fired repeatedly for attendance issues, or someone else who’s going to have to go on maternity leave shortly after training?) Fortunately, a week before our daughter was born, I got a positive response from a convenience store that I’d applied for 3rd shift work at, saying I’d start two days after my fiancee was scheduled to be induced into labor. (On the day we’d scheduled her to be induced, our daughter would have already been a week late and my fiancee’s mother and grandmother were going to be coming down a week later to see her, so she had to be out.) This was also perfectly timed, since both of our unemployment checks were on their tail ends. So, our daughter was born, a week later my “mother-in-law” came down and covered the bill for a small wedding ceremony at my mom’s house, led by our auto mechanic who happened to be Notary Public, and therefore legally able to marry us.

So, now our daughter is a little over nine months old, weighing in at 22 pounds and change, and stretching out to 29 inches. I’m still with the same company, although the location has bounced around a bit since, and actually ended up landing a little closer to home. We’ve passed our 9 month wedding anniversary, and also just passed our 4 year anniversary as a couple. Life is kinda tight right now, since I’m insistent on doing my best to keep her home with the baby while I make the money, but we’re getting along. Government help is kinda nice too, although I’d rather get off that as soon as I can help it.

Also of interest, my father recently married a woman he’s been dating/living with for the past few years. My relations with her have been somewhat distant, although personally I would like to work on that. I just forsee that being a long and gradual process, but definitely doable. My brother has joined the USMC and is currently in school, and although his ties with certain parts of the family have been all but completely severed, I still manage to connect with him now and then online. Hopefully we can work to repair those bonds at some point, but I forsee that task being longer and more difficult than the previously mentioned target. My sister is having a rather successful High School career, and although she’ll be graduating next year, I’m not sure if she quite knows where she’ll be headed yet, afterwards. These days, I’m guessing she’s looking for God to guide her in the right direction, as she grows in her own relationship with Him.

That brings us also to the topic of my spiritual life. Since being out of High School, and therefore out of contact with the organizations that had once helped to light the fire in my soul, I started to settle back into an idle mode. Part of this came from not really having a home church that I really felt connected to. Yeah, there was the Baptist one where I’d went to school, but that was more of my “school’s church”. I never really had grown up with that church, or felt connected with it. Then there was a “Foursquare” church, that was actually the one I was originally raised and baptized in, but to be rather blunt and honest (as much as I loved the people I’d grown up with) it was pretty much an “old people’s” church. Youth ministry was limited to the little upstairs room where the younger children had their little Sunday school during the adult services, and after a certain age (somewhere mid-elementary school) you just jumped right into the main congregation. There was little to no support for the younger generation outside of that, and for the rest of the people, it was pretty much limited to Sunday service anyway. The other two considerable options were extremely large churches and, while they were both good in their own respects, it was too easy to feel lost in the crowd and there was never any real “connection” felt with the church.

So, church became once again, a thing that we knew was a good thing, but no one really had the time or energy for, especially since the more favorable options were a good distance away to begin with. Then, around late last year, my step-brother found another church in the area, called ChurchInTheSon. He started talking to my wife and I about going. At the time, I had a standing request for Sunday/Mondays off at my job, but I always came home from work Saturday night/Sunday morning feeling too tired to go to church, and I wanted us to experience this new place as a couple, so we could both come to a decision about this church together, and not split our family over religion. At the time, I was also kinda favoring one of those aforementioned larger churches, not really quite realizing how lost in the crowd I had been feeling whenever I did go, albeit that itself was on rare occasion. Eventually, my step-brother talked me into letting my wife go ahead of me, opening my eyes to see that I actually could be inhibiting her opportunity for spiritual growth in favor of my own (somewhat) selfish desire to be there, in control.

After a week or two, she started to like the place, although from what I’d heard I was somewhat skeptical. Not wanting to split the family over religion, I finally gave the place a shot and, after two weeks I found myself more deeply involved and connected to this church than I ever have been to any organization in my life. Also through this church, I feel I have come closer to knowing God, and more on fire for Him than ever. As previously mentioned, church used to be a “when I have time” or “when I have energy” thing. Now, time or energy seems of little matter. I work Saturday nights, jump straight from work to home to get ready for church, from church to home often after 3 PM, to get barely enough sleep to have myself functional for a 10 PM shift Sunday night. I now have my days off shifted to Monday/Tuesday so I can stay connected to a cell group, and go to our 20-somethings service, known as “The Living Room”. So, any night that’s not covered by work is now covered by church, and I find myself still wanting more.

And that brings us up to speed, and up to my current project. Now, my new journal begins, as does my new way of spending “quiet time” with God, which I’ve never really been good about before, yet recently become strongly aware of my need for it. While many of my posts will be directed to you, the Readers, I expect there will be an occasional post directed to God, which you are also free to read. There may even be one or two directed to myself. Lord only knows how this may pan out. I apologize that I haven’t really “written” for a couple days, but I actually have. The date/time on this post is the time of my first saved draft. The time is now approximately 15:00 on 6/19/2004. I’ve been gradually working on this Bio post for the last 3 days now, and now that it’s over with, my posts should be much shorter. If you’ve stayed with this post this long, thank you for your patience in reading my story and getting to know me. As previously stated, I expect the journey from here on out to be an interesting, if not exciting one for both of us. I know I’m looking forward to it.

See you tomorrow.

– Iszi

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