Having read Brinda's account of the history of the Assembly in Tuscola, I will not attempt to outdo that. It appears that Brinda has a bionic memory and probably spent a considerable amount of time writing what is a very detailed story. Props to her. I must admit, I grew up in that Assembly and had no clue what went on behind the scenes. What I will attempt to do is write from my own perspective.
Yes, I grew up in the Assembly, but my family was never involved in “the Work” or even leadership, although in later years I might have aspired to that. More to the point, this memoir, entitled “Reflections”, is a play on words. It is myself reflecting on life having grown up as an Assembly kid, as well as my life reflecting the Assembly's life.
I was born in 1970, which I believe is just about the time when the Assembly in Tuscola was formed. My parents had grown tired of going to church every Sunday and talking about being more like God wanted them to be, and then living the whole week just like they had the week before.
I can just barely remember the Smiths’ first house when I was very young, in 1974 or 1975, and the stepped down living room, where presumably some of the first meetings were held. The Assembly was still young as well, and I believe there was more freedom. I did not have to sit on a mat for hours. In fact, I remember on more than one occasion I snuck into the den at the House of Promise and looked at everything going on through the fireplace, which opened to both rooms. No-one in the Assembly said anything to me or my parents about me not staying on my mat and behaving. I also remember falling asleep on the stairs there. I remember falling asleep often at the prayer meetings at our house on Main Street, and Mom or Dad carrying me up to bed when it was over.
My birthday is in September, which would have placed me as one of the youngest in my class at school. My parents chose the option of keeping me out for another year, so that I would be one of the oldest in my class instead. I can only guess at the total effect this had on me in later years. As a very young child, I did not know that everyone else on earth did not do the same as we did every week. But by the time I was in kindergarten and first grade, I knew we were different. I became a loner in school. No one in the Assembly was my age, and therefore not in my class at school, and there was really no associating with someone not in the Assembly. Brad M. was a year or two older, Michael M. and Robb M. also, Jennifer S., Scott M., Mark R. – all older. Amanda S., Timothy S., Stephen M., and later, Jenni T. and Brian T. (Bwian Taco, sorry, I couldn’t resist) all were younger. Andrew H. was my age, but lived in Oakland. Had I not been held back from kindergarten, I think Michael M. and Jennifer S. would have been in my class.
I was only nine or ten when I first remember having to sit up and take notes. I did not really even understand what was being said - why should I take notes? Coincidentally, it was about this time when I learned how to play sick so I would not have to go to the meetings. We did not have a television, so I would stay home and read and play. Also about this time, my Dad started asking at dinner what we had learned in the ministry on Sunday. I remember being very afraid if I did not have anything to say.
My Dad worked several jobs at one time while I was growing up, and I remember being terrified of him until I was a teenager. There were times when we were spanked in anger by him, (I can still hear “the belt” clearing the belt loops) and I learned very young to walk softly, literally and figuratively. Don’t wake the sleeping bear.
I do not think of being disciplined by him as child abuse, (but I also do not disagree with spanking children in certain situations). Looking back, I guess he ruled with fear, but I believe he thought what he was doing was right. I do love my Dad, and I know he loves me. I spoke to him about this fear in later years when he lived with us, and I believe he has changed. My point is that I was afraid to not perform as he wanted me to.
Don’t get me wrong, there were good times associated with the people in the Assembly. Other families would come to our house after Sunday meetings and we would have homemade pizza (I think the record was 15 in one night). My siblings and I would play with their children. Someone started a children’s time between the meetings, and that was fun at times. My Mom became involved in the puppet ministry and that was fun, too. (I bet Mary S.’s and Kris F.’s arms still hurt.)
It was the other aspects of the Assembly that I did not like. If someone that I went to school with saw me and knew that I was associated with these Bible thumpers (not my thoughts verbatim at the time), I would be so embarrassed. I learned to live my life as two separate people, the one that went to the meetings, and the one the outsiders could see if none of the Assembly were around - this at the age of nine or ten.
Things were not always right between our family and the Assembly. I remember that our family used to go roller skating every Sunday evening for awhile. One time, after the “young people’s fellowship”, I came back to the afternoon meeting and the rest of my family was not there. A few minutes into the meeting, one of my brothers came from the back and got me. We were on our way to the skating rink early, and my Dad was mad that he had to wait for me.
Also, probably around this time there was trouble between my Dad, Bob B. (Sr.) and Cecil Smith. I am not sure of all of the details, but it had to do with my Dad’s painting business, and Bob and Cecil trying to take it over (?). They all spoke to Brother George about it, and my Dad was advised to just basically let them do what they wanted. It resolved itself eventually, but in later years I occasionally felt friction between our family and Cecil.
Through the next eight or nine years, it was pretty much the same. I transferred the pride of the Assembly (we were the only ones who had the truth) to the pride of family (my family was better than anyone else’s family, including those in the Assembly). I got even better at hiding one personality from the Assembly, and hiding the Assembly personality from everyone else.
I was still a loner at school. I might have had friends there - at the 15th reunion of the class that I would have graduated with, many people spoke to me, happy that I was there. But at the time, even if I had friends in school, I would not have asked if they could come over to my house.
There was one young girl that I was especially fond of – my first love? Her parents’ situation must have changed, because she moved away after fifth grade and I never heard from her again, though I think of her often. Would I have found the nerve to rebel if I had been denied the opportunity to date her in later years? I am not afraid to fight, and I proved this when I finally met my first real girlfriend, but I must believe wholeheartedly in the cause.
When I was in sixth grade, my parents decided to home school me, and I became even more socially awkward. I don’t begrudge this; I know they believed they were doing the best thing for me. It might have not helped for me to go to public school anyway. Being a loner at school and not going to public school, what was the difference? A year or so later, they also pulled my sister out of public school and began to home school her as well. We became very close at that point, and I think she knows me better than anyone to this day, including my ex-spouse.
By this time I was a teenager, and my double life was getting easier to pull off. I would go to the meetings if I had to, but get out of them if I could. My parents allowed me to play little league baseball, probably so I would learn social skills. (As an aside, my family never was pressured to keep us kids out of sports. Both of my brothers were on the high school football team, and so far as I know, nothing was ever said to my parents about this.) I was probably the worst baseball player in history; mostly I only played because I could get out of Bible study. At the same time, I was of the age to be baptized, so “I better get that out of the way, so no one will ask why I haven’t”. I met with the Leading Brothers to talk about why I wanted to be baptized, and I knew enough of the language to convince them that I was sincere.
There was an Assembly teen ministry on the high school campus, but I did not have to be too involved since I was home schooled. I went to the teen breakfasts and enough teen meetings to be allowed to go on the teen outings, which were fun in some ways, but involved a lot of Bible reading. I remember Scott M. also did not want to go to the high school Bible study, so he was not allowed to go to the teen breakfasts or any teen outings. Ok, so I was jealous of that punishment, but more afraid of saying I did not want to participate, afraid of being a disappointment.
Sorry, Gerald and Marilyn, Denny and Sandy, and everyone else who was involved, I only remember the fun parts. Probably others’ memories on the themes of these times are better than mine. A lot of the other teens would make commitments to God on these outings that would be forgotten soon after we got home. I tried not to make any serious commitments so I wouldn't have to face being “exhorted”.
I don’t recall going through any books related to beginning a relationship with the opposite sex at these outings. Though to be honest, as I said, I don’t really recall any of the themes, so more than likely, we did. I do remember hearing Marilyn say a LOT, “Arms length,” meaning we were to keep an arms length away from the opposite sex.
Apparently we were just to wait until we were “of age”, whenever that was, and ask the Leading Brothers if we could spend time with a sister. We would magically know how to speak to a woman, how to win her affection, and how to cherish her. There were some clandestine relationships among the young members of the Assembly, and I could name a few; but to protect the innocent and now-married I will refrain. I do not think there was any actual inappropriate behavior, just teens being teens in a small Midwest town in the eighties.
Somehow my oldest brother knew from the age of ten or twelve that the Assembly was too strict and wrong. He began to do drugs and drink and party when he was fourteen of fifteen. I admired him for his independence, and for the fact that he was well liked in school. I wanted to be just like him, but I was afraid of the consequences of getting caught by Mom and Dad, or someone else in the Assembly.
When he was seventeen he moved out. I did not see him very often after that. It was somewhat complicated, because he was working with my Dad at a restaurant, but we were not supposed to talk to him. Actually, I don’t recall this ever being said by my parents or the Leading Brothers, it was more that I understood that was the way it worked. If you leave the Assembly, we can’t talk to you. I do not think my Dad agreed with this Assembly policy, but I don’t remember him saying anything to the Leading Brothers about it. A couple of years later, my other brother moved in with him, to be closer to the college he was attending. I saw very little of him after that, either. This left only myself and my sister at home, which brought us even closer.
I started working at McDonalds when I was sixteen, which really helped me socially. I was known to be an exemplary employee (real difficult at McDonalds, I know). There were even a couple of girls that I found attractive, but when I worked up the courage to ask them out, they “had other plans”. I really was a geek back then, having no social skills with females. My sister was already working there when I started, so she and I would talk about all this. She was really a help to me in coming out of my shell at that time. I believe we even talked about wanting out of the Assembly sometimes.
Until I started working there, I had always thought everyone in town knew who we were, the “Jesus freaks” of Tuscola. The truth is, in earlier years, they probably did. I will never forget some of the tent meetings where people driving by would yell crazy things. (Hi, Karen T.) One time, alluded to elsewhere by others, we watched Christian horror movies uptown, the subject being the apocalypse - total terror. I did not sleep right for about a year after that. Witnessing in the park on Sunday afternoons, you have never seen such a mass exodus s when we showed up. The only people left after fifteen minutes or so would be the Assembly, and strangers to town. So yes, we were definitely known in Tuscola.
At McDonalds, I met other people who did not know about my background with the Assembly. I was just “Joe’s brother” or “Gerrod's brother” or “Mona’s brother”. My non-Assembly personality was in full bloom there and I began to party with these new friends. Occasionally, one or more of my old classmates would be at these parties, and I would wonder what they thought of me; wasn’t I supposed to be a Christian? But they never said anything, and I never brought it up. I was smoking cigarettes (and other things,) drinking cheap wine just for fun, and then going to meetings on Sunday like nothing was wrong. There was a lot of guilt and wondering about burning in hell for partaking after I did things like that. I could not wait until I turned eighteen, so I could get out and do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
When I was seventeen, I met my future bride. She had been emancipated at sixteen and she was a wild child. I had never had a girlfriend before, though I had longed for someone I could confide in, someone who "got me", someone I could care for. I was immediately infatuated with her. She stayed up all night with me when I spent the night at my brothers’ house. A female… actually paying attention to me, an awkward geeky teenager with no experience! Too bad I could never actually fully open up to her. The only one I allowed to truly know me was myself.
According to Brinda’s timeline, it was three months before I turned eighteen that they “left fellowship”. I remember hearing my Dad talk about how odd it was that Jim and Brinda McCumber would go on vacation during the Midwest Seminar. I do remember Cecil Smith speaking in a negative way about the last Brothers Meeting with Jim. According to Cecil, every time the subject of this meeting became serious, Jim's blood pressure would go up, and they would have to take a break. I got the impression that Cecil felt Jim was not serious about "the Work”. Of course we were not to “have fellowship” with them, so there were never really any questions answered, at least for me, until I read Brinda's story.
During this time, I was seeing as much of my girlfriend as I possibly could. She was best friends with my brothers’ girlfriend, so she came with them to a cookout at our house, I think it was the 4th of July. I am pretty sure my Mom and Dad knew after that cookout that we were an item. Eventually, it did come out that I had a girlfriend.
I remember one specific event clearly. My Mom told me that if I got all of my homework done, I could go see her. I quickly got that finished and told her I was ready to go. She said she had changed her mind, she wouldn’t allow me to go. I went down to my bedroom in the basement and got my cigarettes, not even caring if my Mom saw them now, and was ready to walk the nine miles to see my girlfriend, if that was what it took. Seeing me walk down the driveway, my mom relented, and let me drive the truck.
Shortly after this happened, Cecil S. came to talk to me about this girlfriend. We were alone in my bedroom in the basement for what seemed like a year. He read all kinds of scriptures to me and talked about intimacy with a female, trying to find out if there was immoral behavior. Looking back, was he trying to find out if I needed to be “disciplined” for immoral behavior? There was a lot of pressure, and I decided to tell him what he wanted to hear, so it would be over. We came up from the basement, and he was “rejoicing” that I was going to stop seeing this girl. As soon as he left, I was talking with my sister and told her what I really felt. She convinced me that I should tell Mom and Dad. I know they were very disappointed, but I don’t know if they told Cecil right away or not.
The day I turned eighteen, I moved out of my parents house and in with one of my brothers who had moved back to Tuscola, where I could party all I wanted, and see my new girlfriend whenever I wanted. My girlfriend and I often went to a little town over by Springfield to visit her Dad and stepmother. We decided to move over in that area when someone offered to let us buy a little house trailer for $1000.
A year to the day from when we met, we were married in a small ceremony. Nine months later, our first child came along (whew! was that close!). By this time my wife had started hinting that we should give up some of our bad habits. What was I to say? This was the first girl who ever paid any attention to me. I was not going to give her reason to reject me by going against anything she suggested. So, I quit smoking except occasionally when we would go back and party in Tuscola. She would be partying too, so it must have been ok. Secretly though, sometimes after work I would smoke something with friends from work. I never told her and she seemed not to know. In the sixteen years that we were married, I was NEVER completely open and honest with her. I had learned well how to smile, look you in the eye, and lie.
A few months after our first child was born, my wife turned up pregnant again, and our trailer was too small for our growing family. We were going back to Tuscola more and more frequently to visit friends and spend time with my parents, so we decided to ask my Dad if we could move in with them. He agreed it would be ok, but we would have to go to the meetings with them. My wife and I agreed, and I went back to work at McDonalds. My employment continued to get better and better. And I met new people at these jobs with whom I could be that "other person". I would smoke cigarettes and use foul language at work and no one at home or in the Assembly would know.
My wife became enthralled with the Assembly. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. I was still uncomfortable with going door to door on Sundays, and all of the other outreaches, but I wanted to please my wife and my parents, so I just kept smiling and nodding…
Eventually, we moved out of my parent’s house into a small house by ourselves. From there, we bought another mobile home. It was somewhere during this time, my early twenties, that I “fell away” for awhile, tired of keeping up the fašade. My wife continued to meet with the Assembly, trying to please me and “win me back”. I had decided that I was not going back until it was MY decision to do so.
We soon had four children and the trailer was not big enough. We bought my Aunt's house in Tuscola, and lived in it for about a year while fixing it up. We were looking to buy a nice big house with plenty of room. We found one just outside of town--a 5/2 with a full basement, on five acres, just outside our price range. I went to my Dad and asked if he would move in with us and help us out. Once again, he agreed, but I needed to start walking with the Lord again. I believe my line of thinking was, "I have never really tried to walk with the Lord wholeheartedly, and now is as good a time for that as any." I gave my Dad the news and we did purchase the house.
Of course, I was “under discipline” when I returned this time. A few weeks of sitting in the back, not partaking--to me it was no big deal.. The Leading Brothers would see my sincerity, because this time I was truly sincere. In my sincerity, I questioned some things that were happening in the Assembly. I wondered to myself about this practice of being under discipline. Yes, the leadership should be cautious, but as we read I Corinthians every Sunday, I wondered why it was necessary when it says right there, “Let every man examine himself”, not “Let the Leading Brothers examine every man”.
Another thing I remember from this time is my Dad being “asked” not to sing bass during worship anymore. He always sang bass in all our singing. At this time the Leading Brothers approached him and asked him not to do that anymore. During one of our “sessions” after a meeting while I was still under discipline, I inquired why they had asked him to do this. They said that we should be “all of one voice” in our worship. I disagreed with this; would there be no harmony worshipping before the throne in heaven? But I kept my opinion to myself, since I was still waiting for them to decide I was sincere.
The meetings had become more and more…static. Static: "energy not released, pent up"-- I think that is a good term for what was happening. Every week was just like the week before. There were new faces here and there, but the joy and fellowship of the first few years was gone. We still had people over for dinners after ministry on Sundays, and some good times were had, but I felt there was more distance between the saints. The Assembly had become more of a union, like the Teamsters, or the Masons, than a group of people worshipping God. There was the joy of being with people who were “enlightened”, speaking their own language, instead of the joy of new discoveries in God.
I think the exception to this was Rick R. He was just a simple mind enjoying his walk on earth. There were some hard feelings between Rick and Cecil S., because Rick's wife, Truceena, was working in a nursing home and not coming to meetings a lot (at least I think that was the reason). Rick stood his ground, and had real joy and peace because he was just doing what he thought he should do.
It was about this time that Mike Houk was asked to step down from leadership. There was no specific information given as to why. I think they said he was being divisive or something. There were more people in the Assembly coming from Oakland (where Mike and Brenda were from) than were coming from Tuscola, I think. A few months later most of the people from Oakland stopped coming to Tuscola, and as I understand it, Mike H. did not want to leave them on their own, so he started meeting with them. We were asked not to “have fellowship” with them. I know my family and the Reeves felt that this was handled improperly, and just wrong in general.
I think, at times, people would just go along with the flow--“don’t rock the boat”, "we always listen to the Leading Brothers and trust God for them". But at the same time I was left with the attitude of “the Leading Brothers are wrong, they are just following GG rules, we will go along, but we secretly disagree”. Why did we not stand up and ask questions? "This is the way it has always been--the Brothers make the decisions, and we follow.: Static. The energy is there, but it is not being used, at least not properly.
With Oakland gone, that left only the people from Charleston--Tuckers, Smiths, Schouts, maybe a few more, and people from Tuscola--Smiths, Reeves, Farlows, maybe a few more. Along the way, some of the Smith children had “fallen away”; one got pregnant, one completely stopped coming to meetings. My sister had also moved out and gotten pregnant.
My wife and I decided at this point to home school our six children. This was not easy, as my wife was not as healthy as most. We were approached by a Leading Brother's’ wife, who was a teacher in public school, and urged not to do this. A couple of years later, her daughter approached us with her spouse and berated us for not allowing our kids to go to public schools. I felt that this couple was in no position to tell us how to raise our children, being newly married and having no children of their own. We were doing what we thought was best for our children, to the best of our ability. I do not have hard feelings towards this Leading Brother's daughter; I believe that she was sincere in her concern.
One year at the Midwest seminar, all the brothers in our Assembly were told that there would be a special meeting-between-meetings for an announcement specific to Tuscola. When we got to this meeting, I think GG was there, and I believe Roger Grant, and possibly Mike Zach, as well as the Leading Brothers from our Assembly--Pat Schout, Cecil Smith and Bob Tucker. We were told that “the light had gone out” in Tuscola, and we would begin breaking bread in Charleston. Questions were raised immediately; how can we just move the Assembly, the “candlestick”, from one place to another? Is there any example of that in the New Testament? The leadership will be the same--how is that any different?
There was much discussion among all of the brothers in Tuscola--myself, my Dad, Rick R., Mark S. and Cecil S. Ultimately, I decided that my household would follow the Leadership. My Dad stood behind me, and Reeves followed suit with him. Apart from the Smiths, that was pretty much everyone in Tuscola. We met at Pat Schout's house for a couple of years, and then at his “mansion”. Other than the location of where we met, and the people to whom we would outreach, not much changed that I could see.
Meanwhile, I had started working at a tire factory in Decatur, making good money, but working twelve-hour shifts. Once again, I had begun a double lifestyle, going to meetings when I had to, working as much as I could to get out of them. I smoked cigarettes every day at work, and flirted with a number of young ladies also working there. I certainly was no Christian example.
Still, I wanted to be home with my family more, so when Pat S. offered me a position as an industrial painter, I grabbed it. To make a long story short, it did not work out the way Pat and I had hoped, and my income was cut again. I started my own painting business, and that income was no better. I started looking in the paper for a job, and I was seeing a lot of jobs for truck drivers. I saw my chance to be away from the Assembly more again, as well as increase my income, so that is what I decided to do. I do remember asking the Brothers' opinion on this decision, including Jim Hayman when he was there on itinerant ministry. They all agreed that I had to do what I thought was best for my family. I am not sure if this was an indication of things in the upper leadership lightening up, or if it was just a Midwest thing.
My oldest brother had moved to Florida in the eighties, and we had only occasional contact with him. In the early nineties, he finally married the girl that he had been with for quite a few years. I think my parents fought with themselves over the choice of going to the wedding or not. Not arguing necessarily, just unsure of condoning my brother marrying a woman who was not a Christian, had been married before, and had children from this previous marriage. In the end, our whole family was there, and my children even participated in the ceremony.
This sister-in-law was working at a truck driving school in Tampa at the time I began looking for new employment, around the end of 2000. I called her, and she arranged for me to stay with them and go to school at no cost, and work with my brother when I was not in class. I felt this was a great arrangement, and was eager to get started--three months away from the Assembly, from my wife, from anyone who could hold me accountable for worldly behavior. What freedom! I would like to stress that I did miss my children, and even the company of my wife, but I also enjoyed being who I wanted to be without judgment.
When I got my license, I went back to Illinois and started looking for a job. Most of the best driving jobs want a year or two of experience, so as a new driver, you have to take what you can get. I ended up with a big trucking company, driving out of Gary, Indiana. The freedom, once again, of being on my own, making my own schedule for the most part, was wonderful. During the next year, I went from long-haul driving, being home every other weekend, to dedicated driving, being home every weekend. Once again, I had good income, but my family was suffering because I was gone so much.
Coinciding with this time period is when George Geftakys was asked to step down. I remember a letter from Fullerton being read, though I don’t remember all the details. There was chaos for several weeks as Assemblies broke ties with GG and the “workers”. Our own leadership was questioned, and questioned themselves, for decisions they had made in the past. I believe that Mark S. was the first to say that he would not be meeting with the Assembly in Charleston anymore, seeing things in his own father, Cecil, that he disagreed with. Pat S. decided to go to a church in Charleston as well. Bob T. and my Dad, finally recognized as an elder, along with the small group that remained, began to meet in Charleston and in Tuscola both on alternating Sundays. Things definitely became much more relaxed.
Once again, I don’t remember the exact timeline, but my wife and I decided that we would sell off part of the five acres we owned, and buy a smaller house in Oakland, where living expenses were cheaper. I could then go back to work for Pat S. and be home more. We would meet with the fellowship in Oakland, which had left years before.
We only met with them once or twice before we stopped going anywhere at all. My wife started working once again as a CNA, after being a homemaker for a dozen years or so, but the income still seemed to be not enough. With the pressure of finances, and being apart more, our marriage began to grow cold.
In late 2003 we decided that I could get a local job in Lakeland, Florida and we could live there. We would be close to my brother in Tampa, and my grandparents and aunt and uncle Lakeland, so we would not be totally isolated. It would be the best of both worlds, having a good job, and being home every day.
Living expenses turned out to be much higher in Florida, and soon it was decided that my wife would return to school and get her nursing degree. This was most easily accomplished if she returned to Illinois, where we still owned the house in Oakland. She returned to Illinois with four of the kids, and I stayed in Lakeland working and taking care of the other two. During this time, we began to have even more marital problems. By the time she returned from Illinois, there was really no fixing our marriage, and we divorced in 2005.
In looking at my life as a reflection of the life of the Tuscola Assembly, I see it this way. I was born about the same time as the Assembly. When the Assembly was stagnant, so was I. When GG's “vision” crumbled, I left it behind. The Assembly had ups and downs, much as my life did. There were many times when we would just go through the motions, and that was just like my life, just going through the motions, saying what everyone expected to hear, all the while wishing I didn’t have to be there.
I look back now and wonder why my Dad was never a Leading Brother. He was there from the beginning; his family behaved as well as the rest, for at least the first few years. Did GG sense something in him that he knew would cause him problems? That might just be my family pride coming through. When he began the outreach in Venezuela, there was never any control (that I know of) by GG or “the Work”. As far as I know, he always paid his own way, never had any financial contributions from there either. When the Assembly's Midwest kid’s camp started, I think there was some concern because it was not GG's idea. I think it was this freedom from control that caused such good things to come from the camp. This camp is still the highlight of my children’s summer.
My Dad had a stroke in 2008, and has diabetes. He enjoys coming to Florida for vacations a few times a year. My Mom works her tail off to make ends meet for them in Illinois. They still continue to gather in Charleston and Tuscola with the remaining few in that area. My oldest brother still lives in Tampa with his wife and their adopted son. My brother in Illinois is married and works for a printing company. He has two boys, one of which was born premature and is handicapped, but still intelligent. My sister recently got married and moved to New Mexico with her husband and daughter.
I am currently living in Tampa, working with my oldest brother, (brotherscustomfurniture.com) and thinking about how my life has led me to this point. I stumbled across this website only recently, never knowing that it even existed, and old memories started coming back. I read Brinda M.’s account, and decided to write down my own memories. I know there were a lot of others who had it worse than I did--more severe rules and more strict guidelines, even in Tuscola, not to mention the West Coast. But the way I grew up has certainly impacted my present day situation.
I have finally learned to be more honest with myself and others. If I do not like something in my life, I am not afraid to say so. I no longer have a double lifestyle, but I have problems with being completely open and honest and intimate with anyone. I am still working on that.
I apologize if anyone is offended by any of this account; that is not my intention. My intention is to tell the story as I remember it, and how it affected me then and shaped who I am today, good and bad. I also realize that I have left out a lot, and probably forgotten people and names and other significant events. Feel free to submit your own memories and lessons learned; I am sure your experiences will benefit others, myself included.
I have grown to love physics and philosophy, reading many books on those subjects. I see intelligence in the design of the world around me, which makes me question evolution. I do not attend any church. I cannot say that I believe in any religion more than another. I have a "live and let live" outlook. I do not think less of another if they believe a different way than I do, but I do not believe someone else's opinion should be shoved on someone who has not asked for it. As I heard somewhere years ago, paraphrased of course, "If your mind is closed to the possibility that you might be wrong, you lose the right to argue your point, as the point of argument is to change someone's mind, and the mind changed should not necessarily be the other person's."